Landlord firm refuses rent refund for students who returned home due to virus

By Eoin English
Irish Examiner Reporter

One of Ireland’’s largest student landlord firms has refused rent refunds to students who have chosen to go home during the Covid-19 crisis.

Student leaders at University College Cork (UCC) urged Uninest, which operates two large student residences in Cork, as well as complexes in Dublin and around Europe, to show compassion during the unprecedented global public health crisis.

It comes as UCC confirmed a second case of Covid-19 on campus today. Contact tracing is underway.

UCC student union president, Ben Dunlea, described Uninest’’s stance as "unfair and upsetting".

"Some students, it must be remembered, have gone home to support or care for vulnerable parents," he said.

UCC closed its campus last Thursday and introduced online teaching on Monday.

When the announcement was made, some students returned to their family homes.

The parent of one student who left his €9,000-a-year rented room in Uninest’’s Amnis House on Cork’’s Western Road said he contacted management at the complex to discuss a partial refund or a credit against next year’’s rent.

But he was told that Uninest is not able to refund the remainder of the room fee or arrange credit.

In correspondence, they were told that Uninest understands if students decide to return home during this difficult time.

"But as the building is still operating as normal, the room will legally be under the student’s name until the signed contract expires," they said.

"We of course have had a lot of students decide to return to their family homes, but as it was their own decision, a refund is not applicable."

The parent criticised the stance as "unfair" in the extreme.

"We’re not looking for a total refund - just some fair play given the circumstances," he said.

"We will probably be able to take this hit but other families may not be in this fortunate position."

Uninest was not available for comment today.