Student housing hotspots

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.

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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.

Where in the UK has the most student housing investment by private landlords?

graphic containing the % of student housing owned by private landlords
1. Exeter, South West - 10.92%
Total properties: 59,329
Student properties: 6,479

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.

2. Nottingham, East Midlands - 10.81%
Total properties: 142,675
Student properties: 15,422

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.

3. Newcastle upon Tyne, North East - 7.66%
Total properties: 136,635
Student properties: 10,470

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.

RankLocal authorityRegionTotal propertiesStudent propertiesStudent properties (%)
1ExeterSouth West59,3296,47910.92%
2NottinghamEast Midlands142,67515,42210.81%
3Newcastle upon TyneNorth East136,63510,4707.66%
4OxfordSouth East62,4904,5697.31%
5LeicesterEast Midlands142,00310,2337.21%
6CanterburySouth East69,3764,0955.90%
7CambridgeEast of England58,9933,0285.13%
8YorkYorkshire & the Humber92,1144,5784.97%
9SheffieldYorkshire & the Humber255,24812,3304.83%
10SouthamptonSouth East109,9025,1824.72%
11Bath and North East SomersetSouth West85,1793,8884.56%
12LeedsYorkshire & the Humber364,07616,2254.46%
13LincolnEast Midlands46,5922,0634.43%
14CoventryWest Midlands148,2186,4684.36%
15LiverpoolNorth West234,52910,1914.35%
17Brighton and HoveSouth East131,5815,6774.31%
18Tower HamletsLondon142,7285,8854.12%
19RunnymedeSouth East37,6031,4103.75%
20PortsmouthSouth East93,6733,2153.43%
21BristolSouth West206,0736,7793.29%
21LancasterNorth West65,9222,1663.29%
23BirminghamWest Midlands453,34814,8293.27%
24PlymouthSouth West122,2563,8243.13%
25City of LondonLondon7,6362353.08%
26NorwichEast of England68,1412,0903.07%
27ManchesterNorth West241,1907,2913.02%
27PrestonNorth West65,4821,9753.02%
30Hammersmith and FulhamLondon92,1482,6852.91%
31GuildfordSouth East59,8951,7162.87%
32CharnwoodEast Midlands77,2642,2132.86%
33WarwickWest Midlands66,9681,9042.84%
34ColchesterEast of England84,2662,2872.71%
36ReadingSouth East74,5231,7802.39%
36Welwyn HatfieldEast of England49,6391,1842.39%
38Kensington and ChelseaLondon89,5422,1062.35%
40MiddlesbroughNorth East64,8331,3942.15%
41Newcastle-under-LymeWest Midlands57,0121,2122.13%
42Bournemouth, Christchurch and PooleSouth West187,8583,6641.95%
43DurhamNorth East250,2324,7311.89%
46WinchesterSouth East55,2019991.81%
47Kingston upon HullYorkshire & the Humber123,3672,2141.79%
48SalfordNorth West125,2042,1771.74%
49West LancashireNorth West50,9128771.72%
49WorcesterWest Midlands46,9758061.72%

Where in the UK has the highest number of student properties overall?

graphic with the highest number of student properties overall in the UK
1. Leeds, Yorkshire & the Humber - 16,225

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.

2. Nottingham, East Midlands - 15,422

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.

3. Birmingham, West Midlands - 14,829

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.

RankLocal authorityRegionStudent properties
1LeedsYorkshire & the Humber16,225
2NottinghamEast Midlands15,422
3BirminghamWest Midlands14,829
4SheffieldYorkshire & the Humber12,330
5Newcastle upon TyneNorth East10,470
6LeicesterEast Midlands10,233
7LiverpoolNorth West10,191
8ManchesterNorth West7,291
9BristolSouth West6,779
10ExeterSouth West6,479
11CoventryWest Midlands6,468
12Tower HamletsLondon5,885
13Brighton and HoveSouth East5,677
14SouthamptonSouth East5,182
16DurhamNorth East4,731
17YorkYorkshire & the Humber4,578
18OxfordSouth East4,569
19CanterburySouth East4,095
20Bath and North East SomersetSouth West3,888
21PlymouthSouth West3,824
22Bournemouth, Christchurch and PooleSouth West3,664
25PortsmouthSouth East3,215
26CambridgeEast of England3,028
27Hammersmith and FulhamLondon2,685
31ColchesterEast of England2,287
32Kingston upon HullYorkshire & the Humber2,214
33CharnwoodEast Midlands2,213
35SalfordNorth West2,177
36LancasterNorth West2,166
37Kensington and ChelseaLondon2,106
38NorwichEast of England2,090
39LincolnEast Midlands2,063
40PrestonNorth West1,975
41KirkleesYorkshire & the Humber1,927
42Cheshire West and ChesterNorth West1,919
43WarwickWest Midlands1,904
44ReadingSouth East1,780
46GuildfordSouth East1,716
47SunderlandNorth East1,682
48CornwallSouth West1,631
50DerbyEast Midlands1,468

Which universities have the most students living in uni-owned accommodation?

graphic containing the universities that have the most students living in uni-owned accommodation
1. The University of Oxford - 79%

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.

2. The University of Cambridge - 77.3%

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.

3. Cranfield University - 55.7%

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.

RankHE providerTotal full-time studentsStudents living in university-owned accommodation TotalStudents living in university-owned accommodation Percentage
1The University of Oxford20,59516,26079.00%
2The University of Cambridge20,03015,49077.30%
3Cranfield University2,4151,34555.70%
4Oxford Brookes University14,6555,95540.60%
5Writtle University College69028040.60%
6The University of St. Andrews10,4354,04538.80%
7Hartpury University1,96574537.90%
8The University of Surrey15,2455,62036.90%
9The University of Warwick23,9258,79036.70%
10The University of Lancaster15,9755,75036.00%
11University of Durham19,6657,00035.60%
12Loughborough University17,2555,80033.60%
13Royal Agricultural University1,08536033.20%
14University of Nottingham33,65510,14530.10%
15Aberystwyth University6,0751,81529.90%
16The University of Kent16,4904,90029.70%
17London School of Economics and Political Science12,9403,82029.50%
18The University of Essex16,0554,67529.10%
19Newcastle University26,3407,48028.40%
20Falmouth University5,2401,46528.00%
21The University of Portsmouth24,0656,71027.90%
22Harper Adams University2,48069027.80%
23Coventry University32,8108,89027.10%
24The University of Reading15,3204,15027.10%
25The University of York20,0155,25026.20%
26Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance69517024.50%
27Royal Holloway and Bedford New College11,3902,78524.50%
28The University of Chichester4,6851,13524.20%
29The University of Southampton20,1304,87024.20%
30The University of Leeds34,7458,32524.00%
31Cardiff University28,2656,68023.60%
32The Arts University Bournemouth3,45081523.60%
33Brunel University London16,3903,81023.20%
34Bangor University8,5951,97523.00%
35Edge Hill University11,7702,67522.70%
36The University of Exeter26,9006,10522.70%
37The University of Winchester7,3451,59021.60%
38Liverpool Hope University5,1751,10521.40%
39The University of Edinburgh33,9407,19021.20%
40The University of Bath16,3803,33520.40%
41University of Hertfordshire22,5054,44519.80%
42The University of Lincoln14,1202,78519.70%
43York St John University6,9651,32519.00%
44Canterbury Christ Church University13,1752,49518.90%
45Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine19,6953,67018.60%
46The University of Stirling11,7052,14518.30%
47Swansea University19,3753,54018.30%
48The University of Northampton11,2452,03518.10%
49Stranmillis University College88516018.10%
50University of Gloucestershire6,9551,23517.80%

Which universities have the most students living in private sector halls?

graphic containing the universities that have the most students living in private sector halls?
1. The University of Lincoln - 38.9%

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.

2. Royal College of Music - 37.9%

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.

3. Royal Northern College of Music - 33.5%

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.

RankHE providerTotal full-time studentsStudents living in private sector halls TotalStudents living in private sector halls Percentage
1The University of Lincoln14,1205,49538.90%
2Royal College of Music87033037.90%
3Royal Northern College of Music88029533.50%
4The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts95029531.10%
5Leeds Arts University2,24069030.80%
6Bournemouth University15,4954,41028.50%
7Liverpool John Moores University22,4056,33028.30%
8The University of Liverpool26,4557,39027.90%
9Leeds Conservatoire1,53042527.80%
10Norwich University of the Arts2,55570527.60%
11Royal Conservatoire of Scotland1,20531025.70%
12University of Plymouth16,0304,08525.50%
13Sheffield Hallam University26,5206,03522.80%
14The University of Bristol28,1406,17521.90%
15Aberystwyth University6,0751,29521.30%
16Leeds Beckett University19,8154,16021.00%
17Aston University13,0552,74021.00%
18The University of Aberdeen12,5702,57020.40%
19SOAS University of London4,51089019.70%
20The University of Manchester40,3057,71519.10%
21University of the Arts, London20,4753,88018.90%
22University of Nottingham33,6556,30018.70%
23Newcastle University26,3404,90018.60%
24De Montfort University23,8954,37018.30%
25The Nottingham Trent University34,1905,91517.30%
26Birmingham City University25,1954,17516.60%
27Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine1552516.10%
28The University of Huddersfield14,5802,31015.80%
29The University of Bradford8,7451,37015.70%
30The University of Hull12,2501,73514.20%
31Plymouth College of Art1,08515013.80%
32Cardiff Metropolitan University10,2001,38513.60%
33Solent University10,4251,37013.10%
34The University of Southampton20,1302,55512.70%
35The University of York20,0152,41512.10%
36Cardiff University28,2653,38012.00%
37Goldsmiths College8,46094511.20%
38The Manchester Metropolitan University30,1953,27510.80%
39Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance1,11512010.80%
40The Royal Veterinary College2,29024510.70%
41The University of Exeter26,9002,6759.90%
42The University of Leicester14,6351,3959.50%
43Conservatoire for Dance and Drama1,020959.30%
44The University of Central Lancashire22,1152,0309.20%
45The University of Sussex18,3501,6158.80%
46The University of Leeds34,7452,8808.30%
47City, University of London18,0451,4508.00%
48University of Northumbria at Newcastle26,5702,0857.80%
49Royal Academy of Music800607.50%
50The University of Glasgow31,4502,3357.40%

Tips for landlords of student properties

  • 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.

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How much is student property?

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.

Is buying student housing a good investment?

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.

Are student rentals profitable?

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.

Does student accommodation increase in value?

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.

Learn more about student housing...

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.

Methodology and sources

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.

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About James Andrews

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.

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