A Student Housing 101 Refresher

August 8, 2019


Rent Manager

College students gather around a table studying

The upcoming academic year is swiftly approaching—soon, countless students will be filing into their leased apartments and campus housing. While the fundamentals of property management still ring true, student housing has so many other layers to consider when implementing a management strategy.
Before your residents walk through the doors, let’s discuss some important management tactics that are crucial for student housing success.

The Beginning – Move In

The first factor to consider upon meeting your residents is maturity and experience. Yes, they are all likely to be around the same age, but there’s a difference in living style and tendencies when comparing newcomers to almost-graduates. Take inventory of your residents and make note of any problem areas or opportunities you may foresee.

1.) Rules and Procedures

From the very beginning, make your property rules known. It’s important to have complete clarity with your residents in this regard. Explicitly express expectations and the repercussions if students do not adhere to your community’s policies. Next, make sure your procedures are detailed and easily available to your residents—where to go in case of emergencies, who to approach with any questions, how to contact the management team, and more. Establish this as common knowledge to all who reside in your units in order to have a safe and communicative environment.

2.) Work with the university

Campus housing can be partly owned or operated by the university itself, though that isn’t always the case. If your property is near campus, but functions independently, work with the college and determine the kind of influence they’ll have at your property. While your business may not be directly associated with the school, there is a chance that your residents will be students of theirs, simply due to the geographic proximity. So, it’s important to understand how the two entities affect each other.

3.) Partner with local businesses

A great way to help new residents get acclimated into the space is to partner with the businesses surrounding you—local stores, boutiques, pizza parlors, coffee shops—places that students will likely enjoy and value during their residency. Include coupons or advertisements in your welcome packets to establish the connection between your businesses right from the start.  Additionally, by forming an effective partnership that makes sense for your residents, both partners can benefit. Aim to develop a mutual advantage approach within your partnership strategy, and the payoff can be immense.

The Day-to-Day

1.) Constant Communication

Because your residents will likely be new to renting, you may need to play a more interactive role in their experience at your property. This may, in fact, be their first time living away from home. Thus, it’s crucial to acknowledge that your residents may need more guidance—including payment reminders and the correct way to handle maintenance issues. Develop an open environment for your residents to interact with your you supportive and skilled team and you’ll likely be surprised by the results.

2.) Relationship Building

We can’t over-emphasize the importance of building relationships with your residents. Organize events, reach out to tenants when it seems they may need help, and get to know them on a first-name basis. And while forming these connections does call for some extra effort, the result of these friendly associations can greatly help your property dynamic and image.

3.) Primary Contacts

Since many of your residents are young and newly independent, each one of their outside contact information is crucial to make note of and regularly use. Parents will be concerned and curious as to how their children’s living circumstance is. You may want to include parents in emails, regularly update them, and keep them in the loop to further establish that open, collaborative environment.

In order to keep each of your tenant’s outside contacts organized, be sure to enter them into your Rent Manager database. From the very beginning, insert this information under the “Contacts” tab for each account. Keep detailed records and frequently go back to these when managing your student residents.

Moving Forward

One great challenge in student housing property management is the fickle nature of it—more often than not, students change their housing options more than once during their time at school. Because of this, resident retention is an especially important focus for managers in this segment of the industry.

1.) Utilize Tenant Referral Programs

A great retention method for any property manager—but especially those in student housing—is tenant referral programs. Turn your current residents into leasing agents by offering rent credits when their referrals sign a lease, or conduct a property-wide public relations campaign that underscores the benefits of living in the same community as good friends or students working toward the same degree. By utilizing tenant referral programs with your student renters, the potential for gaining new residents is enormous.

2.) Social Media Makeover

If you’re aiming to appeal to a younger audience, elevating your social media game is a must. Post relevant updates on platforms like Instagram and Twitter, host giveaways and contests, and deliver engaging content that resonates with student residents whenever possible.

To get you started, here are some tips and actionable insights for your Social makeover.

3.) Give them a reason

Regardless of how you’re communicating and connecting with your residents, your ultimate goal should be making your property feel like home to them. That’s how you’ll get them to stay put and spread the word about their awesome experience in your community. It’s a fact—64% of renters are willing to pay more for properties with positive reviews. When your current residents have a positive outlook, that optimism is recognized and it encourages prospects to feel confident moving forward with your community.

The Big Picture

Though this article has been focused on student housing, these strategies can be applied to any property and any age group. As a property manager, it’s essential to remember that communication, marketing, and relationship-building can make or break your business.
Yet, as we get closer to the “first day of school,” keep some of this in mind for those students out there. Design a property experience that is memorable and welcoming. Be your residents’ safe haven on campus as they enter this new phase of their lives—by doing so, your property won’t just be where they live, it’ll be the place they call home.
By Kelsey Rizzuto

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