by Ben Luxon September 18, 2019 5 min read

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Understandably renting to students makes people a little bit nervous. There is a certain stereotype that comes with students. In a word: messy.

We have all been in a student house which looked like it was a scene from an Avengers battle. Like Thanos himself had strode through the living and kitchen areas laying waste indiscriminately.

This would be off-putting to the most hardened of landlords. Yet, there is a big market for student housing and if managed properly student housing can be lucrative. 

This being said, managing student housing does come with a few quirks and some additional responsibilities.

Student Profile

A student is an individual who is enrolled in a college or university. They can be taking undergraduate classes or enrolled in a master's program.

The majority of students are undergraduates between the ages of 18 - 24. They are away from home for the first time and still learning how to live alone. Those enrolled in masters programs are generally older and the age range is more varied as many people go back to school later in life to complete a master's degree.

One of the major differences between renting to students and renting to employed adults is income. Most undergraduates go to school full-time and may supplement their income with some part-time work. We will explore what this means later in the article.

renting to students

Why would you consider renting to students?

  • High demand for rentals with new renter candidates each year.
  • Potentially higher rents because of strong demand and multiple renters per unit paying higher total rent.
  • Rental payment security because parents often make the payments, and might pay for a full semester upfront.
  • Easily filled vacancies due to word of mouth.
  • Students may tolerate less well-appointed units and complain less because they've never lived in their own place before.

What are the downsides of renting to students?

  • Possible property damage and pest infestations from careless student tenants.
  • Evicting students for non-payment of rent may leave the unit unrented until the next school year starts.
  • May have to contend with renter turnover every year.
  • Competition from a high supply of other rental properties may require lower rents to attract renters.
  • Harder to screen student renters because they lack any rental or work history.
  • Students may disregard lease terms such as noise constraints, frequent visitors. and too many occupants living in the unit.
  • Units may be difficult to keep occupied during the summer.

Things to consider when renting to Students

Use A Co-Signer

Screening student tenants can be a bit of a challenge the reason being is most won’t have credit and they won’t have an employment history or a previous rental history. It can be difficult to know if a student can or will pay.

To ensure this doesn’t become a problem make sure you get a co-signer on the lease for each student who will become responsible for paying the rent should the student prove unable. 

Often a family member will agree to be a co-signer on the lease to help a college student secure housing. When you add a co-signer to your lease, be sure you screen the co-signer the same way you would a normal applicant. They will be financially responsible should the student not pay rent, therefore, you need to know that they are qualified to take on that responsibility.

Communicate The Terms Of The Lease Clearly

Your students probably aren’t that well versed in what being a tenant entails. Make sure you go through key points of the lease with them to ensure they understand their responsibilities towards the properties and the consequences for breaking the lease agreement.

The stronger the lease you create and the better you communicate the terms of the lease, the less chance you have for miscommunication. Be sure, though, that your lease adheres to all local laws and regulations.

Furnishings

Students won’t have their own furniture. Which means furnished properties are popular. When it comes to furnishing your student rental keep the following in mind:

  • Student houses suffer extra wear and tear

It’s appropriate then to ensure you buy quality, durable furnishings to reduce the frequency of replacing furniture, but do not buy expensive furnishings. This furniture will likely need to be replaced no matter how durable it is after a while and expensive furniture will be damaging to cashflow.

  • A place to study

Students are (hopefully) focusing on their studies whilst living in your property. It makes sense then to ensure they have a place to study. Enough desks and chairs for all occupants, for example.

student renters studying

Appealing to Student Renters

1. Location: The top of the list of desired features for a student's house is the location. And you’ll actually see but location actually makes spots 3 and 7. Your property should be close to campus first. Students party late, have lessons at irregular hours (many will skip the occasional class) and they don’t want an hour-long commute. 

2. Affordability: As we mentioned before students often aren’t working, or if they are they are working part-time. What this means is they won’t have the cash-flow to rent somewhere expensive. Making sure your property is affordable then is key if you want to appeal to student renters.

3. Access to Public Transportation: A lot of students don’t have cars. This means the only way for them to get around is by using public transport. Having easy access to public transport networks to take them to campus or downtown will be a major plus.

4. Safety: For many, this is the first time living away from home. Both the parents and the student will want to make sure that the property is safe. Make sure the property is in a low crime neighborhood, there are locks on windows, deadbolts on the front door, and locks on each bedroom door.

5. Private Area: People want their private space. This is especially true for college students who likely spent their first year sharing a room. Having private rooms is a major plus then, rooms that allow students a little privacy to get their work done.

6. Laundry: Whilst not a necessity, many students - the same with most renters - prefer the convenience of an in-unit laundry machine.

7. Neighbors: The final point is about location again. Simply put, students prefer neighborhoods where other students are located. 

Final Words

Renting to students can be profitable. There is high demand and often they aren’t as fussy about the quality of the property as other tenants might be. 

However, make sure you take proper precautions by getting a cosigner that has the financial capability to cover the rent should the student fall short. And make sure your students understand the details of the lease and the consequences of breaking the terms of the lease.

Ben Luxon

"Ben is a co-founder, author and real estate enthusiast. His interest in all things entrepreneurial has led him to work with real estate professionals all over the world, distilling their knowledge into articles and Ebooks. His love of travelling has taken him to over 10 countries in the last year, where he has sampled the craft beer of them all."



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