You may have seen that some students are planning a rent strike in January 2021 so we wanted to give you some information on what this is and what the potential consequences are if you choose to take part in the rent strike. We wanted to make you aware of some of the potential repercussions so that you can make an informed decision as to whether this is the right tactic for you or not.
A rent strike is a tactic whereby participants do not make rent payments in order to secure concessions from their landlord.
The UAL rent strike involves students who live in halls having signed contracts with the University. Students, supported by Arts SU, are hoping to secure concessions from the University. Although Arts SU are supporting students through raising their concerns in various channels to the university, we cannot endorse the rent strike element of the campaign as we have a duty of care to our students in terms of ensuring we do not advise you to break legally binding contracts.
What are the UAL rent strikers asking for?
A rent reduction of 30% for all students currently living in UAL halls
No penalty contract releases and deposit refunds for any student who wishes to terminate their contract prematurely
No staff redundancies for staff who support strikers or show solidarity
Better mental health support available to students living in UAL halls of residence
Retraining of UAL halls staff and IQ staff in mental health support for students
Full access to workshop spaces in all UAL halls
No repercussions for rent strikers
How are they asking students to get involved?
To get involved students are being asked to withhold rent payments from January 2021. The campaign have a sign-up form which you can find here if you wish to pledge to withhold rent. They are also active on social media, and you can keep up to date with their activity by following the accounts here.
What will happen if I stop paying rent?
If you don't pay your rent you will be in breach of your contract. UAL or your halls provider could take legal action to recover the unpaid rent which could lead to you being evicted from your halls of residence.
How likely is it that UAL or my halls provider will evict those who do not pay their rent?
In short, we can't say. It is possible that they will try to evict all those who do not pay rent.
The rent strikers are relying on large numbers not paying rent and the solidarity of this protecting individual tenants.
The hope from the campaign is that if enough people stop paying their rent it might be more pragmatic for UAL and the halls providers to negotiate concessions than to serve eviction notices and commence legal action against hundreds of tenants.
UAL may also be concerned that serving eviction notices, which would see many students homeless during a global pandemic, would be bad for their reputation.
Will I be asked to leave my course?
No. The Competition and Markets Authority guidance on consumer law in higher education confirms that universities cannot prevent students from progressing or graduating if they owe non-academic debts.
What if I’m living in other student halls or renting from a private landlord?
It's more difficult for students to directly influence these landlords. We would recommend joining a renter's union to help lobby on collective issues or speak to the Arts SU Advice Service to get independent advice on specific housing issues.