Correspondence seen by Palatinate shows that students who have to isolate in Hope Estates properties beyond the end of their contracts will be forced to pay for at least four weeks extra rent.
Hope Estates said: “If our new tenants cannot move in on the date of the 1st they will need compensating. If the tenant(s) […] cannot or will not move out on the 30th then I’m afraid they will be charged the extra rent for a minimum of 4wks. This will allow the tenants to be compensated for the time lost on the beginning of the contract.
“As you are aware, we have private lettings and are not gov backed in any way, our contracts are 12 months starting from the 1st of July[;] the old contract[s] end on the 30th of June”.
Hope Estates added that this would be their position “reason being it will hopefully eliminate students who wish to take advantage of the situation with covid in order to stay in the properties for longer only to party etc”.
This comes as Durham’s Covid-19 cases continue to grow exponentially. Durham City MSOA – an area excluding Gilesgate and Neville’s Cross – now has the highest Covid-19 rolling rate per 100,000 in the country.
Hope Estates manages over a hundred houses in Durham and Stockton town centres, and was founded by a student at Durham University in 1990.
Ewan Swift, Durham SU Welfare and Liberation Officer, told Palatinate: “Any students who needs to isolate beyond the end of their contract should get in touch with their accommodation provider or landlord to let them know and make arrangements. If you need further advice or guidance, you can get in touch with an advisor at the SU Advice Service (www.durhamsu.com/advice-and-support).
“We have been in touch with PBSA providers and lettings agents to understand their position on this issue. Many haven’t responded to us and those who did had a mix of responses with some aligning with the University’s policy and others requiring a minimum of 1 month’s extension to the rent payment – something we disagree with and have challenged. It’s therefore best that students directly contact their accommodation provider or landlord in this circumstance.”
Students in college accommodation whose self-isolation period extends beyond the end of their contracts can remain in their room, with food provided, at no additional cost.
Hope Estates were contacted for comment.
Image: Amana Moore