Around 80% of students choose to live away from home when attending universities across the UK. This amounts to 1.5 million teenagers leaving for university towns and cities each year11 - many entering the rental market for the first time.
The coronavirus pandemic threw the student rental market into turmoil. Many students faced travel restrictions, local lockdowns and the worry of travelling hundreds of miles to cities which were often under more government restrictions and with higher infection rates than their hometowns.
Here we discuss how students’ requirements from a rental property have changed since the coronavirus pandemic began and what the market could look like for landlords in the future.
Covid-19 impact on student property
As thousands of students flocked to their new homes at the start of term, many were forced to self-isolate. 32 universities across the country revealed coronavirus cases with cities such as Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh among some of the hardest hit13.
62% of students’ courses went online after they signed up for student accommodation, which left a third considering negotiating out of a student property they had previously signed a contract for.
16% of students either chose to move back home or move in with friends or family due to the pandemic. Whilst 16% chose to move to a cheaper student rental property.
The pandemic has left students studying remotely online, forced to self-isolate under local lockdown restrictions, with increasing bills and a lack of job security. Not the university experience they were expecting.
This combination of issues could cause students to drop out of university or defer for another year, resulting in a sudden decline in student tenants, leaving many landlords with vacant properties.
During this time, landlords can look to change the type of tenants they market to, instead securing long-term residential tenants to avoid costly vacant periods.
The future of student rentals
Many first and second year university students had already signed tenancy agreements for private accommodation long before the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK. So, the full impact of the virus on the student rental market won’t be felt until the next academic year in 2021. Many upcoming students may choose to defer if universities aren’t back to normal, as one out of five14 recently declared, while international students continue to face tight travel restrictions and visa delays.
This current academic year, the UK has seen a 21% increase in international students deferring their university experience15. Depending on the UK’s recovery from the virus, this could improve and see numbers rise again in 2021, supporting a demand for long-term student accommodation.
Student tenants’ priorities
As with tenants in the general rental market, student accommodation preferences are also changing due to the impact of Covid-19. Many students rely on working in hospitality or retail, sectors which have taken a significant hit during the national lockdown. Due to this financial uncertainty, 72% of students are worried about paying their rent during the Covid-19 crisis16. This has left many looking to pay smaller deposits and lower monthly rental charges.
Over half of those we surveyed said they’re considering not renting student accommodation in their next academic year, with 40% of those citing online courses being the main reason for this change. A further 17% said the current high cost of renting was the main reason for changing future accommodation arrangements.
As self-isolation and local lockdowns become commonplace, students are looking for houses to reflect these new lifestyle changes. They’re opting for properties with a smaller number of tenants, single rather than shared rooms and less communal living space.
Students are looking for their landlords to be as flexible as possible with contracts and move-in dates to help them navigate the challenges the student market is facing in 2020 and beyond.
In-depth rental market report for landlords
We know the new-look rental market has changed significantly and may be difficult for landlords to navigate. That’s why we’ve created our ‘Locked down but not out’ report. This can help provide you with a greater understanding into today’s rental market and changing tenant demands.
Download your copy of the report here: Get Report