England alone supports more than 55,850 of these shared houses with 13,500 of them located around London. Affordability, short-term contracts, and the social atmosphere offered by most HMOs make them an attractive option for younger renters, especially university students. Aside from cost-effectiveness, Wi-Fi connectivity is a leading factor considered by students when selecting a new home. In fact, a survey conducted at Edge Hill University indicated that high speed Wi-Fi was considered a priority by more than 50 percent of the candidates.
The absence of fast and secure internet connections is unfortunately a recurring theme in the HMO market. According to accommodationforstudents.com, more than 96% of UK professionals are frustrated by a lack of immediate Wi-Fi access when they move into a new property with 75% reporting that they would be more inclined to rent a property that had pre-installed internet access. Poor connectivity is becoming increasingly common in shared households with a survey conducted by WiredScore and the HomeOwners Alliance noting that nearly £2.2 billion had been spent on mobile data to supplement poor Wi-Fi.
Renters have continued to grapple with a lack of network coverage and higher internet bills in recent months with 85% of homeowners reporting connectivity issues and failing services. This in turn has forced residents to use up to 2.5GB of additional extra mobile data each month to compensate for poor Wi-Fi coverage, costing anywhere between £2.50 to £17.50 per month on top of contractual costs in 2022 – a price which is likely higher now due to the cost of living crisis.
Connectivity pitfalls lead to increased frustrations
Poor connectivity in HMOs and shared households can be attributed to several factors. One major cause is the high demand for bandwidth, which can exceed the capabilities of the network infrastructure available. This is because in shared living spaces, multiple users are often connected to the same network, and each user could be streaming or downloading large files simultaneously, causing congestion and slow speeds. Many properties also struggle with long-range connectivity.
Another prominent reason is the physical layout of most buildings. Thick walls, multiple floors, and other obstacles can weaken the Wi-Fi signal and create dead zones. In addition, outdated or poorly configured network equipment can also contribute to connectivity issues. Addressing these factors could improve connectivity exponentially in shared living spaces and enhance the overall user experience.
Wi-Fi: A learning and wellbeing essential
A strong, reliable and secure Wi-Fi network is an absolute essential for students and professionals alike. University students require a strong and consistent Wi-Fi connection for various reasons, including studying, streaming, socialising, relaxing, gaming, and staying in touch with their families. In an era of hybrid working, consistent and stable connectivity is crucial for young professionals to be able to work. The disparity in Wi-Fi connections, however, can be owed to the fluctuating prices across the market. Students and graduates, who in many cases do not have a regular stream of income, will often opt for a more cost-effective connectivity solution to save money, but this often translates to poor Wi-Fi coverage.
According to Landlord Broadband, providing reliable Wi-Fi in HMOs could significantly improve tenant satisfaction, which can lead to increased occupancy rates and rental yields. Landlords can benefit immensely from installing smarter cloud-based network solutions across their property(s). However, many landlords are unaware of the connectivity solutions that are widely available – and the benefits that come with investing in a powerful networking solution.
What’s the solution?
One of the key sticking points in shared homes has been the lack of convenient access points. Software Defined Networking (SDN) platforms can resolve this by integrating network devices, including access points, switches and gateways, and provide completely centralised cloud management that can be controlled from a single interface. SND allows for fine-grained access control at the device level through remote control which benefits both service providers and users.
This not only helps students address any potential connectivity issues quickly and efficiently, but it removes the need for landlords to send a technician to the property (or attend themselves) to investigate a connectivity issue. Remote management can save landlords both time and costs, and improves the visibility and security throughout the network. For students, these solutions allow for bandwidth sharing which ensures lag-free gaming, and seamless streaming as well as fast and secure downloads of learning materials.
With good digital connectivity services at the helm:
● Nearly Two-thirds of residential developers report they can rent their properties at a higher price and/or with a greater yield
● 40 percent witness an increase in demand for their properties
● More than half report they can rent their properties for longer thanks to an improved living experience
● Nearly half state that it helped to sell properties for a greater price
The impact of Wi-Fi and connectivity in HMOs cannot be overstated. It is clear that investing in a powerful, fast and high-quality Wi-Fi system has its benefits. Not only would it enhance the in-home experience for occupants but it could also be a significant factor in the profitability of HMOs.