Accommodation advice for students during the coronavirus outbreak

The latest advice on coronavirus (COVID-19)

The following guidance has been prepared for students at the University of Plymouth.

It should be read alongside the University’s advice and guidance for staff and students.


So that we can offer you any support you need at this difficult time, please let us know where you are currently living and whether you would like someone to contact you – via our student whereabouts and support contact form. Also please update your term-time address for the final part of the academic year on the Student Portal.

When can I return to collect belongings from halls?

The Government has now issued guidance that travel in England to collect belongings is permissible. We have over 1000 students with possessions remaining in room and we need to safely manage the collection process. Please do not travel to collect belongings without booking. We have devised a booking system enabling us to safely manage access and assist both distancing and ongoing sanitisation of entry and transmission points.

Slots can be booked on the accommodation portal and will be available to view from noon on Monday 25 May. The earliest slots are on Wednesday 27 May to enable us to prepare and provide you with full details of what to expect on arrival.

All students who have left belongings in room will shortly receive detailed e-mails including advice if they are unable to travel between the planned dates. Please read these carefully.

Students should attend campus with only one family member or friend to assist, and be prepared for some queues in line with social distancing as most accommodation blocks have only one entry and exit point. Observing allocated slots will help us to keep inconvenience to a minimum for everyone.

The slots will be arranged to disperse students between buildings and manage traffic and parking issues, and will be spread over about a week. Because this is a complex operation we ask that you book and stick to the slots available unless there is a serious reason for requesting an alternative. Once slots are available, international students or those with additional needs should contact the Accommodation Office for further advice if this system is not practicable for example if international travel remains restricted.

Once you have booked your slot, you will receive confirmation and full instructions via your student e-mail.

Please do not arrive on campus unless you have a confirmed arrangement to do so or you may not be permitted and risk a wasted journey.

The plan in place is designed to protect everyone, including those students who are still living in halls and possibly self-isolating.


I’ve left possessions in my room and retained the key in case I came back. What should I do?

If you have left possessions and need to return you may have retained your key, however you must follow the booking process in order to access your hall, pack, and remove items. Once your room is emptied, you can leave the key on campus in the mailbox in reception.

If you have already left your key with us, the Reception teams will be available to hand keys back during the planned collection slots, please follow all instructions carefully to ensure everyone stays safe.

I have left possessions in my room. Will I be treated as if I’ve left?

Yes, if you informed us that you were leaving but had to leave some possessions, you will be treated as if you have vacated your room but not formally checked out. Once restrictions are lifted and you have collected your belongings we will then begin the checkout process. You will be asked to give permission to check your room for safety reasons. We cannot accept any liability for items left in rooms during this process.

Will I have to pay rent if I've left halls?

Most students have already left the campus due to the situation, and we understand fully the questions and concerns that have been raised with regards to continued payment of hall fees when you will not be in residence. We have therefore taken the following decisions:

For students who have left University-managed halls (Francis Drake, Gilwell, Mary Newman, Pilgrim, Radnor, Robbins, Treliske) and do not return this academic year, the University will waive the next payment of hall fees that was due on Saturday 25 April and make no charges provided students have confirmed by Wednesday 8 April that they are no longer a resident in halls.

Please do so via t?he Accommodation P?ortal if you have not already done so. Accommodation Services are working through different student circumstances and will be in touch with all students in Halls regarding check-out and other arrangements.

For the previous payment (for period week commencing Monday 23 March to Friday 24 April 2020), we will also refund any fees paid from the date eligible students left accommodation – subject to confirmation of dates. Again please use the Accommodation Portal to confirm if you have not already done so.

NB: Students at Treliske should notify by emailing treliske@sanctuary-students.com


A third party paid my rent for the year – what will happen?

Any overpayments of rent will be refunded to the third party who paid them. Please check that their payment method is still valid (e.g. credit card expiry).


I left earlier than this – will I get my rent back?

If you have told us the date that you left your room, you will be refunded from that date or from Monday 23 March, whichever is the later. The date of Monday 23 March has been set because this was when the Vice-Chancellor advised students to leave the campus and asked everyone to update their status via the Accommodation Portal.


What is the process for this?

Once we have confirmation that your room is vacant and empty we will arrange a room check. If there are people living or self-isolating in your flat we may not be able to complete this quickly due to social distancing rules and staff safety. Once the check is complete, your account will be amended to reflect the credit. If there are damages to the room, the usual process will be followed before any charges are deducted.


I have left possessions in my room. Will I be treated as if I’ve left?

Yes, if you informed us that you were leaving but had to leave some possessions, you will be treated as if you have vacated your room but not formally checked out. Once restrictions are lifted and you have collected your belongings we will then begin the checkout process.

You will be asked to give permission to check your room for safety reasons. We cannot accept any liability for items left in rooms during this process.


How will rent be adjusted or repaid?

Once your applicable date is agreed and check out is completed, your rent account will be adjusted. If you are then in credit with rent payments, a refund will be made to the original method of payment. It is important that you check any payment methods (e.g. debit/credit cards) are still within valid dates and notify us. For some international students this will be by bank transfer and we will contact you to check details are correct before making a payment.


When will credits and/or refunds be processed?

This will depend on whether we have been able to formally check you out of room. Once belongings have been collected and keys returned, credits or refunds will be applied. However, they will all be backdated to the date you made us aware you had left the campus (after Monday 23 March) even if you were unable to empty your room at the time.


Once I’ve checked out, how long will it be before my credit or refund is received?


We are managing check out of over 1,000 rooms with reduced staffing. Once this task is complete financial processes need to be completed, again with potentially reduced staff teams. Your account should be resolved within four weeks of formal check out. For example if you collect your belongings in June, you should expect your account to be adjusted in July. We will process refunds as quickly as possible, so please only contact us if you have not received confirmation after four weeks.


I emptied my room and left outside office hours so did not return my key – what should I do?

Keys should be returned only if your room is completely empty. If you cannot do this in person, you should send your key by recorded delivery to Student Village Reception, University of Plymouth, Gibbon Street, Plymouth PL4 8BT so that we can begin the checkout process.


I am based in halls in Treliske in Truro – does this apply to me?

Yes, the same licence waiver and refunds apply to you, although the practical details may differ slightly. Please contact Sanctuary Housing who run the halls for us at treliske@sanctuary-students.com with any of the information that is required to ensure you are released from licence, receive a refund where applicable and in relation to emptying rooms.

Will I have to pay rent if I stay in halls?

Students who remain in University-managed halls will continue to pay their accommodation fees. Please confirm via the Accommodation Portal that you are still a resident if you have not already done so. Please visit the University FAQs for details of all support available to you as well as our Student Hub and Accommodation webpages.


When will I be able to leave?

Government advice is that you should not travel and that leaving university accommodation is not essential travel. Should this situation change before the end of the contract date, we will not be able to release students who did not inform us of their intention to leave prior to the Wednesday 8 April deadline.


What if this situation is still ongoing at the end of the licence period?

The University takes its duty of care seriously and will be following government advice to ensure that everyone has safe and suitable accommodation during this crisis. If students need to stay beyond the contract end date, additional weeks will be added until the conclusion of the restrictions.


I will need summer accommodation even if this crisis is over. Will you be offering it?

As soon as this situation is resolved we will be offering summer lets as usual. However we are not advertising these until we know more about the likely duration. We will always ensure that you have somewhere to live.

How is rent affected for private accommodation providers?

Unfortunately, because your contract is with a third party (i.e. not with the University), we cannot make unilateral decisions on behalf of our students regarding the costs of such accommodation nor are we able to take on the liability for these rents or fees. You are advised to speak with your independent accommodation provider to see if there may be any flexibility given this extraordinary situation. There is some useful additional advice on the UPSU FAQs page under ‘accommodation’.

I didn't view houses or sign a contract for 2020 due to uncertainties – will I be able to find accommodation?

University-managed halls are pleased to welcome returning students in various locations in the student village, if you’d like to book for next year please contact residencelife@plymouth.ac.uk for advice.

Will University-managed halls stay open?

The University is following government guidelines and will continue to provide accommodation for those students who need it. This is the case even if the crisis lasts beyond your contract end date.

Who will be staying in halls?

Any students who have not yet been able to leave. This is in line with the government’s updated advice issued on Thursday 26 March 2020 that students remaining at university should now stay where they are and not attempt to travel.

What does 'stay home' mean in halls?

If you have to stay on campus you are required by law to stay in your immediate flat only. You cannot visit or host other residents even within the building.

What if I need to go out?

On Sunday 10 May, the Prime Minister announced limited revisions to the stay at home advice. You must stay in your flat except for:

  • travelling to and from essential work
  • shopping for basic food and medicinal necessities but this must be as infrequently as possible
  • unlimited external exercise sessions either alone, with someone from your immediate flat or with one other person from a different household provided you meet outside (for example at a park) and maintain social distancing (2 metres)

You should not be leaving your flat for any other reason.

Police presently have powers to enforce these rules. These rules have been put in place to try and ensure your safety and that of others.

Is self-isolation different to 'stay at home' guidance?

Self-isolation means that you cannot leave your flat for any reason. This may be because you have symptoms. You will need to ask friends for help to drop off groceries and essentials, and any flatmates will also need to follow guidance. If you are in self-isolation please inform the University. Joining the Halls Facebook group is a way to find others in your building who can offer mutual support.

My flatmate is unwell and self-isolating – do I need to self-isolate too?

Yes, the current guidance from the UK government is that you must self-isolate for 14 days.

I’m in self-isolation – how can I get my supermarket delivery/parcels?

We are no longer accepting courier deliveries due to the requirement to socially distance. We won’t be able to accept or store any supermarket deliveries for you. You should ask friends outside the isolated flat if they can help. If you experience real difficulties you can contact Accommodation Services who will try to help you. Students who are still on campus can purchase fresh meat, milk, eggs and non-perishable goods, such as tea, coffee and biscuits from the UCSP Hospitality Shop. Contact catering@plymouth.ac.uk for enquiries about the available food and drink selection and further information on the booking and collection procedure.

The Hospitality Shop will be in operation for as long as it is possible to still acquire items. Students still on campus can also pre-order meal deals – consisting of a freshly prepared sandwich, soft drink and a snack – for £3.50. There are 11 sandwich fillings to choose from and these can be accompanied by either crisps or a pre-packaged cake. The drinks available are either tea, filter coffee, a bottle of water or a can of soft drink. Again, for this service, please contact catering@plymouth.ac.uk 48 hours in advance. Visit the University of Plymouth Cafes Facebook Page or follow on Twitter.

I am/my flatmate is in self-isolation but there’s urgent work in my room/flat that needs repairing?

While the advice is to stay at home, please do continue to report issues via the home at halls app or by emailing contactplymouth@upp-ltd.com. The severity will be assessed and maintenance workers will attend and repair serious issues, particularly those affecting health and safety. You will receive instruction and be asked to go to a separate area of the flat maintaining a distance from any workers.

I've gone home but want to come back to University, is this allowed?

Unfortunately, to restrict movements and transmission risk as much as possible those who have already left will not be able to return during the current situation.

Can something be fetched from my room and sent to me?

No, we cannot retrieve items from your bedroom during this situation so as to restrict movement and transmission risk.

I am an international student who has left the country – how will I get my belongings back?

We understand that when the UK relaxes restrictions, this may not extend to international travel. When this happens we will liaise with you to ensure you are fully informed and a solution is found to keep your things safe or help you arrange shipping.

I am still in halls, what support is available to me?

The full range of University student support services remains available and has moved online. Accommodation live chat takes place Monday to Thursday at drop-in times and Hall Officer appointments booked via the Accommodation Portal will take place by phone.

We have created a closed Halls Facebook page for those staying in halls to keep in touch.

What if the advice changes?

The University is adapting to all updates as they happen but this is a fast-moving situation. The best place to clarify any questions is always the UK Government advice.