Student accommodation rents increasing in Europe

The rental rates of purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) across Europe are likely continue to increase due to shortages and demand growing faster than supply, according to new analysis of the sector.

Sep 20, 2023 StudyTravel Magazine

The report on European PBSA by research company Bonard is based on the responses of 1,200 establishments and analysis of 207 cities, and the authors said that occupancy rates are between 95 and 100 per cent at most residences surveyed.

Among the major study destinations in Europe the UK has the highest ratio of PBSA beds as a percentage of all students (27 per cent), while Ireland has a supply rate of 18 per cent, and France has 16 per cent.

However, rates are lower in Portugal and Spain (both seven per cent), and Italy and the Netherlands (both five), which the authors said could hamper efforts to recruit international students.

The Netherlands, for example, asked universities to halt recruitment efforts for the 2023/24 academic year due to concerns over accommodation and teacher supply, and is currently debating proposals to limit international student flows.

1d7c3ada-442d-4ffb-9569-b65fccb14991_cmsImageThe year-on-year rent increase - based on single studios at private providers - was highest in Poland at 17 per cent. This was more than the 14 per cent rise recorded in 2022 and eight per cent in 2021.

Julia Momotiuk, Rented Residential Director, said, “Poland’s rent hikes are impressive. Weaker competition in the PBSA sector in Eastern Europe, coupled with higher inflation, could be the reason why PBSA rents are growing much faster than in Western European countries.”

Average increases in the UK were six per cent, slightly higher than the five per cent in the previous year, and Austria (seven), Portugal (six) and the Netherlands (five) all had higher increases this year than in the previous year.

However, rent increases were similar in France and Germany (four per cent), and lower in Spain (five) and Italy (three) than in the previous year. For Spain, the authors attributed the lower average rent increase to several new PBSA schemes entering the market.

Although thousands of PBSA beds are in the pipeline in cities such as Lisbon, Madrid and Rome, the increase in provision rate will not keep up with the anticipated growth in student numbers, meaning these destinations remain undersupplied.

The number of higher education students (domestic and international) is growing in every European destination analysed, mostly in single-digit figures, “but this is a significant trend to consider, especially in a sector that is severely undersupplied”, the authors said.

Cities with higher rates of provision typically had lower increases in rent over the last year, the authors noted. They cited the example of Oxford in the UK with a PBSA provision rate of 39 per cent and rent increases of 1.4 per cent, and Toulouse with a provision rate of 20 per cent – above the French overall ratio – and rent increases at 2.2 per cent.

The highest year-on-year rent increases were in cities across Poland, as well as the German cities of Aachen and Dresden at 11 and 10 per cent respectively and York (UK), also at 10 per cent.

The cities with the highest year-on-year PBSA rent increases. Source - Bonard.

Rotterdam (the Netherlands), Malaga (Spain), Nantes (France), Dusseldorf (Germany) all had year-on-year PBSA rent increases of nine per cent.

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