First and second year students should hold out signing tenancy agreements for housing until after Christmas, YUSU’s community and wellbeing officer Carly Precious has warned.
When answering a question about the future of university accommodation in “An Honest Conversation About Covid”, Precious encouraged students staying in York to avoid entering into any legal contracts for housing in the next academic year while university life remains uncertain.
The YUSU Officer reassured the students attending Thursday night’s COVID-19 webinar update that they should continue to find the group of friends they would like to live with and take this extra time to research their rights as tenants, but to keep away from any legal contracts that will tie students down in a time of such uncertainty.
The hope is that this practical advice will prevent students once again being lumped with rent to pay for accommodation they may not even be able to live in if the government guidance is to change once again.
York’s private student landlords received criticism from the last wellbeing officer, Steph Hayle, at the start of the pandemic.
In a quote to the BBC, Hayle stated: “We don’t want our students at the moment having to choose between food and rent and that unfortunately is the situation for quite a few of them.”
Hayle then continued in a Facebook post, arguing that “the student loan is not a magic money tree, and in fact barely covers rent for over 50% of students”.
This often results in many students taking part time jobs to supplement their high costs of living in York, which while in a pandemic cannot be depended on as reliable sources of income.
Some students are optimistic about the potential outcome of landlords scrambling to lower prices, with one third year student, William Mitchell, admitting it “could work if there were enough students taking part”.
Annie Foster, a third year politics, philosophy, and economics student at the University of York agreed with the officer, stating this would also “ease the pressure of first and second years” from a battle for housing contracts during a global pandemic, which is stressful at the best of times.