Tips for choosing an investment property for student letting
Some points to consider when choosing a property for as a student let
- Students ideally want to be within walking distance, short bus, train or cycle ride of their college and their friends so research the areas where students live close to the University and find out which roads to avoid and which locations are in demand.
- Look at bus and train routes – is there a bus stop or train station near the property and does the route stop at or near the college?
- Is there a good cycle path and is there somewhere secure to leave bicycles at the property?
- Is the property within walking distance of the college, shops and other facilities?
- A location with a good broad band connection is very desirable because many students down load a lot of data daily. Inside the property check you mobile phone signal, no student wants to be without a signal.
- Young people like to have a communal socialising space so providing this will help you’re your property attractive. Look for a property that has the potential to provide this space.
- Is there a minimum of one bathroom between three? If you are planning to have more than 3 students, a second toilet and wash hand basin is good idea. For five or more you really need to provide a second bathroom or shower room. Be imaginative with the property layout – can you achieve this without major building work?
- Are the bedrooms big enough for a bed, desk and chair, wardrobe and chest of drawers? If there are to be 5 or more students for an HMO, 6.51 square metres is the minimum room size for adults. Take your own room measurements, the floor plan provided in the property details may not be accurate. If a room is a fraction under, is it possible to create a wardrobe by knocking through into another bedroom? The additional floor area of this wardrobe increases the floor area of the room that was just too small and this could give you he additional area you need to comply with HMO legislation. To maximise your investment you need to let as many rooms as you can without compromising on living space so room size and number of bedrooms can affects long term financial rewards.
- Good clean carpets that can be washed, laminate or tiled flooring work well and are easy to maintain. If the property you purchase already has these, it will reduce your set up costs if all you must do is clean the flooring. If there are rugs, look underneath them, they could have been used to cover up a nasty stain or damaged floor.
- Most students expect the property to have a full range of white goods. Oven plus hob, microwave, large fridge, and washing machine are found in pretty much all student properties with the majority also having tumble driers and freezers. Does the property have enough potential space to house these or if it does not, can it be created? Is there enough kitchen storage and work top area for the number of tenants? Check out https://www.gov.uk/renting-out-a-property/houses-in-multiple-occupation-hmo and make sure you comply.
- Are the windows in good repair? Wooden windows will need repainting every few years, UPVC or aluminium frames do not. If the windows do not have trickle vents, install one in each window to help reduce condensation.
- Inspect the plumbing and electrics – you can tell by looking at the fixtures and fittings if they look old and not well maintained. Turn lights on and off, see if the cooker works and It might be worth getting an electrical report done before you put in an offer https://www.localelectriciansdirect.co.uk/installation-condition-report-survey peer under sinks to see if there are any leeks, turn on taps and find out how old the boiler is.
- Does the house show signs of mould or damp that may indicate it could be a property that is difficult to ventilate? Does it smell damp? Is there peeling paper or loose plaster that could indicate a damp problem. Find damp? Ask a surveyor to have a look at it https://www.localsurveyorsdirect.co.uk/building-surveyors-reports.aspx they should be a le tell you if it is a problem or not.
- Open doors and windows, cupboards and drawers and check they all work.
- See if you can get in the loft. What is the access like? Are there any holes or dampness on the beams and is it insulated?
- What is the condition of the walls? Are any covered in wood chip which is sometimes used to cover up poor plaster or old cracked plaster. Removing woodchip can be a time consuming job.
- Go outside and look at the roof and guttering – are there missing tiles? Does the guttering look sound?
- Remember the outside space. Small gardens that are just grass, or hard landscaped are the easiest and cheapest to maintain. Generally, students are not keen gardeners even if you do provide them with a lawnmower and a few garden tools. Rather than find a jungle at the end of the tenancy consider employing a gardener to mow the lawn every couple of weeks if you are not able to do this yourself. Borders could be grassed over or covered in matting and wood chip or gravel to prevent weeds, shrubs can be cut right back or removed. Keep it simple.
- It is handy to have storage for bicycles otherwise they may end up in the house so an area under cover outside such as a garden shed is useful.
- Be nosy – have a look at any neighbours that back on to you or share party wall or garden boundary. If their place is a mess it could mean there are problems in the future.
Simple properties which are easy to maintain and clean work best for tenants and landlords. Ask yourself – would I like to live here? Is this property going to be easy to look after? If the answer to either is ‘no’ then don’t buy it. If the answer is ‘yes’ go back and see the property at a different time of day, this can give you a different perspective on the area. If you are still interested add up all the costs of any repairs and coasts of preparing the property for let and work out your offer price.