Sitting Empty? Advice to Give Student Renters Leaving Rentals Empty Over Summer

By Kaitlin Hurtado on July 3, 2022

Renting your property to college students may seem like a business risk. From a lack of creditable rental history to some rowdy behavior, having college students as your tenants definitely will come with its disadvantages and advantages. One obstacle you may face often is dealing with vacant apartments during the summer months as students leave the area to stay home for the summer or travel for vacation or their summer internship.

As long as they are bound to their lease agreement, they are legally bound to make sure they get their rent payment in regardless of if they are actively living in the unit. However, you may get a number of calls from your college student tenants that try to wiggle out of their lease early to avoid paying for an apartment they aren’t staying at or are concerned about subletting their apartment to another college student.

The topic of empty rental units over summer breaks is inevitable if you are renting to college students. Help yourself, and your college student tenants, by starting the conversation early and offering advice to tenants on handling their vacant units while they go off on their summer ventures.

Photo: Pexels

Make your sublease policy clear 

Depending on your property’s lease agreement, your tenants may not even have the option to sublet their apartments during the summer months. It’s completely understandable as sublets can come with plenty of risks as short-term subtenants are rarely screened the same way a normal tenant would be during your application process. There may also be a lack of legally-binding contracts for many sublet situations. If your lease agreement forbids any form of sublet, make sure to emphasize this to your tenants as that is often the first solution many college students think of when it comes to what to do with their vacant apartments during the summer months.

If you do allow tenants to sublet their apartment, make the process clear and offer advice. Keeping clear communication and making yourself available for any questions can ensure that the apartment is taken care of and that rent is paid. You can even offer to advertise any potential sublets in your leasing office to keep everything centralized and get more eyes on the vacancy.

Encourage your tenants to clear out the apartment as much as possible and report any maintenance issues 

If your property does not allow sublets, or your tenants can’t be bothered to find a subtenant for the summer, they are going to be letting their apartment sit vacant for an extended amount of time. Their first thought could be that leaving the apartment as is would be perfectly okay, but there are definitely steps they can take to make sure their apartment is maintained while they are away.

If they take the time to properly clean their apartment prior to leaving, they could prevent multiple issues. For example, leaving perishable food in their pantry and fridge can attract unwanted pests and lead to a property-wide infestation, especially if they aren’t there to report any signs as soon as they pop up. They make think that freezer foods are safe for keeping, but if there happens to be a power outage, spoiled food can be left sitting for weeks and lead to even more issues.

Let your tenants know that they should report any maintenance issues, no matter how small, prior to them leaving for summer. If they notice a small leaking pipe under the sink now, they should report it now to avoid the neglected leak escalating into mold or water damage in their apartment when they come back. Any maintenance issue report now could prevent long-term damage that could happen while they are away and unable to monitor the issue.

Let your tenant know about additional safety measures 

If your tenant is going to be gone for a long time, there could be the additional risk of having a break-in unreported as no one is keeping an eye on the apartment. While it’s near impossible to keep 24/7 surveillance on a vacant property, you should offer your tenant different ways to prevent break-ins. If their unit has a porch, encourage them to bring any belongings in that may attract attention, from storage boxes to bikes. They may not see the issue of having their bike tucked away on their porch, but a bike sitting unattended and unmoved for several days/weeks can signal an empty apartment and attract unwanted attention.

Ensuring that all doors are locked may seem like a no-brainer, but some tenants may also forget how accessible windows can be, especially for ground-floor units. Remind tenants to lock any point of entry before they leave for the summer.

College students may be leaving their apartments empty over the summer, but property damages can still happen while they are away. With this advice in mind, you can help your tenants avoid damages this summer.

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