Letting property to students can be an excellent option. There’s often constant demand in certain areas and landlords can expect tenants to stay in place for the agreed period of time.
In this guide, we share our top tips for anyone looking to let property to the student market.
Why the student market?
If you own a rental property in a university town; you can be reasonably confident that demand will be consistent and yields will be healthy. Students will usually want to rent for a minimum of 12 months, which will provide you with more security.
Letting to the student market also means you can forward-plan as tenants will be searching for a property around January for the next academic year (September).
What kind of property do I need?
As students let in groups, aim for a property with a minimum of three bedrooms. Large communal spaces are also a plus, as well as more than one bathroom and outdoor space. Location is important, make sure the property is within a commutable distance to campus. It is a good idea to also check for easy access to any local bus routes. Parking might not be essential, unless it’s usual for students in the town or city to get around by car.
Do I need a licence?
The majority of student properties are a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) due to their size, which means they’ll need a license from the local council. An HMO is a property rented by at least three people who aren’t from one’ household’ but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen. If the following applies to your property, you’ll need an HMO licence:
- it is rented to five or more people who form more than one household
- some or all tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities
- at least one tenant pays rent (or their employer pays it for them)
Even if your property is smaller, you may still need a licence depending on the area, so always check with your council. Once you’ve obtained a licence, it’s usually valid for a specific time period, such as three or five years.
Complying with health and safety
If you’re renting to students, you will have a higher number of responsibilities than if you rented to a single household. Make sure you comply with all safety regulations relating to fire, gas and electricity, as below:
- make sure gas equipment is safely installed and maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer
- have a registered engineer do an annual gas safety check on each appliance and flue
- give tenants a copy of the gas safety check record before they move in, or within 28 days of the check
- make sure the electrical system is safe, e.g. sockets and light fittings
- check all appliances they supply are safe, e.g. cookers and kettles
- make sure you follow safety regulations
- provide a smoke alarm on each storey and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a solid fuel-burning appliance (e.g. a coal fire or wood-burning stove)
- check there is access to escape routes at all times
- make sure the furniture and furnishings are fire safe
- provide fire alarms and extinguishers if the property is a large house in multiple occupation (HMO)
Also, as the landlord, you may be responsible for the upkeep of the communal areas, such as the garden.
Attracting the right tenants
One of the first questions a prospective student tenant will ask is whether a property has good broadband access, and whether bills such as this are included. It might make sense to include certain supplies in the rent, so your tenants don’t have to set-up new agreements at the start of each tenancy. Including these costs within the rent also means you won’t end-up chasing for any unpaid utility bills after your tenants have moved out.
Students will usually expect the property to be fully-furnished, including white goods such as a washing machine, fridge/ freezer, cooker and microwave. They’ll also expect basic furniture such as beds, sofas, a desk/ chair for each bedroom and wardrobes.
Undertaking reference checks
Once you’ve found your prospective tenants, make sure you go through all the usual reference and credit checks before agreeing to a tenancy. Remember that students might not have rented a property before, so could be missing some of the typical information, such as a reference from a previous landlord. In some cases, it might make sense to ask for a guarantor (such as a parent).
At Townends, we include Rent and Legal protection as part of our Fully Managed Plus service as standard. With this cover, landlords can be safe in the knowledge that if something does go wrong, we’ve got your best interests covered.
Developing a good relationship
Although students are adults, many will not have rented a property before. Before they move in, make sure you walk them around the house, explaining how everything works. Give them an emergency contact number, as well as a number for any maintenance issues – but make it clear when to use both. You don’t want your tenants telling you about a leak too late, but you also don’t want them calling you out-of-hours for a non-emergency.
If you establish a good relationship with your tenants, they are more likely to stay another year or recommend the property to friends.
Talk to an expert
If you’re looking to let out your property to students and would like some advice email us today, or call 020 3911 3673. Our lettings team are experts at assisting with dealing wiht students lets and ensuring landlords and thier properties are compliant with the necessary legislation.