Negotiate a contract change in private accommodation

This guidance is for you if you live in private accommodation and are unable to return at present due to the national lockdown during 2021. It’s also applicable if you want to leave your contract permanently i.e. you will not be returning to your rented property to live at all. If you live in University accommodation, please see this page for guidance on rent negotiations. 

Your contract legally requires you to continue paying rent, however the Government guidance says landlords should offer support and understanding to tenants where possible. Therefore, your landlord may be willing to compromise on your rent payments. For example, you may consider requesting one of the following:

  • A reduction in rent until you’re able to return,
  • A pause on rent until you’re able to return to the property,
  • A change to the date you pay rent e.g. so you can pay more further down the line to cover rent dates missed,
  • An early release from your contract due to not being able to return at all.

You will need to write to your landlord to start the discussions. Your message should explain where possible:

  • Why you are struggling with rent
  • What you are doing to address your situation
  • Your payment proposal
  • That you will be in regular contact

We’ve provided this basic template you can modify however you need. Try to personalise it to your situation as much as possible and to the level you’re comfortable divulging, this will help your landlord see the personal impact on you and why you need to negotiate your contract. Shelter provide housing advice and they cover this topic, including a suggested template here.

Do note that your contract also requires you to pay the household bills (i.e. Energy, Water and Wifi) and you remain responsible for these until the end of your contract. You may want to further reassure your landlord that you’ll continue to pay these. If you’re not returning to the property at all and have a period where you need to continue paying them, you may want to contact the companies and see if you can get reductions here also.

Do keep a record of any agreements you come to and do not agree to repayments you can't afford.

If you would like further advice on information to include and/or feedback on your draft, please contact the SU Advice and Support Centre. Our Advisers may be able to provide further advice with your ongoing negotiations, so do check with them if you’re not sure about certain elements.

If your negotiations aren’t successful, you may want to speak with the Money Advice Service in Student Services to see what advice and support is available. You can also speak with Citizens Advice.

Further useful guidance from Shelter: