College rental screening

24 Replies

I have just made an offer on a college rental. How do you screen since most of the students don't have much of a credit report. You do have them or their parents sign the lease

I never had a parent sign (just graduated) except for my first apartment, but my dad just paid in full for it instead. The rest of the places I gave them my w-2, financial aid letters and grants and loans to cover the 3x rent. By that time I did have a credit score. If you are concerned have a parent co-sign. Check references and see if you can talk to a employer (not sure about the laws concerning that). Also give them a list of what the move-out cleaning and repairs will cost, so they'll think twice about damaging property. Also talk with them about noise complaints and talk to the neighbors and give them your card to have them call you first.

thanks for such a quick response.  I worked my way through college. I know some people don't.  I love the idea of contacting the neighbors  and giving them my card.   Thanks again.  

I would recommend having parents cosign. If nothing else the parents can hold kids accountable, otherwise the students feel too grown up and things can turn reckless.

  Peter. I am buying in Poughkeepsie right by Marist college.  They are having a housing crisis right now. Works to my Benefit.  

Carson. I like the idea of the cosign. 

Thanks for the advise.    

Personally I have the parents sign like they are on the lease and responsible for everything on it. In my experience parents understand; considering a lot of landlords won't even accept them.

Be careful of your insurance as well, depending on who you use they may or may not allow college students, and if they do they may or may not allow college students in fraternities / sororities. There are options that don't care/it won't be hard to find them; just saying make sure the quote allows student renters.

We're just getting into college rentals as well. Our plan is to allow co-signers for students who cannot qualify on their own. We will screen the co-signer the same as the student and have them sign as a guarantor, with no rights to the premises as a tenant.


i have two student rentals, my PM has the parents co-sign all the time for each student and @Wes Brand is right about the insurance, a lot of companies will not insure student rentals IE: State Farm, All State, you may have to find an Insurance Broker who knows of companies that they can get these commercial policies from.

Students never qualify. Their income is not high enough, Their expenses (school) are too high and none of them have sufficient employment or credit history. In addition students are transient by nature. If they fail or drop out they are gone with the wind. Side bar never rent to first year students as a very high percentage drop out at Xmas.

Landlords always have parent sign as guarantor. The parent is the one you do the background, credit and employment history check on. The parent understands the financial responsibility they are taking on and will be the one you ultimately hold responsible if it goes sideways.

@Thomas S.  Do you find it's unnecessary to background check and call employment references for the student signing the lease? I understand the parent is financially responsible, but wouldn't you want to find out if the student living in your property has a criminal background or poor recommendations from employers? Just looking for advice, as i'm in the beginning stages of screening college students for my first property. Thanks.

Criminal is of course important but employment, credit etc. is not necessary. Contacting previous landlord may also be of some help but the bottom line is when it comes to students there is usually nothing of value to check. They have no history and the parent will ultimately be responsible not the student.

Remember you are renting to students/children. They require much more intensive management than regular rentals because they are what they are and entirely unpredictable and unreliable.

Good money but plenty of potential headaches.

@Eric Hrlbock

I never had to go after the parents. I noticed the parents that are paying for their kids school are either doing well for themselves or just responsible with their money. I also manage my properties myself and make it very clear that I do inspections. I treat them like adults and give them the respect I expect. I think treat helps almost like they want to prove they are mature. We all partied; just no need to trash the place.  One more thing.. I make it very clear that if the cops come for any issues we'll have a problem.

@Brian Liscio

In regards to your comments:

One more thing.. I make it very clear that if the cops come for any issues we'll have a problem.

When the cops are called are you as the landlord always notified? What are the consequences per your lease agreement that you can enforce?  Do you have automatic fines..and how can you collect those fines? (deadlines to pay fine?)

I just bought a college rental and am trying to figure out the key points to put into the lease agreement.

Do you take more than one months rent for deposit?

I’m in NJ so you’re lucky if you can evict someone for something besides not paying rent. I do put the legal max of a month and a half for all my leases.

I do put that if the cops come more than once it’s grounds for eviction; kind of an empty promise... I ask my neighbors to call me first if they can. I think keeping good relationships with neighbors is important. I also try to mentor them by helping out their neighbors I.e. shoveling snow, bringing in/out garbage cans, just not being a punk kid

I realize this is an older thread but it has some good points in it. After owning several duplexes and SFH in a few different markets, my wife and I recently purchased a home in a college town.

We are now looking to lease it out for next school year. I have a good process in place for our SFH's but was wondering if any of you have a process for students. I feel like my process for an SFH would not be near as efficient.


When posting a home, I have all of my potential SFH tenants drive by the home and fill out a brief questionnaire eliminating people simply trying to waste my time.

In the questionnaire, I ask the basics - How many will live in the home, general income level, range of credit score, pets, etc.

I guess I was curious, do any of you have a similar questionnaire for the college kids?  It seems it could be tailored more for the target market.

Additionally, how do you handle tours of the home?  Do you have a virtual tour only?


@Thomas S.

@Brian Liscio

@Carson Sweezy

@ Brian Eilering - I would have them fill out my same generic application as a typical rental (parent too). I'd pick one responsible person to be the liaison and usually, it would be that parent that would cosign.

As far as showing the apartment /house opens houses work best for me. I would schedule prospective tenants in 15-minute increments. I found it works better to block a Sunday rather than run to show the place to one person that doesn't show up.

Originally posted by @Christopher Finn :

Definitely have their parents co-sign on the lease. Also be weary of kids who come to see the place without their parents.

 This is terrible advice. Do the opposite of this. I manage 400 students as an FYI. 

I recommend getting their parents credit or a possible cosigner involved on their first years rental. Now if they takeoff and go back home for the summer and then to come back and they paid everything beautifully the first year then they can stand on their own.