Landlord Tips

School’s Out

David Rutland
Written by David Rutland

Letting to students can be as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. Make sure you’re doing it right.

Every city is a university city, it seems. And many places in the UK have more than one. Liverpool has three, Manchester has four, and shockingly, London has somewhere in the region of forty. Even Oxford, which boasts the oldest university in the world, boasting dozens of individual colleges, also has Oxford Brookes university – a separate institution for students who want the Oxford experience but didn’t manage to get the A levels.

Right now, there are 2.3 million students in the UK, most away from home for the first time. That’s almost 3% of the entire population, and naturally, they need to live somewhere.

Letting to students seems like shooting fish in a barrel. They’ve got grants, loans, guaranteed rents, and low standards. University student accommodation is a single room with a shared kitchen and toilet facilities. Maybe a kettle, too. It would be super easy to let your three bedroom house on a per room basis. You could probably even get away with reducing the size of the bedrooms to cram even more students in there!

But as with many things in this vicissitude of motion and rest which we call life, the reality is not so simple.

Here are four things you need to take into account when letting to students.

Parents

They’ve raised their child from an infant, catered to their every need, and lavished them with love and affection. When their chick leaves the roost to set up a nest of their own, parents are going to want the best for them. If you think you can get away with substandard decor, facilities, or furnishing just because you’re letting to students, think again. Students may not have high standards or know what to expect from their digs, but parents will, and if it doesn’t meet with their expectations, they’ll tell their offspring to look elsewhere.

Term time only

Yes. The rental income from a nicely done student property can be pretty good, but students tend to rent only for the academic year. September to May or June. Granted, you probably need some time to redecorate after your property has disgorged its inhabitants for the summer, but bear in mind that you won’t be making money from them during this period. Why not let it on AirBnB during the downtime?

Guarantor

If movies have taught us anything, it’s that students left on their own will throw wild and irresponsible parties before embarking on unlikely adventures, which may or may not involve serial killers. There will be drinking, dancing on the tables, playing music too loudly, and annoying the neighbours. There will be the lingering scent of cigarette smoke and other substances in the curtains. And there is a very real possibility of your furniture being smashed, and beds being broken by overly energetic students.

Will the security deposit cover the damage caused by your exuberant tenants? Perhaps. Always make sure there’s a guarantor, because damage does exceed the value of the deposit, there’s no way in hell you’re getting the difference back from someone who’s already £20k in the hole and doesn’t have a job.

Students are people too.

They’re noisy, they’re poor, and they haven’t yet learned to behave themselves in a responsible manner. But university students aren’t children, and you’re making a mistake if you treat them like they are. As a landlord, you can’t behave like a parent. You can’t go into their rooms without an invitation and 24 hours notice. You can tell them to keep the noise down, but you can’t stop them from having parties.

Like their actual parents, you have to learn how to back off and let these almost-adults do their own thing.

 

Image credit: Nottingham Trent University

About the author

David Rutland

David Rutland

With a decades long career as a professional writer, David Rutland has worked as a journalist on local, national, and international newspapers, before embarking as a career as a freelancer.

He has ghostwritten several books, as well as producing travel guides, manuals, humour articles, and more internet blogs than you can shake a stick at.

David maintains offices in East London, but spends most of his time in a shed near Liverpool, where he writes, as well as developing apps for Android.

What people say about him:

Arrogant and abrasive - Alan Davis, Editor in Chief North Wales News Group

An absolute liability - Matt Simms, Editor, Vale advertiser

Are you sure this won't get us all arrested? - Mohana Prabhakar, Editor in Chief, Apex News Group

Go and have a shave. You're all prickly - Mrs Donna Rutland.

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