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Treating Students as Young Professionals

Friday October 12, 2012

Heaton Property Housing Stock
Heaton Property Housing Stock

If conversation round your dinner table is flagging, mention tuition fees then sit back and watch the fun. Everybody has an opinion on this emotive subject but fair or foul, tuition fees are providing a welcome lift in the student lets sector in the north east, to the benefit of landlords and their clients, the students.

Yes, I did say ‘their clients’. This is because tuition fees mean universities now regard students as clients rather than passive consumers of education. Anyone paying £9,000 plus per year for a service is entitled to make some demands of that service and universities are in fierce competition to prove their service is superior.

This expectation of high customer service is transferring to the student lets segment as second year students seek something more sophisticated than fraternity style student accommodation with communal washing, cooking and leisure facilities. By year two and well able to manage their finances, a degree of comfort and freedom is welcome.

The landlords and their agents who are providing this higher level of service are doing so by applying a simple rule of thumb: Treat students as you would treat young professionals, which is exactly what students will become in a few short years. But the secret to success is about more than fast wi-fi and flat screen TV. We are dealing with articulate, intelligent people so it is essential that students are moving into a comfortable, simpatico environment.

This year we entered the student lets segment for the first time and we determined to apply the same standards we apply to our young professional clients. We will not put anyone into accommodation we would not move into ourselves. Our ProShare scheme, which matches like minded housemates and provides each with a single bill for rental and utilities, enables students to share a more up market property while providing the landlord with higher yields and peace of mind through secure tenancy.

Even applying our Young Professional ethos there have been one or two surprises. A recent request for a dining table to sit eight put the notion of students living on instant noodles and baked beans firmly to bed. A nice garden, off-road parking and discreet enquiries about the neighbours are frequent requests.

Between students demanding a higher standard, with landlords and their agents reacting to that need, perhaps we can consign the grotty student bed sit image where it belongs – to history.

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