UCLU Trustees “dilly-dallying” with students’ welfare
Students withholding rent are at risk of not finding anywhere to live for next year
Critics have argued that a decision by the Chair of the UCLU Trustees’ Board to not move a meeting scheduled to an earlier date will have a negative impact on some students currently house hunting for next year.
The meeting, scheduled for this Thursday, will discuss a motion that proposes to “put pressure on College management by whatever means possible to ensure that the franchise of the UCL guarantor scheme is extended to all students regardless of their financial circumstances.”
The UCL guarantor scheme means that the University acts as a rent guarantor for students moving into privately renting accommodation, effectively promising the payment of rent and making them liable if rent is not paid.
At present, the scheme only applies to those who don’t owe the University any money. This therefore excludes rent-strikers, who have been told they have to resolve any outstanding debt before being considered for the scheme.
The motion proposed aims to push for students who are currently on rent strike, estimated to be around 700 students, to be allowed to take part in the scheme as they try to find privately rented accommodation for next year.
By delaying the meeting, critics have suggested that students wont have time to find somewhere to live for next year before their current tenancy agreement ends.
In an email sent last week, the Chair explained that the meeting would not be moved forward because “it is extremely important that the Trustees are able to discuss this face to face in the next planned Board meeting, due to the huge financial risks associated with the motion.”
Julia Hashimoto Schaff, a first year Arts and Sciences student and rent striker, is currently hunting for somewhere to live next year with friends, she said,
“Without UCL or UCLU acting as my guarantor, I would either have to pay a large sum of deposit (for example my friend had to pay 6 weeks worth of rent), or even be denied a property.
“Despite having studied in the UK for 7 years now and having had to go through many guardian agencies, I do not have anyone who I could confidently ask to be my guarantor. Otherwise, my family would have to pay the deposit but I know that not all international students’ families are in a position to be able to afford that.
“It’s definitely causing us stress and further complicating a process that is already very tight and difficult. For international students finding a flat in a foreign country without the presence and help from parents is already a difficult process, our university refusing to act as a guarantor is hardly another layer of obstacles that we need.”
David Dahlborn, a campaigner with UCL Cut the Rent has commented that,
“By dilly-dallying and waiting for their schedules meeting rather than bringing the issue forward they’re putting people at risk who can’t find a guarantor.
“They’re taking a gamble with people’s futures and putting them under pressure at a point where they could just step in and help…it’s an example of the top of the union leaving vulnerable members hanging.”
UCLU has been approached for comment.