Author : Mary-Anne Bowring
There is a perceptible increase in purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) all over the UK. There is an increase in investor interest in this sector, and developers are rushing to help meet the demand. Assetz Capital, Northampton, has provided funding of 13.26m to convert a former retail store into over 200 student apartments. The Cassidy Group from Nottingham has plans to create over 3,000 beds in the next two years. The PBSA market is resilient with considerable growth potential. With investor enthusiasm growing and developments taking place all over the UK in the PBSA sector, parallels are being drawn between the seemingly more mature BTR market and the UK student accommodation market. It throws up some interesting facts.
BTR developments lend themselves to a strong sense of community, achieved primarily through communal spaces and other amenities. UK BTR developments are also focused on providing vital services. Build To Rent projects feature built-in flexible workspaces, communal living areas, studio fitness facilities rental bike services, and electric charging points. These projects stand apart. Some have incorporated unique boutique services such as microbreweries. Office developers are increasingly learning from the build-to-rent industry with a surge in the inclusion of attractive social-based perks in new office buildings. The goal is not only to motivate people to go back to offices post-pandemic but also to make workplaces more attractive and to provide a home-like feeling.
It is not uncommon to see office spaces with mini-golf settings, video game facilities, free beer, and more. They are clear indicators of creativity being smartly introduced into the commercial real estate sector. New concepts are being developed for hybrid workers, who split their time between home and the office. Residential is one such trend. It brings a homely aesthetic to the typical professional office space.
BTR has helped create a community atmosphere within the residential sector. It also helps drive a sense of collaboration. For PBSA, too, a sense of community is highly desirable. Students love socialising and establishing new connections and relationships. Students like to network, and that's why PBSA developers must take these aspects into account. UK BTR has proved that next-gen housing has to provide more than its function. The same is true for PBSA. The student room cannot be treated like a boarding and lodging facility. It must help nurture community living.
Students can be a more heterogeneous group than BTR tenants. The professionals living in BTRs limit their communal activity to evenings or weekends, keeping staff busy during these times. Adjusting living space to meet the 24-hour divergent needs of student groups is a simple way of achieving enhanced tenant satisfaction. Example: Music students may require 24-hour soundproofed rooms, while art and design students may seek well-lit studio space. Developing and designing accommodations for the wider context of the students' lives will boost its value.
BTR and PBSA projects stand apart for the quality of service and high level of convenience they provide tenants. It is common to see doormen and concierges in PBSA projects in the US, and increasingly this is becoming more common in the UK. In PBSA, features such as parcel collection, round-the-clock maintenance, and other special services are becoming common. PBSA operators must ensure that tenant needs are catered for. Tenants welcome features such as maintenance requests, online payment, and bookings. Technology is being used to streamline and improve user experience.
The Ringley Group are experts in running NOI (net operating income) property classes: student housing, coliving, multi-family, and single-family. We are consulting with several clients on later living. Our proprietary living sectors tech platform introduces operating efficiencies, reduces staff on-site, and tracks over 100 KPIs. We drive premium rents and have developments running with OpEx running at as low as 14 percent gross to net.
Mary-Anne Bowring FIRPM FRICS FARLA FCABE Founder/Head of Asset Management
Strategic partnerships, holistic delivery/ opportunities, growth, value engineering, thought leadership
Ian Barber MD BTR Mobilisation & Leasing
Runs HQ & site lease-up teams. Drives rent pricing, mobilisation, marketing, happy residents!
Jon Curtis MRICS Head of Building Engineering
Chartered Building Surveyor. Lectures on EWS1 & building safety. Runs CapEx programmes.
Kate Robinson MIRPM MD Blocks/FM Management (London Region)
Master plan setup, ops and staffing and resident engagement. ISO45001 champion.
Lee Harle Partner Ringley Law
Plot conveyancing. Debt litigation. Group Company Secretary.
Anthony Kingdon MIRPM AssocRICS MD Blocks/FM Management (North Region)
Stakeholder engagement. Mixed tenure specialist. Budget management. Plant audit, PPM compliance.
Chris Georgalis MRICS Head of Commercial Valuation
Chartered Valuer. Rental valuations: retail, leisure. IRR modelling and valuations for secured lending. Compulsory purchase & rent reviews
Nichola Pughe MRICS Head of Residential Valuation
Chartered Valuer. Rental development & mixed use valuations, IRR modelling. Leasehold enfranchisement specialist
Libby Chen MSc Compliance Manager
Operational Plant & Equipment strategy PPM Compliance lead, Asset tagging Client major projects
Dipesh Parekh Director PlanetRent
Customer centric, vertically integrated PropTech/fin-tech solutions.
Leana Aristodemou MIRPM MARLA AssocRICS Strategic lead: ESG & Asset Business Plan delivery
Financial modelling, valuation analyst to support underwriting & fund reporting.
Natalie Birmingham Helpdesk Support Manager
Trainer & Helpdesk Manager: people, systems,contractors. ISO45001 supply chain accreditation.
Steve Norman Planning Director
Land due diligence (opportunities & constraints) Has contributed to a number of award winning schemes.