Welcome to the September edition of the newsletter. In a busy month filled with welcome weeks, student arrivals and the start of a new academic year, here are a few updates from the National Code:

Reminder – Code Members Letter

A letter was sent via email on 25th August to all Code Members, to update members on specific areas relating to the ANUK/Unipol National Codes for the 2020-2021 academic year. If you haven’t received this, a copy can be found here.

The areas of particular interest to note:

Individual building suspension - From 1st September 2020, the Audit Panel and/or Tribunal will now have the power to suspend specific buildings from the Code, for a period of time not to exceed 52 weeks (but ideally not more than 12 weeks). The maximum number of buildings that can be suspending within a 52 week period is 20% of the members portfolio, with an overall maximum limit of 3 buildings per member. More information on this can be found on the Complaints Tribunal System page.

Buildings coming on-line for the 2020/21 academic year – It has been acknowledged that the lockdown period has presented many difficulties in the construction industry, and the impact this has had on the completion of many new student accommodation developments.

Following on from setting out a tighter definition of what a ‘late building’ is and the implementation of the late and refurbished buildings protocol, there has been a significant improvement in the response from Providers, with less students affected than in 2019.

Code complaints: COVID-19 related rent refunds & personal possessions – The Codes have set an operational deadline for receiving complaints relating to COVID-19 rent refunds for the 2019-2020 academic year. This will take effect as of midday on Friday 25th September 2020, 6 months after lockdown began on 23rd March 2020.

A number of complaints have arisen regarding ex-tenants belongings left on the premises. The government has released guidance on collecting belongings, with the onus placed on clear communication between tenants and landlords. Any decisions on complaints surrounding this will have a number of factors taken into consideration, further detail of which can be found in the letter.

Update to Coronavirus Guidance

An extensive amount of updates have been made to the information and advice on coronavirus in student accommodation for housing suppliers page. New content includes:

  • Information on Student Accommodation demand
  • Dealing with complaints
  • COVID-19 related rent refunds for 2019-20
  • PBSA buildings coming on-line in Summer 2020
  • Dealing with ex-tenants belongings left on premises
  • The 2020-2021 Academic Year- Government advice
  • Self-isolation and ‘quarantining’
  • Planning ahead for occupancy
  • Signing contracts and contractual obligations

UK Student Accommodation Forum

Unipol has launched the UK Student Accommodation Forums, platform for discussion and updates on current trends within the sector. The events also include guest speakers and the opportunity for a Q&A section, and are a good opportunity for providers to share and learn from best practice and ideas. The theme of the next forum is ‘Social Distancing and Policing’, and will be held online on Tuesday 15th September from 11 AM-12 PM.  You can book your ticket and find out more information here.

National Code Review

Since the update in the August newsletter, a first draft has been created. The Codes Consortium will now discuss and agree the content at their next meeting on Thursday 10th September, following which there will be a consultation with Code Members. Further details of the consultation and the response deadline will be sent out after the Consortium meeting.

Joint Codes Conference

Usually in November each year, Unipol and UUK hold the Annual Joint Codes Conference. Due to the ongoing impacts of Coronavirus, a physical conference will not be taking place, instead we will be hosting a series of webinar sessions via Zoom. Dates and themes are still under consideration, but keep an eye out for further details coming in the next few weeks.

If members have a specific topic/area they'd like to see a session on, please email [email protected] with any ideas.