Student Rentals Made Easy

Posted on: Jun 14, 2019

Over the years we have rented hundreds of homes to thousands of college
students. Most students have not had any experience taking care of a house.
Following is a list of some of the things we have learned, often painfully, over the
years. The suggestions are in no particular order.

1. Renters forget to drag containers to the curb on garbage collection day.
Have in yard pick-up for trash and recyclables.

2. Use trash cans with attached tops. Walmart sells Ecoark trash cans made
from recycled plastic for $19.74.

3. Wood beds will break over time and box springs are easily damaged. Use
metal platform beds with foam mattresses. Amazon and Walmart sell a
Zinus queen bed for $75 and a Zinus 8 inch foam mattress for about $200.

4. Use semigloss paint throughout the house. Not the prettiest, but it’s easier
to clean marks and scuffs, and usually won’t be pulled off with tape.

5. This will sound counter intuitive, but, if it’s not too difficult, remove storm
doors for the winter. Blustery winds will tear the doors right off ruining
door frames and nearby sconces. Consider installing a retractable screen

6. When painting bathrooms or dampness prone rooms use mildewcide paint
or mix a mildewcide additive with the paint. We offer free bottles of
additive to our clients who need them.

7. Make sure the bathroom fan goes on when the light is switched on as
opposed to a separate fan only switch which might not be used every time.
An electrician can make this modification for you.

8. If water is leaking into the room below the bathroom, check the caulking
around the tub or shower before looking for a leaking pipe. More often
than not, we have found that water on the floor is seeping through old
caulking rather than there being a plumbing problem.

9. Do not leave repairs uncorrected. We have found that it sends a message
to renters that damage is acceptable and tends to lead to the need for
more repairs.

10. Leave a healthy supply of cleaning products, soaps, brooms, sponges, shovels,
sidewalk salt, and a vacuum. You can only hope they will use them, but you
can almost certainly be assured they won’t go out and buy them.

11. If your renters or neighbors are driving or parking on the lawn, install corral
fencing to stop them. They are cheap, easy to install and improve the looks
of the place because they delineate the lines of your property.

12. If you replace a refrigerator, do not buy one with an ice maker. They
always break and when it does it will be expensive to replace it with one
that will also break shortly.

13. Leave signs around the house informing renters of how to deal
with particular problems. For example, “The water shut off is under the
stairs behind the small door.” “If the toilet fills with water, do not flush a
second time.” “Don’t turn off the thermostat if you are leaving the house
for more than a few hours.”

14. Post a “dos and don’ts” list next to the active door.

15. Attach a permanent sign to the deck, “Not more than xx people on the
deck. Use at your own risk.”

16. Do not use lawn furniture that is made with any glass.

17. Do not use patio umbrellas.

18. Communicate frequently with student renters. Email the same messages to
the parents. You will be amazed at how this will reinforce your

19. During the last three years, Rhode Island has experienced several periods of
single-digit freezes resulting in frozen and burst pipes. Make sure your
renters know where the main water shut off is in case of emergency.

20. If a plumber has to be called for a frozen pipe repair, insulate or get heat to
the site of the repair before the next freeze.

21. Stay away from pedestal tables. Someone will sit on the edge of the table
and one or more of the feet will break.

22. Do not put nonconforming handles on sliding glass doors. They are
designed to shatter if undo pressure is put on a side or corner.

23. Hang televisions on walls rather than placing them on tables where they
can be knocked over.

24. Attach a lock-box outside with an extra house key for when they lock
themselves out. Make sure they put it back after use.

25. Keep an extra set of room keys in the house for all those times they lock
themselves out of their rooms. Keep them in the kitchen or perhaps on the
sill above the door.

26. Do enable them to lock their bedrooms. A very disappointing number of
things are stolen by guests.

27. Replace smoke and CO alarm batteries every year. Don’t expect renters to
replace them. They will disable them if they hear the “low battery” beep.

28. Replace smoke and CO alarms every five years. You can remember by
doing it every year divisible by five.

29. Have a clause in the lease stating that if, upon inspection you find the
house in need of a cleaning, you can have it cleaned at the renter’s

30. Also in the lease, no party rentals! There’s nothing like finding a bouncy
house in your side yard for someone’s birthday.