It’s only November, but the race is already heating up to bag a student house for the next academic year.
In a city such as Canterbury, where my student lettings business is based, there’s big competition and properties are being snapped up at a rate of knots. Despite this, there are always some landlords that find their property empty at the start of the new term.
I believe the reason for this is a disconnect between the perception of what students want from a rented house, and what landlords are offering.
I was also a student in Canterbury, and I remember searching for a property to live in for my second and third years. In those days (it wasn’t that long ago!) we thought we had hit gold if there was a microwave, and as for a double bed, well, we would have thought we’d won the lottery!
Now, however, when I’m handed a list of requests from students, they want an en-suite, off-road parking, flat screen TV…the list goes on.
Glide Utilities commissions an annual report entitled ‘What Students Seek’ which is a really useful insight into the mind of the student, giving landlords some inside knowledge into how to make student properties more appealing.
This year’s results showed that the top things that students seek include:
- Fast internet connection (83%)
- Inclusive bills (74%)
- Double beds (61%)
- Large, functional communal rooms (59%)
- Location (55%)
- Transport (31%)
Which is really telling. So what should landlords take away from this? What’s a deal-breaker, and what is something which is a nice-to-have? Landlords could spend a lot of money on additional extras which aren’t needed to secure a tenant.
In some respects, students’ expectations are somewhat unrealistic. I really believe the influence of property programmes like Homes under the Hammer and Location, Location, Location are to blame! I can see realisation beginning to set in with each property that a student visits, when they grasp that they’re probably not going to get an en-suite bathroom for the rent they want to pay.
However, I also believe that landlords could possibly do more to ensure their properties are let by the beginning of the academic year.
Providing a reliable internet connection is a must – confirmed by the survey. Even better, if you throw in the broadband for free, you’re really onto a winner. These two extras could put you instantly above the competition.
Storage is also extremely important to students, so spend a little time thinking about using existing space within the property to convert into cupboards, or additional room to hang clothes, for example. Also consider providing somewhere for tenants to store their bike, a lockable cycle storage area is a cheap way to give you the edge over your competitors.
Perhaps think about how you can increase the communal space; a factor which came fourth on the list in the Glade study. Students want an area that’s big enough to invite friends over, so lots of places to sit, relax and entertain could mean you are onto a winner.
It’s true that students’ needs have changed, particularly in the past few years. But with just a few considerations and adjustments, landlords could ensure they’re meeting their most important demands and not finding themselves left at the bottom of the pile.
For more information on renting to students in Canterbury, visit www.redlet.co.uk