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Student Housing Blog - Places4Students

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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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 together, then send a checklist of what must be completed to the tenant. This helps to ensure there is no disagreement or misunderstanding between the two parties.
  3. I hate my roommates.

    Some landlords or property managers won’t care about this type of complaint, but they really should. It’s a fairly common complaint that can often negatively impact such things as lease renewal rates and tenant satisfaction. We previously discussed this issue about why landlord should care about roommate conflict and how to avoid experiencing roommate conflict with tenants.
  4. Complaints about the neighbors.

    Depending on the situation, this complaint may be entirely out of the landlord’s control. If the neighbors next door live in a property that the landlord doesn’t own or operate, then there might not be much that can be done. Nonetheless, disgruntled tenants will still voice these complaints to the landlord. The best thing to do is be genuinely sympathetic and try to help in whatever capacity possible.
  5. The Internet is too slow.

    Two very important things for student renters are the amount of Internet bandwidth they have and the speed of the Internet. This can be problematic when there are multiple students living in a single residence. Internet speeds can be relatively slow if there are multiple people connected at the same time.

    When J Turner Research asked students how satisfied they were with the level of Internet bandwidth available at their apartment, the average response was 6.6 (on a scale of 1-10).  This rating isn’t necessarily bad but there is certainly room for improvement, since this is such a high priority to student renters.
  6. The leasing/management/maintenance staff never answers my phone calls/emails or takes far too long to respond.

    Much like repairs, students expect an extremely quick turnaround time for responses. Since students are always connected via their smartphones, they have an expectation of immediate responses; especially with email.

    When J Turner Research asked student renters about repairs in their apartment and what was a reasonable amount of time for the community staff to respond and confirm they are aware of the problem and working on a solution (via email or phone),

    ·      20% of students said ½ hour;

    ·      21% of students said within 1 hour; and

    ·      14% of students said within 2 hours.

    These percentages exhibit that students are not patient when it comes to having their requests acknowledged and responded to. 
  7. It is too hot/cold in my unit.

    Some landlords and property managers wish to have control over the temperature settings in their units. In some cases, they will lock the thermostat so tenants cannot tamper with it. This is often a measure put in place to control utility costs. If student tenants are frequently complaining about the temperature in their unit, it might be best to give them control over the thermostat. In this case, it’s recommended to also let the renters take responsibility for the utility bills, so they pay for what they use. They’ll usually be more mindful of energy consumption this way.
  8.  ______________ isn’t working.

    This one is all too familiar. Let’s face facts, things will break. In some cases, it might be the student tenant’s fault, but not always. To resolve these complaints, simply fix what’s broken. If it cannot be fixed immediately, provide the renters with a reasonable timeframe for a replacement.
  9. There’s a bad odor (smoke, animals, cooking, etc.).

    This complaint tends to be more common in apartment buildings, where there are several people living close to one another in separate units. It can sometimes be difficult to deal with this issue. The easiest way to handle this is by implementing an odor addendum in the lease. This will outline a tenant’s responsibility to ensure that the odors of their apartment will not disturb the other tenants. If a smell constitutes as a noticeable nuisance, then it would be in violation of this addendum.
  10. The cell-phone reception is bad.

    This is another complaint that landlords might not be able to do too much about, but it’s still a major concern. Basement apartments are particularly vulnerable to this problem. It can become a real nuisance for student tenants, if they can’t make or receive calls at home; as most student renters will not have a landline phone. One solution for landlords is to purchase a signal booster that can dramatically improve cellphone reception in areas with bad reception. 

    J Turner Research surveyed over 7,000 students and asked them how important cellular phone reception is in their selection of an apartment community for college. On a scale of 1-10,

    ·      49% of students responded with the highest level (10), and
    ·      79% of students rated it extremely important (8-10).
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

This is SO relevant in any community! What do we want our residents to brag about when someone asks them about our places? That they love us and love living there. One of the biggest complaints about any community is service. As a business owner, service speaks volumes to me! I take note of the grocery store, the online store or the quick stop gas station that offers great, friendly service. Eg. Sunday night, we ran out of oil in a building. So, the resident had no hot water. Emergency? No, not really. We could wait until the next am to get more oil. Did we know that this could possibly happen? Yes, we did and we missed our opportunity to stay ahead of it. I asked my husband, "Do we want to offer exceptional service or average service?" Average meaning- we'll take care of it first thing Monday am and they can boil some water. (Ha!) or Exceptional service meaning- Be right over!
There's the difference. Can we live without automatic hot water for an evening? Absolutely! But when it comes down to how we address these issues, we show how much we desire to meet the needs of our residents and therefore, show that we care.


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