I do student housing as well. Good choice.
Background check the kids and the parents. The kids will not have much of a history, if any. The parents will.
Do not have the parents co-sign. That would effectively be adding them to the lease, and bestow upon them all of the privileges associated with that. You want to deal with the kids, not the parents, if there are issues.
Instead, have the parents sign a Guarantee. The parents are there to ensure that the rent, utilities, and other expenses get paid in full, and on time. Nothing more.
If I think of anything else, I will add to this later.
see this thread:
Hi Jason! I worked at a student housing complex for two years and we made it a requirement for students to apply with a cosigner/guarantor. If they didn't have one, we would charge a much larger deposit to make sure the applicant was serious about applying. As David said, having a guarantor on the lease can ensure you will get your monthly payments.
We would do a comprehensive screening (credit, evictions, criminal) of both the student and their cosigner. For the student, we only focused on their evictions and criminal history (because they often don't have any credit). We would look at the guarantor's entire screening report to determine whether or not to rent to them.
Hope this helps. If you have any further questions about student housing, please feel free to reach out to me through PM!