Student housing investment is a popular choice for those seeking to invest in the property market for a number of reasons. Student properties are often located in more affordable areas, which means that student landlords often enjoy higher rental yields.
Landlords of student properties also benefit from something other buy-to-let landlords don't, and that’s almost guaranteed demand. With new cohorts of students passing through universities each year, it’s usually not too difficult to find new tenants. Plus, with multiple occupants, in some cases if one tenant were to move out, you still have income from the remaining ones to continue paying.
So if you’re looking to compare buy-to-let mortgages and invest in student accommodation, which parts of the country have the biggest student property market?
Our buy-to-let experts have delved into where the best places to become a student landlord are in the UK. You can also check out our landlord guides for more information on renting out student housing.
The English local authority where student property makes up the biggest share of the total property market is Exeter. Here over one in ten properties are occupied by students.
The University of Exeter has two campuses in the Devon city. The university is part of the famous Russell Group of UK universities, making it one of the higher education hubs of the South West.
The high proportion of students living here means that Exeter is potentially a very lucrative market when it comes to student property investment.
Second is the city of Nottingham, which has a large student population of over 60,000, with 10.81% of properties occupied by students.
Nottingham has the highest concentration of higher education providers in the East Midlands, home to three different universities: the University of Nottingham, Nottingham Trent University and the Nottingham campus of the University of Law.
The large number of students in Nottingham means that there is large student demand for housing in the area, making it ideal for those looking to invest.
Third place, albeit some way behind second, goes to Newcastle upon Tyne, where 7.66% of properties are occupied by students.
Large numbers of students from the universities of Newcastle and Northumbria call the city home, particularly in suburban areas such as Jesmond, Shieldfield and Gosforth.
|Rank||Local authority||Region||Total properties||Student properties||Student properties (%)|
|3||Newcastle upon Tyne||North East||136,635||10,470||7.66%|
|7||Cambridge||East of England||58,993||3,028||5.13%|
|8||York||Yorkshire & the Humber||92,114||4,578||4.97%|
|9||Sheffield||Yorkshire & the Humber||255,248||12,330||4.83%|
|11||Bath and North East Somerset||South West||85,179||3,888||4.56%|
|12||Leeds||Yorkshire & the Humber||364,076||16,225||4.46%|
|17||Brighton and Hove||South East||131,581||5,677||4.31%|
|25||City of London||London||7,636||235||3.08%|
|26||Norwich||East of England||68,141||2,090||3.07%|
|30||Hammersmith and Fulham||London||92,148||2,685||2.91%|
|34||Colchester||East of England||84,266||2,287||2.71%|
|36||Welwyn Hatfield||East of England||49,639||1,184||2.39%|
|38||Kensington and Chelsea||London||89,542||2,106||2.35%|
|42||Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole||South West||187,858||3,664||1.95%|
|47||Kingston upon Hull||Yorkshire & the Humber||123,367||2,214||1.79%|
|49||West Lancashire||North West||50,912||877||1.72%|
Looking solely at the overall number of student accommodation properties, it’s Leeds that is home to the most, with over 16,000.
Leeds has one of the biggest student populations in the country, with five universities including the University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett.
As well as having the second-highest percentage of student property, Nottingham also has the second-biggest student market overall, with over 15,000 properties.
It’s estimated that over 60,000 people attend the three universities in the city, with a fairly even split between the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent.
Another Midlands city takes third place, with Birmingham being home to just under 15,000 student accommodation properties in total.
Birmingham has the biggest student population outside of London, home to five universities, as well as major campuses of the University of Law and BPP University.
|Rank||Local authority||Region||Student properties|
|1||Leeds||Yorkshire & the Humber||16,225|
|4||Sheffield||Yorkshire & the Humber||12,330|
|5||Newcastle upon Tyne||North East||10,470|
|13||Brighton and Hove||South East||5,677|
|17||York||Yorkshire & the Humber||4,578|
|20||Bath and North East Somerset||South West||3,888|
|22||Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole||South West||3,664|
|26||Cambridge||East of England||3,028|
|27||Hammersmith and Fulham||London||2,685|
|31||Colchester||East of England||2,287|
|32||Kingston upon Hull||Yorkshire & the Humber||2,214|
|37||Kensington and Chelsea||London||2,106|
|38||Norwich||East of England||2,090|
|41||Kirklees||Yorkshire & the Humber||1,927|
|42||Cheshire West and Chester||North West||1,919|
The university where the most students choose to live in accommodation maintained by the provider is also of the oldest and best in the country.
79% of students at the University of Oxford live in properties run by the university itself. The various colleges of the University provide accommodation to all undergraduate students for their first year and at least one other year of their course.
The other “Oxbridge” university comes in second place, with 77.3% of students at Cambridge living in university-owned accommodation.
Like Oxford, Cambridge offers accommodation through its colleges, owning a number of flats and small houses throughout the city.
Some way behind the two Oxbridge universities is Cranfield, where 55.7% of students live in university-owned accommodation.
Cranfield is a postgraduate university specialising in science, engineering, design, technology and management.
|Rank||HE provider||Total full-time students||Students living in university-owned accommodation Total||Students living in university-owned accommodation Percentage|
|1||The University of Oxford||20,595||16,260||79.00%|
|2||The University of Cambridge||20,030||15,490||77.30%|
|4||Oxford Brookes University||14,655||5,955||40.60%|
|5||Writtle University College||690||280||40.60%|
|6||The University of St. Andrews||10,435||4,045||38.80%|
|8||The University of Surrey||15,245||5,620||36.90%|
|9||The University of Warwick||23,925||8,790||36.70%|
|10||The University of Lancaster||15,975||5,750||36.00%|
|11||University of Durham||19,665||7,000||35.60%|
|13||Royal Agricultural University||1,085||360||33.20%|
|14||University of Nottingham||33,655||10,145||30.10%|
|16||The University of Kent||16,490||4,900||29.70%|
|17||London School of Economics and Political Science||12,940||3,820||29.50%|
|18||The University of Essex||16,055||4,675||29.10%|
|21||The University of Portsmouth||24,065||6,710||27.90%|
|22||Harper Adams University||2,480||690||27.80%|
|24||The University of Reading||15,320||4,150||27.10%|
|25||The University of York||20,015||5,250||26.20%|
|26||Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance||695||170||24.50%|
|27||Royal Holloway and Bedford New College||11,390||2,785||24.50%|
|28||The University of Chichester||4,685||1,135||24.20%|
|29||The University of Southampton||20,130||4,870||24.20%|
|30||The University of Leeds||34,745||8,325||24.00%|
|32||The Arts University Bournemouth||3,450||815||23.60%|
|33||Brunel University London||16,390||3,810||23.20%|
|35||Edge Hill University||11,770||2,675||22.70%|
|36||The University of Exeter||26,900||6,105||22.70%|
|37||The University of Winchester||7,345||1,590||21.60%|
|38||Liverpool Hope University||5,175||1,105||21.40%|
|39||The University of Edinburgh||33,940||7,190||21.20%|
|40||The University of Bath||16,380||3,335||20.40%|
|41||University of Hertfordshire||22,505||4,445||19.80%|
|42||The University of Lincoln||14,120||2,785||19.70%|
|43||York St John University||6,965||1,325||19.00%|
|44||Canterbury Christ Church University||13,175||2,495||18.90%|
|45||Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine||19,695||3,670||18.60%|
|46||The University of Stirling||11,705||2,145||18.30%|
|48||The University of Northampton||11,245||2,035||18.10%|
|49||Stranmillis University College||885||160||18.10%|
|50||University of Gloucestershire||6,955||1,235||17.80%|
When it comes to halls that are privately owned and managed, it’s Lincoln where students are most likely to take up this option.
38.9% of students at the University of Lincoln choose to live in privately-owned halls away from the main campus.
Not too far behind is the Royal College of Music where 37.8% of students live in privately-owned halls.
The College is one of the leading conservatoires in the country and has its own student halls for 500 people, with many choosing to live in private halls elsewhere.
Another performing arts school comes in third place, with just over a third of students at the Royal Northern College of Music living in private halls.
Located in Manchester, the College is one of four conservatoires associated with the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music.
|Rank||HE provider||Total full-time students||Students living in private sector halls Total||Students living in private sector halls Percentage|
|1||The University of Lincoln||14,120||5,495||38.90%|
|2||Royal College of Music||870||330||37.90%|
|3||Royal Northern College of Music||880||295||33.50%|
|4||The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts||950||295||31.10%|
|5||Leeds Arts University||2,240||690||30.80%|
|7||Liverpool John Moores University||22,405||6,330||28.30%|
|8||The University of Liverpool||26,455||7,390||27.90%|
|10||Norwich University of the Arts||2,555||705||27.60%|
|11||Royal Conservatoire of Scotland||1,205||310||25.70%|
|12||University of Plymouth||16,030||4,085||25.50%|
|13||Sheffield Hallam University||26,520||6,035||22.80%|
|14||The University of Bristol||28,140||6,175||21.90%|
|16||Leeds Beckett University||19,815||4,160||21.00%|
|18||The University of Aberdeen||12,570||2,570||20.40%|
|19||SOAS University of London||4,510||890||19.70%|
|20||The University of Manchester||40,305||7,715||19.10%|
|21||University of the Arts, London||20,475||3,880||18.90%|
|22||University of Nottingham||33,655||6,300||18.70%|
|24||De Montfort University||23,895||4,370||18.30%|
|25||The Nottingham Trent University||34,190||5,915||17.30%|
|26||Birmingham City University||25,195||4,175||16.60%|
|27||Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine||155||25||16.10%|
|28||The University of Huddersfield||14,580||2,310||15.80%|
|29||The University of Bradford||8,745||1,370||15.70%|
|30||The University of Hull||12,250||1,735||14.20%|
|31||Plymouth College of Art||1,085||150||13.80%|
|32||Cardiff Metropolitan University||10,200||1,385||13.60%|
|34||The University of Southampton||20,130||2,555||12.70%|
|35||The University of York||20,015||2,415||12.10%|
|38||The Manchester Metropolitan University||30,195||3,275||10.80%|
|39||Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance||1,115||120||10.80%|
|40||The Royal Veterinary College||2,290||245||10.70%|
|41||The University of Exeter||26,900||2,675||9.90%|
|42||The University of Leicester||14,635||1,395||9.50%|
|43||Conservatoire for Dance and Drama||1,020||95||9.30%|
|44||The University of Central Lancashire||22,115||2,030||9.20%|
|45||The University of Sussex||18,350||1,615||8.80%|
|46||The University of Leeds||34,745||2,880||8.30%|
|47||City, University of London||18,045||1,450||8.00%|
|48||University of Northumbria at Newcastle||26,570||2,085||7.80%|
|49||Royal Academy of Music||800||60||7.50%|
|50||The University of Glasgow||31,450||2,335||7.40%|
Make sure to budget for the extra wear and tear that comes with student properties. You’ll probably need to pay for professional cleaners when each group of tenants moves out.
You’ll also need to budget for furnishings and white goods, as student properties are expected to be furnished.
Make sure that you’re investing in an area with lots of students, such as those outlined above, and look into potential rental yields. Many of the best yields are in university towns in the North, where property is usually cheaper.
Do your research around HMOs (houses in multiple occupation). These are properties with three or more tenants from different households and have their own sets of rules that you must abide by. You’ll probably need a special licence to let one of these.
You’ll also have to take this into consideration when it comes to insurance, making sure that your policy fully covers an HMO.
Make sure that your tenancy agreement is watertight and covers all the bases such as how much notice is required if tenants want to move out.
Consider asking for guarantors before reaching an agreement. You may even ask each tenant to provide their own guarantor.
According to a survey by Unipol and the NUS, the average cost of student property in the UK for 2021-2022 was £166 a week in purpose built student accommodation like halls.
Privately rented student property stood at £155 a week for an en-suite room and £228 for a studio.
Of course, the amount that you’ll pay for your student property will vary a lot depending on where you’re studying and for example will cost a lot more in London.
Buying student housing has its pros and cons but can definitely turn out to be a good investment. It’s proved to be very popular with investors in recent times which suggests that there’s definite value in the student housing market.
Student housing tends to offer greater yields due to the cheaper purchase prices and higher rent prices. This means that student housing can still be a good investment even if the property market dips more generally.
You do need to be aware of investing in student property though that they require higher levels of upkeep.
Student properties are certainly more affordable than regular properties, due to the fact that they’re usually located outside of city centres. On top of this, students usually pay higher rents than other tenants, so on the face of it, student rentals are definitely profitable. Plus, you always have a steady demand, with a new group of potential tenants coming through every year.
But while student rentals can definitely be profitable, it’s worth remembering that they often have higher maintenance costs. In addition, your property will probably lie empty during the summer months, during which time you may receive no rent or a reduced rate.
Like any other property, student accommodation is only worth as much as people are willing to pay for it.
In the case of student properties though, this generally does mean that they will increase at a similar rate to other properties.This is because of the steady demand that they experience due to there always being a new cohort of students looking for places to live.
Of course, student properties are subject to the same fluctuations in the market as any other property, but there’s no reason why they shouldn’t increase in value.
Whether you're a student looking for a place to rent or a landlord trying to rent out a property, read our property experts' guides to learn more about all things student rentals.
The total number of dwellings, as well as the number that are occupied by students, were sourced from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government’s Council Taxbase 2021.
Specifically, the total number of dwellings and the number of dwellings that are exempt from council tax under class M and N as of October 4th 2021 were taken.
Class M refers to a hall of residence provided predominantly for the accommodation of students, while class N refers to a dwelling that is occupied only by students, the foreign spouses of students, or school and college leavers.
This was then used to calculate which local authorities have the highest percentage of student houses in England.
The number of students living in provider-maintained property and private-sector halls were sourced from HESA and relate to full-time and sandwich HE student enrolments for the 2020/21 academic year.
James has spent the past 15 years writing and editing personal finance news, specialising in consumer rights, pensions, insurance, property and investments - picking up a series of awards for his journalism along the way.