Students starting university this September have been hit hard with the introduction of higher tuition fees, tougher A-level standards and increased accommodation costs. Thompson, who started AFS 12 years ago when he was at university, said: "Students have got it tough at the moment and the aim of these focus groups is to try and help improve one important element of university, accommodation."
In establishing the ideal student property, the team encouraged the focus group candidates to draw their ideal accommodation to help them to establish their vision and greatest priorities.
From their key findings, these are the top tips to keep a student tenant happy:
* Students don’t expect to get much space for their money, particularly in London, but top of their list was big windows and natural daylight;
* Storage space – Students complain that they can never have enough! If rooms don’t allow, an extra freestanding wardrobe on a landing would be better than nothing;
* Shoe racks – if you want to keep the girls happy, place shoe racks in the rooms for them!
* Students like the idea of joint study rooms within properties, a place where they can study together rather than being isolated in their own rooms;
* Plug points – Students come equipped with a multitude of electronic gadgets so you can never have enough;
* Kitchen space or communal areas – Students are spending more time in their accommodation to save money. This means that communal areas such as kitchens or living rooms with tables and chairs where students can sit together are increasingly important;
* Students also favour open plan kitchen/living areas;
* Bathrooms – The more the better! Students all tend to get ready at the same time so if your property has the space and opportunity to provide either en-suite bathrooms or an additional shared bathroom, this will be popular with students. They are also prepared to pay more for the privilege;
* Lastly, if you want to really impress your tenants, take them for a beer! This was widely regarded as the best way to kick start a good open relationship with your tenants.
Thompson and his team work closely with both students and landlords in the hope of raising standards and encouraging the two to work together harmoniously. He hopes his continuing research will help to educate landlords on exactly what students want from their accommodation and how easily this can be facilitated.
Have your say on this story using the comment section below