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Set up safeguards on student rentals

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Returns can be good but damage and neglect are risks

Considering the high demand for student accommodation, renting to students is one of the higher return investment opportunities within real estate.

However, along with the high returns comes the risk of property neglect and damage.

Most students prioritise campus proximity and fast wi-fi when looking for a place to stay, with the state of the property often lower down on their list of priorities, says Adrian Goslett, regional director and chief executive of Re/Max of Southern Africa. Therefore, to avoid damage, it is recommended that landlords implement certain safeguards as a protective measure for their investment.

“Renting to students offers a low-risk option regarding prolonged vacancies and higher returns on the investment as a result of the high demand. However, landlords should remain cautious and remember that all purchases come with certain risks. Some of these include short-notice lease terminations and the possibility for neglect and damage to the property.”

Landlords who do not implement safeguards can end up having to spend on fixing the property, Goslett warns.

“It is advisable that landlords consider getting a cleaner to come in once a month or so to ensure the property does not become unmanageable.”

Alternatively, landlords could go so far as to hire a house manager whose sole responsibility would be to check up on the property from time to time.

Beyond this, the potential tenant needs to understand the lease agreement and the damage deposit.

“It is important to ensure the student and their parent/guardian (if they are the ones paying the rent) have a clear understanding of what is expected of them and how the damage deposit works. This deposit exists as an attempt to emphasise the importance of maintaining the property.

Creating a set of house rules, that must be adhered to by the tenant, to go alongside the lease agreement, will also prove helpful in safeguarding against damages.”

Goslett further advises that landlords should arrange an inspection before the tenant moves in.

“Ensure that a detailed checklist is created and images have been taken of the property as something to refer to once it becomes time for the tenant to move out.

“This way you’ll be able to accurately compare the condition of the house from start to end of the tenants’ lease.”

As a final piece of advice, Goslett encourages landlords to be meticulous when drafting the lease agreement for student rentals.

“The lease needs to be specific when stipulating the expectations for property maintenance from the tenants’ side. It is therefore advisable that landlords use an experienced rental agent who can draft the lease to ensure that all the necessary safeguards are in place when renting to students, as to protect their investment.”

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