Purpose built student accommodation in the UK was predicted to increase by 17 per cent earlier this year. This means that now, as another academic year begins, many traditional student landlords may feel the impact of this surge of private student accommodation and might be finding it harder to fill their once sought-after properties, especially as domestic student numbers continue to drop.
As a result, online letting agent Upad.co.uk is advising landlords who are competing with this rising market of purpose-built student accommodation that in order to remain appealing to university renters, they may need to up their game when it comes to the standard of accommodation they offer – or consider pulling out.
James Davis, CEO and founder of Upad.co.uk, said: “In years gone by it might have been easy for landlords to buy an older property, throw in some second-hand beds and desks and bring in a regular rent over the course of the academic year.
“Now, with an increase in private developers building smart, contemporary and potentially more appealing student accommodation, we are really seeing a shift and many landlords pulling out of the market to appeal more to mainstream renters.
“Given the choice, many sharing students, especially more mature students, prefer to live in a traditional property as opposed to an extension of student halls.
“Landlords hoping to hold on to this market, therefore, may need to up their game significantly to still be the more appealing choice to student renters.
“This may involve anything from ensuring the property is painted and thoroughly cleaned throughout to bigger gestures such as the inclusion of utility bills and fast Wi-Fi as part of the package.”
The increase in purpose built student accommodation has led Upad to suggest a range of options which landlords competing for tenants in this sector may wish to consider.
§ Including bills in the monthly rent (ideally gas, electricity and Wi-Fi)
§ Consider employing a cleaner to give the property a once over every week or fortnight
§ Ensuring suitable shared living space is available to tenants. In the past, landlords may have sacrificed the living room for another bedroom and increase the rental yield. By keeping the living room space as a communal area, however, the property will appeal more to friends looking to share a property and give it more of a homely feel
§ Excluding the summer holidays from the rental period. Landlords may be able to let out their property through other means during the summer and students may like the option of not paying rent during this time
§ Maintaining the garden to a high standard. Purpose built student accommodation is less likely to offer private outdoor space, so offering a garden will be an appealing feature. You could even throw in a barbeque!
Davis added: “The alternative is to consider looking to let your student property out to professional couples or the family market.
“The rental market is particularly buoyant at the moment, especially as it looks like we may hit another period of cooling on the sales front, renting a property, even for a year or two, may prove appealing. This will of course involve some changes to the layout and potential furnishing but as purpose-built student accommodation looks set to increase further in 2018, this may well be a change worth making.”