Top Things to Know Before you Rent to Students

So you’ve purchased a few spare properties and you have made the decision to rent to students.

Whether or not you have rented out to other parties before, renting out to students is often a different matter entirely as it is normally on a short term basis unless the students in question would like to continue living there after graduating.

If you’ve ever been a student or a landlord, or even a parent to a student, you will have heard of horror stories from both ends of the telephone. What we are looking at is not how you can let out to students with minimal work and minimal stress, but how to be a good landlord and to hopefully come out of this experience having learned something new.

Use sparse and practical furniture that is EASY to clean

Students can get drunk and careless. In many cases the repair money comes straight out of the deposit, however you cannot always rely on that as a safety net. Providing sparse furniture that is easy to wipe down and hard to break is essential, as if it is then broken you can claim damages or subtract from the deposit.

Maintain a good working relationship

Communication is key. There are some landlords who rent out to students thinking it is the easiest thing in the world and then chart off to holidays immediately after their tenants move in. This is not the best time to take a holiday! Students are often unsure and can sometimes be quite shy. Providing clear instructions as to how to contact you when you are away is essential, and always give notice when coming round for an inspection.

If you are open minded and friendly, your tenants will appreciate and respect your property. The golden rule; treat others how you wish to be treated. In reality this should be no different arrangement from the average tenancy, although in many cases both landlords and tenants abuse this tenancy because of its temporary standing. Always stress to your tenants that they should call you if they encounter a problem, as it prevents any misconceptions from their end and you will be updated on the condition of the property.

Set property rules within reason

Example of a good rule: Please no loud music or instrumental practice past 3am, other residents will be trying to sleep.

This is a polite rule that encompasses both students who like to party and overzealous music students. While many students are up studying and partying into the early hours of the morning, neighbours nearby might not be. It is a gentle reminder that not everyone is nocturnal.

Example of a bad rule: You are permitted ONE (1) party at the end of the year, with no more than FIVE (5) additional guests for a barbecue or similar gathering. No late night parties.

This is from personal experience. It not only immediately alienates your tenants but also puts you on a bad standing with them. You are acting like a parent instead of a landlord and students immediately dislike that. It is also an unreasonable request and one that many students will likely ignore or break just to spite you.

It is all about balance. Be strict, but fair and don’t make unreasonable demands of your tenants. They still want to have responsible fun as students, remember!

All in all, renting in itself can be a stressful business but it is often a very different ball game when it comes to students. Some landlords might think it is entirely down to the ‘sort of’ students they are; where they are studying, what their background is like, what they are studying, but in reality there is no one ‘type’ of student that is bound to be a bad tenant. It is all about luck and gambling.

If you are honest and open and maintain a healthy relationship with your tenants without allowing yourself to be pushed over, you should embark on a pleasant, short term contract with them. Or as an incentive, students are more likely to rant about bad landlords than recommend a good one, so the least you can do is prevent yourself from winding up on a university’s blacklist.

Article provided by Tim Greenwood Associates, an independent specialist building surveying practice formed in 2012 and now focused on the construction industry.

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