The start of a new year brings with it the annual rush of students looking to secure accommodation for the next academic year. With that in mind, here are our top 10 tips to get your property ready for student tenants.
1. Time your student let
Student lets revolve around their own calendar year which runs from September through to July. Peak viewing times are January to March. Summer is a quiet time as most first year students will move in to halls. Plan accordingly to reduce your downtime.
2. Get permission
If you have a mortgage, you will need permission from your mortgage provider to let the property. You may be required to change the mortgage you have in place.
3. Decide who will manage the property
You generally have two management options. Do it yourself, or use a letting agent to manage it for you. Student lets can generate more maintenance and administration issues than letting the same property to a family. This needs to be considered, do you have the time to manage it yourself?
4. Buy the right insurance
Landlords insurance isn’t the same as normal home insurance. It covers you against the risks of letting the property to tenants. You can buy bundled buildings, contents and tenants liability insurance to keep costs down. It’s also prudent to purchase Rent Guarantee insurance to guarantee your rental income if your tenants default on their rent.
5. Sort out council tax
Landlords pay tax on empty properties, but have a 6 month exemption if the property is unfurnished, longer if the property is uninhabitable i.e. no kitchen or bathroom. Full time students don’t pay council tax, but have to apply to the council for an exemption.
Tenants including students, pay council tax on homes let under a single tenancy. They must make their own arrangements with the council for exemptions.
Landlords pay council tax for HMOs and generally collect the money as an add on to rent.
6. Finish and furnishings
Think about whether you want to furnish your property, or leave it unfurnished. Figure out what students want from their home and if possible, give it to them. Check out accommodation websites to get some ideas. Remember the property isn’t your home, it’s your business. Tenants want empty rooms that they can make homely themselves.
- Paint walls rather than paper. It’s cheaper and easier to maintain.
- Tile or laminate kitchen and bathroom floors. This will make them easy to keep clean and replace when needed.
- Carpet halls, stairs and landings to reduce footfall noise.
- Good security is a must.
7. Make sure you comply with your legal duties and obligations
The property needs to be maintained to the same standard as that on the first day of the tenancy. You need to ensure:
- Gas and electrical fittings meet safety standards.
- You maintain the structure of the building.
- You look after internal fittings like baths, showers, sinks and kitchen units.
- You service and repair heating and hot water systems.
8. Set the rent
There are a number of ways that you can get a feel of what rent to charge. You could start by looking at properties which are advertised by letting agents who specialise in the student market. You could also speak with the Students' Union to get an understanding of the rent that students are prepared to pay. Finally, head on over to Accommodationforstudents.com, where you’ll find a comprehensive guide to average rent. Pick comparable properties within half a mile of your property to compare.
9. Advertise your property
Advertising your property is one of the most crucial aspects of being a landlord. When thinking about how to market a property, consider your audience – what will they respond to? Be specific and include clear pictures showing both the inside and outside of the property.
10. Gather information on the area
Students like to live in a neighbourhood with other students within easy travelling distance to campus and the town centre. Knowledge of this will help secure the best tenants and answer any queries.