Making student lets stand out
LANDLORDS in university towns must be prepared for the potential effects of the increasing financial burden being placed upon students, according to the Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA).
Recently it was revealed that 15,000 fewer young people had applied for university places starting this academic year. The ARLA say the reduction in student numbers will have a dual impact on landlords who traditionally let their properties in university towns.
They say there will be less overall demand, therefore in some areas there will be less competition for properties, meaning a more proactive approach is required to secure tenants. Secondly, with student budgets coming under increasing pressures, value for money will be more important than ever before.
Ian Potter, managing director, ARLA said, "Landlords should not be surprised by the drop in student numbers, which follows on from the hike in fees and ongoing tough employment conditions. In recent times student lettings has been an area of almost constant growth, but it is now time for landlords to recognise that there may be more competition for tenants.
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"Having a positive reputation and letting good quality properties is the best way of encouraging tenants, and taking a moment to re-assess your property or portfolio to bring it up to scratch can reap rewards in the long term."
For landlords looking for effective ways of encouraging student tenants to rent their property in this changing market, ARLA has the following tips:
View the property as a prospective tenant would: Would-be tenants may be turning down your property because of something as simple as different sized rooms. If there is one room that is substantially smaller than the others, consider whether it is worth turning it into a spare/storage room or charging reduced rent. Sharers will often not want the hassle of trying to resolve conflicts over room sizes as they embark on the process of finding a property.
More than just four walls: If you are struggling to generate interest in your property it may be worth offering tenants something extra. Including broadband or a TV licence in the price of the property could help it stand out from the crowd. Including desirable student items such as a large flat-screen TV can also be another effective incentive, provided you are able to afford this sort of investment.
If the price is right: Pricing is a key consideration for students and it is important to make sure you are not charging over the odds for the area. Online research can be useful in getting an idea of the usual pricing, but it is also a good idea to seek advice from a lettings agent affiliated to a professional organisation like ARLA. ARLA agents will be able to provide strong local insight and further advice on effective pricing.
Make use of void periods: An untenanted property offers a great opportunity for minor improvements to be made, without having to disrupt existing tenants. A new coat of paint and a professional clean are simple steps that can really help to revitalise a property's interior. It may also be worth considering specific maintenance requests made by would-be tenants as this could increase the chances they will sign for the property. Be sure to write any agreed improvements into the contract, and have both parties sign. This will reduce the chances of any dispute around the commitments made.
Make use of the summer months: Depending on summer events in the town in which your property is located, it may be worth considering signing tenants on for a 'term time only' contract. This will allow you to let the property out on a short term basis in the summer months, to take advantage of any regional events or seasonal activity.