Bristol Uni offers rent strikers 10 day discount – but only if they pay up

Over 1,200 students have been withholding £1 million in rent

Students at Bristol Uni have been offered a 10 day rent rebate, but only if they have paid full rent by the 1st February 2021.

Over 1,200 University of Bristol students have been withholding over £1 million in rent in protest at the “unacceptable” treatment of students by universities during the coronavirus pandemic.

Rent Strike Bristol believes that this concession is a result of the rent strike, however in an email to students obtained by The Bristol Tab, the university says it is “to reflect the earlier date that many of you will now be leaving University accommodation” as a result of government Covid guidance for Christmas travel home.

According to Rent Strike Bristol, this rebate is the first concession that the university has made since the rent strike began nearly a month ago, although they added that the university “cannot give a tiny concession and expect us to give in”.

In an email to students, Claire Slater, Director of Student Life and Wellbeing, wrote: “Rent rebates will be paid directly to your bank account during February 2021 if your rent account is fully paid up to the end of December 2020 by 1 February 2021.”

Student rent strikers had submitted a list of demands to the university, to which the university responded just over a week ago.

The demands include no repercussions for rent strikers, no-penalty contract releases and deposit refunds for anyone who wishes to move out of halls, a 30 per cent cut of the rent for the whole year for those who decide to stay in halls, outdoor access for locked-down students, food boxes catering for all dietary requirements, twice per week mental health check-ins, and full transparency on the powers, role and actions of any security staff enforcing lockdowns in halls.

Cut The Rent released an annotated version of the university’s response, which effectively rejected their demands.

The university will still be following their usual procedure for collecting unpaid rent (which includes possible eviction), however students won’t be penalised specifically for striking. They say they cannot release students from contracts nor refund 30 per cent of rent as the university has already spent “twice the additional sum we provided for in our budget this year” on halls.

The university claims it is meeting the demands on food provision, outdoor access, and mental health provision.

Last week, The Bristol Tab revealed serious allegations of misconduct by Security Services, submitted by students to an explosive Bristol SU survey. Ruth Day, Student Living Officer at the SU, said that the university is working on publicising the Student Complaints Procedure, as well a webpage with what is expected of students and security staff.

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