Starting a student accommodation business

By David Mackenzie, written July 2020

Young has a long history of investing in asset backed investments where people live, stay or spend time.  What gets us really excited is our ability to challenge a sector where customer service and professionalism is found wanting and where we can significantly improve the customer experience for the better. 

Through our personal experience, student homes is one case in point.  These are the private Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) that most students typically live in during years 2 and 3 of their degree studies, sometimes extending to years 4 and 5 depending on the degree and subject matter. 

We are now at the stage of our lives where our children have been and are going to Uni.  What shocks us the most is that 25 or so years on from our further education, nothing seems to have changed!  The quality of housing, furnishing, maintenance and levels of service are, too often, dire.  It is difficult to conceive how students can get on with the business of enjoying Uni life and learning in these environments.  It is in part prompted by this experience that we feel the sector needs a shake up from a challenger brand, introducing innovation that re-sets the bar to where it should be in the 2020s. In a nutshell, providing proper homes for proper students. 

Our vision is that students moving out of student homes and into institutional Build to Rent homes, such as those provided by Get Living, should experience no palpable difference in quality, service and experience.   

In 2019 we met two excellent, enthusiastic and energetic young entrepreneurs who have been investing in student HMOs since leaving Uni themselves.  Combining our experiences and knowledge, we are excited to be creating a new business and brand together to deliver the HMO solution that we passionately believe students should reasonably expect from their private accommodation provider.  

We’ve taken the opportunity during lockdown to conduct our research, agree the purchase criteria, operational platform, brand standards and professional advisors to ensure that we deliver amazing products, services and experiences. Having allowed ourselves the luxury of taking the time to really think things through thoroughly and to challenge ourselves, we believe that we have an excellent proposition for both investors and student residents. 

We’ve had a lot of fun being creative and re-imagining what our younger selves, and indeed our own children, would (reasonably!) want from great value student homes. Always with the aim of pricing sitting between the typical mass end of the market and the more expensive Purpose Built Student Accommodation, whilst still remaining affordable. 

One of the considerations underpinning our thought process is societal good. We want to provide the conditions for students to help them go on and achieve good things for themselves, business, society and the planet. This business is about resetting to a new standard and helping to shape the future. It’s also another way of giving back. 

Our focus as ever is the resident. We look after them and in doing so we find that the investment returns always follow. Please do get in contact if you are interested in investing alongside us at Young. 

We will update further on our progress in future blogs.  For now, we are busy finalising the name, brand creative and wearing out shoe leather up and down the country looking at assets and investment opportunities that meet our strict criteria.  

One thing is for certain, we will be providing proper homes for proper students.