College Rentals

Hey Everyone,

Here’s a topic that scares even me, but as I was driving to Peoria, IL today to look at some residential properties I couldn’t help but think back to my time in college. 20 years ago me and my 3 roommates were each paying $200/mo for about 600 sq ft. That’s $800/mo times 6 units, well, you can do the math. Rat-trap houses would hold 6 or more people for about the same $200/mo. I understand the obvious downside of these deals, such as will the building still be standing at the end of the school year, but I’m hoping some of you can point out the less than obvious hazards I may not be thinking about.

Pros to me are—
very inexpensive real estate to purchase
relatively high $ rental/square foot
year after year constant demand

regular trashing of the building
liability/insurance issues??
empty summers

Thanks in advance for the insights. Looking forward to your replies.


No replies means one of two things. Either I’m really on to something that’s so potentially off the charts successful for this site that it absolutely has to work (I don’t think that’s the case) or it’s so potentially off the charts foolish that I’m wasting pixels typing these messages. Either way I hope I’m right.


As a college student only currently in the process of learning about REI, I can’t offer any direct advice based on my own experience, however I know that my parents rented to students at one time but have since stopped. I don’t believe there were any major liability issues, but the apartments were certainly not well-maintained. I guess it depends what your own standards and expectations are. My parents invested significant money into the apartments and were not willing to deal with maintenance and repairs the cheap way. Also, summers were never a problem, but that would likely depend on the location of the college as well.


I’ve seen this discussed quite a few times and I think the answer is people like contrevesary topics. this is not really one of them.

I have a couple of college rentals as well as numerous non-college. Yes, college students are harder on the place and once its been a college rental for a awhile that building will always be one and therefore can have somewhat of a slower appreciation (potential, not always). With higher maintenance and turnover once a year kind of guarenteed, you need to have a higher income to off-set that.

If the place is a real rat-trap, then it might only be owrth as much as you pay for it even 10 years from now; thus your investment gain will be principlal the rental income.

With that said, I know a few guys who have made a careers out of renting in college towns. Remember there is always a fresh crop of mommies and daddies coming to town every fall who will cover the rent (and damages) for Johnny or Jane to raise hell in your building for a 9-12 months.

Happy Landlording
Mike in Calif.

msavage and mike,

thanks for the replies and insights. I’m going to look a little more into this area. I tried finding some apartments and houses in a couple college towns in central Illinois, but didn’t have any significant luck yet.

thanks again for the help.