Is Buying Student Accommodation a Good Investment in the UK?

Cgi image of student housing investment development

Investing in purpose-built student housing has gained popularity among UK property investors. Driven by rising university enrollment and limited accommodation stock in many cities, student housing delivers stable occupancy rates. Rental yields also often surpass conventional buy-to-lets. However, challenges like summer voids, high maintenance costs, and noise issues should factor into due diligence.


Evaluating the Opportunities in UK Student Property


Student numbers in the UK continue to reach new highs, fueling demand for purpose-built accommodation, especially in popular university cities like London, Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham. With demand outpacing supply, occupancy rates for well-located student housing remain high even during market downturns. This provides more predictable and resilient rental income streams than other property sectors.

Additionally, short student tenancy terms allow landlords to raise rents quickly when market conditions permit. With traditional AST leases lasting 9-12 months, student housing provides more dynamic rental growth potential. This combination of stable occupancy and flexible rent setting can result in substantially higher rental yields than conventional residential lets.

For example, in many university cities, student properties with all bills inclusive can achieve rental yields between 5-8%, whereas standard HMO and multi-let properties often yield 3-5%. This yield premium demonstrates why purpose-built student accommodation has moved into the spotlight.


Factors to Consider When Investing in Student Accommodation


While the demand dynamics for student housing in many UK cities are compelling, there are also important factors to consider:

  • Location – Proximity to campuses, transport links, and amenities students want is paramount. New builds far from campuses often struggle. Student housing thrives when within walking distance of classes, shops, nightlife and public transport.
  • Management – Professional management will deliver higher occupancy rates and rental income. They also handle maintenance issues and noise complaints appropriately. Poor management can deter student tenants. A reputable operator understands this market.
  • Regulations – Ensure properties meet mandatory licensing and safety standards for student housing. Work with experienced agents familiar with these regulations. Failing inspections can force shutdowns.
  • Furnishings – Modern, well-furnished units can command premium rental rates to maximise income potential. Students expect high-quality fixtures, fast broadband, and great shared communal spaces.
  • Local market dynamics – Check for signs of oversupply and new developments in the pipeline that could impact occupancy rates and rental growth potential. Some cities have seen overdevelopment.


Key Advantages of Student Property Investment


  • Stronger yields – Rental income surpassing 5% yields is common for student investments in optimal areas. Prime student housing generates yields exceeding other property sectors.
  • Lower voids – Student demand supports consistently high occupancy rates when properties are well located. Vacancy rates below 1% during term time demonstrate the secure income.
  • Maximised densities – Small studio and en-suite units packed into properties maximise rental income. More lettable rooms in a fixed footprint improve yields.
  • Higher rental growth – Short 6-12 month tenancy lengths allow quick rental increases when possible. Rents can be re-set annually to match market conditions.
  • Resilience to downturns – Students still attend university and rent accommodation during recessions. Demand is not tightly tied to the economy.
  • Leveraged returns – Student property purchases tend to utilise high leverage. This magnifies rental yields and total return on equity.


Potential Disadvantages to Consider


  • Summer voids – Many units sit vacant outside term requiring rental discounts to fill. Summer occupancy rates lag term-time levels.
  • Higher maintenance – More repairs and cleaning are required with higher tenant turnover. Multiple tenancies annually increase costs.
  • Noise issues – Students can disrupt neighbours. Strong management helps mitigate. Anti-social behaviour like late-night parties needs monitoring.
  • Oversupply – Some cities have seen overdevelopment impacting returns. Check for excessive new pipeline supply planned.
  • Regulations – Additional safety standards and mandatory licensing apply. This increases operating costs and risks.
  • Management costs – Professional operators charge higher fees given the specialised needs of student clients.

Finding the Best UK Student Accommodation Investments


Carefully research factors like city demographics, university enrollment growth, private sector rental stock, and planning pipeline for new developments. Analyse market rental yields versus capital values to target properties with the strongest income potential. Transport links, amenities, and distance to campus should inform micro-location selections.

Ideally target cities with multiple universities and growing student populations. Areas, where student housing stock is not keeping pace with enrollment growth, provide the best investment fundamentals. Leverage property agents with experience in the student sector who can advise on local market conditions, pricing, and demand drivers.

While newer prime developments command higher rents, older blocks renovated to modern standards can provide good value. Look for properties with minimal upcoming capex needs and the potential to add value through upgrades. Thorough due diligence is vital to identify the best opportunities.

Platforms like StudentCrowd allow investors to list properties and find student tenants quickly. Digital tools like these improve occupancy rates and reduce voids. Purpose-built student accommodation requires specialised management experience. Seek operators with proven track records managing similar properties.

Compare projected returns from student housing investments to conventional buy-to-let properties in the area. The yield premium delivered in many cities provides a compelling reason to focus on this sector. But conduct detailed financial modelling on a case-by-case basis.

While not suitable for all investor objectives, UK student housing in key university cities can be a profitable niche. Conduct rigorous due diligence to assess risks and opportunities on a market-by-market basis. When managed well, student accommodation provides consistent cash flow and higher yields than many conventional property investments. The sector warrants consideration for inclusion in a diversified property portfolio.

Property Bond UK


At New Capital Link, our experienced team has a proven track record in the property bond sector. Having raised over £500 million of bond financing for real estate firms, we understand how to structure customised bond solutions to match our client’s business plans and assets.

 Whether you require development financing, refinancing, or recapitalisation, our property bond programmes provide flexible, long-term capital. We pride ourselves on the speed of execution, the certainty of funding, and working collaboratively with clients through the entire transaction. 

If you have quality property assets and are exploring bond funding options, contact New Capital Link today to discuss how we can translate your real estate into optimal bond financing, Alternatively, if you an investor contact us to discuss the array of high-yield property bonds we have available.

by Rachel Buscall

by Rachel Buscall

Co-Founder & Managing Director at New Capital Link. Having started her career in the financial sector, Rachel demonstrated a natural flair for entrepreneurship.

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