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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