In most university towns you have Student Houses. What they are, put simply, are houses occupied entirely by students. As you can imagine putting a bunch of high school graduates together in one house without any adult supervision can result in ... shall we say ... interesting things.
By owning a student house or two you stand to make a ton of money, especially in the right area. Student Houses are most successful in areas close to the university, typically within walking distance and can bring in round about R2000 per room, per month! That's right, per room. This typically includes water and electricity, a set of keys and use of the house in general such as the kitchen, yard and lounge. A Student House can easily pay for itself if managed correctly.
The Down Side
Needless to say the students aren't doing anything, they are not cleaning and they are not going to maintain the garden or the house for you. They study and go to parties. That's it. The rest is up to you the owner! A student couldn't care less whether the garden is over grown with weeds or if the kitchen hasn't been cleaned in 6 months. If you set up your property to be a Student House there are a few long term preparations to make! Keep reading to find out more ...
First you have to consider whether you're going to cater to accommodating boys, girls..or both! Also another point nobody really likes to talk about is the race aspect, you have to consider your tenants and whether they are comfortable living in a mixed race house. Inconsiderate Student House owners have had endless problems by mixing boys with girls and even mixing the ages and skin colours of the occupants of their house.
The first problem is mixing girls with boys, relationships develop, feuds and house wars occur between them, the girls are always in the bathroom, the boys are always loud and when they're not fighting each other you can be almost sure they're in each other's rooms. Boys are always after girls and that's the way things will always be. From peeking through their windows to 'accidentally' walking in on them while they're in the shower, the list of problems goes on and on between girls and boys under one roof.
It always ends up being your problem. When the students don't get along their parents want you to explain and tell them why. Not in the mood for that are we?
Another problem is that you'll have to make sure the house is furnished and that the kitchen has a washing machine and has things like knives and forks, plates and a working fridge, mircowave, toaster etc. Students arrive expecting everything to be in the Student House and only furnish their own rooms. The house has to run on its own and you have to make sure it's able to do that!
How To Make It Work
Keys & Doors
First of all fix everything that needs to be fixed in the house before advertising it as a Student House. Make sure everything works. Make sure each room has a key and that the doors can lock, make sure you have enough sets of keys for the outside doors, gates and that you yourself have spare keys to everything.
Have an alarm system installed and make sure to burglar proof all windows. This increases the security of your occupants and also gives you the insurance that if something does go wrong at the house, you're not the one who has to run there in the middle of the night wielding a cricket bat!
Students usually not only lose their keys but forget to lock up, you want to be covered in this aspect to show you've done everything to ensure security. Parents love blaming the Student House owner if the students room gets robbed!
Next you're going to want to hire a domestic worker to come in once or twice a week to clean up the house and the kitchen, also hire a gardener to maintain and keep the garden looking nice. Make sure you have a board in the house where the students can make notes to you and to each other in regards to goings on and problems in the house.
Put a number where you can be reached on the board and make sure all emergency numbers are there too. You yourself should check in at the house about twice a week just to make sure everything is still working and in good order.
Decide whether your Student House will be girls only or boys only. It's always best to put boys with boys and girls with girls.
This might not matter to some people but to others it does. Make sure you don't inadvertently start a race war in your Student House by mixing races, it has happened before! I'm not saying you can't mix races in your Student House, I'm saying make sure it will work before you do.
Contract & Rules
Typically this should be set up so the students know what they can and cannot do in the house, lay out all rules and terms in the contract. If it's a non smoking house, put it in the contract! You never miss a contract until you encounter that mean lawyer mom of one of your Student House occupants.
Who's In Charge?
Some Student House owners like to appoint the most trust worthy or longest serving tenant in the house as a supervisor over the others in the house. It's not to say he or she is in charge, the idea is to just make sure everything in the house is alright and that everyone gets along and to tell you if something's not right.
This is typically the person the owner also trusts with the alarm systems code and password. Sometimes it's useful to have a snitch on the inside! After all you'd want to know if the students are having a rave every weekend at your house and are swinging naked from the trees, right?
All in all if you set it up and manage it correctly a Student House can be very profitable financial investment to ensure a steady income on a monthly basis. If you don't do your homework and set it up wrong though it can be your worst nightmare!