Successful student letting: everything you need to know

The student market delivers some of the highest rental yields for UK landlords, and university applications climb year-on-year for UK and overseas students. At a time when many private rented sector (PRS) landlords are feeling the squeeze, the student rental market offers them stability, flexibility and profitability.

But student tenants and properties are different from traditional buy to lets. So landlords need to be up to speed with the latest regulations and trends in student accommodation to make the most of the opportunity student lets provide. 

We’re passionate about helping you make decisions that will benefit you today and in the future. With this in mind, we’ve pulled together all of our most useful advice for student landlords. If you want to skip ahead, you can do so using the links below:



Successful student letting: Everything you need to know | Student moving into their rented accommodation

Why rent to students?

Many landlords are wary of the student market, citing noise complaints, property damage and late payments as reasons for steering clear. But student rentals have a lot to offer, and these student stereotypes don’t always ring true.

The student rental cycle is predictable and demand is high. Tenants typically find somewhere to live towards the end of term, move out over the summer and move into their new place at the start of the new academic year. This gives landlords a degree of security and flexibility.

Quality student properties are usually easy to fill. And you can choose to make changes to your property, review rents and even sell up on an annual basis. This offers much more flexibility than the rest of the private rented sector can provide.

Students are often asked to provide guarantors and most provide their parents, which makes them financially reliable. Landlords who are struggling with difficult tenants can deal with their parents instead. Students also receive subsidies in the form of student loans, which makes late payments less likely. 

Finally, and most importantly, students typically live in HMOs, which offer higher rental yields – and there are things that landlords can do to increase their profits further.

Student tenants don’t expect premium fittings and furnishings – although everything provided must be in good working order – which makes student rentals cheaper to furnish than traditional properties. And overseas students can offer even higher yields, as they are typically more affluent than UK students and willing to pay extra for premium accommodation.

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What students want from their landlords

Today’s students are different from their predecessors in all sorts of ways. They have different priorities, different social lives and expect different things from their landlords and rental accommodation. Many assumptions about students and student life are based on stereotypes that, for the most part, no longer hold true. 

Today’s students graduate with a level of debt that would have been unthinkable 20 years ago. Most leave university with around £50,000 to pay off over the next 30 years, which makes leaving with good grades a matter of priority. Coupled with a general decline in drinking among young people, this has made today’s students less rowdy, more studious and more health-conscious than they used to be.

The need to study more and the emergence of the internet as the primary source of entertainment also means bedroom size is more important than ever, as is a high-speed and reliable internet connection.

The internet is integral to how today’s students study, relax and socialise. 

In the past, student landlords may have operated on the assumption that cheapest was best. But many undergraduates are less willing to ‘slum it’ than they used to be. Today’s students expect more from their landlords, but they’re also willing to pay more – and even pay extra for additional services such as regular cleaning.

Many students are confused by the rental market and they want a landlord they can trust

For most students, moving out of halls and into privately rented accommodation is their first encounter with the private rental market. It can be a steep learning curve. Up until that point, living arrangements have probably been managed by their parents or their university. All of a sudden, they’re having to speak to letting agents, arrange viewings and review tenancy agreements.

We caught up with Tim, a Falmouth University student, to hear more about his experience of moving into privately-rented student accommodation after living in halls.

“Living in halls you are almost wrapped up in cotton wool from the real renting world. The process is quite structured and a lot of the pressure is taken out as university living is organised with students in mind. Whilst this is great in your first year – some halls even provide a cleaner to help you out – it is often a shock to the system when you branch out into the real private rented sector. The real renting experience is actually very different from what you see on TV and experience living in university halls.”

– Tim, university student

“I did feel like our landlord was really responsive to our emails and questions… That really helped the experience for us as it meant we could get help and it made us proactive in getting problems fixed sooner rather than later… The landlord also took the time to get to know us personally, even sending us a happy birthday message! It felt nice and personal and made us realise that there really was a real person behind the rent payments and the house itself.”

– Tim, university student

Put yourself in your tenants’ shoes. You’re renting for the first time.

There’s a huge amount to learn and with so little experience of the rental market, there’s always a chance that someone might try and take advantage of you. Every student knows someone this has happened to.

In this situation, having a landlord you can trust means a lot. And the best way to earn someone’s trust is to be honest and transparent with them.

Read more about the tenants’ experience of the student rental market.