Are student HMO rentals in decline?

Are student HMO rentals in decline?

9:26 AM, 15th August 2022, About 2 months ago 7

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Hello everyone, My 4 bed Victorian terrace in Leicester, a big university city, has been rented to students for 7 years through an agency.

Last year was a struggle to rent and there have been no viewings for the next academic year starting in September.

How can I tell if my agent is slacking or if there are other influences in play?

There are student flats being built nearer to the universities but they’re expensive and have no private outside space.

I discussed this with my own ex-student kids who feel that most students prefer a small house share than living in a student block.

Should I try a different agent?

Any input or ideas would be gratefully accepted.

Thanks,

Alison



Comments

Ian Narbeth View Profile

10:07 AM, 15th August 2022, About 2 months ago

Try a different agent, try Spareroom.co.uk (pay for premium service and per click) and go on social media. such as Instagram. If there are communal areas where you can post ads the students will see, do so.

Grumpy Doug

13:13 PM, 15th August 2022, About 2 months ago

I used a lot of the time during COVID when I had longer voids than usual to put in new kitchens and bathrooms. Redecorated wherever possible in light grey and had new charcoal grey carpets. Houses now snapped up immediately. Basically students are getting more picky so you've got to stand out.

Freda Blogs

17:46 PM, 15th August 2022, About 2 months ago

I too am a student landlord, in the south east.
I have noticed in the last 3-4 years students are becoming more fickle/difficult in signing up for the tenancy at the outset, and at the end of the tenancy, trying to agree the deposit has become increasingly challenging.
I am wondering whether it is the impact of constant anti landlord press coverage and/or the Student Union stirring things up to make out that all landlords are going to rip them off. Little comments I hear suggest something of that order.
To answer the OP’s original question, I would agree with others that perhaps your property is not being exposed as well as it could be, and how does it present by comparison to others? We advertise through the university’s own letting portal and that seems to work for us. Does the uni have an accommodation officer you can speak to? Are you an accredited landlord?
To have the property unlet so close to term starting is obviously a concern, but there are always latecomers who haven’t got organised before now or have had plans change, and they will have fewer properties to choose from, which could be advantageous to you.
Mind you, if the government does not rethink the no-fixed term element of the proposed Renters Reform Bill, at least for student lets, the student business model will likely be decimated before too long anyway.

Puzzler

9:43 AM, 16th August 2022, About 2 months ago

Is this a surprise really? a lot of students have been affected by the pandemic

juliette grant

7:17 AM, 17th August 2022, About 2 months ago

Hi Alison, I'm in exactly the same position. A large 3 student Victorian house a stone's throw from the uni of Leicester (Queen's Road). Last year I had to reduce the rent significantly which is understandable. These students have left me with substantial rent arrears which will just be covered by the deposit and the property was returned in a disgusting state!. I too am struggling to let this academic year. There is a good choice of agents in the area but they do vary in the quality of service they provide so check they are advertising your property to its best potential. We are competing with the brand new shiny uni accommodation just up the road. Good luck. It's only going to get worse.

Grumpy Doug

8:16 AM, 17th August 2022, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by juliette grant at 17/08/2022 - 07:17
Juliette, I feel for you. I've got 6 student houses. Couple of observations from your post that may help.
Arrears - surely all your students have guarantors? I sit down with all my students at start of tenancy and make it crystal clear that if rent is not paid promptly that I will be chasing their guarantors for it. Usually that does the trick. For those that occasionally try it on, a sharp call from their parent who's had a call from me gets then back in line. I do try to meet the parents as much as possible when they move in so we're not strangers.
That shiny new accommodation block will be expensive. Very expensive! They are usually marketed as weekly rates to disguise how crazy expensive they are. When doing your marketing, sure down with your agent, calculate your equivalent weekly rates and push those really hard. I'm typically 1/2 - 2/3 of the cost of the Uni accommodation.
Lastly, I've spent the last few years really getting the houses up to scratch. I have an account at Howdens so it's the grey oak kitchens throughout, new bathrooms (remove baths, fit the biggest shower trays you can - they love them), light grey quality laminate flooring downstairs, charcoal grey carpets, light grey on the walls throughout, feature walls (just a dark grey or even a New York at night themed paper - £3 a roll in B&M!). Goodbye magnolia.
It costs, but the difference has been dramatic. I let all the houses immediately and I'm still getting great rates.
Doug

Simon F

9:18 AM, 20th August 2022, About 2 months ago

It has been an odd year. On student numbers, my reading is: UK student number will rise over next few years then fall back - there's a demographic bubble coming through in fifth and sixth forms now, plus a deep recession drives up mature student numbers. EU student numbers are way down since Brexit+COVID, and unlikely to recover. Non-EU student numbers are down due to COVID, but many will be deferring studies and will come later - at same time as the UK bubble comes through. So, I am expecting strong demand for next 3 years or so. Huge marketing budgets of PBSAs are having a negative effect though, and the rest of us need to sharpen our marketing skills (and yes, agents are behind the curve too). This year I found my student house in worst location got most interest. I put that down to it being the only one with a video tour. So, this summer, I doing videos of the others to attach to adverts next year.

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