London students can't find rooms to rent in halls of residence

More than three quarters of students in London can’t find rooms to rent in halls of residence or purpose-built university accommodation.

Every year, almost 250,000 young people studying in the capital have to resort to sharing rented homes in the private sector or living at home with their parents, a report has claimed.

It said the situation was likely to worsen because a three per cent rise in the number of British undergraduates and a four per cent rise in foreign students has been predicted for next year’s intake in the capital.

This raises the prospect of students being forced into unsuitable or overcrowded accommodation — or getting into greater debt to cover the rent — as they compete for space.

Research shows there are 233,000 full-time students in London unable to access either halls of residence or purpose-built student accommodation. The pipeline of stock under construction is 5,947 beds — which will fulfil just 2.5 per cent of this demand.”

However, for those who are lucky enough to be afford purpose-built accommodation, many of them foreign students, more buildings are springing up. Many offer hi-tech — and in some cases, luxury — accommodation including games rooms, bars and cafes, leisure facilities, free wifi and roof terraces.

However, such accommodation commands a premium, with residents paying an average of  56 per cent more than for shared houses in London. Students cited better security, inclusive bills and varying tenancies among the reasons for spending more.

The report concluded: “The existing limited pipeline of new student accommodation in London is forecast to fall in the face of an increasingly hostile planning environment, yet the number of international students will continue to rise year on year.

“We forecast that the imbalance between demand and supply in central London will actually worsen in the next five years and that rental escalation for London student accommodation will be greater than anywhere else in the UK.”

Attracting more foreign students to London was one of the core aims of Boris Johnson’s recent trips to China and India.

Both the Mayor and the capital’s universities have been pushing for a simplification of the visa system which puts off many foreign students.

I'm lucky as the problem is getting worse

WANG Peng Peng, 23, right, is working towards a Master’s in Environmental Policy at the London School of Economics.

She rents a room in purpose-built student accommodation block urbanest, in King’s Cross, sharing a flat with five girls. The student, from China, said: “I pay £209 a week. It’s quite nice here, it makes life easier having everything on site — the equipment is new and I have a good view.

“I’m lucky as it’s getting more difficult for students to find affordable accommodation in London. Central London is expensive, it’s going to be more and more of a problem as the number of students coming here grows.”