With more and more people going to university every year, landlords and investors may wish to tap into the increasingly lucrative student accommodation market.
Despite uncertainty around Brexit, this market has displayed rapid growth over the last decade, meaning the sector is now valued at more than £50 billion – representing a 72% increase in value since 2014.
Towergate, a landlord insurance provider, carried out a study of 500 undergraduate students across the UK to find out how landlords can succeed within the student property market. The results revealed surprising mismatches between how landlords are conducting their businesses and how students would prefer them to.
But what do students want from their homes? As undergraduates across the country seek in the next few weeks to secure a property for the next academic year, Towergate’s report aims to provide landlords with insight into what students really want from their rental property.
What did the survey reveal?
The findings showed that the average student in the UK pays between £300 and £499 per month to rent a room in a property they share with at least two other tenants.
The results also revealed that large bedrooms are the most sought-after property feature for students – so much so, in fact, that landlords may want to consider converting the living room into an additional bedroom, given that students say they value a fast internet connection as much as a comfy living room.
Unsurprisingly, student tenants tend to be more budget-conscious, but most would still pay more money if their landlord provided cleaning services as part of the tenancy contract.
In addition, the research revealed that most students prefer stability when it comes to housing. While the student property market is fast-moving, with a high turnover of tenants entirely routine, 68% of students said they would prefer to remain in the same property throughout their time at university.
Most students (64%) said they would prefer to live close to a supermarket than restaurants, bars or even their university campus.
Only 43% of students said they can commute to their university campus within 15 minutes, while some 28% rely on public transport to get to lectures and seminars.
The importance of good communications
While face-to-face and telephone contact between landlords and tenants is still the most common form of communication, students would rather use email to communicate with their landlord than any other method.
Just 5% of students have communicated with their landlord through an instant messaging app like WhatsApp, but 15% say they would prefer this to telephone or email.
Only 15% of students are dissatisfied by their current accommodation, but one in five (20%) say they have had disappointing experiences with landlords.
When questioned over what behaviour frustrates them the most, 73% of students said a landlord who is slow to respond and deal with any issues they report, closely followed by landlords who visit unannounced. This gripe has legal backing, with it being illegal for landlords to turn up unannounced at a tenant’s home except in emergency or exceptional circumstances.