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CORONAVIRUS - INFORMATION AND GUIDANCE

 

 

This information page is updated regularly, please click on the links below to go to a section.

 

Latest Government information

Office for Students guidance

Contacting your landlord, agent or halls manager

Staying safe and looking after yourself

Guidance from your university

Mental health support

Finanial support and guidance

Social distancing and self-isolation measures

Experiencing symptoms?

Information about Coronavirus - useful links

Searching for properties for next year

Frequently asked questions

 

 

LATEST GOVERNMENT INFORMATION


 

Government guidance for landlords and tenants (opens pdf)

 

Update 21st May 2020 - Change to guidelines for students (currently living in England and Wales) collecting belongings from private accommodation and moving to new accommodation

The Government have updated advice on the ability for students to return to their accommodation and collect belongings, and are encouraging landlords and agents to enable students in England to collect their belongings in a safe way to minimise the risk of Coronavirus infection. We have shared this update, along with additional comments from LSH, with our LSH registered providers on May 22nd, and asked that they engage with tenants and provide guidance accordingly. You can view our email to LSH registered providers here.

 

Included in the Government update, there is also advice that states that students who wish to make a one-off move to an alternative residence may do so providing they take precautions in line with the principles in staying safe outside your home and with other published guidance, such as on travel and social distancing.

 

The Welsh government have also updated their guidelines, which now allows, in most cases, for students to travel to their current term time address to pick up possessions if your tenancy has come to an end, or is about to come to an end. If you will be unable to return to collect possessions before the end of your tenancy, you should discuss your individual case with your landlord.

 

Update 13th May 2020 - Change to guidelines for students living in private accommodation and moving out

Following the government setting out their updated plan for the weeks and months ahead, the new guidance allows for students to move permanently to live back at their family home. You should only move to your family home if it is safe to do so, and you are not shielding and do not have any symptoms of Coronavirus.

 

Whilst the guidelines permit moving back to your family home, you are not allowed to move out to stay at another home. If you plan to move back home, check that travel is permitted and speak to your landlord.

(Following the update on 22nd May, students in England who wish to make a one-off move to an alternative residence such as a new student home, may now do so, whilst maintaining travel and social distancing guidelines)

 

Update 11th May 2020 - Face coverings in enclosed public spaces

The public is advised to consider wearing face coverings in enclosed public spaces such as shops, trains and buses to help reduce the spread of coronavirus, while keeping two metres apart at all times.

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/public-advised-to-cover-faces-in-enclosed-spaces

 

The public is being strongly urged not to purchase surgical masks or respirators. These are prioritised for healthcare workers working in more high-risk environments where the risk is greatest. Instead the public is encouraged to make face coverings at home, using scarves or other textile items that many will already own. Read the guidance on how to wear and make a cloth face covering.

 

 

OFFICE FOR STUDENTS - GUIDANCE FOR PROVIDERS AND STUDENTS


The Office for Students works closely with the Department for Education and with universities and colleges to support and protect the interests of students. On their website you will find a guide to coronavirus for students and useful links to other sources of information and advice.

 

https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/student-wellbeing-and-protection/coronavirus

 

 

CONTACTING YOUR LANDLORD, AGENT OR HALLS MANAGER


They will be able to inform you of the procedures that they are putting in place during this unusual situation. Please make sure that you follow their instructions, which may differ from what is written in your contract.

 

In these unprecedented times Liverpool Student Homes is following guidance as determined by the Government. We understand that until there is an announcement from the Government to the contrary then all tenancy agreements will remain in place for their duration. Although staff have not been trained to provide legal advice to either students or landlords we do seek to provide a supportive framework for both parties to communicate and resolve potential issues.  

 

It is certainly the case that as all face to face teaching has been cancelled then a significant number of students have or are returning home and no longer residing in their student accommodation. This has caused a number to question whether their tenancy can be terminated.

 

There may be some students that have been particularly impacted by the situation such as having lost their work or had hours significantly reduced. Many of these students may have relied on this income to subsidise their rent payments and living costs. There will also be some students whose families have contributed to their rental payments and are no longer in a position to do so due to the pandemic. This may result in difficulties paying rent in accordance with the terms of the tenancy.

 

Liverpool Student Homes have recommended all students open a dialogue with their landlord if they are facing such difficulties. We are aware that some landlords have agreed to extend the payment schedule, some have agreed to reduce payments and others (primarily in the private halls sector) who have agreed to waive the final instalment.

 

Any decision of this nature is purely at the discretion of the landlord. We are also aware that each landlord will have their own specific financial set of circumstances that will mean some are able to respond whilst others are not. We would again, though, also recommend that landlords engage with their student tenants in an open and transparent way.

 

Liverpool Student Homes is not aware of any additional funding any student will be able to claim but, we understand, they should still be receiving their student loans. However, please bear in mind, that the maintenance element contained within a student loan will not, necessarily, be sufficient to cover all rent and living expenses.

 

We hope this makes sense but if you have any further questions check our frequently asked questions below or please contact us via LSH@Liverpool.ac.uk

 

 

STAYING SAFE AND LOOKING  AFTER YOURSELF


Follow the Government and NHS advice for protecting yourself against coronavirus. Try to keep a positive outlook and seek ways to keep anxiety to a minimum, such as pursuing hobbies that can be done at home, listening to music and trying relaxation techniques. Don’t forget to take regular breaks from your computer while studying.

 

You should also follow guidance from your university:

 

University of Liverpool https://news.liverpool.ac.uk/coronavirus-advice-and-guidance/students

Liverpool John Moores University https://www.ljmu.ac.uk/about-us/information-on-coronavirus

Liverpool Hope University https://www.hope.ac.uk/coronavirus

Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts https://lipa.ac.uk/pages/news.aspx?artid=347

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine https://www.lstmed.ac.uk/covid-19

 

If you are struggling with your mental health please ask for help. You can access support from your university’s student support team:

 

University of Liverpool 

https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/studentsupport

Liverpool John Moores University 

https://www.ljmu.ac.uk/discover/student-support/health-and-wellbeing

Liverpool Hope University 

https://www.hope.ac.uk/gateway/students/studentdevelopmentandwell-being

Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts 

https://lipa.ac.uk/life-at-lipa/student-support

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine 

https://lstmed.ac.uk/study/student-services

 

The charity mind can also offer support https://www.mind.org.uk

 

 
 

FINANCIAL SUPPORT & GUIDANCE


During this time your circumstances may have changed significantly which could have had an impact on your financial situation. If you need advice and support you can contact your university's money advice team within student services.

 

University of Liverpool

https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/studentsupport/money

Liverpool John Moores University 

https://www.ljmu.ac.uk/discover/fees-and-funding/useful-funding-info/managing-money

Liverpool Hope University

https://www.hope.ac.uk/lifeathope/studentsupport/studentadviceservice

Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts - students can access the money support service at LJMU 

https://www.ljmu.ac.uk/discover/fees-and-funding/useful-funding-info/managing-money

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

https://www.lstmed.ac.uk/study/student-services/welfare

 

 

SOCIAL DISTANCING AND SELF-ISOLATION MEASURES


The Government is advising that everyone should stay alert, and stays at home as much as possible to minimise the spread of the virus. Be aware of others around you, particularly in communal areas. Follow the official government guidance and any procedures implemented by your landlord or agent. These measures are there to protect you and those around you who maybe vulnerable. It’s vital that you think of the impact that your actions could have on others. When leaving your property, ensure you follow social distancing guidelines and keep two metres apart from people in public places at all times.

 

 

EXPERIENCING SYMPTOMS?


* Self-isolate immediately to protect others
* Tell your housemates  
* Tell your landlord, agent or halls manager
* Follow official advice https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19

 

 

INFORMATION ABOUT CORONA VIRUS - USEFUL LINKS


 

Government information https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

NHS guidance https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19

Public Health England https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public

Office for Students https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/student-wellbeing-and-protection/coronavirus

 

 

SEARCHING FOR PROPERTIES FOR NEXT YEAR


There's no need to be worried about finding accommodation for the next academic year, as there is a surplus of LSH registered private student accommodation in Liverpool and properties are available all year round. LSH would advise that you delay your property search due to the Coronavirus situation.

 

The Coronavirus pandemic has affected students in many ways, including students who were due to be studying abroad or going onto placement for the forthcoming 20/21 academic year. We understand there is a lot of uncertainty around this, some of you are still unsure how your plans may be affected, but we would like to reassure you that we are continuing to advertise a wide range of accredited accommodation, in all the key student areas of the city. There are a range of properties to suit all students and a range of budgets, whether that be single rooms, shared flats/houses, or City Centre halls of residence. We would encourage you to wait until you have confirmation of your situation, before committing to sign to any property.

 

In addition, for any students looking to sign a contract for less than 6 months, we advise you to wait closer to the time as you will have a wider range of properties to choose from, paticularly as landlords become more amenable to offering shorter contracts (their priority is usually to rent properties on a long term contract).

 

LSH has consistently recommended to all students that you should not sign a tenancy agreement until you have viewed the property and that advice would not change just because viewings have now stopped. As of 13th May, the Government advice to landlords and agents has changed, to allow property viewings to be undertaken, albeit with strict guidelines to ensure safe practices in relation to viewings. Although these guidelines have changed, LSH strongly urges students to only consider viewing a property if it is safe to do so. 

 

However, if you have decided to actively search for accommodation for the next academic year but are concerned about committing to a tenancy agreement in these uncertain times then LSH have created an additional search tool on our website to assist you. The easiest way to view all properties where the landlord is offering a 'Coronavirus Amendment Policy' is to click on the button within the property search box titled 'Coronavirus Flexible Tenancies'.

 

Alternatively, you can carry out your search as normal, selecting your search criteria, but when the search results are displayed, under 'Filters' on the right hand side of the page click on 'Coronavirus Amendment Policy'. You will then be shown a list of properties that meet your search criteria, where landlords are offering amendments to their existing terms and conditions as a result of the current situation.

 

On the search results page, at the top of each property advert click on the 'Coronavirus Amendment Policy' banner to disclose what that landlord is offering.

 

If the landlord or agent is not listed as having a Coronavirus Amendment Policy then you can still request they insert a break clause or a commencement delay in the event that lockdown is still in place or if your University is still not offering face to face teaching.

 

LSH registered accommodation providers that have given their commitment to offering flexible terms in their current 2019/20 tenancies due to the coronavirus outbreak are below. This list will be updated regularly (for ease, providers are listed in alphabetical order)

 

Accommodation Provider Tenancy Amendment Details Details Provided
Abodus Student Living Students with valid reasons to leave, asked to comply with Tenancy Early Release Request by 14/4/20, to be released from final semesters fees 03/04/20
Archers Park 15% reduction on monthly and per term payments for April - June  14/04/20
Campus Living Village UK Actively reviewing final rent installment, but will not be requesting payment from students whose contract is with CLV directly. Seek to allow students who need to remain in rooms after contract end, free of charge (will advise students by 1/5/20) 26/03/20
Condor Properties

Refund of credit on utilities at the end of contract.

Terms of contract considered on a case-by-case basis   

14/04/20
Downing Students Students who advised Downing by 7/4/20 they have moved out and will not return, offered 6 weeks rent reimbursement 03/04/20
Dwell Student Living Agreed to release students from their tenancy from 1/5/20 for those who have vacated their room, returned keys and notify Dwell via their resident online portal by 5pm on 26/4/20. Any students still on site who may need to extend beyond their current contract, are advised to get in touch with their site team to explore available options 20/04/20
ELJ Properties Limited £40 rent reduction from the 01/04/20 until the 30/06/20 to any students not living at the property 23/04/20
Gather Students Students who check out and return keys by 15/5/20 are eligible for a 50% rent reduction. For students unable to travel, Gather Students have agreed to store their belongings 17/04/20
Hello Student

Early tenancy release policy, allows qualifying residents who complete early tenancy release form by 17/4/20 to exit tenancy with no additional charges or fees from 24/4/20. Also, all cases of hardship assessed to consider payment plans/deferrals

01/04/20
iQ Student Students who have moved out and advised iQ by 9/4/20, will have their tenancy surrendered and will not be charged from 18/4/20. Also working to help students who need to stay past their contract 01/04/20
Laurence Grant Refund of credit on utilities at end of contract, in July 14/04/20
Linx Property Solutions Extended payment terms and deduction of utility costs 14/04/20
Neil Finlay Tenants who have vacated - £25-40 monthly utlity reduction of rent. Tenants who have vacated and also cleared rooms and returned keys, have been released early from their contractual obligation 14/04/20
Student Roost Confirmed changes to their cancellation policy to credit residents their rent payment and not charge rent from 01/05/20 onwards, if they moved out of their room and told Student Roost by 13/4/20 25/03/20
The Student Housing Company Confirmed changes to their policy to offer a 50% refund on final rent installment to students who have vacated and not rebooking.
Students who are rebooking have been offered credit towards next years rent (applies to students who have left and also those still in rooms).
Students that are still in rooms and are not rebooking have been offered a flexible payment plan for their final rent installment 
27/04/20

UNITE Students and

Liberty Living

Confirmed changes to cancellation policy, so any student not planning to stay in their UNITE or Liberty Living room for their 3rd University term (and told their halls team by 10/4/20), can surrender their tenancy with no liability for outstanding rent payment. Accommodation also offered, at no cost, to any student needing to remain living in their room beyond the current tenancy agreement 24/03/20

 

 

QUESTIONS THAT LSH ARE BEING ASKED


 

Q:  I haven’t found accommodation for my next year yet.  What shall I do? 

A:  We would encourage you to wait until you have less restrictions on the ability to view accommodation, it is safe to do so, and you have a clearer picture of what the next few months will look like. There is a lot of uncertainty at the moment but one thing is for sure that when we are able to resume some sort of normality, the registered accommodation advertised through LSH will be there for you. There is a surplus of LSH registered private student accommodation so there is no need to rush.  

 

If you do wish to look for properties now, we have introduced a new search feature that allows you to find accommodation providers who are offering some flexibility to their terms and conditions. For more information please see the section above on searching for accommodation for next year.

 

Q:  Can I view accommodation now? 

A:  We have all been instructed to follow the current Government advice and guidelines in respect of non-essential travel. As of 13th May, the Government advice to landlords and agents has changed, to allow property viewings to be undertaken, albeit with strict guidelines to ensure safe practices in relation to viewings. Although these guidelines have changed, LSH strongly urges students to only consider viewing a property if it is safe to do so. We would reiterate that there is no need to rush, due to the surplus of LSH registered private student accommodation in Liverpool.

 

You should be mindful that many landlords and providers want to protect you, themselves and their existing tenants in respect of the Government restrictions. You should not go to view a property if you are showing symptoms, shielding or have been asked to self-isolate, or any of the current tenants in a property you wish to view are also showing symptoms, shielding or have been asked to self-isolate.

 

If you attend a property viewing, you must maintain the two metre social distancing measures and wear a face covering. You should ask the landlord or agent to provide you with clear and transparent safe viewing guidelines before a viewing takes place. LSH would strongly advise that the number of prospective tenants attending any viewing should be severely restricted - preferably to a single person - or that one perspective tenant be allowed to enter the property in turn. The government guidance for property viewings states that viewing should 'only involve members of a single household', meaning you can only attend a property viewing as a group if you are all currently living together now. If any member of your future household has moved back home, or does not currently live in the same household as you, you cannot meet up with them to view a property.

 

Q:  As a landlord/agent, can I continue to conduct viewings for accommodation? 

A: The latest advice from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government recommends that landlords and tenants engage constructively about access to a property, and that it is only proposed for serious and urgent issues. Follow the Government’s latest guidance on distancing measures necessary to help stop the spread of the virus here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

 

That said, as of 13th May, the Government advice to landlords and agents has changed to allow property viewings to be undertaken, albeit with strict guidelines to ensure safe practices in relation to viewings. Before arranging any viewings, landlords and agents must contact any current occupants and ask whether anyone in the property is showing symptoms, is shielding or has been asked to self-isolate before going ahead with any viewing. Viewings should not be conducted in properties where tenants are symptomatic or self-isolating, or where it has been determined that they are clinically extremely vulnerable and are shielding. Likewise, we would strongly advise no viewings take place if any prospective tenants wishing to view are also showing symptoms, shielding or have been asked to self-isolate.

 

You must not conduct any open house viewings, or drive any prospective tenants to viewings. Any visits to a property by you, your representatives or contractors must be made in accordance with the government's guidelines on working in other people's homes and social distancing. The government guidelines on property viewings also strongly reccommend that you encourage any existing tenants to vacate the property whilst viewings are taking place, in order for them to minimise contact with those not in their household.

 

On May 13th, LSH shared these updated guidelines, and some additional details with LSH registered accommodation providers, which you can view here.

 

Q:  I don’t want to view the accommodation and I am happy to sign the contract. 

A:  We would refer back to our position before the pandemic where LSH always recommends that you view accommodation before entering into a contract.  If you sign a contract for a property you will be liable to fulfill the obligations contained in that document, which include payment of rent.   

If you are not sure about any aspect you should wait until you are confident you can meet all the terms of the tenancy agreement. 

 

If you are determined to sign a tenancy agreement then speak with the landlord/agent and request a break clause that allows the tenancy to be terminated in the event of travel restrictions or remote learning continuing. You will also still be subject to right to rent checks, although these have been temporarily adjusted to allow tenants to provide scanned documents in place of sending originals.

 

Remember, you can view a list of all properties where the landlord is offering a 'Coronavirus Amendment Policy' by clicking on the button within the property search box titled 'Coronavirus Flexible Tenancies'.

 

Q:  What is the position if my property I’m living in has problems with disrepair? 

A:  The Government has provided guidance to both landlords and tenants, which relate to guidance on these types of issues.  LSH is following all guidance as given by the Government and this will be the source we will follow.  Here is a link to the document and guidanceAny visits to a property by a landlord/agent, theirr representatives or contractors must be made in accordance with the government's guidelines on working in other people's homes and social distancing.

 

Q:  What are my legal obligations as a landlord to provide regular gas and electrical safety inspections and energy performance assessments? 

A:  Landlords should make every effort to abide by existing gas safety regulations and electrical safety regulations which come into force on 1 July. There are provisions in both regulations to account for situations in which a landlord cannot do this (see page 19 of the latest government guidance), and they must demonstrate they have taken all reasonable steps to comply with the law.

 

If you are not able to gain access to the property due to restrictions in place to tackle COVID-19, or are not able to engage a contractor to carry out the necessary work, we recommend you document your attempts to do so and all correspondence with your tenants.

 

Both regulations are clear on the issue of compliance. If a landlord can show they have taken all reasonable steps to comply with their duty under the regulations, they are not in breach of the duty. With regards to the Electrical Safety Regulations a landlord would not be in breach of the duty to comply with a remedial notice.

 

A landlord could show reasonable steps by keeping copies of all communications they have had with their tenants and with electricians as they tried to arrange the work, including any replies they have had. Landlords may also want to provide other evidence they have that the installation, appliance or flue is in a good condition while they attempt to arrange works.

 

You can read the latest guidance for landlords and Gas Safe engineers and inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive here: https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/help-and-advice/covid-19-advice-and-guidance

 

For specific guidance relevant to energy performance assessments, please visit www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-energy-performance-certificates.

 

 

Q:  Rent payments..... 

A:  LSH has followed guidance as provided by the Government.

 

Liverpool Student Homes have recommended all students open a dialogue with their landlord if they are facing such difficulties. We are aware that some landlords have agreed to extend the payment schedule, some have agreed to reduce payments and others (primarily in the private halls sector) who have agreed to waive the final instalment.   

 

We are also aware that each landlord will have their own specific financial set of circumstances that will mean some are able to respond whilst others are not. We would again, though, also recommend that landlords engage with their student tenants in an open and transparent way. We encourage both parties to talk it through. 

 

Liverpool Student Homes is not aware of any additional funding any student will be able to claim but, we understand, they should still be receiving their student loans. However, please bear in mind, that the maintenance element contained within a student loan will not, necessarily, be sufficient to cover all rent and living expenses. 

 

This is a difficult and challenging time for us all and everyone is experiencing the impact of the Coronavirus. At this stage the information we have provided is the best we can issue and is based on a changing and evolving environment.  Adopting a fair and sensible approach to support each other and finding a mutually acceptable position will be the way forward.  

 

Liverpool Student Homes, 5 Oxford St, Liverpool, L7 7HL
Tel Main: 0151 794 3296, Email: lsh@liverpool.ac.uk

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