Renting to Students: 6 things you may not know
The life of a student studying abroad – or in town and wanting that full post-secondary experience – often starts with finding a place to live for the school year. Many students accept university offers miles away from their hometown, and looking for a place to call home can be both exciting and daunting. As student rentals will always be a necessity, planning on handing your keys over to a group of young scholars may be a profitable move with the academic season almost upon us.
Of course, advertising units to students comes with different priorities than multifamily rentals geared toward business professionals, seniors, or families. Here, some important things to consider-- straight from the mind of a student who has rented from multiple landlords and property management companies in multiple units.
Include utilities in the listing price.
Budgeting as a student is a tricky mission when university prices cost nearly as much as a down payment, considering additional costs for books, tutors, etc. Thus, it can be appreciated when the price displayed online for a rental is honest and exact.
“When I was first looking at rentals, I was more likely to sign a lease that included utilities and was one fixed price per month, rather than one that stated that utilities were an additional cost. Knowing that I didn’t have to worry about multiple payments per month was just one less thing on my loaded student to-do list” says Cassie Wolfe, English major at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo.
Providing utilities and charging for them goes a long way with students, who are more likely to pick a fixed-price unit than one that has additional fees.
You can get away with charging extra for an 8-month lease in your listing price.
“8-month leases are so hard to find. So, if a landlord charged extra for an 8-month lease, I would probably never know” Wolfe says. Most students do not stick around for the summer when renting, and don’t want to have to worry about subletting their unit. Having flexible leasing terms is important to consider when leasing to students who are looking for options. Still, there are always people looking for 4-month rentals in the summer, so there is usually no problem finding occupancy.
Cleanliness goes a long way.
Hiring cleaners for the in-between periods of renters is definitely worthwhile. No matter how temporary, renters want to feel at home, and that their living quarters have been, and will continue to be, hygienic.
“When touring rentals, my friends and I tried not to be biased toward the way the current residents had set up the unit-- but definitely were paying attention to the general upkeep of the house, such as the paint, lights, plumbing, etc.” says Wolfe.
Offer larger units for co-living.
Generally, students want to apply for units in groups of 2 or more. “After first year, there was a group of us looking for a place to live together. I was always looking for 5-bedroom apartments” Wolfe says. While it doesn’t hurt to invest in several units varying in size, the number of bedrooms being sought out by students is usually the key words they type in the search bar, ie. “5-bedroom unit in Waterloo.” Thus, you’re more likely to succeed, and profit more greatly, with multi-bedroom units than one or two bedroom ones.
Friendliness and transparency matters-- you matter.
Students are smarter than you may think. Whether getting information about who they should or should not be renting from through parents, former students, or online reviews, it is important not to think students can be easily fooled simply because they are less experienced. “My friends and I were always wary of landlords that seemed to withhold information, or even lacked kindness,” Wolfe says. “We knew we would be communicating with our landlord for a long time, and so we hoped, of course, for a kind and trustworthy one.” It pays to be respectful to students; social media is an outlet for young adults, and can impact the ability to find future tenants.
Don’t forget tenant insurance.
Student rentals involve certain risks and responsibilities of their own. Include tenant insurance in your policy, and disclose the monthly cost to the tenant before they sign. Go the extra mile by talking through the benefits of keeping tenant insurance, and what it means for them. This conversation could be the difference between a 100-page essay and a water-logged laptop. You want to make sure there is coverage for your property and the student’s belongings if the unit experiences significant damage or accidents within the unit. If you’re looking for a way to make sure your tenants are insured and are not cancelling their insurance, LeadManaging can point you to a solution that will help easily track this.
As a landlord, you have the ability to make a students’ first “personal space” one of both productivity and relaxation. A simple, pleasant transaction rather than an intimidating one. When catered properly towards these young adults, student accommodations can be a fun and rewarding project.