Tips on renting your property to students
The 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.
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