The property industry has been historically slow to adopt new technology, however it is now a driving force which has many benefits to both landlords and tenants. The student market now relies on technology as searching online is now the method chosen by students when looking for accommodation. This is particularly true for international students as often they are unable to visit the property in person before agreeing a tenancy.
With the growing student housing industry and increasing competitiveness of the market student landlords are looking for additional means to advertise their properties to reach the greatest number of potential tenants and increase the financial success of their properties. This has led to growing numbers of online lettings agencies, advertising sites and portals which specialise in student properties. These companies have the potential to increase the number of students which see available properties and can help landlords fill their properties.
However a student landlord must be aware of how these companies achieve this goal, and the terms on which they earn their income.
Websites which advertise student property often use one of two structures; an upfront cost either per property or for the use of the service irregardless of whether any tenants are found; or where a commission is paid only when a tenant is found for a property.
Services with an upfront cost hold much more risk for a private landlord, especially if they have a smaller portfolio. This is because they are responsible for the payment of the monthly or annual fee and cannot be sure of any income being achieved in return. This can eat into profit margins, which are already shrinking due to stricter tax regulations and the Tenant Fees Act.
For a private landlord the most advisable online advertising companies will be those which work on commision and are only paid when a tenant for the property is found. This holds no risk for the landlord as their property is visible to a much larger number of consumers and any payments are reliant on a tenant being found and when income is guaranteed.
A student landlord will want their property to be available to book on a number of different websites and portals as this will maximise the number of potential tenants. To achieve this it is important to avoid websites or agencies which require properties to be exclusively listed on their website or portal. A good agency or website will not look to be exclusive as they will be confident in their ability to let the property.
Listing properties on multiple portals will also reduce risk for landlords as there will be more opportunity for the property to be let.
Culture / Agenda
Tenant satisfaction is key for student landlords, as it can lead to tenant retention, better word of mouth recommendations, positive online reviews and a smoother letting and management process. The companies used to advertise the property can have a significant impact on tenant satisfaction.
Selecting companies which aim to provide a service which is more than just the filling of rooms should improve the experience of tenants during the letting process. Companies with cultures of helping students when moving to a new city or country as well as finding them accommodation will reflect well on the landlord and their property. It will start the tenancy positively and will result in higher satisfaction levels.
StudyFlats aims to make the renting process faster and simpler for students both from home and abroad, and provides a free and helpful service to students when finding properties for them in the UK, guiding them through the steps in the letting process. This service is free to students as landlords are charged only upon successful bookings, avoiding the risk of an upfront or annual fee.