Are you a landlord looking to rent to college students for the first time, or are you a veteran and need some fresh tips on renting to college students?
By Beatrix Potter
Investing in property can be an exciting business venture that you might enjoy as a sideline for extra income. For novice and experienced property investors alike, the prospect of student tenants may be somewhat terrifying. After all, we have all heard horror stories about damaged property and upset neighbors. Done right though, student rentals can offer high returns.
Research the demand for renting to college students
There are more than 5,000-plus colleges in the United States with an annual enrollment of 19.9 million students each year, more than half of whom do not live on campus or in purpose-built student accommodation. It is fair to assume that there is a rental market near you waiting to be tapped into.
Full disclosure: You are not the only one considering renting to college students. An increasing number of investors are tapping into the student market. Before applying for your application to rent to students, find out if your college town is one of those that has become saturated with private student rentals. If it is, it could provide more of a challenge. Local real estate agents and the universities themselves are useful resources to help gauge demand and to help you navigate residential laws.
Are Students Bad Tenants?
With the exception of their first year living on campus, many students coming your way may not have lived alone before. You are not the first landlord to worry about how responsible they will be with your property. Take comfort from the fact that if all students were as terrible as urban myth would have us believe, the student rental market would not be as popular an option as it is.
Anticipate problem student behavior with a water-tight tenancy agreement, good renter’s insurance, and a thorough screening process. Check all references and consider taking on a property manager who will keep an eye on things for you.
What Student Renters Want
When it comes to furnishings and finishing touches, students will be less particular than most tenants. They are not looking for high-end, they are looking for a place that offers convenience and independence. For you, this means that there is less expense involved in the setup of your property.
A student’s ideal rental property is near campus. They want to roll out of bed and be in class within 15 minutes. Failing that, they will look for a place near bus routes or cycle routes, making study time in the campus library easier.
Some things that your new young tenants will not compromise on are hot water, laundry facilities, and wifi. Consider putting in more than one tub, make sure your boiler is up to date, and set them up with a decent internet provider to keep them happy. Happy tenants are less likely to disrespect a property.
Worried they won’t pay? Your student tenants will most likely be receiving rental support from one of two places: their parents, or student loans. Make sure that all tenancy agreements require a parent to co-sign and that you have the contact details of all parents and guardians.
There are upsides to student rents that you may have not considered. Those with parental support may pay in advance; offer this as an option straight up. Renting a shared property means multiple rent checks; is this an inconvenience? Maybe. But it also means that even if one of the tenants falls behind, you are not 100 percent out of pocket, as you will have the payments from the other tenants.
Students look for short-term rentals. During the summer months, you could experience a lull or you could use the season to bring in some extra cash flow. International students coming in ahead of the next school year may arrive early, or they might be attending summer school on campus and need summer accommodation. Contact the international student office of the college and let them know your property details for any students arriving. Other options include intern agencies and language schools; get to know them all.
Pitch Your Property
Lastly, advertise your property in the right places. There are websites and college-specific sites that will let you advertise directly to the audience you are looking for. Good old-fashioned flyers on campus-notice boards are surprisingly effective, as is good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. Also, advertise frequently, not just during the lulls. Letting people know that your house or apartment will be available in the summer or in the next school year could prevent the stress that comes with an empty property.
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