What You Should Know Before Renting To Student Tenants

Before renting out to that student tenant, remember to clearly state and outline your expectations as well as list out housemate rules and individual rental agreements. And last, but not least, it pays to take care of the good renters!
Student tenants, tenant reference check, tenant insurance, rental agreement

In Malaysia, students are often looking for apartments or rooms to rent thanks to the large number of properties that have been developed in the Klang Valley that surround colleges and universities. 

Because of how many students are in the market for accommodation, it’s common that landlords with rental properties available in Subang Jaya, Bandar Sunway, Puchong, Cyberjaya, Bukit Jalil and Kota Damansara

Landlords usually see an ROI quickly if they’re happy to stay relevant to young students and also the stable rental prices.    

That said, renting to students comes with its own considerations: i.e. your tenants could host loud parties, damage the furniture, or generally trash the place.

But so long as your student tenants have a clear understanding of how you expect them to take care of the dwelling – and a clause in the rental agreement about the type of damage they’ll need to pay for! 

It’s more than likely that they’ll do their best to respect the property.

Student tenants, tenant reference check, tenant insurance, rental agreement

This is especially true when students need their deposit back at the end of the lease – that deposit can be more cash than some students have ever had to pull together or borrow from their parents in one go, so you can bet they’re keen to get it back!

Plus, as the cost of getting a degree inches upwards, the pressure is on for many students to avoid unnecessary or additional financial stress for their parents and families.

What’s more, few students would choose to anger their landlord when they’ve already got a full plate of financial support and panic to deal with, all-in-one.

However, there are definitely some issues that are more likely to pop up when renting to students. Here are 5 tips to renting to students and how to pre-empt them for an uneventful student tenancy.


1) Remember Your First Home?

For many students, this is the first time they’ve lived away from home before – the first time they’re experiencing full-on freedom. While that’s undeniably awesome, it doesn’t come with a manual.

Student tenants, tenant reference check, tenant insurance, rental agreement

Very few first-time renters will be experts in home maintenance: some of them may have NEVER even boiled an egg or cooked rice before, let alone cleaned a bathroom!

But that doesn’t mean they can’t learn. So, here's what you can do:

  • Clearly State Your Expectations

Regarding cleanliness, and make sure tenants understand any financial penalties they’ll incur for not keeping the place clean. Be sure this is included in your rental agreement.  

  • Outline All Expectations

For home or garden maintenance. It’s always best to provide the tools necessary to perform any minor household repairs.

But if you’d rather the students not have access to them, provide them with the phone number for cleaning and maintenance services. 

  • Be Proactive With Important Things

Like confirming you’ve secured the tenant reference check, tenant insurance, tenancy agreement and deposit. Show them the type of communication and responsibility you expect them to follow.

Establishing a mutual partnership from the start will help to create a low-hassle relationship for the long term.


2) Housemate Rules And Individual Rental Agreements

When renting to students, it’s very possible you’ll be renting to a group rather than an individual. In this case, make it clear in the rental agreement that all tenants are jointly responsible for the place.

Student tenants, tenant reference check, tenant insurance, rental agreement

If you’d prefer the tenancy agreement to be with one person, though, then have a main tenant sign it, and allow them to sublease to other tenants.

Though this will make things easier for you by having one main point of contact, it’ll also mean that you’re trusting that tenant to be extremely responsible in collecting individual deposits and subleases from additional tenants.

But, in the long-run, individual tenancy can provide a valuable learning experience for the main tenant, who’ll need to ensure that other housemates are encouraged to take responsibility for their own actions, money management and future credit scores.

It also makes subletting during semester breaks much simpler.

If the worst case scenario happens, replacing a single tenant is also much easier for the main tenant than to re-populate a whole house.


3) Encourage Pro-Activeness

Student renters may lack some property maintenance and household skills, but they can learn extremely quickly: you’ve just got to show them how.

That could be through giving clear instructions about maintenance and contract terms, or by rewarding good habits.

Student tenants, tenant reference check, tenant insurance, rental agreement

Explain basic maintenance like how to turn the mains for electricity on and off, or clearly communicate which type of light bulbs work in your light fixtures.

It’s better to cover all this in one go at the start of your tenancy, than have tenants panic when there’s a blackout or an electricity trip – which happens very often in the Klang Valley due to frequent thunderstorms and lightning.

Students have probably been told a lot of scary stories about rogue landlords, so stick to your end of the deal.

Showing goodwill as early as possible can help them show it to you in return. Fixing initial problems promptly is a great way to get off on the right foot.

Keeping in close contact with your tenants during the first month of their rental period will let you demonstrate the value of communication, and save you time later down the line.


4) Communicate With Your Tenants

Your student tenants may not love this, but check-ins are a good opportunity to keep an eye on recent or potential damages or repairs, and an early warning system if anything isn’t going right.

For students who’ve never dealt with managing a house before, they can be a useful primer, getting them in the habit of regular basic maintenance, cleaning and scrutiny.

That said, most tenants, whether a student or not, don’t normally fancy their landlord inventing reasons to pop around, and most landlords could do without wasting their time.

If there’s a middle ground, it’s in low-key catch-ups – think ‘office hours’, a concept students completely get from checking in with university professors and tutors.

Also, with today’s technology you can always check-in if there are issues using video chat features. You don’t always have to be there physically.

Student tenants, tenant reference check, tenant insurance, rental agreement


5) Take Good Care Of The Good Ones!

A student tenancy agreement could go on for up to four or more years.  

So if you have tenants who have been headache-free, then it makes sense to extend their initial tenancy agreements so that you don’t lose good tenants.

This brings you instant ROI on why you invested in such a property in the first place, and removes the possibility of a costly vacant period for your property.

Due to how much an empty property can cost you, it might be worth making some calculated concessions to help you hold onto good students.

For example, many students leave the property for long periods during their semester breaks. Allowing them to sublet during this time would be a great incentive for students to stay with you.

Of course by doing so, you’ll need to make sure you carry out your due-diligence by screening subletters  through interviews, questionnaires, and reference checks, just like you would do when you first signed up the main student tenant.

Remember that student communities are close-knit, and good student housing is often limited.

If your tenants like you, they’re very likely to talk about their great landlord with other students – through these word-of-mouth or online reviews, they could find your next great tenants without you even having to advertise.

Student tenants, tenant reference check, tenant insurance, rental agreement

Though renting to students can come with its fair share of hand-holding and headaches in the beginning, it can be a great investment opportunity for you and a wonderful learning opportunity for your tenants.

If you’re willing to put in the time – and risk – then renting to students could be for you.


Search our helpful Rent Guides for ways and methods to make student tenants long-term tenants in Malaysia.

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