Many landlords of professional lets are now looking to the student market to fill their executive, city centre flats that are lying empty due to oversupply. This means the market is becoming even more saturated, so investors need to be aware of how to adapt their properties and their marketing approach to secure tenants and the maximum rental income.
It is true to say that the student market is more competitive than ever. The Universities are building more and more purpose-built accommodation to add to this competition, but a plus point for landlords is that not all students want to live like this and still enjoy the freedom of living in individual houses with select friends, enjoying the experience of living away from home.
As with any property investment, location is key. A landlord should look for properties not just in close proximity to the campus but also in a good location for bus stops, if this is required to reach campus, bars and local shops. Investing in properties in these established student areas is usually advisable and to keep up to date with where these areas are, the university accommodation office can point you in the right direction.
Larger Victorian properties which can accommodate eight or more students are the most popular, and two bedroomed apartments in city centres are also shooting up the popularity ranks - particularly amongst second and third year students.
Landlords need to ensure they avoid investing in bad locations with high crime rates which are prone to burglary and muggings. Student houses can often be a target for burglars as they are aware that students may have the latest in modern technology systems. Keep a close eye on local news for the area you are planning on investing in.
Today's students are demanding a higher standard of accommodation than ever before. To get the maximum return on your property, the first step is to get your property accredited by the University and council - the university then actively promotes and advertises your property for you. This accreditation really is a must as it shows the students that you are a responsible landlord and that your property meets a certain standard.
A recent trend is that students are looking at more and more properties before making a decision, because they have the luxury of choice. This is where the landlord needs to be clever and blow the tenants away when they first visit the property.
After securing a property in the right location, an investor needs to give it that student look and feel. Typically all student properties come furnished with a bed, desk, chair, wardrobe, lamp, and bookshelf. It is now standard to provide internet access and some landlords are including the monthly service charge within the rent. A communal area such as a lounge is a major selling point for a student house and that should come furnished with a sofa, table with chairs as well as a television. The kitchen will contain all white goods but a dryer and dishwasher are still considered an added bonus and are not a necessary requirement. Other bonuses could include an alarm system and security lighting.
There is much more to consider than just furniture. Accredited or licensed properties need to be fitted with fire doors and fire alarm systems. Also, we always recommend landlords provide at least two smoke detectors in any rented property as a bare minimum.
To beat off the competition, offer double rooms instead of singles as these are more in demand. Depending on the number of tenants, it's also advisable to have a separate toilet to the bathroom and all floor coverings and curtains should be provided.
The student feedback suggests a preference for neutral colours - white and magnolia on the walls - this makes the property look clean and tidy. Darker coloured carpets and vinyl or tiles in the kitchen and bathrooms are also preferred.
Letting to students can prove to be seasonal and for a limited number of weeks a year, so it is important to follow guidelines and legislation to make the most of your investment. The government has introduced a number of legislations to regulate the student market and to improve the standard of housing offered by landlords. This includes the University accreditation scheme, which is governed by the council as well as the University.
However, the Government has also introduced licensing for lager houses in multiple occupation - covering HMOs let to five or more people living over three or more floors. The licence fee varies from authority to authority an can be an obstacle for landlords, so is something to bear in mind when choosing your student property.
It is standard for a landlord to offer a student a minimum six month assured shorthold tenancy agreement to cover the legal requirements - the contract usually covers a full academic year
PIP is still experiencing strong demand for student property, but the trend seems to be that students are turning into young professionals earlier and demanding the same style of properties as this sector but for a lower price. The location demands may vary slightly but the demand for quality furnishings remains the same. With this fluctuating market, landlords have to work harder than ever to get their property to stand out in this competitive student market.