Last modified on April 24th, 2018
By Bryan Ives
Managing properties within a college area can be incredibly lucrative. College towns tend to be excellent fodder for property management companies, because the high maintenance nature of these rental properties often provoke landlords into seeking out professional help. Landlords and property management companies need to anticipate some challenges when renting to college students, but overall it is usually a profitable endeavor.
1. College students tend to be higher maintenance.
College students aren’t really aware of where the boundaries are between landlord and tenant. A college student is far more likely to call their landlord any time something small arises because they simply don’t know what to do. Landlords and property managers should set ground rules early on with college students by showing them how to help themselves rather than simply doing things for them each time. As an example, a college student might complain to a property manager that their roommate is a little messy. Rather than talking to the roommate for them, you can suggest that they work it out amongst themselves and offer an actionable piece of advice, like setting up a chore schedule.
2. College students may not always pay rent on time.
College students don’t know the intricacies of budgeting and may often come up short. You need to impress upon them the importance of paying rent on time. Penalties such as fines for late payment may be a motivation booster. Automatic bank withdrawals may help sometimes as well, though these can bounce. You must be very conscientious about rent collection and very clear about the ramifications of late payments.
3. College students may damage the property.
By far the biggest concern most property owners have with college students is the fact that they might damage the property. It’s very difficult to ascertain how responsible a college student is; they are young enough that a background check or credit check really won’t show anything. Taking in deposits is an excellent way to mitigate this, but it’s also important that the property be repaired on time. Sometimes, investing in a service that repairs appliances and other items around the unit may be helpful in minimizing sustained damage; many tenants feel more comfortable calling these services directly rather than their landlord. Property inspections are also an excellent way to retain control over a property but they should be done sparingly.
4. College students come and go.
College students do leave frequently; there is a constant churn in rooms. Ideally, a single lease will be used to ensure that the property management company or landlord does not have to do additional work. However, in cases where there are multiple leases the landlord or company may find themselves having to locate new tenants on a consistent basis. To keep this from being a prohibitively costly experience time-wise, you should streamline the process of finding tenants. Using a software system that is designed to take in applications, run background checks and go through other forms of tenant verification is an excellent way to lower the amount of time you need to spend on this process. Remember that simply cutting corners on background checks is extremely dangerous, especially in a situation that requires shared living.
Private owners that are interested in renting out to college students would do well to consider a property management company, as it can be prohibitively difficult to manage such a unit on your own. Likewise, property management companies may want to take into account the high-maintenance nature of these types of units when distributing the workload of their managers.