UK student property market is booming, but many students still can't afford
Priced out. Source: Shutterstock

Only a scant portion of student accommodation in the UK meet the National Union of Students’ (NUS) recommended fair rent pricing, a new report has revealed.

The NUS has recommended that at least 25 percent of all bed spaces are charged at 50 percent of the
student maintenance loan (around GBP4,200 in 2017/18).

Real estate firm’s Cushman and Wakefield report found only 13 percent of the student property market is priced at or below GBP4,200 per year – a shortfall of 72,000 from NUS’s recommendation. The private sector provided only 19 percent of beds at or below GBP4,200 per year.

With students reported to be struggling to afford living expenses and graduating with soaring debt, these findings show higher education has increasingly become less affordable. They are facing “a lifetime of debt and precarious employment,” according to a 2016 NUS report, Double Jeopardy.

In 2016, more than 1,000 students took part in “the largest student rent strike in British history”, withholding their rent payments at universities across London to protest over the cost of accommodation prices they say are “soaring” as well as below-standard living conditions.

Yet, purpose-built student accommodation bed spaces continue to grow by the thousands in the UK. Last year, a record-breaking 30,000 news beds were delivered for the academic year, the largest the firm has ever observed.

In the 2017/18 academic year, there are 602,000 purpose-built bed spaces available for students.

“Transactions to-date have already exceeded last year at around GBP3.61 billion, but unlike 2016 there is a further GBP1.05 billion under offer and GBP1.50 billion in the market, double the totals for last year,” the report wrote.

Cushman & Wakefield’s report said the gaps in quality affordable housing are “being filled by HMO (House of Multiple Occupation) providers”. HMOs generally refer to properties rented out to three or more people sharing facilities such as a kitchen or bathroom, but do not form a single household.

And though pricing appears to cause “impact in some markets”, the report found that consumers value trumps pricing overall judging by the “continued good levels of occupancy in high-end, boutique offerings”.

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