STUDENTS who no longer want to live in their university accommodation might be wondering what their rights are in terms of a refund.
The coronavirus pandemic has seen some universities move their lectures to online-only classes to help stop the spread of the infection.
But what does this mean for students who want to move home, but carry on their studies virtually?
We explain if they're entitled to a refund on any rent paid in advance.
It comes as thousands of freshers say they’re trapped in their halls of residence after being asked to isolate.
More than 500 coronavirus cases have been reported across 30 sites, forcing students to be kept inside.
Students are also furious that they have to pay full tuition fees to simply sit in their rooms.
Can I get a refund on my student halls?
If you no longer want to live in your halls of residence, speak to your university as soon as possible to discuss your refund options.
Each university will have its own refund rules, depending on who manages your accommodation – some are owned by the university, while others are owned by separate management companies.
Sadly, Citizens Advice says students aren't automatically entitled to a refund on any rent already paid for in advance, even if they're not using their room.
This is because once you sign an accommodation agreement, you are generally liable for any rent that needs paying.
Rent for students in halls of residences is usually due at the start of each term.
If you don't pay, a guarantor could be asked to stump up the money for any missed rent.
Can I end my student halls tenancy early?
Citizens Advice says you should check to see if you tenancy has a break clause, which would allow you to end the tenancy early.
However, experts say this is "unlikely" in a student tenancy due to the short-term nature of these agreements.
Citizens Advice says it may also be possible to put forward a "frustration" argument – which means you'd be arguing that it's impossible for you to live in the accommodation.
For example, because the campus has been shut down, or you can't travel due to a local lockdown.
This is less likely to succeed where the room continues to be available, but the tenant chooses not to live in it.
You should also consider that if you give up your room, it may be harder to find accommodation later down the academic year.
Citizens Advice senior housing expert Amy Hughes said: "It must be very frustrating for students that the academic year hasn’t started in the way they would have hoped.
"Unfortunately, there’s not much good news for students who decide to change households for the medium to long-term, by returning to their family home for example.
"It’s likely that in many cases they will be tied into their accommodation agreements and not entitled to any refund."
Can I ask for a rent reduction?
Citizens Advice says you're more likely to secure a rent reduction if your landlord is the university, as opposed to a private landlord.
Again, this will be up to the university to decide whether to grant any money off.
Amy said: "Where the landlord is the university, they may be more sympathetic to a short-term reduction in rent, or ending a contract early, if there is no longer any reason for you to remain in halls."
If you're thinking of asking for a short-term reduction, speak to your university as soon as possible.
Salman Haqqi, personal finance expert at money.co.uk, recommends keeping a record of all your correspondences in case you need them later down the line.
He told The Sun: "It’s always a good idea to approach your landlord first, explain your situation and try to negotiate with them.
"Back in March when lockdown first came into effect, some universities did allow students in halls of residence to stop paying rent for a fixed period.
"So, it’s always worth checking out what your landlord may be able to offer if you’re dealing with a tough situation."
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