With the festive period in full swing and New Year’s Eve celebrations on the horizon, many student landlords are bracing themselves for that dreaded call from a disgruntled neighbour in the early hours of the morning.

It’s no secret that lots of students like to party, and if not managed correctly, related disputes can create rifts that are difficult to repair.

It can be a tough balancing act, meeting the needs of your student tenants and keeping the local community happy. That’s why we’ve produced this student landlord advice guide on how to deal with student parties at your rental property without alienating tenants or neighbours.

 

To Ban or Not to Ban

If you’re concerned about your student tenants hosting large parties in your rental property, you could insert a clause into the tenancy agreement banning parties of a certain size. While this helps to deter tenants from hosting massive gatherings that could damage your property, it could prove difficult to enforce.

For lots of tenants, a steadfast rule against parties of all kinds could put them off renting your property in the first place, and this decision will narrow your pool of prospective tenants. However, banning gatherings over a certain size is a sensible idea, especially in suburban areas.

 

Managing the Neighbours

The majority of student accommodation is in busy, suburban areas with convenient amenities close by. While this is great for students, it also means there tends to be a lot of neighbours living within close proximity.

So, if your tenants like to host noisy parties, this can become a problem and damage your reputation as a responsible landlord in the area.

It’s difficult to actually prosecute a landlord for their tenants’ antisocial behaviour, unless you deliberately ignore the problem, or the issue is ongoing. However, staying on good terms with the local community will make your life easier in the long run.

When dealing with noise complaints from neighbours;

  • Make sure the surrounding neighbours have your contact details or the details of the letting agent in case an issue arises
  • Talk to your tenants calmly to get both sides of the story
  • Refer your tenants to the relevant ‘noise’ or ‘nuisance’ clause in the tenancy agreement to explain which one they have broken and why, and the possible consequences if this continues
  • Never threaten eviction as a first reaction as this could backfire on you and damage your landlord/tenant relationship
  • If problems persist, you could arrange a meeting with neighbour and tenant to clear the air and come to a solution
  • As a last resort, you could contact your local council, the police or begin the eviction process

 

Clear and Open Communications

One of the most important pieces of advice we can offer is to retain a cool and clear head when communicating with tenants and to keep interactions open and honest.

If you’re straightforward with your tenants, they’re more likely to be honest back. Make it clear from the start of the tenancy that you are happy to discuss any issues and ensure they have your contact details to hand.

If they feel like you’re on their side, they’re more likely to obey house rules.

 

Choose Simple Party-Proof Furnishings

As wear and tear tends to be higher in student rentals, furnishing a student property with expensive furniture is pointless. This is particularly pertinent when it comes to student parties. With extra bodies in the house and alcohol involved, a plush carpet and glass coffee table aren’t going to stay perfect for long.

Go for simple, more affordable essentials from somewhere like IKEA that won’t cost an arm and a leg to replace if necessary. Wipe clean surfaces and easy to clean lino floors are also a sensible option and will help your tenants stay on top of their duties.

 

Regular Property Inspections

One way to keep an eye on what’s going on in your rental property and help determine if regular parties are taking place is to schedule regular property inspections.

However, you need to ensure the correct procedures have been followed, as there are laws in place regarding the frequency and delivery of landlord inspections.

A professional property inspection will help determine if your property is being appropriately cared for, and whether your tenants are fulfilling their contractual agreements. This could include anything from red wine stains or cigarette burns on the carpets to extra people living in the property. Inventory clerks can even check in with the neighbours to ensure everyone is happy.

 

Is Renting to Students Worth It?

Despite these possible drawbacks, renting property to students can be very rewarding and comes with great benefits;

  • High demand in student towns and cities
  • Short term, set contracts of 12 months
  • Predictable, reliable market
  • Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) offer higher yields
  • Students don’t expect fancy furnishings and are happy with simple amenities
  • Low void periods

 

Protect Your Student Rental Property: Inventory Management

The most important step you can take to protect your student house is to ensure a thorough inventory is taken at the start of the tenancy.

A professional inventory service helps you recover any costs or losses due to damage at the end of the academic year. And that’s where we come in. We’re experienced at working with private landlords and letting agents by providing essential reports and property management services.

From check in to property visits, we’re on hand to make the process as stress-free as possible for landlord and tenant.

Find out how our property inventory services could help you manage your student property.

Leading providers of let property cover, Total Landlord Insurance, have just added Total Landlord Emergency Cover to their portfolio of insurance products
designed specifically for landlords.
Total Landlord Emergency Cover is a cost-effective insurance product that provides immediate assistance in the event of a domestic emergency at a rental
property.
The policy provides cover 24 hours a day 365 days a year for call out charges, labour and repairs for emergencies such as the breakdown of the heating system, plumbing and drainage problems.
Broking Manager, Steve Barnes, said: “Domestic emergencies at landlord’s rental properties can be inconvenient and sometimes difficult to resolve. It is not just boilers that go wrong, plumbing, drains and lost keys can cause inconvenience for landlords. At just £70 per property we feel that this policy represents excellent value for money and provides reassurance for both landlords and tenants that emergency assistance is only a phone call away. Introductory discounts are also available for limited period”.
Total Landlord Insurance will also be extending their range of landlord focussed products to include Rent Guarantee insurance and Tenant Referencing soon.

Steve continued: “Our customers are at the heart of our business and we will be adding more products and services to our website to provide landlords with a one stop solution for their insurance needs”.

For more information on Total Landlord Emergency Cover go to www.totallandlordinsurance.co.uk or call on 0800 63 43 880.

This article up from Property Drum by Operations Manager for ARLA, Ian Potter, further highlights how critical inventories with schedule of condition report have become.

With such large sums of money at stake, ARLA has called on tenants and landlords to consider the benefits of establishing a comprehensive property inventory check upon the commencement of a new let.

Ian Potter, Operations Manager of ARLA, said, “Deposit disputes can be one of the biggest problems for both parties involved in any rental property, and many potential issues can be avoided if a professional inventory is prepared.

“A licensed letting agent will offer you the best advice on checking to see if an existing inventory is available or whether any extra charges are invoked in drawing up a new document. A true inventory is not simply a list of items in a property – it also includes a description of the condition and cleanliness at the start and finish of the tenancy, enabling one to be compared against the other with clarity and accuracy.

“Photographs are a good support for comments made in a written inventory but should not be considered a replacement for the written word. Photographs which are unsigned and undated generally are not worth the effort, so make sure they are accepted at the outset and again at the check-out stage.”

Ian Potter said, “A well put-together inventory can give both landlords and tenants peace of mind throughout the occupation period. The inventory is not designed to catch tenants out, but rather to ensure both parties are in agreement over the quality of the property being rented.

“If conducted correctly, and agreed by both tenant and landlord, an inventory should form a key point of reference for any deposit-return queries or issues over reported damage. In recognition of the importance of inventories ARLA has its own sub division, the Association of Professional Inventory Providers, whose members have passed an accreditation exam as well as having a Code of Practice to follow.”

For Professional Inventory Management Services throughout the UK talk to No Letting Go, APIP members, who can provide all inventory management services including Inventory, Check In, Propert Visits and Check Outs with full dilapidations reports. Contact us on 0800 8815 366 or contact one of our local offices at www.nolettinggo.co.uk/contact

With student market nearly upon us, New Student Publications carried out an interesting straw survey on Student Landlord Problems

Different categories were addressed covering areas from unpaid rent to cleanliness issues.

Unpaid rent, filthy tenants and panicking about filling your properties for next year?

The results were astounding, with over 14% of landlords saying that their current biggest problem is just finding tenants to take their properties and fill in any gaps should someone drop out during a contract, with more than 2% feeling like they are struggling just to get viewings. One agent simply said “we have unlet properties remaining for July 2011, the situation is worse than in previous years” In a similar 2009 survey finding tenants was also the biggest problem raised by landlords.

Dirty Tenants

Landlords cited dirty tenants as their second biggest problem, with 16% left to pick up massive cleaning bills, or called out at 4am to change a lightbulb. The general consensus was “students don’t take care of the property or make any effort to keep the house clean.” 3.5% of agents thought that students demanded a much higher standard of accommodation than ever before, although it seems that tenants are unwilling to take out contracts for a full twelve months, with one landlord struggling to get even shorter terms “the majority of people contact me to rent for one or two months.”

Pressure From Pupose Built Halls

Many of the landlords surveyed said that they felt increased pressure from new purpose built student villages found in many city centres; more than 8% of those surveyed would eradicate those villages if we gave them one wish! 2% of landlords are afraid that their properties were not close enough to ‘hotspots’ and so would soon be abandoned in favour of more central locations.

Unpaid Rent

11% of businesses struggle with unpaid rent, while 2% note that this messes with their cash flow and although some are sympathetic to the issues caused by the Student Loans Company, most are fixed on the bigger picture; “a lot of time is spent chasing payment. Students seem to think that it is not always necessary for them to pay their rent.” This coupled with tenants excessively using all inclusive utilities means that businesses are less profitable. One landlord’s wish was simply that we could ‘undo the recession’ as 8 different landlords complained of increases to the cost of maintaining their properties to a decent standard.

Relax Regulations

Bogged down with HMO paperwork and expense? Over 18% of those surveyed would love to change or relax the regulations and the council powers to control them. One landlord stated; “there should be a national guide for HMO legislation.” Some landlords feel so strongly about HMO licensing that they named specific city councils or even actual councillors as their biggest fear for the future. 3 landlords said they had qualms about council schemes to shift populations from one area of a city to another, and how it would affect their business.

Worries Over Tuition Fee Increase

Landlords are worried about the tuition fee increase, with more than 14% saying that if they had one wish, they would fight the fees and leave the system as it stands, a worry which probably contributes to 13% of them saying that they feel the future of the market is uncertain, as some students may choose to stay at home to study. Competition from the university owned housing is a headache too, with 4% saying an increase in that sort of accommodation would be detrimental to their ability to let.

Problems With Advertising

Landlords raised the issue of advertising, when to do it and how the culture of marketing lets so early can damage the business, with nearly 5% of landlords thinking there should be a guideline that means property is marketed in January and not before. 4% thought university accommodation offices charged them too much for advertising, and 5% would like to see cheaper, and more effective advertising available to them.

Deposit Protection Unfair

Some landlords were concerned that the existing Deposit Protection Scheme did not offer them enough scope to reclaim money for damage to their properties. Eight separate landlords would like to see the entire system revised, with 1% of those surveyed listing it as their biggest problem. A case from the survey highlights the DPS’s flaws; “£1500 worth of damage but ex tenants refuse to give consent to DPS to pay the landlord.” And some feel that from a legal standpoint the law does not protect them, 3% of landlords would like to see more legislation to protect the financial interests of the landlord.

Worries Over The Potential Drop In Student Numbers

And what of the future of the student property market? More than half of those surveyed were very worried about the potential drop in student numbers next year, with one landlord summing up the problems this will create; “if student numbers drop because of the £9,000 a year course fees then we might see empty houses, lower rents or both.” A worry shared by 3% of those surveyed, who fear the contraction in the market will mean a forced reduction of rents, while other suggested offering shorter term contracts or starting to appeal to the housing benefit market was the only way to keep the business afloat.

No Problems At All

But this isn’t the full picture. Almost 9% of those surveyed have no major problems with the lettings market, their tenants or filling their properties. One landlord is more than happy with his tenants; “we enjoy our students. We pride ourselves in helping them learn how to care for and run the house. We regard them as ‘professionals-in-training’ and teach them what they should reasonably expect from a landlord and what they should reasonably do as a tenant.” One respondent would use a magic wand to change the public’s attitude towards students; “they tend to live in larger houses that are too big for modern families and therefore almost act as guardians for some of our most impressive architecture. They should be seen as a positive part of any community.”

Top 5 biggest fears for the future Number of responses Percentage
Fewer students in the future 101 54%
Student villages 15 8%
Legislation increasing workload 15 8%
Unpaid rent due to fees 10 5%
Universities moving into market 8 4%
Top 5 current biggest problems Number of responses Percentage
Bad tenants 51 13.6%
Uncertainty for the future 49 13.1%
Finding tenants 48 12%
Unpaid rent 41 11%
HMOs 17 4.5%

No Letting Go are working with a number of student letting agents and bodies around the UK to help protect both landlords and tenants from many of the issues arising from cleanliness and deposit protection. Better use of Inventory services, checking tenants in, property visits and managing the check out is critical to ensuring that potential problems are dealt with in advance and issues arising from check outs are dealt with quickly and efficiently. Contact No Letting Go on 0800 881 5366 or find your nearest office at www.nolettinggo.co.uk

Compiled by Emma Parker New Student – Student Housing Magazines – www.newstudent.co.uk

TDS state that the following percentage awards (in terms of deposits held) were made during 2010

Percentage of awards made to tenant – 56%

Percentage of awards made to landlord – 42%

Percentage of awards made to agents – 2%

The lack of landlord generated accurate paperwork seems to still be a problem.

TDS state that in 2009/10 the top three causes of disputes were as follows:

Cleaning – found in 46% of complaints

Damage – found in 29% of complaints

Redecoration – found in 24% of complaints

I read a great article written for Upad this week….if you missed it then here it is. It is always good to remember the basics.

The Buy-to-Let boom is unlikely to return any time soon. A serious lack of good deals from BTL mortgage lenders is compounded by a distinct absence of confidence right now. But it does look like those green shoots of optimism are starting to appear again and 2011 may well be the year when a little cheer returns for budding Buy to Let landlords.

Tenant demand has never been stronger and banks say they want to lend again. Combine that with rising rents in many areas and a housing market that continues to splutter, and you’d be right to think that now is a good time to reconsider a Buy to Let investment.

And invest is the key word. Buying to let is just another way of getting your capital to work as hard as it possibly can for you in order to generate returns. How you do that is up to you. Perhaps you want the boost of a monthly rental income from a property. Or you could fancy a longer term punt and hope to rake in the cash when you sell the property some way down the line. But whatever your intentions, make sure you don’t make any of the common errors that often put a Buy to Let landlord’s investment at risk.

Don’t spend too much for too little return.
Calculate what you can afford and take into account all the expenses of being a landlord. Don’t overstretch yourself. Be realistic about your finances and take professional advice on taking out an appropriate mortgage. Consider future interest rates. Over the next few years, interest rate rises are inevitable. Don’t be caught out: will your investment be as attractive if any mortgage payments you make rise dramatically?

Being a landlord also attracts all manner of expenses and they can sometimes come out of the blue. Ensure that you can afford them and also that they don’t dent the profitability of your investment. In a rented flat, the boiler could go kaput at considerable expense or a service charge bill could come out of the blue. Expect the unexpected.

Remember that your rental income might occasionally be reduced. Tenants might miss the rent and get into arrears or you could experience voids between tenants when the property isn’t generating any revenue. Ensure that you should mitigate against these and that you can afford to keep going through the leaner times.

Don’t forget to “futureproof” your investment.
Many landlords come a cropper because they spot a cracking property at a great price and just go for it. Don’t forget Elvis: only fools rush in. With a little local research, you might discover why the property is such a bargain. Is the location up to scratch? Is crime a problem? Is a new motorway just about to plough through the local nature reserve? Maybe a supermarket is planned for the end of the road? It doesn’t take much nous to do some research and understand what’s happening in the area. A bargain property is always a bargain for a reason. Just make sure that some third-party development isn’t going to blight your enterprise.

Buy for your tenants, not yourself.
Channel your inner Vulcan, disengage your emotions and buy a property that will generate a fine return. That’s the challenge Don’t fall into that all-too-common trap and buy a place you like but which is entirely unsuitable for the tenants you have in mind. And be careful to approach the decoration and fittings of your property in the same way. Go for generic colours and furnishings and think of your future tenants at all times.

Don’t forget the taxman. (He won’t forget you!)
In general terms (and you are best advised to consult a professional accountant on such matters), if you are making more than £2500 profit on your property each year you’ll need to file a self-assessment tax return. So make a merit of it. You can claim tax relief on certain expenses you incur as a landlord. A canny accountant will help you pay not a penny more (and not a penny less) than you have to and is well worth the expense for all the expertise they can offer.

Do you understand the role of a landlord?
Sometimes landlords jeopardise their investment by failing to appreciate and understand the legal frameworks that surround every landlord. Firstly, whilst it may be your house, it isn’t your home. You can’t just pop by on a whim and you are also responsible for maintaining the property in a fit state for the tenants. Bone up on the law, read a few books and keep up with the news. Joining one of the landlord associations out there is always a good idea.