UCL is the latest university to quietly end its rent guarantor scheme, suggesting students should contact commercial organisations for support instead.
The London university’s move has prompted fears from students that those on a low-income or from overseas will find it tougher to arrange private rentals.
Students without a parent or relative to help, or non-UK residents, have historically relied on the university to help it secure accommodation in the capital, by acting as guarantor, providing they had no outstanding debts to the university and were only living with other UCL students.
Now they say this stressful change will be difficult when students are dealing with the current restrictions preventing free movement.
Terry Mason, group operations director at Housing Hand, tells LandlordZONE that while the cost of the guarantor service is higher, it’s been working with UCL and covering these students for years, so the cost to them remains the same.
He adds that several universities have closed their guarantee services in exactly the way that UCL has.
Liability and loss
“I can only assume it is down to liability and loss,” says Mason. “If UCL stood as guarantor for 400 students this year and 200 of those have left their accommodation without paying for the final four months, with a London rent of £1,000 per month, the rent debt would be as high as £800,000.”
The change seems to have happened relatively quietly, with many students only becoming aware it through a social media post.
A university spokesperson says: “UCL is advising students to use external rent guarantor schemes, which are also recognised by landlords and will still ensure their tenancy applications are approved.
“Moving forward, we will be monitoring this carefully. Students are advised to contact us if they are experiencing any issues so we can offer our support.”