National Codes Newsletter - March 2021 Welcome back to your monthly National Codes update. With the a roadmap out of lockdown now in sight, and the opening up of campuses on the horizon, there are brighter times for the sector ahead. Information and Advice on Coronavirus in Student Accommodation for Housing Supplier – Further Updates Updates have been made to the information and advice on coronavirus in student accommodation for housing suppliers page. Newer content includes: Students who have Returned to their Accommodation Students travelling home for the Easter Break New and Returning Students Travelling from Overseas Government Publishes Guidance on How to Prevent Spread of COVID-19 in All Types of Housing The Government has released a guidance document that explains the additional steps that can be taken to reduce transmission of COVID-19. The advice is written specifically with people who live in shared accommodation in mind, which is defined as: A flat or house share where tenants live with another person with whom they are not related and share cooking and bathroom facilities A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), which is where 3 or more people from 2 or more different families share cooking or bathroom facilities Co-living where multiple people/households share some facilities or common areas The full guidance can be consulted on the UK Government website. Unipol Training & Events Programme – Mental Health First Aid Training & the UK Student Accommodation Forum Unipol Student Homes is delighted to now offer Mental Health First Aid training as part of its training programme. Having been adapted for online learning, the course is delivered virtually over 4 sessions with days for independent learning. The staff at Unipol who will deliver the training have attended the instructor training programme run by Mental Health First Aid England. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an internationally recognised training course which teaches people how to spot the signs and symptoms of mental ill health and provide help on a first aid basis. MHFA won’t teach you to be a therapist, but just like physical first aid, it will teach you to listen, reassure and respond, even in a crisis We will be delivering online MHFA over the next few months, please check our website regularly for dates. You can also register your interest by emailing [email protected] The next UK Student Accommodation Forum 'Dealing with Complaints about Student Accommodation' is also available to book, with limited spaces remaining. This will take place on Thursday 25th March 11 AM - 12 PM featuring a guest speaker from the Office of the Independent Adjudicator. The session will consider: What kind of complaints are coming through at the moment? How are the OIA and ANUK/Unipol handling these and are you following any guidelines or principles? How are complaints about accommodation refunds linking into general academic complaints (and possibly requests for fee refunds)? What kind of outcomes are being delivered? Complaints Overview The National Code is still receiving a higher number of complaints than compared to previous years. Since the onset of ‘lockdown 3’, there has been an increase in the number of complaint enquiries seeking a rent refund/tenancy release. A number of these can be attributed to the increasing discontent and uncertainty with the plans for returning to campus rather than direct issues with the standards in accommodation. Below is a summary of the complaints by category received by the National Code between 1/9/2020-11/3/2021: Seeks release / refund 135 Repairs 17 Condition upon arrival 13 Customer Service 8 Contract / rent 7 Deposit 6 Covid - Restrictions 5 Possessions disposed of 5 Covid release 2019-20 4 Noise / ASB 4 Construction work 3 Covid - ASB / risks 3 Access notification 2 Pests / Rodents 2 Damp/mould 1 Late building 1 Many and various breaches 1 Mis-selling 1 Grand Total 218 For any guidance or questions regarding complaints, please email Code Complaints Investigator Vic Peckitt [email protected] National Code Occupancy Levels Research The National Code recently carried out some research for the Department for Education on occupancy levels in PBSA developments nationally. Data was requested from the top 10 providers by bed space within the Non-Educational Code, with the overall occupancy figures being sent to inform the Governments return to campus strategy. An overview of the significant effort that has been made across the PBSA sector to ensure developments are COVID secure and what support has been put in place for students self-isolating was also shared. Unipol would like to thank all the Providers who co-operated with Unipol and provided data for this important briefing. NUS/Unipol Accommodation Cost Survey 2021 The only sector-wide data return on student accommodation costs is back for another year. This longitudinal dataset provides insight that can be used by universities and private providers alike on a variety of pricing issues, national trends and regional variations. Having been run for over 50 years, the survey is more relevant today than it has ever been and is regarded as the definitive study of PBSA rents across the United Kingdom. The widely anticipated undertaking of this years survey will begin later this year, and members will be contacted over the coming months regarding participation. The Accommodation Cost Survey 2018 is available to view. Mailing List – Sign up on the National Code Website To receive the National Code Newsletter notification directly, and for information on upcoming events such as the Student Accommodation Forum, please head to the National Code website, and sign up for our mailing list at the bottom of the page.