International Student Tenants

10 Replies

Hello BP!

I have an international language school near one of my properties and am receiving student applicants who are also foreign nationals.  Any recommendations on how to setup the lease (directly with the students?) and property screening?  They are all nice kids, but the majority are getting money from back home and don't have income documentation or a credit history.  Is there a minimum age requirement for a tenant to be able to enter into a legal lease agreement? 

Originally posted by @John C.:

Hello BP!

I have an international language school near one of my properties and am receiving student applicants who are also foreign nationals.  Any recommendations on how to setup the lease (directly with the students?) and property screening?  They are all nice kids, but the majority are getting money from back home and don't have income documentation or a credit history.  Is there a minimum age requirement for a tenant to be able to enter into a legal lease agreement? 

 Hi John,

I loved international students.  They were never a problem for me.  What I did, first of all, was just used month to month agreements.  That way, if there is ever a problem, it's easier to get rid of a tenant.

As far as how I qualified them, I'd get proof they were a student, I'd copy their student visa in their passport.  If they had a social security number, I'd run their credit, but if they didn't, I just didn't worry about it.  

Sometimes, they'll want to go home for the summer, but not lose the apartment for the next year, so I'd offer to let them find me a summer student to sublet.  What I did, was kept the original student on the lease and told them they were still responsible for the rent.  I gave them written permission to have a long term guest over the summer.  I'd let them write me checks for the summer months, which I didn't cash until the first of each month, and let them deal with getting rent from the student "guest."  

I did the same for my law students.  It worked out great.

I think the bottom line security is to just use month to month agreements.  

Also, if you let the school know you will rent to their students, the school will probably send students to you, without you having to advertise anywhere else.  I did this with the law school next to where I managed apartments and it worked out great.  They didn't have enough on-campus housing and I'd tell them when I had vacancies, and they'd actually post them on the law school facebook page.  Win-win.  

Oh, and as far as how old someone can be to enter into a contract - in order for you to sue the other party, they have to be 18.  However, from what I learned in law classes, you can enter into a contract with a minor - but in that case the minor can hold you to the contract, but you can't hold them to the contract.

So, legally, you can enter into a contract with them, even if they are a minor, from what I recall.  Odds are that you won't have any trouble with them.  Collect a deposit in case there is cleaning or damage or they run out without paying rent - but I never had any problems with this stuff either.  They are normally very concerned with not having any problems with their visa, etc.

I have no direct experience with this, but I did buy a rental unit that had been previously torn apart by foreign students. As I understand it, it was rented to different sets of foreign national students for 3 years in a row, and every year it got trashed. The previous owner had enough, and put it on the market where I found it.

I would be very careful and make sure you have a plan if things go south. Maybe you can identify their parents through the school and lease it directly to them. Maybe you can even lease it to the school. Max security deposit allowed in your area for sure.

Originally posted by @Joe Deasy :

I have no direct experience with this, but I did buy a rental unit that had been previously torn apart by foreign students. As I understand it, it was rented to different sets of foreign national students for 3 years in a row, and every year it got trashed. The previous owner had enough, and put it on the market where I found it.

I would be very careful and make sure you have a plan if things go south. Maybe you can identify their parents through the school and lease it directly to them. Maybe you can even lease it to the school. Max security deposit allowed in your area for sure.

 This makes no sense. You have no experience in this you say, but then you say foreign students trashed a unit.  You have no idea what the true story is.

I rented to foreign students for 8 years, and I managed 25 units in Silicon Valley, half of which were rented to students.  Not sure of the percentage of foreign students overall, but probably around 12 percent of those were rented to foreign students or more.  And I never had a problem.

So, I question the story you were told by the seller or real estate agent who told you the unit you bought was trashed by foreign national students.  And really, why would they specify the students who supposedly trashed the unit were foreign national students?  Who would have way more to lose by trashing a unit, than US citizen students?

Makes no sense.

You really have no idea who trashed the unit you bought, so I think it's really unhelpful to pass on some story about who supposedly trashed it.

Um. Did I say I was told this by the seller? Did I say there even WAS a real estate agent in the transaction. I was told the story by several people who live there, a plumber, and a cop. The place was notorious in the neighborhood. I personally took most of the walls & floors down to the studs. There was a beer keg tap INSIDE one of those walls. Yea. I have an idea. What do you know about my rental property? Who are you to question the story?

I said I dont have direct experience because I wasn't the one who leased it, and I wouldnt be. You want to rent to college age kids with no background checks, no SS#s, no income, no credit, no concern for future credit, and ZERO chance for recouping potential losses? Go for it.

Originally posted by @Joe Deasy :

Um. Did I say I was told this by the seller? Did I say there even WAS a real estate agent in the transaction. I was told the story by several people who live there, a plumber, and a cop. The place was notorious in the neighborhood. I personally took most of the walls & floors down to the studs. There was a beer keg tap INSIDE one of those walls. Yea. I have an idea. What do you know about my rental property? Who are you to question the story?

I said I dont have direct experience because I wasn't the one who leased it, and I wouldnt be. You want to rent to college age kids with no background checks, no SS#s, no income, no credit, no concern for future credit, and ZERO chance for recouping potential losses? Go for it.

 I actually, personally, did do this for 8 years with no problems, with 25 units.  Personal experience.  So, I am someone with actual experience questioning your "story" about the "stories" you were told by supposedly other people who supposedly knew about the property you supposedly purchased - according to your own story, relating what other people's stories were about your property, in which you admit to having no direct experience.

Now, if you want to make decisions about who you rent to based on the stories of people such as these, as opposed to property managers, such as myself, with direct experience as actual property mangers renting to international students - then Go for It.

But, I don't think you should use these stories told by neighbors and cops and plumbers as a basis for advice to landlords asking about real life experiences by landlords and managers who have actually rented to international students, about how to screen them and their actual experiences in renting to them.

Having been an international student myself, I know most international kids are rich and do not have money problems. Most kids are responsible people because their parents have high hopes and standards for them after all the expensive school fees.

Look for students with good grades and you'll find the sweet spot: rich AND responsible kids. (GPA 2.7 minimum, 3.0+ ideal)

@John C. I have owned and operated student housing in southern utah for 20 years. As for renting to foreign students... My experience has not been good, well maybe 75% not good. A lot will depend on what caliber of university you service. Obviously higher end schools will have higher end students that pay up front. But regardless they will abuse your unit. Each country comes with its own unique abuses. Best advice would be VERY regular cleaning checks! PM me if you want more details.