Queen Mary London offers students 30 per cent rent reduction with two days’ notice

Half a million pounds have already been withheld in the QMUL rent strike

After joining 45 other UK universities and launching their rent strike campaign, QMUL students have been granted their first demand of a 30 per cent discount on the January – June rent period. However, in an email sent from QMUL Residences, ambiguous and “non-negotiable” terms were laid out for this offer, as well as a short two day deadline to accept.

The rent strikers have also demanded no-penalty early tenancy releases clauses, a January – February full rent refund and a complete review of living conditions in QMUL halls, among other actions to secure the safety of students and residences staff.

This statement follows the university’s promise to give renters a 30 per cent discount, with rent strike campaigners arguing this should be guaranteed for all students as well as full details on the terms of the offer. They have highlighted the mental toll that students in halls have faced during the pandemic as well, stating that contradictory residence rules have left renters confused and isolated.

As a result, 360 students have now signed up to strike. Despite the 30 per cent reduction being what the campaigners name “a shoddy attempt to undermine the strike by getting students to concede to management”, the number of strikers has ensured that half a million pounds of rent is being withheld from QMUL.

Students involved in the strike have reported QMUL’s refusal to release renters from their contracts, their neglect of lockdown rules when encouraging students to return to campus, and their inability to deal with health and safety concerns.

The university have been told about “rodents, mould, water damage, drainage problems and broken kitchen appliances” but have delivered “insufficient responses”, according to the rent strikers, and have overall “failed every renter.”

Their inspiration for the QMUL strike is the “long history of rent striking as a form of resistance in the East End”, which they are reportedly educating other strikers about, and therefore has foundations in the “struggles against capitalism, racism and sexism” that East London is known for.

As a result, the strike “calls for the de-marketisation of higher education and better handling of Covid-19 by QMUL management.”

The press release consequently highlights QMUL’s refusal to grant rent refunds for both undergraduates and postgraduates and their poor treatment of students’ wellbeing as main drivers of the strike demands. “We have endured isolation and vilification for spreading coronavirus with no support from the university,” say the rent strikers, and yet QMUL is “still refusing to meet with or acknowledge the strike.”

Queen Mary has been approached for comment.

Featured Image: @rentstrikeqmul