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Student lettings under pressure thanks to Renters Reform Bill

A rent guarantor service says the recent Second Reading of the Renters Reform Bill has intensified scrutiny on the challenges faced by student renters.

Housing Hand’s chief operating officer, Graham Hayward, says: “Universities need strong attendance, so they also need to coordinate with the various stakeholders in the accommodation supply chain, to ensure that planned student numbers can be housed appropriately. This is a market, after all, so if supply doesn’t meet demand then demand may weaken – though it will certainly increase in price until it is rebalanced.”

The Renters Reform Bill introduces regulatory complexities, particularly in the treatment of purpose-built student accommodation and HMOs that are common in student accommodation supply, 


Housing Hand warns that these challenges, combined with Brexit and Covid-related shifts in student numbers, could jeopardise the UK’s position as a global leader in higher education.

Hayward explains: “The UK is currently regarded as a global higher education leader. That position could come under threat if all parties involved in educating and housing students cannot work together to achieve a more balanced solution.”

A major sticking point in the Bill is the issue of open-ended tenancies, which could be problematic for the student accommodation market. Both students and landlords desire fixed start and end dates to tenancies.

Housing Hand says there are major regional variations in demand and supply, with students in cities like Manchester, London and Bristol often haveingto live far from their university, and Hayward warns: “We have seen students starting their courses this autumn facing unprecedented problems in securing appropriate accommodation close to their university. Unless urgent, decisive action is taken to support landlords and make providing rental homes a more attractive proposition, that situation will only get worse.”

Data from the Cushman & Wakefield UK Student Accommodation Report 2023 reveals that London alone has seen a surge in international student numbers by 27,495 in the past two years. Meanwhile full-time student numbers hit a record 2.2m in 2021/22, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

In last month’s Second Reading debate on the Renters Reform Bill, Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield noted that nearly 45 per cent of students, representing some 600,000 young people in England and Wales, reside in the private rented sector.

According to longstanding housing advocate Clive Betts MP told the Commons: “Last year, Manchester students were actually being encouraged to live in Liverpool, because there was not enough housing in Manchester for them.”

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    There are other circumstances besides student tenancies when fixed term tenancies are more suitable than open-ended tenancies, including when a tenant/tenants would prefer one.

    Fixed term tenancies should be allowed whenever the occupants are only in an area on a temporary basis and know how long they will need to rent for from the outset.

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    It’s not just Students it’s all Renters affected by THE RENTERS REFORM BILL and their Rents driven up 20 / 30% no exaggeration if they can find anyone willing to Rent to them turning the Clock back 50 years by idiot’s behind Renter’s Reform Bill.
    It’s certainly a Reform alright the most damaging imaginable for Tenants and then tell them Its for them its for their good they are doing it, do Mr Gove think they are all Brain dead or is it him.
    So we are the most highly Educated in the World pity they didn’t put one in charge.


    You are so right, Michael, and we can all see that "the reform" is harming tenants.

    That's why it may not be legal. The relevant information doesn't seem to have been considered because Landlords haven't had representation. As you say, the data from fifty years ago is what is relevant and should have been the prime consideration.

    When Governments seek to control private property their controls have to be proportionate and have a benefit for everyone, and these controls are extreme and most certainty don't benefit anyone at all.

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    Unfortunately the people drafting the legislation are not experts and rely on pressure groups to formulate the policy, to top this off the very MPs who should scrutinise the legislation are quite frankly as dull as dishwater. The 1988 housing act was developed for the purpose of creating an open market and it’s not the responsibility of the private rental sector to accommodate people who need social housing. Having had dealings with our MP over various issues I can guarantee that he would have never earned an equivalent salary in any other job so if this standard of personal is the gate keeper then the country is doomed


    This is precisely the problem Michael. The PRS was never envisaged as being primarily a provider of long-term (aka social) housing, but due to the dire shortage of suitable council accommodation over the years and the increasing unaffordability of houses generally, large numbers of people have come to rely on it for their permanent housing needs. So when they found out that it didn't work like that and landlords exercised their rights to terminate tenancies for whatever reason, there was discontent and complaints reached the ears of government. So landlords became evil people who just liked making innocent people homeless and disrupting their ordered lives on a whim and had to be brought to heel and either forced out of business to make way for homeowners or made to provide housing effectively "for life".
    When I got married back in 1991 I first rented a flat locally as I was unable to afford to buy anything in my home town in the south east, but then the flexibility enabled me to move up north with a month's notice to another rented property. When the landlord decided to sell, we then bought our first house, which was affordable at the time, but I'm not sure that would be the case now, so we might well have been homeless if that happened these days.
    I think in reality most landlords are pleased that tenants are staying longer as it means a steady stream of income instead of having to relet and remarket every year or two, balanced by not increasing rents regularly, which is probably one reason why rents stayed fairly static for a long while until recently.

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    Being pedantic, if there's 2.2 million students (the correct number), then 45% is nearer 1 million, not 600,000. I'm actually surprised it's even that low - most universities are halls of residence for Year 1 and then PRS for Years 2 and 3


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