Not yet moved in - do we?

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    Not yet moved in - do we?

    I am writing this as someone who is a landlord and also has a student offspring at Uni so can see both sides of the fence as neither side wants to be out of pocket.

    Son has signed up for a house for 2nd year of uni, as one of 6 in a house share. They are due to take it on from beginning of July for 12 months and signed a contract a few months back. Parents are due to complete guarantor paperwork and direct debit details. Given the new world we live in we do not even know if uni would start in September and given current lockdown restrictions they may not be able to move in anyway in July.

    Given the uncertainty will the contract be enforceable? Should we simply renegotiate and suggest no rent until Uni is confirmed, or a reduced rent, or walk away?

    If the contract for the property is signed and complete, it's a done deal and not adhering to the terms would be a breach of that contract.

    If there are movement restrictions which mean that moving in is impossible in July, it may be that the contract is frustrated, but you can't predict that in advance.

    If the contract is conditional, for example, it is not complete until you sign and return the guarantor forms, it's not a done deal and you can probably simply wait or walk away.

    I'd probably see what the collective view of the tenants is - and suggest that they discuss the situation with whoever they're letting the flat from. They are one of many in this situation.

    Personally, I'd suggest that the start date of the agreement be moved to October (which is when the term will really start) with the monthly rent adjusted to be the same amount over a shorter period. If this is over by then, the property will be let as agreed. If not, the landlord is no worse off than if you walk away now.

    They may not see things that way, but every student and student landlord will be facing the same decisions. You're just ahead of the curve.

    When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
    Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).


      You run the risk of losing the house if you don't complete the agreement with the prospect of having to find a house for 6 at short notice if term starts again as usual.

      I believe the Govt will try its hardest to have schools and Unis back at the beginning of the new year and the LL will be keen to have the house signed up for in plenty of time.

      Students usually have to pay for a significant proportion of the year when they are not there - this just part and parcel of the student rental system. LLs that rent for 10 months instead of 12 often charge more per month to make up for the time the property is empty.

      Given the the students may not be able to actually move in on their start date you could suggest that they pay half rent for the period when they cannot move in. Given that they probably wouldn't have moved in in July its no skin of their noses as long as term starts in Sept / Oct and a pragmatic LL may take the view that 50% is better then none.

      Be prepared for a no though - the LL may already be dealing with students not paying the summer term rent and may just look elsewhere for tenants who will pay the full amount.

      Lots may depend on the desirability of the particular house and the amount of student rental available in that town / city.


        By September there may be antibody testing and the government will be very keen to reduce the economic cost. by getting as much as possible back to normal. So I'd expect university terms to begin either as normal or a few weeks later with a shortened freshers time. As an ex student parent I wouldnt want them to lose a good house and as a landlord I'd be asking for a higher rent for a shorter period because I wouldnt expect to get any money for alternative summer lets. So be prepared for higher rents elsewhere if you dont take this one and see what you can negotiate with the landlord.

        Half rent for a few months sound fair to both if they dont move in and another landlord might be more pessimistic about universities reopening and be glad to take it.


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