The Best UK Cities for Student Landlords

There are 164 universities and higher education institutions across the UK. The majority of students studying at these locations move away from home and require a second residence whilst at university. 

But which student city is the best for landlords and where can they make the most money?

CIA Landlords has conducted research looking at metrics such as student population vs. general population numbers, number of households per city and average rent in student areas to find this out. 

Belfast named the UK city with the most potential profit for student landlords

When looking at the estimated number of student households in a city as well as the average yearly rent from student area properties, our team has found out the cities with the most potential profit for student landlords. 

Those wondering if they should get into the student landlord business in Belfast and Durham have a good chance of finding many students looking for properties, as well as making a good return. Our study found that Belfast’s population is 22.1% students, and the student landlord market in Belfast brings in approximately £1,766,103,096 every year. Meanwhile in third place, Durham’s large student population (33.6%) means that their student landlord yearly market stands at around £771,746,489. 

Both Belfast and Durham do not have the most expensive average student area rent costs, but the percentage of their city’s residents that are university students gives landlords here an abundance of opportunity with a much higher demand for student-friendly properties. 

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Though London technically comes out on top for the highest estimated yearly rental market for student landlords with approximately £2,661,110,735 revenue each year, we must take into consideration that London can also be an extremely costly place to invest in multiple properties. There is also much larger competition in London for student lets, as students who come to the UK’s capital don’t necessarily live in specific ‘student’ style areas like they do around other student cities in the UK. 

On the other end of the scale, our study found that student landlords in cities such as Reading, Derby and Luton may struggle more than others, with a much smaller student market and therefore less opportunity for student landlords.

Ranked: The UK cities with the most potential profit for student landlords

Rank

City

Estimated No. student households in city

Average rent pcm in student areas (£)

Average yearly rent in student areas (£)

Estimated yearly rental market for student landlords in each city (£)

1

London

86449

2,565.19

30,782.32

2,661,110,735

2

Belfast

176808

832.40

9,988.84

1,766,103,096

3

Durham

82225

782.15

9,385.84

771,746,489

4

Edinburgh

36855

1,285.28

15,423.32

568,428,420

5

Manchester

39276

1,160.76

13,929.16

547,079,641

6

Leeds

49700

900.80

10,809.64

537,239,604

7

Glasgow

42153

1,004.24

12,050.84

507,979,255

8

Birmingham

36575

1,104.71

13,256.52

484,858,627

9

Coventry

24074

1,253.97

15,047.68

362,262,858

10

Oxford

16805

1,788.28

21,459.32

360,615,814

11

Bristol

19005

1,544.93

18,539.16

352,337,855

12

Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

23508

992.89

11,914.64

280,091,658

13

Cardiff

20233

821.67

9,860.00

199,494,462

14

Sheffield

20066

800.08

9,601.00

192,649,368

15

Southampton

12937

1,172.83

14,074.00

182,076,090

16

Cambridge

9786

1,522.85

18,274.16

178,826,113

17

Liverpool

13748

1,072.11

12,865.32

176,866,222

18

York

13994

1,029.50

12,353.96

172,875,950

19

Portsmouth

12404

1,154.95

13,859.36

171,913,723

20

Leicester

14993

911.22

10,934.64

163,940,450

21

Swansea

14049

876.74

10,520.84

147,811,613

22

Nottingham

12518

922.79

11,073.48

138,621,826

23

Luton

6936

978.89

11,746.68

81,470,956

24

Derby

7704

728.22

8,738.68

67,326,540

25

Reading

3638

1,260.76

15,129.16

55,035,463

Oxford and Bristol have the highest average rent in student areas outside of London

To find out which cities had the highest average rent prices for students, our team looked at the average price of rent in three of each city's most well-known areas for students to live. We then took the average price of a 1-4 bedroom property in the area. 

According to our data, student areas in Oxford and Bristol have the highest average rent in the UK. These universities are not only known for their high rankings in the university tables, but their high rent costs too. 

Prices of rent average £1,788.28 per month in Oxford in areas such as the city centre and Jericho, and £1,544.93 in Bristol in student areas such as Redland and Gloucester Road. 

Derby, Durham and Sheffield have the lowest average rent prices for student in the UK

According to our study, Derby comes out as having the cheapest average rent prices for student properties in the UK, with the average rent found to be around £728.22 per month in its student areas such as Buxton and Allestree. 

Perhaps more surprisingly, despite its high rankings similar to that of Oxford and Bristol, Durham comes out as one of the cheapest places to rent as a student in the UK. The north-eastern city has average student rent prices of £782.15 when analysing average rent in student areas such as Gilesgate and Claypath. 

Sheffield comes third overall for cheapest student rent average in the UK (£800.08) with areas such as Crookes and Sharrow popular places for students to search for a property. 

Despite being the capitals of Wales and Northern Ireland respectively, Cardiff and Belfast came fourth and fifth in our study for the lowest average rent for student areas. Cardiff’s average rent per month in its student areas was found to be around £821.67 per month, whilst Belfast’s is around £832.40 in areas such as The Holylands and Ormeau Road. 

Most to Least Expensive Cities for Student Area Rent Prices:

Ranking

City

Average rent price (£ pcm)

1

London

2,565.19

2

Oxford

1,788.28

3

Bristol

1,544.93

4

Cambridge

1,522.85

5

Edinburgh

1,285.28

6

Reading

1,260.76

7

Coventry

1,253.97

8

Southampton

1,172.83

9

Manchester

1,160.76

10

Portsmouth

1,154.95

11

Birmingham

1,104.71

12

Liverpool

1,072.11

13

York

1,029.50

14

Glasgow

1,004.24

15

Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

992.89

16

Luton

978.89

17

Nottingham

922.79

18

Leicester

911.22

19

Leeds

900.80

20

Swansea

876.74

21

Belfast

832.40

22

Cardiff

821.67

23

Sheffield

800.08

24

Durham

782.15

25

Derby

728.22

Over a third of Durham’s population is students, the largest percentage in the UK

The UK has a huge student population, however, some cities’ student populations have a much bigger impact on the locations they are in than others. 

Some cities, for example, such as Durham see their population grow by over a third (36.3%) in size when including their student residents.

Oxford and Cambridge may be big name universities but the cities themselves are relatively small, meaning their student populations actually make up a large proportion of their residents. Oxford has the second largest student population compared to its general population at around 29.5%, whilst Cambridge’s students take up just under a quarter of their population at 23.4%. 

London, Liverpool and Reading have the smallest student population percentage in the UK

Though London may be home to around 212,155 students, university students in London only take up a small proportion of the capital city’s overall population (2.8%). 

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Reading in the UK has the second smallest student population compared to their overall population with just 6.3% of their city population being university students. Where sometimes cities in the UK are home to numerous universities which mean higher student numbers, Reading has less than 20,000 students residing in the city who study at their one university. 

Despite Liverpool’s five universities, the city’s student residents only take up 7.3% of its overall population making it the third smallest city in the UK for percentage of university student residents. Liverpool is known for its cheaper accommodation - the combination of this and its small percentage of students in the city makes it a potentially less attractive option for student landlords. 

Rank

City

General population of city

Total number of students in city

Percentage of city that is students compared to general population (%)

1

Durham

56,920

20,645

36.3

2

Oxford

152,450

44,945

29.5

3

Cambridge

129,000

30,200

23.4

4

Belfast

274,770

60,805

22.1

5

Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

282,338

59,635

21.1

6

Manchester

395,515

81,630

20.6

7

Coventry

359,262

67,255

18.7

8

York

210,618

35,275

16.7

9

Leeds

455,123

72,060

15.8

10

Edinburgh

464,990

71,595

15.4

11

Cardiff

447,287

68,095

15.2

12

Portsmouth

190,370

28,280

14.9

13

Swansea

246,217

36,260

14.7

14

Glasgow

591,620

84,320

14.3

15

Southampton

246,201

32,735

13.3

16

Leicester

508,916

61,970

12.2

17

Bristol

617,280

64,195

10.4

18

Nottingham

729,977

74,780

10.2

19

Luton

181,468

17,980

9.9

20

Sheffield

685,368

63,875

9.3

21

Birmingham

984,333

91,655

9.3

22

Derby

270,468

21,285

7.9

23

Liverpool

864,122

63,290

7.3

24

Reading

318,014

19,980

6.3

25

London

7,556,900

212,155

2.8

Methodology

To find out the percentage of each city's residents taken up by their student populations, we took the student population of each city and divided this by the overall number of residents in each city. 

To find out the average rent costs for students in each city, we looked at three of each city's most popular student areas, determined using desk research. We then used housesforsaletorent.co.uk and took the average price for 1-4 bedroom properties in these areas. 

By taking the approximate number of student households in each city and the average yearly rent of properties in student areas, we then ranked the best cities for the student landlord rental market. 

Student status - those who are at registered universities in the UK according to HESA

Note: Students at Open University have not been counted within this study due to options for online-only study from many locations. 

Sources