Lessons for landlords of student homes

Posted 25 May 2016 by Helen Christie

Parents and property investors are being given lessons on how to shed the TV image of students to help them become model tenants...

Cate Warren Interiors have put together a guide on how to create the ideal rental flat for a student – and ensure the property continues to be a viable investment for years to come.

The advice comes as parents and students start the process of targeting Scotland’s property market to snap up accommodation in time for the start of the new academic year in the autumn.

While many students will look to find a traditional rented flat or home to lease, increasingly parents, especially those from England whose children are studying in Scotland, are looking to buy a property outright and use this as an investment while renting out to their sons or daughters and their friends.

Cate Warren, lead designer at Cate Warren Interiors said that regardless of whether you are an investor or landlord, it’s a mistake to treat the student market lightly or think every student behaves like a scene from Channel 4’s Fresh Meat.

Cate says: “Anyone thinking that students are happy to live in run-down properties with tired décor and decrepit, flat-pack furniture are so far off the mark.

“The student market is highly lucrative for investors and landlords – but likewise the clients in the student market are extremely discernible. They demand attractive, styled properties that are furnished to their specific needs. In turn this makes them become better tenants who are respectful of their rented properties and will look to maintain and care for them.

“So, getting it right means you can command higher rental rates with tenants who will minimise the need to pay out further sums in redecoration or repairs once they leave. Get it wrong, and you could be left with unwanted void periods or tenants who are disrespectful and a bit too ‘accident-prone’ when it comes to fittings and furnishings.”

Cate believes there are a number of simple tricks that can be applied to get the most out of the student rental market:

Work space

There are the obvious considerations like the fact that a student will need to have a desk and work space, possibly shelving. Individual student accommodation can be quite small which means working out the priority furnishings and fitting them in to the space available - a desk might take priority over a dining table or an armchair for instance.


Durability is always a consideration when furnishing rental properties, but particularly with the relatively high turnover of student accommodation.

Provide essentials

Students often don’t have any of their own kitchen and cleaning items, so look to furnish flats with a total essentials pack including crockery, pans and a vacuum cleaner. A student home can be in a purpose-built building near the university, or a tenement block in the general area, so look to ensure the furnishings are tailored to the style of the building as well as the number of occupants.

Neutral decor

Students obviously differ greatly in age and background and therefore preference, so look to work from a neutral base with pops of colour in the soft furnishings and pictures to enable someone to personalise their space to some extent. Use a combination of plain textured fabrics and geometric patterns rather than blacks, pinks, florals etc. so the flat feels welcoming to a variety of people, male and female. Scotland has a diverse student population with people coming to study here from all over the world. Work towards interiors that feel warm, welcoming and contemporary while not explicitly referring to current trends.

Don’t compromise

Follow the general principles of furnishing a home; making it a warm home and a desirable place to live. Don’t compromise because it is a student flat.

Cate adds: “We have worked on all sorts of properties for student residents – for landlords and private homes that have been bought by parents - from small one-bedroom flats to duplex apartments in showpiece developments.

“We approach each one in the same way - by working on the basis of making them a home. Judging from the feedback we get, it is a principle that works. The simple premise is: the better the presentation of the property, the better the tenants will treat it.”  


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