If you are a landlord with a buy-to-let property in a student-dense location, it may well be worth converting your property into an HMO and renting out to students. As students pay for property as individuals on a bedroom-by-bedroom basis, you have an opportunity to increase the profitability of your property each each room has its own margins. That being said, if you are to chase the student market, you have to ensure that your property has all the features and amenities that students want. Here are some features that your property must have in order to be competitive in the student-tenant market.
Transport lines to campus
The average journey time that a student makes to their campus is 20 minutes. Most students prefer to live walking distance from campus in order to avoid having to pay for a car or public transport. If you cannot reach campus within 45 minutes on some sort of public transport, you should seriously consider whether the student market is right for your property. You should undoubtedly check transport lines to your city’s university campus before you buy a second property with the intention of chasing the student rental market.
Bills included in rent
68% of students say that they would prefer to have bills included in their rent, rather than having to pay separately. This is due to the difficulty of having to arrange the paying of a single set of bills between a group of people. Landlords are therefore more likely to attract student tenants if they allow bills to be included in the rent. If you do this you should set a reasonable expected bill for each season (winter will be more expensive than summer). If your tenants far exceed this bill then you should ask them to pay the extra amount.
A present landlord
It’s not unfair to say that students often aren’t the best when it comes to fixing domestic problems such as plumbing and electrical issues. Therefore having a landlord or a lettings agent who lives locally is often seen as a good thing by student tenants. If you can respond to problems within 24 hours then this will be a massive tick in a student house-hunter’s box. Even if you live close to your tenants, you should always give them at least 24 hours notice before you enter their property. There is no legal requirement to do this (for the communal areas of the building at least), but everyone values their privacy.
This is a bit of an underappreciated factor by many landlords. Most students will do at least some of their university work at their home, and will therefore want internet that is fast and reliable. Additionally, Wifi in a shared house needs to be fast in order to have the bandwidth to accommodate several people streaming video at once.
It is possible to check the speed of any Wifi network with a phone or computer, and many students do this when viewing a house. If your upload speed is under 80mbps (megabytes per second) some more digitally-savvy students may be put off. This is especially true of property that will be rented out to four or more tenants.
A dedicated living room
HMO landlords are not required to provide a dedicated communal living space to their tenants. However, if your property does not have a living room you will struggle to find student tenants, unless you are purely competing on price. Students usually move into private accommodation in their second and third year of university and therefore are likely to be living with their friends. A living room to hang out in is therefore regarded as a must for many students. If you can supply a big TV then that will always be appreciated too.