Coronavirus update: Rent and contracts

 

21 April 2020

On Tuesday 21 April, we announced we would not be offering refunds on rent payments you've already made.

As we said at the time, this was a very difficult decision we were forced to make in these unprecedented circumstances. 

However, in light of recent feedback, we've now updated our position.

We understand many of you are in a difficult situation. We would like to help by releasing students on 50-week contracts ten weeks early if you are no longer living in your accommodation. To find out more, contact us via email

Our accommodation remains open for all students who are unable, for whatever reason, to return home. Our priority, as ever, is your safety and wellbeing. We’re closely following Government advice and guidelines and our staff are working tirelessly to provide a safe and secure environment for you.


You may have more questions about what happens now and next, including what do to with belongings you may have left in your room. We’ve tried to answer all of them in the below FAQs. If there is anything else you would like to discuss, please email us.

We’re experiencing a very high number of calls and emails at this time so we ask that you are patient with us. We’re responding to all queries as quickly as we can.

What happens if I go home?

If you go home, we'll ensure your room is available for you if wish to return up to the end date outlined in your contract. You'll be expected pay rent in line with your contract obligations. If you're on a 50 week contract and wish to be released early, the end date in your contract will be brought forward.

What happens to my belongings if I go home?

Please look at our new FAQs about belongings for answers to any questions you may have about your belongings.

Can I continue to stay at my accommodation?

Yes.  The decision we've made to remain open means you can stay until the end date outlined in your contract. Residents on 50 week contracts will be able to shorten their contracts to 40 weeks, providing they make a rent top-up payment.

Do I need to continue paying my rent?

Yes.  You're contractually required to pay your rent due as outlined in your contract. However, we'll allow students on 50 week contracts to be releassed from their contracts early, providing they make a rent top-up payment.

I've already moved out, can I get a refund on my last instalment?

Regretably, we aren’t able to offer students on 40 week contracts refunds.

If you are on a 50 week contract you will be eligible for a refund if you have already made a payment towards your final instalment. Your rent top-up payment will be deducted from your refund.

What do I do if I'm worried about paying my rent?

Student Finance England have confirmed that students will receive the scheduled or next instalment of their maintenance loan at the planned start of their summer term.

For those unable to work due to the current situation, the UK Government has outlined financial support for those who are employed or self-employed. If you’re worried about your finances and are unable to pay your rent or buy essential items such as food as a result of the coronavirus crisis, there may be support available for you. Please contact us at studentrent@optivo.org.uk.

I can't afford to pay my rent. What are my options?

If you're having difficulty paying your rent or your rent top-up payment, please get in touch with us at studentrent@optivo.org.uk. We'll be happy to discuss your options.

What happens if I don't make my payment?

For any failed payents, we'll follow our standard processes and request rent is paid in line with your contractual obligations.

Can I get a discount on my rent for next year?

Yes.  We'll be offering offer a five week discount to those who book with us for the next academic year (2020/21). The discount will be applied to your final rent instament in 2020/21.

Can I cancel my contract?

If you have a 50 week contract you can request to be released early. This will reduce your contract by 10 weeks and you'll need to make a rent top-up payment.

If you have a 40 week contract, regretably we're unable to release you any earlier than your contract end date.  Your room will be available for you until the date your contract ends.

I have a 40 week contract, can I stay longer?

Yes. Get in touch with us at studentrent@optivo.org.uk.

I have a 50 week contract, can I stay longer?

Yes. Get in touch with us at studentrent@optivo.org.uk. The length of time you're able to stay depends on the rooms we have available at the time.

What guidance has been given by the UK government?

Rent guidance has been issued by the UK Government. It highlights that tenants living in rented accommodation should continue to pay their rent as normal.

This guidance is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-and-renting-guidance-for-landlords-tenants-and-local-authorities

I study at Middlesex University - who can I contact about my contract?

If you study at Middlesex University and stay at Platt Hall, Writtle Hall, Usher Hall or Ivy Hall please contact Middlsex University via email on accomm@mdx.ac.uk about your contract.

I study at University of Brighton - who can I contact about my contract?

If you study at University of Brighton and stay at Welkin Hall please contact University of Brighton via email on accomeastbourne@brighton.ac.uk about your contract.

Why have some students living in Optivo accommodation been released from their contracts but I haven't?

Some students staying in Optivo managed accommodation have contracts with their universities rather than Optivo directly.

These universities are: University of Brighton and Middlesex University. These universities may have opted to release students from their contracts.

Why have Optivo not decided to let students terminate their contracts entirely?

Unlike many private student accommodation providers, we are a not-for-profit organisation. All of our income is reinvested back into our organisation for the benefit of our residents.

Any loss of income has an impact on our ability to provide services for our residents. And now, more than ever, we need to be supporting those most in need. 

Does this decision only affect the residents where I live?

No. This decision affects all students who have a contract with Optivo directly. 

If I'm released, when is my new contract end date?

If you are eligible to be released from your contract and request this, your new contract end date will be 27 June 2020.

Why do I have to make a rent top-up payment?

Weekly rates for 40 and 50 week contracts are different to reflect the commitment lengths. As you will be terminating your contract at 40 weeks, you will have paid less in that period than someone on an actual 40 week contract. We want to ensure all students have been treated equally and this is the reason you will need to make the top-up payment before we release you.