Cash-strapped students may not seem like the most reliable source of income, but student housing has come to be seen as one of the most reliable forms of investment. Property investors throughout the UK are realising that high yields and a constant supply of new tenants year after year are worth the supposed challenges that come with managing a property geared towards the student lifestyle.
The students may not stay for very long, but there will always be new tenants to replace the ones that leave, especially considering that the UK is currently one of the most popular destinations for people looking to study abroad.
That popularity seems unlikely to diminish anytime soon, with the Independent reporting that “the number of international students heading to the UK is set to increase faster than anywhere else in the world outside of Australia”. This is backed up by the findings of a British Council study, which predicts that international student numbers will increase by 10% over the next decade, which translates into an influx of about 30,000 students.
Best student cities in the UK
This is great news for property investors who will be hoping that many of those students have parents willing to act as guarantors on their rent. Of course, they aren't going to be renting just anywhere. The UK has no shortage of illustrious universities, but certain parts of the country are known for being more attractive to students than others.
York, Birmingham, Glasgow, Nottingham and Leicester are just some of the cities included in the Independent's list of top 10 hot spots for student accommodation; along with the capital, of course (despite the high housing prices). The reputation of the university in question is naturally a big draw card.
Growth potential is another factor to take into account; this is why Oxford and Cambridge are especially appealing to investors. Not only do they boast two of the world's most traditionally renowned universities, but they are also expanding their educational facilities, and are expected to receive a significant population boost from the influx of international and local students. According to the Telegraph, the population of Cambridge will increase by more than 20 per cent over the course of the next decade.
It's also a good idea to look at cities where educational institutions have been recently established, triggering a boost to student growth. Norwich, Plymouth and Bournemouth, for example; all identified by the Telegraph as potential student hubs of the future.
Finding the right properties
Once you've pinpointed the popular student cities, find the properties best suited to student accommodation. Naturally you'll be looking for housing within the vicinity of a top university.
Properties well suited to student housing are generally:
- Simple and easy to maintain.
- Easily accessible from public transport.
- Equipped with fast broadband.
You also need to take into account the number of people the property can house. Two or three bedroom flats are ideal. Students are inclined towards sharing accommodation, but if you try to cram too many into one block you may open yourself up to legal difficulties. This is especially true if you don't have a license to operate HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation), which are houses occupied by a group of tenants from different households. Such setups generally aren't encouraged by the councils.
These are just a few suggestions as to how you can put yourself in the best position to reap the benefits of the student housing boom. If you’re serious about investing in student housing you should consult a financial advisor or property investment specialist.