As the number of students of all ages attending University increases, so too does the demand for student accommodation. Letting to students can be more profitable for you than traditional lets, especially if you are situated around a university. This blog will discuss the basics of letting to students.
Getting your Property in Order
Properties are often looked at around January, so having your property prepared well in advance will help it to appeal to those looking for a student home. As standard all student lets have to meet the requirements laid out under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System monitored by local councils. Once your property has met the requirements you need to decide what type of Tenancy Agreement is best for you and your tenants.
Types of Tenancy Agreements
The most common tenancy agreement to use when letting to students is a shorthold tenancy agreement. Within this the two main types of contract are a joint tenancy agreement and an individual contract.
A joint tenancy agreement is one that holds all tenants joint and severally liable to the terms and conditions of the contract. This has the following benefits:
The law does not differentiate between tenants and instead sees only one tenant, i.e the group of tenants. Student tenants can be unreliable; if one tenant fails to pay the rent the others can be held liable for the discrepancy. This means that the guarantor is also joint and severally liable meaning you should not lose out on any income in the event of an individual disappearing or not paying rent.
The deposit can be treated as a single deposit made in the name of the pre agreed primary tenant.
Every tenant shares the communal areas so damage to any communal area is left to all tenants to disclose.
The second option you have when providing student housing is an individual tenancy agreement. An individual tenancy contract can be used when letting a whole house or apartment to a single tenant. However for the sake of this blog post, we will discuss them in relation to situations where multiple occupants are sharing the same property and letting room by room.
When contracting agreements like this it is important to include a joint responsibility for communal areas such as the lounge or bathroom. This differs from a joint tenancy agreement in the following ways:
Tenants have possession over individual rooms and are therefore only liable for damage caused to their room and communal areas, not to the rooms of the other tenants.
Each individual tenants deposit has to be taken and protected separately.
As there is no joint liability, if a tenant disappears without paying rent you cannot hold the other tenants liable.
The major benefit of an individual tenancy agreement is that if advertised well, your property can be let consistently throughout the year.
Students tend to only want 10 month contracts or look for contracts where rent is half price over the holidays. You can avoid this pitfall by providing accommodation for students for 10 months and then letting to individuals such as travellers for the remaining two months.
Disputes about deposits can often be difficult to avoid when letting to students . However the government require that your tenant’s deposits be placed in a Deposit Protection Scheme (DPS). If your tenants meet the terms of their tenancy agreement, avoid causing any damage to the property and keep up with their rent and bills then a DPS ensures that they will receive their deposit back at the end of their tenancy. If a dispute does occur between yourself and the students that you are letting to then the DPS protects their deposits until it is resolved.
Insurance is vital for any landlord but especially student landlords. Students tend to have lower expectations than the average tenant; however, due to their lifestyle they also can often increase the wear and tear of the property. Due to this, insurers tend to have specialised cover for student tenancies, but you should also consider contents cover and accidental damage cover. Many universities have a good will policy stating that damage to property or unpaid rent can lead to students being expelled from university.
If you are a landlord who lets a property to students, or if you are thinking about letting your property as student accommodation for the first time, then professional advice from a solicitor can help to relieve any unnecessary stress or confusion. Our Landlord and Tenant experts can offer you advice and representation on a range of different matters. Get in touch and speak to an expert today.