Landlords with properties in university towns and areas should be aware of how to best accommodate the needs of student tenants, with as little friction as possible.
It’s a common cliché that every student out there will inflict severe damage to a property and throw loud parties, but we don’t believe this to be fair assumption. Students will spend a significant portion of their outgoing on rent alone, which means they’re more likely to view your property as an investment.
Many students will also be keen on protecting their deposit, especially with how much money it is for them.
But whilst we do stick up for students, it doesn’t mean that things can’t go wrong. Many issues – some more than others – are more likely to occur when landlords go down this route. Here’s how to minimise them.
Consider their situation
Moving to university is often the first time where many students have to take on more responsibility, in regards to what they do with their time and money. The initial freedom can be liberating, but they may not be best educated on how to use it.
Only a select few student-renters will be experts in property maintenance; but it’s not that they aren’t willing to try. Here’s how you can assist:
Lay out your expectations for home or garden maintenance
Check that your tenants know how to do the general maintenance that’s required; you need to provide all tools needed for garden work as well.
Create a set of rules
Ensure your tenants know the consequences of not following them.
Show student tenants what you do to assist them. This also means being proactive – it could be confirming that you’ve secured their deposit for instance. This creates a mutual respect and partnership that goes towards building an easier tenancy.
Consider an HMO (Homes of Multiple Occupancy)
A common worry for many student renters is that things may go wrong with their housemates, rather than with the house itself. Some may prefer being solely responsible for their own room and deposit instead of joint responsibility.
These contracts make much more sense for students, as it pushes them to be responsible for their own money, credit score and actions.
It also makes it easier to sublet during the summer holidays. Should the worst occur, replacing one tenant is easier than an entire houseful.
Encourage good habits
Many students will lack the basic property and household maintenance skills, but can adapt if shown the right way, either by providing clear instructions or by rewarding good behaviour.
By providing clear instructions on basic maintenance, you’ll lower the chances of tenants panicking later down the line and make the wrong decision. This could be topping up a boiler with low pressure or the specific lightbulbs required in your property.
Stick to what you say or do; many students would’ve heard countless stories of nightmare landlords by the time they move in, so proving how reliable you are early on will push them to return the favour, it could be something as simple as fixing a problem right away. Providing plenty of contact within the first month of tenancy will let you prove your reliability and the value of the contract.
Rental Exchange Scheme
This scheme allows tenants to securely connect their bank to Credit Ladder. The rent is then read and reported to Experian. This lets tenants build their credit score whilst paying their rent, an effective way of motivating them to pay on time. So think about whether this could be right for you.
Many tenants feel uncomfortable with landlords making up reasons to enter the property and landlords could do with the extra time.
Try finding a middle ground with your tenants; setting up regular, casual check-ins, will let you be less intrusive and help you keep tabs on the property for recent or needed repairs. It’s also a proactive way of informing you if something isn’t right.
Students may not be keen on the regular visits, but they’ll appreciate getting their deposit back when the tenancy ends.