Landlord obligations when letting to students

If you live in a university city, buying a property to let to students could be a profitable move.

Letting property to students has both its up and downs. While demand is high and you can maximise your property’s earning potential by charging per room, it is also likely to require more regular maintenance and repairs, and you may have to deal with complaints from neighbours if your tenants like to party!

While letting to students isn’t too different from regular letting, landlords should make sure they’re clear on their responsibilities and legal obligations as student accommodation landlords before advertising their property to let for students.

Understanding the key differences between regular letting and letting student accommodation will help to ensure that you provide a good service to the students living on your property as well as protecting you against prosecution.

Here at Mistoria Estate Agents, we have a team of expert letting agents in Salford who understand the legal responsibilities of student landlords inside out.

Getting set up as a student landlord

First, to let your property to students, you need to make sure you’re set up correctly. This may involve obtaining an HMO (house in multiple occupation) license.

An HMO license is required if your property is going to be shared by three or more tenants from different households, making it applicable to a lot of rented residential student accommodation.

Next, you’ll need to draw up your student tenancy agreements. Most student tenancy agreements are fixed-term assured shorthold tenancies. You will either require a joint tenancy agreement or a sole tenancy agreement.  With a joint tenancy agreement, the contract starts and ends at the same time for all occupants, and everyone shares joint liability. A single tenancy agreement is usually more suitable for students as this type of contract means that each tenant’s contract can be started or terminated at a different time if required. It also means that each tenant is responsible for their own payments, deposit, and actions.

Landlord obligations when letting to students

If you decide to let your property to students, it is your responsibility to ensure that you are aware of your legal obligations. Failure to understand your obligations could cause you to unwittingly commit a criminal offence which may result in a fine or even prosecution.

Ensure that the property is safe

According to the government website, it is a landlord’s legal responsibility to keep student housing ‘safe and free from health hazards.’

This includes:

  • Having gas appliances and boilers serviced annually by a Gas Safe engineer
  • Provide tenants with a copy of the gas safety certification, which must have a minimum rating of ‘E’
  • Fitting smoke alarms on every floor
  • Ensuring electrical systems and appliances are safe and providing tenants (in England) with a copy of the latest Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR)
  • Checking furniture and furnishing are fire safe
  • Fitting a CO2 alarm in any room containing a solid fuel-burning appliance
  • Providing fire alarms and extinguishers in any large HMO properties

Register with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)

As a landlord, you will need to collect and store personal details about your tenants, prospective tenants, and their guarantors. This means you are classed as a ‘data controller’ and are required to ensure that you are using the personal details you collect according to the principles of GDPR (general data protection regulation). To legally collect and store individuals’ personal details, including their names and contact details, you will need to first register with the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Use a government-approved deposit scheme

According to the Housing Act 2004, landlords must place tenant deposits in a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme (TDP). In England and Wales, there are three schemes to choose from, these are:

These schemes are designed to ensure that tenants receive their deposits back, providing that they meet the terms of their tenancy, don’t damage the property, and pay their rent and bills. Landlords are obligated to put the deposit into the scheme within 30 days of receiving it and should return the deposit within 10 days of agreeing on how much is being repaid to the tenant.

Tenants should also be supplied with details of the scheme that their deposit is being kept in within 30 days of giving it to the landlord.

Verify that tenants are students

Landlords are required to verify that all tenants are full-time students and are registered at an educational institution.

Not charge fees for administrative tasks

According to the Tenant Fees Act 2019, landlords should not charge students fees for any of the following:

  • Referencing
  • Letting contract
  • Inventory
  • Credit check
  • Administrative tasks

Carry out repairs and maintenance

It is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the structure of the property is always in good condition and to carry out any repairs and maintenance as required.

Give notice before entering the property

If you require access to the student property you’re letting for any reason, you must always give at least 24 hours’ notice before turning up on the doorstep. You cannot legally visit the property without giving your student tenants adequate warning.

Pay to service, maintain and repair all essential installations

This includes the property’s water supply and plumbing, electricity, gas, and heating appliances.

Ensure room sizes meet the minimum requirement for HMOs

If your student property is an HMO, there is a minimum floor area requirement for rooms that are to be used for sleeping in. These minimum requirements are as follows:

  • 4.64 square meters for one person aged under 10 years
  • 6.51 square meters for one person aged over 10 years
  • 10.22 square meters for two people aged over 10 years

Abide by the terms of the tenancy agreement

As a landlord, you will expect your tenants to abide by the agreed terms of your contract by paying their rent on time and looking after your property. In return, student landlords should always ensure that they also respect the terms of the contract, including giving the agreed amount of notice before entering the property and providing the services stated in the agreement.

Should you use a letting agent when renting to students?

Whether or not you use a letting agent to manage your student accommodation is a personal decision.

Many landlords that let to students choose to use a letting agent because of the more complex rules, and regulations for landlords surrounding rented student accommodation.

Here at Mistoria Estate Agents Salford, we have specialist student letting agents in Salford helping many student landlords in and around Manchester understand student accommodation rules for landlords and helping them to fulfil their student landlord obligations.

Read more about our letting agent services for student landlords online or give our team a call on 0800 500 3015 to find out more about how we can help you to manage the student accommodation or student housing you let.

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