There are lots of different steps to becoming a landlord, and your experience of renting a property to students will be very different to that of a landlord who only rents to professionals. Property portal, StuRents.com, has pulled together some top landlord tips to help you prepare for becoming a student landlord - from purchasing a student property to getting it ready to market to student tenants, and all the paperwork that goes with it!
1. Buying the property
Buying the right property takes time, and you could spend anywhere between six weeks and five months to find the perfect property within your price range. If you’re planning on renting your property to students, remember that student house-hunting is seasonal, and a lot of undergraduate students will be starting to think about housing from approximately November onwards ready to move in the following September. With this in mind, you don’t want to leave yourself in the position of having a house renovated and ready to rent after most students have already found their house for the next year, as this could result in an empty property for your first year as a student landlord.
2. Understand the rules for HMOs
While many family homes require more living space, many student landlords convert any second lounges or spare rooms into bedrooms to accommodate more tenants – thereby increasing their rental yield on (for example) a standard three bed by up to 33%, by offering a four bed option instead.
If you're planning to rent to groups of individuals, rather than families, your property may be considered an HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) and require a licence before you can accept tenants. Your local authority can tell you if you need a licence and may also inspect your property to make sure it meets certain standards for repair, maintenance and cleanliness as well as fire safety.
If you do require a licence, they may also insist that your property meets certain standards before you can let. These standards will most likely include things like fire safety measures, sinks in rooms and rules regarding the use of locks on bedroom doors.
3. Draw up a tenancy agreement before finding new tenants
Before you start refurbishing and marketing you’ll need to be legally ready to take on student tenants.
Make sure you’ve got your contracts and agreements written up before you find your tenants - there are many templates available out there including government templates, so this shouldn’t take much time at all. Some universities also provide a standardised tenancy agreement to ensure the wellbeing of their students.
The majority of student landlords require each tenant to have guarantors in place to financially guarantee the rent. This is often a parent or guardian based in the UK. A guarantor agreement will also be required alongside the tenancy agreement. You should expect this process, including signing by all tenants and guarantors involved, to take a few weeks.
Once the contract is signed, if you have requested a security/damages deposit then you will need to meet statutory requirements to register this deposit with one of the three regulated and approved schemes.
Find out more about tenant referencing.
4. Working on the property
It's a common misconception that students are happy to live in less luxurious conditions. Just like anyone else, students like to create their own environments that feel like home. Allowing them to do this in their accommodation will build a trusting relationship and help them settle in.
While you may have to make some compulsory improvements (such as installing fire extinguishers in an HMO), you may also want to do a bit of work on the property to maximise your potential rental income and make your property more desirable to prospective tenants.
Increasingly property owners are opting to provide televisions inclusive in the rent, and ready-to-go Wi-Fi as an attractive student proposition – for students, moving into a house without internet can mean a wait of 6-8 weeks before getting connected, which is less than ideal during term time.
If your property isn’t student ready, you may need to schedule in some time for renovating. If you’re not sure where to start, read our 10 tips to prepare your property for students.
5. Get your property seen
Once your property is ready to market, you’re going to want to get as many eyes on it as possible – as soon as possible.
There are some ideal student-focused letting agents in the market who know exactly when and where to market your property. They will also be a major help in managing the flow of viewings, which can be hectic in the busy season. Factor any management fees into your income calculations to help decide whether this is the right approach for you.
You can also engage with the university to find out more about letting your property to students, as some students’ unions or universities will have their own letting agencies set up to support student house-hunters. Failing that, it could be as simple as placing your property advert on a well-positioned notice board on campus to get your property seen by the right audience.
6. Handing over the keys
Before the tenants move in, evaluate the state of the property and draw up an inventory that confirms the condition of any fittings, fixtures or furnishings. You could also take photographs of all rooms to keep track of any loss or damage incurred during the student’s residence.
Make sure the inventory and photographs are signed off by the students upon arrival as well to minimise the risk of deposit disputes when the tenancy comes to an end.
If you’re feeling particularly generous, you could also provide tenants with a ‘welcome pack’ when they arrive. This could contain helpful information about the local area, as well as information on how to maintain the property – such as where to find the utility meters.
Student landlord insurance
If you’re letting to student tenants, you may find that your standard landlord insurance won’t provide sufficient cover while the property is unoccupied during university holidays. Endsleigh provides landlord cover for student lets, with up to 120 days unoccupancy cover!
This post has been contributed by StuRents. StuRents has been listing student accommodation in the UK for free since 2008 and lists over 160,000 bed spaces across all major university towns and cities.
Last updated: 27 April 2020