STUDENTS RETURN IN FORCE TO THE LONDON LETTINGS MARKET DESPITE COVID-19 CHALLENGES NEW DEXTERS SURVEY REVEALS
Overseas and domestic students have returned to the Central London lettings market in force this September say leading Central London estate agent Dexters, despite COVID-19 challenges; with students comprising an average of 25% of all tenants currently registering with the agency’s 12 Prime Central London offices, all seeking private rented accommodation in the capital’s prime addresses.
The new Dexters London students survey found that the top five most popular locations for students to live in the capital are Bloombsury and Fitzrovia (where 70% of all tenants registering are students), South Kensington (60% of all tenants registering), Chelsea (40%) and Notting Hill (35%).
Over the last month, 450 new student tenants per week seeking private rented accommodation have been registering with Dexters’ 12 offices in Prime Central London, with additional student tenants registering across the company’s wider network of 70 offices across the capital. Generated over just a few weeks, this large wave of new student applicants (almost 1,800 students) add to the agency’s existing database of over 100,000 buyers and tenants currently looking for a new London home.
Dexters highlight that historically London has the largest student population of any British city and one of the largest populations of overseas students of any city in the world. In the most recent academic year there were over 372,000 higher education students living and studying in London, comprising 251,000 undergraduates and 121,000 postgraduates (Source: London Higher & Gov Higher Education Statistics).
Dexters observe that of this grand total, 107,200 were overseas students who in the last academic year spent £1.75 billion on subsistence spending in the capital (rent, food, travel and leisure) and generated £1.52 billion in tuition fees for London’s universities and higher education facilities. An additional £131 million was spent in London on short term lets, hotel accommodation, travel, food, shopping and tourism by overseas relatives and friends visiting international students living in the capital (Source: London Higher & Gov Higher Education Statistics).
The leading overseas countries sending the most students to London include China, (last year Chinese students spent £407 million in the London lettings market and economy in terms of rental income, fees and spending), the United States, India, Italy, Germany, France, Greece, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Canada. Over 70% of the domestic students who come to study and live in London originate from the South East and West Midlands (Source: London Higher & Gov Higher Education Statistics).
Whilst some students choose to live in purpose built student accommodation or halls of residence, especially in their first year at university, many rent privately, together or with student friends; generating over 210,000 private renters living in Central London (Source: London Higher & Gov Higher Education Statistics).
Dexters‘ survey of its centrally located offices and their local lettings markets found that Bloomsbury is most popular with students, with 70% of tenants registering over the last month being students. Of these, 60% were domestic students, with the remainder overseas students predominantly from mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Italy. Dexters say that affordability and value-for-money is the main attraction of the area with Bloomsbury students typically paying £280 per week for a studio flat, £350 per week for a one bed apartment, £475 per week for a two bed and £550 per week for a three bed, with Kings Cross and Russell Square being popular addresses for student homes.
Dexters found that Fitzrovia is the second most popular location for student lets, with 70% of tenants registering being students, of these 90% are from overseas, most from mainland China and Hong Kong. Whilst most students typically pay £200 to £500 per week for one or two bedroom accommodation in locations such as Ridgmount Gardens and around Tottenham Court Road, Dexters found that some wealthy Chinese students, funded by their parents, will pay up to £2,500 per week for a luxury apartment with concierge and hotel style facilities in smart addresses such as Pearson Square.
In South Kensington 60% of registering tenants over the last month are students with 90% of them originating from overseas, predominantly from the Far East. Alongside mainland China and Hong Kong, South Kensington attracts students from Singapore, South Korea and Malaysia, with proximity to Imperial College being the key draw, with accommodation typically ranging from £275 to £800 per week. Dexters is a recommended lettings agent for Imperial College regularly attending and showcasing properties at the student fairs. The top five most popular addresses in South Kensington for students are Point West on Cromwell Road, Queens Gate, Elvaston Place, Ennismore Gardens and Exhibition Road.
In Chelsea 40% of tenants registering are students of whom 75% are from overseas notably from the Middle East and the United States. Chelsea based students pay anything from £250 per week for a studio flat up to £900 per week for a two bedroom apartment. The portered blocks are particularly popular with Middle East students with the most sought after addresses being Chelsea Cloisters, Nell Gwynne House and Sloane Avenue Mansions.
Notting Hill ranked fifth, with 35% of tenants registering being students, of these 80% are from overseas, mostly from mainland China and Hong Kong. Notting Hill based students are typically paying £400 to £600 per week for accommodation, with the top location being homes around the Queensway side of Notting Hill.
Mayfair might not be a location people would associate with students yet the Dexters survey found that for homes priced up to £1,500 per week, 30% of the market comprises wealthy students, with super-affluent “platinum students” also renting luxury homes priced between £1,500 to £3,000 per week.
Mayfair’s wealthy student elite are from the Middle East (Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait) and the Far East (Hong Kong and Singapore) and they like living in luxurious one or two bedroom apartments with concierge/porter, with the students wanting their “student digs” to offer them features such as air conditioning, underfloor heating, on-site gymnasium and CCTV security.
The Dexters survey found that Covent Garden is extremely popular with British students, with 65% of the students registered being domestic. Marylebone and Westminster are popular with continental European students with Marylebone attracting student tenants from France, Germany and Belgium and Westminster having a significant number of student tenants from Spain and Germany. Leafy Hyde Park is popular with students from the United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi and Dubai) and France.
Richard Page, Marketing Director of Dexters says: “Each summer our Central London offices, in particular Bloomsbury, Fitzrovia and South Kensington, receive a wave of new student registrations seeking lettings accommodation. This year, some industry commentators were anxious about whether the student accommodation market would return due to uncertainties related to COVID-19 such as travel and social distancing, alongside the ongoing lack of clarity surrounding fees for EU students due to the Brexit discussions. The new Dexters London student survey shows that this September the student market has returned in force to the capital’s lettings sector and our findings underline the continuing appeal of London and global confidence in the UK university system and the calibre of courses being offered.”