How to rent a room to a student

by | Nov 13, 2022

Introduction

Renting to a student is known to be a way to produce a property with high rental yields. Especially in areas where there are a lot of students in nearby universities. As a result, this type of accommodation appeals to a lot of landlords. However, there are rules you have to identify as a landlord in order to rent a room to students legally and professionally.

So from the pros and cons of renting to students to understanding what properties are most suitable, all will be talked about regarding how you can avoid mistakes when renting to students and stay on the right side of the law.

Students leaving the room they are renting to go to university

Is renting to students a good idea as a landlord?

Whether you think renting to students is a good idea or not depends on your preferences as a landlord. This type of letting arrangement is certainly riskier than other types of investments however there is also the appeal of maximising earning potential from a property with strong and consistent rents.

How much money can you make renting to students?

There is a lot of difference in the earning potential of a property you are renting to students based on the type of property, the locations and other factors. A property in a city centre like London for example would likely charge a lot more rent than another property in a city like York for example. 

Overall, typical rental yields for student accommodation can be in the region of 3% – 11%. Largely depending on the type of property and the area.

What are the average rents for students in the UK?

The weekly rent for students in the UK greatly depends on the city and the type of property that is being rented out. As a result, the lowest rents you would be able to find for a student in the UK would be around £80 whereas the highest would be in the region of around £350 for students who would want more of a house to live in rather than a smaller student accommodation with only basic furniture.

What are the pros and cons of renting to students?

Studies show that there is a high demand for students to rent which attracts a lot of landlords. Having said this, there are clear negatives to this too and they should also be paid attention to.

What are the benefits of renting to students?

In general, while not an opportunity to neglect basic building safety and building regulations, students are far less likely to complain about the accommodation they are living in and will be fine with the most basic of furniture. This allows landlords to produce a profit from properties they couldn’t otherwise easily rent out to other members of the public.

In addition, because students are more easily pleased they’ll be less likely to complain which will save money on the management of the property. The most important factors for students tend to be whether they are nearby friends and how easily they can get work done. This tends to mean they will make a big deal over other smaller things like WiFi speeds.

This leads to another point about WiFi, landlords get to take advantage of charging a premium for fast wifi and other student services to do with learning as part of a tenancy. Unlike other tenancy agreements.

Students benefit from free wifi in the room they are renting

Also, landlords can benefit from higher rental yields because they can charge rent per room in the building rather than charge for the whole of a house. For example, if there is a four-bedroom house rented by students, they can benefit from four separate rents rather than one for the whole household.

Furthermore, the rental demand for student accommodation is often very predictable and you can usually replace a tenant quite easily. This is because during the term when universities are open, students are always available as they need to live nearby to the university.

What are the drawbacks of renting to students?

Renting to students has disadvantages too. For example, the amount of repair a landlord will have to do is likely to be more than the traditional type of property where there is only one person living in a property or even a HMO.

When it comes to student accommodation, you will also need to sign students with a guarantor which is harder than signing with a student as normal. This is because they are unlikely to pass credit checks because a student is unlikely to have a long working history or the ability to pay for rent themself besides relying on student loans or help from relatives.

As well as this, those living in or nearby student accommodation may frequently complain about the noise around the property as students tend to throw parties, stay up later and engage in social activities. While this is expected, as a #landlord you have a responsibility to make sure the tenants in your property aren’t unfairly encroaching on the peace of neighbours.

Finally, what not a lot of landlords think about is they will have to have a property vacant for a few months out of the year in the summer because universities aren’t open at this time. 

You could try to sign a short tenancy agreement to cover these additional months but this is hard when you know you need to get the property ready for the next set of students who would have likely signed their new agreement in advance.

Tips for landlords on renting a room to students

As you likely can guess, the process of renting out a room to a student is a lot different to renting out a house normally in a buy to let mortgage for example.

What type of tenancy agreement should I use for students?

In general, most landlords use an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) for their tenancy agreements with students. Having said this, it is common for students to have one student sign on an assured tenancy and then have the rest of the students sublet the rooms underneath them or bring in lodgers under the rent a room scheme.

The landlord may be aware of the students subletting underneath the main tenant or they may leave these subtenants out of the tenancy agreement. Either way, if there are students subletting any part of their property they will have to be responsible for paying the rent and making sure that the subtenants of the property are reliable.

Students as subtenants renting out from a main tenant

It is important for landlords to sign a student with an agreement that fixes them into a long term agreement. This is because students tend to want to change location and this can leave a property with unnecessary void periods where there is no rent being paid.

Overall, the landlord must make sure they have the right safety checks in place in order to rent to multiple people as the property will have to fit in with HMO regulations. 

When is the best time to advertise rooms for rent to students?

According to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), most students have their accommodation sorted out for their second and third years by the start of April for the academic year the next year in September.

This goes to show that the best time to advertise a room would be well before the new academic year starts around spring/summer time. The months from March to August would be when the majority of students start signing agreements on where to live in September.

This is especially true for international students who have to secure somewhere to live in advance because they cannot stay anywhere else like in a relative’s house for the time being.

On the other hand, advertising a property throughout the Autumn months in the UK would be a bad time to attract interest from students to rent a property.

Which properties should you use for student accommodation?

Typically, homes that have multiple rooms with shared living quarters are the best for renting out rooms to students. This kind of setup is ideal for students as they prefer to have a close living environment with their friends but at the same time, the opportunity to have private, exclusive use of a room is necessary.

This can take the form of houses which have multiple bedrooms and have been converted or halls of residences that were originally constructed with the aim of being a large HMO that meets the safety requirements straight away.

As a result, these types of properties are often the most profitable because a developer or landlord can use the requirements of the regulations and the space they have available to squeeze the most amount of profit they can from a property. 

Often, these types of accommodation are controlled and managed by educational bodies that are exempt from the standard HMO licensing regime that the government has set out for residential properties. Instead there is legislation set out specifically for educational establishments. Thes rules are laid out in the Housing Act of 2004 which you can read here for more on these educational establishments and how to set one up.

How to furnish student accommodation

Furnishing student accommodation is often a tricky thing that landlords have to decide on as they rent out a home to students. However, the furniture you should put in student accommodation isn’t that different from any other type of living space. Some of the things that are particularly important for students include:

  • Good desks in each room
  • Room for suitcases and storage
  • Fast WiFi and internet facilities
  • Good furniture in the shared living spaces
  • Washers and dryers
  • Cooking equipment
A student in accommodation he is renting sitting in a well furnished room

Things that don’t cost a lot but can add to the appeal for students and young people in general also include:

  • Pinboards so students can hang study materials and photos
  • LED lights
  • Plants within the building

Overall, as long as you produce accommodation that appeals to a younger demographic who enjoy cohabitation you should be able to attract the right students to your property given other factors like the location and pricing are correct.

What regulations should you be aware of when renting to students?

Most student accommodations are large HMOs that follow HMO regulations. There are also regulations for universities that build their own student accommodation. These set of regulations are for Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) buildings. 

They are different because they are designed with the intention that students only live in the accommodation for a short fixed period of time and use the inside of the building for different reasons to people living inside a conventional residential property. For more on how these regulations differ click here.

However, if you aren’t building student accommodation as part of PBSA, it is worth checking out the normal HMO regulations as this is where you would most likely find the rules to renovate or build a property from scratch. As a landlord, you will have to adhere to the following:

  • Safety regulations
  • Room size regulations
  • Making sure there is adequate kitchen space
  • Making sure there is adequate bathroom space
  • Maintaining the property
  • Providing waste disposal facilities

In conclusion

To wrap things up, there are advantages to student accommodations that appeal to many landlords. But at the same time, there are drawbacks and regulations to consider that may hold a landlord back from renting a room to students in the first place.

The best thing you can do as a landlord is research student accommodation in detail and avoid common mistakes like, for example, not signing students with a guarantor on a tenancy agreement. There are certain things like this that can catch you out as a result and spoil a potentially profitable investment.