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COVID-19 Update: Cancellation Policy – 24th March 2020

24 March 2020

Update on Unite Students’ cancellation policy in the light of Covid-19
Earlier today, we confirmed a change to our cancellation policy in response to the needs of students at this time.

We recognise the difficult position in which students up and down the UK find themselves following universities’ decision to end face-to-face teaching. Over the last few days, we have been in intensive discussion with universities, professional bodies and the relevant health authorities. We wanted to find a way to ease the financial pressures on students and their families at this difficult time, while being mindful of our responsibility to other stakeholders including the 1,900 people we employ across the country.

We can now confirm that any student who does not plan to stay in their Unite or Liberty Living home for their third university term (after Easter) can surrender their tenancy and will not be liable for outstanding rental payments. Further details can be found here.

This decision applies to all students who pay their rent directly to Unite Students or Liberty Living. We have been in touch with all our university partners today to let them know about our decision.

For those students who do wish to stay with us and continue paying rent, our teams will work closely with university student services team, local authorities and other statutory services to ensure they have access to the support they need, especially those who need to self-isolate. 

We are acutely aware of the dilemma facing students who are unable to return home, for example because of international travel restrictions or because they are care leavers or estranged from their families. With this in mind, we have undertaken to offer, at no cost, accommodation to anyone who needs to remain living with us beyond the end of their current tenancy agreement.

Have all your tenants been contacted?

The message has gone out widely over social media and on our student website The Common Room, and we have directly contacted anyone who has asked us about a refund. A message about the new policy is played to anyone calling our 24 hour contact centre as part of the call routing message.

Can we tell our students about this?

Yes, you are free to tell your students. Full details of the offer, including how to cancel, can be found here

When does the cancellation apply from, and how many weeks will be refunded?

This will be calculated on an individual basis. For further details please refer to the Student FAQ

Will you charge students a fee if they are unable to retrieve their belongings by 10th April due to the lockdown?

We will be flexible with students who are unable to retrieve their belongings. For further details please refer to the Student FAQ

What support is in place for students who stay in their accommodation?

Support is currently in place to ensure the safety and security of each of our buildings, however we have had to curtail certain services to meet Government guidance around lock-down, for example flat inspections, gym opening. We have already contacted students we know to be medically vulnerable and support is in place to help them self-isolate on site if they wish to do so. For further details please refer to the Student FAQ

How are you handling enquiries from students who stay with Liberty Living/Unite and pay rent to the university?

Our decision on early leave requests relates to students who contract with and pay Liberty Living or Unite Students directly for their stay. When a student who is staying under a third party agreement contacts us through any channel, we will provide them with contact details for the relevant university accommodation office. We fully understand that where a third party agreement or lease is in place, the university will want to communicate any changes relating to the student’s tenancy directly. Someone from our Higher Education Engagement team should already have been in touch with each of our university partners.

How can I find out how many students from my university are within your property?

At the moment we are processing thousands of early leave enquiries and so cannot give a stable number of students who remain with us. Please contact your local team who should be able to give you a feel for the current level of occupancy, and we will give a further update after the 10 April cut-off date.

We have a group booked to stay with Unite Students or Liberty Living for the summer, how will this be affected?

We are making decisions about summer bookings on an ongoing basis as the current situation develops. If your summer booking becomes affected we will contact you immediately.

Are you moving any students from their flats to be in one building?

At the moment we are working hard to make sure we can keep students in their booked rooms where we believe they will be most comfortable. If this needs to change we will work within the latest public health advice and liaise closely with students and university partners to make this a smooth transition.

What if students can’t retrieve their possessions?

We understand that students may have left their possessions in their room and are unable to collect them because of the current lockdown. Unite Students will keep these items safe but may need to move them to another location. We have agreed with Endsleigh, our contents insurance provider, that they will waive their un-occupancy exclusion of 60 days so that possessions left in room will be covered for an unlimited period of time during the policy period. This cover will also apply for possessions that have been moved into storage.