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A Comprehensive Guide for Landlords Renting to College Students

Renting to students can be inevitable when you own rental properties near college campuses. Whether you’re within walking distance or just a short drive to campus, students consistently look for places to live while attending college. However, for landlords, there are some advantages, disadvantages, and special considerations to be aware of. If you’re thinking about renting to college students, here are some tips to keep in mind. 

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How to Appeal to College Students

College students are looking for specific amenities and features, so it’s important to highlight those while advertising your rental property. Here are a few tips to help you appeal to college students.

  1. Advertise Your Rental Online
  2. Highlight Desirable Amenities
  3. Include Lots of Photos
  4. Consider Including Utilities in Rent Price
  5. Set Fair Rental Rates

Advertise Your Rental Online

Most college students use the internet daily for school, social media surfing, and shopping. That said, you’ll get more eyes on your property if you advertise it online. Make sure to advertise your rental in several places like Facebook Marketplace, apartments.com, Craigslist, and more. 

When listing your property, make sure to add as much information as possible. For example, highlight nearby attractions, proximity to campus, and food options close by. Most college students want to live in an area with plenty of things to do, see, and eat. 

Highlight Desirable Amenities

If you want to appeal to college students, highlighting your property’s desirable amenities is crucial. For instance, if you have laundry on-site, all-inclusive utilities, air conditioning, a fully-furnished property, WiFi, etc., you’ll want to describe these amenities in your rental listing. 

Most college students want to live in a rental that will accommodate their busy lifestyle. So, if your rental property has highly sought-after amenities, you’ll get more leads by advertising them in your rental listings.  

Include Lots of Photos

In any rental listing, it’s important to list a lot of photos. However, if your target audience is college students, you’ll want an extremely detailed listing with many pictures of the property. After all, some students are moving from hundreds of miles away for college, so they must get a good idea of the property before moving there. 

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A Comprehensive Guide for Landlords Renting to College Students

Don’t forget to add photos of the outside of the property, each bedroom, the living room, kitchen, bathrooms, hallways, closets, and storage areas. Make sure your photos give an accurate depiction of the property. 

Consider Including Utilities in Rent Price

Students are extremely busy and may not have experience paying separate bills for water, electricity, WiFi, etc. So, if you include these in the overall rent price, students may be more likely to rent from you. 

If you plan on including WiFi with your rental, get a reputable service provider and fast internet speed. College students often have several devices connected to the internet at once and will need high-speed internet to complete schoolwork. 

Set Fair Rental Rates

College students generally don’t have tons of money to spend on rent. That said, setting fair, competitive rates that appeal to students in the area is crucial. Ensure your property is affordable for students without undercharging for all-inclusive utilities and amenities. 

If you’re unsure how to price your rental, look at other similar properties in the area to get a good idea of what people are willing to pay. Then, you can set competitive prices accordingly. 

Next, let’s go over whether you should furnish your rental or leave it up to your tenants. 

What’s Best? Furnished or Unfurnished Rentals

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As stated above, college students generally don’t have a surplus of money to spend on furniture and decor for their rental homes. This leaves landlords wondering what’s best–a furnished or unfurnished rental property. 

There are advantages and disadvantages to each option. For instance, if you provide a furnished apartment, you could risk more damage and potential storage costs for the furnishings later on. On the other hand, you could charge a higher security deposit or higher rent for providing a furnished apartment. 

Ultimately, a furnished apartment can save tenants money and be more convenient. However, it’s important to select durable and functional pieces to get the most impact for your money. If you furnish the unit, be sure to provide –

  • Table and Chairs
  • Bedframe
  • TV Stand
  • Nightstand
  • End Tables
  • Couch
  • Desk or Workspace
  • Extra Storage and Organization Items

In addition, you may consider offering other basic necessities such as pots, pans, utensils, and dishes. Just remember, providing extra items poses more risk to the landlord since everything would be subject to greater wear and tear. Also, be sure to create an inventory list to ensure all items are accounted for at move out. 

Can You Refuse to Rent to College Students?

No, landlords cannot refuse to rent to college students. However, it is important to pay attention to any applicable local laws and regulations. For example, most college students look for roommates to live with to lower expenses and make new friends. However, in Baltimore City, there are specific laws regarding unrelated people living together that landlords and students must be aware of

In Baltimore County, no more than two unrelated persons can live together in a single-family rental home. On the other hand, in Baltimore City, no more than four unrelated persons can live together in a single-family rental home. 

As such, landlords must keep this in mind when communicating with prospective tenants. While you cannot refuse to rent to someone just because they’re a college student, you must adhere to your city’s local laws and keep your rental properties compliant. 

Screening Criteria Issues to Consider

Students can sometimes present unique circumstances for landlords. Since they’re going to school while living independently, here are a few issues you may run into during the screening process. 

  • Not Enough Credit Built Up- Most students are just starting to build credit, which may reflect in their credit score. Therefore, landlords should look at the numerical credit score, but also carefully review the details of any debt or payment history to get a full picture. 
  • Financial Support from Parents- Some students don’t have time to work full time and go to class daily, so they get financial support from their parents. If they do not have steady or sufficient income, allowing a co-signer may be the way to go. 
  • Short-term Lease AgreementStudents may need a shorter lease agreement since school isn’t in season all year round. Therefore, if students make up a large portion of your tenant pool, consider being flexible with the lease term.

How to Mitigate Risk Renting to College Students

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There are some apparent risks while renting to college students. For instance, they lack credit history and possibly insufficient income along with being inexperienced with renting. Here are some tips to mitigate risk while renting to college students. 

  • Ask for a Co-Signer
  • Outline Rules and Expectations
  • Require a Security Deposit
  • Screen all Tenants

Ask for a Co-Signer

If your student tenant doesn’t have sufficient income or can’t provide a rental history, consider asking for a co-signer. A co-signer can offer you peace of mind if something goes wrong at the rental property. Legally, a co-signer takes responsibility for missed rent payments, should the tenant be unable to pay. So, don’t hesitate to request a co-signer if you’re worried about your tenant’s lack of rental history. 

Outline Rules and Expectations

If it’s a student’s first time living in a rental property, you may want to spend extra time explaining the lease and outlining your expectations. Remember that college students are young and will likely have friends coming and going. Clearly state your expectations and any rules you may have. For instance, you may prohibit parties on the premises, long-term overnight guests, and loud noise after 9 pm. 

Require a Security Deposit

In any rental, you’ll want to require a security deposit. However, while renting to college students, it’s especially important to have a deposit in place. While not every college student is a party-goer, if someone hosts a party at your property, it can cause some major damage. You’ll likely have rules prohibiting parties on the property, but that doesn’t mean they won’t happen. As such, requiring a security deposit can ensure you don’t lose money due to tenant damages. 

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Screen All Tenants

Whether you’re renting to one student or a couple of roommates, it’s crucial for property managers in Baltimore to screen everyone who will be living on the property. Although they may not have a rental history or sufficient income, you’ll still want to check their criminal background and job history. If they’re unable to keep a steady job, that’s when you’ll want to require a co-signer. 

Protect Your Rental with Property Management Professionals

Whether renting to college students, single people, or families, you’ll want to protect your rental property at all costs. However, keeping track of maintenance, tenant screening, and rent collection for each can be challenging if you have several rentals. As such, many landlords opt for professional property management to help keep their businesses running smoothly. 

Bay Property Management Group offers comprehensive rental management services, allowing landlords to focus on growing their business. BMG offers rental management in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Northern Virginia, and Washington DC. Contact us today for all of your rental management needs.