Although Universities may now be welcoming students back to study it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be able to attend lectures, or indeed want to risk attendance, especially as stricter lockdown rules now apply. Increasingly there’s the option for online study but what does this mean if you plan to rent or let student property in the coming weeks? Abi Volynchook, a Reeds Rains Lettings Manager, provides some advice:
Landlords – not all is lost
“Whilst you may be concerned that your rental income will be impacted because of the new approach being adopted by Universities, it doesn’t necessarily mean that ‘all is lost’.
We’re finding that many students still want to embrace ‘student life’ albeit in a more restricted way. The experience of sharing with new housemates (even on a socially distanced basis) is still appealing and many are accepting that they will simply spend more time at their student ‘digs’, studying online and remaining in smaller ‘student bubbles’.
Once a lettings agreement is signed there is still the obligation for the students to pay rent, whether they live in the property or not, although you could, as a goodwill gesture, choose to remove the cost of bills (if due to charge them) from the rental payment. You may also want to consider rent protection insurance as additional security at the moment.
If the students decide not to proceed with the rental at all, there’s also the opportunity for you to undertake maintenance work bearing in mind, for example, various landlord obligations that apply including those relating to electrical installations. This could, in turn, justify a rental increase. You could also reconsider the marketing of your property targeting, instead, families or young professionals rather than students. It’s worth talking to your letting agent about this.
Students – try to find a compromise
“It’s unfortunate that, in the current climate, the excitement of starting Uni could be overshadowed by the worry of accommodation costs, especially if you decide not to move in to your rented property. Whilst you could ask your landlord for an early release from your rental agreement, you may still lose your holding deposit and be expected to pay the rent until a new tenant is found. Some landlords may also try to retrieve the marketing costs incurred in finding a new tenant.
It’s not great news but if you simply choose to stop paying your rent, you could receive a county court judgement (CCJ) which could lead you to being unable to rent again or affect your chance of getting a mortgage in the future.
It’s definitely worth speaking with the letting agent, if one is being used or, if not, the landlord directly to come up with a reasonable compromise for all concerned. Remember, whilst you might not want to stay at University at the moment, by maintaining a good relationship with your landlord you’ll be in a far better position to rent from them (or another landlord) in the future – even after you’ve left University.
Ultimately, whilst the current situation is far from perfect, it’s worth considering that this should not last forever. There will always be landlords who need tenants and tenants who need landlords so it’s definitely worth working together now, to ensure a better, and hopefully more straightforward, rental experience in the future.
If you’d like to gain the advice of our lettings teams, simply contact one of our branches today or you may be interested to read government guidelines for students and landlords available here.