3 Must-Do Strategies When Renting to Students

Monday, April 24, 2017

Guest blog by Landlord Web Solutions

Renting to students today, is much different than in the past 10, 5, even 2 years. Long term, off-campus housing has become the more affordable and desired option for many; which means a lot of new student rentals have popped up recently, leaving you with more competition and more vacant units. If you want to fill your units within the right timeframe, with the right students, pay attention! Take a note from your studious tenants: hard work pays off and you have some homework to do.

There are three key things you’ll need to learn, plan and execute in order to better understand your student renters’ needs and reach them effectively.

1) Find out how to attract and communicate with your target market.

This applies to renters in general, not just students. But, understanding and communicating with the student market is a whole other ball game. These are young, tech-obsessed renters who prefer to solely research and communicate online. They have expectations of quick turnaround times for responses and if you’re not ready with an attractive online presence and the ability to respond via text or email, you will miss out on quality leads.

It’s time to roll up your sleeves and research the places your target market (ages, school type, regional location, etc.) prefers to ‘find’ their rental units. Focus your efforts on ensuring your website is seen online (Hint: Look up ‘retargeting marketing’ and social media advertising options) via the best channels that your research indicates.

Pro Tip: Having an intuitive website is great -- but ensuring your site is mobile friendly is key. The trends have undoubtedly shown that mobile is becoming the primary path to viewing online content; not just for students, but smartphone users in general.

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2) Use turnover timing to your advantage.

Students typically have 3 rental lease cycles: Month to month, 8 month (school year) and 12 month. Putting the month to month aside, let’s focus on the 8 month and 12-month timelines. These cycles predict that you will have vacancies, year in and year out, at the same times consistently. Knowing when your tenants will vacate ahead of time can and should help you market your units, so that once those times roll around, you have few or no vacancies to fill, compared with your competition.

How? Market early and market smartly. It’s time to put your marketing research into a plan of action. Choose initiatives that you know will best reach the students searching in your area and consider your budget, time commitment to social platforms and quality of content. Execute only what you can commit to keeping up-to-date. Lastly, market your units well before they empty out! You know when the lease cycle ends -- while you might not have students knocking down your door in February looking for a September apartment, it’s worth the few that do!

3) Choose the right student tenant(s).

Student renters often have parents paying for their accommodation and as guarantors on the lease, or they are using OSAP funds. This means it’s imperative to choose students who are naturally responsible, respectful and reliable, since they aren’t necessarily financially accountable for their rent and living spaces. (Note: not always the case, but more often than not). We all know that quality tenants can save you money since they do less/no damage, can be lighter on utilities, and pay their rent consistently and on time - students are no exception!

If you commit to our advice in tips #1 & #2, you should have no problem receiving multiple, quality leads for any given property. The more choices you have, the better decisions you can make. When viewing the unit with a student, ‘interview’ them just as you would an employee.

Ask them appropriate and respectful questions such as:

  • What program are you studying? Do you enjoy it? Where’s your favorite place to study and do homework?
  • Have you lived in a rental unit before - what was that like? Did you have roommates and how did that work out?
  • What’s the most important thing to you, when looking for a place to live?

Answers to these questions can tell you a lot about your potential renter and whether you feel they would be a good fit for you, your property and any other renters in that building. 

To Summarize:

  1. Ensure you are active on sites and platforms that attract your student demographic. Have an attractive, up-to-date website that is also mobile-friendly or responsive.
  2. Amp up your marketing efforts, and remember to market earlier and more often to get an edge on the competition and give yourself more time to attract quality leads.
  3. Use tips #1 & #2 to generate plenty of leads. More leads gives you more choice when picking a tenant, and better tenants equal cost savings.

By putting the proper time and effort into these 3 Must-Do things to attract quality student renters, there’s no doubt that you will outperform the competition and gain the best tenants possible -- who can save you money in the long term.

Blog Author: Josh Lipton, Solutions Strategist at Landlord Web Solutions 
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