Renting properties to students is definitely not the same as conventional leasing. The tenants are different, including a student's minimal prior renting experience, student-friendly housing requirements, length of leases, and rent collection. Landlords must have an understanding of these disparities and how to manage them. One challenge that student housing landlords face is collecting rent from students who switch schools, drop out, or simply don't show up for move in.
CAN A LANDLORD COLLECT RENT IF A STUDENT GOES GHOST ON MOVE-IN DAY?
Student housing landlords have options when the student is a no show.
Why it's Challenging to Rent to Students
Student or on-campus housing lasts the academic year, usually August - May. By mid-late August, students are moving into their dorms or campus housing for the fall semester. In early January, students may also be moving in to prepare for the start of the spring session. In between those times, there is little to no movement for those who own properties near college campuses. If a student fails, changes, drops out of, or doesn't show up for school, the landlord may not have another option to refill the property or the bed. The landlord may have had the roommates or housemates sign a by-the-unit lease which leaves the other tenants responsible for all of the rent. A by-the-bed lease requires another tenant to fill the space that has been vacated or the landlord is out that amount.
How to Collect Past Due Rent from Ghosted Students
A landlord that is unable to refill their property or room may wish to seek past due rent from students who agreed to lease from them. The challenge is tracking down those students to hold them responsible. Some student tenants may have a Guarantor (typically a parent or guardian) who co-signs and can be held accountable to pay for the rent.
Other options available to landlords include:
- Re-Leasing the Unit / Bed - Ideally, Landlords will be able to fill the vacancy with a new tenant. If the bed is re-leased, and occupancy at the property is full, the no-show tenant is usually relieved of his/her financial obligation.
- Challenges: Seasonality is a major factor when it comes to Student Housing leasing. Most students have found housing by the time school begins, so the chances of re-leasing a unit / bed early in the academic year is difficult.
- Accelerated Rent - Some states allow landlords to accelerate rent. In accelerating rent, a landlord can demand that a tenant pay the remainder of the rent that is owed under the lease in one lump sum.
- Challenges: Despite being contractually obligated, it can be difficult to ask a student / guarantor to pay $6000+ for an apartment they never lived in. These accounts typically have a high dispute rate and carry a higher propensity to result in a settlement rather than the full value of the lease.
- Gradually Adjusting / Increasing Rent - States that do not allow accelerated rent may enforce landlords only collect each month that rent is due. Landlords could gradually increase the balance due one month at a time.
- Challenges: Increasing the amount due over time requires strict policies and procedures to ensure your accounting system and collection agency have the current and accurate balance.
How a Collections Agency Can Help Landlords
Partnering with a reputable tenant collection agency will allow your property staff to focus on other priorities. Your team's time is valuable and better spent focusing on Resident Relations, Marketing and Leasing. Consider hiring a collection agency that specializes in student housing and understands the federal and state regulations regarding landlord tenant law and recovery of rent from no-show tenants. This specialty can help mitigate the risk of lawsuits and help to quickly recover the loss of funds.
Have more questions? Contact us or click the button below to request a quote for your rent collection needs.