If you have teenagers yourself, you probably know that students tend to be in a class of their own – and, as tenants, this typically puts them in a special category as far as the landlord, in terms of his particular obligations and the specialist landlord insurance for students that is needed.
It is impossible to generalise, of course, but students are likely to:
- be younger than the average tenant – although there are plenty of mature students too;
- work less regular hours than tenants who are in full-time employment;
- probably have a smaller disposable income and maybe managing only on a grant – although there may also be significant numbers of well-heeled international students;
- have a scanty, if any, credit history for you to check – and may be in the early stages of learning how to manage their financial affairs;
- be more inclined to hold impromptu parties and have more visitors than other classes of tenant; and
- raise the risk of a greater number of breakages, damage and general wear and tear in your let property.
That may be why some buy to let insurance policies contain provisions specifically excluding rental to students (and other groups, such as benefits claimants or asylum seekers).
It is also why we make it one of our specialities here at Cover4LetProperty to arrange landlord insurance which covers all categories of tenant – including students – so that your buy to let business has every opportunity of tapping into this potentially buoyant and rewarding sector of the market.
Student lets – the market
Past research has revealed the extent of those potential rewards. This suggested that where gross rental returns were 6% or so on the average buy to let property across all classes of tenant, when there are students in residence, it may be possible to achieve returns of very nearly 10%.
So, an attractive market exists, but only if you are fully aware of the additional obligations you may have as the landlord of accommodation let to students – obligations with which it is necessary to comply as a matter of law and in order to maintain the validity of your landlord insurance for students.
Student lets – your obligations
As the landlord of any let property, the principal obligations set out in a variety of laws, relates to the safety of the accommodation and keeping it free from any health hazards. For example, you must:
- arrange an annual inspection, by a qualified Gas Safe engineer, of any gas installation, its flues and appliances;
- a copy of the safety certificate that is issued must be given to new tenants when they move in or to existing tenants within 28 days of you receiving the certificate;
- the electrical installation – its cables, sockets and fittings – together with any of the appliances you provide, must also be kept in safe working order and, although the law does not specify an inspection schedule, the prudent landlord is likely to carry one out at least once every five years or when there is a change of tenancy;
- you must comply with all national and local fire regulations and fit a smoke alarm on every floor of the property and a carbon monoxide detector in any room where there is a coal or wood-burning fire;
- for any tenancy that started after the 1st of February 2016, you must also be able to prove that any tenant and members of their household have an immigration status giving them the right to rent the property and stay in the UK;
- any deposit you accept from tenants as a condition of an assured shorthold tenancy (the most common type), must be held by an independent third party, approved under the government’s Deposit Protection scheme;
- Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) – where three or more tenants live in the property as more than one household, sharing facilities such as bathroom and toilet or kitchen – are especially popular with students, but impose further obligations and health and safety checks on the part of the landlord;
- the property must not be overcrowded, for example, and there must be sufficient facilities for the number of tenants sharing the accommodation;
- some HMOs and all large HMOs (those extending over more than 3 storeys, with at least five tenants forming more than 2 separate households, but all sharing kitchen or bathrooms) must be licensed for use by your local authority;
- the licence is granted on condition not only that the property offers a suitable standard of accommodation, but also that the landlord is a “fit and proper” person.
In order to make the most of the financial rewards that may be enjoyed from letting to the large student population in the UK, therefore, you must ensure that you meet a range of obligations as their landlord – and make sure your landlord insurance covers students too. (Which it does with our policies!)