Renting to Students – What You Need to Know

If you’re a landlord, renting to students can be lucrative. Properties in popular university cities, like Durham, can yield over 11%. But there are some pitfalls to watch out for too as well as new changes to House of Multiple Occupancy legislation to be aware of. From student let insurance to legal requirements, read our guide to find out everything you need to know about renting to students.

Firstly, what are the legal obligations when renting to students?

When you rent a property to students, there are some legal essentials you’ll need to cover.

New House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) legislation

Any property let to three or more people not from the same household is a House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO). Most student lets fall into this category and mean you’ll need to comply with strict House of Multiple Occupancy legislation. If you don’t, you could face fines up to £30,000.

From 1 October 2018 new legislation surrounding HMOs came into force to tackle overcrowding. Now, if you let to five or more people, from two or more households, you must have a licence from your local council. This will show that you meet the set criteria for safety standards.

The new HMO legislation also covers changes to the minimum size of bedrooms and waste disposal provision.

The new minimum sleep room sizes are:

  • 51m squared for people aged over ten years old
  • 22 m squared for two people aged over ten years old
  • 64m squared for children aged under ten years old

Any area of the room that is under 1.5m high cannot be included in the sizing of the room.

Under the new rules, landlords must also provide suitable refuge storage facilities for HMOs. Failure to do so is also a criminal offence.

In some cases, your local council may require you to hold a licence even if your property is home to less than five people. Double check with the council in the area where you own your property before letting.

Other rules and regulations

When you rent to students, you’ll need to follow all the standard rules and regulations that apply to non-students too.

Health and safety regulations

You’ll need to follow the standard health and safety rules for letting a property.

This includes:

  • Fitting and regularly testing smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms as required
  • Carrying out a fire risk assessment and taking action to minimise the risk of fire
  • Ensuring gas appliances are sound and fitted correctly

Deposits

  • You’ll also have to follow the regulations regarding rent deposits. All deposits need to be held in a Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme (TDP). Deposits need to be placed in a scheme within 30 days of your receiving it. If you don’t, you can face criminal proceedings and fines up to three times the amount of the deposit. If you’re in England or Wales you can place the deposit with:
  • Deposit Protection Service
  • My Deposits
  • Tenancy Deposit Scheme

There are also three schemes to choose from if you’re in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Right to rent

It’s also your responsibility to check the immigration status of your tenants under the right to rent regulations.

This applies to all tenants aged 18 years old or more, even if they are not named on the tenancy agreement. You can do this by getting a copy of their passport or visa. And remember you need to do this for every tenant. It’s against the law to only follow this process for people you think are not British Citizens. Find more information at www.gov.uk.

Giving notice

It may be your property, but you must give your tenants at least 24 hours notice before you visit your property to carry out an inspection.

Safe furnishings

May student properties are let fully or part-furnished. If your student let provides furniture like a sofa and bed, you’ll need to ensure these items comply with fire-resistant standards.

Energy performance certificates

All rented property needs to display an energy performance certificate. To get one, you’ll need to contact an accredited assessor. And your certificate will need to be renewed every ten years.

Council Tax requirements for student lets

Students are exempt from paying Council Tax. However, as a landlord, you may be held responsible for paying Council Tax if you can’t prove that everyone living in your property is a student. Ask your tenants to provide a copy of evidence that they are studying from their university and keep this on file. Then, if you are asked to prove the status of your past tenants in the future, you’ll have it to hand.

Protecting your investment financially with the right student let insurance

If you’re letting a property to students, standard home and contents insurance won’t be enough. The student let insurance team at park Insurance can guide you through what cover is relevant to you. As well as protecting the structure of the building and any outbuildings, and contents, they can also advise on useful insurance extras for landlords. That can include cover for malicious or accidental damage or non-payment of rent. And you can be reassured that you’ll be covered even if the property is left empty for periods of time, for example during the holidays.

As an independent insurance broker, Park Insurance will shop around on your behalf using an extensive network of insurance providers. They’ll search out the best value deal that meets your budget without leaving your financial investment exposed to risk. Call the team on 0177 966 6835 or get a free quote now.

Maintaining your student let property

Under the Landlord and Tenant Act, you are responsible for keeping the property in repair and working order unless the damage is caused by tenant negligence. Again, the right student let insurance can help you to meet your commitments without causing a shock to your wallet. For example, insurance that protects against the costs of water leaks means you’ll be able to meet your duties quickly and without hassle.

In conclusion

Renting a property to students can be a sound investment. However, things can go wrong. Make sure you follow your landlord responsibilities. And from non-payment of rent to accidental damage caused during a rowdy party, protect your finances with student let insurance.