Catherine Smith | Sat, 28 Mar 2020
Following a petition signed by over 1600 students, the University of Aberdeen has agreed to allow Hillhead students to terminate their contracts early, with other accommodation companies following suit.
If you haven’t left your halls yet and you still wish to return home, rest assured this counts as essential travel.
Communities Officer Louise Henrard, who has been working alongside other sabbatical officers to support students during this period said:
“We are aware that a lot of students are still tied to a contract with private accommodation providers or are afraid of losing their deposits to private landlords.
“Having to pay for an accommodation that students will not be living in will have an immense impact on already threatened financial wellbeing. In the current situation, private landlords and private accommodation providers should make an effort to support students who have decided to go home and be with their loved ones in these uncertain times.
“With other Scottish Sabbatical Officers, we are working tirelessly to lobby all private accommodation providers to follow UniteStudents and Liberty Living in scrapping early exit fees and let students terminate their contracts without financial consequences.”
Students were advised to go home to allow for social distancing and self-isolating, but many were stressed about their finances of paying for accommodation they shouldn’t really be using. Here’s what you can do about your university accommodation.
Terminations at Hillhead can be taken retrospectively from 20th March.
Students at Hillhead should fill in this form, regardless of whether they wish to stay in the accommodation or end their lease with 28 days’ notice, https://app.geckoform.com/public/#/modern/21FO00fiq7nd6c00a49mfj2gzc
You can send your keys in an envelope with details of your name, student ID and flat details to: Hillhead Halls of Residence, Don Street, Old Aberdeen, AB24 1WU. If you have left belongings in your room, these can be stored for you and can you can collect them when appropriate. Further details about this are expected to be released in the coming weeks. If you do choose to end your contract now, you will not be charged beyond April 17th. Refunds are continuing to be processed.
If you have chosen to stay in halls for the time being, you can cancel your contract at any time - with 4 weeks’ notice before your intent to leave. As government advise and restrictions are constantly changing, take this into account.
The University will be at a huge financial loss due to these terminations, but at least students won’t be paying for accommodation when they have no lectures or exams.
On Tuesday, Unite released information about their response. You should email firstname.lastname@example.org by 5pm on April 10th if you want to terminate your contract, and you will not have to pay your outstanding rent after that point. If you do not contact unite by this point, they will assume you do not want to make any changes to your contract. If you are unable to return to remove your belongings, you should also let them know.
For those choosing to stay on in unite accommodation, you can also extend your lease. Where possible, this will be at no further charge.
Similarly to Unite, if you want to cancel your policy, email email@example.com by April 10th and you will not have to pay any further rent - and if you do not do so by then, they will assume you are staying. They ask you to include your name, city and customer reference number. Due to the high number of emails, it could take up to 72 hours to receive a response. Again, let them know if you have had to leave your belongings behind.
If you are planning to stay in your liberty accommodation, let them know and they will try to arrange for this to be free.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org by 13 April, you will not be charged beyond May 1st. If you’ve already sent an email to “resident support”, that’s okay too - they are just trying to work their way through emails. They have no information available yet to students who wish to stay except for they will support you and try to ensure you have everything you need.
Those in private accommodation are perhaps facing more stresses than others at the moment.
If your landlord or agent wants to allow visits or inspections, you can tell them that you are self-isolating so they cannot do so. It is not necessary to give them more information about your health.
However, gas safety certificates remain an important legal requirement. It is also your responsibility to report repairs that need dealt with, even if responses are slower than normal.
Should you choose to terminate your lease early, you still need to give 28 days’ notice. But negotiations and discussions with your landlord or agent can still take place, and you should contact them if you have any questions or concerns.