New laws and increased taxation resulting in ever-decreasing profits are turning some landlords to a market that is proving to be very profitable: the student market. With an increasing number of overseas students looking for accommodation in London, landlords who let to international – and UK – students can expect some of the best yields compared to letting to other types of tenants.
However, some landlords have concerns over letting to international students because of complexities around the right to rent checks and an inability to provide a UK based guarantor. Here we address these concerns, and other aspects of renting to international students, so landlords don't miss out on this lucrative market.
Right to rent checks
It doesn't matter who you let your property out to; the Right to Rent legislation requires landlords to verify that all tenants (aged 18 and over) can legally rent their residential property. Every new tenant must undergo the rigours of the Right to Rent checks – it is against the law to only check people you think are not British citizens.
You must ask to see original documents that prove that they can live in the UK. You will need to make sure these documents are genuine, and you must take a copy (a legible photocopy or photograph) of each document for your records. More information on which documents are acceptable in a Right to Rent check can be found here.
Whilst it may seem time-consuming to check unfamiliar passports, this is no reason to write off letting to internationals. You can use the government's landlord's checking service to ascertain whether the tenant has a right to rent. Also, here at Plaza Estates, we can undertake your tenant checks for you.
What if the student has a time-limited right to rent?
Some international students have a time-limited right to remain in the UK. If this is the case, you must conduct the right to rent check no sooner than 28 days before the tenancy start.
How do I protect my income?
Most private landlords and letting agents request that a third party, usually a parent, acts as a guarantor for the rent before letting to students. Landlords are often wary of international students as they cannot provide a guarantor based in the UK. It is difficult to check international students' parents and complicated to take legal action against them should the rent not be paid. Instead, landlords can ask international students to pay a lump sum of six months rent at a time, which protects against the fear of rent arrears.
Many landlords find that this is a non-issue as international students tend to pay their rent on time as they are worried about being unable to complete their course if they fail to do so.
Consider the requirements of international students
In many aspects, overseas student requirements are the same as those from the UK, but there are some areas where international students' needs are different.
As international students have no credit rating in the UK, they find it difficult to get access to utilities, broadband, and phone accounts. To help them overcome this, many landlords include the cost of these as part of the rent.
Newcomers to this country are used to different property arrangements, and students may have no idea of how UK terms and conditions work. They might need to have things explained, such as their rights and responsibilities as tenants, and may need extra support settling into the property.
Consider the luxury student sector
The luxury student sector is a growing niche of the market. These students tend to be of Asian or Russian origin who come to the UK to study. They want to live in central London and be in a recognised location.
International students with more money to spend on accommodation might be looking for an apartment. So-called 'luxury' students tend to opt for new-build apartments in upmarket residential developments and can be happy to spend up to £5,000 a month for the right accommodation.
But for this money, they will demand accommodation of a very high standard. The entertainment systems should be top of the range, the furnishings stylish and good quality, while free WiFi is a must. Some students will expect a cleaning service to be included in the price.
Students will pay more for accommodation that is close to a university. But unlike young professionals, most students will want to be in shared accommodation, living close to amenities and night-time entertainment. Central London has all these things, but you may need advice in finding the right property or apartment.
Is there any other legislation to consider?
As you are letting to sharing occupants who are not from the same family group, you will need to comply with Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) regulations. These regulations apply regardless of whether you are renting to international or UK students.
If you are renting your property as a house share, you must contact your local council to see if you need a license. The council is responsible for enforcing HMO standards and will stipulate the conditions of your license. You must:
Make sure that the house is suitable for the number of occupants
- Conduct a gas safety check each year and provide certificates when requested
- Install and maintain smoke and carbon dioxide alarms
- Conduct electrical safety checks and portable appliance checks and provide certificates when requested
The council may have other conditions of your license, and they will inform you when you apply.
Renting out an unlicensed HMO is an offence and can result in an unlimited fine.
At Plaza Estates, we can carry out the Right to Rent checks, reference checks for guarantors and advise you on applying for an HMO license. Contact us today for more details about our services for landlords in central London.