Despite everything that’s happened in the last 18 months, another academic year has come and gone. Yes, it’s that time of the year again. It’s time for your current student tenants to move out for the summer. Ideally, this is a smooth process for everyone. Most of the time it is. However, there are things you can do to make it even better.
COVID-19 has Changed Everything
As a conscientious property owner, you need to ensure that your HMO is clean in line with industry guidelines. While students are responsible for cleanliness while living there, you will be responsible for any COVID-19 regulations for the next set of students to enter in the autumn.
You’ve always been able to visit homes for essential business reasons. At present, you (or your agent) can meet with students at the home to hand over keys at move out. However, between now and July that may change due to issues with the current India Variant. Do keep an eye on current government and industry advice on what to do at checkout.
Several universities and the National Union of Students implored landlords to reduce rent last year where those students were unable to take up property due to COVID restrictions.
This is only advice and polite requests. There is no legal standing to enforce it. Therefore, you are legally permitted to claim back part or all the deposit to cover any unpaid rent regardless of the reason and regardless of how long the debt has stood. Negotiating first before making a claim is quicker, easier, and cheaper than going to court. Sometimes all they might need is a payment plan to clear the unpaid rent.
New Formal Ending Agreement
Previously, you could assume that the tenancy had ended based on contractual agreement. Now though, with the eviction ban in place until the end of May (could be extended) you now needed mutual written agreement that they do not wish to stay on after the end of the academic year.
Due to how student tenancies work, you’re likely to already have the next group booked in from the autumn anyway. It’s important to get this agreement – and any extension – formalised as soon as possible.
Unless there is an emergency, try to arrange maintenance and repair issues during the summer break. Once again, you or your contractors are permitted inside, but for safety reasons it’s best to limit contact.
Where are your students travelling from or to? The government now has a traffic light system for travel. If they’ve travelled abroad recently to a high incidence country – for example, the Easter break – then you ought to stay well clear and use the strictest precautions entering the property once they’ve departed.