Updated:UCL will not charge students rent if they do not return to uni accommodation this term

Students who are unable to come back will not be forced to pay rent


UCL has today announced any students who are unable to return to halls or UCL accommodation will not be charged rent.

This statement comes following the announcement earlier this week that all UCL teaching (bar a few exceptions) will be moved online for the foreseeable future, as well as the declaration of a third national lockdown in the UK yesterday.

Update 7/1/21

Here are some details on whether you qualify for reimbursement and, if so, a step by step guide on how to get it:

The government is advising you not to travel at this time and UCL is doing its best to make this as stress free as possible.

If you are staying at home away from halls in term 2, UCL will reimburse you for the time you have not resided in UCL Accommodation over the winter closure period and up until Sunday 21 February 2021! This refund will be credited to your portico account.

To qualify for the reimbursement of rent you must have departed your hall between 3-27 December 2020, with a return date of 28 December 2020 – 21 February 2021. You will not be eligible for a reimbursement if you leave and return for a second time in this period”.

Here is how you request your reimbursement:

  • Notify UCL about your departure and return date via the UCL Accommodation Portal.
  • Once logged in, select the ‘Winter Closure Tab’. You will be able to backdate your departure date to the day you left in December, and will be able to adjust your return date if your plans change in the coming weeks.
  • You will be refunded on Portico.

If you still have belongings in your accommodation that you are not currently in, don’t worry, you can still get your refund. “You will not be charged for not collecting your belongings if you are not living in halls. Your belongings are still insured and covered”.

If you decide that you wish to terminate your licence agreement for the rest of the year, you will still need to follow the Notice to Quit Procedure as is stated in the UCL Accommodation General Regulations. To do this, you need to return to your hall and remove all of your remaining belongings and return your keys. However, due to government guidelines you should not plan to do this until after the 22nd February.

 

If you are in Halls now but decide you want to go home and terminate your accommodation contract here is what you should do:

  • Decide whether it is responsible for you to travel. It is against government guidelines and University advice to travel at this time due to the Corona virus as no one wants to accelerate the transmission. But in exceptional circumstances, speak to family, friends and the Student Support and Wellbeing services to establish what the best course of action is for you.
  • If you decide to travel home responsibly, you must formally notify UCL by submitting a ‘Notice to Quit’ request online at the Accommodation online Services before January 9th 2021, which is the end of term 1 for the accommodation contract.
  • Next you must remove all belongings from your accommodation
  • Return your keys to the reception of your halls of residence and check out by the date on you Notice to Quit request.
  • After you have completed these steps you will no longer have access to your former accommodation.

 

If you are in Halls right now, whether you stayed over Christmas or returned early January, and returning home isn’t an option for term 2, here are the UCL resources and events available to you:

The UCL website states “It is important for students to look after their mental health and wellbeing while in self-isolation. We’ve got a great range of events to support you.

As UCL Accommodation residents you have special access to several activities provided by the University especially for this difficult time. If you haven’t already, check out the Flourish Programme – an online community created to help residents make the most of their time in halls virtually. They provide events every week to lend some structure to your life in halls and to help keep your mind and body active. These include quiz nights, yoga sessions and workshops!

On January 9th there is an exclusive workshop with the filmmaker Marc Price so be sure to check out the opportunities and options that the Flourish Programme offers.

The University also refers students staying in halls this term to have a look at the resources provided by UCLcares, where you can find more activities and events. These include great opportunities like: Exercise classes, Exploring positive mental health through TED talks, Personal Development Reading Club, Mindfulness and Physical and Emotional Wellbeing Workshops. Definitely worth having a look! These events are supported by staff from Student Psychological and Counselling Services. But places are limited, so ensure you sign up in advance if you would like to join. All of the events are hosted on Microsoft Teams unless mentioned otherwise, you can book through Eventbrite and a link will be sent to you before the event.

It is easy to feel isolated in a time such as this. If you find that events such as those provided by the Flourish Programme and UCLcares are not enough to support your mental health reach out to the Student Support and Wellbeing services, who are striving to help students manage stress, anxiety, depression and sleep troubles in this time.

So far it’s not clear what the conditions for this relaxation are, other than presumably informing the university that you don’t plan on – or are unable to – return to live in London in Term 2.

The UCL accommodation website hasn’t been updated yet, but this statement seems to offer some hope. Students should get in touch with their department and halls if they think this rent reduction could apply to them.

The same email acknowledges that UCL has no control over private landlords, but recommends contacting “SSW if you are in need of hardship funds”. For international students and those national students who will be prevented from returning to London as a result of the latest government measures, this sounds worth checking out.

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