Real Estate

Manchester’s booming rental market caters to the young at heart

Student housing in Manchester is booming — and local beer-drinkers are not impressed. The Church Inn in Hulme, a neighbourhood near the city centre, is expected to be knocked down and replaced by a 12-storey accommodation block for students from Manchester Metropolitan University. Camra — the Campaign for Real Ale — has joined locals who are objecting to the development.

John O’Donnell, of the Trafford and Hulme Camra, says the area has been “overrun” by students in recent years. “There is only one pub left in the area — the Salutation — and that is in the shadow of the Student Union and always full of students,” he laments.

Town versus gown face-offs — which pit local city residents against university students — are nothing new. But the growth of privately-owned student accommodation in the city centre has become a pressing concern for some local residents.

Some 39 per cent of the development pipeline in central Manchester is purpose-built rental blocks, according to JLL, the property consultancy. Many of these appeal to wealthy overseas students, drawn to the lively city’s four universities — the largest of which, the University of Manchester, belongs to the UK’s elite Russell Group and is internationally renowned. Between 2010 and 2017, the number of international students across Greater Manchester rose 9 per cent to 19,000, according to Midas, the inward investment agency, even as the total number of students has declined — down 6 per cent to 101,000 over the same period.

The changing proportions are echoed across the country. Non-EU student numbers at the UK’s top 50 universities have grown 23 per cent in the past four years, according to Cushman & Wakefield, the property company; the growth in total student numbers over the same period has been just 15 per cent. At the University of Manchester, 27 per cent of students are from outside the EU.

Students who choose to live in one of these new blocks should be prepared to pay a premium. “Rents in the best units are from £200 to £450 per week,” says Steve Hogg of JLL. “Ten years ago you would have struggled to get more than £100 per week from a student room.” A spokesperson for the University of Manchester says that it offers rents from £99 per week including all bills.

The booming rental market may spell trouble for existing residents in the city centre, but those in the city’s fringe areas are benefiting. Neighbourhoods once dominated by students are being repopulated by families and working couples. Hogg points to Withington, Rusholme and Fallowfield, where streets once full of student housing are following more established neighbourhoods, such as Sale, Didsbury and Chorlton towards gentrification.

This is no accident: rules introduced in 2011 by Manchester City Council aimed to stem the spread of student house-shares into areas traditionally characterised by family housing.

Henrietta Daniels, a 27-year-old surveyor at JLL, and her boyfriend are a typical young working couple driving demand for homes in Manchester’s fringe neighbourhoods. Leaving Manchester University in 2014, Daniels bought a three-bedroom Victorian terraced house in Levenshulme, about three miles south-east of the city centre, for £148,000. The couple enjoy renovating and reselling, she says, and they have just bought their third house in the same neighbourhood, for £188,000.

“One of the reasons that I stayed in Manchester, rather than moving to London as I had originally planned, was in order to buy a home,” she says. Many of her peers have stayed in Manchester when they graduate — in the UK, only London has a higher retention rate of graduates remaining in the city to work.

Renovation projects for budding property developers like Daniels are diminishing among the Victorian streets of Sale, Didsbury or Chorlton, says Nick Stanton of Bridgfords, a local agent. “On the whole they have been done. If a renovation opportunity came to the market there would be a fight.”

In Didsbury, a large seven-bedroom family home is being marketed through Philip James for £1.395m.

Seven-bedroom house in Didsbury, £1.395m

In the city centre, the wave of residential developments is aimed at young professionals. Two-thirds of the 2,500 housebuyers who registered with JLL for a city centre property are aged 40 or under. Last year, there were 5,288 more units required than were available, according to the agent, which is selling a two-bedroom flat in Deansgate Square for £351,000. Nearby in Beetham Tower, local agent Reside is selling a three-bedroom flat for £850,000.

Two-thirds of JLL’s 2,650 registered renters are below 30, and many of the rental units they end up in will contain a mix of students and young professionals. Keeping the right balance is crucial, says Hogg. “We are having to turn [students] away from the available units in some developments.”

Buying guide

  • Greater Manchester is home to four universities: University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan, the University of Salford and the University of Bolton
  • Universities accommodated less than half their students last year, down from roughly two-thirds in 2012, according to Cushman & Wakefield
  • Prime house prices in Manchester have increased 8 per cent in the past year and 21 per cent in the past two, according to Countrywide

What you can buy for . . .

£170,000 A new one-bedroom flat in Islington Wharf Locks, Ancoats
£540,000 A four-bedroom semi-detached house in Chorlton
£1.25m A four-bedroom penthouse in 1 Deansgate in the city centre

More homes at

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