Global menu

Our global pages

Close

Education Briefing - Have you got a minute? Student accommodation contracts: A few quick questions

  • United Kingdom
  • Education - Briefings

02-03-2021

Student accommodation remains under the spotlight with media headlines highlighting student demands for rent rebates and refunds and scrutiny intensifying around whether students are entitled to redress if they haven’t been able to access their accommodation or have seen a reduction in accommodation-related services. The glare has also refocussed debate on whether student accommodation represents value for money and a fair deal for students.

In addition, ministerial sights are set on HE providers’ student accommodation provision with the recent letter from Michelle Donelan MP, Minister of State for Universities, to the Office for Students (13 January 2021) “strongly [encouraging] providers and accommodation providers to review their accommodation policies to ensure they are fair, transparent and have the best interests of students at heart”. The letter also emphasises the importance of providers “[making] students aware of the processes in place to support them if they have concerns about their accommodation costs or face particular financial hardship”.

So what sort of questions should HE providers in England and Wales be asking themselves when pausing to take stock of their student accommodation offering and reflecting on their student accommodation contracts? Here are a few questions for HE providers to mull over with a view to stress-testing and strengthening their student accommodation arrangements and making them more pandemic-robust.

1: Are your accommodation onboarding processes and student accommodation contracts (including all related marketing) consumer law compliant (including any relevant refund policies and complaints procedures)?

o Yes

o No

o Don’t know

2: Are students entitled to a 14-day statutory cancellation right in respect of their student accommodation contracts?

o Yes

o No

o Depends

o Don’t know

3: Is an HE provider exposed to challenge for unlawful eviction if it refuses students access to its residential accommodation or asks them to leave early or to relocate to other accommodation?

o Yes

o No

o Depends

o Don’t know

4: Is an unlawful eviction a criminal offence?

o Yes

o No

o Depends

o Don’t know

5: Does an HE provider have rights during a pandemic to vary the services it has promised under its accommodation contracts?

o Yes

o No

o Depends

o Don’t know

6: Do students have a legal right to keep a pet in their residential accommodation to support their mental health and wellbeing?

o Yes

o No

o Depends

o Don’t know

7: Do you know where an HE provider’s duty of care to its students in its residential accommodation starts and ends, including in a pandemic?

o Yes

o No

8: Can an HE provider lawfully enter into an accommodation contract with under 18 year old students?

o Yes

o No

o Depends

o Don’t know

9: Is requiring parents/guardians of under 18 year old students to act as guarantors in respect of student accommodation discriminatory under the Equality Act 2010 on the basis of age?

o Yes

o No

o Depends

o Don’t know

10: Are an HE provider’s student accommodation arrangements subject to a right for students to respect for private life and mental sanctity under human rights legislation?

o Yes

o No

o Depends

o Don’t know

We have a wealth of experience of advising on these and related questions. If you are interested in discussing the answers or any of the surrounding issues with us, please get in touch.

Next time: STUDENT CONTRACTS AND CONSUMER LAW: A FEW QUICK QUESTIONS