Renting to students often poses specific problems that even experienced property managers may miss. Based on our experience, the five most common mistakes property pros make when working with students are:
- Underestimating the Value and Reliability of International Students
International students are screened by the Department of Defense and typically need to be affluent to make it through the visa process. Students do get their visas denied at times, so obtaining one is extremely valuable and can be perceived as a golden ticket to make it in the USA. International students do not want to get in trouble in the USA.
They want to have great records to potentially obtain a job and a very desirable but hard to obtain work visa.
Additionally, the fear of getting in trouble with authorities and to risk being banned from re-entering the USA is not worth it. The USA has a strict immigration policy and the majority of international students understand that they should not take any risks and should be on their best behavior. At RoomChazer, international students have proved to be extremely reliable and great tenants.
- Failing to Identify Superior Student-Tenants
RoomChazer has been successful at leveraging the student market niche by appealing to a very specific category of students – students who are from out-of-town. The whole process of attending school away from home is not that easy for the new generation. Only the most organized students are able to follow through and coordinate the logistics of it.
The students who are able to make the move are generally pro-active, communicative, responsive, self-motivated, and “on top of things”. They also do not have friends in town yet and will not host parties. They are focused on building foundations and eager to show their successful move to friends and family. Those personality traits have translated into superior tenantship qualities – timely rent payments, reporting of maintenance issues, organization of household chores, and an overall motivation to be successful in life. Knowing how to identify this category of students in a systematic way can help property managers select superior tenants time and time again.
- Underestimating the Need for Communication
As first-time tenants, students are often not familiar with all the terms of a lease. By clearly laying out the terms of the lease, property managers can ensure their student tenants understand the lease and do not act stupidly when violations of the lease occur. When everything is clearly explained, students are very reliable. It has become evident that prevention and communication are the most effective tools to reduce lease violations, increase customer satisfaction, and in turn observe increased profits. Copying parents on emails whenever possible and appropriate, is a great way to all work together to guarantee a successful and superior tenantship from students.
Property managers should also add a paid or unpaid referral program in their communication. Students typically have a huge network. Leveraging that network has helped create a funnel of quality leads at reduced cost.
- Underutilizing Digital Tenant-Centric Communications
Don’t expect to see the students in the leasing office especially before noon: digital communications are easy and are the most effective way of communicating with students.
Most students are oriented towards social media and texting. The distribution of regular reminders of lease obligations can be done easily using those platforms. Easy to consume content is the best way to reach the attention of a student. Emails no longer than one paragraph or five sentences with easy-to-read bullet points or videos no longer than 30 seconds will guarantee your tenants are hearing your message.
To make life easier for property pros, there are website platforms that inexpensively automate those social media and email content and distributions.
And if you are not reaching tenants by text yet, then make sure you are!
- Not Providing Resources That Retain Property Value
Property maintenance and upkeep is a valid concern when renting to students. Consider including in the rent a monthly cleaning service of the common areas. Split amongst all roommates, the cost is negligible. This professional, monthly cleaning will not only provide valuable customer service to your residents but it will also ensure your property is well maintained. Rich, one of our first partner landlords, loved to say, “If you take good care of your rental property, it is much more likely that your tenants will do the same”.
Combining monthly property inspections with monthly cleanings ensures the student-tenants are held accountable for any damage inflicted to the property promptly and that any unreported maintenance issue is addressed in a timely manner.
To conclude, the off-campus student market is different but when done right, it allows for a very lucrative, hassle-free rental business with motivated student-tenants who make great tenants.
RoomChazer has been working in the substantial and lucrative student off-campus housing market with great success since 2017 delivering motivated responsible students who make great renters. For more information, visit www.RoomChazer.com.