Why students deserve specialized lease laws
Standard lease laws meant for working adults aren’t suitable for students
C/O NIcolas J Leclercq
By: Ardena Bašić, Contributor
Students are subject to the same laws as anyone else who signs a lease: there is a specified time period, strict periodic payment dates and very little opportunity to terminate a lease if the need arises. However, even with a guarantor that is required by most student leases, adhering to some of these guidelines can cause potent pressure on students. With the university lifestyle already bearing intense stress, students should be allowed specialized lease laws.
Firstly, students should be allowed to rent for more flexible time periods. This could include monthly or semiannual leases, break periods and other dynamic arrangements.
While landlords could be initially skeptical of this proposal in that they could see low demand for some months of the year, students would be more content with landlords who allow them to save money for the months that they do not need housing.
This could transmit into higher renewal rates and more loyalty to a landlord overall. More so, break periods could allow landlords to flexibly advertise places through their own means, which is likely more successful than students trying to advertise subletting places through their own methods and busy schedules. Overall, higher flexibility with renting dates would actually benefit both students and landlords.
Secondly, students should not face consequences if they fail to adhere to the usual “first of every month” payment plan. While this offers regularity for the landlord and tenant, tuition payments, living costs and other fees can make it difficult to always pay on time.
Rent should be treated like a credit card payment: on-time payment is rewarded with no interest, while failure to do so will build an interest expense over time.
As a result, students would have some more freedom with regard to sorting payment dates for their multiple expenses, yet will still be motivated to pay on time due to interest. Landlords might receive their money later but would still benefit from the extra interest revenue. This would also take pressure off of lease guarantors, who usually have their own expenses to worry about, albeit the ones for their children or peers.
Lastly, students should be able to terminate their lease — with due notice — if they wish to do so. COVID-19 makes a particularly profound argument for this option. Many students wanted to move back home to their families for a variety of reasons but still had to pay rent for their residences that they may have already signed for up to a year.
This could cause feelings of guilt, as you are paying for something that you aren’t using. However, landlords would lose quite a bit of revenue if many students left their rentals. Nonetheless, some landlords still have several houses that they can gain revenue from alongside potential day jobs, while most students already have debt and need to prioritize saving.
This last recommendation is most certainly the most abstract and could be detrimental to landlords, but would still contribute to higher satisfaction from renters and potentially loyalty and a good reputation for the landlord in the future.
Student life is full of the unknown, challenges, opportunities and not many constants. Having more flexibility when it comes to finding accommodation close to where one is studying can take a profound amount of stress and pressure off of students and their guarantors.
With student housing being a market with relatively stable demand, landlords should certainly consider these recommendations and how they could positively impact their reputation and relationship with current and future students.