If you are a student living in privately rented accommodation, you may have some questions about how the current COVID-19 situation will affect you. You can find answers to common questions below.

My contract does not end until the summer but I have left and will not be returning. Do I still need to pay rent?

This will depend on the type of contract you have and what is included. If you are living in a rented property, you will likely be in an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. You can only end these agreements early if a break clause is included. Check your contract and contact the Student Accommodation office on accommodation-private@bath.ac.uk if you're not sure.

It is common for a break clause to require you to find a replacement tenant, which is unfortunately unlikely at this time.

The published government advice states that tenants should continue to pay rent and abide by all other terms of their tenancy agreement to the best of their ability. Tenants who are unable to do so should speak to their landlord at the earliest opportunity.

You should speak to your landlord about ending your tenancy. You can be released from your contract if you and your landlord can agree terms (make sure you get this in writing). If, however, the landlord does not release you from your contract, they can still ask you or your guarantor to pay rent, whether you have moved out or not.

I left belongings in my accommodation and I don’t know if I’m going to be able to return to collect them. What should I do?

Your contract will likely require you to clean and clear the property by the end date, otherwise you could face charges from your deposit and/or lose belongings. You may, therefore, need to arrange for your belongings to be stored or sent to you. Friends, housemates or even your landlord may be able to help you with this.

Your landlord should be sympathetic to your situation and may be flexible with cleaning and clearing charges. Communicate with them so that you are clear on what will be needed.

If your property is empty and you have perishable food in your cupboards, fridge or freezer then it is important that you let your landlord know.

I can’t afford my rent payments due to COVID-19. What does this mean for me?

Contact your landlord as soon as possible. The published government advice states that as part of our national effort to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, it is important that landlords offer support and understanding to tenants whose income level may change.

An early conversation can help both you and your landlord to agree a plan. This can include reaching a temporary agreement to accept a lower level of rent, or agree a plan to pay off arrears at a later date. If a plan is agreed, then it is important that both you and the landlord stick to this plan. Those in financial difficulties can contact our Student Money Advice team for support.

My landlord has said that I must move out before the end of my contract. What should I do?

For most renters, your landlord cannot force you to move out without a court order.

The Coronavirus Act 2020 protects you by putting measures in place that say where landlords do need to issue notices seeking possession, the notice period must be for three months. A landlord will not be able to seek possession of the property for an initial 90 day period from 27 March.

This is in line with Public Health England advice, which has restricted non-essential travel.

I live in a lodging with my landlord, do the above measures apply to me too?

Unfortunately this protection excludes lodgings, holiday lets, hostel accommodation and accommodation for asylum seekers.

However, the government are urging the landlords in these situations to follow the same guidance, and work with renters who may be facing hardship as a result of the response to COVID-19.

If you find yourself in this situation, please contact us for further help and advice on accommodation-private@bath.ac.uk or +44 (0)1225 386503.

My live-in landlord (resident landlord) is vulnerable and has asked me seek alternative accommodation. What should I do?

Contact the Student Accommodation office on accommodation-private@bath.ac.uk as soon as possible, and we will help and support you with accommodation as best we can.

For further information advice, please see the government's Coronavirus Guidance for Landlords and Tenants and Shelter's Housing advice.

Citizen’s Advice and Shelter can be contacted for free should you require impartial advice.