Local landlords are facing a rent crisis after a sudden drop in the number of students attending Kingston University this year.The University has revealed that “there are between 600 and 800 students less in undergraduate and graduate programs”.
A letting agent in the Surbiton area said: “There is a notable drop in the inquiries. Last year the demand was massive but now it seems less. We are lucky because only a small portion of our business, approximately 20 per cent, is based on rents. We managed to create a wide portfolio of clients to support losses in the rent sector, but I heard that many other companies are having some troubles.”
Data posted on Kingston University’s website shows that there has been a constant increase in the number of applications since 2004 at an average rate of approximately 900 students per year until 2010. In the academic year of 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 there has been a major increase in the number of applications; each year approximately 2,500 more students enrolled at Kingston University. The consistent increase in the number of students was extremely profitable for local businesses included letting agencies in Kingston and Surbiton.
A letting agent in Kingston said: “I remember that in the past two years we didn’t have enough rooms for everybody. Kingston University built some dorms but I heard that six of them are now empty. They are new.”
The drop in the number of applications, the first one since 2004, is due to the increase in tuition fees approved by the government in 2010. Universities are now allowed to increase tuition fees to a maximum of £9,000. Kingston University set its tuition fees very close to the maximum allowed.
A let agent in Surbiton says: “Rents didn’t really change. There has been an increase of the 3 per cent this year, but there is a reason. My colleagues and I are considering different type of business solutions because we feel that the rental market is going down. We managed to have a good profit this year, but next year I am sure it is going to be worse.”