Student tenants - the top 5 problems and how to avoid them
Despite their reputation, students can be great tenants. They are generally easy to find, pleasant to deal with, and simple to please.
But, of course, student landlords sometimes run into problems. We have compiled a list of the top five problems suffered by student landlords, along with some tips to help you deal with them.
1. Late rent
Late payment of rent is amongst the most common problems facing landlords who let to students. Student loans are often simply too small to cover the bills, and relatively few students have jobs, so problems with payment are pretty frequent.
You can minimise the potential for late payment by properly vetting tenants before you take them on. Make sure that you carry out credit checks, and that each tenant can provide a guarantor.
In the event that a payment is late, make sure that you chase it immediately. Arrears that mount up are less likely to be paid. Similarly, you should consider instituting a payment plan for arrears, rather than trusting that the entire payment will be made at once. You are often more likely to get your money if you make it easier for the tenant to pay.
2. Damage to the property
Property damage is a fact of life with every type of tenant, but it can often be more prevalent amongst students.
Damage that exceeds expected wear and tear can be deducted from the tenants’ deposit. So, the first step towards dealing with property damage is to ensure that a deposit is taken. It is extraordinary how many landlords fail to use this vital safeguard.
In the event of a disagreement over a deposit deduction, remember that the deposit protection services all include an Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism. This will be triggered in the event that the landlord and tenants cannot come to an agreement on their own.
3. Noise complaints
Students are notorious for a love of parties, and these can often be noisy. It is therefore not uncommon for you or your tenants to receive noise complaints from neighbours or the council.
If you receive a complaint, your first step should be to talk to the tenants directly. Often, a simple warning can be enough to encourage tenants to keep it down.
If the problems persist, remember that you may be within your rights to seek eviction. Most tenancy agreements include clauses forbidding excessive noise after certain hours, and if you can prove that these clauses have been broken you will likely have grounds to ask the tenants to leave.
4. Unreasonable demands
Many student tenants are living away from home for the first time, and some do not yet understand the precise nature of the relationship between landlord and tenant. This can sometimes lead to unreasonable or unrealistic demands or expectations.
If you think your tenant may be susceptible to this sort of thing, make sure that you set out the terms of your agreement clearly before any contracts are signed. This need not be patronising, and is certainly not a reflection on the tenant. Instead, it simply helps to make sure that the potential for disagreement or confusion is minimised.
5. Tenants leaving early
Many students live an unpredictable or peripatetic life, and this can sometimes mean that they need to leave a tenancy early.
In these situations the onus is on the tenant to find a replacement. If they cannot do so, or if you deem the replacement to be unsuitable, you are within your rights to prevent them leaving the contract. Alternatively, the remaining tenants (who are joint and severally liable) will have to pick up the financial slack.
In reality, though, most instances like this can be dealt with through talking. As long as both parties are open to negotiation, a compromise can usually be found.
Many landlords are put off letting to students because of the slew of horror stories about nightmare tenants. But, with a bit of forethought and good communication, the majority of problems can be avoided.