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Student letting: are landlords providing homes 'fit for study'?

©Eric via Flickr  CC 

In an effort to improve the overall student letting experience, the National Union of Students (NUS) has just published the results of some fascinating research. Surprisingly, this is the first time such a report has been commissioned. ‘Homes fit for study’ tackles the myth that students don’t care about where they live and gives landlords and agents some very useful information about what students want and need. It also highlights where improvements could be made at every stage of the renting process.

While many could choose to live at home or in halls, 44% of full-time students go with the private rented sector (PRS). The top three things they consider when deciding whether to rent privately are: location and specifically how convenient it is for their campus, cost and how easy the process is going to be. Once they’ve decided to go with the PRS, they choose a property based firstly on price, then convenience of location and property condition. So, from your perspective as a landlord, if you get the location and price right, you should attract maximum interest. But in order to get the best tenants, who are prepared to pay the best price, you must make sure the condition is up to scratch.

One important issue raised, which is really useful for you to know as a landlord, is that around three quarters of students have complained about a property’s condition – mainly on damp-related issues and the fact that they found their home too cold. If you’re intending to rent to students, bear in mind many of them spend a lot of time studying in the property during the day. So if you can highlight how well insulated your property is and how cost effective it is to heat, that should be a real selling point.

On a similar point, we’ve always found that if you provide decent quality accommodation and keep it in good condition, tenants treat it well too and, despite what you hear, students are no different! So offer them a good standard of living and make sure their home is energy efficient, safe and secure. A good rule of thumb is to imagine if your own child was renting your property: could they afford it and would you be happy for them to live there?

The great news that came from this report is that most students were happy overall with their PRS accommodation and found it cost effective compared to bespoke student residences.

However, there were some insights which might be useful. When searching for a new home, 20% of those surveyed had felt pressurised into either signing their contract or paying a holding deposit before they’d seen the contract; around half either didn’t know whether they’d received a copy of the EPC or couldn’t recall receiving one; roughly half had to pay fees they reported they hadn’t known about and only just over half were sure that their deposit had been protected.

In an effort to improve the overall student letting experience, the National Union of Students (NUS) has just published the results of some fascinating research. Surprisingly, this is the first time such a report has been commissioned. ‘Homes fit for study’ tackles the myth that students don’t care about where they live and gives landlords and agents some very useful information about what students want and need. It also highlights where improvements could be made at every stage of the renting process.

This suggests that one thing we could all improve on is helping students properly understand what’s involved in the ‘pre-rental’ process and make sure we act not only legally but also ethically, to make sure they’re well informed from the start about all their obligations, rights and responsibilities.

Finally, when asked in the end what measures they thought would make the biggest difference to their experience of renting, the vast majority (66%) said they thought there should be a minimum condition standard, and for more services to ensure that agents and landlords fulfilled their responsibilities.

Valerie Bannister, Head of Lettings says “Students are more discerning about their choice of accommodation and we know that the key questions they ask are how previous students have found their experience with the agent and how quickly the agent or landlord then responds to repairs. The vast majority of students who are letting in the PRS generally involve their parents , and more often or not it is the “bank of mum and dad” who pay the security deposit, acting as Guarantor. This does mean expectations are significantly higher and parents are very keen to see a full return of the deposit at the end of the tenancy term.” 

Valerie’s top tips for landlords are:

• Ensure you have a gas safety certificate and say if there is a service repair agreement

• Make the energy performance certificate available to prospective tenants

• Protect the deposit in a tenancy deposit scheme

• Have someone on hand to organise or deal with repairs

• Secure a good quality inventory prior to move in, which includes meter readings

• Give the tenant essential numbers And most importantly, let through a registered ARLA agent like Your Move to ensure the property is let legally and you always have up to date, best advice

For further information about letting your property through Your Move and the three service types available to you. Call 0845 450 5507** email Landlords@YourMove.co.uk or visit your local Your Move branch.