Landlords Must Adapt to Purpose Built Student Accommodation Growth

Purpose built student accommodation is set to increase by 17 per cent across the UK this year, meaning that traditional university buy to let investors may need to diversify.

Online letting agent Upad has advised landlords to ‘up their game’ in order to remain appealing to university tenants in order to compete with the surge in purpose built student accommodation, especially as domestic student numbers continue to fall.

CEO and founder of Upad, James Davis, explained: ‘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.’

Landlords aiming to compete in the sector might consider additions to their lease such as including bills in the monthly rent, a popular move amongst students who would rather not deal with energy companies themselves. Other options include ensuring that there is adequate living space in the property, as opposed to sacrificing this for another bedroom or maintaining any garden area to a suitable standard.

Davis continued: ‘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.’