Advertising your property is one of the most important parts of being a student landlord. You could have a fantastic property, but unless you put it out there in the right place at the right time, you are not going to have the fantastic tenants you want. Getting it wrong at this stage could result in void periods, disorganised tenants and unplanned financial expenditure.
Timing is vital: advertising your property at the right time will ensure that you get the pick of the best organised and more mature student tenants. They will probably also have been organised enough to attend the university’s own housing advice sessions, so will have some understanding of what is expected of them (and you) in the landlord/tenant relationship. The right time to advertise will vary from area to area, depending on when the accommodation offices or student unions start to contact landlords to find out what they will have available for the next academic year. This process will often start as early as November or December, with properties being advertised before students go home for Christmas or in the January after they return.
Delaying advertising your property until the end of a current tenancy is not advised. You will either end up with the disorganised returning students (who didn’t get themselves together in a group and start looking earlier in the year), or you will be marketing to new first years who were too late to be housed by the university. This is fairly disastrous as they are unlikely to have lived away from home before (and therefore can’t operate a vacuum cleaner), have over-anxious parents who, at best, will view you with suspicion, and they will be choosing to live in your house, on a joint tenancy, with people they have met approximately ten minutes before coming to see you. The only advantage you might have is that they will be so excited about the thought of living away from home for the first time that they won’t notice the stain on the carpet that YOU have just noticed was left by the tenants who moved out yesterday.
The most important thing to do is to ensure you are registered with the local universities for your property. They will keep you informed as to when best to advertise and when house-hunting events are run. They will have noticeboards and can give out leaflets but the most efficient way of advertising your property will be to do so online. There are several well-known national sites for advertising student properties or rooms but you will have the best chance of success if you are advertising via a university-approved site such as Studentpad. Over 100 institutions are now registered with Studentpad to advertise landlord properties online to their local student populations. Most will charge a reasonable fee to landlords for listing their property and some will have no charge at all. By registering with a university using either Studentpad or their own online system, you will have prime authorised access to the students local to your property.
Another option is to use a local letting agent. Although most students will try their own accommodation first, going to letting agents follows shortly afterwards if they can’t find what they want. So letting agents can be useful, particularly if you are not confident in your ability to be firm about tenancies, standing orders and guarantors. They can also conduct viewings if you do not want to do these yourself. The disadvantage is that their fees are comparatively high and can be anywhere between 2-4 weeks rent. If you are going to use a letting agent, ask the university housing office for a list of agents known for letting student properties.
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