Renting to international students: what would you do?

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    Renting to international students: what would you do?


    I own a two bed flat in a university city. It is on the higher end of the market, but is not much more expensive than generally grotty student lets.
    There has been a lot of interest in the flat, including from professionals. We have an excellent estate agent who checks out prospective tenants for us, especially their character.

    I have never let it to students before, as generally the estate agent would filter these out.

    The prospective tenants are two international PhD students. They get a stipend from their sponsors, but the estate agent said that they seemed very well to do. Their families/independent means are paying the rest of their lifestyle. They are a couple in their mid 20s, and want a one bed and another bedroom as a study. (This is how I set the flat out). The estate agent met one of the couple, and said she was delightful.

    They have both been honest and said that they won't have a UK guarantor nor will they be able to pass credit referencing, as they are foreign, and their stipends aren't high enough.
    To negate this, they said they were very happy to pay the full 12 months up front. They even said that if it would convince the landlord (me), then they would pay over what we are currently asking.

    They seem to really want the flat. I received a very polite letter from them via the estate agent, saying why they love it so much, and telling me about them. They want to set up a home together, and aim to stay here for the next few years. The flat is unfurnished, so they would be committing. They want a 12 month tenancy, but ideally want to stay 24 or 36 months.

    If they were working professionals, they would be perfect, but I am a bit concerned re credit checks.

    I have enough interested tenants, one or two of whom do fit the bill.

    But I have a feeling I want to rent to this couple, because they seem honest and do want the flat. The estate agent had a good feeling about them. My neighbour who met the one prospective tenant of the couple, said she was very nice.

    (This is a reverse thread. I want to try and understand a landlord's POV)

    Do the other prospective tenants tick all the boxes? Do they have a pet for example? Or are they interested in sharing the flat?

    Given the current Covid situation, I think the 12 months upfront, if executed in the correct legal manner, is very tempting. In my view, a good estate agent will get a feel for a prospective tenant.

    Would them paying £1200 a month instead of £1100 a month for example, be enough to shoulder a little more risk by renting to the internationals?

    It's your decision, but I do feel for them.


      I've mainly rented to students for the last 10 years with very few problems. One property is a one bed flat with lots of character and we've often had a student couple sign up and make their first home together. In that situation they've looked after it well and made a lovely place to live.

      Have had quite a few international and post grad students too.

      Personally I'd really recommend it - it costs a lot to be a student these days, especially if you're from overseas. You will have your funding sorted before you start to last the full length of time. We've found it to be a much safer bet than the young professionals we initially rented to.

      And we've never had problems at the end of tenancies either as students almost always moving on so far fewer of the horror stories like I've read on this site of people refusing to leave.

      Have done a year up front before, and also quarterly or termly rent with international students.


        I used to let to international students but they are not all the same and have different habits and preferences according to where they are from. All of them have chosen to come to the UK and most students have financial backing and an expectation that they will have an exiting time in the UK. Many are not prepared for high rents, the colder climate or Victorian housing. You should be ok with them for the first 6 months but I would review things then as a great deal can change in that time . I used to take payments monthly and never had any real problems with payments but some countries don't let payments out and you may be safer with advanced rent. I used to get a guarantee signed even though I knew it was probably very difficult to call on. I haven't checked residency rules lately but there are a few dodgy educational establishments and Brexit may change things for European students. I had a number who were on the Erasmus scheme which is now superseded

        The story that this couple present is very plausible , together with a full year's rent it is just possible it is too good to be true and they could be fronting for someone else . If the Agent is managing the property they don't always check the property as often as a landlord so there may be some time elapsed before you find out there are problems.


          International students pay more fees than UK students, they tend to come from more affluent family backgrounds, I would ask for the 12 months rent and rent it to them.


            I used to let to international students and the parents were all 'well to do' because it was a private college with very high fees. I only ever had one student drop out half way through the year due to ill health and his father paid the rent for the rest of the year. Having said that, there are clearly risks, but if you have a good feeling about them it may be worth taking the risk.


              You get a year's rent up front. What's to argue about?


                Presumably they are already studying there (or else it would be a bit unusual for them both to get funding and a place at the same university). Current PhD Students are usually listed on the university's website somewhere...
                A PhD should last 3-4 years - and they are quite likely to move on afterwards - so don't expect them to stay really long-term. But, equally, I guess they are unlikely to want to move again until it is finished (unless they separate, but that is a risk with any couple).
                The stipend is more secure income than most jobs (and is usually tax-free, so it may be more than it seems), and students often supplement their income as university teaching assistants.

                I know at least one landlord who specifically looks for PhD students as tenants.


                  A definite yes from me. I've let long term and short term to international post-grad students, never any problems. International post-grads are highly committed to obtaining their qualification, they have worked hard to get there, their parents are almost certainly affluent and funding them. If you're still worried, couldn't you get references from the university?


                    It's a no from me. Simply because I don't like reverse threads and I would prefer to let to a professional with an earned income with references that I can easily check.


                      Originally posted by Jon66 View Post
                      It's a no from me. Simply because I don't like reverse threads and I would prefer to let to someone with an income.
                      I'm not quite clear what a 'reverse thread' is - is this actually a question from students?
                      But a PhD stipend is an income (can be ~£20k, in the UK, with no income tax to pay).


                        It's the prospective tenant pretending to be the landlord. And yes, but 20k as opposed to 40/50 k is a huge difference, and as they say themselves, they can't pass credit referencing which is odd, because students usually have a rental history etc. I'm sure the French or whatever nationality they are have credit reference agencies. At least references from previous landlords would be available, even if in French!


                          Originally posted by Jon66 View Post
                          It's the prospective tenant pretending to be the landlord.
                          Yes, I see they have another thread from the student's point of view, but with slightly different details.
                          I guess that there is, strictly, no rule against posting the same query to two different threads in the same forum ;-) but I think it's still a waste of people's time.


                            Originally posted by blueboy View Post
                            (This is a reverse thread. I want to try and understand a landlord's POV)
                            It is totally unacceptable to post threads attempting to coax forum members into different replies based on fake information, even with your one line comment at the end.

                            But what is absolutely shameful, is the second account 'balnem' which is responding in post #2.

                            I also post as Mars_Mug when not moderating


                              I have never obtained a credit check on a single (of many) international students over three decades. You need some experience to tell who is likely to be decent though. Most of them are paying £30K+ international student fees....


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