Article from ‘Property Industry Eye’ 2nd November

A category in an inaugural awards scheme for providers of student accommodation has been scrapped by the magazine Property Week after its panel of judges – students – refused to make an award.

The judges criticised institutional providers of student accommodation such as private halls of residence for charging far too much, providing the wrong sort of accommodation, and putting their shareholders first. They said they did not want to award a single one of the entrants.

The Student Accommodation Awards, organised by Property Week and aimed at institutional providers rather than traditional student landlords, had a “Student Experience” category.

The affair raises the whole question of ‘build to rent’ investment in the private rented sector, which is being heavily Government-backed at the expense of traditional private landlords.

The judges wrote to the organisers of the awards event, as follows:

“Dear Property Week,

We appreciate the opportunity given to us, as students, to judge the Student Experience category for the upcoming Student Accommodation Awards.

However, we regret to inform you that the panel could not come to a decision to award any of the entrants.

Unfortunately, none of the entrants could demonstrate that they are meeting the urgent need of students to live in accommodation that will not force them into poverty.

Most entrants price their cheapest rooms above the national average of £146 per week, and certainly above a level which student maintenance loans will reasonably cover. Many charge rents of more than £300 per week.

One entrant is reported for having put disabled students at great risk of danger. Another charges hundreds of pounds to act as guarantor, profiting from the discrimination of migrants and the inability of poor estranged students to provide a guarantor.

Another, in their application, puts shareholder satisfaction before student satisfaction and boasts of “£20m revenues”.

Students are not seeking luxury getaways or cinemas in our living rooms. We are not ‘satisfied’ knowing our student debt is lining the pockets of millionaire shareholders.

High rents are driving the social cleansing of education. Working class students are being priced out: unable to access higher education altogether, or forced to work long hours, disadvantaging the poorest.

We urge all providers to invest in affordable accommodation so that the future of higher education is open to all, regardless of parental income.

We urge all universities to cease the privatisation of accommodation, and to provide a guarantor service.

We urge the sector to lower profits, reduce rents and support the call for greater financial support for students in the form of universal living grants.

Unless all students have access to safe, affordable accommodation at every institution and the means to pay for it, there is no cause for celebration, nor the ability for us to award a for-profit sector failing so many of our peers.

Yours Sincerely

Student Accommodation Awards Student Judges 2016”

You can read the whole article, including a Bristol private landlord’s comments, very interesting and relevant, here: What does Brighton think?

Paul Bonett F.N.A.E.A.  M.A.R.L.A.