Everyone knows that the student property market is booming, cities across the UK have run out of student accommodation and, in some areas, students are being bussed in from another county (which is not a great first experience of university life).
So, How is Student-land in Leeds?
While we haven’t quite hit the under-supply issues of other big Uni cities, the demand for student accommodation in Leeds continues to grow, house-hunting seems to get a little bit earlier every year and the demand for carefully designed high-end properties increases every year.
We let the highest number of properties pre-Christmas than ever before this year, up by almost 37%!
Of the search terms, we analyse each year, “luxury” and well as “bills included” remain at the top of the list of what people looking for.
So, What About the Bills Included?
The “without bills” option for large, shared houses is pretty much dead. Yes, we know the pricing of utilities has been a little volatile, to say the least, but whether you like it or not, this is what your student tenants want. Chances are they will have come out of modern purpose-built halls in their first year and they want a fully serviced set-up when they move into private houses. Energy, water, TV licenses, insurance and zippy Wi-Fi are a must. And God help you if you get the latter wrong – we once had the Geneva convention quoted to us when we had a 2-hour supply outage in one of our houses!
In a nutshell, students want fully inclusive modern properties with 24-hour service. They’re picky- and good for them; so, they should be.
So, What Should Landlords Be Thinking About When Renting to Students?
Property Size – Size matters! Especially when it comes to student housing. Demand for different size properties differs greatly and you can also come up against things such as HMO licenses or Article 4 direction. With Northwest Leeds being densely populated by students, the council can be quite particular in controlling the student population in this area. In 2012 the Article 4 direction was introduced, meaning any property already in use as a student rental could remain to do so but after this date, if you try to change the use of a property from a family home to a student one, you need the permission from the council, and this is virtually impossible to get! When you reach 5 bedrooms or above, you enter the realm of licensed HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation). Lots of safety precautions to think about, along with costs for licensing, certification and much more.
But Big Isn’t Always Better – With the newer modern halls having smaller cluster flats (and therefore fewer people per flat) we’re seeing reduced demand for the traditional huge Victorian terrace properties. 7 plus bedrooms are still popular – but definitely less so than they used to be. If you don’t get these let early, you’re likely to struggle. With students spending more time working at home, and the recent memory of Covid, there seems to be less desire to live with a busload of other people.
Budget – When trying to find a property to buy, it’s likely that you will have some stiff competition so you need to be confident about what you can afford and what type of property your budget will achieve. If you’re well versed in the world of refurbishments or you have a good property agent (cough cough) on hand, you’re going to be better off buying a property that needs some love. The difference a lick of paint, new carpets and some new furniture can have is astonishing and could save you thousands on the purchase price.
Viewings – Virtual viewings and online “walk-throughs” are great and have become the norm, but post-pandemic we’ve seen that students still want the experience and insight that only a physical viewing can provide. Our physical viewings this year exceeded our previous pre-pandemic numbers. Which was a little unexpected, to be honest.
Design – If you don’t know what students want then don’t guess! Big rooms, bright spaces and modern décor are all easy wins but there are lots of little tips and design tricks that make all the difference. Remember to build well-being into your refurbishments; what would it feel like to live in the property as possibly the first home of your own? And does anyone REALLY like magnolia?
Location – As well as flats around the city centre (that tend to be favoured by international students) there are four main areas in Leeds you should be looking at. In order of popularity these are;
Legislation – Every aspect of renting, particularly in the larger HMO market, is heavily regulated. There are over 150 different laws you need to comply with before you even hand out a set of keys. And mistakes are expensive. You can find more info on our Landlord Pages if you want a taste of what these include.
For anyone in Leeds that wants to drill down a little further or share their experiences with us then I’d love to hear from you. Ping me an email at Jason@sugarhouseproperties.co.uk
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