The majority of UK students don’t feel the furniture provided with student accommodation reflects the price they pay to live there, new research shows.
Manor Interiors, provider of build-to-rent furnishing solutions, surveyed 917 UK students in August 2021 to learn their thoughts on university accommodation and the furniture provided.
It found that 69% of students don’t think the furniture provided within their student accommodation reflects the price they pay. 33% of students admit that they’ve accidentally broken a piece of furniture in their student halls due to the poor quality of the furniture itself.
CEO of Manor Interiors, Farhan Malik, commented: “The cost of renting can consume a considerable chunk of a student’s finances and it’s fair to say that furniture within student accommodation will be more rigorously put through its paces compared to a property rented by a professional or mature tenant.
“So it’s understandable that PBSA providers try to strike a balance between providing a cost-effective offering and one that adequately meets the needs of the modern student.
“However, all too often this can mean cutting corners on the quality of furniture and opting for cheaper, mass-produced products that soon suffer from the wear and tear of student life.
“Opting for bespoke products can not only improve the durability, style and quality of student accommodation, but when furnishing multiple units, it can also prove as cost-effective, if not more so, than mass-produced furniture items.”
Have you ever accidentally broken a piece of furniture in your student accommodation due to it being of poor quality?
Do you feel the furniture provided within your student accommodation reflects the price you pay to live there?
The survey was carried out by Manor Interiors via consumer research platform Find Out Now on 20th August 2021.
UK rental guarantor service Housing Hand has shared its expectations for 2021, including the issues that the private rented sector may face this year.
It has gained insight into the difficulties faced by the private rental sector from the landlords and tenants they work with across the UK. According to Group Managing Director Jeremy Robinson, 2021 could be a bumpy year for the rental market.
Robinson comments: “The pandemic has created a number of issues, ranging from tenants becoming unable to pay their rent to would-be renters experiencing difficulties during the referencing process. The latest lockdown and its subsequent economic impact have the potential to exacerbate these problems significantly.”
Turning the focus to Brexit, Terry Mason, Group Operations Director of Housing Hand, believes the impact of changes to flows of workers and students into the UK from Europe will be increasingly felt over the course of 2021. He comments: “A large number of those who travel to the UK for work or study rent their homes privately while here. Landlords who serve that market are going to feel the impact of Brexit strongly this year.”
The ongoing effects of COVID-19 are also predicted to hit the student private rental market. Housing Hand states that if universities deliver courses virtually rather than in-person come the start of the new academic year in September, there’s likely to be a significant impact on those who usually let properties to students.
The expectations for rural areas and the Home Counties are more positive, with such locations enjoying a surge in rental demand as tenants move out of London and other major cities. Housing Hand anticipates this trend continuing in 2021.
Terry Mason comments: “Lockdown 3.0 will once again emphasise the benefits of renting larger properties with outside space. The Office for National Statistics reports that 21% of London’s households have no access to a garden, either private or shared. The lower cost of renting outside of the city means that a garden suddenly becomes much more affordable.”
An updated list of guidelines from The Deposit Protection Service (DPS) has been released to support students, landlords, and letting agents.
These guidelines for check-in reports have been put together to help when arranging accommodation moves during the coronavirus pandemic. It encourages all involved to follow Government rules aimed at reducing the spread of the virus.
Matt Trevett, Managing Director at The DPS, said: “Some students may not know what to expect when moving during the pandemic, and many landlords and agents are still adjusting to how public health measures affect setting up new tenancies.
“This guidance, which takes into account latest government advice on moving, will help ensure a safe and efficient move in line with the regulations, as well as help avoid disputes at the end of a tenancy.”
These are the nine student accommodation check-in guidelines provided by The DPS:
1. Understand government restrictions on moving
Members of only two households can enter a property at any one time in England. Students form a ‘household’ when they move into a property together, which means physical check-ins with either a landlord or letting agent can take place. Separate guidance exists in Wales and Scotland.
2. If possible, reduce the number of tenants attending the check-in
If tenants are undertaking a joint tenancy for the property, they are acting as a single party, so only one needs to attend the check-in. If each student has a separate tenancy for their individual room, everyone should attend as well as receive and sign their own inventory.
3. Perform a check-in when the house is empty
If possible, it is best to perform a check-in when the property is empty to reduce the risk of the virus transferring from the belongings of existing tenants to visitors.
4. Electronic check-ins are also permitted
If a non-physical check-in is preferable, landlords or agents can prepare the report in advance and then pass it to the relevant tenants via email or post, along with any photographs.
5. Stick to the facts
The check-in information should be thorough, factual, and accurately describe the condition of the carpets, walls, furniture, and garden. It should note items’ age, wear, and existing damage. Using a third-party inventory service to record the condition of furniture and fixtures can also help prevent disputes at the end of a tenancy.
6. Take photos of the property
Good quality, colour photos, along with the check-in report, provide the best evidence during any dispute. Date-stamped images taken on or close to the check-in date are optimal. Tenants who want to take their own photographs should agree with the landlord or agent a suitable time to enter the property.
7. Tenants should study the draft report and send back written amendments within seven days
If tenants don’t amend a draft check-in report within seven days of receiving it in person, via post or by email, the landlord or agent can assume the tenants agree with it.
8. Put conversations about the property’s condition in writing
Tenants, landlords, and agents who speak about the property’s condition should also follow up by post or email in order to keep a record and remove doubt should anyone need to refer to their conversations at a later date.
9. The tenants’ agreement is vital
Landlords, agents, and tenants should hold onto the final, agreed version of the report as well as any email trail or postal receipts relating to it. A landlord who can’t get a digital or physical signature from a tenant should ask them for an email or text confirming their agreement – and keep a copy.
With many students choosing to return to their family homes to self-isolate, this has created another concern for landlords and letting agents.
With some students believing that they won’t have to pay rent as they are no longer living in the accommodation, this could lead to an increase in arrears for landlords.
Giles Inman, business development manager at the East Midlands Property Owners Group, representing around 600 landlords in the city, informed Nottingham Post: “We are getting students contacting landlords saying they are moving back to their parental homes and some of the students are saying ‘do they need to pay any more rent?
“A tenancy agreement is a legal contract. If the landlord pursues the student, well, we do not want to go down that road. It is all about being in it together.”
Landlords are being urged to remain calm by lettings and property management company Student Housing. Director Marcus Askam-Yates points out that the government is still issuing student loans, so there is no reason for university students to stop paying their rent.
Askam-Yates said: “I guess we, like a lot of agencies, have had several phone calls and emails from concerned landlords, worried that their rental income will decline during the current situation.
“We have reassured them that as all tenants have signed legally binding contracts with us. Students are still able to live in their homes properties as normal, without additional risk. The government has advised against non-essential travel, and so many of our tenants have stayed in their accommodation.
“Of course, the tenancy does not require the tenant to physically reside within the property, and it is their right to vacate their rented property, but the tenancy agreement remains unaffected. Landlords have to keep to their obligations under the tenancy, and it’s expected that tenants will adhere to their obligations too.”
“We have had several students ring us about what happens to their rent if they decide to leave their home temporarily and if a discount will be issued if they no longer live at the property.
“Most universities are still offering online or remote learning and Student Finance has confirmed that tuition and maintenance loan payments will continue to be issued, so the vast majority of our tenants understand that they need to continue to pay rent in line with the tenancy.
“As all student tenants are still expected to pay rent, the vast majority of landlords will see no changes to rental income and should have no issues paying mortgages each month.
“We understand that some students use their part-time jobs to top up the loan payment in order to pay their rent. In these circumstances, we’re asking guarantors to step in and provide rent guarantees or offering deferred payment plans to the tenants as the response to the pandemic unfolds.
“Tenants suffering financially as a result of COVID-19 should contact their agent for a payment plan as soon as possible.”
The results of a study into what students look for in accommodation has revealed key trends for Chinese tenants studying in the UK.
In the academic year 2017/18, over 75,000 first-year students from China enrolled in UK universities, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency UK.
Build to rent revenue enhancement platform Houzen has undertaken research that shows Chinese students are looking for one of two property types: modern, one-bedroom apartments or accommodation specifically designed for international students.
The study highlights that “turn ons” when it comes to London accommodation include:
5-minute walk to a train/tube station
New build property
A lively neighbourhood
High rise building
The biggest “turn offs” include:
Lack of storage
No green space nearby
Lack of 24/7 security
Lack of carpeting
In terms of location, Canary Wharf is one of the most popular areas. The presence of private security and CCTV cameras provides reassurance to many who come to study in the UK.
Canary Wharf also wins in terms of its location. Most Chinese students prefer to navigate London on foot, due to the high cost of public transportation. As such, they need to live within a 15- or 20-minute walk of their chosen university, making Canary Wharf suitable for a number of London’s most sought after higher education establishments.
Megan Wang, International Demand Leader of Houzen, comments: “Location is a key consideration for Chinese students and for their families back home. Students want to live close to university, in an area that’s well maintained and secure.
“This is just as important to their parents – they want to know that their children will be safe and sound while they are studying overseas. That’s why Canary Wharf has risen to a position of such prominence with young Chinese tenants recently.”
Houzen also highlights:
The average rent of an apartment in London by a Chinese student is £1,999 per month (based on Houzen’s data for 2018/2019).
The average Chinese student also provides £2,333 per year in additional lifetime value, usually accounted for by expenditure on added services offered by their concierge or on-site accommodation team.
What’s the most bizarre thing you’ve ever found in your property after a tenant has moved out? Giant glow-in-the-dark swear words, a sex toy, and a pet python are a few reported by The Deposit Protection Service (The DPS).
Part of The DPS’ role is processing landlords’ requests for deductions from their tenants’ deposits, and among the claims it received this year was one to cover the costs of removing a snake found in a student’s bedroom.
The swear words were discovered after a landlord believed their living room to have been left in an acceptable condition, only to find four-foot-high swear words appear on the walls at night.
One landlord had to inform an ex-tenant that they had disposed of a sex toy left behind after the owner had phoned to ask for it back. Another landlord has reported finding an air rifle in a student’s room.
Matt Trevett, Managing Director at The DPS, said: “Like all tenants, students must take care of the place they live in, avoiding or properly repairing any damage and leaving the property as clean as when they arrived.
“Because students are more likely to share their house with others, there can be confusion over who is responsible for checking the condition of their accommodation and reclaiming the deposit when everyone moves out.
“Keeping to the terms of a tenancy agreement and demonstrating that they’ve left the place in good standing is crucial to students receiving their full deposit back.”
Below are 12 tips from The DPS to help students increase their chances of retaining their deposits at the end of a tenancy.
1. Check your landlord protects your deposit with a proper deposit scheme, i.e. one backed by the Government.
2. When you move in, note down any stains, marks or damage and make sure you agree and sign a formal detailed check-in or inventory report that includes date-stamped photographs and accurate descriptions of fixtures, carpets, and appliances. Arguing that the massive iron burn on your bedroom carpet was already there when you moved in, but you didn’t notice it, just won’t fly. MAKE SURE EVERY HOUSEMATE SEES THE REPORT AND HAS A COPY.
3. If the landlord is unknown to you, make sure you check their name against your university or student union’s list of approved landlords.
4. Don’t throw your tenancy agreement into a dark corner and retrieve it, mouldy and dog-eared, just before you jet off to Ibiza/Magaluf/Scarborough to celebrate getting through uni. Read it and understand your rights and obligations, then file it safely.
5. Record all communication with your landlord in writing, especially anything you agree with them after you move in. Take screenshots of text message exchanges with your landlord because they record dates and even times and will help you if there is a dispute.
6. File copies of all documents, receipts and emails relating to your tenancy. You will be grateful for your awesome levels of organisation when you prepare to leave your accommodation.
7. If any defects or issues arise, whip out your phone and report them immediately to the landlord (backed by an email). Don’t put it off. Your landlord won’t mind hearing that ‘a pipe is leaking’ nearly as much as ‘the kitchen has been flooded for a couple of days now’.
8. If you take photos of damage or problems that occur in the property while you are there make sure they are date stamped.
9. Remember the legal phrase ‘joint and several’. If one housemate does not ‘fess up’ when something goes wrong, such as a breakage, it becomes the joint responsibility of all tenants. Encourage all housemates to report their (property-related) mishaps.
10. Even if you keep your own room in a state of pristine perfection, most tenancy agreements stipulate that tenants are also liable for damage to communal areas (n.b. this is a subject to raise at the start of the year and not in a heated discussion on the appalling state of the kitchen during exams).
11. Try not to fall out spectacularly with your housemates and move elsewhere. You could still remain jointly responsible for the property, because liability generally extends right to the end of the tenancy.
12. Make sure you attend the checkout inspection at the end of the tenancy and sign the agreed documentation. (You can take your own photographs, by the way).