Student platform to expand into halls of residence and graduate markets

Student rental platform Hybr has set its sights on helping institutional landlords develop halls of residence-style accommodation in undersupplied colleges and universities.

At the same time, the platform has started matching up landlords with recent graduates and young professionals who are looking to rent, rather than just students.

Since launching in 2020 Hybr has predominantly focused on pairing residential landlords with students up and down university cities. The company currently operates in 10 cities but is scaling up 30 university cities, including Nottingham, Glasgow, Birmingham, Leeds, Brighton, Exeter and Bath.

The startup is on the verge of closing a £3.3 million seed funding round, having raised just under a million to date.

Halls of residence push

The push into lending to bigger institutional landlords is deemed a key step for the startup, which was launched in 2020 by the then-22-year-old founder Hannah Chappatte (pictured).

Hybr works by matching up students with landlords and developers via its online platform, as there are currently 100,000 listings on the site.

However, aiding the development of halls of residence style accommodation is seen as the next step.

Chappatte, chief executive of Hybr, told PropertyWire: “Some smaller universities can’t afford their own halls of residence, but we can match them with a database of developers and landlords.

“They can help developers build student supply by getting a nomination agreement in place.

“A university signs an agreement to say they will take 150 units for example and take full liability for the rent – and have full access for its students.”

Hybr has already established partnerships with the London School of Economics, University College London, Imperial College London, University of Birmingham, University of Bristol (which Chappatte attended), as well as institutions like University of the Arts London, London College of Communication, ESCP London Business School, BIMM Music Institute, fashion and music schools, as well as language schools.

Chappatte, now 26, grew frustrated with the poor quality of rental accommodation available to students while studying Liberal Arts at the University of Bristol.

She was surprised by agents’ demand for a full year’s rent upfront, as well as students being deprioritised when applying via major property portals like Rightmove.

Graduate push

While the platform was originally set up to cater for students, Chappatte estimated that 25% of renters who contact the company are now young professionals.

Meanwhile a number of students who previously used Hybr have asked to continue using the platform after graduating.

Chappatte said: “We just launched into the graduate/young professional market.

“It’s equally anxiety-inducing for them as when they were students, as they typically lack a guarantor.

“Because we have that relationship with them, and built that profile and renter track record, we’re in a good position to help young professionals.

“Our brand is about first-time renters but we like that our brand is growing up with our renters, and are following them until they get on the property ladder.”

To facilitate these tenants eventually buying, the startup has also partnered with shared ownership schemes like Keyzy Homes.

Meanwhile to facilitate transition between students and young graduates, Chappatte said the platform is developing a rent-passport type product, to ensure that landlords know whether they are a safe tenant.

Hybr is still a growing company, which has 14 employees to date, but there’s clear ambitions to transform the rental market – and help destress the process of renting a property for students and graduates alike.

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