London agency Benham & Reeves Residential Lettings says student rents have risen by 55.5 per cent over the past 20 years, compared to 24 per cent for non-student properties.
The firm undertook a survey of its offices and their respective student properties and tenants; over the course of two decades, the average monthly spend on rent has increased while the number of sharers has markedly decreased.
Despite the advent of university tuition fees, BRRL says students are no longer prepared to live in substandard accommodation and are demanding well maintained and decorated properties with high speed internet, ensuite bathrooms and state-of-the-art kitchens. Thus much of the increase in rental costs is down to higher standards of accommodation.
“Those who have sought degrees tend to be more affluent. Simultaneously, universities have topped up numbers by welcoming greater numbers of overseas students. These groups simply aren't prepared to live in traditional student houses with five rooms to one toilet and a very basic kitchen” says BRRL’s Marc von Grundherr.
He says private halls of residence have increased in popularity, many with rents approaching £400 per week. “Unsurprisingly, many students are also turning to studio and one bedroom apartments that command a similar rental value” says von Grundherr.
Increasing regulation by councils, including a clampdown on Houses in Multiple Occupation, has meant that the larger homes that were traditionally shared by four or five students are now rare. The agency says that in London at least, many students will live in a new build, two-bedroom flat with just one other person.
Overseas investment is another factor, he says.
Traditionally overseas clients bought for their children while studying and these properties were then retained as rental investments.
The BRRL analysis shows that 98.7 per cent of clients who did this found that by the time their children finished their studies and left the UK, the increase in the property value had covered the total cost of the education and in 44 per cent of cases, had also covered the costs of their living expenses including flights.