Rental guarantor service – Housing Hand – reports that demand for guarantor services has reached an ‘all time high’, with an increasingly diverse audience needing access to these services, as landlords and referencing agencies expand their acceptance criteria for eligible guarantors. This is particularly notable in areas where high quality university places are in demand and thus so is local accommodation.
“Distance learning and lack of face-to-face interaction have been a challenge over the last few years in terms of student engagement. While this situation is improving, what we’re now seeing is that many landlords are becoming scrupulous about who they rent to and putting conditions in place. From talking to students at multiple housing fairs, we’ve noted that it’s increasingly common for landlords to ask for six- or 12-months’ worth of rent to secure a property. This is resulting in a narrowing of property choices for students.”James Maguire, Head of Sales and Business Development, Housing Hand
For students who don’t have family to fall back on, the situation is significantly harder. UCAS has recognised this, making the option for students to identify themselves as estranged more prominent in its application process. There is also growing awareness of the need to provide additional support for care leavers, with many local regions focusing on this. Cambridge University Science and Policy Exchange programme recently recommended to Cambridgeshire County Council that care leavers be given support equivalent to that offered by a parent – to ‘equalise the playing field’.
An option for this is a rent guarantor. Students can pay their rent monthly without needing to provide an upfront sum. This is a step in the right direction for care leavers and estranged students.
According to children’s charity St Christopher’s Fellowship, 6% of care leavers go to university. That compares to 37.9% of the entire UK 18-year-old population, according to UCAS. Many factors come into play to cause this, including access to accommodation and funding, and mental health concerns. St Christopher’s reports that 46% of care leavers have some form of mental health issue – that compares to 10% of their peer group.
To help support more care leavers to access higher education, Housing Hand offers a care leaver and estranged student service as an extension of the rental guarantor service that it provides in partnership with universities. It is currently the only rental guarantor service in the UK that offers support specifically for these vulnerable student groups.
Housing Hand has been partnering with universities since 2017 but has seen a significant increase in demand in recent months, with several high-profile universities entering into partnerships with the company to better support vulnerable students, including those who are estranged from their family and those leaving care.
“Higher education institutions are increasingly embracing the need to provide comprehensive services for all students, including those who have previously slipped through the cracks. UCAS’s focus on estranged students in its application process means that there will be more students identifying as estranged. This is pushing many universities to not just offer rental guarantor services to their entire student body, but to put additional support in place for the most vulnerable, including care leavers and estranged students.”James Maguire, Head of Sales and Business Development, Housing Hand
Through Housing Hand’s preferential arrangements with universities, students gain improved access to a wider pool of properties than they would otherwise have. There is a levelling of the playing field that supports a seamless renting experience for all, regardless of background.