Housing Advice for International Students in the UK During COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, people around the globe are trying to keep safe from the virus. The coronavirus pandemic has also impacted the UK, infecting more than 90,000 individuals, to date. The government has been advising people to stay inside as much as possible and avoid large gatherings or crowds of people. Schools, colleges and universities have been closed while classes proceed online. With remote work and classes, many internationals have returned to their home countries to face this challenging situation along with their families.

International students have also been facing quite a few challenges due to the pandemic. Apart from the obvious threat of the virus, many international students have been worrying about lectures, exams, university applications, travel restrictions, and accommodation among others. Housing problems have been an issue for international students ever since the coronavirus outbreak in the UK. Although many have returned home, the problems of rent and eviction have been following them. And with the financial difficulties that numerous students are facing, this has been just the ‘cherry on top’.

Below you will find everything you need to know about housing as an international student in the UK during COVID-19:

Accommodation Options for Students in the UK

If you’re an international student in the UK during the pandemic, you might be facing problems with halls of residence or travel restrictions and you cannot return home. Below we have listed a few tips you might want to consider.

Consult Your University

It is always advisable to consult your university if you’re an international student in need of help or advice. Contact the student services department at your university and maybe they will be able to assist you with your accommodation arrangements. Universities in the UK are currently being very helpful towards international students by providing special coronavirus helplines which students can call and ask any questions related to the current situation. Depending on what university you attend, the student services might be able to help you with relocation possibilities.

Consult Your Home Country’s Embassy

Many countries are trying to bring their citizens home during the pandemic. This has also been the case with international students. If you do not have the finances to fly back home or are facing issues with your housing, the embassy might have short-term options you could use or they might be able to help you with arranging a flight back home. Although things might be difficult at the moment, with border controls and travel restrictions being issued, you can always contact your nearest embassy and show them your circumstances.

Consult Your Homeshare Advisors

Apart from halls of residence, many students live in home-share arrangements. If you are one of those students who are currently living in Share & Care accommodation in the UK with landlords who are older and more vulnerable to the virus, it would be best if you and other students in your position moved together for the time being. This way, you would be able to share rent as well as protect the elderly from potential exposure to the virus.

Consult Your Friends in the UK

You may also talk to your friends in the UK or fellow students and ask them whether they have a free couch or bed for you until the current situation ends and you settle with housing arrangements. During this time you can find many students who might be going through the same situation as you, so it is good to check with them. Maybe even post an announcement in social media sites where fellow students can contact you.

Regulations Regarding Student Housing During COVID-19

The government has announced a package which protects renters and landlords during the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s what the package means for renters:

The measures mean that no renters, either in private or social accommodation, need to be worried about getting evicted while there is a national emergency going on. No landlords will be able to start the procedure of evicting tenants for a period of, at least, 3 months.

It is considered an illegal eviction if your landlord forces you to leave by threatening you, throws you out physically, prevents you from getting into areas of the home, or changes the locks while you are not home. Landlords usually need to get a court order and, if you’re a tenant, ask bailiffs to evict you. They should follow the correct legal procedure.

In case you are a lodger, living with your landlord, they still need to follow the correct process of eviction. Landlords do not need to go to court, however, you are entitled to have reasonable notice before you’re evicted. Such is also the case if you are in a council or housing association hostel or in emergency accommodation. Threats and violence as a form of eviction, however, is a criminal offence.

Support Services for International Students in the UK

As an international student in the UK at the time of the coronavirus outbreak, you may contact the following helplines depending on what your situation is:

  • Reach out to your university’s wellbeing support services. You can find the contact details on the website of your respective university.
  • You may call the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) and speak to the Student Advice Line on +442077889214.
  • Reach the Government Helpline by contacting the Department for Education (DfE) and inquire information about COVID-19 via phone or email.
    Phone: 0800 046 8687 / Email: [email protected]
  • For immigration issues related to COVID-19 only, contact the Coronavirus Immigration Helpline of UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration), by phone or email (9 am-5 pm).
    Phone: 0800 678 1767 / Email: [email protected]