What to look out for when screening students09-08-2023 | Screening Process
There are certainly many benefits to renting to students. At the same time, there can be a few drawbacks that may put landlords off. However, if you screen your student tenants properly, you will know what to expect and you should be in for a smooth and stress-free tenancy.
Student housing in university towns and cities is in high demand, and there is usually a rush to secure housing every year. This means that you are unlikely to ever be short of tenants, so long as you are offering somewhere comfortable and affordable to live.
Due to high demand, advertising costs for your property are likely to be minimal since word of mouth in the student community is highly effective. Additionally, when renting to students, you will have nine months of guaranteed income during the school year, and there will always be tenants ready to take a room should any of your tenants drop out.
A fair deal of landlords renting to students hardly ever encounter any issues with tenants. However, it is not all positive. There are a few downsides to renting to students.
Students generally only want short-term lease agreements during university term times, leaving the summer months difficult to fill. Their lifestyle can also be an issue as there tends to be parties and noise, which can result in damage and complaints from neighbours. They are also likely to be inexperienced at living away from home and managing their own money. This could lead to problems with damage and cleanliness within the property and issues with them keeping up with the rent payments.
With this in mind, it is important to follow a screening process when dealing with students, however, you may come across issues when running a credit check. Students may fail credit checks, but this is not always a sign of a bad tenant. Bad credit has a heavy stigma attached to it in the world of renting, however, it is unfair towards young people who could well be perfectly suitable tenants.
Bad credit could be for a number of reasons, such as having never borrowed money, used a credit card or paid bills. Instead, it may be more beneficial to ask prospective tenants to provide a co-signer or guarantor who will be able to pass a credit check and pay the rent if the student is unable to. Similarly, it is a good idea to get solid contact information for the student’s parents or guardians in case you encounter any trouble with late payments or behaviour. They are often a good option to turn to resolve the problem.
It is advisable to screen students by using your common sense and ask all the relevant personal, practical and financial questions, such as when their university term begins and ends, whether they smoke and how many people will be living in the property. Be sure to meet them in person and show them around, taking note of their attitude and manners. First impressions are important and this should filter out any potentially unsuitable applicants.
Although you are free as a landlord to choose your tenants, there are certain questions that you cannot legally ask them. These include anything that could be interpreted as discriminatory, such as disability, national origin, religion and race.
Get yourself approved
As much as you need to trust your student tenants, they also need to be able to trust you. It is a good idea to become a university approved landlord. This is easy to do and a good way of attracting the right kind of tenants, who are also looking for a secure and trustworthy agreement. The more you can put them at ease, the better.
Look out for red flags
There are things to look out for when screening potential student tenants, both within the application and in person. If they cannot provide you with any references or if they omit important information on their application, then you should be wary. People who have nothing to hide, hide nothing and a good tenant should be able to answer all of your questions without hesitation. Similarly, look out for students who appear nervous about any background checks you may be carrying out or give you long winded stories about problems with previous landlords. They could also potentially be problematic tenants.
The student rental market can be profitable and valuable market and student renters can make great tenants. Be thorough in your screening process to ensure you find the right fit for your property.
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