Two-thirds of Students are struggling to pay rent

Steve Lumley·20 September 2022·6 min read
Two-thirds of Students are struggling to pay rent

Two-thirds of students are struggling to pay rent

Around two-thirds of students who are at university are currently struggling to pay, or are behind, with their rent, research reveals.

The findings from Nationwide Building Society also highlight that one in seven students are worried that they may end up being made homeless because of the current cost of living crisis.

Researchers questioned 1,000 university students and found that, along with students who are struggling to pay rent, 73% say they’ve had to borrow money from their family to pay for essentials and rent.

And four in 10 are relying on their bank overdraft to cover essential bills.

Students say they know of someone who has been made homeless

The findings also reveal that 22% of students say they know of someone who has been made homeless in the past year - they are either sleeping rough, living in a hostel or sofa surfing.

The survey reveals large regional discrepancies and the students who fear they may be made homeless within the next six months are students in the West Midlands where 21% expressed that fear, students in Greater London saw 20% of them worrying and 17% of students in Yorkshire and Humber worry about being unable to pay for student accommodation.

The survey also reveals that student housing costs were an important reason for deciding which university the student should attend – for 24% of respondents.

Will struggle to pay for essentials like rent and food

And as students get ready to begin a new semester next month, growing numbers are now saying they will struggle to pay for essentials like rent and food when their term starts.

Just under half of students say they feel ‘shame and embarrassment’ when asking to borrow money, and 36% said they could not ask for financial help in paying for essential items.

Charlotte Kensett, Nationwide’s director of brand and engagement, said: “After a torrid time during the pandemic, many students will now be facing an uphill struggle to stretch their finances even further.”

The chief executive of housing charity Shelter, Polly Neate, said that no student should see their education threatened because they worry about how they will make ends meet.

She added that 'record-high rents', along with high food and fuel bills, will push university students towards homelessness.

‘Student landlords also have rising outgoings’

Simon Thompson, the managing director of Accommodation for Students, said: “The cost-of-living crisis will have an impact on students with rising prices and rents, but student landlords also have rising outgoings so if the rent is increased, there will be a good reason for it.

“This is also the time to highlight that under the government’s Rent Reform proposals, student tenancies will be moved to periodic tenancies and that will likely see lots of landlords leave the sector and which will, inevitably, make the student accommodation situation even worse.”

Warning over university accommodation shortfalls

News that students are struggling to pay rent, or are in arrears, comes as there’s a warning being raised over university accommodation shortfalls this year.

Housing Hand, the rental guarantor service, says there could be a ‘tsunami’ of students who are desperate to find somewhere to live.

The firm’s chief operating officer, Graham Hayward, said: “We are working with universities and many express concern over a lack of student accommodation in their area.

“Some are advising students to arrange accommodation before taking up a place.”

The firm is now predicting that lots of students will face difficulty in finding appropriate accommodation before term starts with growing numbers of universities using the rental guarantor service to make it easier for students to access local accommodation - but in some areas, this is in short supply.

University of Glasgow will not guarantee student accommodation this year

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that the University of Glasgow will not be guaranteeing its new students any accommodation this year.

The students who live within commuting distance, have been automatically denied access to accommodation already.

And those who live further away have been informed that there is no longer a guaranteed place available - despite the University increasing the number of student beds that it manages by 25%.

The university is pointing to increasing student demand – and a ‘significant contraction’ in the city’s private rental sector.

University has accepted too many students

Now, the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) says the university has accepted too many students for the next semester.

And for students heading from England, they will not know whether they have any university accommodation provided until 10 working days after receiving their A-Level results.

The university says that despite increasing the number of available beds, private student accommodation supply has fallen and there is now a gap between supply and demand.

They say that changes to private rental tenancy law in Scotland, plus landlords being impacted by Covid restrictions have seen rental properties being driven from the market.

The SRC says it warned the university last year to stop increasing student numbers and now says over-recruitment has led to an accommodation crisis.

A spokesman for the University of Glasgow said that due to a ‘significant contraction’ in the private rental market, the demand for accommodation continues to be ahead of expectations and they are no longer able to provide guaranteed university accommodation.