Nearly a third of NI students now stay at home
A student survey across Northern Ireland has found 32% of students now stay and live at home for university, with 59% saying it’s due to financial reasons.
This recent student survey by CompareNI.com showed that nearly two-thirds of stay-at-home students had to, as the cost-of-living crisis continues to cause financial strain.
Students are one particular group that are starting to feel the brunt of the economic crisis and things look set to worsen. With rental affordability at its worst level for a decade, it’s no wonder students are being forced to stay home, with the average rent in Northern Ireland now at £817 per month.*
In the first half of 2023, January to June, average rent prices across Northern Ireland increased by 5% up by 10% compared with the same period last year.
The average monthly rent across Belfast increased by 5.5% to £923, up 8.1% in annual terms.
In the rest of Northern Ireland rent was up by 4.7% in the half year period and up by 12.9% over the full year.
Student landlords have been part of a booming industry for the last 20 years with university applications reaching record highs in 2020, 2021 and 2022 – with 767,000 applications for full-time undergraduate places through UCAS in 2022, a new record level.**
Commenting on the figures, Emma McNally, Commercial Director of Propertynews said: “Looking at the rental properties that were advertised on Propertynews during the first half of this year, we have witnessed firsthand the growth in average rental prices – up 10% on the same period in 2022.
“This, combined with our listing agents commenting that demand for rental properties can often outstrip supply, could indeed be making it difficult for students to find suitable accommodation within their budget. It is therefore fantastic to see initiatives such as CompareNI’s student scholarship scheme, which is offering practical financial support to help students.”
The recent renters reform bill could make things a lot more challenging for landlords and students alike, with the potential end of fixed-term tenancies.
Many landlords rely on the fixed-term contracts for stability with a guaranteed rental income price and duration, it’s also easier to plan given they have an end date, allowing them to move students on and sign up the next set – giving them the opportunity to update pricing, maintain and therefore invest in the property and vet a new set of students – ideal if they’ve been having issues with the current occupants.
Without this fail-safe the market may be less attractive to potential landlords, and with less options for available accommodation, the price for students to rent could potentially increase further as demand rises.
CompareNI.com Managing Director Ian Wilson said: “One of the most exciting things about university is a chance to experience the first taste of life away from home, having the opportunity to meet new people, see new places and experience new cultures. It’s disappointing to hear that nearly a third of students in Northern Ireland are now having to miss out on this experience due to the cost.
“Northern Ireland has seen the highest increase in rent of any country in the UK making it harder for students here to live away from home. Students should have the option to attend and enjoy university whatever way they choose, and they shouldn’t have to miss out on this important aspect of university life due to financial reasons.
“There are a number of grants and loans available to help support students, funded by both the government and the universities themselves. These can help ease the financial strain on students and aid them in covering the costs of rent, tuition fees and other living expenses.
“Having renters’ insurance can also help students protect their finances while renting private accommodation at university. This type of insurance can even include protections such as tenants’ liability cover to safeguard the fixtures and fittings of the home from accidental damage, which should help students get their security deposits back.”
By way of showing support for students across Northern Ireland, CompareNI.com’s student Scholarship is now in its fourth year, offering a £1000 bursary plus the opportunity for industry related work experience, entries close 30 April 2024, full details of how to apply are available here.
Survey of over 600 randomised university students across the UK during August 2023, which represents a margin of error of approximately 5% at a 95% confidence level.
*Performance of the Private Rental Market in Northern Ireland, H1 2023 (ulster.ac.uk)
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