Examination of Witness

Part of Renters (Reform) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 16 November 2023.

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Chloe Field:

I do not think it takes sufficient account of the student rental market. People forget how unique and diverse students are and the student rental market is. As you just mentioned, students do not always do their courses in the typical September to June time. We have postgraduate researchers who study and work throughout the year. We also have mature students and students who have families and who will live in properties with non-students. There are things there that need to be taken into account regarding students in the Bill.

We also have the fact that the student rental market is very precarious. Renting in that market is rushed; you are expected to sign a contract about nine months before you move. That means that students end up having to pay really high prices because there is such a rush and people just accept the first house they find. It also means you cannot do sufficient research into the house you are about to sign the contract for. For example, is there mould? Is the quality of the house any good? Those are the unique factors of the student rental market.

In terms of the student exemption, our position has always been that it is incredibly dangerous. It sets a precedent that students will not be afforded the same rights as other renters and sets a further precedent for any future reforms and future exemptions for students. Like I said before, students are not a homogeneous group. They are not just 18 to 21-year-olds doing an undergraduate degree. They come in all types and different forms. It is one thing to make an exemption for purpose-built student accommodations, which is a type of accommodation, but it is another thing to create an exemption for a demographic of people who are studying. We are worried about that.

Also, the reasoning is that landlords are threatening to leave the market. As the previous witness said, landlords should not be renting in a market where they cannot accept that there are slight reforms and accountability for landlords. We consistently see exploitative landlords in the student market. I do not think we should be left threatened by those rogue landlords who cannot accept any form of regulation. Those are the main things on the student exception, but we accept that if there is that exception, it has to be carefully curated to fit the student rental market.