Late and Refurbished Development Protocol: Autumn 2020

Undertaking PBSA developments over the last few months has been particularly difficult because of Coronavirus which has caused lockdowns, partial lockdowns, disruptions to supply chains for builders and enhanced health and safety requirements for staff. This has slowed many projects and made completion dates more difficult to determine.

As the 2020-2021 academic year approaches, despite these problems, it is important and necessary to take a clear set of decisions about whether a building is going to be ready for occupancy and deal with the consequences if the building in going to be late and to convey relevant and transparent information to student occupiers.

The key, under the National Codes, to dealing with what is a difficult situation will be good and transparent communication to tenants and prospective tenants and the clear flagging of any problems likely occur that affect student tenants.

It is vital that students, and other likely to be affected by their room or flat not being ready for occupation are informed at the earliest opportunity if there is a doubt about on-time occupancy. It is also important that tenants are given clear information about when a late building (or part of a building) will be ready for occupation and what the accommodation supplier has planned to cover that interim period.

The National Codes has previously flagged that:

  • where a significant number of tenants are not going to be able to live in their building for more than a few days then they should always be given the option of leaving their contract. If they chose to retain their contract then the Code makes clear what alternative accommodation arrangements should be made. If no convenient arrangements can be made the National Code Administrator should be informed of this, together with the educational institution/s at which the students are studying. It is also helpful to inform the relevant students’ unions
  • where a building is known to be late, marketing for that building should cease unless marketing can be changed to give an opening tenancy date that can be met. Action will be taken under the Codes where a building is not ready and rooms are still being sold when there is little prospect of timely delivery
  • where a building is late, it is important to give a clear move-in date that can be held to. There is nothing worse than telling students who have already experienced disruption that their second move in date has also been changed. Be realistic about when the building will be ready for occupation. It is always easier to foreshorten move in dates rather than extend them.

In the forthcoming academic year the provision of Wi-Fi will be particularly important and it will be vital that when students move into a new building the Wi-Fi is enabled. Without this many students will not be able to undertake their course obligations or take part in virtual Freshers’ events.

A copy of the revised protocol is available here

The National Codes will be contacting all providers with new buildings due to open this year to offer support and confirm that the Protocol is being followed to ensure the best outcomes for tenants in what will be a difficult start to the academic year. 

Please contact Jess Carrier, National Codes Officer on [email protected] with any questions about this.