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Government should be doing more to support students find housing, say majority of British public

SAPRS // Press Release

  • New YouGov data found that a majority (53%) of the British public believe the government should be doing more to support students find housing.
  • News coincides with Renters Reform Bill returning to Parliament which threatens to worsen the student housing crisis.
  • Research shows potential impact of a ban on FTTAs – majority (52%) of the Scottish public now believe there isn’t enough student housing after similar reforms introduced in 2017.

New YouGov data commissioned by SAPRS (Student Accredited Private Rental Sector) – a coalition of second- and third-year student accommodation providers across Britain – found that a majority (53%) of the British public believe the government should be doing more to support students find housing.

The news coincides with the Renters Reform Bill returning to Parliament. As part of the Bill, the government plans to end fixed-term tenancy agreements (FTTAs) for private student housing. Higher education organisations like Universities UK have warned that such a move would threaten the availability, affordability, and quality of student housing in a sector already in crisis.

The research also shows the potential impact of introducing a ban on FTTAs, with a majority (52%) of the Scottish public now believing there isn’t enough student housing. This follows the abolition of FTTAs in 2017 through the Private Residential Tenancy, resulting in Scottish universities warning students of a critical shortage of accommodation. The news therefore sends an alarming message to the government on the potential of the Bill to worsen the student housing crisis.

In its current form, the Renters Reform Bill will ban FTTAs for private student accommodation in England, despite both students and landlords relying on tenancies that align with the cyclical nature of the academic year. SAPRS and other experts in the higher education sector believe that the Bill does not recognise the unique structure of the student housing market and therefore fails to adequately deliver for students and student landlords.

The research also found that an overwhelming majority of those who think there is too little housing available (96%) believe lower student housing affordability would impact student’s wellbeing. Over half of students have already reported being affected by a mental health issue which could increase as private landlords exit the market over uncertainty, with students suffering as a result.

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

Calum MacInnes, Chair at SAPRS said: “Our research provides damning evidence for the government to act quickly and offer parity for private student housing with purpose-built student accommodation. Delivering security for students would win support from this community, at a time when students need it most.”

Commenting on the news, Paddy Jackman, CEO at Unipol said: “Student accommodation is an educational issue. The current lack of affordable accommodation means that students are choosing where to study based on accommodation availability or, worse, being limited to institutions to which they can commute from their family home. Any further reduction in the supply, when student numbers are increasing, will only make the situation worse. Supporting all young people is the key to our country’s future.”

-ENDS-

Notes to Editors: All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,064 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 23rd – 24th January 2024. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

About SAPRS:

  • SAPRS (Student Accredited Private Rental Sector) is a coalition of leading providers of high-quality off-street student housing across Britain who are pushing for an amendment in the Renters (Reform) Bill to avoid a worsening of the student housing crisis – provided landlords sign up to an approved code of conduct with quality standards and protections for student tenants.
  • Members of the SAPRS have worked to implement greater standards for students, but their ability to provide students with the stock required will be put at risk by the uncertainty of tenure and lack of ability to offer a fixed start and end date to students that the Bill will bring.
  • SAPRS’ proposed code of conduct would establish standards of conduct and practice for the management of the student private rental sector distinct from purpose-built student accommodation, aimed at creating a framework of standards to facilitate effective and fair treatment of students.