Bill Meyer has been a landlord for Whitworth rentals for over 20 years, so he has seen his fair share of student renters and rising costs. Meyer Properties owns 20 different houses and duplexes all targeted to students, with over 100 students residing in their units currently.
“We look for properties that are clustered,” Meyer said. The reason for this is so that they can avoid potential conflicts that may arise with having a group of college students living in a single-family neighborhood—by grouping the homes together, the possibility of complaint about college renters decreases, Meyer said.
At all of the units that Meyer runs, appliances are included along with maintenance, water, sewer, and garbage costs. That leaves students responsible for paying rent, utilities, internet, and cable on their own, allowing students to not have to open so many accounts, Meyer said.
“Our goal is to keep cost to about 50 percent of dorm costs,” Meyer said. Renting to students is Meyer Properties’ focus, but there are some drawbacks to only having student renters, Meyer said. With students, landlords have to re-rent their units every year which can result in costs adding up—from cleaning carpets, maintenance, and other upkeep, the costs can get high, Meyer said.
Other local apartment managers, Mike Dawson and Korianne Jackson, work with Douglas Properties. Dawson manages two communities that are less than one mile from Whitworth: Sandhill Apartments and Colfax Square Apartments. In all, there are 72 different units within the two communities that Dawson manages.
Dawson estimates that approximately 30 percent of his tenants are students, with the average cost of a two bedroom unit at $620 per month total or $310 per person. The average cost of a one bedroom unit is approximately $530 per month between the communities.
“The price of everything is going up,” Dawson said, so it is not a concern to him that rental rates are slowly increasing. The main contributors to the cost of rent for the units Dawson manages are supply and demand, and the rates of other competing properties, he said. Having student renters is not a factor when determining rates of apartments, he said.
The average rent cost per person in one of Meyer’s properties is approximately $330 per month for rent plus utilities, and Meyer says that he doesn’t anticipate there being a big change in the near future.
There is no specific demographic tends to be better renters, Dawson said. Meyer, however, says that he prefers tenants that are students. His preference is simple: he likes students. The reason for this is “it’s just like having a big extended family,” Meyer said.
Each student must put down a deposit prior to moving in to one of Meyer’s properties, and usually about 70 percent of that deposit is returned to the students at the end of the year, Meyer said.
The biggest cause of students not getting their deposit back is because they don’t leave the unit as clean as when they arrived. If some of the tenants move out before others, making sure that they help clean common areas as well as clean their room is a must, Meyer said.
“Treat our property as well as your parent’s property,” Meyer said “If you don’t think your parents would like it at their house, we probably won’t like it at ours.” Meyer also has a policy that each unit has one contact person, the “den mother” or “quarterback”, so that he isn’t getting calls from five different tenants about the same problem, he said.
Meyer said they haven’t had much trouble with Whitworth students, though about three or four years ago they had a group of students that caused over $7,000 of damage to their unit in one school year. Meyer said he has encountered issues with students pushing the lines of acceptability.
“If we wrote down what we think every student would do, the lease agreement would be as thick as the Bible,” Meyer said.
Hear from Alan Jacob, Associate Director of Student Housing at Whitworth University