Renting to College Students? What Happens If College Continues Online

By Alyssa Laffitte on June 10, 2020

We are living in unprecedented times. People have had to make many changes to their plans for these upcoming months. Specifically, some colleges might choose to continue online into the fall. This means that students will be staying in their hometowns, leaving their off-campus apartments empty. As a landlord, this will affect you, since many of your properties might be vacant. In this article, we’ll discuss how to handle this situation.

Image via Isorepublic.com

Keep an eye on the university’s plans for returning in the fall

If you are renting to a college student during this time, you should keep an eye on what the nearby universities are saying about students returning in the fall. This information is important because the university’s decision will affect whether or not you have a tenant occupying your property. If the university decides to allow students to return to in-person classes, you will likely have a tenant. If not, the student you’re renting to will probably want to stay in their hometown. You might need to seek other tenants for your property in this case. Of course, this might not be true in all cases, but it’s a rule of thumb to help you be prepared for what might come. Being aware of what the university is doing in the fall will help you decide how to rent your property. The rest of this article will focus on what to do if universities decide not to bring their students back in the fall.

Be aware that tenants might break their lease

If the university is not bringing back their students, it’s likely your tenant will want to break their lease. Leasing contracts should have information on the procedure and policy for a tenant breaking a lease. If they have signed the leasing contract, refer back to it to determine the correct procedure for how to handle the situation of a broken lease. For example, if the contract states that a tenant can break their lease if they pay off the rest of their lease amount, be aware that could happen. You need to make sure the proper procedures are followed in this situation. For that reason, you should reread your leasing contract to brush up on the procedures and rights of a tenant and landlord when the lease is broken.

Find subletters

If your current tenant tells you they will be moving out due to college continuing online, it would be a good idea to find a subletter. With a subletter, you will be able to keep your property occupied rather than empty. You could choose to have your tenant find the subletter if that’s what is written in the leasing contract (since that’s usually what is written in most contracts). If your tenant chooses the subletter, make sure to vet the subletter to make sure they would be a good tenant. A background check and a phone call with the subletter (and maybe even a reference person) would be a good idea. This will give you a better idea of who the person is, and if they would be suitable as a tenant. On the other hand, you yourself could find a subletter. The key would be to target non-college students since students will be in their hometowns rather than their college town. If you want to keep your property occupied while the college students are out of town, you should get a subletter.

Make the rent terms lenient

This is a difficult, unprecedented time for everyone. It would make life easier for you and your tenant if you make the rent terms lenient. For example, you can give your tenant a few more days to send in their rent payment, or you can let them vacate the property a few days earlier. This will make your tenant’s life easier, and when you make their life easier, they will give you a good rating. (A good rating and good word of mouth will attract more tenants!) If you are willing to work with your tenant, they will be more willing to work with you. For this reason, you should make the terms of the rent a little more lenient during these tips.

Speak to a lawyer

When you manage a property and have tenants, it’s a good idea to have a relationship with a lawyer. This lawyer will help you make sure you are meeting all the legal requirements to rent out your property. They can also write up your leasing contracts since you want this contract to be a thorough, clear document. A lawyer can also answer any of your questions about how to deal with tenants breaking their leases or wanting flexibility during this time (their advice will be much more valuable than anything you can find on the Internet!). Before you proceed, you should definitely consult a lawyer.

If colleges decide to continue online, those are some things you can do about your rental property.

By Alyssa Laffitte

Uloop Writer
University of Miami
23, ISFJ. Biology student. College lifestyle blogger. Avid reader and writer. Dog lover. Nerd. Boyband enthusiast. Superhero in training. Here to help you become the best you can be!

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