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Booming numbers drive demand this student season

November 24, 2021 | Landlord News  

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The soaring student population in Leeds is sending the local property rental market into a frenzy, with huge demand for quality rental properties across Leeds.

The pandemic meant a lot of students were hesitant about starting university in 2020 or stayed at home and studied remotely. However, as ‘normality’ returned, universities found themselves oversubscribed for the 2022 academic year.

The University of Leeds even offered some students wanting to study law or business, £10,000 cash and free accommodation for the 2022/23 academic year, if they deferred their courses. It’s estimated that the student population in Leeds has now swelled to more than 70,000.

This has, clearly, had a direct impact on the student rental market.

On 1st November, we began marketing our portfolio for next summer and launched more than 300 properties that are available to rent from next July.

Already, we’ve already seen significant uplift in the number of properties let this year compared to last year and the appetite doesn’t appear to be slowing, with many students wanting to beat the competition and snap up their chosen property this side of Christmas.

– Josh Buckley, Lettings Manager

Key Student Areas

Many students seem to have bigger budgets and it’s generally the most expensive homes, with the highest specifications in the best locations, that are generating most interest.

Hyde Park is the most desirable location, due to its proximity to the main university campuses and the city centre, and this is closely followed by Woodhouse. Burley is always a favourite, thanks to it’s train station. So far this year, we’ve had a higher early uptake of properties in the traditional student heartland of Headingley too, which normally let later in the season.

Thanks to our clever Virtual Tour technology, tenants get the opportunity to view a property instantly and we’re seeing more and more students choosing to secure their tenancies before a physical viewing.

Fixing Energy Costs with Bills Inclusive Tenancies

Our all-inclusive properties, which include electricity, gas, water, TV licence, broadband and contents insurance, all in one monthly rental payment, are proving to be particularly desirable this year as gas prices skyrocket. Taking a property with bills included means we’re able to fix costs for 18 months, which gives students and their parents peace of mind that they won’t end up with unexpected charges. This year, we’ve already seen 33% more students opt for our Premium Bills Package that includes extras such as Sky TV, Contents Insurance and unlimited energy.

An Investment Hot Spot

All this makes it a good time for landlords, and we’ve seen an influx of investors, particularly from the south of England recently, who are buying student properties in Leeds. Several have then taken advantage of our Premium Advance Service, where landlords can receive their 12-months’ rent up front, even if their tenants pay monthly.

This enables them to unlock the potential in their portfolio and reinvest in further buy to let property or refurbishment works to maximise existing investments. We recently became the first estate agent in Leeds to offer this service and it’s proving particularly successful with student landlords, who are delighted to see a level of certainty returning to the market after Covid, the evictions ban and many students deferring university.

For landlords that get it right, student property can offer high returns, but for those that get it wrong, it can be painful. If in doubt, investors should speak to an experienced agent like HOP for advice, and there are some golden rules that student landlords must follow.

HOP’s Golden Rules for Landlords investing in Leeds

  • Check the Paperwork. Before buying a four or five bedroom property it’s vital to check it has the correct C4 paperwork or a HMO licence and it’s also worth double-checking it meets minimum space standards. Even if the HMO licence is in place, the living areas and bedrooms can still fall short of the required minimum standards, meaning you won’t be able to renew the licence.
  • Size Matters. Students don’t like small, cramped bedrooms and especially cold, damp basement conversions. It’s rarely a good idea to sacrifice living space for additional bedrooms. You also need to consider how many bathrooms the property has in relation to bedrooms.
  • Spec Up. Super-fast internet and secure locks on external doors are a must. You should also provide high quality furniture and decorate to a high standard, with extra touches such as mirrors in bedrooms and shelving, because these little details can really lift the appeal. Usually, a dated property will be hard to let, regardless of how cheap it is. Whenever possible, offer a tumble dryer to prevent damp from clothes drying on radiators. It also helps to find ways to generate adequate air flow rather than expecting people to open windows to ventilate the property.
  • Location. This one’s pretty obvious, but properties within easy walking distance, or with good transport links to the major universities will always be popular. There are several key ‘student areas’ in Leeds such as Woodhouse, Burley, Kirkstall and Hyde Park that will always attract the most attention,
  • Prepare for Maintenance. Student landlords need to factor in approximately 10% of rental income for maintenance and allow for costs at changeover time, even if this is just for cleaning at the end of 365-day tenancies. Improvement works, including new carpets and decorating, are generally required at least every five years in student properties.
  • Partner with a professional agent. When it comes to letting the property, conduct a full photographic inventory and instruct a reputable managing agent that is part of a redress scheme and holds client money protection insurance.
If you have a Leeds rental property in a key student area, we’d love to hear from you.
Contact us on 0113 320 2100 to arrange a free market appraisal of your property and discuss your options.

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