Summer is in full swing and the weather has been good, but for those landlords who predominantly let to students, it has often been a difficult time as they recovered possession of what are often filthy properties. The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) report that properties have been vacated without notice, giving no opportunity to discuss with the tenant(s) and without a check-out inspection.
The turnaround with student accommodation is generally very fast, so vacation without notice to the landlord can mean in-coming tenants may find the properties not cleaned as thoroughly as required, repairs left undone. This means new tenants suffering because of the behaviour of the old.
Students will generally be asked to provide Guarantors for the students – usually the parents. But the landlord who approaches the parents, will often testify that even with copies of the check-out report, they are met with an outright denial that their child did the damage or was party to the dirt in which the students lived. They refuse to pay anything and also demand the return of the deposit! Reference Guarantors as carefully as you do the tenants and make it clear – you expect them to be responsible if the property is not in the same condition at the end as that noted in the inventory.
Clear communication is the only answer. Arrange to visit the property a good time before the tenancy ends – say one month, though be aware, the tenants may not want to agree to this if it is in the middle of examinations. Don’t assume there is something to hide, but do insist on re-arranging. All the tenants need to be present when you visit. Provide some written instructions on preparing for check-out – ie starting to pack, is anything being left for you to dispose of? Yes, the tenants is responsible, but better for you to know beforehand and perhaps make suggestions for disposal, than discovering it at the property as you are trying to sign a new tenant in.
Recommend a cleaning or gardening firm if the property is dirty or the garden overgrown, reminding them that the tenancy agreement states that the property should be left in the same condition at the end as at the beginning. If they pay for professionals to do a final clean or gardening it safeguards their deposits. Arrange to visit on the day they leave to do a final check-out, when you should expect all keys to be returned.
Ask for contact details, but if these are not forthcoming, tell them that you will contact the Guarantors should post arrive or there be a problem about outstanding utility payments.
Not all students will be bad tenants; some students leave properties in a better state than when they moved in, but some do not. If the property is in a pristine condition at the start, this sets a standard for them to live to; stress that you want to know of any problems or difficulties they have in the tenancy and that they will address them; stress that you expect them to leave the property in the same condition as they found it.
Will this guarantee no further problems with Students? Probably not, but at least you have done the best you can to try and get tenants that will respect the property and you.