It’s that time of year when students are waking up to the reality of more studying and getting excited about all the possibilities university has to offer.
In the meantime, landlords of student houses have removed the six month old fish fingers from the oven, (hopefully) painted over the coffee stains on the wall, disposed of the empty booze bottles and taken off the plastic from the new mattresses.
I’m not a fan of student lets. Yes, I know the money is great at up to £110 per week plus bills, but my partner is a letting agent and has taken on the mighty task of turning around 12 student houses in the space of 2 weeks as the landlord insists on 12 month contracts. He’s washed unidentified stains out of curtains, sourced chairs, mended broken furniture and is now best friends with a mattress retailer, a decorator and the carpet cleaning man.
At the end of every summer holidays I see the same student landlords racing around town, paint brush in one hand, screwdriver in the other desperately hoping this intake won’t break the bannisters or pull the kitchen cupboards off the wall. They think I’m mad to accept a lower, all inclusive room rate, but I think they’re mad dealing with fussy, over protective parents whose children are too precious to carry out household chores.
Doing the admin, referencing guarantors and training new incumbents all in a couple of weeks of the year is no mean feat. On top of that they have to deal with anti-social behaviour (or normal, drunken behaviour if you’ve ever been to Uni) and stroppy neighbours if they’ve managed to lumber themselves with a bunch of party animals for the next academic year.
My workload is more spread out over the year and my tenants stay at least a year – half have even been with me for over 7 years. I don’t have to read the riot act on an annual basis to under 21s who are clearly intent on debauchery now they are away from parental control – any debauchery is a dim and distant memory for my tenants!
A More Refined Refurbishment
So whilst my partner was ensuring the magnolia was being chucked around on the walls and desperately chasing new tenants for paperwork due weeks ago, I’ve been refurbishing a beautiful cottage for a client. The trades deemed that, as I was on the lowest hourly rate, I had the jobs of tidying, weeding, cleaning and taking the rubbish to the tip. When the client came to view the finished result, she didn’t admire the rewiring, the newly plastered walls, the lovingly waxed doors and furniture and all the practical bits, but exclaimed we’d done a wonderful job based on the smoked glass door knobs and pretty curtains.
I suppose that’s the success of student landlords – who cares what’s going on behind the walls or under the floorboards as long as it stays there for another year? Just focus on clean mattresses and curtains and you’ll get away with rising damp and leaky roofs in the hope the students will be so blasted by the time they leave next year they may even be able to claim it off their deposits!