Renting to students is something that a lot of landlords get nervous about, particularly if we’re talking about first-year university students. But in university towns like Reading, students make up a huge chunk of the rental market. And really, students have gotten a bad reputation over the years (thanks to the actions of the minority), which isn’t really deserved. In reality, renting to students is simple – you just need to do a little prep work, know what unique problems you may face, and be ready for them.
The Student Cliché
It’s a common cliché that if you rent to students, they will inflict a lot of damage on your property, throw wild parties, annoy the neighbours and forget to pay rent. While 1% of students may be like that, it’s not fair to put all students into that category. Most students will be spending a significant portion of their loans and income on their rent or accommodation costs, so are much more likely to view it as an investment – something to take care of. And to a student who is low on money, losing their security deposit often isn’t an option.
That being said, we do know that renting to students does come with its own unique set of issues. But there are ways you can minimise them with fairly minimal effort:
Lay Out Your Expectations For Maintenance: For a lot of students, this will be their first time living on their own, which means they won’t necessarily know what to do in terms of property maintenance. While a traditional tenant may understand things like garden maintenance, gutter clearance and drain maintenance, a student might be left in the dark. So you need to make it clear exactly what you expect from them in terms of home and garden maintenance for the property. This means spelling it out, with instructions if possible, and being as specific as you can. You’ll also need to provide any tools needed for garden work, if there is one.
Create A Set Of Rules: Write up a list of rules for your property. Include examples of what they can do, and a very definitive list of what they can’t do, along with the consequences for breaking the rules. You may also want to create a list of rights - both yours and theirs – if this is their first time renting.
Be Transparent: If you’re renting to students, you can’t be an absentee landlord. Be completely open with your tenants about what you can (and will be willing) to do to help them. Be proactive, from letting them know you’ve secured their deposit to responding to their questions promptly. This will help build trust and likely make them better tenants.
Be Reliable: When you say you will do something, stick to it. Because for every story you’ve heard about nightmare student tenants, the students have heard one about nightmare landlords as well. Prove how reliable you are early on, especially in the first month or so of the tenancy. This will help them feel secure in the property, earn their respect and encourage them to return the favour.
Communicate: Clear communication is key to any good landlord/tenant relationship. If you want to do regular checks on the property, or need to do maintenance, you need to communicate that with your tenants. You also need to communicate what you expect from them, and what they can expect from you clearly, without any of the legalese of contracts in the way. If you wanted, you could arrange regular, casual check-ins with your tenants to catch up and check that everything is OK, and give them a chance to ask questions or raise issues before things become more of a problem. You can’t force them to do this though, so be careful – they do have the right to peaceful enjoyment of the property after all.
Consider The HMO Option
A very common worry for students is that something will go wrong with their housemates, rather than the house itself. This can lead to all sorts of problems and difficulties in managing the property that can ripple down to you as a landlord (even though you can’t do anything about them). To avoid this, you could consider the HMO route, HMO stands for House of Multiple Occupancy, and essentially means that you rent individual rooms to individual students, rather than one unified household. This means that your tenants are only responsible for their own rooms, pushed them to be more responsible for their own money, credit scored and actions, and makes replacing one tenants much easier if something goes go wrong with a friend group.
At Northwood we work with a lot of landlords who are looking to rent to students in the Reading area, sometimes for the first time. We can help guide you through the grey areas and let your properties successfully to students time and time again. If you would like more information about renting to students, just get in touch with the team today.