The Landlord Guide To Student Properties
Becoming the landlord of student properties may seem daunting, but fear not! Our guide will help you step by step on the way to increase your portfolio.
Turn a property into a student let
Turning a property you own into student accommodation can be a financially savvy move. Whilst there are some stereotypical misconceptions about students not paying their rent on time and causing damage to properties, the reality is students can be a good choice when it comes to renting out a house or a flat. There are certainly many benefits from a landlord’s point of view, some of these include:
- Strong demand: Student housing is not subject to the same variations as the standard rental market, this is because the need for student accommodation is consistent. Student intakes at universities stay relatively stable every year, which means the demand for accommodation once the university year starts is sure to be there.
- Tenancy stability: A student tenancy typically lasts for 12 months, usually from summer to summer (before the term starts and after it ends), so there will be less upheaval in terms of trying to find new tenants at different times of year.
- Having a guarantor: It’s very common and advisable to insist that every student living in the property has a guarantor who agrees to pay that student’s rent if they default on it in anyway. This way you have a financial safety net in case one of the students can’t pay.
- Earning potential: Student accommodation can maximise a property’s earning potential. A four bedroom house for example means four rental incomes per month and may add up to more than that and you could charge for a single family of four.
- Cost saving benefits: As students know they will only be in the house for set period of time, and will move on at the end of term, they tend to mind less about furniture being outdated or not classed as modern. This means you don’t need to spend a lot of money filling the property with mod cons and keeping it looking visually up to date.
What students expect in the property:
Student tenants will often expect a property to be fully or at least part furnished, especially given they will not own much furniture themselves. For example, they would typically expect to have the following items included as part of the tenancy:
- Washing machine
- Fridge and freezer
- Desk and chair for working
- Living room:
- Sofa and chairs
- Other basics
- Hoover/cleaning products
Will I need different insurance if I am renting to students?
Yes, a standard home insurance policy would not be appropriate, you will need student landlord insurance which is designed for anyone renting a property to students. It’s important to let your insurer know that you rent to students because this will more than likely impact the type of features you need and your premium as well. From an insurance point of view, student tenants are often seen as a higher risk than some other types of tenants.
This is for a variety of reasons, mainly because there are often more individuals sharing the property. Other reasons include these types of tenants renting accommodation for shorter periods of time which means they are less likely to notice issues that might develop, such as damp for example. They are also often likely to have more people in the house and staying over.
What will student landlord insurance cover?
When you are taking out your student landlord insurance policy, you can adapt it as much as possible to your needs and what you believe you will need covered as part of your policy. For example:
- Landlord buildings insurance: Pretty standard - this element of the policy pays to repair or rebuild your property if it’s damaged because of an insured event. Buildings cover also protects fixtures and fittings like kitchen cupboards, bathroom suites, pipes and drains. Insured events typically include things such as floods, fires, storm damage, subsidence, theft and vandalism.
- Landlord contents insurance: This covers you for any damage done to any items that you provide as part of the tenancy agreement (such as carpets, fridge, washing machine etc). Student tenants will be responsible for taking out their own individual contents insurance to cover the items they own and bring into the property themselves.
- Landlord liability insurance: This covers legal fees and compensation if someone blames you for injury or damage to their belongings because of your property.
- Unoccupied property insurance: Covers your property should it be empty during the holidays.
- Rent guarantee insurance: Compensates you if your tenants stop paying their rent. Given each student should have a guarantor anyway, this just provides an extra level of protection for you.
Other types of policy add-ons to consider with student landlord insurance are legal expenses cover, malicious damage cover and landlord home emergency cover.
How can I make my investment go as far as possible?
There are always ways to make your money go further with student accommodation. If you have two downstairs reception rooms, one of these rooms for example could be turned into an extra bedroom. This is quite common, and you often see houses in student towns with a bedroom downstairs that would normally be a larger living room for example if it wasn’t student accommodation.
As we touched on earlier, furniture also doesn’t need to be top quality and can be budget. Many student properties use older or second-hand furniture, or inexpensive basics from places such as Ikea. The only concessions need to be that mattresses should be in good condition with mattress protectors fitted to all beds being strongly advisable, and upholstered items must be fire-rated to ensure they are legally compliant and safe.
Simple, plain blinds fitted in each room are also a good investment and can be picked up cheaply for places like Argos or eBay for example.
With regards to the white goods that you will need to provide as part of the tenancy, buying extended warranties that cover repairs/replacements is also something worth considering. Most appliances these days don’t last more than a few years, and in a student house, they will suffer a lot of wear and tear and extra use from more people than in a standard property. So, in the long run, extended warranties could end up saving you money.
One final point to consider when thinking of going down the student landlord route, is security and crime figures. Crime rates in student areas are often higher than average. Thieves often try entering through open windows and back doors. Student houses are also often full of expensive tech items, such as computers, phones and TVs for example, so student houses are often easy targets for thieves. Older buildings with less secure windows and doors are an easier target as well.
Whilst you can’t force students to lock doors and windows, you can ensure external doors and windows are as secure as they can be. Simple measures like a secure main door to the building, security lighting will help students feel safer. It will also reduce your insurance premiums and act as a deterrent if the building visibly looks secure and well lit.