Renting to Students

What should I consider before taking on students as tenants?

Renting to Students
What should I consider before taking on students as tenants?

At the time of writing this article, the bulk of the post-secondary students will have returned to their respective institutions for fall classes.  Renting to students can be particularly lucrative as a landlord may be able to rent individual rooms in a house at an aggregate rate greater than renting the whole house under one contract.  If you are considering renting to students or are already renting to students, there are a couple of things that you may want to consider:

1. Does the Residential Tenancy Act apply to you?

Not if you are an educational institution renting to students.  It also does not apply to a student who shares bathroom or kitchen facilities with the owner of the property.  In almost all other cases, the Act applies and the standard terms of the Act cannot be avoided.

2. One tenancy agreement or many?

One aspect of renting to students that might be attractive to landlords is that having agreements with each student may be more lucrative than one tenancy agreement.  However, many agreements can bring many headaches and the landlord will have to decide on one contract or many.

Special arrangements should be made to ensure that roommates are bound to a single tenancy and that the agreement provides that each is liable, not just for their share, but for the entire portion for all obligations under the agreement (joint and several liability).

3. Dealing with conflicts between Roommates

Conflicts between roommates, especially if they do not know each other, may arise.  If the conflicts can’t be resolved, a roommate might simply depart.  Agreements should provide that the landlord can replace a roommate in such events.

4. Guarantors

The landlord might want to consider a guarantee of payment from the parents of the students.  The landlord should also consider foreign students who have no credit history and whether it is advisable to set up a security agreement.

5. Municipal Bylaws

Landlords should be aware of municipal bylaws and ensure that they are in compliance with any restrictions such as occupancy rates or an avoidance of unwarranted designations like “rooming house” or “lodging house”.

These are some basic questions that you should be asking yourself if you wish to enter the student rental market.  In the end, landlords have to decide whether the returns of offering student housing is worth what is probably more work than one rental agreement with a non-student.  No one wants to own a “party house” and renting to individuals who are often young with little or no rental history can be a challenge.

Published online on July 24, 2016.