September has come and gone; along with the majority of students seeking accommodations for the fall semester. In general, most colleges and universities have their largest intake of students during the fall term, which begins somewhere between mid-August to early September (some schools may operate on a different schedule such as a quarterly academic calendar).
Once October has hit, the amount of students seeking accommodations for fall has tapered off and the next major rush won’t happen until the winter intake. So what’s a landlord to do if they’ve still got vacancies after September?
Don’t panic! There is still a considerable amount of students who will need accommodations.
Students Who Did Not Get Into On-Campus Housing:
Some colleges and universities have such competitive on-campus housing where there is more demand for assignments than available. Many students are put on a waiting list, while others are completely denied an on-campus accommodation. The students who are placed on a waiting list will sometimes hold off on securing other housing, hoping that someone drops out and they can take that spot. This waiting list can sometimes consist of hundreds of students vying for the last few on-campus housing spots. If they don’t get in, these students will be scrambling to find an off-campus accommodation during the first few weeks of school.
It’s fairly common for most major colleges and universities to operate a study abroad program where students from different countries will come over to study for a few months. These programs often begin mid-year, so the exchange students probably won’t be seeking accommodations until later in the school term. The only caveat is these tenants may not be willing to commit to a full 12-month lease, if they are only studying abroad for a few months or a single semester. Nonetheless, it is still better to have a tenant for a few months, rather than not at all.
A fair amount of students each year will change their school or program for a variety of reasons. These transfer students will typically be late-registrations into their programs, so they’ll be searching for accommodations after the first few weeks of the semester.
Students Changing Their Current Accommodation:
It’s an unfortunate reality but not every student will be satisfied with their rental accommodation. For example, some students from out-of-state/province or country may have to rent a place sight unseen (signing a lease before viewing the accommodation in person). Once moving in, they may not be content and start searching for a way out of the lease. While this pool of late tenants is small, there almost always is a segment of student renters who are looking to upgrade their accommodation.
In addition, some students decide to change their accommodation and move-in with new friends after the semester has started. This opens the door for group leasing opportunities.
Co-op/Work Placement Students:
Some specialized programs involve a component where the student is required to do a co-operative education placement that may not necessarily be located near the school campus. These co-op placements typically begin mid-year rather than in September. Typically, the students will need to find an accommodation for part of the term, while they complete the co-op component. For example, Seneca College operates an Honors Bachelor of Aviation Technology program where students must spend a minimum of 14 weeks at a co-op placement. Another example is the Marine Technology program at Georgian College where students have 3 co-op work terms.
In many college and university towns, recent graduates that secure employment in the city may opt to remain living in their student housing accommodation to save money on rent. Typically, a studio or bachelor apartment will cost significantly more than a room in a home or apartment.
Now that we’ve identified some of the potential groups of off-season tenants, let’s examine a few ways to convert these leads into leases.
Focus on Fast Follow-Ups:
Every single email and phone call inquiry should be followed up on immediately. Focus on converting email/phone calls into an in-person viewing. Don’t take days to respond; otherwise, these prospective tenants will already have found a place elsewhere.
Offer More Flexible Leases:
While most landlords prefer a 12-month lease, it’s advantageous to offer more flexible leases when there is a smaller tenant pool, to accommodate students with shorter school terms. A single semester or month-to-month lease may appeal more to students seeking short-term accommodations.
Do Increased Advertising:
During peak rental seasons, a landlord may place a single advertisement and have the property rented in a few days; but during off-seasons, additional marketing may be necessary. Increased advertising efforts will help generate more leads during slower times.
SEE ALSO: Top 10 Reasons Why a Student Housing Rental Listing May Not Be Generating Leads
The Places4Students.com Team