In the past couple of weeks, QMUCU has received concerning information from participants in the QMUL Rent Strike about the high rates of eviction from QMUL residences. Between September 2020 and February 2021, 20 students have been given a “notice to quit” from QMUL residences (see FOI request here). Several of these have been for minor offences including tampering with fire safety equipment.

These evictions have left these students in potentially very vulnerable situations during the pandemic at short notice. QMUCU takes fire safety very seriously and urges all students not to tamper with fire safety equipment. However, evictions without warning are a disproportionate measure for dealing with these matters – especially in the current situation. During the pandemic, there should be measures in place to prevent evictions as far as possible, just as the government has introduced protections from evictions for private tenants. 

The high rate of evictions at QMUL is also in stark contrast to practice elsewhere in the sector. According to previous FOI requests, QMUL evicted a total of 111 students between 2017 and 2019, 23 of which were for fire safety reasons. By contrast, UCL evicted 5 students during these years (and none of these were to do with fire safety breaches). Manchester evicted 35 students, and none of these evictions were solely for breaching fire safety rules, although some included this alongside drugs offences. LSE and Imperial evicted 0 students during this period. Exeter evicted fewer than 5, and did not give tampering as a reason for any of them. Most other universities operate a fines and warning system before resorting to evictions. Why is QMUL behaving differently?
QMUCU sends its solidarity to the students affected. We call on students to obey fire safety rules but we also call on the university to revisit this harsh policy and reverse its punitive decisions.

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