The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a major impact on all aspects of on- and off-campus student housing. In an attempt to better assess that impact and the sector’s outlook for the future, Student Housing Business conducted a survey of industry professionals over the course of several weeks in May.
The survey was separated by industry function for specific elements of the business, allowing SHB to better understand the pandemic’s distinct influence on each segment of the industry. Of the survey’s 569 respondents, 286 defined their company’s role in the industry as that of an owner, operator or investor.
In this segment of the industry, only 11 percent of companies let go of or furloughed employees at the corporate level and only 8 percent of companies instituted pay cuts. Of the respondents that invest in student housing, 62 percent of companies are still pursuing and seeking out deals in the current climate.
Owners and operators reported that roughly 58 percent of students remained in their off-campus properties, despite universities and colleges canceling in-person classes. Due to universities mandating that students leave their on-campus housing for the duration of the spring semester, 48 percent of owners and operators also picked up new residents at their communities during this time.
At the property level, only 15 percent of respondents are still allowing the use of shared amenity spaces in their communities and roughly half are servicing all maintenance calls at this time. Over 70 percent of respondents noted that they would be making permanent changes at their properties moving forward from the pandemic. Noted changes include the installation of hand sanitation stations; increased cleaning protocols; increased online customer service for renewals, notices and payments; and the addition of more outdoor amenity spaces.
Ninety percent of the owners and operators that responded to our survey have received formal requests from residents to break their leases and 81 percent of respondents have seen a slowdown in pre-leasing for the fall semester. Fifty-seven percent of respondents are getting a jumpstart on turn in unoccupied units.
Assuming universities open in their usual fashion for the fall semester, 59 percent of respondents believe that the decisions made both on- and off-campus during the height of the pandemic will ultimately have a positive impact on occupancy and rental rates off-campus.
Student Housing Business will be covering the results of our survey in weekly installments. Check back next week for results regarding the development side of the industry.
— Katie Sloan
To read results from the other segments of this survey, click below: