Boom in Leeds city centre living ‘leading to student exodus’

The city centre living boom is leading to an exodus of students from their “traditional” heartland in Leeds, according to new research.

The popularity of high rise developments in Leeds city centre is causing a headache for student landlords in places like Headingley. A working group involving the universities and Leeds City Council has been set up to examine the demand for student accommodation.

According to one property professional, there are fears that property prices in the city’s traditional student areas could fall later this year, as landlords try to get rid of their stock.

“Student landlords in Leeds are bracing themselves for the second year in a row, as the numbers only seem to be heading in one direction, and that’s into decline,’’ said Alix Newton, the director of Lets Live Leeds, a lettings agency which specialises in professional house share.

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According to Ms Newton, the boom in city centre apartments has seen students migrate from more areas such as Headingley, Burley and Hyde Park, leaving empty properties, and many landlords with large student portfolios are facing an economic crisis.

Ms Newton added: “2012 has already seen landlords putting their entire student portfolio on the market for sale.

“A further vast volume of such properties will flood the sales market in September, as landlords decide to downsize their portfolio when they face having empty houses for a full academic year due to lack of student interest. Supply will then outweigh demand forcing prices down.

“I did a search, and found there were in excess of 1,000 student properties available in Headingley and the surrounding areas. They would normally have been let before Christmas or over the winter. A lot of landlords are scratching their heads.”

A Leeds City Council spokesman said that a working group had been established which included councillors, planning and housing officers, representatives from the University of Leeds and Leeds Metropolitan University and Unipol. The group, which is due to hold its second meeting next week, will investigate the “future demand for student accommodation in Leeds”.

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