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5 Things to Know From Off-Campus Student Housing Experts

It's no secret there are some big differences between living on or off campus. For many students, moving off campus can feel like a bigger transition than moving on campus, simply because the new space brings more responsibility.

GradGuard spoke with Align Asset Management whose expertise includes all aspects of student housing. Principals April Priebe and Brittany Herringshaw specialize in distressed student housing, including identifying red flags, preventing default, and stabilizing assets. They also provide strategies to existing clients looking to create a student housing vertical to preserve and create value, as well as proper positioning within the market.

What to Know About Off-Campus Student Housing

Student housing professionals, from residence hall staff to landlords, can help students transition from living on to off campus while mitigating costs for all parties. 

1. There's often a misunderstanding of who is responsible for property.

You can help educate students to have insurance as just one of the ways to protect themselves and their belongings while living off campus. Mistakes can be made anywhere, but can be more frequent and devastating when they happen in off-campus housing.

For example, a student might light a candle and fall asleep, or leave a faucet running before leaving the apartment. If one of those events were to cause some damage, students might believe the apartment management or landlord would be responsible. 

Educating students on what they're responsible for when living on or off-campus is very important. Sometimes that education comes after damage happens. Being proactive with the education component can prevent accidents from happening in the first place.

2. Recommending renters insurance for students mitigates costs for everyone.

Getting students to buy something, let alone insurance, can be tricky. But if they can see the value in it, it's a different story. GradGuard's Renters Insurance is tailored for college students, and covers stolen laptops and bikes. If students have policies and have good experiences filing claims, they're more likely to be satisfied living at your complex. Resident retention can help you mitigate costs for finding new tenants. 

Priebe and Herringshaw recall an incident that happened at a student housing complex in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. A student living on the third floor accidentally left his bathroom sink faucet running slowly for a holiday weekend. When he returned, the bathroom had flooded to the ground level, resulting in $16,000 worth of damage. But the student had GradGuard, so all he had to pay was his $100 deductible. 

3. Many students expect renters insurance to be part of the off-campus housing experience.

This wasn't always the case. Students and families didn't always see it as a necessity, and some considered a homeowners policy to be enough coverage for their student. But in more recent years, it's been much easier to convince students that renters insurance is something that they need when living off campus. Many students aren't going to give you the pushback you might expect them to give if you require they obtain a renters insurance policy.

4. Even landlords of smaller properties benefit from recommending or requiring renters insurance.

Offering renters insurance to students or even partnering with GradGuard doesn't seem immediately important to a lot of landlords or student housing staff. Insurance can sound like a scary or daunting task, but GradGuard makes it simple to set up and have integrated into your existing housing portal. It doesn't have to be nearly the task that you may think it is! 

When more students have renters insurance, big issues such as accidental damage turn into small, manageable ones. GradGuard makes it simple for students to file a claim.

Cost mitigation is even more of a priority for smaller properties, so definitely consider keeping renters insurance high on your to-do list. 

5. Renters insurance can help with reputation management.

Word spreads like wildfire among college students. If they had a good (or bad) experience at a certain student housing complex, they're going to let people know about it. Something that can just about guarantee a better experience is renters insurance. When the unexpected happens, such as a flood or a fire, insurance will keep costs low for you and your tenants. It also takes a lot of the stress away and even their parents will be more satisfied with the situation.


It's no secret college costs a lot of money. Students and families don't want to shell out any more cash than they already do for tuition, fees, and housing. GradGuard's Renters Insurance is one of the most affordable and proactive choices they can make to protect their stuff. And it's perhaps the simplest tool student housing staff can implement to keep costs low when the unexpected happens. Both landlords and tenants can reap the benefits of renters insurance.