Student landlord firm 'adjusting its policies' after previously refusing rent refunds

Student landlord firm 'adjusting its policies' after previously refusing rent refunds

A large private student landlord firm is “adjusting its policies”, having previously refused refunds to students who left their accommodation during the Covid-19 crisis.

However, Uninest, which manages some of the largest student residence complexes in the country, has still not confirmed if it will refund rent to students who felt safer returning to their family homes during the public health emergency.

It has yet to respond to queries submitted by the Irish Examiner over a week ago, when the issue was first reported by renters in its Amnis House complex on Cork’s Western Road, where weekly rent for the most expensive room is €243, and annual rent for a 38-week college year can top almost €10,000.

In new correspondence with tenants at one of its student complexes in Dublin, Uninest said it is “adjusting its policies” to “best support students and parents on a case-by-case basis”.

The firm told one leaseholder that it will be in touch once policies have been adjusted. However, the renter, who pays €11,000 rent a year in his accommodation complex in the capital, said that while the company appears to moving in the right direction, it is not clear if refunds will be provided for those who left their rooms during the Covid-19 crisis.

Uninest’s position stands in stark contrast to that of University College Cork (UCC), which said it will refund students who have vacated the apartment complexes it manages.

In a statement to students over a week ago, UCC asked students in campus accommodation who were in a position to do so to vacate by March 21 and return home. It said it understood that, for many students, campus accommodation was home.

“However, the university is concerned that as the cases of Covid-19 increase across the country, some students in campus accommodation are living away from support networks such as family, relatives, and friends,” the university said.

“Support networks such as this will be vital to any student should they become unwell as a result of a Covid-19 infection or who may be required to self-isolate.

“Students departing campus accommodation as a result of this decision will receive a pro-rata refund of their accommodation fee from March 21 or their date of departure [whichever is the later] for the balance of their contract term.

“Residents with a legitimate reason for remaining may do so and Campus Accommodation will remain available to such students for the remainder of this academic year.”

Meanwhile in Dublin, more than 350 new living spaces are set to come on stream for homeless services following a collapse in tourist bookings.

A total of 197 en-suite hotel rooms and 160 self-contained apartments have become available for homeless families and individuals.

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