Reforms against landlords will prevent students from going to university, ministers warned

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More students will not be able to attend university if the government pushes ahead with reforms to the rental sector amid a chronic student housing shortage, universities warn.

In an open letter to the government, universities, student accommodation providers and landlords said plans to close all tenancy agreements for an indefinite period would lead to an “inevitable” reduction in the supply of student accommodation and thus a reduction in the number of students entering institutions can accept.

The letter was signed by Vivienne Stern, the chief executive of Universities UK, representing 140 universities across the country, as well as the heads of accommodation services at six universities, including the University of Cambridge.

The move follows successive warnings from landlords that the government’s plans to make all leases revolving contracts make it impossible to guarantee that student accommodation will be available before the start of each academic year.

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In his June white paper entitled “A Fairer Private Rental Industry,” Housing Secretary Michael Gove outlined proposals to get rid of insured shorthold leases and Section 21 “no-fault” evictions.

While these measures will provide much more protection for tenants in the rental market, landlords have warned they will cause chaos in the student housing industry, where homes are typically only rented for one academic year at a time.

The white paper allowed for purpose-built student housing – which is built and operated by institutions – to be exempt, to account for the fact that most students move out at the end of each academic year. But it stated that this exemption would not apply to private student housing.

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Landlords and universities urged the government to extend the exemption to the private student rental sector and allow student landlords to evict tenants with two months’ notice to ensure the sector can continue to function.

“A shortage of this accommodation has already led some academic institutions to call for restrictions on student intake for the next five years,” the letter warned.

“The proposed introduction of open-ended leases and the inevitable reduction in housing supply are therefore likely to further limit the expansion of the education sector, to the detriment of prospective students and wider society.”

Last fall, the University of Glasgow told students to postpone their places due to a lack of student accommodation.

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Having different standards for the PBSA will penalize less affluent students, as private student housing is typically less expensive than purpose-built housing, the letter added.

Other signatories included Ben Beadle, CEO of the National Residential Landlords Association, a landlord trade association, and Melanie Leech, CEO of the British Property Federation, an investment group.

A government spokesman said: “This government is absolutely committed to delivering a fairer deal for tenants.

“We will introduce a tenant reform bill in this parliament, abolishing ‘no fault evictions’, so that all tenants – including university students – have greater security in their homes and are empowered to deal with poor conditions and unreasonable rent increases. fight. The government continues to engage with stakeholders in the private rental sector, including landlords and students.”

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