Sussex rent strike continued as more students get involved

The strike organisation group have taken students concerns to the SU

As the pandemic continues and many of us remain in lockdown, those who are either still living in or have recently moved out of on-campus accommodation are being required to continue paying rent. This triggered the beginning of the rent strike, where some students created a Google Doc encouraging those interested to get involved.

The document received an overwhelming response with many students agreeing that it was unfair for them to have to continue paying their rent when they had no choice but to remain in their accommodation due the pandemic and were struggling to afford the rent.

Annie O’Connor, a member of the strike organisation group, told us, We do believe it’s important to show solidarity with these students.” She added, “We are a public institution that should hold the welfare and education of students above all else.”

She, and other members of the group, put together a set of demands that they wish to achieve with this strike. Some important ones she highlighted were cancelling the third term of rent for the rest of the academic year and allowing students to extend their tenancy contracts till the end of the lockdown. She added, “students need reassurance that they won’t be left homeless.”

The rest of the demands can be seen here.

With over 100 students striking against rent, the strike organisation group went to university management to discuss the issues raised in their list of demands and negotiate with student welfare.

Many students who are striking may be concerned about the consequences but the strike organisation group have assured that the University is legally forbidden from penalising students academically for non-academic related debts. They are also in contact with rent strike U.K. – the nationwide campaign group.

They have been in regular contact with the Students’ Union whose executive voted in favour of supporting their demands. The Student’s Union will be holding a housing forum with members of Sussex Estates and senior management that the Sussex Rent Strike organisers will attend.

The University Communications team have since said that after the government changed the strict lockdown measures, which now allows students to return to their family homes, students will not be charged rent from the date they leave their University residence.