Renting to students
I do a number of student rentals well before the beginning of the university year in September/October. Typically the search begins from even as early as April due to the fact that student accommodation can be very thin on the ground. Landlords, through bad experience alone, prefer to rent their properties to anyone but students. It is not unusual to ring lettings agents and ask if they will rent to students only to have the person on the other end give a whole raft of reasons as to why not or to simply say ‘no’ and put the phone down.
One of the main reasons students are so unpopular is that they have a reputation for trashing the place and being very slovenly in their housekeeping. However I am pleased to confirm that never has an Arab student I have placed in rented accommodation ever caused any damage whatsoever- this is clearly due to lifestyle and eschewing alcohol (and partying).
The good news is that there are landlords who will consider renting to students but only on the basis of the student agreeing to several requirements:
1. References: foreign students cannot provide the key references that will impress the landlord that they will be able to pay the rent such as a healthy credit rating in this country. As a result, a landlord may demand that the rent is paid up front for the entire term of the tenancy. I would advise asking for a shorter term such as six months so that this demand is not too overwhelming (unless you can afford to pay a year in advance). If you do have to pay all the rent in advance, ask for a discount! Most landlords will offer an attractive discount on the basis of receiving all the rent in advance.
2. Guarantor: if the landlord agrees to a student paying monthly or quarterly, they will most certainly require a guarantor to effectively guarantee rental payments should the student fail to pay. The guarantor will need to reside in this country and be able to provide an admirable financial history, i.e credit rating and money in the bank.
3. A hefty deposit: landlords may demand a higher than usual deposit in the event of costly damage to their property. Instead of four to six weeks, they will likely ask for eight. This adds to the move-in cost but if the tenant keeps the property clean and tidy and does not cause damage other than normal wear and tear, they should receive their deposit back. Always insist on an inventory and a check-in where the student can be present.
4. Proof that they really are students: lettings agents have a duty of care to ensure that prospective tenants are who they say they are. Students will be required to have a letter from their place of study confirming that they are enrolled (have been offered a place in a specific course) and have paid their fees to date. Students should have a copy of this letter to show when approaching lettings agents.
London is a very popular destination for international students and landlords do particularly value Arab students as tenants given that the vast majority are hard working and honest.