LSE will not charge rent to students who are unable to return to LSE accommodation under current travel guidance, an LSE spokesperson told The Beaver. Students who do not wish to return to LSE halls for the remainder of the year will be allowed to end their contracts and halt the payment of fees.
Students leasing rooms in LSE accommodation were informed of the move yesterday, and LSE has said that it aims to process refunds for rent overpayments within 28 days. Per an LSE spokesperson: “Students who are not returning to LSE-managed halls until a later than scheduled date, due to government advice or travel difficulties, will have their accommodation fees waived until the date they return. Students who do not wish to return to LSE-managed halls this year, and have vacated their accommodation, can have their contract ended and fees halted. “
The move comes amid growing pressure on the School to support student renters, many of whom have been prevented from returning to London under recent national lockdown rules. Both LSE Rent Strike and the Students’ Union have lobbied the School in recent weeks on behalf of student renters, with the SU announcing today that it was “in talks with LSE to let students out of their rental contracts in halls, in line with the precedent set in April, we are optimistic that this will be agreed and announced soon.”
The School’s policy matches action taken last spring, when the first national lockdown pushed many students to return home and students were allowed to end rental contracts early. LSE will allow a limited number of students facing extenuating circumstances to return to residence halls, such as those with existing costly travel plans or unsuitable study conditions at home.
It was not immediately clear whether similar moves were being planned by the University of London or private providers for students living in intercollegiate or private halls. Separately, UCL announced plans to waive rent until 21 February for those unable to return.
The developments accomplish a major pillar of LSE Rent Strike’s demands, which called on LSE to allow no-penalty contract releases and deposit refunds. However, the School did not immediately appear to endorse the organisation’s other demands, including for a 30% fee reduction for LSE accommodation residents, following a successful reduction campaign by students at the University of Manchester last term. Instead, a spokesperson said that “our halls remain open and have supported students who remained during the winter break and welcomed those returning due to extenuating circumstances.”