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Brookes are refunding halls residents forced to move out due to the pandemic

Residents will receive up to £1200

An email was sent out to all halls residents at Brookes today confirming they will be receiving a refund of their rent if they haven’t been living in the property since the 18th April.

This comes after a huge amount of complaints from students, and many halls residents signed a petition to receive a refund of their rent as they were no longer living there due to the pandemic.

Brookes will be discounting accommodation fees by up to £1,200 or 50 per cent, depending on which is more. If the rent for the remainder of the contract is less than £1,200, students will receive the full amount owed.

The full email from the Registrar states: “I hope that you and your loved ones remain safe and well during these unprecedented times.

“I am writing to let you know that a decision has been taken by the University’s leadership team in relation to rents due for University-owned accommodation including Brookes Lettings Properties.

“Firstly, let me say that we very much appreciate your patience on this important issue. I know that many of you have been in touch with the University about this, and it was important that the University considered the matter carefully. Thank you for your feedback.

“After carefully examining its financial position, the University has taken the decision that all students who vacated Oxford Brookes-owned halls of residence*, Cheney Student Village (UPP partnership) and Brookes Lettings Properties by 18 April 2020 will, from that date until the end of their contract, have their accommodation fees discounted by up to £1,200 or 50% of their rent over this period – whichever of the two is greater.

“Where the amount of rent owed for the remainder of the contract is less than £1,200, the amount owing will be fully discounted but no additional credit or cash payment will be given.

“For those students who have already paid their contract in full, we will reimburse the amount discounted. The Student Finance team will be in touch with you directly on this.

“To be eligible for the discount, students will need to agree to the University acting on your behalf to vacate your room and that this will remove your right to occupation and legal licence. Following on from this letter, we will be in contact to establish the status of your room, the return of room keys, and set out arrangements we will put in place for the delivery of your belongings or their placement in temporary, secure storage. In line with government guidance, you should not return to your accommodation to collect belongings.

“Those students who have been living in Halls of Residence or Brookes Lettings Properties since 18 April will be required to pay the full rental amount for the remainder of their contract. Those in this position will continue to be able to live in their accommodation for the rest of their contracted period. In line with Government policy, accommodation and security support will continue to be provided. We would encourage anyone experiencing financial difficulties to explore the financial support that the University has made available – details are provided below.

“I understand that this is an anxious time for all of our students and concerns about money are very real. In taking this decision, we have had to balance: the ongoing costs we incur in maintaining halls of residence; the reduced income that the University is incurring through the closure of our campuses and the impact of Covid-19 on a number of commercial income streams (estimated to be a reduction of £11million in income between April and September); and the cost of this discount, which will total approximately £3.3million.

“At the end of this period, despite managing our costs, we expect that the University will be reporting an operating deficit, meaning that our costs for the year will be greater than our income. However, we feel that this is the right decision to take for our students who live in University-owned accommodation. As a result of this decision, we estimate that almost 60% of affected students will have their remaining rent fully discounted, whilst around 40% – generally those in more expensive accommodation or with longer contracts – will have their remaining rent substantially discounted.

“We will be in contact shortly with students who will have fees remaining up to the end of term, and those who need to make payments for the period leading up to 18 April, to discuss payment arrangements. This will include payment dates.

“However, if you are facing financial difficulties, we would encourage you to speak to us as soon as possible. Where applicable, students will still be able to use their maintenance loan and any Oxford Brookes bursaries they receive in full to support living costs. The University will also be able to set up a payment plan if you wish to pay any remaining rent over a longer period – our Student Finance team will be able to advise further on this so please contact us.

“I would also reiterate that the University Financial Aid initiative is in place to help. The University has recently bolstered the amount of money available for financial aid and the Financial Aid Committee is giving specific consideration to students who have been affected by the coronavirus situation. The University will not be able to make up every shortfall which students have experienced as a result of the current situation, but we will consider each case in relation to students’ immediate support needs and we are ensuring that this is considered as quickly as possible. Information is available here about the help available – we would encourage you to explore this.

“Thank you once again for your patience while the University considered this decision. Colleagues in Accommodation will be sending a separate email with further clarification on how this impacts on particular students and we hope this will help to address further questions you might have. If you have any further questions, please email [email protected] and colleagues at the University will seek to answer your queries. We will also continue to update the FAQs on our dedicated Covid-19 webpages.

“Kind regards, Brendan Casey Registrar and Chief Operating Officer

“* In addition to Brookes Lettings Properties, the Halls of Residence this policy applies to are: Cheney Student Village, Clive Booth Student Village, Paul Kent, Crescent, Friar Court, Harcourt Hill and N Block, Lady Spencer, Thames Street, Warneford and Westminster.”