A guide to student lets

News at Stirling Ackroyd | 16/09/2019


A guide to student lets

Letting property to students can be a great option for landlords. Demand is high in certain areas, and tenants usually stay in the same place for the agreed period of time.

In this blog, we share our top tips for landlords looking to let property to students.

Why the student market?

If your property is in a university town, you can be pretty confident that demand will be consistent and yields will be strong. Students will usually stay in the property for a minimum of 12 months, which will provide you with greater security. 

Letting to students also means you can plan more easily as tenants will be looking for a property in January for the next academic year (September).

What kind of property do I need?

As students like to live in groups, try to find a property with a minimum of three bedrooms. Large communal spaces where tenants can hang-out are also a plus, as well as more than one bathroom and outdoor space. The location will matter, so try to make sure the property is within a commutable distance to campus and that your tenants can jump on a local bus route. Parking may not be needed unless the town doesn't have good public transport links.

Do I need a licence?

The majority of student properties are a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) due to their size, which means each property needs a license from the local council. An HMO is a property rented by at least three people who aren't from ‘one household' but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen. If the following applies to your property, you'll need an HMO licence:

•    it is rented to five or more people who form more than one household

•    some or all tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities

•    at least one tenant pays rent (or their employer pays it for them)

Even if your property isn't an HMO, you may still need a licence depending on the area, so always check with your council. Once you've obtained a licence, it's usually valid for a certain period of time, such as three or five years.

Comply with health and safety

Renting to students means you will have a higher number of responsibilities than if you rented to a single household. Make sure you comply with all safety regulations relating to fire, gas and electricity, as below:

Gas safety

•    make sure gas equipment is safely installed and maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer

•    have a registered engineer do an annual gas safety check on each appliance and flue

•    give tenants a copy of the gas safety check record before they move in, or within 28 days of the check

Electrical safety

•    make sure the electrical system is safe, e.g. sockets and light fittings

•    check all appliances they supply are safe, e.g. cookers and kettles

Fire safety

•    make sure you follow safety regulations

•    provide a smoke alarm on each storey and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a solid fuel-burning appliance (e.g. a coal fire or wood-burning stove)

•    check there is access to escape routes at all times

•    make sure the furniture and furnishings are fire safe

•    provide fire alarms and extinguishers if the property is a large house in multiple occupation (HMO)

Also, as the landlord, you may be responsible for the maintenance of the communal areas, such as hallways or any outdoor spaces.

Attract the right tenants

One of the first queries a potential student tenant will ask is whether the property has good broadband access and if utility bills are included. It might make sense to include certain supplies in the rent, so your tenants don't have to set-up new agreements at the start of each tenancy. Including these costs in the monthly rent also means you won't end-up chasing for any unpaid utility bills after your tenants have moved out. 

Students will usually expect the property to be fully-furnished, including white goods such as a washing machine, fridge/ freezer, cooker and microwave. They'll also expect basic furniture such as beds, sofas, a desk/ chair for each bedroom and wardrobes.

Carry out reference checks

Once you've found your prospective tenants, make sure you go through all the usual reference and credit checks before agreeing to a tenancy. Remember that students might not have rented a home before, so might not have some of the typical information, such as a reference from a previous landlord. In some cases, it might make sense to ask for a guarantor as a back-up (such as a parent).

At Stirling Ackroyd, we include Rent and Legal protection as part of our Fully Managed Plus service as standard. With this cover, landlords can be safe in the knowledge that if something does go wrong, we've got your best interests covered.

Develop a good relationship

Although students are adults, many of them will not have rented a property before. Before they move in, make sure you walk your tenants around the house, explaining how everything works. Pass over an emergency contact number, as well as a number for any maintenance issues – but make it clear when to use both. You don't want your tenants telling you about a leak too late, but you also don't want them calling you out-of-hours for something minor that can be fixed the next working day. 

If you establish a good relationship with your tenants, they are more likely to stay another year or recommend the property to their friends.

Talk to an expert

Our lettings team at Stirling Ackroyd have vast experience of letting to the student community. If you're looking to let out your property, email us today or call 020 8036 5800!