As schools around the country are now back in full-swing, it’s likely that you have a college student or two as tenants in one of your rental properties, or more likely, a few. According to the College Board, 44% of college students live in off-campus housing. Though some property managers may be a little bit nervous about renting to college students, there are some things you can do to protect your investment and still provide housing to students in your area.
What are college kids looking for when it comes to housing?
If you think all college students want to live in the big white frat house from “Animal House” where parties happen 24/7, think again. A lot of college students are hard workers, determined to make good grades and many of them even hold part-time jobs while also hitting the books and even hitting the gym or intramural sports. Here are some amenities that most college students look for in off-campus housing:
• Close to campus or at least easy, quick access to the nearest bus station.
• Affordability. Students are typically working with pretty small budgets. That means they are likely to split their rental with roommates to cut costs. Check out the rates of what similar properties are renting to students for and stay competitive with those rates in order to attract students to your property.
• Laundry. Having a place to do laundry close by to home is a luxury that most college students dream of. If you can offer this to student tenants, whether it’s onsite or in the actual unit, you will have students knocking at your door to sign a lease with you.
• Safety: Whether it’s studying at the library at all hours of the night or coming back from a late party or leaving for class before the sun comes up, students tend to keep schedules that have them up at all hours of the night or day. That’s why safety is another important factor that they look for when searching for a place to live. Make sure your property is well-lit and has dead-bolt locks in addition to a safe and secure place for the mail.
Pros of renting to college students
• High demand for rental properties among students
• You can charge higher rent prices since it’s likely that more than one student will be living in each unit
• You will likely receive stable rent payments from either a student’s financial aid or from a parent or grandparent
• There is a strong likelihood that will return year after year to your property while they are in school and even after
Cons of renting to college students
• Students have limited if any credit, rental and employment history so it might be harder than usual to gauge whether they will be good tenants or not. You can always require a cosigner if this is the case in order to protect yourself.
• College kids are loud and do stay awake much later than the average Joe. Try implementing a “noise clause” in their lease to let them know off the bat you’re serious about noise complaints.
• Summer vacancies. Since most students will take off for the summer, you may be worried about not being able to secure year-long leases with student renters. Try incentivizing them to sign for a full year with discounts, credits and other fun incentives that a college student would deem worth the extending lease (maybe a washer and dryer?). Since students make up a large population of a lot of metropolitan cities, it’s likely that you will encounter a student that wants to rent your property at some point. Be prepared and ready to work with them on any concerns you may have and you might find that renting to college students isn’t so bad after all.