Landlords and students set for legal tussles

The anticipated spread of coronavirus across educational institutions, cancellation of exams and temporary closures of universities is set to cause major disruption for students and their accommodation providers. 

In the UK, said Amy Dimond, Associate Director and Leanne Hooper, Senior Associate, at Osborne Clarke. 

“Those who have pre-signed tenancy agreements will be looking to their accommodation provider to discuss options to cancel or reschedule the start of tenancies and of course, providers will want to be pro-active to ensure the highest standards of student welfare are met.” 

Student accommodation landlords are seeking legal advice over whether students can terminate their tenancies. Dimond said: “Some contracts include a force majeure clause which operates to absolve one or both parties from their obligations on the occurrence of events outside their control – however, this type of clause is very rarely seen in tenancy agreements. In the absence of such an express provision, parties fall back on the common law doctrine of frustration.

This offers a potential route to ending a contract where a “frustrating event” occurs, such as the event occurring after the contract has been formed.

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