Whether you’re a first-time landlord or you have a portfolio of properties, it’s hard to deny that the student market is one worth considering. Despite lower admissions in recent years, demand for student accommodation rises 30% faster than the number of available beds every year, and the UK is the second-largest market for purpose-built student housing in the world, representing an investment of $50 billion. That’s without mentioning HMOs and other properties that have been converted into student lets, adding billions more to the market.
Though demand will be there year-in, year-out for student accommodation, many landlords want the easy life, and to find students that will stick around for their entire university course. It not only saves time, but reduces marketing and administrative costs, and offers peace of mind that they’re renting their property to a reliable, trustworthy bunch of youngsters.
The truth is that university life is unpredictable, but there are ways that you can encourage students to extend their tenancy. We’ve rounded up seven of the best options below…
Whether you rent a shared student house or individual student apartments, it’s unlikely that every tenant will stay for the full three years. Perhaps some will leave their university, move in with a partner, go home, or graduate. Offering a referral scheme allows students to live with their friends - increasing their satisfaction - and saves you time looking for new tenants.
Give them first refusal when a room becomes available and they’ll increase their trust and loyalty to you - and you might not have to look for another student for your flats ever again!
Although sometimes raising the rent is inevitable, you should try to make your student flats as affordable as possible if you want to hold onto current tenants. If you do have to raise the rent at the end of their fixed-term, give them plenty of notice and explain your reasons for doing so (Tenant Fee Ban, rising costs, renovation works). You could even offer tenants a discount if they sign up for two years, or offer them a kickback if they recommend a friend.
Your tenants will stick around for longer if they can make their student accommodation feel like home. Some landlords and letting agents impose strict rules onto their student pads, like not being able to stick posters on the walls or change the curtains. Though you don’t want to waste time and money returning your property to a neutral state when tenants move out, you should exercise some empathy and let your tenants make some subtle changes to their flat.
If you’re not comfortable letting students paint their walls and change the carpets, do it for them and increase their rates for a month in exchange. That way, you’ll have some control over the decorating process and your tenants will enjoy a space that’s suited to their needs.
This won’t be popular amongst landlords, but hear us out. Welcoming pet owners to your student accommodation can help you find a long-term tenant and give students greater ownership over their property. We only recommend offering this on a case-by-case basis; make sure you’re confident that they’re going to respect your property and clean up after their pets. For added reassurance, consider adding an additional fee to their monthly rent.
Though landlords and student tenants aren’t always going to be the best of friends, it’s vital that you establish a healthy relationship with your tenants so they stick around. Be prompt at responding to issues, give them notice when you need to inspect the property and look after their appliances and utilities. You should also give tenants copies of paperwork and let them know the best contact number or email address to get you on. They shouldn’t have to sit at the end of the phone waiting for a callback or chasing you for an answer to a basic question.
Landlords and letting agents who are slow to respond to complaints or deal with repairs will struggle to build a relationship with their tenants. Over time, poor communication and slow service can cause deterioration and will eventually drive tenants away. And if you manage multiple properties, those tenants will leave a negative review and damage your reputation.
Make sure you carry out any repairs and maintenance swiftly and consider working with a property management firm who can be your tenants’ first point of contact to report issues.
Finally, consider building a student bills package into your offering so tenants can pay for an “all-inclusive” service. The chances are, your tenants are first-time renters, so by bundling everything for one fixed monthly fee, they won’t have to worry about budgeting or organising household bills. It’s not for everyone, so offer an option with or without bills, but make it a selling point when promoting your student accommodation online. This is the convenience that today’s consumers demand, and can encourage brand loyalty and five-star reviews.
There you have it - just a few ways to encourage your tenants to extend their tenancy. To find out more about our bills management revenue generator for landlords, click here.