Why students next door are bad for your wealth

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The Independent Online

They are known for loud parties, long lie-ins and unhygienic kitchens. But the residential reputation of students hit a new low with the release of a survey which shows that having them as neighbours can devalue a home by 10 per cent.

In a poll of homebuyers for propertyfinder.com, 63 per cent of people said students were the worst neighbours, second only to squatters (90 per cent) in a roll-call of undesirables that included flat-sharers and families with teenage children.

With the average home in Britain costing £171,632, the financial price of living next to a modern-day version of television's The Young Ones works out at more than £17,000. Squatters living next door are estimated to depress the value by 16 per cent, £27,976.

Conventional residents can also wipe thousands of pounds off the value of a property. Families with teenagers were the third most dreaded neighbour because of slamming doors, arguments and drum kits. Next down the list of undesirables came flatsharers, often young people with active and - presumably noisy - social lives.

In the survey of 400 homeowners, some groups, such as childless couples, pensioners and single people, were reckoned to inflate the value of a neighbouring property. Childless couples added 4 per cent.

Students, according to propertyfinder.com, cause a whole host of problems such as untidy exteriors, rat-attracting rubbish over-spills, loud music and rowdiness after a night out.

In a study in 2002, Darren Smith of Brighton University identified the phenomenon of "studentification" in Headingley, Leeds, where the influx of students led to profound changes. Students areas tend to attract late-night food and cheap alcohol outlets, a rise in rat infestations and the conversion of family homes into "houses in multiple occupancy".

Peter Bolton King, the chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents, said: "By their nature students don't mow the front garden once a week, they can leave their rubbish out and can come back late in the morning. And sometimes there are problems with parties."

But Mr Bolton King, who represents 10,000 estate agents, said that students did not necessarily cause a problem, just as families with teenage children might also be trouble-free. "This survey is perhaps more a comment on social attitudes. I'm sure there are some unruly pensioners," he said.

The director of propertyfinder.com, Nicholas Leeming, said: "Our neighbours have a significant influence on our quality of life... and increasingly, house hunters are prepared to pay a premium for a quiet, trouble-free life."

The National Union of Students described the survey's findings as grossly unfair.

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