Many students are starting to look for their accommodation for next year just now and more will do so over the coming months.
Renting to students is a bit of a specialism among landlords and some will let only to students. Some of their properties are poor quality but many are not. The best will have clean modern furniture, desks, broadband, everything the student needs. The landlords work hard to ensure that their properties are top quality, safe and to a good standard.
These are the properties which will be advertised through the student accommodation offices, which generally carry out inspections and have high standards. Students who rent one of these properties will be well looked after.
However its not easy being a landlord, a good landlord that is. Student tenancies have their own problems, two in particular I want to talk about today.
- The problem of the long vac, and
- The potential problem of students staying on
The problem of the students long vacation
Students are lucky. They have long holidays – stretching out between June and September. Most students will either be away during those months, or will be living ‘at home’. However landlords will want their properties let for 12 months of the year, not 9. How do they deal with this?
There are three solutions.
- Refuse to accept anything other than full rent for the whole year. This solution works best in areas where property is scarce, so the tenants have to pay for the summer or not get anywhere to live
- Rent the property out as a holiday home during the summer. This is an excellent solution for student properties in holiday areas. The students get really good holiday standard accommodation, and the landlord can charge premium prices during the summer.
- Allow the students to reserve the property and pay a reduced rent for the summer period.
The third is the least satisfactory, and it is particularly annoying for the landlord when the students then decide to move in during this period, without paying the full rent.
The potential problem of students staying on
This happens very rarely, as most students will be only too keen to leave at the end of the academic year, either to go traveling, or to go ‘home’.
But if they decide to stay on this can be a nightmare. The landlord will have normally have signed up new tenants to that property months in advance.
Unfortunately the existing students do have the legal right to say on if they want to, and cannot be moved other than by a court order, which could take months. Leaving the incoming students with no-where to live and the landlord responsible for housing them elsewhere or paying compensation.
Then by the time the tenants have been evicted, the incoming students will have found somewhere else to live and the landlord will be left with a property which will be difficult to let until the start of the next academic year.
The Landlord Law solution
It is to help with these two situations that I created the Landlord Law student tenancy agreements.
These all provide for the student tenants to be asked whether they want to stay on and given an opportunity to sign a new tenancy or renewal form for the following year.
If they don’t do this, the landlord will re-let to new incoming tenants and let them know when this has been done. The tenancy agreement then provides for the rent to be increased substantially after the end of the fixed term, if they stay on. This should act as a disincentive to the tenants to do this.
Then one version of the tenancy agreements provides for an initial period of the tenancy which is dealt with differently – the tenants pay a much lower ‘holding’ rent and are allowed to store their belongings there. However they do not get the keys and if they want to move in early they have to give notice to the landlord. They are entitled to move in if they want to, but if so they have to pay the ‘proper’ rent.
Of course landlords don’t have to use these special agreements if they don’t want to. The standard tenancy agreements are still there, plus our tenancy agreements for a room in a shared house, if you decide to rent out the rooms on an individual basis. But the student tenancies are there as an option for Landlord Law members.