As students across the country head home for the holidays and plan for next semester, it’s a busy time for college student landlords and property managers. There are many things changing – from moving to moving in to changing roommates and much more.
It’s way too much to keep track of manually, not to mention the fact that you’re dealing with a generation raised on technology. If property managers ask these young adults to gather paper documentation and pay rent with paper checks, they will likely lose out to other landlords who use property management technologies to do everything electronically.
Students are looking for more technology-enabled amenities from their landlords, such as online rent payments and maintenance requests, as well as virtual property tours and smart home features. In addition, students are increasingly using social media platforms such as Instagram, YouTube and TikTok to document their housing experiences, so landlords who use these platforms to showcase their properties have a distinct advantage.
To attract college students, landlords should use technology to create a convenient and seamless rental and living experience. One option is to introduce software that includes online leasing and electronic rental payment systems.
Property and transaction management solutions
Technologies that offer mobile-friendly maintenance coordination to ensure repair requests are handled quickly are a big plus. Some technologies can even help students build credit by reporting their on-time payments to major reporting agencies.
There are many options for property management software available, but not all of them provide a wide range of services on the same platform. Having separate technology providers for each service is expensive and difficult to manage.
Look for affordable software providers that offer all-in-one solutions. These technologies should include the ability to list vacancies, find and screen tenants, prequalify and sign leases, collect rent, set up automatic payment, build credit and manage maintenance requests all in one place.
Other important features to look for include:
- Possibility for tenants to buy renters insurance directly through the platform or upload private policies to comply with leasing agreements.
- Custom template builders that allow landlords and property managers to build their own prequalification and application processes that best serve their individual needs and help them attract and identify more qualified tenants.
- Automated accounting services designed specifically for real estate investors and rental property owners, such as automatic synchronization of all properties, income and expenses, handling of Schedule E and tax forms and extraction of financial reports (cash flow statements, P&L, etc.).
It is also important to ensure that the technologies work well on both desktops and mobile apps. (Remember, college students will probably prefer to do everything on their phones.)
Smart home and security improvements
Since many college students are environmentally conscious, another thing to consider is installing smart home technologies that allow remote control of thermostats, lighting, and appliances.
These devices offer unparalleled control, allowing students to ensure that energy is not wasted when they are away from their rooms. They can enjoy the energy efficient benefits while also reducing their electricity bills.
In addition to taking into account student preferences, it is equally important to consider the parental perspective. Parents are typically co-signers on student leases, and their first priority for their children is safety.
Keeping up with the most advanced surveillance cameras, access control systems and alarm systems is a big selling point along with the installation of motion sensor exterior lights that provide proper lighting in parking lots, walkways and entrances.
In addition to convenience and safety, technologically enhanced rentals can also offer unique experiences. Virtual tours provide a curated look into the property from anywhere in the world. In addition, virtual reality content can be an exciting way for students (and their parents) to interact with their potential tenants before they move in.
The use of technology can not only make life easier for students and their parents, but it can also benefit landlords by reducing their vacancies and increasing their profits. With technology-enabled features, landlords can gain a competitive advantage in the student housing market, attract more tenants and retain current tenants by offering a better overall experience.
Ryan Barone is the co-founder and CEO of LejRedi, an award-winning rental management software that is transforming the way landlords and tenants manage their rental experience. After losing an apartment in NYC as a college student, Ryan began building the prototype of the RentRedi app to ease the rental process.