How to Rent to College Students

How to rent to college students. Or, should I not rent to college students? That IS the question, and luckily you don’t need to take a class to get the answer.

There is an estimated 40% of public college students living off-campus; so, if you own property near a university, college students can be a fruitful demographic to keep vacancies to a minimum.

Below, we’ve compiled a few frequently asked questions about renting to college students which can help you decide in just one lesson.

What’s the difference between renting to undergrad or grad students?

Graduate students might be a safer choice. Because they’re older and pursuing their Master’s, they’re more likely to be stable and responsible. Chances are, they’re more likely to be focused on their studies rather than partying which means less property damage or noise complaints. Also, simply, they’re most experienced living on their own versus undergrads who are little baby deers with wobbly legs just leaving their parents’ den for the first time.

Will college students have a job or will their parents support them if I rent my property to them?

Talk to them and/or their parents about how the rent will be covered. If the parents are covering their rent, make sure they understand they also will be on the line if their kids do damage to your property. 

Should I cover any utilities when renting to college students?

The short answer is “no” and the long answer is “it depends”.

Covering utilities can be a benefit, but generally results in higher usage. Also, not covering utilities helps teach first-time independent dwellers responsibility and accountability to get bills paid on time.

If you’re feeling generous and want to cover some utilities, consider amenities like wifi, where the cost will be the same every month, regardless of usage.

How can I make sure college students understand the lease?

One simple method to make sure that college students understand the responsibilities they assume when they sign the lease is to go through the lease with them. Sitting down with the college students and making it clear to them what the rules are and what the consequences are if they violate those rules.

What should I add to the lease to protect my property when renting to college students?

Flashback very quickly to the things you (or your friends) did in college, and add it all into your lease. Have clauses or rules for noise (like enforced quiet hours), maximum occupancy, underage drinking, smoking/drugs, grilling, being on the roof or balcony, weapons, fires, candles— seriously, whatever dumb thing you or your friends did make sure it’s in there. History repeats itself, after all.

How can I minimize the wear and tear that comes with renting college students?

Remember, with some college students, it is their first time living outside of their parents’ home. Some landlords handout a simple “How-To” sheet that features basic homecare tips such as: not pouring grease down the sink, not putting dishwashing liquid in the dishwasher or washing machine (if you have them on the premise), or not flushing objects down the toilet.

What should I do about security deposits?

For college students, some landlords recommend asking for 1.5-2x the normal amount of security deposit to compensate for the financial costs of repairing any property damage caused by college students. However, keep in mind that states might have regulations around how much you can charge for a security deposit. Be sure to know your landlord-tenant laws.

Take a thorough amount of before/after pictures and have the tenant sign a check-in and check-out list that acknowledges the condition of the property before and after their move-in. Give them the checklist of things you expect if they want their security deposit back.

What else should I charge for?

In the lease, include a list of things (like repairs) you might charge for…like replacing the window blinds, lockout/new keys, busted windows, broken doors, etc. Take a thorough amount of before-and-after pictures. Have a checklist of things you expect if they want their security deposit back.

How to screen college students?

While there are many benefits of renting to college students like they are short-term (if they don’t turn out to be the best) and have generally low expectations. With any prospective tenants, even college students, it’s always important to do prequalifications and tenant screening through a service like RentRedi to ensure the college students who are living in your rental property are the college students you want to be living in your property.