Most landlords won’t rent to students because they are worried about the damage they could do to their property, new research has revealed.
According to the survey by student lettings app SPCE, seven out of 10 UK landlords would not let their property to a student because they do not trust them or want to risk their property being damaged.
Seb Klier, campaigns coordinator for pressure group Generation Rent, said that students in many university towns and cities already had enough problems with the spiralling cost of rent.
“This form of discrimination will make house hunting even more difficult for students,” he said.
Despite the perception that students were bad tenants, Leon Ifayemi, CEO of SPCE, said this view “couldn’t be further from the truth”.
“With parents acting as guarantors, there’s a very low risk of students not being able to pay rent on time or provide compensation for damages.
“What’s more, students are also not deserving of lazy stereotypes of them as reckless party animals. They are far more conscientious than that.”
The survey of over 2,000 UK adults suggested that the relationship between students and landlords had broken down because of a lack of communication and trust.
Things have got so bad that six out of 10 students even found securing a rental property was more stressful than job hunting, studying or their end-of-year exams.
Two-thirds of students questioned cited poor communication from landlords and estate agents as a major issue, while 70 per cent of those at university feel rental accommodation for students is often in a poor, run-down condition.
“Evidently, students and landlords are dissatisfied by the current state of student lettings, underpinned by a lack of trust and communication between both sides,” Mr Ifayemi said.
Mr Klier said that students renting for the first time needed support to know about their rights while also recognising their responsibilities.
“Housing teams at student unions can play a vital role in ensuring that students aren’t taken advantage of and by developing relationships so that decent landlords can provide good-quality accommodation to students in the long term,” he said.
According to research from the National Landlords Association (NLA), just 17 per cent of its members say they let properties to students.
Richard Lambert, chief executive of the NLA, said this was mainly down to landlords seeing student accommodation as a specialist market.
“While letting to students is not for everyone, those who do would be surprised by these findings, because student lets offer the highest rental yields and are least likely to experience rental arrears compared to other tenants, such as professionals, couples, or families,” he said.
Landlord Angelos Sanders lives in the South West of England and currently owns 10 properties that he rents out to families, students and local housing allowance tenants in Plymouth.
He said that despite a few problems he has generally found students to be good renters.
“I once had a tenant that instead of using the ironing board used the carpet in the hallway, which left a huge burn that went through to the floorboard,” he said.
“But in most cases I have always had a very good relationship with the students I rent out to,” he added.
He said that communication is vital for building trust between landlords and students.
“For a lot of students it’s their first time away for home but I find that as long as you treat them like adults they act responsibly.
“It is important to let the students know they can contact you. At the beginning of the year I always give them an induction and explain to them where the utilities are.
“It is usually only a small minority of students that don’t quite follow the rules, but this is the same for private tenants as well.”
A separate survey by housing charity Shelter in 2015 found that first-time student renters were around twice as likely to have experienced a landlord or agent entering their home without permission when compared with non-students.
Worryingly, it also revealed that 41 per cent of student renters said they were forced to borrow money from their parents in order to meet monthly rental payments, while 71 per cent of students said they had experienced at least one of a range of property and repair issues.
“Sadly students are especially vulnerable to being exploited by our broken private renting market, simply because they have less experience of dealing with it,” said Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter.
“All too often, we hear from students dealing with issues like poor conditions, unprotected deposits and unfair terms in tenancy agreements, as well as high letting agent fees.”
Shelter’s top five tips for student renters:
1) Live with people you trust
Set some ground rules, and agree how you will split the bills. If you sign a joint tenancy you are all responsible for paying the rent.
2) Know who should fix the boiler
When it breaks, landlords are responsible for most repairs – including heating, hot water, appliances and the structure of the home. Renters have to do day-to-day maintenance such as changing lightbulbs and keeping the home tidy.
3) Check your deposit will be protected
Your landlord must protect your deposit within 30 days and tell you where it’s held. For more information, visit Shelter’s website.
4) Make sure you have an accurate inventory
This should list the contents of the home and any existing damage. Being thorough is the best way to avoid deductions from your deposit later on.
5) Know your responsibilities
Your duties as a tenant include paying rent and bills on time and not disturbing your neighbours.
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