There are more than 1 million international students studying in the U.S., and many are searching for a place to live. If you have a vacant unit, advertising to international students could help you fill the vacancy quickly. Since international students may be seeking different features in a rental apartment, this requires a few tweaks from your current advertising approach.
Read on to learn how to target international students for a successful landlord-tenant match.
How International Students Differ From Local Renters
International students have different needs from local renters, and when you understand these needs, you can position your property accordingly.
While some international students may be enrolled at a local college and seeking accommodation from your city, others are searching from their home country and cannot make an in-person visit. Thus, it’s important to have accurate photos of your rental and accept online applications so students can apply from their home countries.
Furnishing the apartment can help, as many international students don’t want to purchase everything needed to create a home. Use that old furniture from the garage or shop at yard sales so you can offer a furnished apartment. This is a one-time expense that is offset by the rental income.
International students may be visiting for a semester, so a short-term lease could suit their needs over a year’s lease. Consider offering three-month lease terms or month-to-month lease agreements to increase interest in your listing.
If you’re struggling to fill a unit in a renter’s market, all the more reason to be flexible: These tweaks will make your open unit appeal to a broader range of people, from international students to locals.
How to Rent to International Students
Aside from these key differences, the rental process isn’t very different. Just as you would with any other tenant, clean the apartment thoroughly before taking photos for the listing. Then, clearly describe the property and its amenities in listing copy.
Advertise the listing through your usual channels as well as on websites that offer housing for international students. If you live near a university, see whether it has an apartment board (virtual or on campus) to connect students with rooms for rent.
You can use your standard lease agreement (with an optional change in lease duration) and screen applicants, too. This isn’t as easy as running their Social Security number (since they don’t have one), but you can run their name through criminal databases in their home country to protect yourself. You can also request financial information (such as bank statements), which you can use to see whether they have good financial habits. Since the Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on national origin, you must treat international student applicants the same way you would treat other applicants.
Since many international students have invested a lot of money to come to the U.S. to study, they may be less likely to party than local college students, which means your apartment is in good hands. By renting to an international student, you can feel good knowing that you’re helping someone who has moved to the U.S. to further his or her education.