Manchester Uni is making students forced to self-isolate in halls pay extra rent

This is really out of character, I’m shocked

Manchester Uni is making students self-isolating in halls past the end of their tenancies pay extra rent.

One student is being asked to pay the university £112 in excess fees to cover the days she’s trapped in her Unsworth Park flat after the end of her tenancy.

Fresher Emma Wynne-Jones said “the situation is completely out of our control”, and told The Tab that the uni didn’t inform her of the charges before she had to isolate.

“If we had been told, we could have made the conscious decision to move out at least 10 days before our contracts finished to avoid the potential of this happening,” drama and english lit student Emma said.

The uni is charging Emma’s flat £22.50 for every night they’re forced to stay. “If we were to break our isolation and return home we would be putting our family members and local communities at risk,” said Emma. “But many of us cannot afford to pay the extra charges.”

Whilst the food parcels delivered to self-isolating students across the country were met with ridicule last term, this time around Emma and her flatmates are being told to fend for themselves.

“We’ve not been provided any food, we’ve just been instructed to organise a food delivery if we needed anything,” she told The Tab.

Students in privately rented houses have found themselves in a similar situation – facing unexpected fees along with the hassle of having to self-isolate.

In those situations, landlords should deduct rent from incoming tenants who can’t move in, and tenants forced to remain should expect to pay for the extra days, according to guidance from Unipol. The government has urged landlords to be “fair in their decisions about rent charges”.

Yet Emma feels her situation in uni-run halls is different. “There are plenty of spare rooms over the summer for those who choose to rent out accommodation for the summer vacation,” she said.

UoM told us it was charging self-isolating students extra rent because it would be “unfair” to let them stay for free while charging those who had chosen to stay in halls over summer. It added that any student struggling financially as a result of the university’s decision “may wish to apply to our Living Cost Support Fund,” and that it had made students aware of the extra charges on the university’s student news platform.

A spokesperson told us: “The vast majority of our students living in University accommodation have now travelled home for the summer break. Our students who are having to self-isolate due to COVID-19 are currently being supported by a dedicated help team which can be contacted via [email protected].

“Self-catered halls of residence including Unsworth continue to have isolation support including student specific rapid, cheap supermarket deliveries in place. We also launched our self-isolation support webpage last autumn, which continues to be updated with information including details about arranging food and prescription deliveries.

“We communicated in advance on our student news platform about how students needed to book extensions to their accommodation stays if they had to self-isolate at the end of their license agreements. Staying beyond this date without an agreed extension or additional booking would mean that the student has no legal protection or rights, and neither would The University. Our ResLife team – who remain available to students – also wrote directly to those for whom this is relevant.

“The University does not have lots of spare rooms available in halls of residence during the vacation period. We undertake essential maintenance and improvements over the summer, so have a much more limited stock of rooms available to rent out. We have around 300 students who have chosen to stay on in halls into the vacation and they have to pay – if we allowed isolating students to stay for free, some students would be paying and some would not, which would be an unfair situation. Some of our residences are also leased from wider providers, and so those providers require payment for additional stays after the end of the license agreement. Any student struggling financially may wish to apply to our Living Cost Support Fund.”

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