Letting to Students in 2013

It is the time of year when students start to turn their attention to finding accommodation for the next academic year. With Christmas a distant memory and exams nearly over, most university accommodation offices and student letting agents are busy compiling lists of private accommodation ready for students to start looking for somewhere to live.

Many will be moving out of university halls and into private accommodation for the first time, and so unsure of how to negotiate the housing market. That can make letting to students more challenging than letting to professionals who have years of experience dealing with landlords and agents. However, the extra effort is usually worth it, with yields generally higher than for the market as a whole.

Finding student tenants

While yields on student rental property are generally high, with occupancy levels good, there is room for caution. Student numbers dropped this academic year with the introduction of higher fees, and experts do not forecast a recovery in the foreseeable future. That doesn’t mean doom for the student housing market, as there are still plenty of students around who need to be housed. It does mean that landlords might need to work a little bit harder than they once did to get their properties filled, and increasingly financially hard-pressed students may be more demanding than they once were.

If you are a first-time entrant to the student lettings market, try and get your property listed on university housing lists. That is the first place most students will turn to look for accommodation. Also look for letting agents that specialise in student lettings, or run separate student property lists: the student market in most cities is fairly distinct from the general market, so you need to advertise in the right places in order to reach it.

Whether you are a new student landlord or an old hand, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you will be able to let student property regardless of the quality. It’s true that students are not usually as demanding as professional tenants, but if you want to let your property easily and at the right price, don’t cut corners. Make sure it’s clean and safe with decent quality fixtures and fittings. That in itself may be enough to set your property apart from many other student properties. Once your tenants are in, make sure you keep up with repairs and maintenance. Specialist student landlord insurance is a must if you want to avoid any nasty unexpected bills that you can’t cover.

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