As the mass student exodus from rented accommodation begins throughout the UK, Richard Abbots of Inventory Hive offers advice on how to manage multiple check-outs to reduce the stress and mess for landlords, agents and tenants.
At the last count, there were 1.9 million full-time students in the UK. Around 30% of those living in purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA), 40% in halls or university housing, and 30% in private rented properties.
That’s a lot of movement in the moving-out months of the academic calendar.
One-fifth of property movements are from students
In fact, according to the Office of National Statistics, students make up 20% of all property movements in the country.
As any letting agent or student property manager will know, the summer brings a unique set of challenges when dealing with high volumes of students leaving their accommodation. From scheduling exit inspections and cleaning to organising deposit returns and managing disputes, it takes a solid process to ensure nothing is missed.
Here are four top tips for reducing the stress of mass student check-outs:
Communication between student and landlord/agent is the most important process to get right – and this must be part of that relationship from the get-go, rather than something that is attempted at the end of the tenancy. By introducing a clear and easy communication process, such as a dedicated app or online space for tenants to log issues, stay updated and engage with property facilitators, the exit process will become much smoother down the line. By encouraging open dialogue year-round, many of the issues that can arise at check-out will have already been dealt with. Similarly, by having a chatroom or messaging system, students can also be prompted on what to clean, when to clean and what to sort out by the time they leave, which can avoid costly moving-out delays and deposit misunderstandings.
Foresight and early resolution of repairs are always going to make this time of year easier. There are several common offenders in student rental (disrepair being one) so it pays to act appropriately and in a timely manner when these issues occur to stop them from becoming much bigger issues at check-out. This comes back to open communication. Make it easy for student tenants to report problems when they arise within a system that can be monitored, logged and responded to automatically.
Smart inspection scheduling
Trying to schedule the availability of multiple students for check-out inspections on a mass scale is about as easy as herding kittens. Introduce a smart diary system that is two-way, in that students can see available slots and book accordingly. For large property portfolios, this can be configured to support geographically-close inspections to help agents manage check-outs in the same vicinity on the same days for greater efficiencies. By automating much of this process and letting technology carry the weight of the scheduling, agents can focus on communication, customer service and moving students in and out of properties more quickly.
When dealing with high numbers like these seen in student accommodation, it makes sense to handle as many check-out processes as you can in one go – rather than creating the same detail for each case. Of course, each inspection must be individual but there are aspects of those check-outs that can be replicated and recycled. Utilise the power of inventory software to handle mass imports of reports for multiple student rooms in seconds rather than hours to achieve economy of scale. Unnecessary duplication costs. Instead, harness the power of technology and data and use both to predict common issues, resolve them early and respond quickly or, ideally, automatically to reduce the strain on admin.
The key takeaway here is in preparation and process. By introducing the right systems early on, and the right student/landlord culture, relationships will be stronger, repairs will happen more easily and moving out will naturally be much easier for all parties involved.
Learn more at inventoryhive.co.uk.
*Richard Abbots is founder and CEO of Inventory Hive