University chasing students for leaving fee issued during Covid

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Accommodation Services have began to chase students who have not paid the leaving fee for leaving student accommodation during the Coronavirus Pandemic.

The accommodation team sent emails out to students who hadn’t payed the fee on Wednesday 26th August.

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In the email sent to individual students, accommodation services said: “through all the change and restrictions you may not be aware that you have missed your release fee payment and you are currently due an outstanding amount of £(individual outstanding amount).”

A University Spokesperson provided background information saying: “… a number of students living within University accommodation requested to exit their tenancy contracts prior to the original agreed end date.

“These students were asked to pay any remaining rent due, before beginning a 28-day notice period.

“The amount due for that notice period was capped at a maximum of £400, with students whose monthly rent was less than that, paying the lower amount.

“Students were not charged extra-contractual fees.”

In light of the Coronavirus pandemic many students were left in financially difficult situations with many being furloughed or laid off from their jobs.

The email also gave students information to help and find financial support: “If you have forgotten to make this payment, please arrange to do so as soon as possible using one of the following methods:

  • Online via your student portal
  • alternatively you can arrange to make a payment by bank transfer

“I do appreciate that this crisis has impacted our students and their families and you may find yourself in financial hardship.

“The University has several hardship funds that you can apply to for financial assistance in light of the current situation.”

The University’s Accommodation team has already received backlash for giving out the leaving fee in the first instance.

As well as criticism for notifying tenants their belongings were in jeopardy of being disposed of if they were not collected by a specific date.

This request was issued despite Coronavirus travel restrictions still being in place and many rooms still containing belongings of international students who had fled the UK because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Accommodation team were urging people to complete any hardship application forms and return it along with the evidence listed on pages eight and ten:

“The Money Advice Team will assess you for every fund you are eligible to apply to under the one application.”

The team are also advising they are willing to discuss varying payments to help tenants out once they have been assessed to determine what they are eligible for from the hardship fund.

The Stirling Students Tenants Union are offering their support to tenants who may need it.

Housing Officer Cian Ireland said: “I’m once again disappointed to have heard that they are pursuing this, I’ve been talking to those affected and been working with the SSTU on how we can challenge this.

“Students shouldn’t be penalised for leaving their accommodation early during a pandemic.”

A University Spokesperson said: “As a matter of procedure, the University’s accommodation team has contacted a number of former tenants who have an outstanding rental balance on their tenancy accounts.

“Those students who have been contacted have also received details of the support available, should they find themselves in a challenging financial position.

This includes payment plan options, details of the financial support available through the University, and an opportunity to discuss their individual circumstances with a member of the team.”

Feature Image Credit: – Student Crowd

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