Housing Hand highlights pressure on UK universities as political and economic factors take their toll

Housing Hand highlights pressure on UK universities as political and economic factors take their toll

United Kingdom
  • Enhanced further education sector in China may dent UK’s international student numbers
  • Potential tuition fee cuts could jeopardise course quality
  • Brexit’s impact on the 18% of academic staff who hail from the EU is not yet known

The UK’s universities are under increasing pressure to do more for their students, even as resources are being cut, UK rent guarantor service Housing Hand reports. Housing Hand is working in partnership with select universities in order to better support students in accessing safe, appropriate accommodation during their studies. Most recently, it launched a year-long trial with Goldsmiths, University of London, that sees the Housing Hand rent guarantor service available to all Goldsmiths students at a significantly reduced rate.

Academic institutions in the UK are trying to deal with a range of issues at present, while still trying to fulfill their duty of care to all those who study at them. We’re looking for innovative ways to try and help universities support their students in the face of diminishing resources, so that they can ultimately deliver greater value.”

Terry Mason, Group Operations Director, Housing Hand

Housing Hand helps students with no UK-based rent guarantor to secure suitable accommodation, whether that be through a landlord, agent or other student housing provider. By using Housing Hand, students can mitigate the need to pay 6-12 months’ rent upfront – a standard requirement for those who have no guarantor. The service is available to domestic students, as well as those from the EU and further afield. At present, domestic students account for around 40% of those that the company serves with the other 60% coming from overseas.

International students are a particular point of concern for many universities at present. China, which sends more students to the UK than any other country, accounting for 106,530 students in 2017/18, has recently done much to improve its own higher education offering, creating more attractive degrees at home. The UK also compares unfavourably with countries such as Canada when it comes to visa terms for those who’ve graduated here, even accounting for the recent announcement that international students will be allowed to stay in the UK for two years after graduating.

Then there’s Brexit. Not only does Brexit have the ability to cause a drop in EU student numbers, it can also cause headaches for those establishments employing foreign teaching staff. Universities UK reports that 18% of the UK higher education sector’s total academic staff in 2017/18 had an EU nationality. And that’s not to mention the loss of EU research funding.

It’s no wonder that universities are doing all they can to support international students and increase their numbers. Part of this includes using services such as Housing Hand to help students deal with the chronic undersupply of suitable student housing in many UK cities and ensure that they can access safe, appropriate places to live.”

Saasha Verma, University Partnerships Manager, Housing Hand

The pain felt by universities as a result of international competition and domestic political pressures is exacerbated by potential fee cuts. Earlier this year, a landmark review commissioned by the government recommended that tuition fees be capped at £7,500, instead of the current rate of £9,250. Such a move would have a dramatic impact on the funding available to the UK’s higher education establishments and likely an inescapable knock-on effect on the quality of the courses on offer.

The UK’s universities have been turned into businesses – businesses that are trapped between government controls and deregulation. Competition is fierce, with the 450+ institutions struggling to find the flexibility to generate additional income.

“Housing Hand doesn’t have the power to solve every issue that our universities are facing, but when it comes to student welfare, we are here to help. Higher education faces a tough few years ahead, which is why a plethora of independent services are needed to work alongside the UK’s universities in order that they can remain attractive to bright young people from around the world.”

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/

 

 

Housing Hand to meet Housing Minster in bid to support those who find it hardest to access housing

Housing Hand to meet Housing Minster in bid to support those who find it hardest to access housing

United Kingdom
  • Rough sleeping up 165% between 2010 and 2018 (MHCLG)
  • Housing Hand meeting Ester McVey to discuss UK housing solutions
  • Supporting people at risk of becoming homeless is key CSR priority

The number of people sleeping rough in the UK rose by 165% between 2010 and 2018 according to figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Supporting people to get off the streets and back into mainstream housing is a complex issue and one that is better addressed by supporting those at risk of becoming homeless in the first place. As such, local councils need to do all they can to support those who find it harder to access housing, according to UK rent guarantor service Housing Hand.

The Museum for Homelessness reports that a homeless person dies every 19 hours in the UK. With homelessness rising so sharply over the past eight years, a solution is needed fast. Housing Hand is one organisation seeking to be part of that solution. The company is due to meet with Housing Minister Esther McVey this month to discuss supporting those who find it harder to access housing, including working with local councils.

Housing Hand acts as a guarantor for students and working professionals who rent their homes and don’t have a UK guarantor. The company has covered £120,000,000 in rent to date and has worked with over 3,000 accommodation providers. Now, it is piloting a scheme working with local councils to support some of those who are most in need of support with accessing appropriate housing.

“Local authorities have a complex task ahead of them when it comes to meeting the housing needs of some of the most vulnerable members of our society. Doing so requires them to work with a range of external agencies and to find new ways of supporting their constituents. As such, Housing Hand is trialling a new way of working with local councils to ensure that those who need housing are better able to access it.”

Jeremy Robinson, Group Managing Director, Housing Hand

Housing Hand’s service involves it stepping in to act as a guarantor should the tenant not be able to pay their rent. The company works directly with landlords, local councils and tenants in order to provide stability within the rented accommodation sector. It is undertaking the trial with local councils as part of its corporate social responsibility agenda.

“There’s nothing that can’t be solved when it comes to addressing the problems with the UK housing market – it just requires the right combination of vision, practicality and funding. Our business has evolved significantly since we first started providing rent guarantor services and we are delighted to be in a position now to support some of those who find it hardest to access housing to do so with a sense of security.”

Jeremy Robinson, Group Managing Director, 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 partners with Goldsmiths, University of London to help students afford their homes

Housing Hand partners with Goldsmiths, University of London to help students afford their homes

United Kingdom
  • The service marks 3rd Housing Hand university partnership in UK 
  • Just 23% of care leavers attend higher education by age 23 (NNECL)
  • Goldsmiths to fully fund service for 35 vulnerable students
  • Housing Hand service available to all Goldsmiths students, in push to prioritise academic ability over socio-economic factors

UK rent guarantor service Housing Hand has announced a new partnership with Goldsmiths, University of London. The organisation is collaborating with the university to deliver an enhanced rent guarantor service available for all its students, regardless of nationality, to secure suitable private rental accommodation.

Housing Hand works with landlords, agents and other student housing providers to help students with no UK-based rent guarantor to secure their preferred accommodation without the need to pay 6-12 months’ rent upfront. Housing Hand is working with Goldsmiths Student Support Services to establish a rent guarantor service at a significantly reduced fee for all Goldsmiths students. The service will be available to international, EU and home students, including both continuing students and those about to start in September.

Under the new partnership, Goldsmiths will also sponsor this significantly reduced fee for up to 35 students:

  • 20 international and EU students
  • 10 home students.
  • 5 care leavers and estranged students.

Housing Hand and Goldsmiths hope that their new partnership will be a success and provide a better experience for students.

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with Goldsmiths, University of London to try and ensure that higher education is available to all based on academic ability rather than particular socio-economic factors.” 

Saasha Verma, University Partnerships Manager, Housing Hand

“We understand the challenges faced by students looking for a home and were among the first universities to offer a guarantor provision scheme.  Our new partnership with Housing Hand will enable us to extend this facility to all our students, particularly those who are most in need and provide them with an enhanced service.

Pewist Osman, Head of Student Support Services, Goldsmiths, University of London

The Housing Hand partnership with Goldsmiths is a year-long pilot. It marks Housing Hand’s third higher education venture, following a successful partnership with the University of Bristol, launched in March 2017, and a subsequent one with the University of Salford, launched in February 2019.

Goldsmiths provides its students with a wide range of support, with the university one of the first in the higher education sector to provide its own rent guarantor scheme. To enhance their existing offer, Goldsmiths opted to develop a partnership with Housing Hand to meet increased demand and to offer an improved service available for all its students.

Having already worked with over 3,000 accommodation providers and covered more than £120 million in rent, Housing Hand is in a strong position to ensure that every Goldsmiths student is eligible to apply for its service.

The partnership will help make it easier for students to find quality homes to live in during their studies and will help make the process of finding a home easier. Housing Hand is also well-positioned to support Goldsmiths – along with other higher education establishments – to deliver better services and greater value to their students in a climate of ongoing change and funding constraints.

“Partnerships like this represent a new way to help support students. Running a rent guarantor service in-house costs universities in both time and effort, as well as increasing their liabilities and insurance costs. We bring a network of industry contacts and relationships to the table, as well as the required staff expertise, insurances and the ability to cover larger amounts of debt. It’s a partnership designed to ensure that everyone wins.”

Terry Mason, Group Operations Director, Housing Hand

 

For more information please contact Housing Hand today on +44 (0)20 7205 2625 or visit https://www.housinghand.co.uk/

 

 

 

Love the landlords – it’s not their fault!

Love the landlords – it’s not their fault!

United Kingdom
  • Nearly half of UK rents pouring into government coffers (Housing Hand)
  • Huge profit from Generation Rent doing little to inspire government to change housing priorities
  • Only radical new approach likely to fix broken housing market

 

“Theresa May has not only failed to fix the broken housing market but has dealt it repeated blows during her time as Prime Minister. And it’s easy to see why. Despite her rhetoric around encouraging home ownership, the government is unlikely to turn down the near-50% tax that it receives from rents in the UK.”

Terry Mason, Group Operations Director, Housing Hand

Tax changes that have pushed the majority of landlords into paying 40% tax on their rental income – plus VAT – means that the government is profiting hugely from Generation Rent. While landlords and agencies have taken their turns at being vilified for keeping young people locked into renting for longer, not enough has been said about the government’s lack of motivation to fix the housing market, according to UK rent guarantor service Housing Hand.

The ban on letting agencies charging fees to tenants is likely to drive up rents, just as it did in Scotland. As agencies increase their fees to landlords, landlords will increase the rents they charge to cover the fees. Both have shouldered their fair share of blame for the situation. However, the government is certainly doing little to step back from the additional tax that will pour into its coffers as a result.

“Though a well-intentioned idea, the Tenant Fees Act has made the broken housing market worse. It comes on top of successive changes that have served to drive landlords away from the private rented sector. What we’ve actually been left with is a growing pool of tenants fighting for a reduced number of rental properties. The result? Again, rising rents, as demand increasingly outstrips supply.”

Terry Mason, Group Operations Director, Housing Hand

Only radical changes will fix the damage that Theresa May’s government has caused, according to the UK-based guarantor experts at Housing Hand. Reverting to taxing landlords on their profits rather than their income is the first step. After all, what business can survive being taxed at 40% on its income, rather than its profit? Scrapping the tax grab will see landlords returning to the market, rebalancing supply and demand and lowering rents as a result.

Then it’s time to address home ownership. Housing Hand advocates a government-backed deposit scheme, where individuals find a 2% deposit and the government loans them the other 8%. Doing so would move a whole generation into their own homes. Appropriate insurance – a reimagined mortgage protection insurance scheme, say – could easily be paid for by the home buyers as their mortgage payments would be so much lower than their current rental payments.

With more people buying, builders would step up their game too, as it would reduce their reliance on investors buying homes to rent out and line up a whole generation of would-be owner occupiers.

“As a result of years of mis-management, the new Prime Minister has a huge challenge on his hands when it comes to the UK’s housing sector. The leadership contenders’ promises will mean very little unless the government dares to make some radical decisions. Sadly, with so much to gain from the growth of Generation Rent, it seems unlikely that any big changes will be made anytime soon.”

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/

 

 

 

Housing Hand trials new commission-based approach to rent guarantor service for select letting agent partners

Housing Hand trials new commission-based approach to rent guarantor service for select letting agent partners

United Kingdom
  • 25 letting agents/branches to participate in new commission trial
  • Commission in addition to guaranteed rent, free leads & wider pool of secured tenants that over 3,000 accommodation providers already benefit from
  • Service will support letting agents to reshape their business models

Letting agents haven’t had the easiest start to the summer. This time last year, they were contending with a fall in the number of rental properties, with Home.co.uk reporting a drop of 24% (as at August 2018) in the number of homes to rent in London that had been on the market for 20 weeks or fewer. Now, the banning of fees under the Tenant Fees Act means that agents are not only competing to rent out fewer properties, but with a reduced income.

Against this backdrop, the UK rent guarantor service Housing Hand is offering a ray of light, albeit not a direct substitute. Beginning with letting agents in the UK (with a later rollout to Ireland intended), the firm is trialling a rent guarantor service focused specifically on letting agents’ needs in this brave new post-Tenant Fees Act world. Housing Hand’s award-winning rent guarantor service already supports agents in filling vacancies quickly and efficiently, reducing agents’ in-house admin whilst completely removing tenant default risk, allowing agents to accept a wider pool of qualifying and secured tenants and providing free leads.

Now, the trial of a new batch-based commission structure will see agents have the opportunity to enjoy a new income stream as well. The 25 selected agents/branches have all been chosen to avoid crossover with Housing Hand’s pre-existing partner arrangements with other affiliates such as Universities, Councils and Embassies.

The initial trial runs for 12 months from 17 June 2019. Letting agents refer applicants to Housing Hand for processing, then invoice the company in batches. The system allows agents to earn £25 each for the first batch of 15 tenants that use Housing Hand as the guarantor, £35 each for the next batch of 15 and £50 each for any further tenants. The fully disclosed and transparent structure has been developed in full compliance with the Tenant Fees Act. It delivers legislative compliance, a new source of income for letting agents and a fairer deal for private tenants.

“We’ve striven to develop a system where everyone wins. Housing Hand has already worked with over 3,000 accommodation providers, helping and processing more than 70,000 applicants and covering £120,000,000 in rent. This has given us a deeper understanding of the issues that both tenants and lettings agents face when it comes to guaranteeing rent and managing risk. While many companies are dressing up what are essentially just insurance products as ‘rent guarantee services,’ we’ve worked to develop a completely different product – one that works more effectively for both parties.”

Jeremy Robinson, Group Managing Director, Housing Hand

A review after three months will consider expanding the trial of this new form of service delivery to additional agents/branches that are deemed a good match to Housing Hand’s targets.

From the tenant side of the transaction, property guarantor services are used by everyone from international students to working professionals. By removing the need for tenants to pay large amounts of rent upfront, they remove a major stumbling block from the rental process. Housing Hand reports there is a particular demand from those looking to hire a guarantor to help them secure rental homes in London (notably East and West London) and other major cities. Under the new trial, tenants will continue to receive the same supportive, professional service for which Housing Hand has become so well known.

“The market is changing and the letting fees ban is the latest twist in the tale. We’ve designed our trial to support agents to deal with the post-ban lettings landscape more efficiently. We look forward to analysing the results and expanding the trial in due course.”

Jeremy Robinson, Group Managing Director, 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 launches in Ireland as the next step in its expansion strategy

Housing Hand launches in Ireland as the next step in its expansion strategy

Uncategorized
  • Housing Hand is the only rent guarantor service in Ireland
  • International student numbers in Ireland up 45% between 2013 and 2017 (European Migration Network)
  • Irish base positions Housing Hand for future expansion into Europe

The challenge of having to stump up 6 to 12 months’ rent in advance when you don’t meet strict letting criteria affects renters around the world. That’s why trusted rent guarantor service Housing Hand is officially launching in Ireland. Following a soft launch in the Emerald Isle last year, the company has named Ireland as the first step in its strategy to expand across Europe and beyond.

The demand for Housing Hand’s service following the soft launch contributed significantly to the official launch of the first full Irish service. Purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) is growing in popularity in Ireland, but the fact that students sign licences instead of leases means that rents can rise dramatically. While leases are capped at increases of 4%, no such protection currently exists in the purpose-built student accommodation sector (though future changes to the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill will cover those living in PBSA developments).

We’ve spent the last year establishing partnerships in Ireland and working with local accommodation providers to put the structure in place for delivering our rent guarantor service in major urban areas across the country. Now, we are delighted that Housing Hand is officially launching in Ireland, with a brand new Irish website to boot, ensuring that international students and working professionals can enjoy fairer access to purpose-built and other types of student accommodation there.”

Jeremy Robinson, Group Managing Director, Housing Hand

Dublin is very much the core of Ireland’s academic offering. The city accounts for 43% of the country’s total student population, with some 183,475 young people studying there. However, existing PBSA schemes only cater to 13.2% of the student body.

Thankfully, the 2017 National Student Accommodation Strategy is seeking to address this, with a target of constructing at least 16,374 additional PBSA bed spaces by 2024 (taking the total in Dublin to 28,806). Some 6,180 of these were already under construction by mid-2018, according to Cushman & Wakefield, although the Union of Students in Ireland argues that the rate of development is still insufficient to meet current demand, let alone future requirements. That body estimates that the shortfall stands at 16,000 PBSA bed spaces as at 2019.

While developers race to cater to the growing demand for PBSA bed spaces, Housing Hand is supporting both them and the international students who need to access them. With neither a local credit history nor access to a guarantor with a local credit history, demands to pay as much as a year’s rent in advance are not uncommon. Understandably, having to find upfront rent payments of 50-100% of a year’s accommodation is a huge barrier to studying in Ireland.

The European Migration Network highlights how significantly demand for Irish higher education has surged and what a problem it is for those coming from overseas to study in Ireland to find affordable accommodation. It reports that the number of international students heading to Ireland rose by 45% between 2013 and 2017, with residence permits increasing from 9,300 in 2013 to 13,500 in 2017.

Part of the surge in Ireland will undoubtedly be due to the Brexit effect, where uncertainty about attending UK higher education establishments for international students means that Ireland is more attractive, as it will remain part of Europe.

The huge jump in demand was one reason that Housing Hand began to establish its presence in Ireland in the first place. It is the only such guarantor service operating there. The company already supports large numbers of students and working professionals to move into private rented accommodation in the UK. To date, Housing Hand has received over 70,000 applicants from 141 countries. The company works with more than 3,000 accommodation providers and has guaranteed rent for thousands of students and working professionals, across both the UK and Ireland. Since its creation in 2013, Housing Hand has covered more than £120 million in rent.

Officially launching in Ireland means that Housing Hand not only cements its position there, but also gains a trading base within the EU, in preparation for the UK’s potential departure from the bloc – whatever form that exit may take. When Brexit occurs, the company will no longer trade as a UK service with a branch in Ireland, but as an Irish service in its own right, with payments taken in euros instead of pounds. The service is currently available to international students studying in Ireland. In future, the intention is to roll it out further to include all students and working professionals living in Ireland.

“Following the success that Housing Hand has achieved in the UK, we are looking forward to working with accommodation providers, students and other tenants across Ireland. A presence in Ireland also means that we are well positioned to deliver services there post-Brexit, as well as in the EU, in line with our expansion strategy.”

Jeremy Robinson, Group Managing Director, 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 responds to increasingly challenging deposit requirements with rent guarantor scheme

Housing Hand responds to increasingly challenging deposit requirements with rent guarantor scheme

United Kingdom
  • Rents rising at the fastest rate in over 2 years (HomeLet)
  • ‘Non-typical’ renters having to raise 6-12 months’ rent in advance (Housing Hand)
  • 40% of deposits larger than 1 month’s rent (Tenancy Deposit Scheme)

Rents in the UK are rising at their fastest rate for more than two years; HomeLet reports a rise of 3.3% in the year to March 2019. With tax changes making buy to let a less attractive option to investors and the letting fees ban due to take effect from 1 June, everyone from landlords to agents are looking to rents to make up the difference.

Those entering this difficult market for the first time face a number of challenges. Much has been made of the issues that first-time buyers face in terms of large deposits and house prices that are significantly out of step with salaries. However, the challenges are also there for a growing number of would-be renters, according to UK rent guarantor service Housing Hand.

“Figures from the Tenancy Deposit Scheme show that more than 40% of deposits for private rented homes are more than a month’s rent. For those who don’t fit the profile of a ‘typical’ renter – students, first time renters, care leavers, professionals coming to work in the UK from overseas, for example – deposit requirements can quickly spiral. It’s not uncommon for landlords to ask for six or even 12 months’ rent as a deposit or a down payment in such situations, which is beyond the reach of many people.”

Jeremy Robinson, Group Managing Director, Housing Hand

The requirement to pay such large amounts upfront is often dropped if the renter can provide a guarantor for their rent. However, this is often yet another challenge for many of those looking to rent a home in the UK. This is where Housing Hand steps in to help. The company provides a rent guarantor service to students and working professionals, helping them to reduce the upfront costs of renting a home. Those coming to the UK from overseas to work or study can also access the scheme, as can workers on zero hours contracts.

The guarantor service is simple. The tenant engages Housing Hand to act as their guarantor, with the option of instalments spread over several months or making a single payment from as little as £295 for the service. Housing Hand then liaises with the landlord, letting agent or university in question to make the relevant arrangements. The company is even inbuilt into many of its partners’ booking forms, from letting agents and universities to accommodation providers, in order to streamline the process. The individual can thus rent their home without having to find thousands of pounds to use as a deposit.

Housing Hand has already helped and processed over 70,000 applicants from 141 countries. The company works with more than 3,000 accommodation providers and covered more than £120 million in rent. Their flexible approach means that even those with qualifying guarantors can protect themselves and their guarantors from up to £10,000 of potential rent liability when living in shared student digs, through the Only My Share scheme.

The average rent in the UK is now £1,041 pcm, according to the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. In London, it is closer to £1,750 pcm. Not only that, but the rate at which rents are rising is projected to increase. RICS reports projected growth of around 2% over the year ahead, jumping to a rise of approximately 3% per annum by 2024, thanks to the growing imbalance between supply and demand.

“Moving into your own home should be an exciting milestone. We are doing what we can to ensure that people can achieve that dream in the face of increasingly difficult circumstances.”

Jeremy Robinson, Group Managing Director, Housing Hand

 

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