If you want to enjoy an uneventful student tenancy, this post is for you!
Did you know that 14% of landlords let to students? If you are a landlord in a university town, learning how to accommodate student tenants’ needs with minimal friction is crucial.
To give us some great advice on the unique needs of student tenants, student interest website Save the Student has shared their top five tips on renting to students. Read on and find out how to minimise your risk when renting to Britain’s next generation.
It’s an easy cliché that all student tenants will have loud parties and sell your furniture for beer and books. We all know that’s not true, of course. With students coughing up half their monthly outgoings on rent alone, your property is as much an investment for them as it is for you.
Even a deposit can be more cash than some students have ever had to pull together in one go – so you can bet they’re keen to keep it intact! And, as the cost of getting a degree inches upwards, the pressure is on to avoid unnecessary stress. Few students would choose to rile their landlord when they’ve already got a full plate of financial panic to deal with.
That doesn’t mean things don’t go wrong – there are definitely some issues that are more likely to pop up when renting to students. Here’s how to preempt them for a serene student tenancy!
1. Remember Your First Time?
For many students, going to university is the first time they take responsibility for their cash, their time, and what they get up to with both. We’re talking full-on freedom – but while that’s undeniably awesome, it doesn’t come with a manual!
Few first-time renters will be experts in home maintenance: some of them may never have boiled an egg before, let alone cleaned an oven. That doesn’t mean they won’t get up to speed soon enough, but, in the meantime, a couple of tactics can help:
- Flag up any rules as early as possible, and make sure tenants understand the penalty for not sticking to them
- Outline any expectations for home or garden maintenance – and check your tenants know how to do them. Remember, you must provide the tools necessary to perform any garden-work.
- As well as a list of rules, show student tenants all the ways you’re helping them. Being proactive with things like confirming you’ve secured the deposit can set a great tone for the tenancy. Setting up a mutual partnership from the start helps create a low-hassle relationship for the long term.
2. An HMO Could Suit Everyone
If there’s one worry common to student renters, it’s that things might go wrong with their house mates, rather than with the house. Students may well prefer to only be responsible for their own deposit and their own room, instead of all tenants being jointly responsible.
The individual contracts available in Homes of Multiple Occupancy make sense for students, especially as they encourage them to take responsibility for their own actions, money management and future credit scores. It also makes subletting during summer holidays much simpler. If the worst comes to the worst, replacing a single tenant is also much easier than re-populating a whole house.
3. Promote Good Behaviour
Student renters may lack some property maintenance and household skills, but they can learn extremely quickly: you’ve just got to show them how. That could be through giving clear instructions about maintenance and contract terms, or by rewarding good habits.
- Explain basic maintenance like how to top up a boiler with low pressure, or what type of lightbulbs work in your light fixtures. It’s better to cover all this in one go at the start of your tenancy than have tenants panic and think the boiler is broken when it just needs re-pressurising!
- Consider if the Rental Exchange Scheme could work for you. With this, tenants pay rent via Credit Ladder, who pass the money to you and tell Experian that the payment’s been made. That means tenants can build their credit score, giving them a positive incentive to pay on time.
- Stick to your end of the deal! Students have probably been told a lot of scare stories about rogue landlords, so showing good will as early as possible can help them show it to you in return. Fixing initial problems promptly is a great way to get off on the right foot. A high-contact first month will let you demonstrate the value of the contract, and save you time later down the line.
4. Talk to Your Tenants
Most tenants don’t want their landlord inventing reasons to pop round, and most landlords could do without the time suck. If there’s a middle way, it’s in low-key catch-ups – think ‘office hours’, a concept students completely get from checking in with uni tutors, and which they take responsibility for instigating or booking.
Check-ins are an opportunity to keep an eye on recent or potential repairs, and an early warning system if anything isn’t going right. For students who’ve never had to deal with managing a house before, they can be a useful primer in their own right, getting them in the habit of regular basic maintenance, cleaning or scrutiny. They might not love the visits, but they’ll love getting their deposit back at the end of the tenancy!
5. Keep the Best Ones for Yourself
Students are likely to need digs for two, three, four years or even more. So once you’ve found tenants who pay on time and keep the house in good nick, keep hold of them!
Renewing a tenancy with good tenants removes the chance of a costly void period for your property. Due to how much an empty property can cost you, it might be worth making some calculated concessions to help you hold onto good students.
For example, many students leave the property for long periods during the summer. Allowing them to sublet during this time would be a great incentive for students to stay with you.
Remember that student communities are tight-knit, and good student houses often limited. If your tenants like you, they are very likely to talk about their accommodation with other students – through word of mouth, they could find your next great tenants without you even having to advertise!
This guest post was written by Save the Student. Featuring the kind of straight-talking advice you won’t get at school, the site has everything students need to know about managing money without the migraines: student finance explained, insider info on careers, plus ways to save and scrimp without the stress.