Student Renters – The Big Decision: For Students and Landlords

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Are you moving to a new city to attend school this fall? Chances are this will be the first time that you’re picking out your own apartment rental – a daunting task for the uninitiated. You may be so focused on preparing for university (and rightfully so!) that you won’t be able to put a lot of time or energy into finding a good place to live. By heeding some of the advice below, you should be able to find a place where you’ll feel comfortable and happy for the duration of your studies.Student Rental Housing

Making a list, checking it twice:

First and foremost, you need to think about what is important to you when it comes to an rental unit. If you write down what you need, it will organize your thoughts and make the search that much simpler. Do you want a bachelor suite, a one bedroom or a two bedroom? Will you be living with a roommate (or several)? Do you want to live in an apartment building or a house? Remember that there will be certain things that you don’t necessarily need but that you would just prefer to have – these include things like a dishwasher or air conditioning. Organize your list from most to least important and you will be able to immediately cross off certain places when you start looking at apartment listings online.

Location, location, location!

Do you need to live somewhere that is within walking distance of campus or will you take public transit? If you have a car, do you need a parking space or are you willing to pay for one elsewhere? These are very important questions and often get overlooked by students. You don’t want to commute over an hour every single day, especially when you’ve got that early 8am class. Many apartment listings, specifically those catering to students (such as ones you would find on the website of your college or university), will detail exactly how far away they are from campus. If they don’t, open up Google Maps and enter the address provided so you’ll know where they are in relation to your school. If they don’t give an exact address, contact the landlord to find out before you make a decision.

Amenities:

Now that you are living away from home, you also have to worry about buying your own groceries and other necessities. This means you’ll want your rental apartment to be near grocery stores and shopping centres if at all possible. There is nothing worse than having to take a bus across the city with bags and bags of groceries, so choose wisely! You can use websites like walkscore.com that will tell you just how “walkable” your potential new neighbourhood will be, including what stores are nearby. If you’ve found an amazing rental unit that is not near a grocery store, make shopping an event – get a few friends to go shopping at the same time as you, and you can all split a taxi back home.

Meet the Landlord:

Take the time to meet and talk with your potential landlord. They will be able to answer any questions you have about the apartment and property amenities (laundry room, parking, security, etc.). Ask them what you should do if there are any issues with the apartment and who would respond to them. If the situation doesn’t feel right, continue looking at other apartments. It’s important to feel safe and secure in your new home, and your landlord goes a long way towards making that happen.

For the Landlord:

For landlords, renting and marketing to students is different than your regular approach. Check out this great blog from Property Vista on Attracting and Keeping Quality Student Renters that offers some excellent tips!

Each year, colleges and universities welcome a new flock of students, many of whom have left home for the first time and are looking for a rental property. This is a great opportunity because it represents a steady supply of tenants for landlords. But it’s important to be aware of the unique challenges, as well as advantages, that student renters present.

Pros – student renters are typically:

• Easy to find

• Simple to please

• Looking to rent for about three to four years

• Able to afford a higher rent as they often share a 2 or 3-bedroom unit

Cons – student renters may be prone to:

• Making late rent payments

• Damaging property

• Hosting loud parties

• Breaking leases

Securing the Best Student Renters:

Having said that, renting to student tenants isn’t drastically different from renting to anyone else. You just have to make sure to screen properly and to clearly establish expectations and responsibilities.

Here are four tips to help you attract and keep the best student renters:

1. Use social media. Today’s students practically grew up on their computers. They’re very tech-savvy, with most logging several hours a week on social media. So take advantage of blogs and social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, to write about your property and encourage comments or reviews. The more students you get talking about – and interested in – your property, the more prospects you’ll have to choose from.

2. Promote student-friendly aspects. Let student renters know the advantages of renting from you. For example, your property may be within walking distance of campus, or near hip restaurants and coffeehouses. Make a list of your property’s key selling points (from a student perspective) and include those features in your advertising.

3. Ask for a guarantor and employment history. With most student renters, running a credit check is fruitless because they don’t have much of a credit history. But you still need a way of protecting your investment and ensuring that you’re renting to the right people. Your prospective tenant’s employment history gives you a sense of their past earnings and responsibilities. You may also want to ask for references, which will provide some insight into your prospect’s character. In addition, it’s always a good idea to have a guarantor (usually a parent) accept financial and legal responsibility for student tenants.

4. Set realistic student expectations. Many students are living on their own for the first time and may not have a clear understanding of what’s involved in caring for a property or what their responsibilities entail. By providing information packs outlining your rules and regulations, as well as expectations about things like noise levels, cleanliness and recycling, you can ensure there is no ambiguity about your tenants’ obligations.

5. Ensure your property is online. Students live their lives on the Web and on their phones. Make sure they can pay apply for the unit online, pay their rent online and ask for maintenance requests through the convenience of their iPhone.

You should also draw up a detailed inventory of the property’s condition prior to renting, and make it clear that the property must be left in the same condition as when tenants first move in. Make sure you review your rules and inventory with your prospective tenants before signing a rental agreement; this will reduce the risk of future confusion and disagreement.

Overall, student tenants present a great opportunity; all you have to do is be selective and thorough in your screening process to make sure you find the best prospects.

And for a great resource of apartments for rent near schools and universities across Canada, check out: http://www.RentSeeker.ca/Student.aspx

The RentSeeker.ca Team