Letting to students: What’s not to like?
Students are like marmite, some landlords love ’em while others wouldn’t let to undergraduates if they were the last tenants on the planet.
The problems with students are numerous: they don’t have a guaranteed income, they often haven’t scraped together enough for a deposit. they are usually young (and therefore reckless) and they’ve often never lived away from home before so they might not yet be house-trained.
However, say what you like about students, there’s an awful lot of them around, so if your property is close to a college, you’ll have a large pool to choose from. I’ve let to students and I’ve found that they’re not much worse than any other tenants except they’re usually a bit messier, they generally ignore the ‘no smoking’ rule and they’re frequently late with the rent (especially at the start of the academic year when they’re waiting for their student loans).
On the plus side, they’re not as fussy as other tenants, they don’t require fancy fixtures and fittings and en-suites, and they complain very little. However, they do need furnished accommodation, so you’l have to provide the basics, and fast reliable WIFI is more essential than oxygen! If you haven’t installed it already, I’ve found Talktalk offer the best packages, although it’s painfully slow to set up.
If you want to let to students, you can ask them to provide a guarantor – usually a parent, though it doesn’t have to be – to guarantee their rent. You need to make sure the guarantor lives in the UK and you should run a credit check to verify they can afford the rent if their son/daughter defaults.
The guarantor may also be able to provide a deposit if you require this as an additional guarantee.
If you are letting to several students on the same lease, the guarantors will each be responsible for the entire rent, which gives you a fair bit of protection.
Make sure the guarantor(s) signs the tenancy agreement or a Deed of Guarantee. If using the latter, make sure this is signed BEFORE the tenant signs the tenancy agreement and remember their signature must be witnessed.
Make sure you have an inventory of the property and all the contents prepared by a third party and get the students to sign it when they move in.
You should also have a detailed tenancy agreement, making it clear that they must leave the property in the same condition when they move out. You must have a written agreement if you any of the tenants have a guarantor.
If they’re paying a deposit (see below), you could crank this up to cover for any additional cleaning required at the end of the tenancy.
Even if you don’t feel comfortable letting to young under-graduates, don’t completely rule out letting to students. More mature post-graduate students, who could be working while studying, might be a safer bet.
Where do you find student tenants?
In order to let through a university’s accommodation office your property might have to tick lots of boxes, such as desks in every bedroom and a decent size eat-in kitchen plus a separate living room.
However, you can find student tenants privately, you don’t need to let via the universities or colleges. Before you do, make sure your mortgage on the property permits student lets and don’t forget to inform your buildings and contents insurer too.
Students always required fully furnished accommodation, but it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Buy stuff from Argos or Ikea, but make sure all your furniture and fixtures and fittings are robust and easy to clean and maintain. For example, go for darker tiles and grout in bathrooms. And make sure you carry out regular inspections because you can’t rely on students to tell you if something’s wrong, unless it directly affects them, they won’t notice a problem.
So to recap, when letting to students you should:
- Ask for a guarantor to guarantee the rent
- Prepare a detailed inventory of the property and contents
- Provide a written tenancy agreement
- Ensure all furniture and fixtures & fittings are robust.