Accommodation for students has conducted a survey of both students and
landlords to find out how Coronavirus has impacted on them. It is clear
that the current circumstances have had a dramatic impact on both students
and private landlords, with both sides struggling to adapt to the
Despite these challenges it is noteworthy that the vast majority of
students expect to be back at University in September (86%). Indeed, 62% of
students have already found their accommodation for the next year, while
19% of students are actively looking for student accommodation at present.
Landlords are slightly less optimistic, with just over 50% confident of a
return to normality in September.
Students have returned home
Of the students that responded to the AFS survey, the vast majority have
returned home – 84%. Half of these students were residing in Halls of
residence and overall the main reason they left was for safety and social
distancing purposes (63% of respondents). A number of students also felt
that that they wanted to be with their family and around 1/3rd
were advised to go home by the University. Where students chose to stay,
40% of them did so because they were unable to travel home, while 23% did
not have anywhere else to go.
Private landlords report a different picture with just 29% reporting that
all of their tenants have left. The majority report a more fluid situation
where some tenants have left but others remain in occupation.
It is clear from the results of our survey that many landlords feel in a
difficult position in regard to rent, recognising the difficulty that many
students are experiencing and attempting to balance that with the
requirement to meet their own costs and outgoings.
At present the strategy for the majority of landlords in relation to rent
differs depending on where the student is. If they are in occupation the
vast majority are to attempt to collect rent as normal (76%), however this
dips significantly where the student has returned home. In this case just
under half of landlords will attempt to collect rent, while the rest will
agree a rent reduction for the following period (22%) or cancel the tenancy
(10%). A significant minority are unsure what to do (12%) at the moment.
Where the landlord is attempting to collect rent, but the student is unable
to pay the majority plan to put in place a payment plan or flexible payment
terms to address the situation. Many respondents believe there should be
more government support for landlords to recognise the balance between
attempting to collect rent and the difficult circumstances students face.
Majority of Students plan to pay their rent
Of those students that are required to pay their rent a small majority
intend to pay either all of part of the rent. Only 13% of students that
responded to the survey did not plan on paying their rent. Around ¼ of
students are unsure of what they will do at this stage.
In this, many students are facing the challenge posed by a reduction in
their income, which is primarily to do with the loss of part time work and
reduced parental support. Only 15% of the students that responded to our
survey had had no reduction in their income.
The 2020-2021 Student Accommodation Market
Half of the landlords we have surveyed have already let their properties
for the forthcoming academic year, while just over 1/3rd of them
are actively seeking tenants at the moment for September 2020.
Overall landlord confidence remains relatively robust. The majority (62%)
anticipate a small drop in income or no reduction in income at all. Only
22% of respondents were anticipating a major decline in income as a result
of this crisis. Furthermore, 65% of landlords intend to carry on as
previously once the crisis ends, with only 13% reviewing their portfolio
with a view to a potential exit and 2% planning to dispose of their
Of the students that participated in the AFS survey, 62% have already found
their accommodation for the next year, while 19% of students were still
actively looking for student accommodation at present.
97% of students believe the crisis has had a negative impact on their
It is clear that the majority of students feel that the crisis has had a
major impact on their studies with 97% informing us that it has had a
negative impact. The main reasons given by students for this were the lack
of face to face contact with University Staff and lack of access to
University resources. Disruption to exams was also noted as an issue by 40%
As a result of this 87% of students believe that they should be entitled to
a full or partial refund of their tuition fees, to reflect the scale of the
More support required
Both students and landlords felt that more support from the government was
required. Landlords in particular felt that such support would ease the
pressure for both landlords and tenants, in difficult circumstances. Many
landlord respondents were sensitive to the difficulty some students would
face in meeting tenancy obligations and to balance this requirement with
their own cost obligations which remained in place.
Students are looking for more support with their rent, where they are
struggling to make payments. Many were also seeking certainty around
September opening for Universities to enable them to make decisions about