Let’s be blunt: students have a bad reputation as tenants. Many landlords in Singapore refuse to even entertain the idea of renting to foreign student tenants with the assumption that they’ll be noisy, untidy, and late with rent (remember what you were like with money, when you were a student?)
However, more open-minded landlords have since discovered that a lot of these preconceptions aren’t true. In many ways, student tenants may actually make better tenants than other tenant types. So consider these plus points before turning the next student tenant away:
1. Most student tenants have their rent paid by someone else
From our experience, most foreign student tenants in Singapore don’t pay their own rent. Instead, their rent is paid by a parent or guardian, who wouldn’t want to run the risk of the student being kicked out of your house. Some landlords even find that parents, in particular, may be willing to pay a larger upfront sum of rental — such as for the entire semester — as they see it as more efficient.
2. Many student tenants are worried about explaining a forfeited security deposit
This also relates to Point 1. When a parent or guardian has paid the security deposit, student tenants are often more — not less — nervous about losing it. Few of them want to explain to their parents how they wrecked the washing machine or trashed your sofa; they know there’s a nagging lecture that goes along with it. Worse, they’d have to start paying their own rent or get another place to stay that’s cheaper and less pleasant than yours.
3. Student tenants are much less fussy
Students aren’t as picky as families, as far as tenants go. Little things that would put off other tenants — such as a squeaking door hinge or a dining table that’s a bit too small — are often ignored by students.
This is because students tend to see the house as just a place to sleep, and keep their stuff. Their lives revolve around activities with their friends, so they’re out longer and later than most other tenants. While that has occasional drawbacks (e.g. if it bothers you that they come back at four in the morning), it also means a tenant whose very forgiving about property maintenance.
Students are also easier to please. You don’t need to renovate and install beautiful cabinetry. Just throw in a free game console, or help to stock the fridge every now and then; the cost isn’t high, but you’ll find they’re very appreciative.
4. You can get potentially get higher rental income
Students tend to split the rent with their parents (or vice versa). This means you can often get a little bit more out of your rental rates. For example, if you rent a 3-bedroom condo to a single family, you might get $3,200 per month. But if you rent it to four students (two in the master bedroom), you might be able to get $3,600 in rent, assuming each student is paying an average of $900 a month.
Now there is a drawback here, in that you need to collect rental from each student separately. But do consider the trade off for that little bit of extra work – an extra $400 a month is a significant rental boost over the course of a year. (You can also consider assigning a student tenant you trust as a master tenant, who’ll be in charge of collecting rent and making sure the other tenants follow the house rules. You may want to give the student tenant slightly cheaper rent for this task.)
5. It’s usually easier to find student tenants
University dorms in Singapore are quite crowded, and many foreign students struggle to secure on-campus accommodation or don’t want to deal with the cumbersome system for doing so. As such, they opt to rent and live outside campus. For properties within 15-20 minutes of the nearest tertiary institution, landlords can easily find foreign student tenants.
Also, consider that there are fresh prospective tenants every year, as Singapore is a desirable place to study. Sometimes, a quick note with a student committee or council is enough to send dozens of prospective tenants to your door.
6. Student tenants often bring their friends
Not to mess the house up, we mean. Prospective student tenants often respond to rental listings in groups or pairs. This aside, students make friends and connections during their time in school. If you’re a good landlord, it will spread by word of mouth (i.e. free publicity). All this reduces the risk of rooms running vacant.
Student tenants are often willing to recommend your place to their junior, or friends from their home country who are also coming over to study. Over time, this can set up a chain of constant referrals; the next tenant could be at your door and negotiating — even before the current one has left.
7. Student tenants are less adept at twisting their landlord’s arm
Student tenants tend to be first-time renters, who are not fully familiar with all the landlord-tenant protocols. At their age, they’re also overall less inexperienced in life. We’re not suggesting you take advantage of them. But we are suggesting they’re less likely to take advantage of you.
More experienced tenants, on the other hand, know how to worm extras out of their landlord. They persuade you to reword Tenancy Agreements that place all liability for repairs on you, or they exploit loopholes to justify breaking leases (if you don’t want this to happen to you, stick to using a property agent).
Veteran tenants can walk all over inexperienced landlords. It’s rare, however, for students to be this sort of tenant.
8. Student tenants may actually do less damage to your property
Many landlords believe that student tenants are whirlwinds of destruction, that they’ll rip up all their furnishings like a feral cat. While this sometimes happens (you may have heard horror stories), a few bad eggs aren’t representative of the whole. After all, there are pros and cons with every type of tenant.
In fact, student tenants may end up doing less damage. That’s because student tenants don’t have children or pets — two very common sources of property damage. They also perform most of their activities outside of the house (e.g. out clubbing or playing football with friends). If you’re worried about them throwing wild parties at your place, you can simply explicitly ban it in the Agreement. (And if they do throw wild parties (see Point 5), it’s not usually as hard to kick them out).
Insider the house, student renters tend to be nonchalant to their surroundings. Compare this to family tenants, whose ideal home activity might be to drill a few holes in the hall to put up a painting or shelf, or painting the bedroom in a garish green, or removing your chandelier, or… you get the drift. Students, on the other hand, spend time indoors more passively, preferring to play console games or watch Netflix.
9. You get to keep a closer eye on your apartment
Another thing is that student tenants likely wouldn’t mind is if you went in to install a wireless security camera in your apartment (e.g. in the living room facing the entrance), but expat, couple and family tenants might very well be up in arms if you did that. And, as their landlord and their senior, students are also more amenable of you dropping by every now and then to see if there’s anything they need help with (a nicer way of saying “checking on your tenant”).
The above nine plus points goes to show one thing: landlords (and their agents) shouldn’t be too quick to reject student tenants. Before you rent, scope out what nearby tenants nearby are charging on Singapore’s largest property portal, 99.co If you property is near a university, do check the room accommodation rates of university halls. Doing so can get you a lot of tenants just by slightly undercutting the hall accommodation rates. That, or you can just use the data as a reference for your own rates.
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If you found this article helpful, 99.co recommends 7 basic steps to take when screening a tenant on your own and Renting out a room? 9 landlord must-dos to avoid headaches
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