Guide to letting to students
Letting to students can be lucrative, but you must do your homework. Follow these top tips for buy-to-let success in this sector
- Choose the right area. When it comes to accommodation, students tend to gravitate towards areas where other students live, and it makes sense to concentrate your focus on these areas. Check out the public transport links to the campus; walk around an area and get a feel for how ‘student-friendly’ it is. Are there plenty of pubs, takeaways and shops?
- Choose robust furniture. Rightly or wrongly, students are not known for taking great care of the places they live in, so it makes sense to opt for sturdy old second hand furniture rather than flimsy flatpack options, regardless of how cheap the latter may be. Also go for surfaces and flooring that are easy to clean and durable.
- Shower power. Buy a property with a shower rather than a bath, or install one if you have to. A shower is more practical in a shared house, and easier to clean. What’s more, students keep a close eye on the bills and prefer to pay to heat enough water for a shower than a bath.
- Manage it yourself. If you live close enough, it can make sense to manage the property yourself and build up a decent relationship with your tenants. Many of them will not have been away from home or out of halls before, and may not know how to cope with even basic domestic problems such as a blown fuse. They are likely to appreciate a helpful landlord and this can also help to build word of mouth recommendations for your properties in the future.
- Use a registered agent. If distance or time commitments mean that it is impossible for you to manage the property, make sure you use a lettings agent who is registered with the Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA) to run it for you. That way, you have recourse if anything goes wrong.
- Register with the University. The cheapest and most surefire way to attract tenants is to register with the local university(ies). Their accommodation offices often provide a free property finder services and you may well find the most organised students this way.
- Join a landlord organisation. This can help you keep up to date with the constantly changing legislation as well as giving you the chance to share information and experience with other landlords. These groups can also provide access to cheaper insurance and tax advice, for example.
- Take your duty of care seriously. You should give your tenants a folder containing information such as student and landlord responsibilities, location of fuse box/electricity and gas meters/water mains in the house, fire safety, rubbish disposal, pest control, cleaning standards and emergency telephone numbers.
- Provide a comprehensive inventory. This document should be a detailed list of all of the contents of the property, its decoration and condition at the time of letting, so that any loss or damage can be claimed for when the tenants move out.
- Consider a guarantor. All landlords are obliged to take a deposit from their tenants and pass it on to a Tenancy Deposit Scheme*. For added security, you could arrange a guarantor agreement, which is signed by a parent. It can make particular sense to have a guarantor agreement in place if you are renting to overseas students, to prevent an extreme dispute ending up in a foreign court.