by Ben Luxon September 11, 2019 5 min read

Understandably renting to students makes people a little bit nervous. There is a certain stereotype that comes with students. In a word: messy.

We have all been in a student house which looked like it was a scene from an Avengers battle. Like Thanos himself had strode through the living and kitchen areas laying waste indiscriminately.

This would be off-putting to the most hardened of landlords. Yet, there is a big market for student housing and if managed properly student housing can be lucrative. Buying, furnishing and letting a property to students offers a consistent income and readily available clients actively seeking quality accommodation.

This being said, managing student housing does come with a few quirks and some additional responsibilities.

student accommodation

Do You Need a Licence?

Renting out a House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) requires you to purchase an HMO licence. AN HMO is categorised as a property that has three or more unrelated tenants all sharing a kitchen, bathroom and communal area.

Your property is probably an HMO if:

  • there are 3 or more unrelated people live there as at least 2 separate households – for example, 3 single people with their own rooms, or 2 couples each sharing a room;
  • the 3 or more people living in the property share basic amenities, such as a kitchen or bathroom.

Find out more about HMO's from Shelter

If the property is an HMO then you will need to get an HMO licence. These costs around £500 depending where you are in the country and will usually last for around 5 years. 

Check with your local authority, however, as some councils require you to get an HMO licence regardless of the number of students you house.

Apply for yours online at gov.uk website.

Increased Safety Features

If you wish to house students there are a few extra steps to take beforehand. Your local authority will issue a set of guidelines that you must carry out.

These will include things like getting your gas and electrical safety checks done routinely but also things like determining there is an appropriate fire escape route, fire and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor, and all furnishings are fire safety compliant. Plus you need to provide a fire blanket or extinguisher if your property has more than 5 students.

Furnishing

Student properties are required to come fully furnished. There are exact guidelines that you will need to follow, but to give you an idea: you will need to supply all kitchen appliances (cooker, microwave, fridge/freezer), communal lounge furnishings (sofas, TV, coffee table, books cases etc), a large enough dining area with all the relevant dining equipment (cutlery, plates, cups, kettle, pots and pans etc), bedroom furnishings including at the very least, a bed, wardrobe, bedside table desk chair, lamp, carpet, curtains/blinds. There are other optional things you can supply like a T.V. in every room which could allow you to increase rent for your property.

When it comes to picking out furnishings you will want to go for mid-range sturdy and reasonably priced furniture. Furnishings will likely see increased wear and tear from student use so anything that is too low quality will likely end up need replacing frequently - which could end up being an extensive annual cost. On the other hand, anything too expensive could equally cost you.

So aim for sturdy, durable, and reasonably inexpensive to replace. A final note, each bedroom must have a Yale/key lock on the door to ensure privacy.

student house furnishings

Increased Responsibilities

Landlords for student accommodation are responsible for more than landlords that rent to single households. First, are the stricter safety regulations in regards to fire, gas and electricity. 

https://www.gov.uk/private-renting/your-landlords-safety-responsibilities 

You must make sure that all fire safety checks are in place and checked regularly, and that escape access is not obstructed.

You are also responsible for keeping the communal areas of the property well maintained. Many landlords employ a local cleaner to do a fortnightly clean of communal areas. This ensures compliance with regulation but also has the added benefit of helping maintain the property which will save money down the line.

Students will also expect good internet and often landlords include their utilities in the rent. This makes everything easier for the household. If you do go this route think about installing a smart thermostat so that you can maintain control of the energy bills and save money on the bills.

Talk to prospective tenants about what they expect and agree on upfront before the contracts are signed.

Collecting Rent

As most students are coming straight from living at home and won’t have full-time work it’s important to get a co-signer on the lease. You should reference the co-signer and ensure that payments can and will be made in full.

Have the tenants set up a direct debit to go into your bank account once a month and make sure to quickly chase any late payments? 

If you have a local college nearby, you can team up with their student accommodation team and they will help find and reference tenants for you.

How Much Profit to Expect?

This depends on where you are in the country. However, often a property will make more profit rented to students. The reason being you are renting individual rooms, renting fully furnished and often including bills as well. This allows you to charge a premium. You are also assuming more risk due to the high turnover and the afore-mentioned messy reputation for students.

You will want to do your research to determine what the appropriate rental price for your area is for student housing.

Short Summary

  1. Student houses with more than 3 people in will likely require you to get an HMO licence. Check with your local authorities.
  2. Student turnover will be high. You will see new renters at least once a year and as many students drop out or fall out with housemates you will likely lose a few tenants throughout the year too. This can cause your rental income to be a little inconsistent at times.
  3. Treat your student tenants well but make sure they don’t expect too much from you. They will as we say have likely come from living at home and this is a learning curve for them to learn how to look after themselves.
  4. Make sure you stay compliant and check with your local authorities to ensure your property and furnishings are up to scratch.
  5. Expect furniture and flooring to suffer a lot of wear and tear so budget to replace and fix regularly, don’t buy too cheap or too expensive, and always aim for durability.
Ben Luxon

"Ben is an author and real estate enthusiast. His interest in all things entrepreneurial has led him to work with real estate professionals all over the world, distilling their knowledge into articles and Ebooks. His love of travelling has taken him to over 10 countries in the last year, where he has sampled the craft beer of them all."


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