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UEA students face owing thousands for city flats left empty due to coronavirus outbreak

PUBLISHED: 11:15 09 April 2020

Students living in private rented accommodation in the city centre face owing thousands for unused flats after their university closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.Pictured, Rhoanna Groves (inset) in her accommodation at Pablo Fanque House. Photo: Rhoanna Groves

Students living in private rented accommodation in the city centre face owing thousands for unused flats after their university closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.Pictured, Rhoanna Groves (inset) in her accommodation at Pablo Fanque House. Photo: Rhoanna Groves

Archant

Students living in private rented accommodation in Norwich city centre face owing thousands for unused flats after their university closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Pablo Fanque House, Norwich. Picture: Jamie HoneywoodPablo Fanque House, Norwich. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

First-year students at the University of East Anglia (UEA) were housed in private flats in Pablo Fanque House in September.

But after the university closed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, students who returned home have struggled to get clarity on whether they will need to pay the remainder of their contracts.

One student with £2,600 left to pay said communication from the letting agency was “awful”.

READ MORE: ‘Uncertainty’ for schools as construction of new sites on hold due to virus

Students living in private rented accommodation in the city centre face owing thousands for unused flats after their university closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.Pictured, Rhoanna Groves in her accommodation at Pablo Fanque House. Photo: Rhoanna GrovesStudents living in private rented accommodation in the city centre face owing thousands for unused flats after their university closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.Pictured, Rhoanna Groves in her accommodation at Pablo Fanque House. Photo: Rhoanna Groves

While parents urged against profiting from those left in limbo.

Rhoanna Groves, 19, a first year biomedicine student, said she was housed in the city centre complex, let by Homes For Students, as the university did not have enough spaces on-campus.

“It’s quite nice accommodation but quite expensive,” she said.

“The agency say it’s waiting to hear from the landlord whether we can have reduced rent or not.”

“But they’ve given different students different information and it’s not been very clear.”

The university told students to go home on March 17, just shy of three months before on-campus tenancies come to an end in June, but potentially leaving off-campus students with almost half their contracts to go - and to pay for.

Miss Groves added: “They have been awful with communication.

READ MORE: UEA medical students offering free childcare to support NHS workers

“They sent us a form saying if you sign and return it with your keys you’ll be released from the tenancy. I handed back my keys - then they said it was a mistake and they didn’t intend to send it.

“They still want the rent. The university said they can’t do anything for us.”

Sandra Bogelein, Norwich city councillor, said: “Students have done the right thing in following guidelines and staying at home.

“In almost all other student accommodation, students have not had to pay rent for the term when universities are closed.

“Communication has been incredibly poor and inconsistent.

“No one seems to know what is happening - this has caused so much unnecessary upset.”

A UEA spokeswoman said: “We talking with the accommodation team for Pablo Fanque House and seeing what can be done by the private provider. We are hopeful a positive solution will be found regarding the accommodation costs for the third term.”

Homes for Students have been approached for comment.

READ MORE: University of East Anglia cancels graduations due to coronavirus outbreak


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