The University of Warwick recently announced the cancellation of its off-campus accommodation scheme. In a Freedom of Information (FoI) request, The Boar investigated the University’s provision of off-campus accommodation since 2017.
The University’s scheme allowed landlords to sign over their houses to Warwick Accommodation, who would guarantee rent to landlords by doing the marketing, management, and maintenance of the property on their behalf.
In a statement released on the Warwick Accommodation website, the University said: “With the growing amount of private student accommodation options available locally, we will no longer be offering students Warwick managed off campus housing.
“This change will be effective from the 2021/22 academic year, with the exception of a small number of properties in Coventry that will still have contracts to run, and these properties will be available to book in January 2021, subject to availability.”
They added that those entering the final year of their undergraduate degree in 2021/2022 will be eligible for campus accommodation, and the Final Year Ballot applications will open in January.
In recent years, the University has been working with Coventry City Council and developers to build thousands of extra student rooms in purpose-built blocks, according to LandlordZone.
With the growing amount of private student accommodation options available locally, we will no longer be offering students Warwick managed off campus housing
– Warwick Accommodation
From 2017, Warwick’s provision of off-campus accommodation has been slowly diminishing. In a FoI request, The Boar found that while 472 student properties were available to rent in 2017/2018, 414 were available to rent in 2019/2020. This dropped further to 384 properties in 2020/2021.
Additionally, 2,335 students were renting from Warwick Accommodation in 2017/2018, down to 1,677 renting this year, a 28% decrease.
In response to the FoI request, the University refused to comment on the amount of money they made during the scheme, and what percentage of rent went directly to the landlords.
The end of the Head Lease Scheme has caused difficulties for some students searching for properties for the 2021/2022 academic year, since many students rely on Warwick Accommodation to provide affordable properties and to protect them against exploitative landlords.
One student who rents a property from Warwick Accommodation in Kenilworth said: “Without Warwick Accommodation, it has put me and so many other students in a terrible situation. We have been abandoned in an extremely turbulent time, with very little security and the sure knowledge that the price of accommodation will go up and competition for the cheapest properties will increase.
“I’m fearful, as I know others are, that I shan’t be able to afford whatever housing I can find in the chaos that will inevitably stem from the removal of an easy, safe, and affordable alternative to the open market.”
Since announcing the cancellation of this scheme, the University has updated their website with information on how to find a property in the surrounding area. This includes a local area guide and tips for making the right decision on housing.
If it is phased out the University will then focus its off campus accommodation strategy on working even more closely with local authorities to ensure high standards in student accommodation provision
– Spokesperson for the University of Warwick
According to Patrick Sullivan, CEO of Red Brick Lettings in Coventry, the cancellation of Warwick Accommodation has meant that many landlords are not up to date on current legislation and licensing.
He said: “At least ten landlords have come to us in the last week looking for help, one of whom didn’t have an HMO licence.”
He added that landlords will be facing intense competition from thousands of new purpose-built en-suite rooms available in Coventry. While the University has promised to create an advertising platform for landlords in place of the off-campus accommodation scheme, Sullivan says many landlords will be feeling lost.
The University told LandlordZone: “It is the responsibility of landlords to register their properties and we provided information in January and March 2019 regarding additional licensing within Coventry.
“We are in touch with our landlords and we believe they will have all made an application before the deadline, however we reserve the right to take action if they have failed to do so. We will continue to take the appropriate steps to ensure all Warwick managed properties are safe and compliant.”
Commenting on the end of the scheme, the University told The Boar: “The Head Lease Scheme was originally established to meet high demand for quality student accommodation at a time when supply was very limited.
“If it is phased out the University will then focus its off campus accommodation strategy on working even more closely with local authorities to ensure high standards in student accommodation provision and will soon also be launching a new, lower cost ‘advertise-only’ scheme for local landlords to advertise rooms directly to Warwick students.”