Final Countdown: Are you prepared to put the X in a box?

The young ones - Assisting your student tenants

Ah, to be in the first flushes of your letting life… many second-year university students are taking their first steps onto the letting ladder at the moment, and feeling their way through the (potentially confusing) process

But as Universities up and down the country issue their ‘final call to find your property’ emails, and students rush to locate the home that will be filled with fun for their second year of living away from home, is there anything you can do as their potential landlord to make the process less hectic and easier for all involved?

Remember that all the same rules apply

Whilst your students may seem a little more haphazard than a set of young professionals or a family, that doesn’t mean that you can scrimp on the legalities of a let. You will still need to carry out a right to rent check, protect their deposit, issue prescribed information, and get a water tight tenancy agreement in place before considering handing over the keys.

Make sure your tenants understand what they are getting into

Whilst admittedly it isn’t your job to talk your tenants through the property paper work in detail, it is in your best interest to make sure that your tenants understand the whys and wherefores of all the documents that they are signing up for regarding your property, especially when it comes to their tenancy agreement. Why not consider taking a couple of hours to meet your tenants for a cup of coffee and go through the paperwork with them, making sure that all of the clauses of the tenancy agreement make sense, and that they don’t have any questions (give them a couple of days to read through it first and gather any questions together - encourage them to ask anything, no matter how silly they may seem). Building this relationship can be a great starting point to the tenancy as well, as it stops you being the ‘faceless scary landlord’ and makes you seem a lot more human! Even having a chat over the phone, taking the time to go through the contract point by point will help – it’s better to answer any questions at this stage than try and clear up confusion later! Good referencing agencies will be able to answer any queries your tenant or their guarantor will have, as will any of the tenancy deposit schemes.

Explain deposit deductions

Whilst most tenants fully understand the need to supply a deposit, there may still be some confusion around exactly what it is for, leading to the potential for disputes at the end of the tenancy. If you can, try and spend a little time at the start of the tenancy explaining why you are taking a deposit, where it will be held, and the reasons you would consider withholding it at the end of the agreement (damage to the property, unpaid rent etc). All of this information should be explaining within the Prescribed Information, but double check that it has been understood.

Make sure they are aware of security risks

Areas popular with students are often have higher than average burglary rates, so make sure to inform your tenants of the importance of home security. Students often have valuable laptops and IT equipment necessary for university courses stored at home, and chances are they might not have had to consider home security in the past, so a quick heads up on the importance on the basics, such as making sure ground floor windows are closed and doors are locked might be appreciated. Of course, there’s no guarantee that they won’t lose their keys on night out, but you can’t help that…!

Make sure they know how the property works

They may have been living away from home for a year, but it is still unlikely that your student tenant would know what to do when faced with a stopcock. If they have lived in halls, they would have not had much involvement with the management of a property, so may benefit from a quick run through of the basics of running your property, especially if it has any quirks to consider! A pack noting everything down in writing would be useful as a way for them to refer to in their own time.

Familiarise yourself with the local area

Although your tenants are likely to know their way around the key areas of the town by now (student union, library, student union…) it is a nice touch to be able to answer questions relating to transport links, local amenities and the surrounding area. Even if you have invested in property away from the area you live, take the time to familiarise yourself with the key areas that are likely to be of interest to your prospective tenants.

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