The student accommodation market is still a mixed picture following dire warnings earlier this summer that students might not sign tenancy agreements next term.

Many landlords feared youngsters would spurn their accommodation due to coronavirus, but student accommodation search engine reports a late surge of those looking for homes, with 25% more online searches in June versus the same month last year, and searches up 12% in July compared with the previous year.

It also reports that 24% of its searches have been made by international students so far this year, compared with 28% last year.

Director Simon Thompson says there’s been a rush of activity in the last six weeks. “Students are now eagerly making plans to return to university,” he says.

“Although it’s likely that more lectures will be carried out virtually, students still want to maintain that freedom and sense of independence they get from living away from home and would prefer to be living with friends as opposed to their parents and siblings.”

However, Owen Cosslett, lettings manager at Oak Student Letts in Nottingham, tells LandlordZONE that some sectors of the market are struggling, particularly the high-end studios favoured by international students.

“They rely on these students who don’t want a shared experience – but many are vacant and will need to drop their prices quickly,” he says.

His office expects to see increased movement through clearing when universities look set to accept more domestic students, to make up for any downturn in international admissions.

Adds Cosslett: “A lot of people have written off this year but I’m hopeful that it’s just a blip and that next year we’ll be back to near normal. As purpose-built providers are being hit harder it’s possible that they might decide to reduce rents next year, then everybody else will have to adjust theirs – but it’s unlikely.”

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