Research from flat and house share website SpareRoom.co.uk has revealed that up to 22 people – professionals and students – are battling for every room available in university towns and cities.
North of the border, in the Scottish capital Edinburgh, competition is fiercest – with 22 people competing for every room – closely followed by the famous old university city of Oxford, where one hundred students currently have nowhere to live for the start of the new semester and 15 people are searching for every room available.
Extra pressure is being placed on the rental market by the fact that a rising number of over 35s are opting for shared accommodation, rather than renting alone or purchasing their first homes. This also helps to explain the dearth of supply for student sharers. SpareRoom says nearly a third (32%) of sharers using the site are now over 35. As well as this, the number of flat sharers aged 45 and over has increased faster than younger age groups over the past five years.
Interestingly, only 40% of rooms in existing house and flat shares in the UK’s top 25 university cities are available to students. This is a result of landlords being reluctant to let to students, given the “rowdy” stereotype that is often attached to this demographic.
Undergraduates attending university in Loughborough or Durham have the best chance of finding student-friendly house shares, with 84% and 80% of rooms available to students in these areas respectively. By contrast, students in Reading and Guilford have much less choice – in these cities, just 34% and 43% of rooms in house and flatshares are available to students.
“Most freshers will expect accommodation to be ready and waiting,” Matt Hutchinson, director of SpareRoom.co.uk, said. “Even those who’ve been through clearing normally manage to find a place in time for the start of term. But those affected by the shortage of student accommodation in Oxford and Reading are now facing a mad scramble to find somewhere to live.”
He added: “There are some rooms available in existing flatshares but with just 225 rooms available to students in Reading and 276 in Oxford, plus high demand for rooms from professionals too, the situation is far from ideal. You don’t have to be a genius to see the bottleneck in rental market supply, particularly as it’s becoming all the more common for people to flatshare well into their 30s and 40s.”