Student Rentals in Ontario

This article provides a comprehensive guide to navigating the student rental market in Ontario and securing student rental house insurance. Each year, a myriad of students in Ontario embark on their post-secondary journey at various universities and colleges. As these students transition from high school to higher education, they are faced with numerous pivotal decisions that mark the beginning of a new chapter in their lives. A significant choice among these is selecting their accommodation, which often hinges on the distance from their chosen educational institution. Students typically consider one of three main living options.

  1. Opting for on-campus residence.
  2. Living at home and commuting to school.
  3. Renting a room in a student house.

While there are various living options for students, three standout choices are most common. The first option is residing in a university or college dormitory. These dorms are typically located on campus or a short walk away, conveniently close to classrooms. Students choosing this option often need to invest in a meal plan to cover their food needs throughout the school year. While dormitories usually have communal kitchens, many students find the convenience of campus dining facilities more appealing.

The second option involves students continuing to live at their family home and commuting to school. Often, the university or college they choose is farther away than their high school, which can make commuting more challenging. A popular method of commuting is using Go Transit, connecting students to their educational institutions efficiently. However, this option tends to be more practical if the commuting time is less than 45 minutes. Longer travel times often push students towards the other two options.

The third option is renting a room in a student rental house near the campus. These properties, ranging from converted standard homes to purpose-built dwellings and condos, are rented out room-by-room to students. Regardless of whether students share a lease or have separate agreements, these houses are classified, for insurance purposes, as student rental houses. This option offers a blend of independence and proximity to the university or college, making it an attractive choice for many.

When selecting a student rental property for investment, it’s crucial to weigh the aforementioned factors. Consider the nature of the college or university near which you plan to invest. Is it predominantly a commuter school, or do a significant number of students opt for on-campus or nearby living arrangements? This understanding will greatly influence the potential success and suitability of your investment in student housing.

Selecting the Ideal Location

The proximity of your student rental property to the campus plays a pivotal role in its appeal. The size and layout of the campus can also influence specific student groups’ preferences. For example, if a university’s engineering department is primarily located on the south side, engineering students might favor accommodations nearby. Highlighting such location advantages in your advertising is essential. For instance, if your property is a mere 5-minute walk from the campus, this should be prominently mentioned in your listing. Additionally, the accessibility to essential amenities like grocery stores, malls, and bus stops can significantly enhance the attractiveness of your rental property to potential tenants.

Evaluating the Property

In the process of selecting a property, assessing its current condition is crucial. You need to know what to look for when buying a student rental. Such as, If you’re considering an older home, evaluate the need for essential renovations like plumbing, electrical systems, heating, or roofing. It’s vital to inform your insurance company of these updates and obtain cost estimates from qualified contractors should you need to update them. Houses with older electrical or heating may have difficulty getting insurance. A valuable resource for finding reputable contractors in your area is Home Stars, a website that allows you to search for contractors by city and service, while also providing access to customer reviews.

Other considerations include the need for fresh paint, new appliances, or updates to bathrooms, rooms, kitchens, and common areas. If the property was previously used as a student rental, it might be ready for immediate occupation. However, if it was a family home, modifications like installing locks on bedroom doors, hardwired smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers might be necessary.

There may also be opportunities to involve students in personalizing their spaces, such as painting or wallpapering their rooms. This can be beneficial, provided the choices are modern and stylish. By maintaining a property that is not only safe but also aesthetically pleasing, you increase the likelihood of fostering mutual respect and care from your tenants.

Determining Rent: Inclusions and Exclusions

The rent you set is a critical factor in ensuring your investment yields a positive cash flow. It should reflect two key elements: the location and the condition of the property. Properties in close proximity to the school, especially those that have been updated for visual appeal and safety, can command higher rents. This premium compensates for the convenience they offer and the investment made in updating them. Conversely, properties located further from the school typically can’t demand as high rents due to lower demand.

A practical approach to setting rent is to research rental rates of similar properties in the area, providing a benchmark for competitive pricing. Consider the number and size of rooms available for rent. If the rooms are uniformly sized, a consistent rent across all rooms makes sense. However, for significantly smaller rooms, a reduced rent is more equitable. Additionally, if your property boasts upgraded features, it’s reasonable to factor these enhancements into the rental price. This strategy not only justifies a higher rent but also attracts tenants who value and are willing to pay for these additional comforts and conveniences.

Promoting Your Rental Property

When advertising your rental property, the digital realm offers a plethora of effective avenues. While traditional methods like for-rent signs and newspaper ads still have their place, online platforms can significantly broaden your reach. Here are some key online options to consider:

  1. Social Media Marketplaces: Platforms like Facebook Marketplace are becoming increasingly popular for property listings. They offer the advantage of a vast user base and the ability to share listings easily among social networks. This method can significantly increase visibility and attract potential tenants actively searching in specific areas.
  2. Free Public Directory Listing Services: Websites like Craigslist and Kijiji allow users to post various items, including rental vacancies. These platforms draw thousands of daily visitors, providing excellent exposure for your property.
  3. Enhanced Free and Paid Directories: Some directories, including Kijiji, offer both free postings and paid options to boost your listing. Paid enhancements might include prominent placement on the website’s homepage, ensuring greater visibility to potential tenants.
  4. The Best Option: University/College-Provided Listing Services: For student rentals, leveraging the listing services provided by universities or colleges can be most effective. These platforms target the student demographic directly, offering listings on their websites, often for a fee. They’re usually promoted through emails and information packets to first-year students seeking accommodation for their subsequent years. To find out if your target school offers such a service, a quick online search for “off campus housing” linked to the specific institution can lead you to their housing directory.

These diverse online methods can significantly increase the visibility of your rental property and attract a wider pool of potential tenants.

Timing: The Strategic Choice Between 8-Month and 12-Month Leases

The optimal time to advertise your student rental property is January 1st, but why is this date so crucial? Most post-secondary institutions operate on a two-term system, each lasting four months, culminating in an 8-month academic year. Typically, first-year students spend about four months adapting to university life, forging friendships, and starting to plan their accommodation for the upcoming year.

This planning often intensifies after the first term when students return from a two-week holiday break. It’s during this period that discussions about next year’s living arrangements take off. They begin to solidify their group of housemates and start their search for a suitable rental property. By offering and advertising a 12-month lease early, you position your property as a desirable option. This approach ensures rental income throughout the year, including the summer months, regardless of whether the students are residing there or not. However, it’s important to inform your insurance company if the property is vacant during the summer.

Delaying your advertising can lead to missed opportunities. As most properties in the area might already be leased for the next academic year, you might find yourself needing to agree to an 8-month lease, from September to April. Timely advertising, therefore, is not just about filling your rental property; it’s about maximizing its profitability and securing long-term, year-round tenants.

Securing Student Rental House Insurance

Ensuring your property is adequately insured is a straightforward process, but it requires specific information about your property. Key details to have on hand include the year the house was built, its square footage, and the types of heating, plumbing, electrical systems, and roofing it has, along with the dates of their last updates or replacements. If the house has undergone major renovations or been gutted to upgrade utilities to current standards, this is crucial information to share.

Equally important is knowing the estimated number of students who will occupy the property and the expected annual rental income. These details are essential for obtaining an accurate insurance quote. To receive a quote and learn more about student rental insurance options, simply click here.

Property Maintenance and Landlord Involvement

Once you have successfully purchased and renovated your property, advertised it, and secured tenants, it’s crucial to focus on maintenance and your role as a proactive landlord. Regular property visits are highly recommended – ideally at least once a month. Such frequent visits not only demonstrate your commitment to the property’s well-being but also allow you to keep an eye on its upkeep and address any housekeeping issues.

Being easily reachable is another key aspect of effective property management. Providing your tenants with your email address and a reliable contact number ensures that you can promptly respond to any maintenance requests or urgent repairs. However, if you reside a significant distance from your rental property, say over 100 kilometers, it’s wise to appoint a local individual, such as a friend, family member, or a property management company, to handle the maintenance responsibilities. Additionally, having a trusted, local contractor on call for serious repairs can be invaluable in maintaining the property’s condition and ensuring tenant satisfaction.

Navigating Insurance Inspections and Compliance

 It’s essential for landlords to be aware that many insurance companies require an inspection of the property. While your presence as the landlord is not mandatory, ensuring someone is available to facilitate the inspection is important. Additionally, it’s advisable to ask if the insurance company imposes any fees for such inspections.

Compliance with any recommendations arising from the inspection is crucial and should be addressed promptly. Neglecting these recommendations, refusing an inspection, or if the inspection uncovers serious issues or discrepancies not previously disclosed, can lead to policy cancellation. Such a cancellation can adversely impact your future ability to obtain insurance. Moreover, welcoming an insurance inspection can be beneficial as it provides a professional second opinion and may offer new insights about your property.

This guide is crafted from the collective experiences of landlords and students and is intended as a general resource. It should not be regarded as an exhaustive manual. When engaging in the purchase and management of a student rental property, seeking advice from real estate agents, lawyers, contractors, insurance brokers, and other professionals is always advisable.

We Wish You The Best of Luck In Your Journey as A Student Rental Landlord

In addition to our services in landlord insurance for student rentals, we also offer personal car insurance and home insurance. For any inquiries or to request a quotation, please feel free to contact us.