ARTICLE Clare Chapman
Owning a student flat can be both a rewarding and challenging investment. Considering how and when to renovate that student flat is another thing. Often, landlords want to maximize yield and add value to an investment, and there are various things to consider when your investment property is tenanted by students.
If you’re considering upgrading your student flat, one of the most critical things to consider is durability – what is the most economical way to achieve an outcome with the required longevity? Students have a reputation, and there’s a reason for that. This doesn’t mean that all students will treat your investment like it’s a nightclub, but it is worth considering the types of fittings and finishing you incorporate and the materiality of any addition.
As Refresh Wellington consultant Mark Morrisson aptly described it: “Think of a student flat as the Toyota Corolla of houses; average, reliable and a house that doesn’t need all the bells and whistles.” In terms of renovating, this translates into making decisions that incorporate hard-wearing and high-use areas and items in order to retain their longevity.
“That doesn’t mean choosing the least expensive options. Often, it’s better to think about spending a bit more to ensure that you’re making decisions that will pay off over time,” Morrisson says. “Bathrooms and kitchens are the areas that suffer the quickest wear and tear in any home, and the degradation process can be enhanced by high-use typical of student flats. Upgrading the wet areas can prevent things like a small leak possibly causing costly damage in the future.”
In terms of planning to renovate, especially if the flat is an older style house typical of many student flats, it’s important to consider the costs upfront. Adding a room, for example, may increase the yield over time, but it’s worth thinking about the complications that can occur when opening walls and adding to an older home. Often, when older houses are opened up issues become evident that aren’t obvious in the planning stages. “It’s worth considering how any renovation would impact on the tenants too, or how long you will need the property vacant for if the renovation is extensive and factoring this into the budget,” Morrisson says.
“Another thing to consider if you’re adding bedrooms is to ensure the amenities are adequate for the number of tenants that will live in the property. For example, having 10 bedrooms is fine but if you’ve only got one bathroom, that’s not going to cut it.”
Other things to consider are whether it’s better to have carpet or other flooring, the type of light fittings, whether insulation is needed, what the ultimate gains will be as a landlord, and whether the renovations you have planned will both attract tenants and increase the value of the property over time without overcapitalizing.
All in all, owning a student flat can be a great investment, and renovating one is a job worth doing, as long as the right factors are considered in the planning stages. Get in touch with a Refresh renovation consultant here to discuss your student flat.
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