During the December 13th 2017 Property Week Student Accommodation Conference, attendees discussed the issue of affordable student accommodation.
Whilst many students are willing to pay extra for purpose built luxury student accommodation, others find difficulty in affording the rents on a more basic shared student house.
Some delegates suggested that private sector landlords were partly responsible for large rents, but they also admitted that without private landlords there would be a student housing crisis. After commercial mortgage repayments, running costs and tax is taken into account, many private landlords are not making large profits, so cannot afford to reduce rents by much.
The conference said is a need for developers, investors, universities and other stakeholders to work together to find solutions.
Several suggestions were put forward. Rooms could be smaller with perhaps no need for a desk. Modular and off-site construction technology could reduce the cost of building new student accommodation.
Universities could work with private landlords to find tenants to reduce the risks of accommodation being empty, in return for reduced rents.
Some planning restrictions make it difficult for landlords to rent out student accommodation to non-students outside of term time. These restrictions could be lifted. With accommodation occupied by non-students during university holidays, students would pay for accommodation only during term time.
The demand for student accommodation is predicted to remain high, and private landlords will continue to provide accommodation, but it is challenging to run a profitable student accommodation business whilst keeping rents low.