Grian Ní Dhaimhin is the newly-elected president of Queen’s Students Union and part of the Student Renters’ Group (SRG). The group is highlighting the difficulties and uncertainty faced by students renting in the private sector at the moment.
Grain explained, “We’re calling on all public representatives to support these very simple demands to support student renters during this medical pandemic and healthcare emergency. During a period of great uncertainty and financial difficulty for many students, letting agencies and landlords are refusing to terminate contracts early and are still demanding rent payments. We believe that this is unjust and unreasonable.
“We want to see an immediate rent suspension during the Covid-19 crisis with no subsequent repayments, with this backdated to cover the month of March to provide security for those out of work and financially insecure during this crisis. We are calling for an 18 month freeze on rent increases to protect current and future renters against landlords who may opportunistically exploit the current and coming crisis. We demand measures for early termination of contracts without penalty as students should not be held to ransom over rent for a house that they cannot live in whilst this crisis is ongoing, and a ban on all Covid-19 caused evictions to protect the most vulnerable students during this period of uncertainty”, Grain explained.
“The Student Renters’ Group believe these measures are the best way to ensure the safety and security of thousands of renters across Northern Ireland. It is no longer ‘business as usual’ for the working class. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.
“Whilst student renters and tenants are left unprotected during the current emergency as a result of inaction by Stormont, tenants unions such as the Student Renters Group remain the last line of defence.
“In the absence of legislation we will continue to highlight the unethical practice of local landlord and letting agents however we see fit, and direct action will be taken when necessary. When this crisis is over students won’t forget who helped them, and who failed to.”
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