Recent research released by accommodationforstudents.com demonstrates that
students are overwhelmingly happy with their student accommodation. In
addition over 60% of students indicated that their accommodation was good
value for money.
Strength of the sector
Speaking at a webinar, attended by over 200 landlords and agents, Simon
Thompson, Managing Director of AFS said ‘These high levels of satisfaction
reflect the first rate job our landlords, agents and hall operators do’.
Thompson further commented ‘that those in the sector deserve more credit in
such challenging times’
88% of students take social distancing seriously
The recent study, based on focus groups and a survey of over 1,000 students
demonstrated that, in contrast to much of the recent media coverage,
students take social distancing very seriously and have adapted their
lifestyles accordingly. While they are concerned about the impact of Covid
19 on their University experience, the main worry is that it will impact on
their studies, with only 25% of the students we surveyed expressing concern
about the impact on their social life.
Student letting activity
Evidence is that market remains relatively robust, despite the challenges
posed by Covid. 17% of the students surveyed were planning to start their
2021 accommodation search in November and 50% of those surveyed were
planning to begin in the next three months. Whilst the November peak is not
as significant as previous years, the trend was broadly positive.
Majority of students plan to pay their rent as normal
60% of students plan to pay rent as normal, while 25% of students will pay
their rent if they are able to remain in occupation of their room. Of those
that link payment of rent to occupation, the majority of them are in
University Halls or PBSA’s. This situation is likely to reflect the fact
that many Universities and some PBSA operators provided rent relief to
students during the early stages of the pandemic.
The importance of student reviews
Students are particularly keen to see reviews online. As over 80% of
students start their accommodation search online, they prioritise online
listings that feature reviews from other students. They also value the
availability of virtual or video tours, so that much of the initial stages
the search can take place quickly online.
The benefit of this is that these features are easy to implement and will
add value quickly. Students are also interested in more flexibility in
their tenancy contracts, to take account of the potential impact of Covid.
While outside of the pandemic most student – 75% - feel the standard
student tenancy is ‘about the right’ length, currently there is a desire to
see some more flexibility.
20 year anniversary
Closing the webinar session, Simon Thompson reflected on one of the more
challenging years of the 20 years in business for many landlords and
agents, while highlighting the underlying strength of the sector which is
driven by the ongoing appeal of UK Universities and a steep growth in the
number of 18 year olds over the next ten years.
You can view the webinar recording here