What are the top tips for getting the maximum out of your student investment?
Follow these top tips to help maximise your investment
- Choose the right area – When it comes to accommodation, students tend to gravitate towards areas where other students live, and it makes sense to concentrate your focus on these areas. Check out the public transport links to the campus; walk around an area and get a feel for how student-friendly it is. Are there plenty of pubs, takeaways and shops?
- Choose robust furniture – Rightly or wrongly, students are not known for taking care of the places they live in, so it makes sense to opt for sturdy old second hand furniture rather than flimsy flatpack stuff, regardless of how cheap the latter may be. Also go for surfaces and flooring that are easy to clean and durable.
- Shower power – Buy a property with a shower rather than a bath, or install one if you have to. A shower is more practical in a shared house, and easier to clean. What’s more, students keep a close eye on the bills and prefer to pay to heat just enough water for a shower.
- Manage it yourself – If you live close enough, it can make sense to manage the property yourself and build up a decent relationship with your tenants. Many of them will not have been away from home or out of halls before, and may not know how to cope with even basic domestic problems such as a blown fuse. They are likely to appreciate a helpful landlord.
- Use a registered agent – If distance or time commitments mean that it is impossible for you to manage the property, make sure you use a lettings agent who is registered with the Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA) to run it for you. That way, you have recourse if anything goes wrong.
- Register with the university – The cheapest and most sure fire way to attract tenants is to register with the local university(ies). Their accommodation offices often provide a free property finder/advertising services for students and landlords, and you may well find the most organised students this way.
- Join a landlord organisation – Joining a landlord organisation can help you keep up to date with the constantly changing legislation pertaining to buy-to-let, as well as giving you the chance to exchange information with other landlords and learn from their experience. These groups can also provide access to cheaper insurance and tax advice, for example.
- Draw up an inventory – Find a free example of an inventory on the Internet and compile a detailed ‘Inventory, Schedule of Condition and Safety Check List’ recording every detail of a rental property, its contents, decoration and condition so that any damage or loss occurred during a tenancy can be claimed back.
- Use a Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) – Some student landlords used to avoid these schemes and simply charge all tenants a non-refundable admin fee. However, since April 2012 a change in legislation means that all landlords must provide tenants with access to a TDS.
- Checkout leaflet – Landlords should devise a simple checkout leaflet, outlining the procedures and expectations at the end of the tenancy. Give it to the students at the start of the tenancy. When issuing a Section 21 notice, probably towards the end of the tenancy, remind them about the checkout leaflet.