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How Housing Companies Can Help Students Right Now

By collegemktgrp | April 2, 2020 | Brands/Advertisers

The spread of the coronavirus has upended college student’s lives across the world as campuses closed far earlier than planned. Most on-campus residence halls and dormitories have also closed their doors, leaving some students on their own to figure out where to go.

Hopefully, most students have the ability to go home to live with their families. But there are many others who either have nowhere to go, or face barriers to getting home.

This is especially true for international students, or students who can’t afford last-minute flights to get back home. And there are students who rely on their jobs in their college’s town for their income, so going home means giving up their pay.

College towns across America are facing a bit of a housing crisis as students scramble to find places to stay now that their dorms have closed. Landlords, developers, and rental property owners with unoccupied off-campus housing can provide some relief to college students by making it easier to rent their units.

Monthly leases, discounted rates, and digital marketing are all ways to connect empty units with students in need.

How Off-Campus Housing Owners Can Help College Students

Many students who can no longer live in dorms are renting temporary housing wherever they can find it.

This can be mutually beneficial for both students who need a place to live, and off-campus property owners with vacant units. There are a few things property owners can do to help college students find a place to live quickly and to secure more leases.

1. Offer Monthly Leases

Students whose campuses have closed are scrambling to find a place to live. They aren’t planning for much more than the immediate future.

It may be unfeasible for students to commit to a 6-month or year-long lease in the middle of a global health crisis, with so many uncertainties about the future.

The quickest way to make units accessible is by offering students month-by-month leases. Students can easily make the choice to move in as soon as possible without worrying about:

  1. Whether they’ll be able to afford the place in a couple of months, or
  2. If the living situation will be right for them once the coronavirus pandemic has run its course.

2. Give Discounts to Students from Closed Campuses

In recent weeks, there have been big price cuts across industries struggling to keep up with the economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis.

From airlines and hotels to restaurants and other small businesses, everyone is dropping prices to move stock quickly and keep some money coming in. This makes sense — in the face of drastic drops in revenue, businesses need to be nimble and pivot to any opportunity generate sales.

Property owners with vacant units should be flexible, as well.

If you’re sitting on an empty rental unit or AirBnB, discount pricing offers a few benefits:

  • Earns you at least some money off the unit (rather than no money)
  • Increases likelihood of finding a tenant quickly
  • Helps students who need a place to live but are likely struggling financially

If you add a discount to a monthly lease, you’re not only helping your student tenant, but you’re also protecting yourself from a long-term decreased income from your rental.

Another option is to lower the required deposit. If you normally take a deposit equal to one month’s rent at the beginning of the lease, consider halving that to make your rental more accessible to struggling students.

You may also consider offering a lease-signing bonus, like a certain amount off the first month’s rate, or a gift card to Amazon or a local grocery store — something that’s sure to be valued by students in this time.

3. Target Tenants Online

With a monthly lease and discounted rates in place, all that’s left to do is get your deals in front of students.

In normal times, flyers around campus and campus town could be an effective way to promote housing. But with self-isolation and restaurants, bars, and nonessential businesses closed, you’re going to have to turn to the internet.

Fortunately, you don’t have to just post a listing on Craigslist and cross your fingers.

With targeted digital ads on social media and SEM marketing on platforms like Google, you can get your open listings in front of the right audience. You can target students on Facebook based on their interests, age, geographic location and more. Then you can monitor how your ads are performing in real time, tweaking the language, images, and targeted audience as you go to attract quality tenants at a low cost.

You can also target ads to their parents, who may be trying to help them figure out a living situation.

When you’re promoting your open listings, be sure to highlight the discounted rates, waived deposits, monthly leases, or any other sign-on bonuses you’re offering.

Need Help? College Marketing Group is Here for You

Off-campus developers with large buildings that rely on students during normal times may be struggling because their tenants are heading home, and they can’t find students to fill vacant units.

College Marketing Group can help. Our entire business is focused on helping our clients connect with college students, wherever they are.

We’ve always had a focus on digital marketing to college students, and given the current situation of closed campuses, our entire team has shifted our focus to finding students online.

We can help you:

  • Craft ads with the right copy and images that will resonate with Generation Z students
  • Design digital marketing campaigns, including targeting audiences, setting budgets and timelines, and more
  • Refine your website to make sure it’s mobile-friendly (a must for digital marketing in 2020)

Learn more about how we’re fine-tuning our approach to digital marketing to help our clients reach their business goals despite coronavirus »

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