Record demand for student housing in London this year is ‘outpacing supply’

The ‘huge influx of students’ has resulted in a ‘real stock shortage’ of rooms available to rent

With the introduction of face-to-face teaching for the first time in nearly two years, rental applications have “almost doubled” in the last month as students return en masse to university in London.

This huge demand for private housing is “outpacing supply”, according to SpareRoom director Matt Hutchinson. SpareRoom’s research on London’s private renting market has found a 191 per cent increase in demand in West Central, a well-known student area, after seeing “the biggest regional drops in rent” during the pandemic.

As a result, rent prices are now up 15 per cent and “close to their pre-pandemic levels”, estate agent director David Salvi tells Bloomberg. With Camden, Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and Hackney all being among the most expensive boroughs to live in London, this means students are likely to struggle with housing this year.

One reason for this swell in demand is the number of international students that are returning to London now it is safer to travel. “It almost feels like we’ve got two years’ worth of students all wanting to move in September,” Amelia Greene, Savills director, says.

“It’s a perfect storm in that there’s a shortage of stock and a high volume of applicants all at once.” AKA, we’re definitely all desperate to get the classic uni party experience back, but we may have to pay a few extra P’s to get it.

The current housing climate also means that London students will be paying more for lower quality properties as landlords rush to fulfil supply, while having to view them online in many cases, and for some, having to pay up to 12 months upfront.

“The market has been absolutely terrible for a single person looking for a one-bed flat,” says Margarita, a marine engineering Masters student at UCL. “Agencies don’t care at all due to the high demand. I was viewing a house with mould and a soaking wet couch and the agency was pushing me to sign immediately. Long story short, I didn’t sign, and I’m still on the hunt for a house.”

Alicia, a fourth year student at UCL, said she had to pay “six months upfront as an international without a UK guarantor, but everyone had to pay the same even though they had UK guarantors”.

Another student said she’s been “looking for three months” and still hasn’t found a room to rent in the capital. “I’m not even in London so I can’t view anything in-person, and the landlords have been asking for six months upfront. Everything is going off the market so quickly too. It’s been awful.”

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