Our 10 tips to award winning student accommodation

“Build it and they will come” is a saying made famous in the 1989 film ‘Field of Dreams’ and with the current demand for student accommodation in Brisbane it certainly holds true. However, before you start pouring foundations consider the below design and management tips and you’ll be building a popular complex that will be easy to rent and run for years to come.

1. Infrastructure

If you’re building from scratch you’re probably already speaking with a town planner. They’ll tell you what can and can’t be built on your site. Armed with the knowledge of how “big” you can build, the question then becomes how to structure your building to maximize yield for student accommodation.

In general Brisbane currently has a very strong demand for ensuited ‘queen bed’ sized bedrooms and studio apartments in all major student catchments around the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), the University of Queensland (UQ) and Griffith University.

We recommend that on a development consisting of townhouses you design a floor plan that includes 4 or 5 ‘queen’ rooms per dwelling or a mix of ‘queen’ and ‘single’ rooms. The inclusion of ensuites where possible will greatly benefit the property with these rooms always the first to rent despite the higher rental rate they attract.

If your development is a larger one, perhaps consisting of multi story units you’ll have some more options in how you structure the property. In this case we recommend a mix of studio apartments, 2-3 bed apartments and 4/5 bed apartments. As in the previous example, ensuites are an advantage in the rental market and we’d encourage offering a range of options in this respect.

If you’d like to meet with us for some more tailored advice, visit our contacts page. We can also recommend some great town planners, architects and builders who have worked with us on projects and understand the student market.

2. Council Concessions

As at writing, Brisbane City Council offers reduced Council infrastructure charges and may also offer reduced parking requirements for eligible student accommodation developments which can result in significant savings for developers. Information about this is available on the BCC website or you can contact us directly for the relevant information.

3. Property features

  • Utility costs are a large component of running a student accommodation property. Consider building in cost saving measures from the start such as water efficient fixtures. Electronic timers on external lights and air conditioners are also a must.
  • When built from the ground up units can be individually metered which would allow on-charging of most utility costs to tenants. This option should be considered however it is worth noting that the additional building costs may be prohibitive. Also note that on charging of utilities in multi tenancy dwellings is not common place in Queensland and can affect the properties desirability in the rental market.

4. Tenant selection/room allocation

The key to a smooth investment once constructed is tenant selection. It’s also one of the hardest things to get right. Ensure that you do background checks on all tenants and check their credentials as enrolled students. Get this right and you’ll ensure the house is an appropriate environment for life and study.

On our larger complexes Hive Student Accommodation goes a step further and where possible allocates students to rooms based on area of study. Cohabitation of students from the same study area has measurable effects on university performance and is backed by research conducted by multiple universities.

5. Ongoing Management

For self-managers, expect to spend a lot of time managing your tenants on an ongoing basis. Student accommodation is far more labor intensive in this regard than residential property management and may be a shock to the system for investors experienced in managing their own residential investments. Remember that your tenants are moving out of home for the first time and are likely to require guidance on everything from how to use the washing machine for the first time to what a safety switch/circuit board is. Management of IT issues and the included internet connection can also be a headache if not managed carefully.

If you would like to speak with us about the design or management of your student accommodation property please visit our Contact page.

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