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Is Student Housing Still A Niche Market?

Is Student Housing Still A Niche Market?
Rewind to a decade ago and major REITs would have quickly dismissed student housing as a small niche market with minimal investment potential. The concept of purpose built student housing was almost exclusive to on-campus housing; aside from a few early adopters who helped usher in a new era of student focused accommodations. Outside of on-campus housing, students would by and large rent properties from independent landlords or local apartments. However, in 2015, the student housing sector has seemingly outgrown its status as a small niche market. A niche market is typically characterized as serving a very specific need to a relatively small market segment. While student housing can still technically be considered a niche market, the size of the market has grown to a point where it’s drifting from this characterization. This holds particularly true in the United States, where in 2014 alone, nearly 60,000 new private student housing beds were delivered to the market. The Canadian market, on the other hand, has seen slower growth; but it too is developing quickly. Rock Advisors stated that in 2013, there were over 950,000 full-time students enrolled at the 82 largest university campuses in Canada and 55% of these students attend universities outside of the communities they grew up in. Rock Advisors go on to say that there are over half a million students in need of places to live. This number will continue to increase, and as it does, the Canadian student housing sector will inevitably follow a similar path to its American counterpart. One of t......
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Going Green: The Top 7 Green-Friendly Student Housing Communities

Going Green: The Top 7 Green-Friendly Student Housing Communities
There's often a lot of focus about the luxury segment of the student housing market, which can sometimes overshadow other parts, such as sustainable student housing. While sustainable student housing doesn't share the same popularity as amenity-laden luxury student housing, there have been some very fascinating green-friendly projects popping up.   Here’s a look at some of the most creative and sustainable student housing projects around the world: 1. Mill Junction Student Housing by Citiq, Johannesburg We've never seen anything like this before. The Mill Junction is one of a kind - a series of stacked colorful shipping containers have been neatly propped up on old silos. Citiq put these old unused grain silos to good use, without having to demolish them and rebuild.  2. Crou Student Housing by Olgga, Le Havre, France The repurposing of shipping containers seems to be a trend that's catching on for green-friendly student housing. Crou student housing used 100 shipping containers, stacked in a pyramid-like fashion, with each container being a separate unit.      3. Grünerløkka Studenthus by HRTB Arkiteker, Oslo, Norway   While the Mill Junction decided to build on top of old silos, the Grünerløkka Studenthus was built directly into old unused grain silos. This 19-story student housing complex is a rather unique design with most of the apartments being round.      4. Charles David Keeling Apartments by Kieran Timberlake, University of California, San Diego Many of the leading green-friendly student accommodations are located in Europe, but the Charles David Keeling Apartments are by far the f......
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7 Things Student Housing Landlords Should Do Before The End of September

7 Things Student Housing Landlords Should Do Before The End of September
September is without a doubt one of the most hectic and stressful months for student housing landlords and operators. We previously talked about how to prepare for the student housing turn season and what to do once it’s arrived.   Here are several things landlords should aim to tackle sometime in September.   1.    Take New Photos of each Rental and Document its Condition: The beginning of September is a perfect time to take new property photos before the new tenants move in. There are two reasons why September is an ideal time for new photos: The unit will be vacant, allowing for photo staging. These photos will provide photo documentation of the condition each unit was in, prior to the new tenants arriving.  2.    Talk Lease Renewals: Is it too early to talk lease renewals in September? Definitely not! Tenant retention is a process that begins the second tenants sign the lease. It never hurts to simply mention that if they like the place and wish to extend their lease, it can be done anytime. Offer incentives or discounts to encourage early lease renewals.   3.    Discuss Renter’s Insurance: In most cases, renter’s insurance is not a mandatory requirement for tenants; but it’s something that should be discussed. Student tenants are often unaware that their possessions are not covered by the landlord’s property insurance or that the cost of renter’s insurance is quite reasonable.   4.     Transfer Utilities into the Tenant’s Name OR Talk All-Inclusive Limitations: If a rental unit is non-inclus......
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7 Tips To Simplify The Student Housing Move-In Rush

7 Tips To Simplify The Student Housing Move-In Rush
September is almost here, which means the turn season is just around the corner. Wondering what turn season is? This is the period of time typically in August & September when students vacate rental units and new tenants move-in. It’s a hectic and stressful time for all involved.     However, there are a few tricks of the trade that can make this time frame a bit easier for landlords and property managers, resulting in happier tenants also.  1. Stagger Move-In & Move-Out Dates: It’s recommended that landlords have a small window of time between lease dates.  Quite often, general maintenance and cleaning will need to be done to each rental unit before it’s ready for the next tenants. By avoiding back-to-back lease dates, the landlord can allow a day or two to accomplish this.   2. Charge Key Replacement Fees for Unreturned Keys: It’s a hassle for landlords to track down keys that weren’t returned by tenants and it can be a great inconvenience for the next renters. It’s best to include a lease provision stating that a charge will be deducted from the tenant’s security deposit, if keys are not returned by a specified date. This will increase the likelihood of keys being returned promptly.  3. Go Digital: Many time-consuming tasks associated with move-in and move-outs can be handled online, which would dramatically save time. For example, lease applications, deposits and rental payments can all be easily handled digitally, eliminating a significant amount of paper work and time.   4. Provide a Mov......
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7 Ways To Create An Advantage In a Highly Competitive Student Housing Market

7 Ways To Create An Advantage In a Highly Competitive Student Housing Market
The competitive landscape in student housing has evolved. Rental markets which once faced student housing shortages are now inching their way to surpluses. This trend has lead landlords and property managers to get creative with their rental offerings, in order to establish a competitive advantage in their respective markets.   While there is no surefire formula for success, when it comes to establishing a competitive advantage, there are several tactics that can be implemented to have an edge on the competition.  1. Make the property pet-friendly: A recent study found that more than 76% of millennials own a cat or dog. If a property has a no-pets policy, this could potentially mean that only about ¼ of the millennial renter market would be interested in the property. Needless to say, by refusing to accept pets, a landlord is drastically shrinking their potential tenant pool in the student housing industry.  2. Offer highly sought after amenities at no additional charge:J Turner Research identified that two of the top amenities that student renters seek are in-unit washer/dryer and extended cable/Wi-Fi. In many cases though, landlords charge extra for these features. For example, most properties which offer laundry facilities charge a few dollars per load through coin-operated appliances. Instead, landlords should consider offering this service at no additional charge; while factoring the cost into the monthly rent. This strategy can also be applied to parking, as it was the fourth most important amenity desired by student tenants.    3. Offer referral bonuses:Referral bonuses are a great ......
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The Future of Student Housing : 5 Fascinating Projects

The Future of Student Housing : 5 Fascinating Projects
Over the last decade, the market has seen a dramatic increase in the number of purpose-built student housing complexes. As student housing progresses more and more, innovation and modernization are being brought to this style of accommodation. Here are some unique and non-traditional examples of where the future of student housing may be heading.  1. Hub 01 Mobile Student Housing (Developed by dmvA and A3 Architects)     Image © Mick Couwenbergh Full Photo Gallery HereWhen someone speaks of mobile housing, the first thing that typically comes to mind is trailers; but Hub 01 is nothing like a trailer! Hub 01 has revolutionized the concept of mobile student housing with their concept resting on three main principles: mobility, personalization and an educational design.According to Arch Daily, the idea behind this project is to, “….provide an opportunity for students to take their own room to different places and attach it to a central terminal by a ‘plug-in’ system… By a simple connecting system, the individualized rooms can be attached to the terminal.”Each of the rooms has their own customized concept, which can be attached to the central terminal.      2. Tietgenkollegiet (Designed by Lundgaard & Tranberg)    Full Photo Gallery Here  While Tietgenkollegiet isn’t necessarily new (it was completed in 2006), it is still a leading model for the future of student housing. Tietgenkollegiet is aptly referred to as the “residence hall of the future”. The concept behind this residence hall is to create a space where students can grow both personally and socially in co......
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How To Keep Student Tenants For Their Entire Academic Career

How To Keep Student Tenants For Their Entire Academic Career
Finding new tenants each academic year can be a real burden on landlords and property managers. Tenant retention is an important issue which sometimes gets overlooked when it comes to student housing. Generally speaking, most college and university programs last between 2 to 4 years.   Many student renters will change up their accommodation each passing year, making landlords constantly on the hunt for new tenants. The process of replacing student tenants each year can be both time-consuming and costly. This process often involves a full cleaning of the rental, extensive planning and marketing, responding to email and phone inquiries, screening applicants and finally selecting the tenants.   But what if a landlord could keep student tenants for their entire academic career? Here are some tips on how to accomplish that!   Incentivize longer leases: One method to encourage an extended lease is to offer a discounted rental rate if a longer lease is signed. For example, a 1-year lease would have a rental price of $1,000 per month, 2-year would be $950 per month, 3-year would be $900 per month and so forth. A tenant could save quite a bit of money if they are willing to commit to a longer lease.  Offer discounted rent during months they aren’t occupying the rental:Most academic programs only last 8-9 months and typically students will be locked into a 12-month lease, where they pay for a few months when they aren’t occupying the unit. One option to help student tenants is to allow subletting. Ano......
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Top 10 Complaints Made by Student Renters & How to Handle Them

Top 10 Complaints Made by Student Renters & How to Handle Them
Student tenants specifically come with their own set of unique expectations and some common problems that may be encountered. Here are ten of the most common complaints voiced by student renters and insight on how to effectively handle these issues.   The landlord/maintenance person takes too long to fix things.Student renters live in an era of instant gratification, where they expect things to be delivered upon quickly; this is especially true for repairs in their accommodations. One of the most common complaints from student renters is the time it takes for things to be fixed by their landlord or maintenance team. The solution to this complaint is quite simple - promptly repair things or be honest about delays, if a repair cannot be made within a reasonable time frame.J Turner Research surveyed nearly 12,000 students and when asked about repair times for something broken in their apartment, 30% of students expected the repair to be completed in 24 hours or less. Even more shocking, 23% of students expected it to be fixed in 6 hours or less.  I didn’t get my security deposit back.This ranks at the top of the complaint list. Disputes often arise over the return of a security deposit, when a student renter is set to move out. Landlords can avoid this potential conflict by simply doing a walk-through with the tenant and specifically detailing what needs to be done in order for the student to get the full security deposit back. If the landlord cannot arrange a walk-through t......
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Is Student Living a Myth?

The biggest misconception of Student Housing is that the students who rent in our communities understand what they are doing because they don’t. Students often look at living off campus as an extension of dorm life and many do not really appreciate the difference until there is a problem. Even parents, in many cases, labor under this delusion. Let’s get one thing straight. Just because your student is living off campus, does not necessarily mean he is living independently. Since most Students make housing decisions long before the end of their sophomore, junior or senior year of college, and certainly many make their choice entirely on where their friends signed leases, they don’t take into consideration even the basics when it comes to finding a place to live. Eighty to ninety percent of these Students and their parents do not even read the lease before they sign. Sending leases through electronic signature programs makes it easy for the Properties to gather the necessary signatures but it also makes it easy for Students and their Guarantors to blindly click away without reading what they are signing. Parents who are considering allowing their college age children to live off campus should consider the following advice when choosing off campus dwellings. After all, Parents who are acting as Guarantors should understand that living off campus can be a rewarding learning experience for their children, as well as a good opportunity to teach valuable lifeskills. Before you sign on the dotted electronic line, read the lease......
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Fundamental Student Utilities

Fundamental Student Utilities
One of the great rites of passage in this country is the opportunity to amass a fair amount of debt in exchange for an education.  It’s that scar that will stay with you for years to come.  Luckily, while pursuing that education, people need a place to live.  Every college town in America is filled with apartment communities that cater specifically to the student lifestyle, but filling those beds isn’t always an easy task.  One of the more challenging juggling acts that occur at most properties is figuring out how to handle the rising utility costs, while staying competitive.  It’s not uncommon to see utilities incorporated into marketing strategies in one way or another, but there is often a lack of understanding of the financial risks and potential impacts on resident satisfaction that stem from the different approaches.  Below we’ll dive into a few common mistakes, and learn the best practices that can help protect your bottom line. Free Utilities Probably the most common marketing approach when it comes to utilities in the student housing industry is to promote them as being included with rent.  While it’s tempting to fall prey to this tactic, let’s talk about what this means for your property.  One of the basic premises of a utility bill back service is that if an individual is responsible for the cost of the utility, they’re more likely to conserve.  Where there is conservation, there is also cost savings.  Pretty simple, right?  The logical conclusion to this thought process is that if you remove th......
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