As announced in the government’s White paper, the rental reforms around student accommodation have significant implications for the student rental market.
The current proposal to end fixed-term contracts and introduce open-ended, periodic tenancies causes an instant concern for the student market. This market is of course cyclical in nature, mirroring the academic year. Whilst purpose-built blocks are exempt, at the moment, private landlords providing student housing are caught by this sizable change.
The move to open-ended tenancies means landlords could not guarantee housing will be ready for the next set of tenants at the start of the academic year. Additionally, landlords would not be able to evict students without good reason.
The expectation for student tenants to draft and serve a valid notice to terminate in line with the academic year is also a concern.
With all this in mind, the current proposals could cause chaos for the student market and seems to be simply unworkable.
The Impact of Reform on Private Landlords May Affect Students Access to Higher Education
It’s widely reported that for many students, the availability of purpose-built accommodation is scarce. Therefore they must rely on private landlords. If the reforms go ahead, it is possible that private landlords may have to re-think letting to the student market. This could have a huge impact on students’ access to higher education which of course will impact wider society. Thankfully, the concerns are echoed by some groups representing universities. As a result, pressure is being applied to the government to include all student accommodation within the exemption. Which seems a sensible proposal for all those concerned.
The most recent report from the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee, considers all the above. Subsequently, it refers to the impact of periodic-only tenancies on the general student private rental sector as one of the biggest concerns.
The report cites concerns that the purpose-built accommodation is often much more expensive and prevents students from “growing up” and learning to “function independently in society”.
The Committee in response recommends that the Government should retain fixed-term tenancies for the whole student housing sector. But, they say that all landlords should be required to sign up to the existing Government-approved codes of conduct. It should also consider introducing financial penalties to those landlords who do not let student accommodation to non-students.
It will be interesting to see how the Government responds…watch this space.