Student Landlord Tips for Management During Lockdown

Help keep your student tenants safe during lockdown

During lockdowns imposed by the UK government to combat Covid-19, it is clear that tenants will now be spending longer periods in their rented properties. Landlords who own HMOs and have students as tenants could potentially find that this impacts their tenancy management negatively.

Here are some points for landlords to consider and communicate with their tenants.

Help university tenants with utility caps

Many tenancy agreements for students include utilities within the rent up to a certain capped amount. It is likely that there will be in an increase in utilities usage this year. Make sure that tenants know how they can keep track of their usage and if possible provide them with regular statements.

If it becomes apparent that usage is increasing and is likely to be more than the provision within tenancy agreement, then provide early warnings to allow students to properly budget. If possible, to help students mitigate these unexpected additional costs, landlords could consider increasing utility caps as students are not in a position to earn income to cover them.

Adjust student property heating to lockdown needs

Some landlords set heating to only come on at particular times of the day on the understanding that much of the time is spent away studying from the property. As students will be in the property for longer periods they will likely need access to heating controls to ensure the property temperature can be kept at a comfortable level.

Ensure sufficient internet capacity

It is always useful to regularly review internet packages prior to beginning of new tenancies. With all students now studying remotely, attending online lectures and submitting course work, there is an increased demand on internet services. Landlords should seek feedback from their tenants on their internet service and, where appropriate, enhance the service they are receiving in order to enable them to carry out their studies effectively.

Ensure safe waste management for your student properties

Significantly more waste is likely to be created in the home over this period. Please make sure your tenants have access to sufficient external waste bins to allow them to store waste between collections in a way that will not attract vermin to the property or its grounds.

Ensuring safe access to student let accommodation

Landlords should encourage tenants to inform them if anyone has tested positive for Covid-19, and to confirm if they are self-isolating and/or are clinically vulnerable. Manage expectations in terms of what repairs can be conducted under these circumstances.

Ensure your risk assessment encapsulates all potential issues encountered if going into a tenant’s property and do all you can to minimise spread of the virus whilst recognising your responsibilities as a landlord.

Keeping community cohesion in university neighbourhoods

Anxieties in the community are currently heightened. Make sure you remind your student tenants about the current restrictions and how the importance of respecting neighbours has therefore become even more important.

Managing student inter-tenant friction

As more time is spent in the home and the ability to socialise with friends outside of this group is restricted, then the potential for conflict and the negative impact on mental health and well-being grows significantly. Please continue to send reminders to your tenants that support is available to them.

About the author

Mike Stephens is a respected senior industry professional and Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) with well over 40 years’ varied experience in the commercial insurance sector as a director, underwriter, and operational improvement manager.

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