Why 2022 will be the year that Build to Rent comes into its own

Why 2022 will be the year that Build to Rent comes into its own

United Kingdom
  • Return to cities and maturing market signal a bright future for BtR sector
  • Depositless service from Housing Hand provides easier access to Build to Rent home
  • Renters want more community facilities and to connect with others
  • Regional cities to lead growth in 2022

UK rental guarantor service Housing Hand has pointed to the Build to Rent (BtR) sector as one of the key housing trends of 2022. As renters return to cities and embrace the urban lifestyle once more, developers and investors are racing to meet their needs through a range of creative new schemes.

2022 will be the year that the Build to Rent sector finally comes into its own, as the market matures in multiple ways. It is perhaps unsurprising that tenants are embracing the opportunity to live in homes designed to give them a superior living experience. And this demand is driving developers and investors to build more and more BtR homes – as is the fact that tenants in these properties often stay for longer and pay higher rents.”

James Maguire, Head of Sales and Business Development, Housing Hand

Research by ideal flatmate looked specifically at the cost of Build to Rent accommodation compared to renting privately in a buy-to-let property. The data showed that Build to Rent was on average 15% more expensive. But with added extras such as roof gardens, gyms, resident lounges and plenty more included, and often the price of bills too, it’s fair to say that BtR residents usually get more bang for their buck.

Housing Hand is keen that the premium price tag that Build to Rent homes tend to command shouldn’t be a barrier to renters. This is also where the company’s Depositless renting service comes in. Available as part of the Housing Hand guarantee, it enables working professionals and students (both domestic and international) to move into a Build to Rent home without needing a deposit – and they can even pay the fees for the service monthly.

Already established as the UK’s leading rental guarantor service, Housing Hand is now offering Depositless renting as a means of making the UK rental sector more accessible. The service provides landlords with the assurance that they won’t miss out on any rent payments, even if the tenant defaults, while allowing a broader pool of renters to access BtR homes.

The Build to Rent sector is growing faster than any other property rental sector. As it expands, it becomes even more important to break down barriers to renting and make access easier and quicker for all concerned. We have a track record of delivering in this arena and have already entered into a number of key partnerships as this continues to be a top priority for Housing Hand in 2022 and beyond.”

Graham Hayward, Chief Operating Officer, Housing Hand

The data certainly support the assertion that 2022 will be a big year for the BtR sector. According to Savills, investors poured nearly £420 million into UK Build to Rent in Q3 2021. Activity in the sector means that the future pipeline now stands at 99,500 homes. A further 42,000 are already under construction. All told, the sector has 205,500 homes either in development or already complete.

“The Build to Rent sector is maturing as it grows. Investors are entering into partnerships with developers to fund long-term BtR plans. Renters’ expectations are also maturing, with BtR residents enjoying the wider choice of homes and amenities that the increasing number of developments offers. We’re seeing this particularly outside of London, where regional BtR markets are coming into their own.”

Terry Mason, Operations Director, Housing Hand

 

Cities such as Manchester, Liverpool and Brighton are attracting plenty of investment in BtR schemes, according to Savills. So much so that it is homes outside of London that are driving the construction pipeline. The year to Q3 2021 saw construction begin on 12,000 Build to Rent homes in the regions – the highest such figure on record.

The Housing Hand Depositless renting service is available to those renting homes across the UK. For more information, please contact Housing Hand today on +44 (0) 207 205 2625 or visit https://www.housinghand.co.uk/

Housing Hand opens up Depositless renting to all students and working professionals

Housing Hand opens up Depositless renting to all students and working professionals

United Kingdom

• New service will go “above and beyond” any in market
• Innovative product will make renting easier and at a lower cost, while also protecting landlords
• All valid claims are covered immediately, with Housing Hand maintaining a 100% payout rate

UK rental guarantor service Housing Hand has revealed details of its new, Depositless renting service. Available to working professionals, UK students and students from overseas, the Depositless option will allow renters to move into a property without a deposit.

“There are a number of deposit alternative products on the market, in particular insurance bonds that are limited in their scope and coverage and that only pay out at the end of the tenancy. We wanted to go above and beyond those – to offer something that would be better for renters and better for accommodation providers.”

James Maguire, Head of Sales and Business Development, Housing Hand

This new approach to deposits is rolled into Housing Hand’s guarantor service, which renters can use in place of a personal guarantor. The service provides the reassurance that accommodation providers need that they won’t end up out of pocket if the tenant defaults on their rent.

The Depositless service means that tenants can move in without a deposit, as that is now covered as part of the Housing Hand guarantee. Any claims are covered straight away (rather than landlords having to wait until the end of the tenancy), in addition to the terms of the regular guarantee. Housing Hand upholds a 100% payout rate on all valid claims.

“This is a new approach to deposits. By extending our guarantee cover to include deposits, we are providing clear reassurance to landlords. We’re also facilitating access to the private rented sector and to purpose-built student accommodation for young people who might otherwise have struggled to come up with the amount required for a deposit.”

Terry Mason, Group Operations Director, Housing Hand

Depositless renting is one of a host of new services that Housing Hand has developed since the start of the pandemic. An early appreciation of the pandemic’s likely impact on renters led the firm to invest inward, resulting in it launching a free-to-use new House Finder Service earlier this year. That was followed by the release of a new Partner Portal to support accommodation provides to grow their revenue.

Now, Depositless renting has become the latest service to make renting easier for all concerned.

For more information, please contact Housing Hand today on +44 (0) 207 205 2625 or visit https://www.housinghand.co.uk/

Universities shift their focus to court non-EU students

Universities shift their focus to court non-EU students

United Kingdom
  • 40% drop in EU student applications causing universities to reprioritise
  • Institutions working to suit their accommodation to non-EU foreign students
  • Housing Hand stepping up to support both students and universities with their accommodation

Most people expected Brexit to impact the number of EU students choosing to study in the UK. However, many weren’t prepared for how big that impact would be. As such, the eye-watering 40% drop in applications from the EU for 2021/22 undergraduate courses saw universities suddenly reassessing the positions when it came to international students.

Thankfully, the huge reduction in EU student applications was balanced out by a 17.1% increase in applications from non-EU international students.

“Universities have had to rapidly shift their offering to focus on students from further afield and accommodation plays a big part in that. Students coming to the UK from half a world away are seeking the reassurance of secure, safe accommodation – as are their parents. Yet there are particular difficulties for universities when it comes to housing international students.”

James Maguire, Head of Sales and Business Development, Housing Hand

This is where UK rental guarantor service Housing Hand comes in. The firm acts as a rent guarantor service for international and UK students, offering fully comprehensive cover of rent, damages and dilapidations for young people who can’t provide a qualifying rent guarantor for their university accommodation. The service benefits all those involved – the student can access accommodation that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to, while the university can rely on receiving full rent payments and knowing that the cost of any damages will be covered.

The Housing Hand team has seen the shift in student applications first-hand. In 2020, applicants for the firm’s guarantor service were led by students from the UK, followed by those from Portugal, then Poland. In 2021, students from the UK still led the applicant numbers, but they were followed by applicants from India and then the United States. Applicants from Oman were in fourth position.

Housing Hand creates a bespoke service for each university with which it works. The recent shift in the balance of international students has driven up interest in this offering significantly. The partnership provides the university with an integrated, co-branded service that they can promote to their students, while students are able to access Housing Hand’s service for a reduced fee.

“Our university partnership service takes the pain out of the accommodation process for all sides. By providing a safe, secure and financially insured guarantor service, we cut out the financial risk to the university. This is particularly important when there’s so much movement and uncertainty in the student market.”

James Maguire, Head of Sales and Business Development, Housing Hand

The Housing Hand service speaks to students’ concerns over finances as well. The February 2021 ‘Brexit temperature check’ from Study UK found that 72% of students reported worrying about increased tuition fees and living costs when it came to studying in the UK. As such, the peace of mind provided by a rent guarantor is a welcome relief to many. Also helpful is the reduction of administrative pressures that it provides; administrative pressures were raised as a concern by 59% of those surveyed.

“A UK higher education qualification is one that is respected around the world, which means that many overseas families are willing to send their offspring here to study. We need to do all we can to ensure that the appeal of attending university in the UK does not diminish. That means providing safe, affordable and easily accessible accommodation for those students in a manner that’s viable for the universities as well as helpful to the students.”

Terry Mason, Group Operations Director, Housing Hand

For more information, please contact Housing Hand today on +44 (0) 207 205 2625 or visit https://www.housinghand.co.uk/

Why can’t government policy fix the UK’s shortage of rental properties?

Why can’t government policy fix the UK’s shortage of rental properties?

United Kingdom
  • Successive governments have failed to make renting easier and safer
  • Housing Hand’s analysis points to only answer being to build more homes
  • Attempts to make it less profitable to be a landlord or letting agent have resulted in fewer choices for tenants

UK rental guarantor service Housing Hand has a deep understanding of the problems faced by the UK’s landlords, letting agents and tenants. The firm has spent the last eight years making the rental process easier and safe for all those involved, through the provision of rental guarantor services that provide peace of mind for landlords, letting agents and renters like. Yet Group Operations Director Terry Mason likens the experience to swimming against the current:

“The biggest problem with the UK rental sector is lack of housing. It’s been the same problem since the end of World War II. Our population has increased by nearly 35% since then, meaning the problem becomes harder to address every year. Without building enough homes to keep up with population growth, any policies aimed at making renting easier and cheaper will be like swimming against the current.”

Terry Mason, Group Operations Director, Housing Hand

The UK’s population has grown from around 50 million people in 1950 to an estimated 67 million today. At the same time, shifting family unit shapes have created even more demand for homes. Yet the number of households living in the private rented sector is falling. In 2016-17, the sector housed 20% of all households. By 2019-20, that figure had dropped to 19%.

“The private rented sector is an essential part of the UK’s housing makeup, but for the last few years the government has made it harder and less profitable to be a landlord or letting agent. Though intended to make renting a home easier and cheaper for tenants, this has simply led to there being fewer landlords, letting agents and rental homes available. The result? Higher rents.”

Terry Mason, Group Operations Director, Housing Hand

The basic economics of supply and demand mean that the only viable solution to solving the UK’s shortage of rental homes – and subsequent increase in rents – is to build at a far greater pace than at present. Zoopla’s latest rental index shows an increase of 4.6% in the cost of renting year-on-year on average to the end of September. Take London out of the data and that increase jumps to 6%. Such rapid rises simply aren’t sustainable.

There’s a real opportunity here to embrace Modern Methods of Construction and not only increase the number of homes being built in the UK but to do so in a sustainable way. This is the only real way to support the healthy growth of the private rented sector. Building more homes is the only way to solve the long-term problem of rents rising so rapidly – alongside a continued focus on commercial to residential development.”

James Maguire, Head of Sales and Business Development, Housing Hand

The relaxation of planning laws around commercial premises is a step in the right direction, according to the Housing Hand team. The ability to turn disused commercial premises into residential accommodation has facilitated accelerated growth in the private rental sector.

A speeding up of available Build to Rent and co-living businesses is also creating innovative rental solutions at a time when those looking to rent expect a greater experience in their living space. Onsite gyms, pools, cafes, cinemas and entertainment/social spaces have created vibrant communities, while helping to solve the significant lack of rental accommodation that the UK is facing. Housing Hand is supporting such businesses to become even more flexible in removing barriers to rent. 

For more information, please contact Housing Hand today on +44 (0) 207 205 2625 or visit https://www.housinghand.co.uk/

Housing Hand reveals 2022’s hottest rental sector trends

Housing Hand reveals 2022’s hottest rental sector trends

United Kingdom
  • “The days of renting just bricks and mortar are gone” as tenants seek all-in services
  • Landlords and tenants join voices to call for faster move-in processes
  • Unprecedented demand for guarantor services reflects push for greater security

UK rental guarantor service Housing Hand has revealed insights into 2022’s hottest rental sector trends, based on its extensive work with accommodation providers across the UK and Ireland.

Top of the list – landlords and tenants alike are looking for greater security and a faster, more in-depth rental experience.

The days of renting just bricks and mortar are gone. It’s all about delivering the ‘customer experience’ now – about co-living spaces, gym membership and bills included in a single monthly rent payment, faster onboarding and so forth. Convenience and quality are key to the whole experience.”

James Maguire, Head of Sales and Business Development, Housing Hand

Housing Hand has experienced “huge interest” from both tenants and accommodation providers in creating a faster move-in process that provides for a seamless tenant journey. This doesn’t just deliver a better experience by removing barriers to renting for tenants, but also increases revenue for accommodation providers, who can fill their properties faster. The trend applies to co-living/build to rent schemes as well as to purpose-built student accommodation.

The return of student demand has been another strong trend over the past quarter and is set to continue into 2022, with Housing Hand receiving a wave of last-minute applications from young people looking for rental guarantors for their accommodation while at university. Compared to September 2020, the number of students using Housing Hand as a guarantor was up by 69% in September 2021, reflecting the trend of late bookings that accommodation providers have been experiencing.

“Historically, Housing Hand would experience a 15-week peak season beginning at the end of June. However, this year, we have experienced a condensed season of 7 weeks, ramping up from the beginning of August.”

James Maguire, Head of Sales and Business Development, Housing Hand

Students’ last-minute scramble for homes tied in with the relaxation of travel restrictions in the UK, which saw non-EU international students booking later than usual. However, there was no corresponding rush of working professionals from overseas. In fact, their numbers decreased significantly compared with 2020, due to a combination of the difficulty of getting permits to work in the UK and concern over Covid.

At the same time as students have been rushing to secure their homes, accommodation providers have been seeking guarantors at an unparalleled rate.

“We’ve seen unprecedented demand over the past quarter from accommodation providers for high-quality guarantor services. After a torrid period, including the suspension of evictions and the extension of notice periods, and defaults now topping out following Covid, it’s not surprising that landlords are looking for greater security, a trend we expect to continue into next year.”

Terry Mason, Group Operations Director, Housing Hand

Housing Hand is well positioned to provide that security, with a 100% pay-out rate on all valid claims. The company continues to remove barriers to renting, while enhancing the experience for all parties – tenants, accommodation providers and letting agents.

For more information, please contact Housing Hand today on +44 (0) 207 205 2625 or visit https://www.housinghand.co.uk/

Property in 2022: what are the experts predicting?

Property in 2022: what are the experts predicting?

Spain United Kingdom , , ,
  • House prices set to continue rising, albeit more slowly (Fabrik Invest)
  • Rents will rise too, while Build to Rent models flourish (Housing Hand)
  • Demand for second homes overseas will increase, with an emphasis on space both inside and out (Taylor Wimpey España)

It’s been a rollercoaster couple of years for the property sector, both at home in the UK and overseas. As living with COVID in our midst becomes increasingly routine, what could this mean for property in 2022? From owner-occupiers and renters to investors and second-home buyers, we’ve rounded up expert opinions on what next year has in store.

The UK housing market

According to Dale Anderson, MD of Fabrik Invest, UK house prices should continue to rise during 2022, albeit at a more sedate pace than during 2021. He comments:

“Despite the Stamp Duty holiday no longer being a factor, I expect house prices to continue to rise steadily in 2022, as there is still a fundamental shortage of supply in the UK. The shortage of building materials, and shipping restrictions and disruption in relation to those raw materials, is likely to push prices of new builds up, as well.”

Fabrik Invest’s CEO, Steve Jacob, believes that increased interest from investment funds and institutions will also continue to feed price increases. The entrance of Lloyds Bank into the residential market, with its aim to become the UK’s largest landlord within the next five years, is testament to this trend.

The private rented sector

The shortage of high-quality rental properties is likely to keep pushing rental prices up in 2022, according to Fabrik Invest’s Dale Anderson. James Maguire, Head of Sales and Business Development at UK rental guarantor service Housing Hand, agrees:

“Demand continues to outweigh supply in the UK, which means we can reasonably expect that rents will continue to rise. This is also pushing the expansion of Build to Rent models of accommodation. Once seen as more appealing to younger renters, the potential of these kinds of developments for tenants of all ages is becoming more widely appreciated.”

With interest rates so low, Maguire believes that large investors will see the UK as a great opportunity to see a greater return on investment in 2022, with many of them setting their sights on the Build to Rent sector and on Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA).

In terms of accommodation providers, Housing Hand has seen increased demand of late for faster and more secure onboarding of their tenants – a trend which the company anticipates will be important in 2022.

Overseas property in 2022

A perennial favourite with second home buyers from the UK, Spain is a good yardstick when it comes to appetite for international property. According to Marc Pritchard, Sales and Marketing Director of Taylor Wimpey España, there’s plenty of reason for cautious optimism when it comes to overseas property in 2022:

“We are cautiously optimistic about the performance of the Spanish property market in 2022. 2021 is proving to be a very positive year in terms of property sales and we anticipate that this will continue into 2022, with international buyers keen to snap up high-quality new builds.”

That said, he cautions that there are one or two bumps in the road to watch out for, with the main one being that prices of land, building materials and labour are all rising. That means the cost of building homes in Spain is rising, just as it is in the UK and across Europe. 

In terms of what buyers will want from second homes in 2022, Pritchard flags up the importance of open spaces, terraces, communal areas, flexible spaces and light-filled rooms. With COVID still very much present in buyers’ minds, the desire for space will play a big role, as will the need to spend time outdoors. Properties close to the beach and/or golf facilities are likely to be highly prized in 2022.

More information:

Fabrik Invest: 020 8175 9891, enquiries@fabrikinvest.com or http://www.fabrikinvest.com

Housing Hand: 0207 205 2625 or https://www.housinghand.co.uk/

Taylor Wimpey España: 08000 121 020 (00 34 971 706 972 from outside the UK) or https://www.taylorwimpeyspain.com/

Housing Hand emerges ‘fighting fit’ from the pandemic, with host of new services and roles

Housing Hand emerges ‘fighting fit’ from the pandemic, with host of new services and roles

United Kingdom
  • New services designed to meet needs of renters, landlords and letting agents
  • Both Partner Portal and House Finder Service resulted from investment during lockdown
  • Further service and partnership announcements expected in Q4 2021

When the UK first went into lockdown in 2020, companies faced unprecedented levels of uncertainty. Few businesses grasped the long-term implications at the outset, believing and hoping that ‘normal’ life would resume shortly. But as the scale of the pandemic began to be understood many companies began to cut costs, shoring up against an increasingly uncertain future.

However, some businesses began to look to the longer-term future, instead of focusing on the immediate situation. One such company was leading UK rental guarantor service Housing Hand. The company quickly grasped the potential of the new normal in terms of preparing to do things differently. As such, Housing Hand has emerged fighting fit from the pandemic, having invested in a host of new services.

“From shaping new roles within the business to mapping out enhanced and additional services, we have used the pandemic to design Housing Hand around long-term growth potential and operational health. The result is that the business has emerged from the pandemic fighting fit thanks to careful planning and investment in the future. This means we can better serve landlords, letting agents, student renters and working professionals alike.”

Terry Mason, Group Operations Director, Housing Hand

Headlining the new launches is the House Finder Service, which provides agents and landlords with a free platform through which to connect with would-be tenants. The ability to specify the kind of tenants they are seeking (i.e. students or working professionals) means less wasted time for all concerned, as does the fact that all properties listed accept Housing Hand as a guarantor.

In addition to taking the pain out of finding properties with its House Finder Service, Housing Hand also announced earlier this year that it had launched a new Partner Portal, designed to support accommodation providers to increase their revenue.

All of this means that Housing Hand is now particularly well placed to serve landlords, letting agents and tenants across the UK and Ireland over the months and years ahead. The expanded range of services means an enhanced rental experience for all parties – one that factors in the new economic uncertainties brought about by the pandemic.

Covid-19 introduced significant turbulence for businesses across a wide range of industries. However, we are delighted to have responded robustly with new roles – including my own! – and new services that will improve the rental experience for all those involved in it. We’re also thrilled to be on the brink of sharing additional service and partnership news in the coming months.”

James Maguire, Head of Sales and Business Development, Housing Hand

For more information, please contact Housing Hand today on +44 (0) 207 205 2625 or visit https://www.housinghand.co.uk/

Housing Hand reports ‘extraordinary surge’ as record number of students scramble to find homes at last minute

Housing Hand reports ‘extraordinary surge’ as record number of students scramble to find homes at last minute

United Kingdom
  • Uncertainty over Covid and Brexit has caused many students to book at the last minute
  • Universities introducing a range of measures to keep staff and students safe
  • Hopes high that coming academic year will be more normal than past couple

UK rental guarantor service Housing Hand has reported an ‘extraordinary surge’ in business, as a huge number of students race to book their university accommodation at the last minute.

We’ve not seen a rush like this before. The summer months are always our busiest period for student bookings, as young people arrange their homes for the coming academic year. However, this summer we’ve seen a record number of students leaving things to the very last moment before booking their accommodation. Brexit and Covid have created the perfect storm in terms of delaying decisions around committing to the expense of accommodation for the year ahead.”

James Maguire, Head of Sales and Business Development, Housing Hand

Housing Hand is the largest and only award-winning provider of rental guarantor services in the UK. Students from the UK, EU and any other part of the world can use the company as a guarantor for their rent. This avoids the need to pay rent upfront, as the landlord is provided with the comfort of knowing that the rent will always be covered. Housing Hand also provides a free House Finder Service, which connects young people with student-friendly landlords and letting agents across the country.

As students scramble to find homes ready for the start of term, universities themselves are doing all they can to prepare for an academic year that looks a great deal more normal than the past couple have. Different institutions are taking different measures to keep their staff and students safe, with a number of innovative schemes and incentives in place to ensure that as many young people as possible have been doubled jabbed by the time lectures start.

“With the prospect of a more normal academic year finally a reality, students are rushing to find the homes that they need in time for the start of the autumn term. It’s entirely understandable why so many have left it so late, but it certainly adds to the pressure in terms of getting everything done in time for the new academic year.”

Terry Mason, Group Operations Director, Housing Hand

For more information, please contact Housing Hand today on +44 (0) 207 205 2625 or visit https://www.housinghand.co.uk/

Could rising self-employment spell trouble for the rental market?

Could rising self-employment spell trouble for the rental market?

United Kingdom
  • Record rise in solo self-employment projected for 2021
  • Number of self-employed women has risen by 57% in past 10 years
  • Housing Hand offering solution for both landlords and self-employed renters

More people than ever are leaving the traditional 9-5 behind and going down the self-employed route instead. Towards the end of 2019, self-employed workers in the UK surpassed the five million mark for the first time. According to the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), it is women who are driving the growth, with the number of self-employed women rising by 57% in the past decade (compared to 25% for men).

Meanwhile, the Institute of Fiscal Studies has projected a ‘record rise in solo self-employment’ in 2021.

While some individuals have been forced into self-employment through Covid’s impact on the jobs market, IPSE’s research has found that many of those opting out of working for someone else have done so for positive reasons.

“We have also found they are going into self-employment for overwhelmingly positive reasons like having more freedom to choose where they work (83% of freelancers said this was a factor), when they work (84%) and having a better work-life balance (73%).”

Inna Yordanova, Senior Researcher, IPSE

So far, so positive, but being self-employed has wider implications than just work/life balance. Chief among these is the difficulties that self-employed individuals can sometimes experience in accessing rental properties.

UK rental guarantor service Housing Hand has been working with self-employed renters for years. Around 15% of those who have asked the company to act as a guarantor since 2018 have been self-employed.

There’s no denying it can be trickier to access rental accommodation when you’re self-employed but it’s just a question of being prepared. Landlords, quite rightly, need to know that their tenants can afford a long-term commitment to renting the property. For self-employed renters, this may mean providing some form of extra reassurance, such as a guarantor.”

James Maguire, Head of Sales and Business Development, Housing Hand

As a rental guarantor service, Housing Hand is able to guarantee the rent for the whole of the tenancy – precisely the kind of reassurance that landlords need. Having this service in place can avoid situations where landlords ask for six months’ rent upfront (or more).

“For landlords, having to arrange to get six months’ rent upfront is far from ideal, and for many renters, it’s just too big an ask. With the number of self-employed people rising, we need strategies and solutions in place that provide both landlords and tenants with solutions to ensure that renting a home is a smooth and hassle-free process.”

Terry Mason, Group Operations Director, Housing Hand

For more information, please contact Housing Hand today on +44 (0) 207 205 2625 or visit https://www.housinghand.co.uk/

Triple uncertainty puts the brakes on international students’ plans to study in UK

Triple uncertainty puts the brakes on international students’ plans to study in UK

United Kingdom
  • Housing Hand reports international students are “holding back”
  • Travel restrictions, potential double vaccination requirement and housing shortage all causes for concern
  • New immigration route provides option for international graduates to launch UK careers

UK rental guarantor service Housing Hand has raised concerns that international students, especially European students, are holding back their plans to come to the UK to study.

“We are working with many international students looking to study in the UK. However, the uncertainty around travel restrictions/quarantine requirements and what universities will be offering in terms of face to face, blended learning or virtual lectures is leading to some students holding back. The additional uncertainty over whether students will need to be double jabbed to attend lectures has created a further cause for concern for many of those due to start courses in the UK this autumn.”

James Maguire, Head of Sales and Business Development, Housing Hand

Travel restrictions are the first hurdle to overcome. Changing rules around quarantine requirements are creating plenty of uncertainty and making it difficult for international students to plan ahead effectively, though the recent announcement around EU and US travellers not needing to quarantine if they have been double jabbed should help somewhat. There’s also the uncertainty of how easy it will be to return home for the holidays, once they’ve arrived in the UK to commence their studies.

“We’ve seen that when the guidance is clear, it leads to increased activity. When Portugal was added to the UK’s travel green list in May, we saw high demand from Portuguese students. They were second only to UK students in terms of applications here at Housing Hand for our rental guarantor services. International students need that level of clarity in order to plan ahead.”

James Maguire, Head of Sales and Business Development, Housing Hand

Recent confusion over whether or not students will need to be double jabbed before they can attend lectures and stay in halls isn’t helping. Education Minster Vicky Ford has so far said that students won’t need to be fully vaccinated but also that being fully vaccinated, “is the way that they can have that freedom and confidence that they’ll be able to have that full university life.”

“This lack of clarity over the need to be fully vaccinated has thrown up another barrier to international students, who now have to worry about whether they will be allowed to attend lectures or stay in halls. Even for those who have had both jabs, there will be the worry of how they will be required to evidence this in a format that is acceptable to the UK authorities.”

Terry Mason, Group Operations Director, Housing Hand

Despite all of this, UCAS has seen a record number of students – including mature students and those from overseas – apply for university places for the 2021/22 academic year. The total stands at 682,000 applicants, of whom 311,000 are UK 18-year-olds (another record, and an increase of 10% over the 281,000 who applied last year).

This creates a further issue for international students: housing. The UK has a well-documented shortage of housing for its growing population – a situation made worse by the pandemic.

“This year we’ve seen a sharp decline in the number of rental homes coming onto the market. Would-be tenants are now faced with significantly less choice, which in turn is pushing up rents. And with many landlords having multiple offers on the table, half of investors have been able to increase the rent they charge.”

Aneisha Beveridge, Head of Research, Hamptons

Add into the equation those landlords turning their properties into short-term lets to take advantage of the staycation boom, and questions quickly arise about precisely where these record numbers of students are going to live.

Housing Hand’s free House Finder Service at least goes some way to addressing this. The new service matches students with agents and landlords who are specifically seeking student renters, easing the process of finding accommodation in the UK. All of the agents accept Housing Hand as a guarantor, meaning that students won’t face the stumbling block of not having a guarantor when they find the property they want to rent.

For those international students who can overcome the hurdles of travel restrictions, potential double vaccination requirements and finding housing to access higher education in the UK, there is good news to look forward to when they graduate. As of 1 July 2021, a new immigration route means that international graduates can remain in the UK for up to two years to kickstart their careers.

Designed as a talent retention scheme, the graduate route doesn’t require applicants to have a job offer and there is no minimum salary. Graduates can switch jobs and work flexibly during their stay, providing plenty of potential to build their careers. There is also some Covid-related flexibility around when students must arrive in the UK, with those who start courses this autumn having until 6 April 2022 to arrive in the UK.

“The deadline extension sends out a strong message to those looking to complete their studies and launch their careers in the UK. Now the government just needs to boost that messaging by providing international students with the clarity and certainty they need in relation to travel, quarantine, vaccinations and housing – and it needs to do so fast.”

James Maguire, Head of Sales and Business Development, Housing Hand

For more information, please contact Housing Hand today on +44 (0) 207 205 2625 or visit https://www.housinghand.co.uk/