I started a petition in a private capacity to retain fixed term tenancies for all students on 38degrees, which is a pressure group, and invite you to sign as well. Just follow the link below.
Also, making sure our MPs know what we feel about this and giving them the FACTS. Not just trotting out the claptrap from government, Shelter and Generation Rent means that any misunderstandings that might have been fostered by tenant groups will be countered. One of our members drafted the letter set out below. Please take a look at the it and forward something similar to your MP NOW!
|To: Your local MP House of Commons London SW1A 0AA|
Re: The impact of the fairer private rented sector white paper on student accommodation.
I anticipate that you have become aware of the acute shortage of student accommodation in certain cities this summer. While this is particularly apparent in Scottish cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh it has also a growing problem in Bristol and Bath where I have managed my student properties for over 20 years.
It’s no surprise that the cause of this shortage is the on-going growth in the numbers of students choosing to study at University, combined with a dwindling supply of accommodation.
It is important to be aware that this trend will accelerate if fixed term tenancy agreements are abolished, as currently proposed within the fairer private rented sector white paper. Landlords letting their properties to students rely on fixed term tenancies to market their properties in line with the academic year.
If the ability to fix tenancy terms is removed then substantial numbers of the smaller private landlords will withdraw from the student housing market. Certainly I will be among them, and will either sell some or all of my student properties. Currently landlords like myself provide accommodation for around 550,000 students each year.
I am able to draw this conclusion from the trend in Scotland. As you will be aware, the effect of the new private tenancy arrangements in Scotland was to introduce open-ended tenancies. It is now, I believe, widely accepted that the removal of fixed term tenancies in Scotland has resulted in large numbers of Scottish Landlords moving away from the student market.
In cities like Glasgow landlords have opted to rent their properties to longer term tenants, however in Edinburgh and St Andrews the switch has been away from the traditional rental market to Airbnb. This a disaster for both the local and student housing market.
I would urge you very strongly to introduce an exemption for properties let to students. The current proposals only provide an exemption for Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA). An exemption would maintain a solid supply of available accommodation and, crucially, maintain access to affordable rents. Rents in shared housing are typically 30% below those offered in PBSA.
A supply of affordable accommodation is vital to widening access to Higher Education. It is also crucial to recognise that an annual pipeline of 29,000 new PBSA bed spaces coming to market each year is not enough to meet current demand, let alone absorb the additional demand when smaller landlords exit the market.
Overall the proposals in the white paper are very positive and I welcome the proposed introduction of minimum housing standards for example. It is simply that the introduction of open ended tenancy agreements are not workable for student landlords and will result in a major contraction in supply, similar to that currently being experience in Scotland.
I would like to take this opportunity to urge you to change course.