The student rental market faces a bleak future unless urgent, decisive action is taken to support landlords and make providing rental homes a more attractive proposition, warns the boss of rental guarantee firm Housing Hand.
Students starting their courses this autumn faced “unprecedented problems” in securing appropriate accommodation close to their university, says chief operating officer Graham Hayward (pictured), who adds that some UK towns and cities are already at critical points in terms of supply.
Rising student numbers are exacerbating the issue at the same time as landlord numbers are falling. In cities including Manchester, London and Bristol, some students are forced to live miles from their university, impacting their travel time and costs, as well as the overall quality of the university experience.
Housing Hand’s fear is that some international students may look to defer or consider universities in other countries if they can’t find the accommodation they need in the UK, while domestic students may also be driven to defer.
Accommodation providers who have faced Brexit and Covid are riding the rollercoaster of regulatory and legal changes, explains Hayward. Now they face further challenges coming with the Renters Reform Bill, which doesn’t provide a level playing field, given its different treatment of purpose-built student accommodation and HMOs.
He believes there’s a critical need for more joined up thinking. “The UK is currently regarded as a global higher education leader,” says Hayward. “That position could come under threat if all parties involved in educating and housing students cannot work together to achieve a more balanced solution. To support this, the Renters Reform Bill should initially focus on accommodation for the non-student market, giving the student market time to rebalance itself after the Brexit and Covid changes – which it needs to do in short order.”