Are you a tenant still looking to secure a student property for 2019?
Some changes to the types of tenancy agreements letting agents use means there’s less of a panic and more chance of the right property for you popping up on the market over the next few weeks.
In December 2017 the standard lease agreement used in Scotland changed from a Short Assured Tenancy (SAT) to a Private Rented Tenancy (PRT). The main factor shaking up the student letting market is the removal of fixed term leases, meaning tenants aren’t tied into leases for 6 months, 12 months or longer. PRTs are essentially month-to-month from the start.
The annual cycle previously saw most student properties advertised and secured around February/March each year. Tenants would sign a fixed term lease (normally 10 or 12 months, starting the following August/September) and would be tied into the property for that period. Mid-way through tenancies (normally in December/January), letting agents would approach tenants to establish their future plans (i.e. if they were planning to stay or leave the following summer) and at that point the agent could plan ahead; serving notice and advertising properties that would be becoming available or signing up the existing tenants for another 10 or 12 months. This process would be repeated each year.
Hold up. Switch up
With a PRT, tenants can serve 28 days notice at any time after they sign their lease, as leases have no fixed term at all. This is great news for tenants as it gives greater flexibility to move on if circumstances change. However, without a fixed length of lease and no certainty on when tenants will end the lease, it means that letting agents can’t be sure which properties will be coming available that summer.
What does that mean for students hunting for flats?
What we’ve seen this year is properties popping up left, right and centre; a market driven by current tenants serving their 28 days notice to leave. Well-organised students looking to bag a great flat in February/March are finding less available on the market at this time and student flats are falling into the same cycle as all other lets (professional/family). Student properties are simply being advertised as and when the current tenants serve their 28 days’ notice, rather than in-bulk over the winter months.
The days of a mad-rush for flats in February/March each year seem to be behind us and students are having to be a lot more responsive, often waiting until closer to their preferred move in date before a flat appears which suits them. On one hand, it’s good news that students don’t have to commit to a flat so early in the year but it’s bad news if they plan to leave Edinburgh for the summer and aren’t around to flat-hunt as the following academic year looms.
This is the first summer that we have seen the effects of the new PRT on student lettings with the first students serving notice on their 2018 tenancies at varying points this year. We’ll continue to learn and try to identify patterns to help landlords and tenants navigate the new legislation. If you’re an Edinburgh student looking for a great flat to let for next year, don’t panic; keep an eye on www.umega.co.uk or pop into our snazzy new office at 10 Lister Square, Quartermile we’ll do what we can to help and if we can’t we’ll clue you up and send you off in the right direction!