Utilities provider Glide has released a report detailing what students want from their accommodation to help lettings agents meet their needs.
The report follows research by the National Union of Students (NUS), which highlighted that three-quarters of students are living in poor accommodation.
What Students Seek was compiled in partnership with Accommodation for Students. The report found that contrary to the NUS report, 76.9% of students are in fact satisfied with their accommodation, with 8.3% of them stating they were completely satisfied.
Satisfaction rates have dipped slightly year-on-year, however, and there are undoubtedly areas for improvement. The findings reveal common themes that can be incorporated into smart business practise without emptying the bank.
Glide CEO James Villarreal said: “Our research findings are more in line with recent discoveries from the NLA rather than those of the NUS, indicating that the NUS may be out of touch with student needs. This isn’t about costly renovations or complete makeovers; our research has proven how practical students are when it comes to selecting their accommodation and how simple measures by landlords and lettings agents can attract the right tenants.”
Money is still the overriding factor when it comes to choosing accommodation. 65% of students value price as the most important factor, with and an overwhelming majority of 82% ranking it 1st or 2nd.
It’s therefore important that landlords and letting agents price their properties competitively. The report revealed that across the country the average weekly rent for students is £95, however, landlords and letting agents should market their properties in line with their local average.
The report revealed that students are practical when it comes to rental selling points. 82% rate fast broadband access to be the number one benefit, up from 51% in 2013. Following internet access, 75% of students listed good storage as another factor that can influence property selection, so it is vital that ample cupboards are provided. In terms of additional comforts, over half (58%) of students now look for rooms with a double bed, while a quarter are looking for en-suite facilities.
Shared accommodation can lead to disputes, particularly regarding money. More than one in ten students (11.4%) have been left to pay someone else’s bill. Almost a third, 31.5%, rely on overdrafts or credit cards as a form of income and found managing their debts stressful, while 65% are worried about having enough money.
The report says that one way landlords and letting agents can help tenants is by offering all inclusive bills. 71.9% of students rated inclusive bills as either an essential or important factor when choosing a property. Bills can cause stress and create arguments in a shared house, while landlords and letting agents can sometimes be left with unpaid bills. Inclusive bills are an easy solution to avoid these issues.
Another way landlords and letting agents can help tenants is to manage their properties with efficiency. Two-thirds of students have experienced problems with a landlord or letting agent at some stage. 41.2% claim a lack of response when it comes to maintenance issues, and a third, 33.2%, state a poor level of upkeep on the property.
As well ongoing repairs and property care, issues can also evolve from simply not talking to tenants. 31.9% said a lack of communication caused problems, while 19.2% had experienced intrusive visits or inspections at some point during their tenancy. On the flip side, it would appear there are some landlords out there going the extra mile – 5.6% of students have said they’ve received incentives for choosing a property, 3.2% have been taken out for a drink, and although low, 0.2% have received help with coursework.
The report revealed how 58% of students deemed large communal areas, an important factor when choosing a property. While it is often tempting to turn that living area into another bedroom to secure extra rent, it’s worth considering that tenancies of four are proving the most popular way to live for UK students today, so sacrificing a living room to squeeze in an extra bedroom, might well be turning off good tenants.
The report also highlighted the importance of marketing property on the right platforms. More than 80% of students use Facebook daily and 73% use YouTube either daily or weekly. Landlords and letting agents should look at effective campaigns that reach students on these popular platforms.