So, if you’re about to start letting your property to students in the new academic year, it’s probably time to start getting organised.
When you’re renting to students, there are certain things you need to do. From taxes to insurance, our guide will take you through the essential 5 things that you need to do when you’ve got students moving into your property.
Council Tax and Utility Bills
Even though students don’t have to pay council tax, they do need to apply for an exemption certificate. The exemption certificate will prove that they are a student, by gaining validation from their university. It will be important to chase them up about these because, at any point, you may need to prove that your property has been occupied exclusively by students. If you can’t prove this, then you might become liable for any council tax bills incurred.
Since it’s such a popular choice for students, most student landlords offer bills-included tenancy agreements. We don’t anticipate that you will have any regrets about this, but it is important to bear in mind that you will be responsible for ensuring that all utility bills are set-up and paid for each month without interruption. If you are managing utilities across multiple properties, it may be a good idea to consolidate your utilities into one bill, as this will make your life far easier.
As a student landlord, you will need to acquire a HMO licence for when students move in. A HMO (houses in multiple occupation) licence is required for any house which is going to be occupied by three or more people from different families and you may need a HMO even if you are renting to two students (so do check this with your local council). For student houses with more than 5 tenants, you will need a ‘large HMO’.
Depending on your council, it can take them up to a few months to process a HMO licence; so, if you need one for this coming academic year, it’s best to apply for one asap.
For obvious reasons, student renters are likely to require a fully furnished property. Getting the furnishings ready is, therefore, an important step if you’re preparing for students to move in.
The basic items expected will be: beds, a dining table, chairs, sofas, washing machine, oven, fridge-freezers and individual desks. What is more, while a single fridge-freezer might be suitable for a couple or family, you might consider whether you have enough space for each student to keep their food separately (as student households are likely to prepare food separately).
Once you’ve ensured that your basics are all covered, it is advisable to do a full inventory, and to leave out manuals for any appliances (such as the oven and microwave) and utility fixtures. By making it as clear as possible how your student tenants should use the thermostat, boiler or fuse box could help to prevent accidental damage.
On the topic of accidental damage: when buying your landlord insurance for the year, you will need to notify the insurer that you’ve got students moving in. Informing your insurance provider about who will be living in the property is important since you will have to prove you have supplied accurate information if you need to make a claim.
Since the risk of accidental damage can be slightly higher than with traditional Lets, it is recommended to get combined building and contents insurance. This will ensure that your property, fixtures and furnishings are protected.
As a landlord, you will be responsible for trying to stop any of your tenants behaving antisocially on your property or the surrounding area. Typical student behaviours which might cause problems are playing loud music at antisocial hours and not disposing of household rubbish adequately. In the first instance, you would be expected to step in; however, if the behaviour continues you should contact the council. Not all student landlords encounter these problems but having a proactive plan about how you can prevent and tackle antisocial behaviour is an important step in preparing for student tenants.
If you can get these things right, you should be able to get off to a strong start when your tenants move in. All being well, you will build up a good reputation among the student community and attract great student tenants for years to come. For help managing your landlord utilites, contact us today!