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This briefing paper was last updated in January 2021 and will no longer be updated. For information on the broad subject area see the paper Student Accommodation FAQs

The coronavirus pandemic has raised a number of issues relating to student accommodation.

Most students live away from home during term time in university provided accommodation such as halls of residence, or in private purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA), or in private rented accommodation.

Since the pandemic Government lockdowns and coronavirus measures have impacted on student living arrangements in several ways. In March 2020 when the first lockdown was imposed many students chose to move home and leave their term-time accommodation early when teaching moved on-line. In many cases this left accommodation empty and students still liable for rent payments.

In September 2020 most students returned to university and their term-time accommodation, but many found that their living arrangements were restricted due to providers following Government guidance on Covid management. Furthermore, outbreaks of Covid-19 in a number of universities put many students in self-isolation and caused unexpected difficulties. Subsequently at the end of term the Government issued guidance which resulted in most students leaving their accommodation early to return home for the Christmas break.

In January 2021 a further national lockdown has meant face-to-face teaching is restricted to students on future critical worker courses, such as nursing, medicine education and social work. This has left many students continuing with online learning, unable to return to university or their term-time accommodation and paying for accommodation that they are unable to use.

Overall, compliance with Covid measures has caused many students to be unable to live in their term-time accommodation for significant periods and many have had a poorer experience than expected due to Covid outbreaks and restrictions. This has led to students demanding rent refunds or discounts.

Universities and accommodation providers have responded to demand for rebates in different ways.

This paper outlines some to the issues with student accommodation during the crisis and discusses rent rebates.

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