What to do if you can’t pay your rent

What to do if you cannot afford to pay your rent

This article was published by the Great British Mag team on 3 February 2021.

Are you a full-time student that can’t afford to pay your rent due to Covid-19? This article will help you understand how to get a rebate and protect yourself against eviction.

Amber banner advert

What to do if you are in university accommodation

If your university hasn’t already offered you a rent reduction, ask for one. The best people to speak to will be the accommodations team, but if you don’t get a favourable outcome then seek help from the Students’ Union, the Student Welfare team or the International Students Support team.

Universities have something called a student hardship fund that the government has contributed £50m to in 2021 to help students through these difficult times. These funds cover helping students with accommodation costs.

If you feel your university isn’t doing the right things or offering enough support, you can get involved in a national student movement called Rent Strike that helps students protest and pressure the government and universities to do more.

What to do if you rent from a private landlord

The first thing to do is read your contract and find out if you have a ‘break clause’, which will mean you can terminate your contract early if you are not using your term-time accommodation. However, if this isn’t possible then speak to your landlord to explain your situation and hopefully you can come to an agreement in relation to your rent.

A number of student accommodation providers such as UNITE and Student Roost have announced they will be giving students rebates on their rent. So, if your accommodation is managed by a provider like those, check their website to see what you can find out. 

If you are finding it hard to pay your rent, be aware that the government has made significant changes under the Coronavirus Act 2020 to ensure tenants are protected whilst the country is going through a national crisis. Under this act, you cannot be evicted whilst the country is in lockdown and in most cases your landlord has to give you six months notice if they want you to move out.

You can, however, be evicted under a few exceptions that include anti-social behaviour (including rioting), domestic abuse, false statement and having over six months of rent arrears. 

If you do find yourself homeless, contact your university as they are obliged to help you find suitable accommodation.

What to do if you are being threatened with eviction

If your landlord is threatening to evict you, first familiarise yourself with your rights as a tenant and then contact the international student support team, the Student Welfare team or Students’ Union at your university for help. One of these departments will be able to help you fight the eviction.

You can also contact Citizens Advice who will be able to help you with legal guidance and support you for free. Or, if you need immediate assistance – for example if your landlord is trying to enter your property – call 999.

You may also want to read

Financial assistance available to international students 

Can I get a rebate on my student fees?

Will international students get the Covid-19 vaccination for free?