InFocus: Ignore the fear and embrace the students, advises investor

Landlords should not fear entering the lucrative student market and instead focus their energies on taking out the competition.

Forget the fear and embrace the profits. That is the advice of Gillian Irving, a Toronto-based investor that now specializes in the student market.

“Not everyone sees the appeal in student housing. Some just see perceived ‘difficulties’ like messy kids, beer bottles and damage,” she says, adding that she now has five student properties in Hamilton, Welland and St. Catharine’s.

Irving says she invests more in safety and interiors to entice a more mature student tenants and higher rental returns.

“I don't do anything fancy per se, but the interiors of my homes are really nice and upgraded, and as such, tend to really stand out compared to the competition,” she says. “As a result, our houses tend to fill up fast and we can command really strong rents.”

She says this strategy is not about eliminating risks, but mitigating them. “While we have never had any issues with significant damage to any of our properties, one of the greatest ‘risks’ in student rental is the possibility of damage from parties.” To mitigate this risk, she ensures her leases outlines that students are responsible for all damage and makes the students’ parents act as a guarantor.  “If needed, we can go after them recapture any costs for damages or any unpaid rents.”

***Select Property Group is the UK’s largest retailer of investment property. With more than 9,000 properties sold in over 100 countries, the Group has a well-earned reputation of delivering successful investments in both emerging markets and also through the identification of niche opportunities in more established markets. With over ten years’ experience, the Group’s success is built up on a clear vision to develop market leading brands that are instantly recognisable and cannot be replicated. Underpinning each brand is an unswerving commitment to the end customer, delivering products which are relevant, authentic, and different. By adopting this approach the Group guarantees occupancy levels in its properties, thereby driving the yield and value of its investments.  
Click here for more information on Vita Student’ latest development in Newcastle – Savills’ 2014 UK Investment Hotspot

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