A Landlord’s Guide to Renting To Students

The Opportunity Of Student Rentals

Being a landlord is always an excellent financial opportunity. Being able to use your current assets to generate a sustainable source of income is an excellent investment. One type of tenant that can get overlooked is post-secondary students. Renting to students, a group often stereotyped as loud, messy and disruptive, you'll likely find that most students don't fit this stereotype and can be good tenants when given a good opportunity. There's minimal risk involved to property owners, especially those who have landlord insurance.

What Are Some Pros Of Renting To Students?

At first glance, it might seem more appealing to go with tenants who have previously rented and thus have more experience living on their own. However, there are many reasons why renting to students can be great for you and leave you very happy as a landlord.

Constant Demand For Student Housing

Something that can be a constant fear for landlords is if their location becomes undesirable. There’s also a chance that, for some reason, they don’t get any suitable tenant applicants for a certain amount of time while the dwelling is unoccupied. With student housing, there is no need to worry about this being a long-term situation. As long as the school year is on, you will almost certainly have plenty of students wanting to rent you your location, meaning you’ll never be left with an empty property for very long.

Increased Rental Income

As much as you enjoy helping students find an opportunity to live close to school and live out on their own, in the end, this is a business arrangement you have with them. You’re ultimately doing this to make extra money, and one of the better ways to increase your income is by being able to bump rent up slightly. If the dwelling you are renting out to others is close enough to the school, you can charge slightly more than you’d be able to charge for an identical apartment located further away.

No Need For Expensive Furnishings

Something that can understandably scare a lot of landlords is the possibility of having very picky tenants who want things like furniture set up exactly so. It can be intimidating to picture a tenant who demands the most comfortable couches, fancy tables and pristine chairs. However, students rarely have these high expectations. Having couches, tables and chairs that get the job done is enough for most of them. This can help you save a lot of money on setting these furnishings up, meaning you get to keep a higher portion of your income.

What Are Some Cons Of Renting To Students?

While renting to students has advantages, it's important to remember that every situation, no matter how positive, could come with some downsides. Even with all the upsides renting to students has, there are plenty of downsides that should also be taken into consideration.

Tenant Turnover

One thing you should know about renting to students is that they often leave for the summer, usually to live with their parents. This means you may not have a tenant in the summer months and often have to deal with a new tenant each school year. Students may often move even during their school year due to dropping the course, wanting to live with different friends, being closer to a possible part-time job, and more. This could lead to regular periods when your property is either unoccupied or entirely vacant.

Chance Of Property Damage

While most students will do their best to ensure that the property they are renting is well taken care of (after all, they do live there), there is still a chance of them accidentally doing some damage to your property. This could be due to them having people over, not cleaning up, or simply taking the cleanliness or condition of their home for granted. While these students are doing their best to hold things together, there is a possibility that they won't. This means that when renting to students, you should be prepared for the possibility of fixing some damage between tenants and all of the work and costs associated with doing so.

How To Find The Best Student Tenants

Finding the best tenants is essential for any landlord. The difference between a good tenant and a poor one can make a massive difference in the state of your property when their lease is up. 

Create Online Listings

It seems as if students these days are practically attached to their phones and the internet. A standard advertising tip is to use your audience's mediums, which is true when advertising your property listings. Instead of posting your place for rent in a newspaper that will get ignored by your target demographic, when renting to students, post your listings online for them to find during their time scrolling online.

When making a listing, make sure to highlight what you want potential tenants to know about the place before moving in. Highlight the best things about the location, whether it be the view, the opportunity for the tenant to meet other students, or the proximity to their school. Also, be sure to highlight anything that would appeal to potential tenants, such as a pool, garden, yard, recent renovation, balcony or anything of that nature.

Mentioning nearby appealing locations such as a grocery store, restaurant, bar or pub, park, library, or other potentially exciting or practical place will also likely increase appeal. Having appealing photographs is also a large plus.

You should also include things like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the rent, whether or not pets are allowed, and the fact that it's intended as a student property.

Screening Applicants

Screening potential tenants is always challenging. When screening the student population, things can get even more challenging. Things like previous rentals, credit history, current employment and other common ways to measure applicants can be minimal, if they exist at all, meaning that traditional screening methods are unlikely to give you as much information as they do for other potential clients. However, there are ways that you can increase your chances of getting an ideal candidate.

You can ensure that your potential tenant can pay the rent you are charging. It doesn't matter where the rent comes from a loan, a part-time job or the tenant's parents, but you can ensure that a student will have a reasonable chance of paying rent on time. 

Another screening method is to see if your tenants have tenant insurance. Tenant insurance is something you can make mandatory and protects you from liability claims. In addition, a student who already has tenant insurance or acquires it upon your request is more likely to be prepared and responsible and more likely to listen to you as a landlord.

Leasing Agreements

If you have specific rules you want your tenant to follow that are not covered by the law; a leasing agreement is your opportunity to enforce such a thing. Suppose you don't want your tenants creating unreasonable noise levels after a specific time, having friends stay over for multiple nights, or not touching certain aspects of your home when decorating it to their means. In that case, a lease agreement can legally cover such things. This gives tenants who are not a good fit for your property a fair warning to find a landlord with different rules while allowing you to find a tenant willing to play by your rules.

What Do Students Want In A Property?

You need to figure out what the customer wants to buy whenever you're selling anything, and this doesn't change when you're renting to students. While it may seem like a student just wants a place to live, it's often more complicated than that. A student living with others will have different priorities than a young family, a bachelor or a senior couple. Once again, you must understand your target audience. So, with that, we're left to discuss what students would like in their campus housing and learn how to appeal to student tenants.

Ease And Convenience Of Location 

One of the easiest-to-understand desires for students is the wish for housing options near the post-secondary school they are attending. There's a reason off campus housing isn't popular with the average student renter. Proximity to amenities like public transportation and grocery stores will also be appreciated. Like anyone else who needs to travel almost daily, students love having a short commute. Living near their school is a huge time saver for students who are likely stressed. 

Clear And Understandable Terms

Have you ever read a legal document you didn't understand because it had too many highly technical and complicated terms in a field you weren't entirely familiar with? It's frustrating, isn't it? However, unlike the terms and conditions of a website you're only going to visit once, agreeing to a housing lease can have serious consequences. Students, on average, have very little legal knowledge and are very nervous about locking themselves into a contract they don't understand. Avoiding jargon in the contract and being very forward about your expectations when renting to students will allow them to understand the rules they have to live with, letting them live without the fear of accidentally breaking the rules you set for them.

Ability To Pay Rent Month-To-Month

A student's life changes fast. Since students often require a great deal of flexibility in their lives, having the flexibility of being able to rent month-to-month can be a real lifesaver for them. Maybe they want to be able to move in with a friend. They may not be 100% sure they want to continue with their course and want the option to split if that were to happen. They may live back home for part of the school year. No matter the reason, the option to drop the agreement without having a year-long lease provides flexibility that a student tenant will certainly love.


Students are often moving in and out of their parents place. This means that they likely won't have their own furniture. Furnished units can be a blessing to these students. Luckily, students are also unlikely to be very picky about the furniture. They will, of course, want it to be clean and sanitary, but it's unlikely that a college student will demand that their couch and chairs be from some expensive brand. Simple, clean, functioning furniture will likely be enough when renting to students.

What Are Common Student Complaints?

If there's anything all humans do, it's complain. After all, here in Canada, we spend half the year complaining it's too hot and the other half complaining it's too cold. As a landlord, sometimes you get stuck with a Goldilocks tenant who can't bear the slightest thing being off. While some college renters make frivolous complaints, there are plenty of valid complaints that a lot of tenants have that a landlord should attend to. When renting to students, knowing the most common complaints in advance allows you to prepare for them in advance and prepare.

Poor And Inattentive Maintenance

While a tenant is responsible for not abusing the stuff in their rental unit, you, as a landlord, are responsible for good rental property maintenance. While there's no need for every lightbulb to be replaced the second it goes out, keeping the electrical network functional falls on your lap. When renting to students or anyone else, you should be aware of the maintenance required.

Stuff Doesn't Work

When renting to students, you, as the landlord, are likely responsible for many things. While this might differ based on the particulars of your lease agreement, if something is your responsibility as a landlord, you need to fix it.

Tech Problems

Technology is critical to students. It's how they communicate with each other, how they entertain themselves, and how they get their news. Poor cell reception and bad wifi can be absolute deal-breakers for some of your potential tenants. You should do everything reasonable to keep these running at a level your tenants deem acceptable to keep them happy. 

Disliking Neighbours Or Roommates

People not liking an acquaintance generally doesn't have much of an impact on anything. However, living with someone like a roommate you don't like can have a much bigger impact. Although adult roommates likely won't reach the level of petty squabbling of most siblings, living with someone you don't like will wear down anyone over a long enough period. 

Although you can't police everyone's feelings or guarantee that everyone will be on decent terms with each other, a good screening process can help lower the chances of having more brash, disagreeable or simply incompatible personalities.


You can't control the weather outside. If there is a particularly hot or cold stretch in the weather, your tenants will understand that you can't do anything about that. However, when renting to students, they expect you won't actively stop them from making themselves comfortable at home. Nobody likes to huddle up in an extra couple of layers during the winter or sweat buckets indoors in the summer. Extreme temperatures can also shock an international student who might be experiencing such temperatures, especially the cold, for the first time. Keep temperature control like the HVAC running to ensure your tenants remain comfortable inside, even in extreme temperatures. 

Remember The Opportunity You Have

Not everyone can make money off the real estate industry. Some additional rental income is always a good thing. Given the significant demand for housing that students wanting to live away from home for the first time have. While the extra work of renting to students can give you a headache from time to time, you must remember that you have a financial opportunity that most don't, so be grateful for it.

This content is written by our Morison Insurance team. All information posted is merely for educational and informational purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Should you decide to act upon any information in this article, you do so at your own risk. While the information on this website has been verified to the best of our abilities, we cannot guarantee that there are no mistakes or errors.

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