From education to employment

Coronavirus Crisis means Students Now Reluctant To Pay Big Sums Of Rent Upfront

Jeremy Robinson, Managing Director, Housing Hand

Housing Hand’s Managing Director Jeremy Robinson explains how the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having could result in positive longer-term solutions for the student accommodation sector: 

How are student accommodation complexities driving change? 

The COVID-19 pandemic has done much to complicate the lives of those entering higher education. It has made crowding into lecture halls, seminar rooms and student bars a great deal less appealing for those attending university this year.

The coronavirus pandemic has also added another layer of complexity to the issue of student housing.

Many students are now far more reluctant to fork out 6 months or full year rent in advance, given the uncertainties that they now face in terms of lockdowns, remote learning requirements and travel restrictions.

There are just too many unknowns.

China’s Five-One policy, which is effective until 1 October 2020 at the time of writing, meant that less Chinese students are choosing to travel to the UK.

This has resulted in more first and second year students from the EU and Middle East booking accommodation with PBSAs in the UK.

These students are either self-funded or government-sponsored, which makes it harder for them to pay big sums of rent upfront.

Housing Hand is well placed to judge shifts in student thinking when it comes to their accommodation. The company has helped and processed over 87,000 applicants since 2013. It has worked with 3,500 accommodation providers and covered more the £646 million worth of rent for both students and working professionals.

Around 1 in 4 of Housing Hand’s applications are from students looking to live in the purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) sector, while others are applying for university-provided accommodation. Housing Hand works directly with universities and with a large proportion of PBSA providers in the UK and Republic of Ireland, including market leaders such as CRM Students, GSA, Homes for Students and Host.

More PBSAs are contacting Housing Hand in order to create incentive schemes for their tenants, to remove any barriers on bookings due to the need for a guarantor.

Housing Hand’s guarantor service offers fully comprehensive cover of rent, damages and dilapidations, with incentives and bulk cover opportunities available for universities and PBSA providers. For students, it offers the ability to pay monthly instead of paying a year upfront. Through partnerships such as those with the University of Salford, Goldsmiths University and the University of Bristol, Housing Hand also provides students with the cheapest option when it comes to booking their accommodation.

Accommodation providers and students seeking accommodation are both looking for more certainty over their arrangements and obligations. There’s a chance here to turn this into a longer-term benefit. It helps students to be able to pay in instalments rather than all at once, and it helps accommodation providers to have fully comprehensive rent cover available.

If we can build this into the sector for the future, both parties can enjoy something positive as a result.

Jeremy Robinson, Managing Director, Housing Hand

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