If your rental property is in a college community, it would make sense to rent to student tenants primarily. However, while it can be a lucrative choice, it can also be filled with problems – after all, you’re renting to tenants who’ve never been on their own before! In this article, we’ll provide a couple of tips on how to manage a South Florida rental property that’s rented to first-time student tenants.
1. Post Your Property Online
Can’t decide where to post your rental property? You can’t go wrong with the internet. Websites such as Facebook and Craigslist are your best bets, as these are where your tenants will likely be. Remember that about 88 percent of students use Facebook, so it makes sense to connect with them on channels that they’re sure to use. That way, you won’t waste your time and money posting your rental property on sites that they don’t visit.
Try to work with universities, as well. In some cases, they will allow you to post your property on their website (but only if they approve it). Your property management company can help you identify schools that would probably be willing to partner with you.
2. Stick to the Same Screening Process
Yes, they’re students – but that doesn’t mean you need to “go easy” on them. When a student shows interest in your rental property, be sure to apply the same screening process that non-student tenants are subject to. Ask them to complete a rental application, provide proof of employment (or at least proof that they can pay their rent), and more.
Evaluating student tenants can be challenging, which is why it’s a good idea to delegate student tenant screening to a property manager. They can identify the red flags and choose tenants that can pay their rent promptly, and who will care for the property as if it were their own.
3. Require a Co-Signer
One of the most common concerns you may encounter during the screening process is that your student tenant is unemployed. When there is no way to tell how your tenant can pay their rent, it can be difficult to determine whether or not they will be able to pay on time month after month.
The solution would be to get a co-signer. A co-signer is someone who assists a student tenant in paying their rent when they can’t pay for it on their own. Don’t forget to screen the co-signer in the same way you would with the student tenant. The co-signer should be able to prove that they can pay rent on time (i.e. they should be employed), should the student tenant be unable to.
4. Go Over the Terms of the Lease
One thing to note if you’re renting to a student tenant is that they’re inexperienced. This is the first time they’ve lived on their own, so don’t expect them to be experts. There’s a good chance that they aren’t aware you’ve got expectations, either.
With that said, before you agree to rent to a student tenant, go over the rules and regulations. Be absolutely sure that they know what they can and can’t do, should they sign the lease agreement. That way, they can consider if they can “live with it”, or if they’d rather rent elsewhere. For instance, if you have a clause on visitors, you should clearly inform your tenant that you’ve set a limit on how many consecutive days a visitor can stay.
Go over the consequences of a lease agreement violation, too. For instance, if there is a fee for late rent payments, inform them. (But remember to follow local laws, otherwise, you will be in trouble).
5. Collect Rent and Communicate Online
College renters will be tech-savvy, and they’ll want the convenience of doing everything over the internet. Besides, they’ll probably be too busy with schoolwork to attend to rental-related matters in person. To save time and attract student tenants, consider accepting online rental applications, screening tenants online, and collecting rent through a tenant portal.
When you provide convenience, you can convince tenants to continue to rent with you for years to come. In other words, you can reduce tenant turnover, and provide your tenants with the convenience that your competitors don’t have.
6. Update Your Amenities
As a rule of thumb, your rental property should be better than a dorm room. Besides the typical “contents” of a dorm room (such as a bed, microwave, and more), your rental property should be a cut above the rest. It should, for example, have an in-unit washer and dryer to allow your tenants to do their laundry on their own time, and from the comfort of “home”.
Your tenants won’t be home at all times, but for the times that they are, be sure to offer all of the features they’d need. For instance, it should have an office, as well as an open space to throw parties (if you allow parties, anyway).
If you don’t know what your tenants want, partner with a property management company that does. A property management firm from South Florida monitors the market to make sure they continue to provide tenants with the modern-day conveniences they’re looking for.
7. Maintain Open Lines of Communication
When renting to student tenants, you need to be prepared to extend your patience and lower your expectations. Don’t be surprised if they forget their rent is due, or if they often fail to clean the rental property. They will need to be reminded of their responsibilities often, so be prepared for that, too.
With that said, it’s important to maintain an open line of communication with your student tenants. In that way, they can contact you in case they have concerns and vice versa. Be sure to provide your tenants with your mobile number (and your property management company’s number if you’ve partnered with one). Tell them that they should call you or your property manager in case of any concerns, such as a leaky faucet.
Calls from tenants can be annoying, but tenants who call a lot are better than tenants who are too scared to report repairs.
If you decide to rent to student tenants, outsource property management to a property management company in your area. At Luxury Property Care, our experts are prepared to deal with the headaches that come with renting to student tenants. Partner with us so that you don’t have to do the heavy lifting.