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The Parents' Guide to Student Housing

The student accommodation industry drew in around four billion sterling pounds (£4 billion) in 2022 alone, an increase of about 22.7% from the previous year, as stated by ibisworld.com. This gives a rough idea about the booming industry and its challenges, making it difficult for parents to find proper student accommodation.


Parents have been part of this academic journey since their child’s first day of school and will continue to be part of it all the way up to the GCSE’s until it’s time for them to go to university. It's therefore understandable that any parent would feel both nervous and excited about seeing their child reach such a big milestone. However, it's really important to do the proper research beforehand in helping them choose their new home.


Father and son moving into new rented university accommodation carrying heavy boxes

Understanding the Different Types of Student Housing Available (PBSA v PSR)

If a parent is looking to support their child’s accommodation needs, it pays to be clued up when it comes to each type of student housing, and its respective merits. The two most common forms are purpose-built student accommodation PBSA and private rented sector PRS. Let’s get acquainted with the terms first and also learn the difference between them! First off, the PBSA – otherwise known as campus living – is exactly what it sounds like. Made for students yet owned and managed by companies with experience in this field, this type of accommodation offers improved security compared with PRS so it becomes established that any problems a student encounters are handled professionally.


Often situated close to universities, PBSA rooms typically come fully furnished, and importantly, bills are generally included in the set cost. Currently trending amongst UK universities due to all these excellent points, another massive bonus for parents out there is that PBSA caters mainly to single people while some units include communal facilities including games rooms, cinemas, and gyms. Plus, they offer flexible leases meaning interruptions become less problematic and students don’t have to commit upfront to signing a year-long tenancy contract. Basically: peace of mind inside and out!


Then there’s PRS (Private Rented Sector) – which may suit older students but can also provide benefits across the board. Apart from having more costly rents than the PBSA– living away from campus makes it easier for graduates whose course surpasses one year yet don’t want to commit longer to campus life than necessary. It is also worth noting, however, that a student loan/ sponsorship is required before considering PRS rentals, simply because these don’t include bills and therefore can add an extra layer of stress on finances if not calculated correctly.


Two female students take a break from unpacking in their student halls of residence

With ever-increasing university attendance numbers, rising rents, and lack of supply, it can be difficult to know where to start in finding suitable accommodation for students. The previous year alone saw a record number of students going to the universities alone, due to which this year has seen some changes to the ways universities and landlords approach providing housing for students. Universities are beginning to focus on offering more affordable options for those who sign up for their courses - this may mean better access to student halls or discounts and packages through third-party providers.


At the same time, landlords are focusing their efforts on creating living environments that are more accessible and secure for tenants. This is due to a shrink in the UK’s Private Rented Sector (PRS). It has been estimated that around a quarter million households have left the market in the previous five years. This means that the landlords will be getting less profits and there will be more competition among them to choose tenets. Amongst all of this the rising inflation in the UK can seriously damage student accommodation. One way through which landlords can attract students to their residentials is by installing better shared facilities like gyms, pools and common rooms – even installing meeting rooms or space available for work opportunities. More recently there has been an investment into technology-based security systems such as electronic access control and surveillance cameras that help add extra safety nets around student properties.


Two male students sit on a bed in their halls of residence

How To Find Rental Options

Finding rental options in the UK property market can be daunting – especially if a parent is looking out for one’s child. With rents across the country skyrocketing, it can be tough to find the perfect place for both one’s wallet and lifestyle. To help the parents out, here are some tips on how to find rental options that are suitable for their children. First off, ask around, family and friends are a great source of advice when it comes to finding good deals or recommendations for places nearby. Nothing beats word-of-mouth when it comes to personalised experiences and advice tailored to individual needs. Got an already well-informed friend? Make sure not to miss out on their insights!


Next up is online search. There are loads of online platforms that specifically cater to student rental accommodation – like renting from landlords, or websites for house-shares and flatmates. Find a reliable platform fit with all the features you need – such as flexible contracts, price comparison tools or contextualized search results by area or location preferences – so make sure to look around!


Finally, weigh up options before choosing one and make sure the offer is legit ‘with no catches’, because the last thing anyone would want is to move into an unexpected money pit – yikes! All jokes aside though, take valid actions such as contacting previous tenants before signing either forms or agreements – this gives an initial feeling of safety about the people living next door who can leave lasting impressions about how good living actually is in this new place (seriously).


Father and son hug and smile on sofa at home

Summary

If you’re a parent trying to find a suitable student accommodation, it can be an overwhelming experience. Trying to fit the needs of your teen into the right living situation can be a challenge – especially when the options are unclear.


When looking for student housing, it’s important to understand the main difference between Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) and Private Sector Renting (PSR). The main difference being that PBSA provides typically more structured services such as lockable gates and CCTV cameras along with laundry facilities while PSR gives tenants more flexibility on length of stay and contract terms, at higher costs. No matter which route you take, both come with their own challenges. Finding students’ accommodation in this field requires determination, patience and due diligence to ensure everyone involved is safe from any eventualities.


GUEST PUBLICATION BY: Alicia Gordon

 

For more information on how you can support your child in making the right choices after their GCSEs or A levels, you may be interested in reading The Parents’ Guide to Post 16 options or The Parents’ Guide to Post 18 options



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