If you are thinking of renting a property to students in Bristol you have chosen a thriving market in which to operate. With two universities and around 45,000 students there is a plentiful supply of tenants.
Before diving into our specific tips it is worth considering a few basics. Students tend to prefer central locations over the suburban to be close to their friends (and other students), and to have good public transport links. They (or their parents) will expect certain standards, but are likely to have lower expectations than young professionals or families: for instance, they will not normally have a problem with a bedroom that has been converted from a living room.
Tip 1 – Advertise your student accommodation early
Many student rentals begin in July so students may be looking for next year’s accommodation as early as November or December this year. Get your property advertised by December 2013 to have the maximum exposure for the 2014/15 academic year. You can call Gough Quarters on 0117 329 0039 to discuss getting your property to market.
Tip 2- Prepare a student home information guide
Most students will be relatively wet behind the ears when it comes to living away from their parents. Things that you take for granted may present far more of a challenge to them. Therefore compile some information to smooth their way; things like where the fuses and stop taps are, tips on securing the property if they are leaving for the end of term, some useful local telephone numbers, and their responsibilities as tenants. The smoother life is for your student tenants, the less likely you will encounter problems further down the line.
Tip 3- Ensure you comply with the law as a landlord
If you are renting a property to students there is a good chance it will be classified as an HMO (House in Multiple Occupation). For this you will need a licence from Bristol City Council. A booklet on HMOs in England is available here.
As a landlord you will be legally responsible to your tenants for gas safety. Duties include repair and maintenance, an annual gas safety check and keeping a record of each check.
Tip 4 – Take simple measures to protect yourself
As a demographic students are a segmented bunch and come with their own set of pros and cons when renting property to them. More often than not it will be the parents paying the bills, so some engagement with them will be beneficial. We insist that they act as guarantors for the rent and take contact details for them in the unlikely event that their offspring are too unruly.
If renting to a group of students it is best to insert a ‘joint and several liability’ clause. This will offer you some income protection if one of your tenants leaves mid-way through the contract as the other tenants will be liable for the rent or finding a new tenant.
Before each letting take a detailed inventory of the property’s contents and condition (including photographs) and ask your new tenants to sign it. The majority of students will present no problem but if you do have any issues when they leave the property this will prove useful.
Tip 5 – Choose an ARLA (Association of Residential Lettings Agents) agency
Finally, if using a property management company ensure they are an ARLA qualified agency like Gough Quarters. The property lettings and management industry is currently unregulated, meaning anyone can set up shop. By choosing an ARLA qualified agency you can rest assured of high professional and service standards.