As students prepare for the start of the university term in September, rents are hitting new heights – but student landlords fear for the future of their sector after upcoming legislative changes.
Demand for student housing has bounced back this year as universities return to on-site learning. However, supply is tighter than usual – many former student landlords let their properties to regular renters during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Letting agents now report sharp rises in student rents, especially in markets like Newcastle with large student populations. This year’s intake will mostly have secured their accommodation earlier in the year, but a survey taken at the end of last year by the National Union of Students found that student rents had risen to new records even then.
While some students prepare to pay record rents, others have been unable to find accommodation at all. In St Andrews, increased student numbers, the end of online learning and the demolition of a student accommodation building mean that there are not enough homes for this year’s intake. The university has advised affected students to commute from nearby Dundee.
Meanwhile, the University of Glasgow has told incoming students that it can no longer guarantee university housing just weeks before the start of term, leaving them only a short time to secure private accommodation.
Landlords providing student accommodation have warned that incoming changes to tenancy rules could worsen the supply shortage. Under the proposed changes set out in the government’s recent rental reform White Paper, private landlords in England will not be able to provide fixed-term tenancies or evict tenants without fault – meaning they would not be able to guarantee that their properties will be vacant in time for the next year’s students to arrive.
However, the student market could still be a good investment for those willing to take the risk. Young people are attending university at record levels, and with the supply of accommodation falling further behind demand, student rents are likely to keep rising.
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