As part of our ongoing work supporting students' rent and accommodation issues, (see our previous update here), a motion was passed at our Annual Student Meeting last week strengthening the Students’ Union support for the student-led QMUL Rent Strike Campaign and their demands. The Students’ Union stands in solidarity with those currently withholding rent, either through an inability to pay or as a means to lobby the University to meet all of the campaign's demands. The strike continues, to find out more about the campaign and to join please visit their campaign online, or via their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The Rent Strike Campaign has outlined the following demands:
- Queen Mary University of London commit to a 30% rent reduction for all students in halls for the remainder of the 2020/21 academic year.
- The University allows no-penalty early tenancy release clauses for home and international students from their rent contracts (and guarantees this for future academic years too).
- QMUL ensures no job losses for cleaning, maintenance and teaching staff who work in QMUL Halls or in QMUL teaching, plus better health and safety protection.
- A rent refund for all students in QMUL Halls which equates to much we would have paid during the January - February lockdown period.
- There is an immediate increase in the support the University can offer for students in QMUL Halls of Residence:
- Allow students alone in halls to ‘bubble up’ with other houses during lockdowns
- Sufficient food, laundry and post for flats in isolation
- Better and more consistent mental health support for students
- A total review of standards of living across all QMUL Halls of Residence (when students are not occupying rooms, e.g. over the summer).
- The University reinstate the no detriment policy for all students
- That the University takes no disciplinary action against rent strikers.
- No notices to quit
- No evictions
- No court orders
- No interest charged on unpaid rent
- No negative credit ratings
- No negative impact on students as a guarantor in the future
The Executive Officers have been meeting with both the Campaign Team to be able to support them, and the University to try and acheive these demands and reach a fair outcome for students. At the moment, discussions are centering around resolving the maintenance issues faced by students in halls,which were raised by the Campaign. We are lobbying for each of these to be dealt with, as well as for the University to undertake a review of all campus accommodation standards, as some of our students are experiencing terrible conditions. It is clear these maintenance issues are more than just one-off isolated issues. The QMUL Rent Strike Campaign are currently collecting information about maintenance issues from current and former halls residents, this can be filled in here. This will help to both address the current issues and contribute to lobbying for a wider accommodation review.
Current residents can also raise maintenance issues directly with the University team responsible here and we encourage students to do both.
We are also working with the University to ensure adequate welfare support is available to both students in halls and all other students as we recognise that this is an incredibly challenging time for so many of us and it is having adverse effects on students’ mental health. Student wellbeing is at the top of our priority list, and we want to make sure that it is for the university too. Here are some further link to helpful welfare resources;
We have also raised the issues of no penalties for students striking and options for early tenancy releases with the University and will provide further updates once we hear back on this. We understand that the circumstances of the pandemic are not the fault of the students so don’t think they should be penalised for taking this action.
We will continue to work with the University to ensure students receive the best experience possible during the pandemic, you can see the latest updates on No Detriment, fees and other matters on our news page here. We will keep listening to all your comments and suggestions. If you have any feedback or concerns please do get in touch with us and also raise directly with the University. We will keep you updated on progress and will be meeting the University again to discuss in the coming week