Live at The Student Housing Company? Why you should join NoStayNoPay during COVID-19
Have you lived in The Student Housing Company (TSHC) accommodation in London this year? These include Therese House in Barbican and Depot Point in Kings Cross.
Unlike most university accommodation landlords, TSHC has decided to keep students bound to their contracts during summer term, despite the COVID-19 crisis.
But now students who stayed at TSHC are rallying together.
We are forming a united voice to be heard by TSHC. We go by the name NoStayNoPay. Currently we have students from all over the UK. Many are from Liverpool, Plymouth and Portsmouth. Almost 600 residents have already united, only days since we launched. We are growing. And we want students from TSHC halls in London to join our cause.
We have united to express our deepest concern at how TSHC are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The response has been slow. TSHC implemented a student support programme, saying they will support everyone on an individual basis. However, many residents told us that TSHC is offering most students only an anonymous response.
TSHC have reacted slowly, sometimes taking over a month to reply to residents. Most students who hear back are given the same options regardless of their situation. This includes an extension over summer to stay in accommodation until fourteen days before the next academic year. Another solution is an option to stay seven nights in another TSHC residence. The most outrageous “solution” we’ve seen was TSHC offering students a chance to enter a prize draw for tickets to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
Many students have been placed in financial peril by the pandemic. They have been laid off, become trapped, or are caring for family members. The last thing on their minds right now is a trip to the Olympic Games. We feel the solutions TSHC has offered us are insufficient.
We’re demanding a better deal
NoStayNoPay is asking for the following:
1) All tenants have the option of a no-penalty release from the accommodation contracts for the current and next academic year. This should include students who have been trapped by the lockdown and have not been able to clear out their stuff. We suggest a seven-day period after the lockdown where students can come and collect their belongings.
2) To refund any rent that has already been taken for the upcoming period, and next academic year, including deposits.
3) For the last instalment of rent to be waived for students who are no longer living with TSHC as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
4) To provide discounted rent for key worker students who have been unable to return home due to high risk family members.
NoStayNoPay is pressuring TSHC through a variety of measures. These include rent strikes, contacting local MPs and student unions, and articles in local newspapers. The UK is experiencing its greatest hardship since World War Two. But it is heart-warming to see how much the community has come together. Many students have volunteered to help the NHS. We are attempting to get TSHC to join with this national effort. Now we need students from TSHC sites in London to join our cause. Help with our efforts. Join our group.
Sammy Griffin is a Mathematics student at The University of Liverpool and a member of NoStayNoPay.
If you have lived in TSHC accommodation for the last months you can join the campaign’s Facebook group here.
Would you you would like to write a reply? If so, please contact the opinion editor at david.dahborn.13 [at] ucl.ac.uk.