This page has been created to assist students in understanding how recent coronavirus legislation affects student tenants and to answer any frequently asked questions regarding student accommodation and coronavirus. Key contacts are provided below and you are encouraged to get in contact with a member of the Union team should you have any questions outwith the FAQs listed below.
Due to Covid-19/Coronavirus a new piece of emergency legislation has been enacted by the Scotland Government which grants students living in PBSAs permission to terminate tenancies, for reasons related to coronavirus, earlier than the lease’s stated end date.
PBSAs - Purpose Built Student Accommodation Providers - are private student halls of residence, such as: Unite, U Student, Student Roost, Fresh Student Living etc...
You are encouraged to keep up to date with any information and advice that is issued by your accommodation provider and the Scottish Government. If you are unsure of how your rights are affected, or how legislation affects you, then please scroll down to the key contacts below to get in touch with one of the team.
The Legislation - Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020
The legislation that has been passed is the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020. Below is the relevant extract which applies to students who have a student residential tenancy:
Tenant’s ability to bring tenancy to an end
2 - (1) A tenant may, for a reason relating to coronavirus, bring to an end a student residential tenancy by giving to the landlord a notice which fulfils the requirements described in paragraph 3.
- (2) A tenancy comes to an end in accordance with sub-paragraph (1) on the day on which the notice states (in whatever terms) that it is to come to an end.
Requirements for notice to be given by tenant
3 - (1) A notice fulfils the requirements referred to in paragraph 2(1) if—
- (a) it is in writing, and
- (b) it states, as the day on which the tenancy is to end, a day that is after the last day of the minimum notice period.
The Legislation - Temporary
The Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020 is a temporary piece of legislation. It is currently set to be in place until 31st March 2021.
Therefore, the last date on which you can submit notice to terminate your lease is 31st March 2021, after which it is expected that all relevant legislation will revert to standard.
However, the current end date of 31st March 2021 is in fact an extension to the original end date (30th September 2020), as confirmed on 29th September 2020 by the Coronavirus (Scotland) Acts (Amendment of Expiry Dates) Regulations 2020. Should it be required, Scottish Ministers have the power to further extend the temporary period for which these changes are in place. Therefore, a further extension by the Scottish Government cannot be ruled out.
Terminating a Tenancy - Reasons
As stated in the legislation, you may, for a reason related to coronavirus, bring to an end a student residential tenancy.
Therefore, the reason stated in your notice should be for reasons related to coronavirus.
The Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020 does not define, or give examples of, reasons relating to coronavirus but these could include financial hardship caused by the epidemic, the cancellation of in person teaching, or because students have returned to their family home in accordance with government guidance on physical distancing.
The Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020 does not require students who wish to terminate their agreements to confirm what their reason relating to coronavirus is, nor does it require students to provide evidence of that reason. It is expected that accommodation providers do not refuse to accept a notice due to a lack of reasons being given or because they disagree with the reasons being provided.
Terminating a Tenancy - Notice
Notice should be given in writing (this includes electronic communication where both parties agree to this) to your accommodation provider stating the day on which the tenancy will end (i.e. after the last day the minimum notice period applies). Students should check their tenancy agreement to see what has been agreed about how to serve notice/communicate with landlords.
Terminating a Tenancy - Notice Period
Students who entered into a student residential tenancy agreement and had occupied the property before 27th May 2020 can give seven days notice.
Students who have entered into a student residential tenancy agreement on or after 27th May 2020, or have not yet occupied the property, can give 28 days notice while the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020 is in force.
Where can I find the latest information on the COVID-19 pandemic?
You can keep up to date with the latest information and advice from the NHS and the Scottish and UK Governments at: Scottish Government Advice; NHS: Public Health Advice; UK Government Advice. It is important to check that advice on a regular basis due to the ever changing nature of the pandemic.
Where can I find the latest information and advice from RGU on the work undertaken due to COVID-19?
The latest information from RGU can be found at COVID-19: Advice for Students, Staff & Community. It is important to check that advice on a regular basis due to the ever changing nature of the pandemic.
What reasons can I give for wishing to end my tenancy?
The Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020 provides that a tenant may, for a reason relating to coronavirus, bring to an end a student residential tenancy. However, the Act does not define, or give examples of, reasons relating to coronavirus. It is reasonable to assume financial hardship caused by the epidemic, the cancellation of in person teaching, or because students have returned to their family home in accordance with government guidance on physical distancing would be acceptable. Whilst the underlying reason for giving notice must be related to coronavirus, the Act does not require students to provide information proving that the reason is due to coronavirus, nor does it require a student to specify the reason when giving notice.
Are the new notice periods a permanent change?
No. These changes only apply until 31st March 2021. Although the Scottish Parliament can decide to extend the end date if deemed necessary.
I am in a joint tenancy, do both of us need to give notice?
The notice periods outlined in the legislation also apply to joint tenancies. Both parties will need to agree to give notice.
I have paid a deposit for my accommodation, what can I do?
You are encouraged to work with your accommodation provider to come to an appropriate resolution of issues around deposit payments. It is expected that accommodation providers treat students sympathetically so that they are not disadvantaged. Students should check their tenancy agreement, and any recent communication issued by the accommodation provider, to see agreements concerning deposits. In some cases, return of the deposit will be dealt with through the tenancy deposit schemes and their dispute resolution service. If you have any questions regarding your deposit, you are encouraged to contact ResLife.
What should I do if my PBSA won’t let me terminate my tenancy?
If you have followed the guidance here and your accommodation provider is refusing to allow you to terminate your tenancy, you are encouraged to seek advice from ResLife.
Can I apply for a rent discount AND terminate my lease?
In most cases, any rent discount will be contingent on the student not terminating their lease with the provider. Although this information will be stipulated in the accommodation providers criteria for rent discount eligibility. If you are unsure about the terms of any rent reduction, please contact ResLife
What are the key deadlines?
The key deadline for terminating your lease in accordance with the current legislation is 31st March 2021. Any other deadlines related to rent reductions will be set by accommodation providers who offer them. You are encouraged to contact your accommodation provider with any questions related to any rent reduction/discount schemes.
Is there a template notice for termination of my lease which I can use?
Yes, there has been a template letter which has been created which students can use to submit notice. You can find the letter here.
Is there anyone at the University who can help me with an issue with my PBSA?
Yes, if you require any advice or support from the University regarding PBSAs and private student accommodation, you are encouraged to contact ResLife.
I can no longer pay my rent due to loss of employment as a result of the pandemic, what can I do?
If you are suffering from financial hardship due to the pandemic, you are encouraged to contact email@example.com.
I have emailed my PBSA but I have not received a reply?
If you have followed the guidance here and your accommodation provider has not replied to your communication, ensure that any emails/letters you have sent to the provider has used the correct details. Check your tenancy agreement and the accommodation provider's website to ensure that you are submitting your notice to the correct contact. If you are certain that you have sent communication to the appropriate contacts and the accommodation has still not replied, seek advice from ResLife.
What is the University and Union doing to with regards to students in rented accommodation?
RGU:Union has been working with the University to support students in rented accommodation since before the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020. In recent months, The Union and the University have been working to ensure students in RGU owned accommodation are supported throughout this period and are currently in discussions concerning rent refunds and lease terminations for RGU students. The Union has also worked with the University’s ResLife department to ensure students living within the private rental sector, including PBSAs, are supported should they be required to isolate due to COVID-19. Additionally, the Union continues to work with NUS Scotland to lobby the government to provide support to students in the private rental sector.
I am staying in RGU halls of residence, can I leave my tenancy?
Yes, if you are not required to be present on campus for face-to-face teaching, or for other reasons relating to Covid-19, RGU Accommodation Service is willing to consider requests to leave tenancies. Anyone wishing to make an application for an early termination of their lease should contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Lease terminations from January 2021 onwards can now be submitted with a 7-day notice period, with the termination dated back dated to the day the request is received. Due to the volume of requests, there may be some delay in processing.
I am staying in RGU halls of residence, can I get a rent refund because I am unable to come back to Aberdeen?
For students returning to RGU accommodation, and whose academic timetable indicates a delayed return to on-campus teaching, RGU Accommodation Service will provide a credit or refund for the period 4 January 2021 until face-to-face teaching recommences. In order to make an application for a credit or refund of your accommodation fees, contact email@example.com. Due to the volume of requests, there may be some delay in processing.
I was supposed to be moving in to RGU halls of residence in January 2021, can I delay this if I don’t have any face to face teaching?
Yes, RGU are offering a flexible and individualised approach for students returning to RGU owned accommodation, following the Scottish Government’s recent advice on the staggered return to university. For students who are taking up a new lease, the RGU Accommodation Service will be able to modify your entry date to suit your academic timetable and provide a delayed entry date when face-to-face teaching is scheduled to begin.
ResLife is a Student Life support service, and is there to ensure all RGU students benefit from the University experience and have all the available resources on hand to help them succeed personally, socially and academically. ResLife continues to support students in halls, providing out of hours reactive support.
Contact - firstname.lastname@example.org
Shelter Scotland have been offering hosing advice since 1968 and they can provide housing advice for everyone. They have a lot of information on their website regarding coronavirus (COVID-19) housing advice and also advice for student renters. Students can make contact for advice via the Shelter Scotland National Helpline on 0808 800 4444
Website - Student Accommodation Advice
Citizens Advice Scotland.
Citizens Advice Scotland are part of Scotland’s largest independent advice network. Last year the service network helped over 188,000 clients in Scotland and dealt with almost 675,000 advice issues within the UK. Advice provided by Citizens Advice Scotland is free, independent, confidential, impartial and available to everyone.
Website - Coronavirus - what it means for you
Student Information Scotland
Student Information Scotland has guidance which contains advice for students who are unsure about how coronavirus is affecting student life. The guidance is there to ensure that students in student accommodation, can safely leave their accommodation, return to accommodation to collect belongings, and know how recent legislation affects them.
Website - Student Accommodation
RGU:Union Advice and Support
RGU:Union Advice and Support is a student support and advice service. They offer general advice on a range of topics, including accommodation issues. For accommodation advice you are encouraged to check out the RGU:Union Live Right Campaign.
Contact – email@example.com
RGU:Union President (Communication and Democracy)
The President (Communication and Democracy) is a student representative who has been elected by the student body to represent you, and all students, on student issues both locally and nationally.
Contact – firstname.lastname@example.org
RGU:Union President (Education and Welfare)
The President (Education and Welfare) is a student representative who has been elected by the student body to represent you on matters related to education and welfare, including any accommodation welfare related issues.
Contact – email@example.com
RGU:Union Vice President (Welfare)
The Vice President (Welfare) is a student representative who has been appointed by the student body to represent you on matters related to welfare, including any accommodation welfare related issues.
Contact – firstname.lastname@example.org