Government warned that the Renters (Reform) Bill risks driving student housing shortage towards crisis point

The government has been urged to make further changes to the legislation to safeguard student housing supply.

Related topics:  Property,  Students,  Renters Reform Bill
Property | Reporter
26th April 2024
student 55
"Anything less than parity with the way the Bill treats the purpose-built student accommodation sector is just not enough"
- Calum MacInnes - SAPRS

Following the Renters (Reform) Bill’s long-awaited return to Parliament on Wednesday this week, a coalition of higher education and student housing organisations including Universities UK, Unipol, and Nottingham Trent University have warned the Government of the detrimental impact of the legislation on student housing if the sector was not consulted further.

This comes after concerns about the shortfall in student housing have grown, with industry figures from Savills last month revealing that more than 230,000 beds are needed to meet the demand for purpose-built student accommodation.

SAPRS (Student Accredited Private Rental Sector) – a coalition of second- and third-year student accommodation providers across Britain and a signatory of the joint letter – also recently commissioned a YouGov poll which showed that 53% of the British public believe the government should be doing more to support students find housing.

The statistics and widespread industry concern highlight the critical need for solutions to the student housing problem as the Government plans to end fixed-term tenancy agreements (FTTAs) for private student housing. This would threaten the availability, affordability, and quality of student housing across the country as a result of the Renters (Reform) Bill which is due to return/has returned to Parliament.

Reacting to the news, Clemmie Meadon, third-year student at Durham University said: “The student housing market in Durham is an absolute nightmare. Some of my friends have literally camped overnight outside letting agencies to even have a remote chance of signing a house. I don’t want to think about how much worse it would get if the number of student houses would be reduced further, so hearing about the [Renters Reform] Bill worries me.”

Emilia Davies, undergraduate student at Durham University, added: “People had warned me about how hard it is to find accommodation in Durham – I was not prepared for how hard it would be to find a house. It’s not just the shortage, it’s the cost as well.

"A lot of my friends are worried about how they’re going to pay for rent on their student budgets. It’s already bad enough without this Bill, which could make housing even more expensive”.

SAPRS believes that the Renters (Reform) Bill must be amended to ensure parity between purpose-built student accommodation and private student housing to avoid worsening the student housing crisis, provided that landlords sign up to an approved code of conduct with quality standards and protections for students.

In late March, Levelling Up Minister Jacob Young confirmed that the Bill would be amended further in an attempt to resolve concerns about the legislation’s impact on the student housing stock in England.

However, the changes proposed by the Government do not go far enough, SAPRS criticise.

Calum MacInnes, Chair at SAPRS argued: “Anything less than parity with the way the Bill treats the purpose-built student accommodation sector is just not enough."

Their concerns are shared by the seven property and higher education organisations that have written to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to argue for greater student housing protections in the Bill.

MacInnes commented on recent student housing supply predictions: “These predictions paint a grim picture of what the future holds for student housing if we don’t see urgent steps to address the student housing crisis. With the pressure of end-of-year exams and coursework, the next few months will be incredibly challenging for students as it is. The government must ensure the Renters (Reform) Bill recognises the situation and offers security for private student housing.”

More like this
Latest from Financial Reporter
Latest from Protection Reporter
to our newsletter

Join a community of over 20,000 landlords and property specialists and keep up-to-date with industry news and upcoming events via our newsletter.