6 Best Practices to Get Student Renters to Renew Their Lease

By Lorena Roberts on December 9, 2018

Being a landlord in a college town, or renting to college students, can be challenging for a number of reasons: getting college students to follow through with their plans, receiving the correct information from them, or even successfully getting in touch with them can require an exorbitant amount of effort on your part. Whether they’re eighteen years old or twenty-five years old, college student renters fall in that category of “sometimes not responsible,” making it harder for you to do your job. So when it comes to getting college students to renew their leases, there are a number of best practices you can turn to:

via Pexels.com

1. Offer incentives.

The quickest way to get college students to do anything is to offer them an incentive. Whether it’s a gift card, a percentage off of their rent, or a month of free utilities, offer them something they can’t turn down and they’ll pretty much do anything you ask them to do.

Speaking from experience, when my apartment complex wants us to follow-up with them regarding signing a lease for the following year, they offer to enter anyone renewing in a drawing for a $250 gift card. That might be a bit steep for your budget if you’re an independent landlord, so maybe try giving them a discount on their first month’s rent. You could also bribe them with sweet gifts like hot chocolate on their doorstep, a personal note in their mailbox, or a holiday trinket around their door handle. You’d be surprised at what leaving little gifts will do to motivate a college student. We’re always short on cash, so pretty much anything you can do for us that will save even a few dollars will be well appreciated.

2. Continue to reach out.

Sometimes college renters are bad at reading emails or returning phone calls. Don’t take it personally. There’s nothing wrong with continuing to reach out. They’ll learn to stand up to you and give you a solid “no” if they aren’t interested. Oftentimes, it’s just that we need multiple reminders. If you’ve called your student renter a few times, you’ve sent them an email or two, and you still haven’t heard back… try something a bit more personal. Knock on their door and see if it’s a good time to chat. I know if my landlord tried to personally reach out to me with a message of “how can I get you to stay?” I would be a lot more motivated to follow up with whatever they’re needing from me.

3. Come across as “what can I do for you,” instead of the other way around.

When you make this about your business and your money, college students might not be willing to listen. If you approach them with a message of, “you’re a good tenant, and I’d like for you to stay,” then college students will feel more inclined to help you out. Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting college students to communicate their plans with you.

via pexels.com

4. Waive the application fee.

Justifying a $100 application/administrative fee is hard for college students. I’m sure there are tasks you have to complete that cost money and the administrative fee covers those costs, but for college students, $100 is a good chunk of money. If you’re wanting college students to come in and actually sign their lease, waive this fee.

5. Keep the lines of communication open.

If you’ve worked with college students for long at all, you’ve probably run into your fair share of skeptical students. They’re wondering why you require a deposit, an admin fee, and they’re very interested in how much their utilities will cost. If you can do everything in your power to keep the lines of communication open, they’ll feel more comfortable about signing a lease. What you must remember is that in most cases, these students haven’t had to sign a lease for housing before. This is their first experience putting their John Hancock on a legal document. Have some sensitivity and do what you can to make them feel comfortable.

6. Understand the pressure they’re under.

Working with college students is a different ballgame than working with working adults. Most of these students are covered in a mountain of debt, their facing pressure from their families to make good grades, and in most cases, they’re working way too many hours to try and cover their expenses on a monthly basis. As a landlord, be conscious about the pressure they’re under. Try to come from a place of understanding when you’re working with them. Their daily life is completely different from yours – they’re up early in the morning to sit through classes. And oftentimes their evenings end with closing at a restaurant and counting their tips. The more understanding you are about their lives and the pressure they’re feeling on a daily basis, the more personal you’ll come across. They’ll be much more willing to communicate with you if you can understand their perspective.

As a landlord for college students, you’re probably doing all you can to get them to sign their lease. Whether it’s a renewal for the next school year or signing for the first time, you’re probably finding yourself spending a lot of time trying to get in contact with them and convince them that signing with you is a good decision. If you take part in these six best practices for getting college students to sign their leases, you’re sure to see an increase in the number of business transactions you have completed!

By Lorena Roberts

Uloop Writer
University of Tennessee - Knoxville
Lorena graduated from The University of Tennessee in Knoxville last December with a BA in Honors Psychology. After some serious soul-searching, she's decided to pursue a Master's in teaching in order to teach middle school math! In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her Whippet mix, Gio, at the dog park and binge watching Netflix with endless cups of Hot Cocoa.

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