The Rise of Short-Stay Student Accommodations in the UK: A Primer for Property Managers

Uvika Wahi

Updated on:

The Rise of Short-Stay Student Accommodations in the UK: A Primer for Property Managers

The short-term rental industry has seen exponential growth in recent years. This trend has also impacted the student accommodation market in the United Kingdom, with students seeking more flexible and affordable housing options during their studies or internships. Universities and property managers have identified this growing demand as an opportunity to optimize their assets, improve occupancy rates, and ultimately generate additional revenue.

Property managers can utilise Lavanda, a property management system (PMS) specialising in fully flexible renting for residential real estate institutions, to tap into the fast-growing trend of short-term student accommodations.

But it’s not just property managers who can benefit from this exciting development. Even enterprising hosts with properties in student markets can start a property management business with ease using Lavanda. With flexible renting options, Lavanda makes it simple for hosts to manage their properties and ensure maximum occupancy rates. As the demand for flexible and affordable housing options continues to grow in the UK, Lavanda PMS provides the perfect opportunity for hosts and property managers alike to take advantage of this burgeoning market.

Recently, Lavanda has teamed up with UPP, the UK’s leading provider of on-campus residential and academic accommodation infrastructure. Together, they aim to offer state-of-the-art summer short-stay solutions to universities across the UK, enhancing the student experience and providing significant benefits for property managers in the higher education sector.

In this article, we will explore how this partnership between Lavanda and UPP is set to transform the short-term student rental market, the advantages it brings to both universities and students alike, and how it connects to the broader short-term rental industry. We will also delve into the challenges and opportunities faced by property managers in adapting their strategies to cater to this emerging market segment.

Understanding the Need for Short-Stay Student Accommodations

There are several instances where students may require short-stay accommodations, catering to diverse needs and circumstances. Let’s explore some of these situations and how they contribute to the growing demand for flexible housing options in the student accommodation market:

  1. Summer courses and internships: Many students enroll in summer classes, workshops, or internships during their academic break. These programs typically last a few weeks to a couple of months, necessitating temporary accommodations that are both convenient and affordable.
  2. Exchange programs and study abroad: Students participating in exchange programs or studying abroad often need short-term lodging near their host university. These students look for accommodations that offer flexibility, as their stay durations can vary based on the program requirements.
  3. Gap-year experiences and volunteering: Students taking a gap year or engaging in volunteer work might require short-stay accommodations as they travel or explore different cities. In such cases, flexibility and affordability are essential factors in their choice of lodging.
  4. Academic conferences and events: Universities frequently host academic conferences, seminars, and events that attract students from other institutions. Attendees require temporary accommodations that are conveniently located and provide a comfortable living experience during their short stay.
  5. Graduation ceremonies and family visits: Graduating students often have family members visiting to celebrate their achievements. Short-term accommodations are necessary to house these guests, providing a comfortable and convenient option near the university campus.
  6. Temporary housing during emergencies or maintenance: Sometimes, students may need to vacate their regular accommodations temporarily due to maintenance work or unforeseen emergencies. In such cases, short-stay solutions serve as a reliable alternative to ensure minimal disruption to their academic pursuits.

These various instances highlight the growing need for short-stay accommodations tailored specifically to the student population. By recognizing and addressing this demand, property managers can optimize their assets, enhance the student experience, and tap into a thriving market segment.

The UK Student Accommodation Market: Growth and Opportunities

The UK student accommodation market has experienced significant growth in recent years, with a strong development pipeline that promises to continue expanding to meet the increasing demand for high-quality housing options. In the 2020/21 academic year, there were 697,734 student beds in the UK, reflecting the importance of providing comfortable and convenient living arrangements for the nation’s large student population.

The market’s potential is further underscored by the fact that there are currently 25,700 beds under construction, expected to be delivered in time for the 2023 academic year. Beyond this, an additional 69,500 beds have been granted full planning permission, bringing the total number of bed spaces in the planning pipeline to an impressive 95,000.

This expansion is not limited to the UK alone.

A Savills report published in October revealed that, across the European cities it monitors, the 14,500 new Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) beds delivered in 2022 still fell short of meeting the growing demand. The report also highlighted the significant investment in the sector, with €11.7bn invested in PBSA in Europe during the first three quarters of the year, marking a 130% increase compared to the same period in 2021.

In terms of student populations, the EU had 18 million tertiary education students in 2020, while the UK saw a total of 2.9 million students in higher education in the 2021/22 academic year. These figures demonstrate the immense potential for growth within the student accommodation market, particularly as the demand for quality housing continues to rise.

Considering the size and trajectory of the UK student accommodation market, it is clear that there is a pressing need for innovative solutions that cater to the evolving preferences of today’s students. The partnership between UPP and Lavanda, focusing on providing flexible short-stay accommodations, is a prime example of how the industry can adapt to better serve the diverse needs of the student population. By tapping into this growing market segment, property managers and universities alike stand to benefit from increased revenue, optimized assets, and an enhanced reputation for meeting the demands of their students.

UPP’s Impact on the UK Student Accommodation Market and the Emergence of Short-Term Rental Options

UPP Student Accomodation Provider in the UK

As the leading provider of on-campus residential and academic accommodation infrastructure in the UK, UPP has played a significant role in shaping the student housing landscape. With approximately 35,000 rooms in operation through long-term partnerships with 15 world-leading universities, UPP has provided homes to over 450,000 students since 1998. Their approach encompassing design, build, finance, and operation (DBFO) of new on-campus infrastructure, as well as estate transfers of existing accommodations, enables university partners to develop their estates while reinvesting in core services such as teaching and research.

Despite their success in providing high-quality, affordable, and on-campus accommodations, UPP recognizes that the evolving needs of today’s students require more diverse and flexible options. The growth of the short-term rental industry, driven by platforms like Airbnb and VRBO, has created an opportunity for UPP to expand its offerings and cater to the changing preferences of the student population.

By partnering with Lavanda, a pioneer in fully flexible renting for residential real estate institutions, UPP aims to capitalize on the burgeoning short-term student rental market. This collaboration will enable them to offer summer short-stay solutions tailored specifically to the needs of students, enhancing their overall experience and addressing the demand for more adaptable housing arrangements.

The introduction of short-term rental options not only benefits students but also presents a valuable opportunity for UPP and its university partners. By optimizing underutilized assets, particularly during periods of low occupancy such as academic breaks, universities can generate additional revenue and improve overall business performance. Moreover, offering short-stay accommodations can further strengthen the reputation of these institutions by showcasing their commitment to catering to the diverse needs of their student body.

The Lavanda-UPP Partnership: A New Approach to Short-Stay Student Accommodations

Lavanda Property Management System for Short Stay Studen Accomodations UK

Lavanda, a provider of student property management technology, has recently announced a partnership with UPP, an on-campus student accommodation and infrastructure provider working with 15 UK universities. This collaboration aims to offer UPP the opportunity to run flexible rental and short-stay programs during the summer months, complementing existing programs such as summer schools, conferences, and events.

By utilizing Lavanda’s technology platform, UPP plans to efficiently use their buildings with short-stay offerings while minimizing disruption to the onsite and events teams. The platform will enable UPP to manage reservations, automate check-ins and check-outs, and streamline operations for guests.

Initially operating in Nottingham and Swansea, the partnership will allow UPP’s partners to offer short stays across a portfolio of 816 units, aiming to optimize occupancy levels and provide guests with 24/7 support from a dedicated guest experience team.

In a recent interview with Fred Lerche-Lerchenborg, CEO of Lavanda, we explored how Lavanda’s student property management technology caters to the unique needs of short-term rental hosts and managers in the UK. He discussed key features of Lavanda’s platform that make it well-suited for managing short-stay programs during summer months in university accommodations, as well challenges short-term rental hosts and managers typically face when managing student accommodations.

How does Lavanda’s student property management technology specifically cater to the unique needs of short-term rental hosts and managers in the UK?

Lavanda PMS allows institutional property managers in the UK and Europe to maximise Net Operating Income (NOI) by opening up some or all of the student accommodation in a building or portfolio as short-term rentals. This can be done not just outside of term time but at any time throughout the year, helping managers fill vacant inventory or gaps in occupancy. Critically, STRs can be managed seamlessly alongside traditional long-term rentals to support the core business. Lavanda also manages and reports on local regulatory conditions to aid property managers with compliance.

What are the key features of Lavanda’s platform that make it particularly suited for managing short-stay programs during summer months in university accommodations?

Lavanda’s Summer Stay solution wraps a suite of specialist services around the platform to address specific pain points and knowledge gaps. These additional tools range from listing optimisation and revenue management to handling guest vetting and communications. They are all designed to make switching inventory to short-term rental frictionless, flexible and hassle free.

One example of a specific challenge facing some student accommodation operators is that they can only be occupied by students. In this situation, Lavanda vets guests and captures their student ID prior to booking. Depending on the location, the platform can also handle authority reporting and collection of tourist taxes.

Can you provide any data or case studies that demonstrate the impact of implementing student property management technology on occupancy rates, revenue generation, and overall guest satisfaction in university accommodations?

Our customers see an immediate uplift in revenue when they start using Lavanda. One operator in Montpellier in southern France received an additional €420,000 (£365,000) on just one building during their first summer with us. Another customer was generating an extra £2.3m from 11 buildings across the UK during the eight-week summer season.

How do Lavanda’s technology and services help maximize the efficient use of university buildings while minimizing disruption to onsite teams and events? 

Our Short Stay solutions enable clients to efficiently monetise vacant inventory at any time throughout the year, but particularly over the summer holiday period outside of term time. The platform will set up and optimise client listings to ensure they perform in search results and drive bookings, while our Guest Experience Management team handles all booking enquiries, communication and guest vetting. This way we help customers minimise the volume of work they must do to facilitate bookings. The goal is to power a best-in-class short-term rental operation with minimal friction and disruption for the core student accommodation business.

What challenges do short-term rental hosts and managers typically face when managing student accommodations, and how does the partnership between Lavanda and UPP address these challenges?

The first major challenge faced when developing a short-term rental operation that straddles the core rental business is how to optimize listings. There’s so much managers need to get right, from crafting compelling descriptions and setting competitive pricing to mastering SEO, managing availability, maintaining a positive reputation, and targeting specific audiences.

Secondly, revenue management is a big pain point. Setting competitive and profitable rental rates can be challenging. Determining optimal pricing that considers factors such as seasonality, demand fluctuations, local events and competition requires market research and analysis.

Then there’s the greater focus that STRs bring on guest communication and experience. Interacting with guests, coordinating check-ins and check-outs, responding to enquiries and addressing issues or complaints can be very time-consuming and requires effective communication skills. Dealing with difficult guests or resolving conflicts can also be challenging.

Lastly, regulatory compliance varies a lot by location. Local regulations may require permits, licences or compliance with zoning restrictions. Staying informed about and navigating the legal and regulatory landscape can be complex and time-consuming.

Lavanda minimises the impact on university teams by handling all of these challenges, allowing them to focus on their core market and the bottom line. 


The collaboration between Lavanda and UPP showcases the potential for innovative solutions in the student accommodation market. By addressing the unique challenges faced by short-term rental hosts and managers, this partnership aims to optimize revenue streams and enhance the guest experience. As the industry continues to evolve, it raises interesting questions about how technology can further streamline operations, improve customer satisfaction, and enable more flexible housing options for students and other short-term guests. How will these advancements shape the future of student accommodations, and what other opportunities might emerge for universities and property managers seeking to adapt to changing market demands? Let’s wait and watch.

Get the most important short-term rental news and insights straight to your inbox, for FREE.

Subscribe to our newsletter using the form below.