Managing student flats: Communication is key

Student Housing July 28th, 2016
Managing student flats: Communication is key

Arthur exposes a fundamental issue in the management of student flats and explains how a different relationship, enabled by best practice technology, will benefit both student and property owner.

Renting to Students

The student renting industry is characterised by tensions between landlord and tenants. There has been significant misinformation on both sides as to how to effectively enter into a functional relationship with these young adults, who are often experiencing renting for the very first time. While landlords fear damages to their properties from extensive university house parties and an inability to treat a house with care, students demand to be treated like any other tenant, while being unable and unwilling to pay usual rates.

There are, as in any industry, examples of exploitation, but on the whole the problems caused in such cases are down to the prevalence of misinformation and a breakdown in communications between landlord or property manager and their paying student tenants.

The Issues:

The most important factor in a relationship with student tenants is clear, open and effective communication. Too often students feel that they are being ignored when they raise an issue, or that their issue is not being taken seriously. This is often down to a lack of knowledge of how the industry works. The do not always see that the property manager or landlord has to work with a separate third party contractor in many cases, often having to find a time when it is actually possible for the contractor to do a job while trying to schedule a time that is agreeable for the tenant. Students are often passive in resolving issues, meaning that they do not chase up landlords or find out the details of what is to be done to fix their issue. Sometime they even fail to report issues in the first place.

The second issue is perceived exploitation. Students are often outraged when they find that their deposit has not been returned in full, as the property manager takes a percentage to repair issues found in the property on final inspection. They can feel powerless to find an agreeable resolution, as they may not always be responsible for damage that has been caused. But, a failure to report or log information has resulted in them being charged for the damage.

How Arthur can help:

Arthur Online is a new type of Property Management solution which provides a significant service to help correct this breakdown in communications. Firstly, its tenant interface gives student tenants easy access to the property manager, allowing them to simply add issues, post pictures, and express whether it is an emergency. This interface will encourage students to be more active in their tenancy. Furthermore, the ability for a student to track the progress of an issue means that they can see something is being done to resolve their issue. The can receive messages from their property manager and see when a contractor has been assigned to address their issue. It makes for a far better relationship between the professional and the inexperienced renters. This enables greater understanding for the student renter of how renting works and therefore helps to drive both proactive communication as well as setting realistic expectations for all parties.

Arthur also provides students with a way to log information with their property manager from the start of the tenancy. While many landlords are now using video itineraries as a more effective means for fairly assessing how a tenant has treated the property during the tenancy, it still does not go as far as a singular information deposit. Students can provide all the evidence they need to ensure they are being fairly billed, while property managers have an easier job as the information is readily accessible to them.

There are significant long term benefits for both Landlords and students as a result of this improved relationship. Landlords gain the same increased level of information, meaning that they are able to follow all communications between their tenants, property manager (if that is a separate entity) and contractors. This will give them more visibility of their individual property situations, and they are likely to have better tenants if the students are informed and able to participate within the systems.

Final Thoughts

It is clear that improved and effective communication is the most important aspect when it comes to landlords renting out to student tenants. It results in more informed tenants. This means they have a better relationship with the property manager. This in term benefits the landlord, who will have more positive tenants, making it more likely that they will treat the property with appropriate respect.

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