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Student rent rises should be capped, urges housing analyst

A housing analyst says student rent increases should be capped in the same way as social housing rents are.

Rory Hughes, writing on the website Wonkhe, says: “The social housing sector – with better regulation over safety and standards – pretty much exists exists to support low-income households, an unregulated market wouldn’t work and because increases in rent impact the taxpayer as well as the tenant. Higher education students are clearly also a vulnerable group of tenants and a demographic on low incomes that is being hit hard by any increases.”

He makes it clear that he is advocating rent caps for those students in Purpose Built Student Accommodation, rather than ‘digs’ or buy to let HMOs.


So he continues: “PBSA clearly is a distinct housing sector, with similarities to that of supported social housing, indeed some is even run by charities (including universities) and housing associations. Student maintenance loans (which are ultimately mostly taxpayer funded debt) are being further swallowed up by PBSA landlords through large increases in rents.

“And PBSA is mostly a vastly profitable business, so profits would be the main thing squeezed by any rent cap, not the valuable budgets of social landlords. This should make the necessary trade offs of caps even less of a consideration to the government.”

For the past four years English social housing has been subject to an annual rent cap set by the Regulator of Social Housing using a standard formula. 

Hughes asks: “Is it time then that we discussed and lobbied for not only an emergency rent cap aligned with social housing in the next year, but the creation of a permanent rent-setting formula for PBSA, set by government and closely linked to student finance and changes in living standards?

“ … In the mid 2010s, the government mandated all social housing landlords to cut rents by 1% every year for several years – perhaps this could help the long-term PBSA affordability crisis?"

You can see the full article here.

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    Nobody either hears or listens to Beadle’s About, so why listen to someone called Rory Hughes on some website no one’s ever hear me of called Wonkhe?

    Unless he’s an ‘expert’?

    Peter Ginger-Group

    Sounds like a Wankhe r

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    Good luck with that Rory. The PBSA providers are major political party donors. Follow the money ....

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    Aren't several Local Authorities facing bankruptcy because they have completely stuffed up their housing budgets?

    Charging far less than it costs to provide and maintain Social Housing has been a key factor for decades. The Right to Buy in the 1980s was only invented because Local Authorities couldn't afford to maintain their rapidly deteriorating housing stock. Offloading a load of maintenance nightmares and using the resulting money to patch up the remaining maintenance nightmares was inspired. It's a shame it didn't inspire the Local Authorities to charge sufficient rent to maintain their properties ongoing.
    I own 2 ex Council flats and their idea of maintenance is highly questionable. Even basic stuff like a broken hopper on some first floor guttering. It was sort of tied together with a carrier bag and left like it for about a year before a new hopper was fitted. They repointed half of the walls even though the whole building needs doing. There is moisture ingress in the other flat as the Council had the wrong type of cavity wall insulation installed, haven't repointed that building and haven't correctly isealed around the window frames.

    If this guy thinks basing anything on the Social Housing sector is going to have a happy outcome he is seriously delusional.

    The PBSA charge high rents because they provide all sorts of things other forms of housing don't provide. Often very good large scale communal facilities and prime locations. They're a very convenient option for some students and that level of convenience comes at a price.

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    Nottingham has a plethora of new, purpose built student accommodation. All whistles & bells but the price! Upwards of £200 pw! I rent a 3 bed house out for less than that. Of course this drives up all other rents too, so capping these new builds would have my support.

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    Norwich also has the new build student accommodation as well all very 5* Quality with 5* rent to match

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    PBSA is often just a form of Build-to-Rent. As such, it is high end in facilities and rent levels. The companies running it are exempt from a lot of the things smaller PRS landlords are weighed down by like section 24. How likely are the government to do anything to hold back the corporates in the student sector, any more than they are likely to in the BTR sector.


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