Student ‘house-hunting’€™ habits

Less than half of students consider their accommodation good value for money, according to a new survey

Findings from the latest annual research report carried out by (AFS), reveals price, proximity to university and a fast internet connection are key considerations for student house-hunters. Those that view a property prior to moving in, have their property managed by a landlord and live in an accredited student home are more likely to have a positive experience. Tidiness, or lack of, is the most common cause of dispute among students living together.

The study, which surveyed over 1,170 UK university students, found that less than half (45.8%) of respondents consider their accommodation good value for money, down 5.2% from 2013. This could be linked to rental factors, since more students this year reported paying above the £90 per week mark than in 2013, where a higher percentage of students paid £60-£90 per week.

Whilst January and August were indicated as peak months for students to house-hunt, statistics also showed steady levels of property searching all year round, and 23% of students in private rented accommodation also indicated they stayed in their rented property over the summer. This should be encouraging for student landlords, particularly those with vacant properties or tenants that have left part way through the academic year.

For the second year running, price remains a key factor in the accommodation selection process, with 82% ranking it 1st or 2nd in order of importance. Space (59%) and standard of upkeep (58%) also ranked highly. In terms of location, 58% of students report that proximity to university is very important, while 71% also considered good transport links as important.

More than 70% of students viewed their current accommodation prior to moving in, with these students more likely to have a positive experience of their student home, two-thirds of international students did not view their accommodation beforehand. Whilst 51% of students felt positively towards their landlord or letting agent, those respondents who live in accommodation managed by a private landlord were more likely to feel strongly positive.

Living in an accredited property also causes students to be 52% more positive about their landlord and 25% more likely to rank their accommodation as an 8/10 or higher. 33.3% of those living in knowingly unaccredited properties report feeling strongly negative towards their landlord, with only 4.8% feeling strongly positive.

Lack of response on maintenance issues remains a principal issue reported by 42% of students, followed by poor upkeep of the property (33%) and lack of communication (32%). 32% of respondents report not having had any issues with their landlord or letting agent, 59% of whom rent from a landlord.

Fast internet connection remains a principle factor in accommodation, with 82% voting it as important. This is up from 51% in 2013, suggesting that a speedier connection is quickly becoming an essential feature for student properties. This is followed by good storage space (75% important), bills inclusive (60% important) and double beds (58% important). Least favoured accommodation factors include a large television (50% not important), a bath (40% not important) and en-suite bedrooms (39% not important).

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