Students are facing an acute shortage of private rental accommodation as the new academic year gets under way.
Website SpareRoom says that despite soaring demand from students, many landlords in university towns and cities would prefer to let to young professionals.
It says that 40% of rooms in private shares in the top 25 university locations are not available to students.
The shortage of student accommodation is said to be at its most acute in Edinburgh and Oxford.
According to SpareRoom, the shortage of student accommodation is being sparked by the number of older people still sharing flats.
It says that a third of sharers are now aged over 35, and that the number of sharers aged 45 and over has risen faster than younger age groups.
Matt Hutchinson, director of SpareRoom, said: “Most freshers will expect accommodation to be ready and waiting. Even those who’ve been through clearing normally manage to find a place in time for the start of term.
“But those affected by the shortage of student accommodation in Oxford and Reading are now facing a mad scramble to find somewhere to live.”
He said that with high demand from professionals, the situation is “far from ideal”.
He added: “You don’t have to be a genius to see the bottleneck in the rental market supply, particularly as it’s becoming all the more common for people to flatshare well into their 30s and 40s.”