Advice on Renting Property to College Students

Being a landlord comes with a lot of responsibility. Apart from attracting prospective tenants, you must vet everyone who applies by running background checks regularly and ensuring they can afford rent. Unfortunately, even if someone can afford rent, it doesn’t mean they’ll be an ideal tenant. One primary concern for many landlords is renting to college students or young people. 

Of course, while these individuals can pay rent, they won’t always treat the property and their neighbors respectfully. College students can be destructive to apartments and cause noise concerns for neighbors, but they can also be great tenants if you do your due diligence to ensure it before renting to them. Want to start renting property to college students? Here’s some advice to help. 

Standardize Your Screening Process

Many college students are first-time renters. They may be working through college to pay rent or relying on their parents. No matter the case, you should have a standardized screening process for all tenants, including items such as

  • Job history
  • Credit report
  • Rental history
  • Income
  • Background checks
  • Evictions 

Since this will likely be a college student’s first time renting, the results will be fairly short. Some may not even have any of this information, making it very difficult to determine who will be a good renter. 

Require Cosigners

If college students lack income, credit history, or any information that can help you determine whether to accept their application, you can ask for cosigners. Cosigners may be necessary for renters who don’t work while in school, giving landlords the security they need to rent to someone without a job history or income. Parents or other family members can cosign for college students, but they’ll need to undergo the same screening process as the renter. Cosigners are responsible for everything if a tenant fails to pay. For example, if a college student doesn’t pay rent, the cosigner will have it, or their credit can be affected. 

Get a Security Deposit

Every landlord requires a security deposit so they’ll have the funds if there’s any damage to the apartment upon move-out. Security deposits are typically returned in full as long as there are no substantial issues with the rental. Therefore, if a tenant treats the property with respect and doesn’t break anything or put holes in the walls, they should receive their deposit back in full. Landlords should always require a security deposit, but you can choose to make your deposit higher depending on the types of renters you have. 

If there is damage to the rental after a tenant moves out, you can use the deposit to pay for it and prepare it for the next tenant. In some cases, the deposit might not be enough to cover all of the damages, but having one will make it easier to ensure you can afford to fix the apartment up for someone new to move in. 

Require Insurance

Landlords have their own insurance to protect them from liability, but your insurance won’t cover everything. Renters’ insurance can be mandatory if you feel it’s necessary. Of course, it will protect their possessions instead of their property, but it can help you avoid stress later on in case something happens. For example, if there’s a break-in and something is stolen, their renter’s insurance will cover the cost to replace their items, while yours will cover any damages done to the property. 

Have Rules

Your lease can include explicitly stated rules as long as they don’t go against a renter’s rights. In a college town, you’re most likely dealing with first-time renters. So they may not know what to expect unless you explicitly state it in the lease. You can have several rules, including quiet hours, no smoking, no open flames, and so forth. 

Have Yearly Inspections

If you trust your tenants, you can choose not to have yearly inspections and instead do them every few years. College students may rent for one or two years, but they typically won’t plan on living in the same apartment after graduation. So periodic inspection timelines may vary depending on the duration of the lease. 

Inspections are crucial for most rentals because they allow landlords to catch potential issues like broken appliances or cracks in the walls that require immediate property maintenance. They’ll also let you catch any potential lease violations like holes in the wall or modifications to the property without consent. However, during these inspections, you shouldn’t enter someone’s home to simply look for lease violations. Even the best renters may swap out a showerhead, even if it’s against the lease. Of course, you’ll be able to spot major lease violations immediately. So do a quick walkthrough of the property to ensure the tenants are taking good care of it. 

If you spot violations, make a note and send the tenants a written warning that lists all of their violations and a timeframe for fixing them. You can schedule a follow-up walkthrough if necessary. 

Take Noise Complaints Seriously

When renting to college students, you can expect some noise. Luckily, many of your tenants have lived in the dorms and are used to it. So they may not report any excessive noise. However, if you rent to individuals other than college students, particularly those with early morning jobs or children, you’ll have to take noise complaints very seriously. College students are bound to make noise, and many keep odd schedules, so they might slam doors in the middle of the night when coming home from the library. However, you can have quiet hours in the apartment during weekdays to keep all tenants happy. 

Don’t Deny College Students

Of course, whether or not you allow particular tenants depends on the type of tenants you’re looking for. While it’s okay to deny an application because someone doesn’t have a job history or regular income. You can’t deny a college student because they’re a college student. You also can’t have different rates or rules when renting to college students, and all of your properties must be treated the same regardless of the tenants. Of course, you can set application guidelines and state that you require a certain income threshold for someone eligible to become a tenant. 

Renting to College Students

If you own property in a college town, you likely already rent to college students. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to determine which applicants make good tenants. So you should have rules in place and clearly stated lease violations that can result in eviction. In most cases, college students make good tenants as long as the rules are enforced.

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