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First Time Student Landlord? Don’t be a Fresher

By MIG: Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: June 14, 2012

STudents

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With more than half a million students applying for UK university courses starting at the end of the summer, the student lettings market is still thriving.

However, entering this market may be daunting for first time landlords, or those used to letting homes to professionals.

Ian Potter, operations manager at the Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA) said: “Letting to students is attractive in many ways; term lengths mean void periods can be kept to a minimum and university towns offer a wealth of interested tenants, however this type of let does have to be managed carefully.

“Students are more likely to need rental guarantors, and character references may also be advisable if it isn’t possible to meet prospective tenants face-to-face.

“Taking a pragmatic, sensible approach to student lettings is the best way to ensure both parties benefit from the arrangement.” ARLA’s top tips for any landlord looking to let to students are:

1. Don’t underestimate the length of university holidays

Be sure to remind incoming tenants of their obligations if they are likely to be away for extended periods of time during their tenancy.

A thorough check to ensure electrical devices are switched off and that doors and windows are locked before leaving the property should be clearly stipulated in the tenancy agreement.

This will help minimise the chance of problems arising over extended Christmas or summer holidays.

2. Let with the experts

As there are no restrictions on who becomes a letting agent, there are some unscrupulous agents who may not have a landlord or tenant’s best interests at heart.

3. Better together

While many students find friends for life at university, there are can also be a fair number of fall-outs.

As a landlord, one simple measure to protect yourself from tenants moving out unexpectedly is to write a joint and several liability clause into any tenancy agreement.

Requiring a parent or guardian to sign a guarantor form also acts as a welcome level of security, given that most student tenants will not be consistently earning money.

4. Protect your property

Students don’t always have the best reputation as tenants.

While in many cases this may be unfounded, always ensure you protect yourself by filling out a comprehensive inventory.

This should list the fixtures and fittings within the property as well as detailing their condition and that of the property itself.

It is also advisable to take a thorough photographic record of the property’s condition at the start of the tenancy.

Any photos should be jointly approved by yourself and all tenants.

Separate copies should be retained by both parties for transparency.

A well put-together inventory provides useful evidence to protect both the landlord and tenant in the event of a dispute.

5. Have your paperwork to hand

Student unions offer comprehensive advice on renting, so don’t be surprised if students ask to see gas safety certificates and or a copy of the property’s EPC.

The latter is becoming ever more important as the rising cost of utility bills impacts student budgets.

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