EXCLUSIVE: Portsmouth landlords slam university request to drop student rents

Student landlords in Portsmouth are exasperated by its city university’s suggestion that they should introduce blanket rent reductions.

Vice-chancellor Graham Galbraith recently wrote to them suggesting they provide “fair rent relief” across the board during the coronavirus pandemic.

The letter said the college recognised the unfairness of being charged for unused accommodation so had offered an 80% reduction in rent costs to students in its own accommodation.

It suggested: “Supporting young people during these difficult times is important both for reasons of fairness and in recognition of the fact that students are the basis of your business and your long-term customers.”

When Portsmouth & District Private Landlords Association (PDPLA) pointed out that universities were still charging tuition fees and had also been offered bail-out loans by the government, while landlords had received no help, the university retaliated by explaining that it was a landlord too and had accepted the loss of income on its halls of residence.

silman portsmouth

Chairman Martin Silman tells LandlordZONE that reductions should be decided on a case by case basis and adds that many have stayed in their student homes rather than go back to their parents.

He says: “We encourage our members to look at each case individually and seek to come to a fair result for all in each case.

“I have student tenants on 50% rent, I have a couple whose contracts I cancelled as there is no chance that they will return this year, yet most of my student tenants are paying their full rent and living happily in my properties the same as any other year.”

University students on practical courses can return to university campuses for in-person teaching from 8th March. A review is due by the end of the Easter holidays on whether all remaining university students can return to campus.

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