Student backlash over private halls feeble rent reduction offer

Residents of Sheffield’s private student accommodation have vowed to continue their fight after throwing out an offer of a 50 percent refund.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, university students have not been able to return to campus – but may have still faced rent bills.

Where as some university owned accommodation have offered a full refund in rent, Sheffield Hallam students living in multiple private accommodations were only offered 50%.  This is also on the condition the rest is paid upfront.

Zac Larkham, an organizer of the Hallam rent strike and first year student, said students are demanding a 100% rent refund for the lockdown, as well as refund for both last term and the current term when there was no face-to-face teaching.

He said :“ There have been complaints of mold, damp and no hot water. We were promised a deep clean when we first moved in and people found old food in their fridges.”

There are currently more than 500 students signed up for the Hallam rent strike. As well as distributing posters and holding Q&As, they have spoken at meetings with Sheffield Labour Left and The Sheffield Socialist Workers Party.

Sheffield Hallam doesn’t have any university-owned accommodation and instead works with private halls to accommodate their students, meaning students are forced to rely on private accommodation and private landlords.

In response to the rent strikes, Sheffield Hallam wrote an open letter to landlords and accommodation providers. They write, “we would encourage you all to consider whether you are able to take equivalent action to support students at this difficult time – whether through refunds, discounts, or flexibility with contracts.”

Zac said his advice for students planning to move into private accommodation would be, “Don’t”

We’ve reached out to Unite Students, a private accommodation provider, for comment.

Written by Megan Hodson

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