The student fees hike is bursting a rental bubble
By Sebastian O Kelly for The Mail on Sunday Updated: 12:50 BST, 7 November 2011
The great university bubble is deflating fast as one in ten A-level students say higher tuition fees next year have put them off the whole idea.
In addition, half of those polled by BBC Inside Out/ComRes said they would go to the local university to save money.
The idea that ‘uni’ was for all created an apparently copper-bottomed rental sector. Small-scale landlords made fortunes out of students, and corporate giants such as Unite cashed in with private halls of residence.
Downturn: Northern cities such as Leeds and Newcastle had an abundance of rental property still available this October
But the bubble is bursting. Banks such as Barclays and RBS have already begun curbing their lending to wannabe student landlords because of the fees hike.
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And there is plenty of evidence that the market is saturated in some areas. Northern cities such as Leeds and Newcastle had an abundance of rental property still available this October.
Alister Hewgill, Aston University’s chief finance officer, has even criticised Birmingham city council for approving two new private halls of residence on the grounds that there are already too many student flats available.
Hewgill is expecting demand for student housing to fall because of higher tuition fees.
Fiona Macaskill, 58, an ex-teacher turned landlady with 40 properties in the Frenchay area of Bristol housing 200 students, claims that she is not unduly worried by falling numbers, even though University of the West of England provides the bulk of her client base.
‘I have never had a void and ensure that I provide the best possible accommodation at a medium price,’ says Fiona, who charges students between £58 and £81 a week. ‘Bad landlords will always have difficulty filling their houses.
‘Of course, if my students all decide to stay at home and go to the local university, then I will be eating my words.’