1.They are excited to get off campus. It is not uncommon for our college tenants in their first off campus experience to squeal when they get the keys from us. They are so excited to rent our property
2.They do not have unreasonably high expectations. Have you ever had a tenant who wanted flawless paint jobs, a perfect kitchen, etc.? That is not the case with college students. We had a roof leak in one students room was not inhabitable for 1 week while we fixed the roof, repaired the sheet rock and painted the room. She moved her mattress out into the living room and made it work. We did not charge her rent during this time of course, but she did not demand a hotel or some other extraordinary measures.
3. Their parents often will back them up if they can’t pay rent or help with the deposit. It is not uncommon for us to receive rent checks directly from parents. We do not have parents co-sign leases but I have found that it is a nice extra level of security for getting rent.
4. Your tenants often find your next group of tenants. We offer a bonus to outgoing tenants who find their replacement, this is actually cheaper than relisting the property and having to show it multiple times.
5. Their damage deposit really matters and they will work so hard to leave the property clean because that $600 matters a lot when you are a poor college student. We can turn the house over much quicker when the bulk of the cleaning is done. We don’t want to keep the deposit, we would much rather refund it and not have to do the work of cleaning.
Top 5 Challenges of Renting to College Students:
1.They lack life skills. For example: they may not know how to plunge a toilet. The first year we had tenants in our first rental house one of the students didn’t know how to plunge a toilet when it clogged. She kept flushing and flushing until the toilet overflowed and water started pouring out of the light fixture on the floor below.
2. They don’t maintain the yard/property. As long as you know this ahead of time and plan for it, hire a yard care service or plan to do this yourself. Know that there will be cigarette butts and bottle caps in the yard, it is part of the deal, trust me, it could be much worse.
3. Over-involved Parents. Something that is so different from when I was in college, is that parents are VERY involved in the decisions made by these young adults. Parents will attend the showings of the property, call and ask questions, try to negotiate lower rent, etc. Our philosophy is this: We are not renting the property to the parents, we are renting to the student, we need to do the bulk of the communication with the actual tenant. Every time we have had significant interaction with the parents separate from the student, it has gone badly. The parent then acts as the middle man and messages get mixed. If the potential tenant can’t interact with you effectively during the process of considering a rental, they won’t be an effective communicator with you as a landlord. Being able to interact with your landlord is an important adult skill. We feel we are helping prepare them for the future. We are extra patient and supportive knowing this is typically their first rental experience.
4. Your tenants turnover every 1-2 years. This is more work as far as having to list the property for rent, show it, sign leases, move in/move out checklists, etc. If you have multiple college rentals, they all turn over at the same time, following the school schedule. When you rent to a more typical tenant, you have the possibility of a long term tenant. On the upside, if you have a tenant you are not thrilled with, they won’t stay more than 2 years, so you won’t likely have to evict.
5. Tenant conflict. A typical college rental house has 3-4 bedrooms and you put any group of 3-4 people in a house together and there will be conflict. When I lived in a college house one roommate never did the dishes. I worked nights to work my way through school and another roommate refused to turn down the TV while I was sleeping in the morning. Tenants will try to suck you in and put you in the middle of the drama, you just have to stay neutral and let them know they need to figure it out.