Renting rooms to students - everything you need to know

The student population in the UK continues to grow year-on-year; Britain is the second most popular country in the world for international study, and Brexit uncertainty has not dented UK or international student applications.

Renting rooms to students - everything you need to know | Group of students moving into home Coupled with this, student rental yields are among the highest in the UK, with popular student cities such as Liverpool and Nottingham reaching yields of up to 12 per cent. The average student rent per person in the UK is £541/month. Excluding London, the average non-student UK rental value in the UK is £775 – increasing to £936 including the capital. But when you consider that students tend to live in households of two or more, students may offer better value for landlords than ordinary tenants.

Yet despite being a reliable, profitable source of income, some landlords are wary of renting to students, whether this is down to personal experience, horror stories from other landlords or the poor reputation of student tenants. After all, the worst students, so we are told, pay their rent late, damage the property and make persistent noise through the night.

For their part, students seem to have plenty to complain about as well. A 2018 survey found that one third feel that their accommodation is bad value for money. Issues included:

  • Damp or mould on the walls (38 per cent)
  • Lack of water / heating (34 per cent)
  • Disruptive building work (22 per cent)
  • Rodent infestations (18 per cent)
  • Inappropriate landlord visits (14 per cent)

The fact is, this will often be the first time these students have privately rented, and a lack of experience of the landlord-tenant relationship can lead to unrealistic demands or expectations. From the landlord side, proper preparation and taking the time to set realistic expectations can make things easier for everyone. So, here’s how to do things the right way.

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Here is our infographic with top tips for stress-free student letting and getting the most out of your investment

Contracts and planning

Reference checks

One of the best ways to get good student tenants is to vet them properly beforehand. If students are coming straight from halls they may not have a reference from a previous landlord. But the company that manages their purpose-built student accommodation or the University Housing Office should be able to vouch for them.


Choose the right kind of tenancy

Student lets are almost always an ‘Assured Shorthold Tenancy’ (AST) for a fixed term. There are then two main types of contract:

  • Joint Tenancy – tenants are jointly liable for payments and damages, i.e. if one of the tenants hasn’t paid their rent, the rent could be claimed from the other tenants.
  • Individual Tenancy – each deposit is protected separately and there’s one tenancy agreement per room.

Read more information on student tenancy agreements.


Tenancy deposit protection in England and Wales

Landlords and agents are legally obliged to protect their tenants’ deposits in a tenancy deposit protection scheme, such as mydeposits.

This must be done within 30 calendar days of receiving the funds. Failure to protect the deposit can result in a penalty of up to three times the deposit amount. Landlords can also lose the power to obtain a court order to take back possession of their property (under a section 21 notice).

Tenancy deposit protection schemes are there to minimise the chance of deposit disputes between tenants and landlords and are enforced by law. As a result, it’s crucial that all landlords follow the policy to the letter, regardless of who they are renting to.


Check their guarantors

Make sure that tenants provide full contact details for their guarantors. You should also contact them to make sure they’re aware of their liability for any defaulted rent or damages payments. Landlords may also wish to conduct a credit check and verify the guarantor’s home-ownership and employment status.

Download our FREE checklist

Here is our infographic with top tips for stress-free student letting and getting the most out of your investment

Contract clauses in the contract

If you want to negotiate a deposit deduction at the end of the tenancy, you will need to rely on clauses written into the agreement.

It is important to make it clear for tenants that they are responsible for returning the property in the same condition and that it is cleaned to the same standard as it was when they moved in. This will cover most issues relating to damage and cleanliness; however you will also need to make it clear if, for example, you don’t want the tenant to smoke or use blu-tack or nails on the walls in the property.

In this instance, you will need specific clauses prohibiting these issues.

Smoking in communal areas is illegal in any property, but landlords can choose to allow it in tenants’ own rooms – you can find more detailed information on this here.

Finally, clauses should be included that define noisy or inconsiderate behaviour and any repercussions

General housekeeping education

Your property may be the first accommodation that your tenants have lived in that wasn’t managed for them. Even conscientious tenants can benefit from a bit of education on the fundamentals of housekeeping.

For instance, they may not know why it’s important to get fresh air into a room, or how to minimise the chances of pest infestation. The location of the stopcock and how to prevent burst pipes are other helpful pieces of information.

mydeposits also provide some useful guidance for landlords, letting agents and tenants on how to ensure a smooth tenancy;

this also includes guides that can be passed onto tenants on how to minimise issues surrounding cleaning and garden maintenance within the property.

Compile these tips in a short document and leave it in the property on move-in day, along with your inventory and contact details. Any clauses in your contract related to the care of the property could be referenced or expanded upon in this document.

This helps to make sure that your tenants have all the information they need to fulfil the contract.