Renting to the right students can be both rewarding and a consistent source of income. Whether you’re considering renting to students for the first time or are a seasoned veteran, we’re here to help. This guide provides key insights into how you can best accommodate and advertise to students.

Why should you rent to students?

When people think of renting to students, they visualize a frat house where little care is given to the space and/or its contents. Believe it or not, most students are looking for a nice place to live with furnishings that make it feel like home. When they win, you win too.

1. Short-term rentals are profitable. Compared to yearly rentals, short-term rentals are more profitable and allow for more price flexibility. Since leases end every few months, you can also change your pricing every few months based on demand. If you want to offer year leases instead, consider allowing the student to sublet.

2. A steady demand leads to less risk. School and internship schedules are consistent, so demand is more predictable. With a steadier demand, there’s less risk of losing money from a vacant place.

3. It's rewarding. Renting to students is especially fulfilling because most landlords were once students themselves and now have the opportunity to give back.

What kind of housing are students looking for?

Understanding what your prospective tenants want helps you improve your place to fit their needs and desires. Students look at these primary factors when searching for housing:

1. Location, location, location. Students want housing in areas closest to their school or internship, depending on whether they’re in a school term or work term. Due to the growing popularity of cooperative education programs (internships as a part of the curriculum) and studying abroad, students move to a new destination for school and work quite a bit throughout university.

North American internship cities
Internships throughout North America. Students find most internships in urban areas such as the San Francisco Bay Area, Toronto, Vancouver, Houston, Seattle, and New York. Some smaller cities are also popular, including Waterloo, Ontario; Lansing, Michigan; and Kirkland, Washington.

2. Pricing. While pricing a rental isn’t straightforward, researching similar accommodations’ prices gives you a good sense of how to price yours. You can also check out similar — but annual and/or non-furnished — places and raise the price of yours accordingly for a furnished, short-term place. And don’t forget: since you’ll have short-term leases, you can try different prices from term to term and see how demand varies.

3. Furniture is a big deal. Students move relatively often, which makes buying and moving furniture a hassle. A furnished rental — with beds, dressers, a dining table, and a couch — is often a deciding factor for students, especially for those moving far away from home.

Pro tip: Students are looking for inexpensive places, so try to fit in another bed and bring down the cost.

4. Make a winning listing. Students — especially students who can’t visit before moving — want to know they can trust the landlord and property. To make a great listing and stand out, you should:

  • Take high quality photos and video: Photograph all spaces in the rental — bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, living areas, and the exterior. Photographing from the corner of a room in daylight makes the room look bigger and more welcoming. Don’t forget to tidy up the place!

    Pro tip: Record a video tour of the space and provide some commentary throughout the tour.
  • Include details. Write an overview of the property, all the amenities, features, and neighborhood highlights that would interest students.
  • Add a profile picture and bio. Tell them who you are. This builds a feeling of trust with students, which will make them more likely to want to rent from you.

Spread the Word

So, you’ve determined your space is great for students. Now you need to post your listing somewhere. This is one of the main reasons we started Faros — to allow landlords to directly market their listings to thousands of verified students.

Where to post

Creating a listing on Faros is an excellent way to advertise your rental property. Lots of renters who browse on Faros are students and recent grads now working at big tech companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft.

Universities have housing sites you can post on, but they typically require a payment or fee to post a listing. Since they are maintained by the university, they often don’t have the time, budget, or resources to implement a user-friendly site.

Finding the best student tenants

Screening applicants and requiring leasing agreements are two powerful techniques that landlords can use to ensure that they attract the best student tenants.

Screening Applicants

It’s common to rent to students who are moving in from out of town without meeting in-person, so feel free to ask for a quick video call to get to know them. To save you time, check out their profiles on Faros, which includes education and work information, their bio, and links to their social media accounts.

Leasing agreements

A lease protects both the landlord and the tenant by letting each side know their responsibilities and obligations. Leases include the length of the agreement, the monthly payments, the rent payment method, move-in and move-out dates, and any rules the tenant needs to follow. Laws regarding property rentals differ for each region, so it’s important to understand your local property rental laws. You can also find sample rental leasing templates for most U.S. states and Canadian provinces.

Get contact information for the student, the student’s parents, co-signers, and emergency contacts. University students are often still financially reliant on their parents, who can help with late rent payments or with any other issues that might occur.

Once a Student Has Moved In

The work doesn’t end once a student signs a lease. Having a great landlord-tenant relationship is key; this becomes apparent when repairing something in the place or showing the property to other prospective renters.

Keep an open line of communication. Although it’s not expected to be available by phone at all hours of the day, make yourself available to respond within 48 hours. If you’re open to tenants, they’ll be open to you, too.

Cultivate good habits and break bad ones. If the students do a good job of paying rent and respecting the rules, consider rewarding them (perhaps with gift cards or updated appliances) or offer to spend a fixed amount on improvements they would like to the accommodation. Similarly, don’t be too nice — it’s okay to penalize students for late rent payments or lease violations.

Summary

Overall, students are generally friendly, easy-going, and undemanding tenants who can rent on a consistent basis. Hosting a student can be a great learning opportunity, especially due to their typically shorter lengths of stay.

The next time you decide to rent your place, make a compelling and student-focused listing and choose a good place to post it. If you focus on understanding their needs and maintain consistent communication throughout their stay, students will likely recommend your place to their friends.