Online student letting platform StudentTenant.com has highlighted the alarming problem faced by students every January; the scramble for housing for the following academic year.
The majority of housing lists are released after Christmas and it becomes a frantic rush to find both housemates and housing for the Autumn term.
Limiting the flow of housing and then releasing it all at the same time is problematic for both landlords and students, because it makes the process of finding a flat incredibly competitive when everyone is looking at the same time. In addition, it is not ideal for the current tenants of the flat who constantly have people coming through their home for viewings in large groups.
The competition is fierce since a number of universities have a higher demand for housing than availability. This ultimately feeds a vicious cycle, because the first year students starting the following October are stuck without much choice for housing due to the majority being accounted for months before by older students.
Many believe that the solution to this pattern is to have ongoing properties available to students to minimise the pressure of finding a flat, keeping up with studies and making new friends. Despite this, it is a commonly accepted practice to begin searching after Christmas, and the students are under the impression that the best places are the first to go off the market.
The whole process is disruptive to the main reason behind students being at university - their studies. The struggle to find accommodation is perhaps a bigger battle than getting accepted into university in the first place.
Danielle Cullen, managing director of StudentTenant, had this to say: “StudentTenant.com always has a steady flow of housing options, and we ensure that students are aware of the legal implications involved with signing a letting agreement with friends. Regardless of the rationale behind this tradition, students always seem to return to university from the Christmas holidays to start frantically looking for and booking next year’s accommodation.
We encourage students to be sensible - they should be confident in their group of friends and find a place that is comfortable. However, the best places do go first, and it has become a trend to see the second and third years who have already developed strong bonds showing more organisation as they look for housing.”