Whether you’re a seasoned leasing professional who is just getting into the student housing market or a first-time student property owner, these tips will provide valuable information on how to succeed with little-to-no student housing experience.
1. Research the Local Student Housing Rental Market Before Investing:
This point cannot be stressed enough. Don’t fall victim to assuming a student housing rental market is profitable and booming, solely because there is a significant student population in the city.
The investors should look at a few things before determining whether or not to invest in student housing within a city:
- The student enrollment and growth of local academic institutions.
- Whether the local schools are residential (most students live on-campus) or commuter (most students live off-campus).
- The current stock and availability of on-campus housing.
- Any on-campus housing requirements or regulations that are in place (first year students must live on-campus).
- Any local legislation applying to student housing (rental licensing or regulations).
- Availability of prime real estate and the price.
- The degree of market competition.
2. Identify Key Student Preferences Before Investing:
Besides cheaper rent, there are a few key amenities and features that will help a property stand out from the competition.
- Most important amenities for students were in-unit washer & dryer, private bathrooms & Wi-Fi Internet included.
- Only 32% of students are willing to live 5+ miles from campus.
- 37% of students said that two bedrooms are the ideal number of bedrooms per unit.
3. Identify Peak Student Housing Advertising Times:
One of the most common questions that our staff receives from landlords is, “When is the best time to advertise my rental property to students?”
While there is no absolute answer to this question, there are specific peak times for student housing advertising.
Generally speaking, most schools have two major start dates – one which begins in late August or early September (fall term) and one which begins in January (winter/spring term). Students may start searching several months in advance for accommodations, depending on the market competitiveness for renters. Landlords are encouraged to do some research on the academic calendars of local campuses, as well as on how competitive the area market is for tenants.
4. Focus On the Quality of Leads, Not the Quantity:
The age-old saying quality is better than quantity holds particularly true when it comes to rental marketing and leasing. Overzealous first-time landlords may feel the need to advertise on every single free posting board or website, which will generate a lot of leads, but it will often generate low-quality leads that seldom produce signed lease agreements.
Targeted advertising is a much better alternative, where landlords will often generate higher quality leads and a much better lease closing rate.
5. Appeal to Parents in Student Housing Marketing:
It should come as no surprise that parents are often the financiers and decision makers when it comes to student housing. Consider that a survey of over 3,600 parents with children in college or university found that 56% of these students paid £0 towards their housing expenses.
For this reason, landlords and property managers should pay attention to the interest of parents. We discussed parent’s preferences and concerns before:
6. Don’t Go Overboard on Tenant Targeting & Application Requirements:
Finding compatible and responsible tenants is important; but landlords should be careful not to set extremely high tenant qualification and expectations. Landlords are cautioned not to target very small and specific groups of student renters because it can dramatically shrink their tenant pool size.
7. Research & Create an All-Inclusive Lease Agreement:
Don’t just copy and paste a lease agreement off the Internet and assume the job is done!
Standard template lease agreements can be a good starting point for first-time landlords who have never written a lease before, but these documents aren’t going to cover everything. We provide a basic student housing lease agreement template on our website but recommend that landlords do additional research or request legal advice to ensure their lease is in compliance with local housing laws and applicable legislation.
8. Be Prepared to Handle Common Student Renter Complaints:
Regardless of how outstanding a property or unit may be, there are bound to be occasional complaints or grievances. Landlords can be proactive by familiarizing themselves with some of the common issues with student tenants and how to potentially handle them. We highlighted some of the most common complaints and discussed the best resolution tactics.
9. It’s Expensive to Replace Tenants, So Try to Keep Them Long-term:
Turnover in student housing tends to be high, in comparison to other multifamily rental sectors. It’s not uncommon to have to replace tenants every year in student housing, which can be time-consuming and costly. Landlords should strive to keep tenant satisfaction high and tenant turnover rates low. We previously discussed tenant retention and recommended how to keep student renters for their entire academic career.