Letting to Students: the Ultimate Guide for Landlords
Student housing is a growing industry, as universities see applicants in higher numbers than ever before.
Whilst it can be a really lucrative venture, letting to students also comes with many things to think about. We at Roome have created this ultimate guide for landlords, whether you’re considering letting to students or already own a student rental property.
Before you start letting to students, there are a number of legal requirements to consider:
- If you are letting a property to at least three students who will share communal facilities (toilets, kitchens), this is considered an HMO. You will need an HMO licence.
- You will need permission to let the property.
- You will need to verify that your tenants are full-time students.
- You will need to conduct a right to rent check on your prospective tenants’ immigration status.
Once the tenancy has started, you will need to do the following:
- Inform the council that your tenants are students, to exempt them from paying council tax.
- Ensure that your property is in line with legal requirements if it’s an HMO.
Duty of care when letting to students
Housing students will mean you have a few more responsibilities than the average landlord.
You will need to fulfil various safety obligations, such as ensuring that there is an accessible fire escape route, installing fire and carbon monoxide detectors on each floor being inhabited, and installing fire extinguishers or fire blankets.
Using a letting agency vs letting privately
When letting out a property to students, landlords will choose whether to do so via a letting agency or privately without the assistance of any third party.
In essence, letting agencies manage properties on the behalf of landlords, to help them fulfil all legal obligations to their tenants. This is the preferred route to letting for many landlords, due to letting agencies taking on many of the more difficult tasks associated with renting a property. However, there is still a good number of landlords who opt to let out their properties alone.
Choosing between becoming a private landlord or letting your property through an agency is a tough decision to make, but we’ll walk you through the pros and cons of each.
Letting as a private landlord will mean you taking on a range of responsibilities alone. For example:
- Advertising the property and arranging viewings
- Performing background, financial and right to rent checks on tenants
- Creating a legally compliant tenancy agreement
- Protecting deposits in a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme
- Ensuring the property is compliant with health and safety regulations
- Carrying out maintenance and repair works
A letting agency will assume many of these responsibilities for you if you decide to use one. Of course, this comes at a price. Letting agencies usually offer tiered services, so you can decide what they do and don’t deal with:
- Let-only – the letting agency will market the property, find tenants, take deposits, carry out the necessary reference checks, create tenancy agreements and write inventory reports. Once tenancy commences, the letting agency will withdraw and management of the property becomes the landlord’s responsibility.
- Rent collection – the letting agency will find tenants and collect rent payments each month.
- Full management – the letting agency takes responsibility for all aspects of managing the property.
Benefits of using a letting agency include saving time, and managing properties that aren’t close to where you live (as is often the case with student landlords). Some negatives are that it’s sometimes costly, and it can be hard to tell whether the letting agency is doing a good job.
Now to compare this to letting as a private landlord. Benefits of being a private landlord include cost-effectiveness and having more control. Drawbacks are that it’s more time-consuming, and it’s difficult to switch off as your tenants might call you at any time of day or on weekends if there is an issue.
What furnishings should a student property include?
Student housings are nearly always fully furnished.
For a property to be considered fully furnished, it must come with sitting space, a bed in each bedroom, a dining table and chairs, a cooker, white goods such as a fridge freezer and washing machine, and curtains.
Student properties should also include space for study, with a desk in each bedroom.
Any gas and electrical appliances that you provide will have to be compliant with safety regulations.
Tips on letting your property to students
How you manage your property will ultimately be dependent on whether you use a letting agency or are a private landlord. That being said, there are definitely some things that you can do as a landlord to make letting your property as plain sailing as possible.
- Understand that, for many students, this will be their first time renting
Many students will have just moved out of home, and will have never experienced renting a property. Bear this in mind when dealing with student tenants, as it might be confusing and overwhelming for them.
Try to provide your student tenants with useful resources, or direct them to the Roome blog where we have lots of tips and guides on all things student housing.
- Have the correct insurance
As a student landlord, it’s important that you have the right cover for yourself and your property. Standard home insurance might not be extensive enough for you. Consider investing in student landlord insurance to protect against loss of rent, damage to the property or its contents, and extended unoccupancy.
- Keep a good rapport with your student tenants
University students typically stay for three or more years, so if you find a good set of student tenants, it’s a smart idea to maintain a good relationship with them. This way, they can rent from you again or refer you to friends, and you will have the peace of mind in knowing that they are reliable tenants.
Using the Roome platform as a student landlord
Roome is revolutionising the student housing market. It is the first platform that brings together students, landlords and letting agencies to facilitate straightforward, hassle-free letting of student rental properties.
As a student landlord, Roome will be beneficial to you in so many ways. You will have access to a huge pool of students, which will allow you to save on your marketing efforts! Advertise your properties to thousands of students using the Roome website and mobile app, all for FREE as a private landlord.
Roome also saves you the hassle of arranging viewings with students. With our technology, students can automatically book viewings at a time that is convenient for you.
Tenants upload their guarantor’s details straight onto the app, so that there is no need for you to chase for information!
Roome offers a range of services to make student landlords’ lives easier, such as rent collection and protection, contract drafting, property management, and even photography and 3D modelling of properties.
Posted by Owen Redman
Co-founder of Roome