While college students can often be a lucrative source of dependable rental income, they also may present unique legal issues you should be aware of.
Here are three legal reminders for landlords renting to college students:
- Follow fair housing laws. There are both federal and state fair housing laws that must be followed when selecting tenants. Generally these fair housing laws prohibit discrimination in advertising or renting of rental units on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, handicap, or familial status. Although the federal Fair Housing Act does not specific mention discrimination by age as being prohibited, discriminating against tenants of a certain age may violate the Act’s prohibition on discrimination on the basis of familial status. This means that, whether you specifically do or don’t want to rent to college students or college-aged people, it may be a violation of state and federal housing laws to deny an otherwise qualified tenant because of their age.
- Check your local zoning laws. To save money, college students often pack as many co-tenants as possible into a single unit, sharing rooms and maybe even sharing beds (head-to-foot or otherwise). And while this may be fine by you (as long as the rent gets paid on time), be sure to check your local zoning laws for any limitations on maximum capacity. In Boston, for example, it’s a violation of the city’s zoning code for five or more full-time college students to live in one apartment.
- Make rent and deposit policies clear. Landlord-tenant disputes can be ugly. To avoid any problems, make sure your policies on payment of rent and handling of security deposits are spelled out absolutely clearly in the lease.
Of course these are just a few of the key legal issues for landlords renting to college students; there are some common mistakes you’ll want to avoid as well. If you need assistance with lease agreements, evictions,or other landlord-tenant issues, an experienced landlord-tenant attorney can help.