Student housing is a highly specialized and unique market, with its own set of challenges that are not faced by other types of housing. Nelson Partners is a specialist student housing consultancy that has been working in the sector for over 20 years, and during that time, we have seen and dealt with every type of challenge imaginable.
Some of the most common challenges faced by student housing providers include:
Servicing resident expectations
If you’re used to living in typical housing, then moving into student accommodation is going to be a shock due to the enforced communal living. This shock is often made worse by the fact that many of our clients don’t fully understand what’s involved, and there’s a massive disconnect between what they expect and what their provider offers. This can often lead to conflict and a lot of frustration on the part of both the students and the provider.
Creating a sense of community
One of the main attractions of student accommodation is that it provides a sense of community, which is often missing from other forms of housing. However, creating and maintaining this community can be difficult, especially if your accommodation is for a group that doesn’t have a lot of common ground. In this situation, it’s important to create opportunities where residents can socialize and get to know one another. Otherwise they will drift apart and return to the default solipsism of living in their own rooms.
Resolving resident complaints
A student housing provider has to resolve a large number of resident complaints, which is obviously a costly exercise. The best way to do this is by working on the front line during marketing and sales activities so that you can begin dealing with issues before they become problems. Providing pre-arrival information and encouraging open dialogue between residents and your team will also be very beneficial in the long run.
Maximizing rental yields and minimizing void periods
Rental yield management in student housing is a critical part of the business, and no matter how good your marketing team is, if you don’t have the right strategy in place, then you will suffer from low or zero occupancy rates. This can be incredibly costly for your business, so it’s important to have a solid plan that takes into account all of the unique challenges faced by the student housing market.
Dealing with ever-changing legislation
The student housing market is constantly evolving, with new legislation and regulations being introduced all the time. It’s essential that your business is aware of these changes and has a plan in place to deal with them. Otherwise you’ll find yourself struggling to keep up.
It’s wise to have full-time counsel on staff to keep track of these changes and ensure that your business is always in compliance with the latest legislation.
These are just some of the challenges faced by providers in the student housing market. Investors looking to enter this market would do well to bear these in mind and make sure they have a solid plan in place to deal with them.