Swot up on the subject of letting to students
Tissues will be at the ready in the next few weeks, as parents across the country prepare to cut the apron strings and send their teens off to university. But before the frolics of freshers’ week and the nitty-gritty of studying begins, the first hurdle many students have to cross is to line up somewhere to live.
As well as being a potential minefield for tenants, student accommodation can be an ordeal for landlords too. The good news is that if you’re thinking about buy-to-let for the student market, following these simple steps can help to make the process rewarding for everyone involved.
1. Business first. Don’t expect to sign contracts and sit back with your feet up for the year. Being a landlord, especially to students, is a business. Prepare yourself to be on-hand to sort out problems and gripes, keep all paperwork for the taxman and make sure you have easy access to relevant documents such as your gas safety and Building Regulations Compliance certificates.
2. Holiday time. Don’t forget that student holidays are lengthy and tenants are likely to be away for extended periods during the tenancy period. Making it clear in the contract that your tenants must ensure the property is safe and secure when they leave – doors and windows locked and appliances turned off – will help put your mind at ease.
3. The full package. The first thing students look for in accommodation is fast, reliable broadband, with three quarters requiring ample storage space and almost 72 per cent wanting a rental price that’s inclusive of all bills.* Sacrificing a lounge to squeeze in an extra bedroom will put off many, as social space is important to more than half of students. Make sure you cater for your prospective tenants.
4. Cover yourself. It’s crucial to have adequate buildings, contents and landlords insurance in place. To minimise the risk of disputes, make a full and comprehensive inventory – take photographs too – and get all tenants to agree it and sign.
5. Liability leverage. What happens if your tenants can’t pay the rent? Asking for guarantors can secure your rental income, and adding a ‘joint and several liability’ clause to your contract means you can rightfully claim unpaid rent from any remaining tenants – or their guarantors – should another one move out unexpectedly.
6. A partner you can trust. Anyone can become a letting agent, so make sure you’re working with a team that’s registered with the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) – like Michael Graham. Being ARLA licensed means we operate to a strict code of conduct, and offer client money protection and redress schemes, so you can be assured that you’re protected should anything go wrong.
To speak to one of our letting experts to find out more, visit our ‘contact us’ page here.
* Rightmove (5 June 2014) “Top tips for landlords of student accommodation”;
http://www.rightmove.co.uk/news/articles/top-tips-for-landlords-of-student-accommodation. Last accessed 3 September 2014.