THE BLOG

Petition Launched to Stop UNITE Forcing Students Out of Pre-Paid Flats

09/05/2013 13:26 BST | Updated 08/07/2013 10:12 BST

Residents at Woodland Court UNITE student accommodation have been told they must vacate their rooms during summer despite holding a signed tenancy contract to have the room until September. Two of the accommodation's three blocks of flats have been disrupted. One block have been asked to leave the rooms by the 24th June whilst another block has been asked to leave by the 18th August. UNITE say this has happened as they have been chosen as the accommodation provider to an International Language School and the University of Arts London.

A petition has been launched in support of students wishing to stay in their rooms. Anyone can sign the petition that can be found here.

Students currently living there are from universities all across London including UCL, London Metropolitan, SOAS, City, Westminister, Birkbeck and more. The news came as a shock to the students' many of whom are facing pressures already from examinations.

A student at the University of Westminister said: "I've been a customer at UNITE for three years and paid almost £30,000 to a company that I now feel has betrayed my trust. It's the beginning of my final year exams which are crucial to my future. I don't want to continue paying money to UNITE whilst they move me around like some kind of sheep. If I had known this could have happened I would never have booked with UNITE. It's not right - UNITE don't realise, this is my home now. "

The letter informing student's of the situation contained spelling mistakes and was placed under students doors at 3am on Friday 26 despite being dated for Thursday 25. Students were given till Wednesday - only five days - to respond stating if they wish to end their tenancy and or if they wish to be allocated alternative accommodation provided by UNITE. Between 2pm Friday afternoon and Monday no management were on site to deal with concerned and upset customers.

UNITE are using the clause written in the contracts that they reserve the right to move students from their rooms for the purpose of "better management." A student at London Metropolitan University said "I had no idea that such a situation could be classed as better management. If I knew this is what UNITE meant by better management I would never signed. It's misleading students. I feel deceived."

Giulio Folino, President of City University London, said: "This is a clear example of profits being put before students. Whilst the National Code for Assured Accommodation (which Woodland Court is a member) may not have been broken, it is definitely not within its spirit. I urge Woodland Court to reconsider and ensure students who have paid for their accommodation are not forced to be displaced against their will."

UNITE say: "We understand that a recent communication regarding changes to your tenancies at Woodland Court during the Summer has caused some confusion and we apologise for any distress this has caused."

Students at Woodland are organising to place pressure on UNITE and voice what has happened to them. They are urging anyone who can help or has been affected to contact: woodlandcourtaction@gmail.com. The National Union of Students alongside students unions of universities affected are also putting pressure on UNITE to change their decision.