Shortage of student accommodation a global problem

01 December 2014

Traditionally, every November, December, January, and even going into February, the pressure on parents trying to find accommodation for their children who will be attending university or colleges in Cape Town is immense, says Lanice Steward, managing director, Knight Frank Residential SA.

The high demand in Cape Town is in keeping with global trends, which can be seen from the high sales figure reported by Knight Frank’s UK Student Property team for the first half of 2014, which stood at £200 million. 

Their student property report dated 29th October says, “Deals over the last six months have included both consented site sales and the disposal of operational, direct let, purpose built student schemes throughout the United Kingdom. Last week saw the completion of the sale of APT Student Court in Wembley. The scheme, located on Lakeside Way adjacent to the London Designer Outlet, comprises a purpose built student accommodation building of 660 bedrooms. The purchase completed on Thursday October 16 for nearly £70m, reflecting a net initial yield of circa 6.1%.”

The second half of the year, they said, showed no signs of slowing down with the launch of 'Project Atlas', a £100 million forward fund opportunity in Zone 1, London. The opportunity was launched to a select list of potential buyers.

The shortage in Cape Town and many other areas in South Africa, is due to the radical increase of the universities’ intake and the limited ability to get into their residences.  Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande’s report of earlier this year says that only 10 % of first year students can be accommodated in on-campus rooms and the total figure that can live in residences is under 30%.  The statistics further show a shortfall of 207 800 university beds, which does not include the shortfall of accommodation for private tertiary institutions. An estimated 400 000 students are currently enrolled at FET colleges, the vast majority of which do not have any on-campus accommodation.

Many parents resort to buying a property for their children to live in while at university, whether on their own or a larger unit to share and because of the current general stock shortages experienced throughout Cape Town at present, this could put even greater pressure on parents finding anything suitable to buy for their children. 

“If your child is attending college or university in Cape Town in 2016, it would probably be advisable to buy a unit and start looking as early as now and early next year for the following year,” she said. 

“Even if a person has bought an apartment and their child gets into a residence or leaves university, the apartment could easily be rented out, and will possibly never be empty.  A two bedroom apartment in Kenilworth, which is not traditionally the student belt, fetches R8 000 per month in rent, and the average seems to be around R4 000 per room at the moment in most areas students choose to rent in.”