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How Landlords Can Adapt To The Student Living Crisis

The student living crisis, meaning that significant numbers of students are without standard accommodation, is affecting the majority of the UK.

Data compiled by the StuRents accommodation portal, which represents 70% of student beds in the UK, suggests there is a shortfall of 207,000 student beds. Further, there are 19 towns where there is more than a 10% undersupply of beds.

What can property investors do to help the situation? This blog post explains.


What is student housing?

Student housing is a building or part of a building, used for the sole purpose of providing residential accommodation to students during the academic term time, under a licence.

In general, there are four main options available to students, these are:

  • In university-managed accommodation (typically halls of residence)
  • In privately-owned halls of residence
  • In privately rented houses or flats
  • At home

What are the types of student housing?

Halls of residence: These are large blocks of flats which housing hundreds of students, with individual furnished bedrooms organised around corridors or apartments with a shared kitchen. Many universities guarantee a place in halls for full-time first-year students and international postgraduates, as long as they meet application deadlines.

Private rented accommodation: This student housing usually accommodates around four or five people. This path is followed by most students from the second year onwards, but also by some first years.

Living at home: For some students who have decided to study locally, staying at home can be a great alternative. This gives these students the option to save money on rent and bulls whilst avoiding the stress of moving out to live with new people.


What is the student living crisis?

According to The Guardian, since the start of the academic year, students at universities across the UK have complained of fierce competition for rooms in flatshares.

Experts say there are growing numbers of students experiencing periods of hidden homelessness or accepting unsuitable housing out of desperation. Many students say they have been forced to stay on friends’ sofas, live with parents some distance away or accept unsuitable rooms.


Why is there a student living crisis?

There are a number of inflation-related factors that have contributed to the student cost of living crisis.

According to a publication by the government, “The average student’s largest monthly expense is rent, accounting for about 45% of monthly living costs.

“The 2021-22 Accommodation Costs Survey by Unipol and the National Union of Students (NUS) found the UK average annual rent for purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) to be £7,374. This is a 16% increase since 2018-19.”

Meanwhile, the price of food and non-alcoholic beverages increased by 16.4% in the 12 months to October 2022, meaning that many students are facing food insecurity. The NUS published its Cost-Of-Living Research in November 2022, which found that of 4,500 UK students surveyed, over a quarter had less than £50 a month to spend after paying rent and bills.

One in ten students said that they had used a foodbank in the past academic year and almost half (47%) admitted “money worries” had negatively impacted their diets.

Professor Karen Cox, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Kent said, “The cost of living crisis is impacting university communities across the country now more than ever. The situation is likely to get worse as the winter deepens and inflationary pressures continue to put a strain on their financial and mental well-being.

“Findings from this survey highlight just how difficult it is at the moment for students and the university community as a whole, and we must continue to work with the government to respond to both current and emerging challenges facing students and staff in relation to the cost of living and recommend how these might be addressed at sector and institutional levels.”

Michael Rainsford, co-founder of StuRents said, “we’re seeing the earliest searches ever by students who are scrambling to secure somewhere to live.” In Durham nearly every property available for autumn 2023 was let by the end of October. 




What is the impact of the student living crisis on landlords?

Findings from insurance firm Adrian Flux highlighted that 60% of students are thinking about moving out of their accommodation because of the cost of living crisis.

76% of students want a rate reduction to help them cope better. They also say that landlords should offer:

  • A tenancy to be all-inclusive of bills
  • Low or no deposits
  • Discounts provided based on referrals
  • Greater flexibility with ending the tenancy
  • Ensure properties are energy efficient


What does an investor need to become a student landlord?

To rent to a group of individuals, rather than families, the property will need to be considered a House In Multiple Occupation (HMO) which requires a licence to accept tenants. A local authority will determine whether a license is needed. They will also insist the property meets standards for repair, maintenance and fire safety.



What can property investors do about the student living crisis?

The current market conditions provide excellent opportunities for property investors, due to the significant under-supply of student homes.

Providing the correct licensing is obtained, a student home can be purchased or a home can be developed into a HMO for students.

Location is the number one priority for students, usually within walking distance or a short bus ride from the university campus. Prime location means that the students will save time and money on travel.

Security is essential as students (and their parents) want to be sure that they are in a safe area. This can be assessed by researching local crime rates.

Internet speed is also imperative for students so as to not slow down their work and research, plus it allows them to enjoy a well earned break on Netflix.

Finally, affordability is crucial for students at the present time. Providing a cost-effective living space, means students will not feel the need to end the tenancy or other issues.


Ultimately, investing in student property means a landlord can generate passive income whilst doing a community good.

To make the first steps on your property journey, claim your free Wealth Through Property e-book.

For more information call us at 01302 897131 or email


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