Gwen Williams of Belvoir Bedford continues her informative series of articles aimed at helping both Landlord and Tenant gain the most from the boom in the residential lettings market.
September is the start of the academic year and during this time in any University town there will be a large number of students looking for somewhere to live. For Landlords, renting a house to students can be very rewarding, however, it is not straightforward and there are a number of pitfalls to be avoided.
Furniture and Furnishings
Although it is not essential to provide every student room with brand new furniture (we all know what sort of a reputation students have!) all filling material used in the furniture (including beds), furnishings and re-upholstered items must be fire resistant and comply with The Furniture and Furnishings (fire) (safety) Regulations Act 1988. As a general guide it is considered that most items purchased after 1st March 1990 from a reputable company will comply – although there must be proof and this will usually be a label attached to the furniture clearly stating compliance.
All rooms in the house should be carpeted, have curtains at the windows and be decorated to a reasonable standard. The bedrooms must have at least a bed, wardrobe, chest of drawers, mirror, desk, chair and bookshelf.
The kitchen should contain a clean cooker, fridge/freezer, washing machine, a variety of saucepans and enough crockery and cutlery for all those living at the house.
There should be a communal living room with chairs and/or a sofa but most importantly a landlord must provide one of the most essential items a student house should have – a reliable vacuum cleaner with instructions for use!
And tenants now expect Wifi so you may want to consider how best to manage this!!!
Before occupation, either the landlord or agent must complete an inventory of items in the property. The contents of each room should be listed, making sure that all electrical goods are recorded noting their make and model. To avoid unnecessary disputes at the end of the year, it is also advisable to record on the inventory any marks, cracks, holes or stains at the property. A copy of the form should be given to the tenants when they sign the tenancy agreement and the landlord must also keep a copy for himself.
When you have found suitable tenants
Once you have found suitable tenants discuss all arrangements with them as soon as they move in. Most students will not know the local area and so it would be a nice gesture to inform them of any information they may need such as where the local shops are or a timetable of the local bus routes etc.
Tell them the rules of the house, explain that they may have neighbours who are not students and that they must consider them at all times. Give them clear instructions about how you require them to behave and explain that you expect them to wash up and clean the house more than once a term!
When the students leave at the end of the academic year the landlord must be prepared to have the property professionally cleaned. Student accommodation will certainly require redecorating every two years and may also need new carpets or furniture just as often!
Owning and managing student accommodation can be very hard work. Students do not behave like ordinary tenants and a landlord must not forget that this may be the first time they have ever lived away from home and make allowances.
They will be messy, lazy and at times extremely noisy and you may wonder when they ever get any work done!
However, student accommodation if carried out correctly, can be extremely rewarding financially and many landlords and agents feel that this makes all the extra work and sleepless nights worthwhile.
Good communication is the key to student accommodation and this is where the services of a good lettings agent can ease the stress of the let.
If you are considering letting property to students,pop in and see us we are more than happy to assist , we are old hands at this now!