#NotStayingNotPaying - @NUSScotland has welcomed Scottish Government’s announcement that new proposals to introduce notice periods for student accommodation will be included as part of new emergency Covid-19 legislation this coming week.

Notice periods for student accommodation are to be introduced as part of new emergency coronavirus (Covid-19) legislation to be introduced to Parliament this week.

Students currently tied to a contract in halls of residence or other purpose built student accommodation would be able to give 7 days’ notice before ending their lease.

Subject to Parliament’s approval of the legislation, new agreements entered into by students while the new Bill is in force will also have a ’28-day-notice to leave’ period.

This measure will ensure that if students entering into accommodation contracts for the next academic year are unable to take them up due to COVID-19 restrictions, they will be able to give notice and not be held liable for accommodation they cannot use.

Constitution Secretary Michael Russell said:

“To reduce the spread of this terrible virus, many students have returned to their family homes for the duration of the lockdown but are still paying for their term-time accommodation.

“During this time of great uncertainty and financial hardship for many, these proposals would relieve a significant extra financial burden on students. Introducing a 28 day notice period for contracts entered into during the lifetime of this Act, recognises the uncertainly around the impact of ongoing lockdown measures, as well as providing the same rights as for those students renting in the mainstream private rented sector.

“We continue to press the UK Government to recognise the impact the pandemic is having on the higher education sector and for appropriate financial support to be made available to Scottish institutions.”

At present, students up and down the country have been locked into student accommodation contracts, despite leaving their rooms as campuses closed before the ‘lockdown’ came into force.

The proposals, if passed, would mean students currently tied into contracts in institution-owned halls of residence or privately-owned purpose-built student accommodation would be able to give seven days’ notice before ending their lease – for Covid-19 related reasons. New agreements would be subject to a 28-day notice period while the new Bill is in force.

The proposals follow NUS Scotland’s #NotStayingNotPaying campaign, which seeks to ensure students can leave student accommodation contracts penalty free.

Commenting, NUS Scotland President Liam McCabe said:

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“Far too many student accommodation providers have disgraced themselves in the past months by refusing to release students from their contracts in the midst of a global pandemic. As such, we welcome the Scottish Government’s intervention on this issue.

“If successful, these proposals will allow students to end their accommodation contracts with notice periods. This is a victory for students up and down the country who took part in our #NotStayingNotPaying campaign.

“Since before the lockdown students have been paying for student accommodation they moved out of. NUS Scotland’s message to accommodation providers is clear: provide refunds to the students you have been exploiting, finally giving them the peace of mind you have been denying them.

“NUS Scotland has long called for the Scottish Government to instigate a comprehensive review of the student accommodation sector. The conduct of some accommodation providers during this crisis makes that review all the more urgent.”

The Scottish Government intends to introduce the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Bill to Parliament on Monday 11 May, with publication the same day.

These provisions apply only to students living in halls of residence or purpose built student accommodation.

Under the Bill’s provisions, students would be able to give 7 days’ notice to leave contracts they are currently still liable for. For those entering into new accommodation contracts during the lifetime of the Bill, a 28 day notice period would apply. Students would only be able to use notice periods for Covid-19 specific reasons and, for example, could not give notice simply because they have changed their mind about attending an education establishment.

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