Tips on renting your property to students

Alex Johnson

mortarboard 300x250 Tips on renting your property to studentsThe student lettings market is enormous, but many people are wary of dipping their toes into it. “Letting to students is attractive in many ways,” says Ian Potter, Operations Manager, at The Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA) . “Term lengths mean void periods can be kept to a minimum and university towns offer a wealth of interested tenants. However, this type of let does have to be managed carefully.”

So for example, Potter points out that students are more likely to need rental guarantors, and maybe character references if it isn’t possible to meet prospective tenants face-to-face. Here are ARLA’s top tips for any landlord looking to let to students:

1. Don’t underestimate the length of university holidays
Remind incoming tenants of their obligations if they are likely to be away for extended periods of time during their tenancy. A thorough check to ensure electrical devices are switched off and that doors and windows are locked before leaving the property should be clearly stipulated in the tenancy agreement. This will minimise the chance of problems arising over extended Christmas or summer holidays.

2. Let with the experts
As there are no restrictions on who becomes a letting agent, for peace of mind, seek advice from a lettings agent affiliated to a professional organisation like ARLA. All ARLA licensed agents must adhere to a strict code of conduct, as well as offering client money protection and redress schemes, which protect all parties if things go wrong.

3. Better Together
One simple measure to protect yourself from tenants moving out unexpectedly is to write a joint and several liability clause into any tenancy agreement. Requiring a parent or guardian to sign a guarantor form also acts as a welcome level of security since most student tenants will not be consistently earning money.

4. Protect your property
Students don’t always have the best reputation as tenants. While in many cases this may be unfounded, always ensure you protect yourself by filling out a comprehensive inventory. This should list the fixtures and fittings within the property as well as detailing their condition and the property itself.

It is also a good idea to take a thorough photographic record of the property’s condition at the start of the tenancy. Any photos should be jointly approved by yourself and all tenants. Separate copies should be retained by both parties for transparency. A well put-together inventory provides useful evidence to protect both the landlord and tenant in the event of a dispute.

5. Have your paperwork to hand
Student unions offer comprehensive advice on renting so don’t be surprised if students ask to see gas safety certificates and/or a copy of the property’s EPC. The latter is becoming ever more important as the rising cost of utility bills affects student budgets.
Useful web sites for more information

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  • Mary Latham

    My top tip for those who are considering letting to students is check with the university when their students are booking their properties for the coming year.  I have seen so many people buying properties and advertising them in June and July or even later when most students have signed up by Janairy for the coming July.  In some areas, like Birmingham student properties are let as early as December for the coming July.You could end up with an empty property for a year if you advertise too late.

    Some landlords will charge full rent from July and others half rent but most of us with begin the contract from 1st July to avoid paying Council Tax during the summer if no AST is in place. These days many students actually occupy from 1st July because they are working in the area where they study but even those who go away for the summer will won’t to leave a lot of their belongings in the property. VERY important to make sure that you know if the property will be empty because burglers often target student areas during the summer and some Insurance campanies will not cover you for long periods without occupation.

    Students are great tenants, I have been letting to them for 40 years, but be realistic in your expectations – they don’t learn to be good housekeepers overnight and may need some tips to avoid falling out with you at the end of the tenancy. The rental income from a student let is much higher than most other lets and landlords need to take account of that when they are considering withholding money from deposits.  My experience is if you give them space to enjoy their time in your property and treat them with respect – they are our customers regardless of their age – be fair with their deposits, do not invade their privacy and you will enjoy many years of regular rent and lovely people

  • eSterling Ltd

    letting to students can be very profitable if you have a good sized property, but they can of course be quite messy and irresponsible compared to the average renter… as well as taking photos, it might be worth getting a chartered surveyor to have a look round before and after, just so any structural damage can be easily dealt with as quickly as possible.

  • Imfuna

    Thanks for flagging up the importance of the inventory.  But it’s not just students who need an inventory!  All tenants deserve one!  The inventory is as much to protect the tenant as it is to protect the Landlord.  It’s healthy because of the transparency to all parties.

    Without an inventory, any tenant could remove doors, radiators, white goods, carpets, furniture etc. and the Landlord would not be able to prove that they had supplied these items at the outset.

    The outcome of the tenancy is decided at the beginning, by setting up a professional AST agreement and inventory … not at the end.

    A digital inventory app such as Imfuna is a great tool for a Landlord who self-manages or for lettings agents and inventory clerks.

    It date and time-stamps photographs, which is vital for evidence if a dispute does arise.

    Students do like to party, so an inventory is a must … We recently heard of a case where some partying students let off a fire extinguisher and played indoor football causing significant damage in the property. The inventory would have protected against that and provided redress for the LL at the end of the tenancy.

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