UK rental guarantor service Housing Hand warns of students struggling to find university accommodation due to an unparalleled demand for university places and a lack of supply of suitable student homes.
“[Students arrived] probably in a more concentrated period than we anticipated, meaning that many students needed last-minute support in finding places to live. Fortunately, Housing Hand was well prepared with updated technology, so were generally able to manage good service levels. We saw a 20.6% uptick in accepted applicants and are still in tidy up mode on a number of late applicants who are not moving in until later.”Graham Hayward, Chief Operating Officer, Housing Hand
Housing Hand has been working with students, landlords and universities to help alleviate housing-related pressure with tech-driven faster turnaround times. For example, Housing Hand’s validation service has moved service levels from 48 hours to 48 seconds.
The company has also shed light on which tenants need rental guarantor services. According to Housing Hand, the mix of applicants was evenly balanced this year, with the number of UK students applying for rental guarantors almost exactly equal to the number applying from overseas. Of those international students, a higher proportion was from outside Europe due to the impact of Brexit. While Covid has not had a major impact in terms of travel and occupancy, there was a reduction in applicants from China.
For students applying for private rented sector accommodation, Housing Hand noted that passing referencing has become more difficult this year.
“Typically, 50% of applicants pass referencing. However, this has dropped to around 40% now and looks set to go even lower. Essentially, given the current economic pressures, a higher number of applicants are failing referencing and require a suitable guarantor to progress their rental arrangements.”Graham Hayward, Chief Operating Officer, Housing Hand
While Housing Hand is supporting a higher number of student applicants to access rental properties, accommodation providers are also stepping up. Housing Hand has seen a higher-than-expected take-up in commercial relationships with accommodation providers, with an increase in custom arrangements of 25.6% across all channels (including purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA), Build to Rent homes and houses in multiple occupation).
They experienced an even higher increase in university relationships, with universities seeking bespoke arrangements to help inclusion for their students.
“Many universities are seeking ways to support their students, particularly where a lack of supply in the local accommodation market may exclude many if they were required to pay full accommodation costs up front. Additionally, universities are now seeking the inclusion of their own halls of residence in bespoke rental guarantor arrangements with Housing Hand – to help level the playing field for those who would otherwise struggle to find an affordable home. The student accommodation sector is under intense pressure at present, but we are seeing providers do all they can to help.”James Maguire, Head of Sales and Business Development, Housing Hand