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Cinema rooms, gyms and ensuites – how to ensure your student let measures up to the new kids on the block

Daniel Bellis
Written by Daniel Bellis

No matter where you are in the UK, being a landlord is becoming a more and more competitive business.

For the most part this is considered a good thing, as the more competitive the market is, the more choices tenants have and the harder it becomes for criminal landlords to operate.

It can almost be described as a ‘organic’ way of improving the PRS without introducing excessive and expensive regulation.

Yes, housing demand is just as high as ever, however the PRS in the UK has grown faster than any other housing tenure to meet this demand.

One area of the housing market facing a surge in competition is student housing – with the rise of Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA).

Traditionally, students spend their first year in university halls of residences before moving into a property of their own, normally with a few friends.

However, more and more units of purpose built student accommodation are being granted planning permission in major cities – Cardiff, Manchester, Leeds, London to name just a few.

These PBSAs are often tall blocks, some ex-offices, which house a few hundred students in one building with some including gym memberships and even onsite cinemas.

Some landlords have found it more difficult to rent out their properties to students this year, as a direct result of these PBSAs. This means that, perhaps for the first time in years, traditional student properties are sitting empty for a prolonged periods of time, perhaps until the next term or even the next year.

If you’re a landlord in this situation, then you have a few choices with what to do with your properties and it’s up to you how you run your business.

But before making any big decisions, perhaps it might be worth having a look through the “What Students Seek” 2016 report published by utilities provider Glide. The report highlights some of the biggest concerns for students looking for properties, and could provide a handy guide to help bring your property into line with the competition – without installing a cinema room.

So what does the competition look like?

Excluding PBSAs and their cinema rooms, the report found that two thirds (67%) now have bills included in their rent, which is the highest proportion ever recorded by the study.

Added to this, students (64%) are also saying that double beds are an important factor while 40% of those surveyed will only consider rooms that have their own ensuite. However, perhaps unsurprisingly, 85% of students viewed having fast reliable broadband connection as an absolute necessity.

Landlord don’t need to go to excessive lengths to attract the student market back to their properties, and can rule out having to install a cinema room in the basement.

Landlords can make a few simple improvements that students are asking for in the report, and consider how they are advertising properties to better compete in the market.

Traditional student landlords still have one key advantage over the PBSAs. When asked to rate their priorities in choosing a house, 55% of students put price as the number one factor, with upkeep of property, space and décor among the next important factors.

The truth is that gym memberships and cinema rooms come at a cost, that although is included in the rent, will put some students off PBSAs. Traditional student accommodation is in general much cheaper than PBSA, however if you can’t go any lower on the rent, then perhaps it’s time to have a look at the report and consider improving the property – that is if you want to keep up with the competition.

To read the full report click here.

About the author

Daniel Bellis

Daniel Bellis

Daniel is the Policy Officer for the RLA in Wales, working hard to make sure that our members voices are heard by the people elected to office.

Prior to joining the RLA, Daniel worked in MP’s offices and with communications firms, working on election strategies and the communication campaigns of major companies. Daniel also holds a MScEcon in European Governance and Public Policy from the University of Cardiff where he extensively studied lobbying regulations in the UK, US and EU.

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