Student Verification Methods for Landlords

Monday, June 11, 2018

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We previously provided some recommendations on how to screen prospective student tenants. There are many questions that landlords can ask to help narrow down an influx of potential student tenant inquiries, especially during the peak rental seasons.


Another important issue some landlords inquire about is: “I only want student tenants in my home/shared rental unit - so how do I know if the applicants are actually students?”


This is a great question! On occasion, landlords accept a ‘student’ renter but then later find out this was not actually the case. The tenant had posed as a student in order to take advantage of a lower rental rate.


So how can a landlord verify a student’s status?


1.    Request an email to be sent from the student’s school-issued email address.


Often, students email landlords from a personal email address, due to habit or convenience. Keep in mind that you can ask to receive at least one email from their school-issued email address to verify student status.


How do you know what a school-issued email looks like? It generally starts with part of the student’s name or an ID number, and can end in a few specific domains. The domain name is the end of the email address, often reflecting a variation of the college or university’s name. If unsure, contact the school or our office to confirm. Sometimes new students don’t receive their activated school-issued email address until school begins, so this method may work far in advance.  


2.    Request that the student bring a copy of an acceptance letter, valid student ID or current timetable to a rental unit showing.


Asking students to bring any of these forms of student verification to an open house or showing appointment is a great way to verify student status. Students will likely decline a request to copy these documents, so its best to just review them to ensure the student’s enrollment is legitimate. Students will also be hesitant to email them, as they often contain personal information.


3.    Ask academic program-related questions.


Discuss the student’s education and ask questions about the program or degree to see how knowledgeable and passionate the potential tenant is about it. These answers can also be used as a way to screen tenants for the rental unit. Landlords can inquire about how long the student’s program is, the expected graduate date, whether the studies are full or part-time, course topics, and how the program came to be picked. Landlords will often be able to verify general program information on the college or university’s website, when in doubt.


The best verification and screening process takes places when a landlord and student tenant meet face to face. However, for international students and those travelling a distance, this may be more difficult to assess. When a student is unable to meet the landlord or view the rental unit in person beforehand, it is always recommended to schedule a telephone or Skype call to try and gain a first impression. Although not ideal, this will still allow an opportunity to ask the student some questions.


Landlords who are renting a room or apartment within their home may want to use these techniques to confirm if an applicant is a student. It’s a little extra work but well worth the peace of mind! Keep in mind that the applicable residential tenancy and human rights laws for the state/province must be adhered to.


SEE ALSO: 3 Must-Do Strategies When Renting to Students

The Team