Many student accommodation managers ponder the age old question – how do I retain my tenants or attract them in the first place? With the majority of tenancy lease agreements lasting for an interval of one year, what can you do to help persuade your student tenants to stay in your building once that lease expires? Most college students will be studying a 2-4-year course, so for at least that amount of time they will require permanent lodging.
Well the good news is that there are a number of factors that can be capitalised on to increase the likelihood of maintaining good tenants for a longer period.
It’s the basics that matter and of course as with any property there will be maintenance concerns. Taps could be leaking or the AC/heater has stopped working however, how you handle these concerns is the key. Students, just like any other tenant, want to be assured that their concern is acknowledged and something will be done to resolve it. It’s important to be up front and honest with your tenants about the problem and how long it will take to make repairs. If it’s a concern that affects the whole building, make sure to communicate accordingly via email or letter which is given to each resident.
Having a clear channel of communication and providing a timely response will go a long way in maintaining a healthy relationship with your student tenants. In addition, it’s crucial to be available to your tenants in case they have questions or concerns about the work that will be carried out. All of this seems like common practice however, it doesn’t always happen and it can have a detrimental effect.
It’s a pretty tried and tested formula. Keep your property in good condition and students will take care of it. Let it to fall apart and they won’t. Also keep in mind it’s not just the big jobs like plumbing and electrics; it’s also the little jobs like torn wallpaper and peeling paint. Look after the minor issues and there’s a greater chance your tenants will look after your property.
Nowadays technology is transforming every industry and student housing management is no different. In fact, with a majority of your tenants being young tech savvy individuals, it’s imperative that you not only utilise technology but embrace it. Tech can be used to streamline basic processes and at some point soon even these processes will become sophistically automated through the use of better AI. Many new systems are fully integrated and allow students to view tenant ledgers, pay their rent electronically and even submit maintenance requests online.
Even home security has recently been ramped up with new tech innovations such as being able to access residential security through mobile devices. Some systems such as August and Schlage Sense have become so advanced that proximity sensors like Bluetooth and NFC can enable a door to unlock whenever an authorised user's smartphone approaches.
Similar systems and applications are also being developed for almost any type of housing need; even laundry, yes that’s right laundry!! Apps are getting on the IoT bandwagon and can now provide you up to date information on how much time is remaining on your washing load and even reserve a machine to avoid unnecessary waiting. Utilising tech will be essential in not only maintaining a solid tenant base but will also make your life much easier.
Big bandwidth is crucial
The internet has revolutionised the world over and it’s only the beginning. Students can now complete entire degrees without physically going to any classes. Lectures can now be downloaded and watched anytime. Textbooks are now being replaced with e-readers and laptops. Most students are using three to five internet enabled devices which, based on a 500 bed property, almost becomes like a 2,000-bed property.
Students also use the internet for other activities like programming, streaming music, online gaming, video chatting and a bit of ‘Netflix and chill’. All these online activities require a good amount of stable bandwidth and if you multiply that by the number of students you have in your building, you’re now looking at a substantial amount of bandwidth usage. It’s imperative that student housing managers take this into account and provide ample bandwidth for all their tenants and also take into account that there is no downtime; bandwidth and speed should accommodate all their devices running at any time of the day or night.
In fact, this is so important to students that according to data from J Turner Research, 64% of students would think about moving if internet speeds were slower than expected. Property managers with older buildings should consider upgrading old wiring to fibre optics to maintain adequate speeds.
Social media is your friend
Regardless of whether you like it or not, social media is already impacting your student housing business. Whether that impact is positive or negative depends on how you approach social media. When people speak of real-time engagement this is where it begins. According to Statista, “In 2014, 76 percent of respondents reported increased audience engagement as a benefit of real-time social engagement.” Utilising Twitter and Facebook provides property managers with honest and real-time feedback from their tenants.
Property managers can also look at using messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and WeChat to create groups to discuss any housing concerns and exchange information more efficiently. Property managers can create a Facebook page where tenants can not only connect with you, but also each other. Fostering a sense of community and even ownership in the units will go a long way to keeping your student tenants happy.
As a specialist student accommodation accounting services provider we have seen that, in many cases, property managers across sites use diverging accounting and reporting processes - this is especially true when it comes to recently merged businesses. How can this situation be remedied? Read a real-life story of how one of the leading student accommodation providers managed to consolidate accounting and reporting for a large and diverse portfolio.