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Housing Hand provides latest insights into student accommodation struggles

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Back in August, UK rental guarantor service Housing Hand warned of a ‘tsunami of students’ struggling to find university accommodation, with Chief Operating Officer Graham Hayward reporting that a number of universities had expressed concern over the lack of available student accommodation in their area.

Now that the dust has settled, with students heading to university for the start of the 2022/23 academic year, the Housing Hand team has followed up on the situation. So, did the tsunami of students occur as anticipated?

“Indeed it did,” confirms Housing Hand’s Graham Hayward, “And probably in a more concentrated period that we anticipated. Fortunately, Housing Hand was well prepared with updated technology, so were generally able to manage good service levels. We saw a 20.6% uptick in accepted applicants and are still in tidy up mode on a number of late applicants who are not moving in until later.

“We are pleased that we provided a faster turnaround service to those accommodation providers who signed up to our enhanced service, especially our validation service where service levels moved from 48 hours to 48 seconds.”

Housing Hand has confirmed that its tenant intake was quite balanced, with a 50/50 split between UK and international students. This academic year, more of the international students came from outside of Europe due to Brexit changes. Covid has not had a major impact in terms of travel and occupancy, although China has seen a moderation in applicants. Overall, though, that dip has been made up for by other nationalities.

The Housing Hand team also saw a higher-than-expected takeup in commercial relationships with accommodation providers, with an increase in custom arrangements of 25.6% across all channels (including Purpose Built Student Accommodation, Build to Rent and Houses in Multiple Occupation). 

Housing Hand also experienced a higher level of increase in university relationships, with universities seeking bespoke arrangements and help with inclusion for their students. This was particularly so where a lack of supply in the local accommodation market risked excluding many if they were required to pay full accommodation costs up front. Additionally, universities are now seeking the inclusion of their own halls of residence in bespoke rental guarantor arrangements with Housing Hand, as they continue to seek new ways to support students with their accommodation.

The final piece in the 2022/23 student accommodation picture relates to referencing. Housing Hand notes that passing referencing has become more difficult. Typically, 50% of applicants pass, but this is now circa 40% and going lower, given the economic pressures. A higher number of applicants are failing and require a suitable guarantor to progress their rental arrangements. 

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