Co-Living and the importance of interior design

There’s no doubt about it, co-living in areas such as Manchester, Sheffield and Leicester is gaining in popularity. More and more student landlords are tapping into the wealth of tenants seeking good quality student accommodation in these bustling university cities with new offerings popping up in their droves around the country.

Manchester is right at the forefront of this movement and has seen the development of the UK’s first purpose-built co-living development with a total of 900 bedrooms for students and young professionals to rent near Manchester Piccadilly train station due to be completed shortly. Sheffield currently has five active co-housing groups in the city catering to the needs of the student population.

For student landlords seeking to add to their existing property portfolio and gain a great return on their investment outside of London, Manchester offers an excellent opportunity for growth and features twice on this list of student accommodation areas for the best rental returns. The city is undoubtedly one to watch if you’ve been considering growing your current HMO stock this year.

The idea of co-living hasn’t just taken off in the student accommodation market either. The concept of co-living seeks to bridge the gap between public and private uses and offers up a new opportunity to promote a community feel with both public and private areas.

Not only does this type of living help introduce a social element to the overall student experience, it also seeks to address the current housing crisis. The idea of co-living has been fully embraced by developers and student landlords for the student lets market as a first step with many students favouring the idea of living with others studying at the same university.

The perceived benefits of this include an enhanced social life, tackling loneliness and making new friends during their time at university. With this approach such a hot topic at the moment, it’s no surprise that many landlords are looking to improve their HMO stock by making their properties more attractive to student tenants before the start of the new academic year in a few months.


Interior design trends for student co-living

First impressions really do count when attracting student tenants to HMO and co-living properties. For many landlords this means refreshing the housing stock with new additions and décor designed to really make the most of the rising popularity of several students sharing the same house.

Instead of squeezing in as many student tenants as is possible to maximise profits, savvy landlords and early adopters are placing more emphasis on creating inviting social areas. We’ve seen larger multi-use spaces being created to facilitate this vital aspect of student life.

From living rooms that double up as group study spaces to kitchens with dining seating, maximising any available space to enable students to spend more time together is seen as a bonus by potential student tenants, although this does come with its own considerations.

According to the National Student Accommodation Survey 2019, the main housing issue for students renters is the noise caused by some of their housemates. Rowdy tenants can disturb sleep and study time so it’s a big no-no for young renters. An overwhelming 45% of all student tenants stated that noise created by co-living housemates was their main concern. Many new developments are focusing on laying out new properties with this in mind with clever design meaning private quarters are placed as far away from social areas as is possible.

For private student landlords with existing HMO stock, the ability to do the same simply isn’t financially viable in the majority of cases, so instead soundproofing certain rooms as a way of overcoming the problem of noisy housemates could be an option.

With 54% of the student population renting from private landlords, it is these additional benefits that can make all the difference between empty rooms and a long list of students waiting to take up a student tenancy agreement.

Decoration is also important of course, so don’t underestimate the value of giving your current private student housing stock a makeover. The aim here is to help the property look fresh and visually attractive.

Good examples of this include adding pops of colour with bright paint or geometric wallpaper prints to liven up dull spaces and give the feel of stylish design without having to spend a fortune. For maximum effectiveness, you should aim to carry this approach throughout the property from the communal areas such as the kitchen and into private bedroom spaces for continuity of design. This simple tip will also give a more high-end and premium feel to the accommodation.


Storage and furniture

Other key elements of a co-living space are storage and furniture. With IT equipment becoming smaller and more streamlined, students are more willing to give up desk space in order to have extra storage such as draws and wardrobes to house their possessions.

Desks are still an important feature in co-living student accommodation though and shouldn’t be overlooked. Instead, look for desk and chair sets that have integrated drawers and can double up as a dressing table. This means tenants can maximise their use of space with additional storage for books and personal items.

Students are also shunning the single bed in favour of queen or double bed sizes as this is what they have become accustomed to at home, so the more home from home elements you can bring into your student accommodation the better.

Another way that student landlords can encourage the co-living feel in their HMO properties is by ensuring that there is ample seating for all members of the household pit a few extra seats for guests. This can be achieved by placing modular furniture in living areas, supplying seating cubes that can be stored away or stacked when not in use and furnishing with lightweight, colourful plastic furniture that can be moved from room to room with ease.

Another trend the student housing market is seeing is the indoor/outdoor look with many plants and natural colour schemes making their way indoors. New developments in cities such as Manchester, Sheffield and Leicester tend to be limited on the amount of outdoor space available, so any student landlord lucky enough to have an outdoor area should really make the most of it. Create an easy to maintain and attractive space for all housemates to get together and enjoy some fresh air.

Artificial grass and plants are a great way of keeping outdoor spaces looking good all year round without expecting student tenants to spend their spare time on garden-related tasks. This will keep the air neat, tidy and welcoming and encourage yet more interaction between student tenants as they’ll have the ability for a spot of morning yoga or outdoor dining when the weather permits.

Practicality also has a part to play when considering interior design. Student landlords are advised to choose hardwearing and easy to clean fixtures and fittings for their student accommodation makeovers.

Not only do items such as laminate or vinyl flooring and plastic-coated pieces such as work surfaces and table tops make maintenance that much easier, their hardwearing nature means that they will last far longer than natural materials such as wood.

Therefore, choose your materials and colour schemes carefully, and you won’t need to worry that your student tenants aren’t caring for them as well as they should. If in doubt, consider marketing your student co-living space as a premium serviced accommodation with a cleaner once a week.

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