Durham Students’ Union announces Rental Guarantor Scheme

By Madeleine Horton

Durham University will begin work on a pilot Rental Guarantor Scheme for students renting in the 2019/2020 academic year.

Durham Students’ Union Welfare and Liberation Officer, Rosa Tallack, made the announcement yesterday, having campaigned strongly for students who struggle to find appropriate guarantors while renting during their courses.

Students who would previously have been required to meet strict requirements in choosing their guarantor may now use the university as a guarantor for the cost of £50 per application.

The previous rules had proved especially difficult for international students, who struggle to find UK-based guarantors and as such were often forced to pay 6-12 months of rent in advance. This can amount to a lump-sum payment of £2000-£8000.

Research by NUS showed that over 90% of international students who cannot find a rent guarantor are asked for rent upfront instead. The previous rules also significantly affected care-leaving students and those from poorer backgrounds.

Durham student, Weiling Tay, had raised the issue with the Durham Students Union, and the motion was then raised and passed in Assembly.

Weiling Tay stated, “If the university is to expand, then it needs to do more for a diverse group of students, and I’m glad that they’re seeking to do just that. Accommodation is already expensive in Durham, and support for international students, students with low-income backgrounds, and care-leavers can be lacking. It’s a positive sign that the University is trialing solutions.”

The scheme has been welcomed as an appropriate safety net for vulnerable students against rogue landlords, and an attractive alternative to joining an alternative commercial guarantor scheme. Fixed fees from such companies may be up to one month’s rent for a student, an average of £290.

It is hoped this new scheme will ease student concerns regarding their rental accommodation.

Photograph: Dave Colthorpe via Flickr

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