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Setting House Rules: Tips for Landlords Renting to College Students

Setting House Rules: Tips for Landlords Renting to College Students

Now that Labor Day has come and gone, classes around the country are, without a doubt, back in session. While that means many things to many people, for landlords who lease their properties to college students, it can mean that they’re sleeping a little less peacefully at night. But, that doesn’t have to be the case.

Yes, renting property to college students can be stressful, but it also can be very, very lucrative. And, you don’t have to have the most conscientious tenants to protect yourself and your property. What you do need to have is a little landlord know-how.

Here are three top tips to help landlords have a successful school year with their college tenants:

1. Exercise an extensive screening process. When it comes to leasing a property to a college co-ed, it is all about the screening. Screen the students; screen the parents; and, screen the school. What do we mean? Well, you may want to run a criminal background check on your potential tenant. And, if Mommy and Daddy are footing the bill for the rental property, you may want to run a check on their credit, too. Finally, screen the school by contacting them to make sure that your potential tenant hasn’t been kicked off campus for any heinous acts. The upfront screening process may seem like a bit of a hassle for a landlord, but you can’t put a price on peace of mind!

2. Tailor the lease for each and every tenant. Let’s face it; renting property to college students may not be exactly the same as renting property to a retiree. It may be a good idea to work with an attorney to create an individualized lease agreement for your college tenants. You may want to consider asking parents or guardians to co-sign the agreement. You may also want to include special clauses that address noise levels, occupancy rules that might prevent tightly-packed parties and damages that could result in costly repairs.

In multiple bedroom homes or apartments, some landlords opt for lease agreements that hold each tenant responsible for the total rent amount. That way, if friendships or relationships go awry during the semester and someone decides to move out, the landlord doesn’t see a loss in rent money.

The landlord/college tenant lease agreement may even be a good place for first-time-away-from-home students to learn a little responsibility. By creating a lease that specifies student tenants are required to pay utility bills, they may learn the price of leaving the air conditioner running all day with the windows wide open. Mom and Dad may even thank you for the life lesson!

3. Enlist the help of a trusted student. This is college we’re talking about after all. There are an abundance of over-achievers out there. As a landlord, you’re bound to find a responsible student who is looking to build their future resume from the start. If you can afford it, offer a stellar student free or discounted rent to serve as a Resident Assistant that monitors your other tenants. College students may respond to a peer better than you anyhow. So, having a “friend” tell them that they’re not allowed to burn candles, light incense, set off fireworks or have bonfires may be more effective than their landlord catching them in a prohibited act. 

When it comes to trusting personal property to any tenant, there is always cause for a landlord to be concerned. This may be particularly true for the landlord-college tenant relationship. Whether you are a new landlord, who is renting to college students for the first time, or a landlord who has been burned by irresponsible student tenants in the past, the start of a new semester is the perfect time to start new lease agreements for successful renting relationships.