Renting to students: everything you need to know

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Students will always need private accommodation, and with numbers increasing year on year, they are fast becoming a desirable tenant group.

Here’s our guide to renting your property to the student market with advice on rent, furnishings and repairs.

Why should I let to students?

Students are generally easy going, meaning that as long as you offer a clean, tidy and comfortable furnished house, letting to them is straightforward.

Usually, you can fit more students into a property than other types of renters. A three-bed house will often accommodate four sharers. So, by letting to students, you can make a greater return than you would with other tenants.

Other reasons for letting to students includes strong demand and the minimum of 12 months for letting. The student market is also quite steady and predictable, meaning you can get consistent income.

What are my responsibilities?

For many students, it’s their first time living away from home, so they’ll need a little guidance on how to live independently.

Try to be as helpful as possible and make yourself available when they move in or by phone to answer any queries they might have about what’s expected of them.

Providing a welcome pack with instructions for the boiler, heating and washing machine can help the students settle in and build their trust in you as a landlord. The more information you share up-front, the fewer panicked emails from cold students once winter hits!

Generally, the more attentive you are, the more likely they are to respect your property and keep it in good shape.

What furnishings should I provide?

Most student lets are ‘houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)’, and should provide, at minimum, three separate bedrooms, a kitchen and a communal living space, otherwise you’ll be limiting who you appeal to.

It’s unlikely that students will have their own furniture, so they’ll expect the house to be fully or part furnished.

White goods including a washing machine, fridge freezer and cooker are essential; it’s a good idea to provide other kitchen appliances like a microwave, toaster and a kettle as well. Make sure electrical appliances are PAT tested.

If you don’t want to spend too much money on communal furnishings such as sofas and chairs you can pick up bargains from shops such as Ikea or Argos, or even second hand. Something sturdy and reliable should last a few years before it needs replacing.

What should be included in the tenancy agreement?

Most landlords letting to students opt for a joint tenancy agreement where the tenants are responsible for all costs. This should protect you in case anyone leaves mid-term, as the other tenants will be liable for their share of the rent.

For many students, this will be their first time manging their own money so ask each student to provide a guarantor. This will usually be their parent or guardian and covers any rent or costs if the student is unable to pay.

Who pays council tax?

If you’re renting solely to students, then you won’t have to pay council tax for your property. Your student tenants must get an exemption certificate from their council so it’s a good idea to ask for a copy of this.

If you can’t prove that only students occupied your property, you’ll have to pay any outstanding council tax.

What if I receive noise complaints?

As with any other tenants, there may be friction with neighbours from time to time, and it’s important to deal with this as quickly as you can by speaking to the students in person if possible.

If you keep receiving complaints and decide it’s better to let your property to other types of tenants, make sure you have a clause in the tenancy agreement about noise and nuisance before asking the students to leave or there could be legal consequences.

As a last resort, you can report the students to the council environmental officer and serve a section 8 notice, which will allow you to end the tenancy.

However, make sure you have good reason to evict tenants. Now, Section 21 – ‘no-fault’ evictions – is banned, meaning landlords need grounds and evidence to evict.

Do I have any other responsibilities?

You still have the same responsibility to student renters as you would any other tenant, including: fire and safety obligations, pest control, deposit protection and any structural repairs.

Student lettings have a bad reputation when it comes to quality. The Renter’s Reform Bill 2022 legally demands that landlords provide The Decent Homes Standard.

The details of this haven’t been released yet, but it means giving all tenants in the private renting sector the legal right to a safe, warm home. This should, in theory, mean better, higher-quality housing for students.

Word of mouth between students is very persuasive, and once you get a good reputation within the student community, you should have no trouble filling your property for years to come.

If you’re a first time landlord then you can follow our Landlord checklist to make sure you’re ready to start letting your property.

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