For some us it feels like the summer just started. Temperatures are soaring and the days are still long as ever. But the sad truth is that the dogs days are already winding down. After college, sometimes it seems all that September brings is the merciful end to wedding season, but during those carefree school days, it means back to school. And if you’re a landlord with a property near a college campus, the first signs of fall probably have you salivating, too. Renting to students can be lucrative and desirable in a lot of ways, but before you put out that For Rent sign, it’s a good idea to spend a few minutes brushing up on what it takes to rent to students. Pay attention: this will be on the test.
While there are plenty of college students who work their way through school on their own, there are plenty more who have at least a little bit of help from mom and dad, especially when it comes to housing. This means that even though the students will be the ones using the shower, the parents will be the one footing the bill, so you have to be sure to appeal to everyone. Parents want a place for their kids that is not only affordable, but also clean and most importantly safe. If you’re showing a rental property to the parents, be sure to emphasize these things before mention the Thursday night Happy Hour around the corner.
We’ve all heard it before: kids these days just communicate differently. When it comes to renting to college students, this means that you and your property need to be on the cutting edge of technology. If your building is wired for high speed Internet, definitely mention that. If you accept payments via PayPal or electronic transfer, most kids would like that, too (do kids these days even know how to write a check?) And if you exchange cell numbers with your tenants, you can expect to get a lot more text messages than phone calls. Of course, we know one easy way to update your building’s technology: start accepting online applications with RocketLease. But enough with the shameless plugs.
Intro to Economics
As we already mentioned, the students that you rent to may or may not be paying their rent themselves. This means that your lease should be absolutely clear as to who will be held responsible should payments be delinquent. God forbid a college student has a falling out with his or her parents and starts spending their rent money on beer. Additionally, many college students don’t have a solid credit history (simply because they don’t have a credit history at all). These can be good reasons to make a parent co-sign on a lease. This means that everyone will be held responsible if the rent isn’t paid on time, which protects you as well as your tenants.
Just as there are plenty of students paying their own way, there are many quiet, studious, and responsible college students across the country. That being said, Animal House was not entirely fictional. College students are definitely more like to make noise and to make a mess. Dealing with this possibility before they move in is your best bet. This means putting your volume rules in a lease, in no uncertain terms (like, no people on balconies after midnight or whatever standard that is right for your property). This way if the issue ever comes up, you have in writing what they agreed to. The same holds for property destruction. The worst case scenario is that your student tenants completely trash your property and do not make any effort to clean when they move out. Be sure that you collect a security deposit (within the legal limits, of course) that will cover you if this happens. While you may be able to take legal action if there is not enough of a deposit to repair your property, it is much better to already have that insurance rather than have to wade through the messy legal system.
Renting an apartment or house to college students can not only contribute to their learning, but can also improve your neighborhood in general. As long as you take proper precautions to protect yourself and your property just in case they get out of hand, you may find your property to come into high demand with every new class, which means every landlord’s dream come true: no vacancy.