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Renters Reform Bill will hit student landlords hard - NRLA

With student accommodation in the headlines ahead of the stat of the new academic year, the National Residential Landlords Association is warning this sector may be particularly badly hit by the Renters Reform Bill. 

The trade body says the removal of fixed term tenancies will force student landlords to enter into open-ended tenancies, where the landlord has no certainty of when a tenant may leave. 

The NRLA, in a blog on its website, says: “Adding to this uncertainty is the impeding repeal of Section 21, which currently empowers landlords to serve notice to vacate to tenants. Without this mechanism, students and student landlords face an unsettling reality: the inability to ensure property availability for incoming student tenants each academic year. These proposed reforms threaten to destabilise the well-established model of student housing.”


The association instead wants a series of proposals which it has discussed with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

These include a mandatory ground for possession, which would provide landlords with a legal basis to regain possession of their properties when needed, and a moratorium on tenants serving notice to provide some certainty for landlords and tenants alike. The moratorium period would guarantee a minimum length of tenancy while keeping things flexible for tenants. 

The NRLA says it’s also working with student landlords and higher education organisations to gain sector-wide support, and it cites one student housing landlord - Neil Young, chairman of We Are Kin - who says: “Students want certainty that there will be a house available for them when they need it, at the start of the academic year. Without a mandatory ground for possession alongside a moratorium on tenants serving notice, the risks will simply be too high. The result would likely be student landlords leaving the student housing market, to the obvious detriment of students and the higher education sector as a whole.”

You can see the whole article here and the association’s invitation for feedback from landlords with experience of student accommodation.

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  • John  Adams

    If only the NRLA / Ben put this much effort into standard BTL issues - oh wait, Ben is a student landlord...

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    I have never understood the concept of a fixed term tenancy ,the students leave because they want to if they refuse to leave there is nothing the landlord can do but apply to the courts which takes months, to remove the tenant. If it’s still don’t go, apply for the bailiffs which again takes months.


    It's not them refusing to leave that is the main issue. It's them leaving early that's the problem.
    Student houses are usually roughly an 11 month tenancy. Landlords know they will get 11 months rent and have a month to get any work done to the house. They know they can confidently advertise in October for next September's tenants.
    The fear is that students will suddenly decide to give notice and move out mid way through the year. As most students arrive in September that causes a problem. No landlord is going to choose to leave a house empty for more than a month. With the abolition of fixed tenancies there's no way of doing a 6 or 7 month let for anyone else.
    The only viable solution would be if student halls were also unable to offer fixed tenancies. If students were free to leave halls any time throughout the year and take over student houses as they became available it may work. It's got to be one system for all students. Either all fixed contracts or no fixed contracts.

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    Even if a mandatory ground for possession existed, the current system we have is better because of the flexibility which is built into it.

    Personally, I always tell tenants when they sign the contract that if there is something that they don't like about the flat then they can leave without penalty i.e. I will only charge rent for as long as they have lived there and they can have their deposit back. However, nobody has ever taken me up on that.

    Most landlords are fair and reasonable. There is provision within existing legislation to deal with those who are not e.g. the retaliatory eviction rules. Why destroy the private rental sector for nothing!

    Peter Why Do I Bother

    I employ exactly the same method Ellie, about to change though.


    That's because we want happy tenants Peter. I know you have had an appalling and very unfair experience lately though.


    Agreed Ellie, happy tenants make for a happy landlord, although there will always be those that will never be happy no matter what we do for them


    That is very true Andrew. Some people are very unreasonable.

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    Fixed term student tenancies have a wider impact on surrounding neighbourhoods and every other tenant in that much larger area.
    If students can't find accommodation in traditional student streets they will find whatever they can in the surrounding streets. Students pay higher rent than non student tenants so very quickly these surrounding areas become more and more studenty. Cities that adopted Article 4 directives a few years ago to limit the density of student housing in certain areas are now looking at expanding the Article 4 area because the surrounding streets have now become student areas as a result of being unable to find accommodation in the preferred areas. That makes rent more expensive for everyone.
    If a traditional student house falls out of the student market it may never return. Working tenants don't follow the same pattern so rooms are rarely available at the right time. In many university cities student areas are very conveniently located for young professionals to live in. Although the rent may be a bit higher they often don't need to spend so much on travel to work costs or taxies home after a night out. One of my houses in a prime student area came out of the student market about 10 years ago due to a brief dip in student numbers. It still hasn't fully returned. It currently houses 4 professionals and 2 PhD students. Although it now has to pay Council Tax that is balanced out by the fact it receives rent 12 months of the year, not 11.
    In other student cities it may well be that student areas aren't convenient for anyone else so the landlord will have to maybe look at benefit assisted or unemployed tenants to fill unexpectedly available rooms. Any houses in Article 4 areas certainly won't be let to families if students move out at the wrong time. Losing C4 status would be a very expensive mistake. It would be better to leave a house empty for several months than to lose C4.
    Either way if students can't find housing in their preferred areas they will widen their search and outbid anyone else.

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    It seems C4 is to stop you having Article 4. which are HMO’s. It was to force you to rent to family’s usually on Benefits to clean out the tax payers. Now then the Council’s wants to force everyone to have a HMO license (one of the 3) regardless of whether they are a family or not.

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    • S S
    • 30 August 2023 11:03 AM

    Many student landlords do NOT do 11 month tenancies - they charge 12 months I have had 3 children got through 3 different universities and no landlord offered 11 month tenancies. The best we had was Cardiff, where my daughter had 1/2 price for July and August BUT as long as she didn't live in it! So the landlord could do any work but the student were liable for CT (or not as students). He played the system - had paying tenants, an empty property and no liability as they had to pay for utilities and register as tenants so he didn't have to pay CT. One Landlord my son had in 2020 - had the departing student leaving the morning that my son was supposed to move in! Covid restrictions meant that there should have been at least 24hrs. My son had a wasted 4 hr round trip as they couldn't move in and the Landlord refused to give them any credit - furthermore he then claimed at the end of the tenancy he had had the house professionally cleaned (2 weeks before they moved in! yes the previous students were still there). There are some great student landlords who provide good accommodation and dont "rip" student off but many are greedy, do not look after their property, earn a lot more rent than if the property was in long term family rental. Make students sign up for a tenancy nearly a year in advance (who else does that), and in nearly all my children's cases ( and many of their friends) at the end of the tenancy claim for everything - even marks made on the wall by a bed they provide! I have had to threaten TDS for every case - charges for cleaning of the oven that I cleaned (photos proved cleaner at end than beginning) even one case where they tried to charge for cleaning 4 carpets in the house - only 2 rooms had carpets! And they were so cheap they would have disintegrated if they had been cleaned. The letting agent claiming the house was dusty - a whole video on a hand showing dust! Yes it was dusty as the students had given the keys back when they left at the end of the final term - 6 weeks (yes they paid for the 6 weeks they were not there) later the check out was done! The letting agent tried to claim for dust! for a plastic shower curtain that was long past it's best before they moved in but thankfully being in the business the "penalties" were quickly removed. The business model is definately to charge penalties at the end of the tenancy - and unfortunately most parents think that is the norm, that no matter how clean the property, the agent/LL will try and retain the majority of the deposit - I'm assuming the agent in these cases takes a % of the deposit they manage to keep! Imagine 5 students, the original penalty charge was over £2,000! ended up settling on £60 per student because they hadn't had the exterior windows cleaned. Perhaps this is the end of students being considered cash cows despite what many student Landlord's (and poor letting agents) think.


    Clearly different university cities have different length tenancies.
    When I first started letting to students in 1999 the standard was 43 weeks here. It's gradually lengthened to 48 weeks or 11 months. A lot of students now have part time jobs and stay right through the summer. I don't charge for August if they're keeping the house because it saves me a lot of time and effort.

    I've just been asked for a 13 month tenancy from some Masters students. No idea what the university is playing at or how that would work for any that are going into halls.

    In terms of deposit refunds the vast majority of mine get every penny back. This year one house came back absolutely immaculate, a room in another one (just one student leaving) was spotless and another house has required weeks of cleaning, decorating and broken furniture replacing. One of them had burnt candles and incense in her room for 2 years. She tried cleaning it and just smeared the soot everywhere. A professional decorator had to sugar soap it twice, apply 3 coats of stain block and 3 coats of emulsion. Two mattresses had to be thrown away due to bodily fluid staining, one bed repaired, another replaced, rooms hadn't been hoovered, bins hadn't been emptied, hard floors were filthy and had to be cleaned with Cif and a paint scrapper, all the freezer drawers had been broken, coffee tables wrecked. None of it was malicious - just lazy and careless. I haven't fully added up exactly how much it has cost to get the house back up to standard for the new group. Certainly a lot more than the £950 I kept from the deposits. Just the decorator and paint was over £500, professional carpet cleaning £200, replacement bed and mattresses £500, other replacement furniture over £300. Some of it was wear and tear so clearly I wouldn't expect to charge the entire cost of replacement. Most of it was just laziness and thoughtlessness. Obviously my time hasn't been charged for because I'm only a landlord and my time is worthless. Who decided rental income was unearned? How many hours do they spend crawling around with a bottle of Cif and a paint scraper just for fun?

  • Peter Why Do I Bother

    You had better watch out Beadle's About... He is all over this like a cheap suit.!


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