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How To Choose Your Landlord
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How To Choose Your Landlord

Written by Sam | June 16, 2021

In any student city there can be a lot of student housing or accommodation, usually more accommodation than there is students. Which is a good thing as a student, as you get the power of choice.

However, how do you know if a landlord is any good, trustworthy, has good houses and will generally be a good experience.

I’ll try and break it down in to two parts, student accommodation – the places that come in big blocks that aren’t run by the university and then private student housing – all the houses that will be in your city.

When looking at which landlord you should choose, you can evaluate them on many different metrics, however, the ones that I like and use are:

  • Experience
  • Systems and processes
  • Quality of housing

You can’t necessarily measure these, however, they are what make a good experience.

Good Quality Landlords

For me, the best way to find all information you need about a landlord, letting agent or anyone else is to go and view the house. or accommodation and ask some questions This has been moved virtually during the pandemic and those that have invested in this service are serious landlords, however, it will never beat actually going to see the property itself.

By going and having a look you can see the type of staff they employ, the current state of the house, the area, the commute to and from university and maybe even a cheeky chat with the current tenants who will tell you the absolute truth about the accommodation.

I’ll break down the areas where I think you need to explore to find the right landlord for you!

Experience

When you come to try and assess experience, it is very hard. Many will write on their advertising that they have 30 years in the student housing, however, experience comes in many forms and for me it’s knowing how to react in certain situations and having a logical method when making decisions.

This should mean that when you have a problem, they have the ability to solve it quickly. Whether that is a general repair, an emergency or a deposit dispute. Knowing the processes, systems and ways to do it efficiently makes a big difference.

An example, for student accommodation, would be knowing how to manage a big building, the students inside it and then getting all the socials planned to create a real community. This makes the whole place a nice place to live, you don’t even have to go to the events but, you can feel a good atmosphere.

So, how do you measure experience?

It’s not something you can put on a sliding scale, but rather judge on your own terms. The best way to judge it is by asking some questions that will get the landlord to think and show that they have done this before.

Questions along the line of:

  • How many students stay for more than one year?
  • How many deposits are disputed each year (if you pay a deposit)?
  • How do I report a repair in and out of hours?

Questions along these lines are good (in my opinion) because you are asking about their student retention, which shows you how well they treat students. The higher the number the better! If it’s low it means one year is enough for the students and they want out!

Asking about the deposit may not be something they know off the top of their head, but if they have a lot of disputes, it should come as a red flag because something isn’t right and needs investigating.

The final one is just seeing if they have good processes for dealing with any repairs, queries or anything else.

Lastly, you can also get an idea of how much experience the landlord has by how well they design each room. Someone who is doing their first student place is not going to be as good (generally speaking) as someone doing their 40th room or building. They will know what needs to go where and in what place.

This will make your life as a student, a lot easier because everything just flows in the house. An example, having enough space in the kitchen to cook and prepare and having enough space in the living room to fit everyone in. Yet, I consistently see these errors.

Systems and Processes

I have mentioned this in the section above and this is most definitely the boring part of the research. I mean who wants to look at the systems and processes, but again, in times of need it is invaluable.

Systems and processes just mean their is a uniform way of doing something that is agreed by yourself and the agent, landlord or student accommodation provider.

An example is, reporting a repair or an emergency. Say it’s in the middle of the night and you have water coming through the roof of your bedroom. You need a process to follow to get it repaired as quickly as possible! In this case, there will be an out of hours number to call.

Another common example, is getting locked out or forgetting your keys. Many experiences landlords who have had this issue before will have a key safe somewhere in the property with spare keys in so that they don’t need to come out every time. They will simply tell you the code.

When something goes wrong, it is good to know what you need to do in order to resolve it. It should also be backed up with plenty of communication so if there is an issue, you know where you stand.

All these processes will come form experience in the student sector.

Quality of Housing

I have alluded to this a little bit before but this for me is the most important. Don’t confuse quality with expensive. There are plenty of things out there that are expensive and not quality or functional.

What I mean by the quality of the housing is the design, layout and materials used. I am not a fan of plain student accommodation, it has no space, it’s boring and there are many simple ways to add a bit of variety to stamp your brand and mark. It can be as simple as using the same desk, chair and bed combination in all your rooms.

This is where design comes in, how does it complement student lives, how does it make it better? Is there plenty of light and space in order to make sure you can socialise, cook and work? What are your rooms like, are can you make it your own in some way?

This is design, the soft furnishings that are added at the end to really finish off the room, house and accommodation.

A separate example for student accommodation: look at their social spaces, are they big enough to fit a lot of people in, have they thought about where things go or are all the spaces small and tucked into a backroom where no one can find.

So with the design, make sure it is not white or magnolia with the blandest of furniture that you can’t do anything with. Choose a space that has some colour and excitement that you can make your own.

Layout

How is the property and spaces laid out, are the functional or do you have the only bathroom on the top floor of the house with everyone else living downstairs. Has it been configured so it makes sense.

A floorplan will easily tell you this along with going to view the property, you will be able to get a feel for if the house is going to become annoying to live in.

The same applies with student accommodation – make sure your studio is designed to give maximum space and storage and is well laid out so that you can move around with ease!

Materials

To be clear, I am not asking you to become a tradesperson or a construction expert, however, you will be able to feel or tell if something should be better quality but is done on the cheap because it’s a student property and they assume it will need replacing!

A good example, is showers. Many will put electric showers in but go for lower cost that barely pull any water through. A second example is the furniture, many will just put a random desk in the corner and call it a spacious place to do work.

There will be many more that you guys have and as you walk around the house, studio or flat you will be able to pick up if it’s good quality or not.

A lot of the time, if you ask if you can test the tap, shower or anything else it will give you a good indication of what it’s like. The place where it should have good quality and sturdy materials are in the kitchen and bedrooms. This includes WiFi.

Everybody who is a landlord of a student house or accommodation block knows how important WiFi is to the students or anyone else for that matter.

Summary

To quickly go over how to pick the right landlord for you, well first you need to get out there and see what properties suit you and then go and view them. If you need help with that, try this blog. After that you need to see which landlord suits you and offers what they say they will.

For me there are three things you need to measure them on, which are:

  • Experience
  • Systems and processes
  • Quality of housing

These aren’t things you can necessarily see and have a number against them, but as you walk around the house and as they answer your questions you can start to see if they have the right answers, processes, systems and it is backed up reviews and satisfaction.

If all their houses are booked first, they rarely need to market anything and students usually stay for more than one year, you are on to a winner.

The caveat is you can’t please everyone, however, go with the ones that actually do what they say and not just say what they are going to do!

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me!

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