Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Renting to College Students: Jason Cohen Pittsburgh’s Advice

College students are a huge rental market for real estate investors. Students are seeking short-term residences that offer location as the top amenity. They, or their parents, are generally willing to pay a bit more for proximity to the school, and they’re seldom looking for luxury living. College town rentals are typically seen as price-per-room, so the overall monthly income generated from each property is greater than renting to a single family.  

However, there are risks and rewards when renting to college students. From our years of renting to college students, we at Jason Cohen Pittsburgh have compiled the following list of smart strategies.

Require a co-signer
Most college students don’t have the credit history to run a credit check. And, many of them won’t actually be the ones responsible for payment. Sure, the check may be in their names, but the money will often be coming from the parents. Require mom, dad, or both to co-sign a college student’s lease.

Make the tenant responsible for utilities
For the majority of college students, this will be their first apartment. They may not realize just how much it costs to leave all the lights on in the house all night, or the air conditioner running while they’re at class. Having your tenants put utilities in their names puts the burden on them. Don’t get hit with huge bills because your renters don’t know how to manage them.

Include strange rules
In few places outside of college towns does one need to stipulate that couches do not belong on porches. It’s not the aesthetic — it’s the chance for burning when festive revelers light things on fire after a sports victory. You may need certain regulations that are not necessary outside of college life. You may have to forbid climbing onto the roof.

Keep the property in good shape
Students and their parents will not tolerate slumlords any longer. They’re willing to pay more these days for better. Maintain the property and you will reap the rewards. You don’t need to go overboard though. Students often still have meal plans and are seldom gourmet chefs, so high-end kitchens are likely not necessary.

Hire a property manager
Several factors make a student house or apartment a high-maintenance endeavor. This is likely their first residence that they will at least have some responsibility to maintain. College students just may not be aware of all the ways that household items can break. They may not know when to “fix” something themselves and when to call for help. They may even be afraid to call the problem in for fear or being penalized. Or they may call too often because they are unaware of what constitutes an actual problem with the property. And, they may be more prone to damaging the home more than an older tenant. Having a property manager dedicated to overseeing the property is a good idea if you don’t have the time to deal with young renters.

Renting a property in a college town can be an extremely profitable investment that you can keep year after year. The rewards can be great, if you know the risks and how to minimize them.  

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