Student Accommodation In 2022

By Barry Sweetlove – Head: Property Administration & Facilities Management MidCity Property Group

Student accommodation is a residential building purposely constructed or converted into a residence that caters specifically to the needs of students. To convert an existing building or to start a new student accommodation, a landlord needs to ensure the new residence meets the requirements set by the Department of Higher Education, which include:

• Transport to campus
• Free unlimited Wi-Fi
• Free electricity and water (limited)
• Recreation room with a TV and DSTV
• Access control and security
• Hot water
• IT lab
• Bed, desk, chair and lockable cupboard
• Shower and toilet
• Kitchen/kitchenette with fridge, induction stove and micro-oven
• Communal areas
• Providing social activities

Once these requirements are met, a landlord in Pretoria can apply for accreditation of their residence from the University of Pretoria (UP) or the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). This accreditation process must be renewed annually to ensure the necessary requirements and standards are still met.

Once a building receives the necessary accreditation, a comprehensive marketing campaign must be launched for the various Tertiary Institutions. These marketing actions include:

• Intensively advertising on all major social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
• Tertiary Institution-specific website footprint
• On-site marketing (open days, colleges, etc.)
• Marketing material such as flyers, radio adverts, etc.

Student Funding
Students residing in accredited student accommodation are primarily funded by either a bursary or through NSFAS (National Student Financial Aid Scheme). For a student to qualify for such funding they have to undergo an intensive registration and qualification process.

Student Intake Challenges
Each year brings new challenges around student and accredited buildings. 2022 is no different. This year matriculants unfortunately had to wait until 21 January for their examination results. This setback delayed their tertiary applications and registrations.

As we all know, a student’s pass mark determines whether they can qualify for their preferred degree and career path. There is a limited window period between receiving results, qualifying for funding and registering for a specific degree before classes commence.

Practical Challenges
Covid-19 has challenged life as we know it, and student accommodation has not been spared either. From amendments to the educational calendar (academic year), to the way students receive their lectures and write exams (virtual, online, etc.), much has changed.

Monthly Rental Payments
As things stand the liquidity of landlords is under pressure at the beginning of 2022, as the payment of rentals from NSFAS only starts flowing at the beginning of April, even though students have already taken occupation at the beginning of February.

Daily intensive management is needed to ensure both students’ and landlords’ expectations are met. For a student it is all about having a safe place, warm water, uninterrupted Wi-Fi, as well as experiencing and enjoying student life. For a landlord it is about high occupancy (especially within the window period of students registering), low operational costs and keeping a positive bottom line.

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