The how and why of renting to college students is a practice that deserves special attention and precautions and is the maintenance checkup from Keepe this week.
In most cases, properties located on or near college campuses are extremely profitable.
As new students come and graduates go, the need for practical housing remains.
Most college-age renters prioritize proximity and accessibility to convenient transportation when looking for a place to live in while attending school. Also a large number of universities report a growing trend for graduates to remain in their college towns as opposed to relocating home whenever possible.
Simply put, being able to cater to a local student demographic can almost guarantee continued demand from new renters. And, in high-demand locations where the number of students looking for housing surpasses availability of affordable or available properties. This means a property without particularly appealing features or amenities can still be feasibly rented.
The pros of renting to college students
- Low vacancy – properties located nearby colleges attract a steady stream of prospective renters. As new students join the university and graduates depart, there will always be students looking for housing that allows them to live nearby their school.
- Leveraging value – while this changes from college town to college town and is largely dependent on the overall size of the student body of a particular university, in most cases homeowners and/or property managers can easily demand higher rent prices for properties that would typically be worth for far lower (as far as size, amenities and special features are considered). In high-demand years, in which a particularly high number of students is looking for off-campus housing, it is possible to tailor rent to demand and secure particularly high profits.
- Necessity – students are rather low-maintenance. Their top priority is their ability to easily travel to their university and be able to enjoy greater freedoms than they would in their family home or in a college-owned dormitory. Keeping college-age tenants satisfied should be fairly easy and does not require being able to offer a property with high-end features.
The cons of renting to college students
- Turnarounds – If a landlord or property manager wants the stability of having a long-term renter, students are unlikely to fulfill this expectation. For most properties, it is rare enough for the same renter – or group of renters – to live in the same property for all four years of their college experience. Most renters only stick around for one school year at a time.
- Inexperience and Immaturity – college students are new to renting. They have no rental history or references to evaluate. They often do not know what committing to a lease really means.
- Lifestyle – college students may be inconsiderate of their surroundings as they are too busy with school or enjoying themselves a little too much. They can throw parties or play loud music. Keeping the space clean and tidy is not a priority for many of them. They can compromise the actual conditions of a property.
- Damage – their unique lifestyle brings wear and tear. A property viewed by tenants as a very temporary space can lead to it being damaged by accidents or disregard.
5 maintenance tips for renting to college students
If you are a landlord or property manager who thinks renting to college students is a good idea, here are some helpful maintenance tips to consider:
1. Demand Higher Deposits and Guarantees: when it comes to opening a property to unreliable tenants, it’s definitely better to be safe rather than sorry. Higher security deposits and even the involvement of parents or guardians who can co-sign to cover repair costs is one of the best ways to stay protected.
2. Rethink Pet-Friendly Policies: for some college-age renters, being able to own their very own, first pet is one of the freedoms they seek alongside independently living in a place of their own. While allowing pets in a property – even with a higher security deposit to match – can make it stand out as the ideal place for pet-loving students, it can easily increase the gravity of damages that might occur. Younger pet owners are not always the most responsible. Remember they are busy with academics and extracurricular interests. Think twice about your pet policy and college students.
3. Invest in Regular Checkups: schedule regular maintenance checkups. It is the best way to avoid suddenly finding damage at the end of the lease. Do not wait until the very end of a tenant’s occupancy period to check. Tenants should be informed from the start of their occupancy that seasonal checkups and inspections will be performed in the property. This will help holding them accountable.
4. Structural Upgrades Come First: when thinking about upgrading or touching-up a certain part of the property – especially as a part of a “rental turn” – it’s important to think of what would be most helpful in adding an extra line of protection for the property. While tenants might love a brand-new stove, your money will probably be better spent turning a “damage-magnet” – like carpet flooring, which is prone to stains, discoloration, bad odors and tears – into a low-maintenance, practical feature.
5. Consider a New Maintenance Solution: with inexperienced tenants come a lot of emergencies, from accidental damage to practical, everyday concerns. Some tenants might have no idea how to operate a garbage disposal system or change a lightbulb. This cam mean frequent calls for help. Property managers overseeing a large number of properties will likely benefit from relying on a maintenance professional who can be on-call and step in when needed.
Summary on renting to college students
College students remain a one-of-a-kind tenant demographic that should not be underestimated. Their age, lifestyle, and overall needs are all important factors that a homeowner and/or property manager must take into consideration.
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Keepe is an on-demand maintenance solution for property managers and independent landlords. The company makes hundreds of independent contractors and handymen available for maintenance projects at rental properties. Keepe is available in the Greater Seattle area, Phoenix, San Francisco Bay and San Diego areas.