Deposit Protection Service
5 secrets of great student landlords
13 September 2019 1947 Views
It’s that time of year again when pencil cases are fully stocked and the smell of dusty books opening fills the air. That’s right - students are starting university. Whether you’re a new landlord or a seasoned veteran, you’ll know renting to students can be very different from renting to professionals or a family.
The general rules of renting will still apply, but if you’re the owner of a property in a prime student location, there are some simple things you can do to make your tenancy run smoothly.
1. Get every tenant there for the check-in and check-out
Differing schedules, hometown visits and part-time jobs, all mean your tenants could be hard to tie down. It’s very important however, that everyone is aware of when important house events are happening.
This includes the check-in and check-out, the inspections (see our next point) and any repairs you may need to carry out. A good way to do this is a WhatsApp group, a group email chain, a private Facebook group – whatever you need to guarantee every tenant has written and photographic evidence of what has happened during the tenancy. This will be invaluable when and if any problems or disputes arise, because these communications and images will have date stamps on them.
Most importantly when everyone is there, remember to get the check-in and check-out report read and signed by everyone.
2. Keep on top of inspections
As a property that’s more likely to experience the effects of vivacious youth, it’s good practice to inspect your property around four times a year. Make sure this is part of your tenancy agreement, so tenants know to expect a visit. Also make sure everyone is aware in the run up to the date and on the day itself via your group communication so everyone has a chance to be around and give you written permission to enter the property. This is not only a good way to stay on top of any problems before they get out of hand, it’s also a chance to build a rapport with your tenants.
3. Make your property fit for purpose
Student houses can be busy places and some small practical changes to a ‘normal’ house can make a big difference to keeping your property in good condition. Make sure carpets and sofas are hard wearing and in practical colours. Provide a hoover and a lawnmower or include the cost of a cleaner or a gardener in the rent. It’ll make your property more appealing and give everyone peace of mind the house is going to remain at its best. Paint the walls in easy-wipe paint and consider laminate flooring in communal areas.
4. Make sure students are aware they are jointly responsible
With most joint tenancies, students will be responsible for damage in the communal areas as well as their own room. They may not be aware of this, and clear communication can be the simple step that ends any guesswork or finger pointing. You should make sure they’re aware before they move in that obligations are ‘joint and several’ - meaning if one person refuses to accept responsibility for damage, or when something goes wrong, it becomes the joint responsibility of all the tenants. If the tenants have signed individual tenancies then it may be harder to claim for damages to the communal areas
5. Consider if you need a HMO license
Houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs) are properties that are rented out to three or more people who do not form a single household (such as a family) and who share facilities such as a kitchen or bathroom. If one person decides to leave half way through an academic year, each tenant being responsible for their own deposit and contract is far easier to deal with. HMO licenses are legally required for some properties, so check the government website here to see if it applies to you.
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