March 1st, 2014
Tips On How Can You Become a Successful Student Landlord From University of Toronto Housing Services
Residential landlords in Ontario face a lot of challenges.
Whether it’s professional tenants manipulating the system to avoid paying rent or the government 2014 guideline allowing you to raise the rent only 0.8%, the challenges are real and daunting.
(Although you might be exempt and can raise the rent above the guideline if you own new buildings!)
Many existing landlords and new investors have written in with questions regarding renting to students.
After all, students are usually less jaded than older folks and have worked hard to gain entry into university.
With a heavy load of studies and busy social lives they are less inclined to think of ways to bring their landlord to the Landlord and Tenant Board and ‘play the system’.
Examples of students causing major (and expensive) problems for their landlords exist.
Take a look at this story from the Peterborough Examiner.
However, it seems renting to students attending colleges and universities is a profitable and safer way for you to invest in residential rental properties in Ontario.
Many landlords who rent to students have positive things to say about their investment choice on the Ontario Landlords Forum:
“I like renting to students. My houses are downtown near 3 universities in Toronto, so most of my tenants have been students.
Rent is secure, as they usually have OSAP or parental income to cover the rent.
I have indeed had students ask me to change their lightbulbs but I just tell them it is up to them to do that, offer them a ladder, and it isn’t an issue …
The dormitories at school usually only take first year students, and for second year the students have to find their own place (due to lack of space in the dorms to house everyone), so if you can get a group of second year students, you’ve got tenants for 3 more years and then they usually move out.
Best of all…No professional tenants among students…!”
Are You Interested In Renting To Students Yet?
We contacted the University of Toronto for help on getting some tips and advice on what students want from their landlords.
The Manager of Housing Services for the University of Toronto is Jennifer Radley.
Jennifer provided answers to our questions and we appreciate her assistance.
10 Tips On How To Be a Successful Student Landlord
Here are some of our questions to Jennifer and her tips.
#1 What are student tenants looking for in a rental property?
Students are looking for a place that is either close to campus or along a transit line and close to amenities. Ideally, the monthly rent would be within the average rates already listed in our registry and would include utilities. If renting a basement apartment, students look for adequate lighting and windows. Above all, students want a safe, reasonably-maintained rental unit, and a good landlord.
#2 What are most student tenants looking for when they say they want a “good landlord”?
To students, a good landlord is someone who:
o Follows the law (eg. Human Rights Code and Residential Tenancies Act)
o Offers affordable rental rates
o Repairs and maintains the property as required, in a timely manner
#3 What is the most common complaint from U of T students about off-campus landlords?
The most common complaint is landlords not repairing and/or maintaining the property in a timely manner.
The issues brought forward include everything from appliance and plumbing issues to pests and fire/water damage.
#4 Is it a good idea for a landlord to get involved in student tenant vs. student tenant issues?
We recommend landlords follow the RTA and/or get advice on tenant vs. tenant issues from the Landlord Self-Help Centre and/or the Landlord and Tenant Board.
#5 How can a landlord improve a property to make it more “user friendly” for students?
Based on feedback we receive, the most appealing features are:
o Have utilities included in the rental rate (utilities can be quite intimidating to a student, especially if international)
o Bright space/windows
o If shared accommodation, should have locks on the bedroom doors
o If private, a separate entrance
o Bike storage
#6 Any tips on how a private landlord can communicate and cooperate with university housing? (As not all housing services are as cool as the U of T one)
Yes – and thank you! Landlords can visit http://housing.utoronto.ca/Landlords.htm to learn more about our service, subscribe to our bi-annual LandlordNews newsletter, and to register/place an ad.
We are also available via phone 416-978-8045 and email (firstname.lastname@example.org) during regular office hours to answer questions.
Let other landlords know about our service.
#7 We hear student tenants are more and more concerned about safety. How can a private off-campus landlord accommodate that? Are things like security cameras a good idea or will student thinks it’s too invasive?
Things such as alarm systems, security cameras (more common in apartment buildings), bolt-locks (rather than doorknob locks), window locks, and good outdoor lighting (eg. motion-sensored) are some ways a landlord can make their property feel safer.
#8 Many of our landlord members are hands-on and not absentee landlords. Do students like landlords who come and do regular safety inspections (with proper notice) or do they prefer landlords stay away?
I think this depends on how often, how much notice is given, and how invasive the inspection is. No tenant, including students, want their landlord entering their room/unit all the time. I believe, however, safety inspections are typically done on an annual basis (unless there is adequate reason for another). In which case, with proper notice, I wouldn’t see that being a problem. This is based on the individual’s preference.
#9 Should landlords encourage tenants to get insurance?
Yes. We also encourage students to get tenant’s insurance.
#10 Where can landlords who rent to students learn more to become better landlords and have better relations with their student tenants?
U of T Housing Services is a great place to start!
Where Is a Good Place To Invest In Student Rental Properties?
There are a lot of good colleges and universities in Ontario.
For example, Toronto landlords have, as our OLA member wrote, three universities and numerous colleges in the city.
Ottawa landlords have a market of students going to the University of Ottawa and Carleton.
Hamilton landlords often rent properties out to students at McMaster University.
We will discuss this more thoroughly in future blogs.
Landlords – Is Renting to Students Right For you?
To Discuss This and Other Landlord Topics Welcome to the Ontario Landlords Forum