Student rental market crippled by soaring demand and accommodation shortage

Student rental market crippled by soaring demand and accommodation shortage

10:39 AM, 18th September 2015, About 7 years ago 5

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With two UK universities struggling to meet demand for first-year student accommodation, flat and house share site reveals that up to 22 people professionals and students are competing for every room available in university towns and cities.student

Competition is at its most fierce in Edinburgh where 22 people are hunting for every room available and in Oxford, where a hundred students currently have no accommodation for the start of the semester, and 15 people are searching for every room available.

A growing number of over 35s are staying in shared accommodation, rather than renting alone or buying their first homes, hence the pressure on the rental market and the lack of supply for student sharers. Almost a third of sharers using SpareRoom are now over 35 and the number of flat sharers aged 45+ has risen faster than younger age groups over the past five years.

Just 40% of rooms in existing house and flat shares in the UK’s university top 25 cities are available to students, because some landlords are unwilling to let to students.

Students attending Loughborough and Durham have the best chances of finding student-friendly house shares, with 84% and 80% of rooms in the respective areas available to undergraduates.

Students in Reading and Guildford aren’t so lucky, especially in Reading where the shortage of accommodation is a particular problem at the moment. In these cities, just 34% and 43% of rooms in house and flatshares are available to students.

The table below shows the average monthly rent and demand in the UK’s top 25 universities and the percentage of rooms available that are on offer to students:

spareroom data
Source: – August 2015 data

Matt Hutchinson, director of, said “Heading off to university for the first time is a daunting enough experience, without the additional worry of having nowhere to live.

Most freshers will expect accommodation to be ready and waiting. Even those who’ve been through clearing normally manage to find a place in time for the start of term. But those affected by the shortage of student accommodation in Oxford and Reading are now facing a mad scramble to find somewhere to live.

There are some rooms available in existing flatshares but with just 225 rooms available to students in Reading and 276 in Oxford, plus high demand for rooms from professionals too, the situation is far from ideal. You don’t have to be a genius to see the bottleneck in rental market supply, particularly as it’s becoming all the more common for people to flatshare well into their 30s and 40s.”


Dr Rosalind Beck

15:13 PM, 18th September 2015, About 7 years ago

The average rents seem high. In Cardiff we charge rents of £250 to £270 per month to students and approximately £180 in the valleys.

Of course we are going to be pushed out of business by the Government. The idea is that our properties should no longer be used to house students (private rentals, bad; owner-occupied houses, good), and our properties must somehow move into the 'owner-occupied' category. If this happens - and if first time buyers and/or second-time buyers are interested in buying HMOs and turning them into family homes (?!), where will the students live? It seems that they don't matter.

But I do see very expensive student housing being built by companies - so maybe they'll get the monopoly and students in the future will have no other option and have to pay their far higher rents. And this is seen as good? As if students want to take on even greater debt. If students realised this they would be up in arms too, but they also don't have much of a voice. Competition in the student lettings market could be wiped out.

Roger Rabbit

20:13 PM, 18th September 2015, About 7 years ago

in one town i am familiar with there has been lots of new student flats built over the last 3 years and two more under construction. The students seem to prefer them else they wouldn't always be full which they are but then again they are probably a captive market. I suspect a lot of universities in time will want to build flats to rent to their students as an extra income source.

Ethical Man

21:22 PM, 20th September 2015, About 7 years ago

I agree with Ros that the rentals quoted seem on the high side. This can be explained by looking at the source of the figures: So the figures will be based on the asking price of rooms advertised with them, and in places such as Reading (where I live) there are always a few expensive rooms which are advertised repeatedly (because they rarely get let) along with cheaper rooms which go instantly.

Saeef Khan

21:45 PM, 20th September 2015, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ethical Man" at "20/09/2015 - 21:22":

Ethical Man..I have some properties in Reading. How much rent would you say too much rent per room?


17:37 PM, 22nd September 2015, About 7 years ago

We seem to have a bit of a Reading Reunion going on at the moment: I too rent property in Reading, and I think Spareroom's statistics are unreliable. Firstly, as Ethical Man says, are these figures skewed because they are asking prices? Secondly, do the figures quoted include utility bills? How does Spareroom adjust its figures to cater for those landlords who don't include bills? Perhaps it just assumes that the same proportion of landlords include bills or don't across the country, but it ought to make it clear whether or not its figures include bills.

That said, at least Spareroom have *some* figures. Most statistics ignore the HMO/houseshare sector entirely.

Saeef: it's impossible to say how much rent is "too much" across a whole city - you need to compare your specific property with its near-equivalents in terms of quality and location. It sounds obvious but a three-bed semi at the outside edge of Lower Earley is going to attract a different mix of tenants with different levels of expectations and income compared with a three-bed semi in the University area or near the main station, so you need to compare like with like.

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