Why fixed-term tenancies are actually good for students

Why fixed-term tenancies are actually good for students

9:14 AM, 26th May 2023, About A year ago 11

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 As a recent graduate, I know the difficulties of finding a student house and a proposed ban on fixed-term tenancies will have a serious knock-on effect on students.

Many students start searching for accommodation months in advance. I started searching around December time as I knew how fast some houses can be snatched up.

I was one of the lucky ones and managed to get a house relatively quickly and whilst unfortunately it was during Covid me and my three other flatmates had a blast. We all loved living in a house together and it was a great learning curve for all of us.

I had the security of knowing how long my contract was as I had a set date for moving in and moving out and as long as I paid my rent on time and looked after the house I would be able to stay for the whole of my contract.

I fear with the looming ban on fixed-term tenancies this will now not be the case.

A ban on fixed-term tenancies will see student landlords facing huge uncertainty as they won’t be able to guarantee there is accommodation for the incoming student group.

The existing tenants could turn around and say they want to stay longer which will create unprecedented uncertainty not just for landlords but students too.

Many students choose to rent from the PRS as it’s the cheapest option. According to data from Save the Student, renting from a private landlord costs an average monthly rent of £523, compared with £596 in university halls.

In a contradiction in policy by the government, purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) will still be able to issue fixed-term tenancies as long as the provider is registered for government-approved codes, since these tenancies are not assured.

Many students can simply not afford to live in PBSA so many will be stuck in limbo looking for alternative accommodation.

The UK is predicted to face a shortfall of around 450,000 student beds by 2025 (data from StuRents) and if landlords leave the PRS because of the ban on fixed-term tenancies, where will these students go?

The other problem I fear is that the NUS says the end of fixed-term contracts will enable students to settle in the community after graduating.

What many students don’t realise is that if we stay on and become employed after graduating, we will have to pay council tax on the property which becomes another added expense. From my experience, most students have enjoyed living in student houses and like fixed-term tenancies because it’s given them added security when looking for houses.

If the government do not change their minds, I worry that periodic tenancies will give no security to students and instead, they will be struggling with finding a place to live.


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Comments

Martin Thomas

10:19 AM, 26th May 2023, About A year ago

The NUS says that "the end of fixed-term contracts will enable students to settle in the community after graduating."
So the property will be occupied in future by people that are NOT students.
I'm slightly at a loss to understand why the NUS thinks that reducing the pool of property available for students to rent is a good thing...... Bless.

Jo Westlake

10:38 AM, 26th May 2023, About A year ago

Student housing tends to be located close to universities and city centres. Not necessarily close to areas of graduate employment. Do many students actually intend to stay in their university city after graduating? Surely most go back to their parents spare room at least until they have found a suitable job.
Fixed term tenancies have worked extremely well for the vast majority of students for a very long time. It would be a shame to mess things up now just to pander to a small minority.

Barbaracus

11:48 AM, 26th May 2023, About A year ago

Great article from someone who has actually just gone through the process.

The NUS haven't thought about the long terms affects of this:

1. Less student HMOs available. Demand exceeds supply therefore increased rents for students.

2. PBSA gets a monopoly due to being able to offer fixed term contracts. In Scotland PBSA rents increased by 33% in 3 years after fixed term tenancies in the PRS were abolished. Therefore increased rents for students.

3. Less investment in the HMOs that are on the market. Therefore students get less for their money.

4. Less security for students looking to move in to the PRS as they will not be able to view/sign up for properties until the current tenants have given notice. So they will probably be viewing properties in May/June/July. Most have exams in May/June so you've just added the stress of finding a house to that. Nice work.

So that's 4 things that will have negative impacts on students.

The NUS have argued that when students want to stay on at their HMO after University (how often does this actually happen?!) they can now. If they can afford it, which is doubtful.

So one positive, maybe.

Well done NUS.

Luke P

12:19 PM, 26th May 2023, About A year ago

"More tenants rights! Particularly for poor students!"

"We don't like the consequence of meddling causing change that affects us! We demand MORE rights!"

🤦‍♂️

LordOf TheManor

14:18 PM, 26th May 2023, About A year ago

The ones that are already missing out are British students.

For several years, it has been top policy for universities to recruit wealthy foreign students to their faculties. Why? Simple. These students pay much higher fees for the same courses that a Brit pays £9,250pa for.

The universities insist on the full course fees being paid IN FULL before the student arrives. So if the course fees are £15k per annum...... do the maths and 3 years fees are nice earner. That's what they're after.

Ditto accommodation. Foreign students have PBSA 'pod' suites guaranteed to them. Guess what? Their accommodation also has to be paid up front! Nice big chunks of cash flows in every intake year.....

Foreign students..... it's the same group the government was complaining about yesterday with the legal migration figures hugely expanded by these students' visas entitling them to bring family with them. You can't have it both ways!!

In the real world....

What it means is that any British student who joins a course after coming through the 'clearing process' is most unlikely to find accommodation available in their university city. It isn't a recent thing, either.

Have a look at these links:
UWE Bristol students placed in halls in Newport, Gwent
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-63291585
Bristol university students to be housed in Bath due to 'high demand'
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-58264222

If the government continues to be dead set on abolishing fixed term tenancies in the PRS, it needs to understand the unintended consequences that already exist for even MORE British students than are currently affected by living out of town.

If landlords of students can't house them by the fixed term, then who else will take them?

Will the government take note? Probably not. In a few years there will be a public enquiry looking at why there is a huge drop off in British students attending university.

Reluctant Landlord

14:43 PM, 26th May 2023, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by LordOf TheManor at 26/05/2023 - 14:18
its ironic. Kids wanting to go to Uni her are now looking abroad. Cheaper to rent in other European cities than here, but because of Brex$hit they are now charged course fees as an international student and denied the change of a student loan to find it.

Talk about doing over your own countries youth....

NewYorkie

10:56 AM, 27th May 2023, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Martin Thomas at 26/05/2023 - 10:19
A very 'student' reaction. Shallow and lacking in understanding of consequences.

NewYorkie

11:00 AM, 27th May 2023, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by LordOf TheManor at 26/05/2023 - 14:18
A very 'student' reaction. Shallow and lacking in understanding of consequences.

NewYorkie

11:06 AM, 27th May 2023, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by LordOf TheManor at 26/05/2023 - 14:18
This is so true. Only recently, students at uni in York had to live in Hull. But... maybe the government has finally accepted we have too many going to university who shouldn't, and this is a way of 'managing' the demand!

Grumpy Doug

16:37 PM, 28th May 2023, About A year ago

The NUS has a typical, myopic, lefty view of the PRS in all it's forms. I remember the leader of the NUS in Scotland howling about the supply shortage and bonkers rents and blaming "greedy landlords". Completely ignoring the fact that student landlords have been heading for the exit since 2017 due to the very same SNP madness that the NUS was supporting. Talk about turkeys voting for Xmas!

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