The student population is bigger than it has ever been. Despite the rising costs of tuition and housing, more young people are seeking to study a form of higher education once they finish school. If you own a second property or are interested in property investment or development, this can present an opportunity. Many people that inherit a large house, or own a second house in a student town are tempted to let it out to the student population.
It can be ideal and a great way to make money. New students arrive every year, all looking for somewhere to live. Turnover is high, sure, but the demand is constant, and the UK student housing market is booming. Tenants are easy to find and keen to move in, yet they don’t actually spend that much time in the house and can be gone for weeks at a time.
It’s not all positive, however. Find the wrong tenants, and you can find yourself with expensive repair bills, substantial cleaning costs, and hours spent answering phone calls and dealing with queries and complaints. When things are really bad, you can find yourself spending time with the police or council. So, it’s essential that before letting to students, you take time to research the market and fully understand the risks. Here are some tips to help you to let your property to students successfully.
Handle Viewings Yourself
It can be tempting to let an agent handle everything, and there’s certainly no shortage of student letting agents out there. But, even if you choose to find help with some areas of your let and your responsibilities, it’s a good idea to handle some things yourself.
Arrange to show prospective tenants around your home yourself. This gives you a chance to show them the house and explain any details of the contract. But it also means that you can get to know them. At this stage, it’s important that you remember that while you are showing your home in an attempt to attract tenants, you are also interviewing them. It works both ways. It’s probably fair to say that prospective tenants will be on their best behaviour during viewings, but you’ll still be able to get a feel for them and their personalities. Chat with them as you show them around, ask about what they are studying and their home life. Try to get to know them a little, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Learn to trust your instincts on these early impressions, and don’t feel like you have to let your house to the first person that comes along. If they don’t seem suitable, there will be others.
Build a Relationship with Your Tenants
As a landlord, promoting a positive relationship with your tenants is essential. They are much more likely to look after your property, and even stay on for another year, if they respect you as a landlord. It can be hard to get to know them when you have so little direct contact. But, make sure that you are fair and approachable when they have queries and questions and generally try to keep your relationship friendly.
Other touches, like a welcome pack with some essential supplies, local information, and public transport timetable, and a Christmas card, can go a long way.
Lay Down the Ground Rules
Your tenants need to understand that while it is your property, they have specific responsibilities to look after it while it is in their possession. You can’t just drop by unannounced, but you can visit with notice and permission. Schedule routine checks on the property and use any call outs that your tenants make as a chance to check the general condition of your house.
The tenancy agreement should be explicit that money will be taken from the deposit for any damage above fair wear and tear, and you might want to add a nuisance clause to prevent loud parties that could upset your neighbours.
Know the Law
If you are going to rent a property out, it’s crucial that you understand the law. Know about deposit agents, landlords insurance and tax, your rights and responsibilities, as well as any licenses that you might need if you are letting your property out to a group of people with a communal area. Knowing the law makes your job easier and protects you later on.
Furnish the Property Well
Most students look for furnished properties. It can be tempting to furnish cheaply, but it’s often more cost effective to buy sturdy, plain but stylish furniture. Make a trip to Ikea for the essentials before looking for tenants.