For owners of corporate student pods and student accommodation investors, the ongoing Covid pandemic continues to pose a number of challenges, particularly when it comes to a loss of income.
The main issue for landlords of student accommodation is that students are being forced to return home to study online, and as a result there is a loss of rental income to absorb. The legal situation with regards to property lets would usually mean that students are obliged to continue paying their rent if they left their accommodation before the rental period ended. But Covid has changed the game, and many landlords have been prepared to negotiate on this front, recognising that the Covid situation is forcing students to leave university due to external – and entirely unprecedented – circumstances.
How will Covid affect student rentals in the short-term?
With the situation around local and national planned lockdowns still evolving, it is difficult to see how the short-term market will pan out. Certainly, we are currently in the middle of a university term and students would expect to be studying as usual in normal circumstances. Most secured their accommodation in anticipation of a year’s study and will expect to remain in it for the duration, unless something changes and they are forced to return home.
However, for many students the more pressing situation may be that they are prevented from returning home if a lockdown situation does occur. Any students affected directly by the virus will be obliged to self-isolate and broader city-wide populations may find that they are prevented from visiting parental homes because of tier 3 lockdowns.
What about in the longer-term?
Student accommodation market analysts, letting agents and landlords are all trying to anticipate the longer-term effects of Covid-19 on the student accommodation market. Most assume that demand for these properties will remain high, as students hope for normality and the ability to study for their higher qualifications in person. However, the virus and its impacts may well last for some years and this is likely to affect the way that student accommodation is built and used.
Assuming that social distancing continues for the longer-term, at least until an effective and complete vaccination is in place to eliminate the Covid threat, it looks likely that student homes will become more than just a place to live, and combine social functions and a wellbeing hub within one space. This would allow for bubbles to exist to limit mingling where required.
Interestingly though, students had already begun to move away from the student partying lifestyle before Covid had even appeared on the scene. The drive for wellness and health has now been a real trend for some time, and now the relevance is more important than ever, particularly with students suffering from mental health challenges during lockdown.
As an example of this, some providers are now introducing ‘quieter halls’, which is an official accreditation mark for student accommodation designed for quieter living in mind. This has been developed to reflect the changing needs of modern students, many of whom are keen to distance themselves from the party image that universities previously held.
Friendships and socialising will still continue to be vital aspects of the university experience but the nature and format of these are likely to change. Groups and societies are likely to transition to online spaces in many cases and friendship circles may become smaller and tighter knit, facilitated by more communal living hubs which allow socialising as well as accommodation functions. For landlords and property developers alike there is a real opportunity to respond to the changing market and to create solutions which meet the new needs of today’s students and the Covid pandemic.
How can InventoryBase support landlords
Where students are leaving rental accommodations, we offer a fully inventory property management software system which can be managed via a simple app. Keep track of your property inventories and carry out smooth and effective property inspection processes using our property management software. Our system is proven, valued by many landlords already operating in the industry and a cost-effective solution to an age-old administrative challenge. Please contact us to find out more and to enjoy a free trial.