At present, the majority of the purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) market can only house full-time university students due to planning regulations. This exclusive covenant is at odds with the changing direction of education via apprenticeships and part-time further education by the government. At present, full-time students and apprentices do not have to pay council tax, but this cost burden – especially during the cost of living crisis – is putting individuals off living independently whilst training or attending university part-time, say The Property Marketing Strategists.
Also, at a time where demand for rental accommodation outstrips supply, homes are being transformed into HMOs to drive down individual cost of renting – and landlords leaving the market entirely due to the punitive cost of being a small landlord – as opposed to PBSA which can provide this accommodation.
“We need to scrap council tax for those in apprenticeships and in part-time education, at the same time we need to relax regulations on the PBSA sector so they can house those that aren’t in full time education. There are empty beds, but they can’t be accessed by those in education because they don’t meet the rigid criteria of learning full time. As such, these individuals are being squeezed out and accommodated by private landlords in HMOs, which chock holds the market, providing fewer homes for families. It is a myth that part-time students and apprentices can afford council tax, as they are earning and learning.”Sarah Canning, The Property Marketing Strategists
Apprentices aren’t required to pay council tax, but PBSA planning requires tenants to be full time students, unless they have required specific planning permission. In mainland Europe, operators are creating a more flexible product whereby students and non-students can live side-by-side for short- and long-term lengths of time; whereas the UK is still very restrictive which eliminates flexible, hybrid and nomadic ways of working and learning.
“The Government, as part of their review into planning need to get up to speed with the changing landscape of education and the need for retaining and upskilling – which is on the agenda in the Department for Education. Getting students out of HMOs will free these homes up to families and professionals, enabling councils to generate much needed council tax, whilst making it cheaper and more attractive for individuals to take on apprenticeships and upskill via part-time education.”Sarah Canning, The Property Marketing Strategists