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NO VACANCY: The Student finds that none of Edinburgh’s over 7,000 rooms in private halls are free

Research by The Student has found that as of Saturday afternoon, none of the more than 7,000 rooms in Edinburgh’s private student halls buildings were available.

The next date for an open room heard by a reporter was the start of January, with one building’s waitlist standing at over 400 names long.

Not all student housing providers gave projected dates for future open rooms to The Student, citing confidentiality or lack of information.

The Student contacted companies operating almost 40 different private student halls buildings to ask about availability.

Data accurate as of midday Saturday, 1 October
Click or tap each pin to view details about Edinburgh’s various private halls.

Red = no availability
Orange = no availability, but waitlist data available
Yellow = availability from January

Private halls provider Student Roost saw all its rooms booked out by March, four months before usual.

The waitlist for the company’s three Edinburgh buildings, totaling around 330 beds, stood at over 200 names long on Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile UNITE Students, Edinburgh’s largest provider of private halls rooms, saw all of its halls booked out by December 2021, two months prior to normal.

Downing Students’ New Park accommodation, near Abbeyhill, had a waitlist over 400 names long.

Staff on booking lines for several Edinburgh student housing providers painted a stark picture, saying that rooms were often taken as soon as they returned to market.

The development comes as Edinburgh faces a multifaceted housing crisis, with covid and the rising cost of living crisis putting new pressure on an already strained housing market.

Rents in the city have risen over 14.2 per cent from last year, according to firm CityLets, and the number of available private rental rooms in the city has decreased over the same time period.

Also contributing to the crisis is an unusually large intake of first year students this September, with the University of Edinburgh alone taking in over 700 more freshers than normal.

This is due to a high rate of deferrals from a 2021 entry and more students than expected meeting conditional acceptance requirements.

Underscoring the severity of the city’s student housing crisis, The Edinburgh Tab recently found that Edinburgh University was housing a large number of undergraduate students in bunk beds. 

The arrangement was set to come to an end on 30 September, and was limited to students unable to find private housing.

The Student found one student halls company, Prestige Student Living, which advertised an open bed in a shared flat in their Gateway Apartments complex on their website.

A reporter for The Student was able to book a viewing for the space, scheduling one for the afternoon of 11 October.

However, within 24 hours, the reporter received an email from the complexes’ management staff, saying that the booking had been cancelled.

A call to the company confirmed that the complex had no rooms open until the end of the academic year.

As of Saturday afternoon, it is still possible to make a booking to view the space on the company’s website.

The Student has made efforts to contact Prestige Student Living.

Meg Bishop, a spokesperson for Scotland’s national tenants’ union, Living Rent, said: “The complete lack of homes for students in PBSA is just one facet of a much wider housing problem that is facing Edinburgh and cities across Scotland and the UK.

“Increases in student numbers combined with landlords increasingly turning their properties into holiday lets has led to a real shortage of housing across the city.

“Edinburgh City Council needs to bring down the number of holiday lets so that all residents have a place to live.”

The same factors that have made finding student housing in Edinburgh difficult also apply to other student cities in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Glasgow University attracted criticism earlier this month for an email to first-year students, encouraging them to leave university if finding accommodation continued to prove impossible.

This came after the university automatically rejected the accommodation applications of all students with home addresses within commuting distance of the university.

Manchester Metropolitan University, in recognition of the difficulties their first-year students would experience in finding housing, rented an entire PBSA building in Liverpool from UNITE Students.

The distance between Liverpool and Manchester means students will have to commute close to an hour each way by train to attend class, often on rush-hour services with no availability of seats.

Properties with availability from January and with waitlist data
Data is accurate to late afternoon on Saturday 1 October

Property nameCompany
ELS HouseEdinburgh Letting Solutions
Mayfield GardensPrestige Student Living
Properties with availability from January.
Property nameCompanyWaitlist length
Canal PointYugo~10
Arran HouseYugo~40
(All properties)Student Roost~200
New ParkDowning Students~400
Properties with waitlist data available.

Image ‘Holyrood North’ by kaysgeog is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.