Education sector institutions and other organisations involved in the letting of student accommodation should find some welcome news in the recent changes to the statutory regulations relating to distance selling contracts. Many institutions have operated an online booking system for students to book their accommodation and enter into the necessary tenancy or licence agreement. Under the earlier law (repealed on 13 June), students booking accommodation online were required to be given a 7 day cooling off period, during which they could cancel the letting contract without any liability. However, residential letting contracts are exempted from the new regulations, which came into force on 13 June 2014.
Therefore, unless the relevant letting contract also covers the provision of other services or products, which may be within the scope of the new regulations, it will be a matter of choice for the institution as to whether to offer students a cooling off period.
The new regulations, known as the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 impose a longer 14 day cooling off period in certain situations and other requirements in connection with the way in which contracts are concluded with consumers, including detailed requirements as to the provision of information.