Preparing For A Student Renter

If you live in a college town, or a city with a number of colleges and universities, you may be in a market where student housing is in short supply. If you are interested in renting to students in your area, it makes sense to take a little time to prepare to offer your home for them - especially if you've never shared housing before. Here are a few pointers to help you prepare:

  1. Clean out the space you want to share, and decide whether to offer it furnished or unfurnished. While some students have furnishings, many do not have large items like a bed, desk or dresser. Decide what you have to spare and share and include it in your listing.
  2. Check in with the housing departments of local colleges and universities. When do students typically make their housing decisions? When are they back on campus? Where do they typically search for housing? Does the office keep a database of potential house sharing opportunities that could include your Let's Share Housing profile?
  3. Take good pictures of the space. Photos say so much more than words. Plus, today's visually oriented youth will be looking for them.
  4. Think about what an acceptable reference for a very young person might be. While a student's parents probably know the most about what their child is like to live with, they are, for obvious reasons, not reliable references. Meanwhile, a young person with little work experience might seem like a deer in the headlights when you ask for references. So, consider what kind of person might be an acceptable substitute in your mind for a traditional housing reference: college professor, high school teacher, coach, or an internship manager might provide a character reference for your prospective roommate.
  5. Be prepared to talk to the student about expectations around vacations and the length of their stay. Some students live in and attend school in the same place year round, but others expect to go home for winter and summer breaks. Be sure to come to an early understanding about the need to pay rent even during prolonged interruptions in their stay, and find out whether or not they plan to stay on through the summer.
  6. Before you offer a room, have your ground rules ready. It's a good idea to have a clear set of rules - in writing - about your expectations for the use of your house by your new roommate. May they have guests over when you are home? How about when you are not there? How many? May they drink or use other legal, controlled substances on the property? What about listening to music or other media? Establishing your own boundaries around these issues will help you find a better match in the long run.