Friday 22-05-2020 - 14:31
Our #NotStayingNotPayicampaign scored a major victory in the Scottish Parliament last night (20/05) in the Scottish Parliament, as MSPs approved emergency Coronavirus legislation that introduced notice periods for student accommodation.
This means that students who have already left their accommodation due to COVID-19 will be able to give 7-days’ notice to be released from their contracts, from when the law comes into force (exact date tbc). Any new contracts that are taken out while the legislation remains in force will be subject to a 28-day notice period.
This wouldn’t have happened without the hard work of everyone who has got involved with #NotStayingNotPaying, from the students who got in touch with us to tell us what they were dealing with on the ground, to student officers across the country putting pressure on their providers locally, to NUS Scotland raising the issue nationally with the government.
The Scottish Government is due to issue guidance once the bill comes into force, and we will be feeding into that process.
While we’re thankful the Scottish Government has acted to make sure students do not face any further unfair charges, the fact remains that many have already been charged for accommodation they could no longer use. This issue still needs to be resolved, and so our campaign is far from over. For the next stage, we need your help.
Did you or someone you know leave their accommodation early due to COVID 19? Did you try to give notice but were refused? We’ve prepared a template letter you can use to request a refund of unfairly charged rent from your accommodation provider. Download it, fill in/delete your details as appropriate, and send it off to your accommodation provider! Crucially, get back in touch with NUS Scotland to let us know what response you get.
We’ll be campaigning on a national level for all accommodation providers to do the right thing, and refund all unfairly charged rent. To do this, we need to know from you on the ground what different providers are saying. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
During our campaign, we also heard some reports of students being told they would be charged extra for belongings they were unable to come and collect. We think this is a totally unethical position during a pandemic lockdown, and we want to know if this has affected you also – if so, get in touch.
Of course, what we’ve learned as part of #NotStayingNotPaying has only highlighted the systemic long-term issues there are in the Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) sector, as we were highlighting long before this pandemic. We will continue to call for an independent review of the PBSA sector, which the Scottish Government has committed to in principle. We will make sure to hold them to this commitment.