The Impact of the Renters Reform Bill on Student Accommodation

Date Published 22 April 2024

In the Renters Reform Bill there has been some proposed changes to student accommodation. The Bill offers new protections to renters, while also granting new powers to Landlords. Some of its key provisions includes the ending of no-fault evictions and the ban of fixed-term tenancy agreements for all privately rented properties.

The current version of the Renters (Reform) Bill will ban private student housing providers from offering fixed-term tenancies, preventing the owners of thousands of student properties from offering letting contracts that correspond to university term times. This would have severe consequences for the current student accommodation ecosystem, with students the main group impacted as a result. But the purpose-built sector will be exempt, allowing Landlords in the PBSA sector to continue to offer fixed-term tenancies.

All private student housing tenancies will have to be open-ended with a two-month notice period if so. This means that students will look to move out and hand their notice in April or May time without the security of knowing where they will be living for the following year. One alternative for students is the PBSA sector (Purpose-Built Student Accommodation), which is still allowed to offer fixed-term tenancies. However, this comes at a price and the PBSA sector on average is 40% more expensive than private student accommodation.

Not only for Landlords but for students as well the proposal isn't fair. Students will have to give notice in a time where they are carrying out their exams, creating unnecessary stress at one of the most important times in a student's academic year. A lot of students go home for the summer which would also make looking for a house at the same time an inconvenience.

No doubt there will have to be changes made to the current Bill as this is not a viable solution for Landlords, agencies or students. We have looked into a couple different options.

The main one being on the issue of fixed-term tenancies. For student accommodation this needs to be addressed as Landlords would potentially lose out on a lot of money and either sell up or take their properties off student accommodation. As the PBSA sector is still allowed to use fixed term tenancies, then the private sector should be as well and hopefully this will be implemented in an update.

If there are no changes, a reshuffle of tenancy dates may be needed to accommodate better for Landlords. As properties need time to get ready and keys sorted it may mean for students to move in from September instead. This would give a 10-month tenancy with 2 months of the property being vacant. This will drive Landlords to push their rents higher to compensate for the 2 months which has been lost.

Hopefully we will hear an update soon on this matter, as the current structure will struggle to work.