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Renting Boston Apartments to International Students: A Guide for Landlords

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International students boston

The United States is recognized as a leader in higher education around the world thanks to its exceptional academic institutions and wide range of educational opportunities. The nation currently hosts a startling number of over 1 million international students with active study visas. Boston is one of the most popular U.S. cities for international students to pursue their education, thanks in no small part to the large number of renowned universities in the Greater Boston area.

If you are a landlord, you may be considering renting to international students, especially as we approach September 1. International students are often unaware or unable to look for apartments months in advance- so if your apartment is still on the market, you are probably seeing numerous requests from international students interested in your property. The screening process to make sure an international College Student is qualified for an apartment in Boston can be slightly different than our local counterparts. However, it is important to note renting to International students in Boston can be highly rewarding and worth examining. We thought it would be a fantastic idea to break down the step-by-step process of how to rent your apartment to international students so you can expand your renter pool and fill any upcoming availabilities and/or vacancies you may be experiencing.

Young student applying for Boston apartment

The Application Process

If an international student is interested in your rental property, you need to ensure you receive documentation that proves they are qualified and can afford to rent your property. However, due to not being from the U.S., they most likely won’t have a credit score or relevant rental history to provide. The main document you will want to take a look at is called an I20.

The I-20

An I-20 document serves as a certification of a student’s eligibility for studying in the country on an F-1 visa, which is specifically designated for full-time academic pursuits. This document outlines essential details such as the student’s chosen program, expected duration of study, and estimated financial expenses. It’s critical for landlords who rent to international students to get a copy of the tenant’s I-20. You will be able to confirm that the length of your lease matches with their duration of study, and the funds allocated towards living expenses are sufficient for rent and other regular bills.

The I-20 also states that the student went through a rigorous admissions procedure, proving their capacity to fulfill both financial commitments and academic criteria.

Additional Documentation for rental application

Additional Documents

On top of the I-20, you should also ask for any type of documentation that shows their proof of financial means. Opening a bank account is typically one of the first things visitors do when they arrive in a new country. While there may not be months of history here if they just moved, you can gain insight into any currently disbursed loans, scholarships, and other liquid assets. You can also request copies of any foreign bank account statements to help you asses their additional assets, regular income, and potentially spending habits.

In addition, you should still receive:

  • A completed rental application.
  • A copy of their Passport/ Visa.
  • The acceptance letter from the college/ university.
  • A letter of employment stating if they will work on-campus.
  • Scholarships/funding documents.

Even if they’re from another country, it’s important to get in touch with the student’s previous landlords if they have previously rented an apartment. You might learn important information about their capacity to make rent payments on time, and even potential red flags.

Landlord doing minor fixes after property walkthrough

Common Concerns

Many landlords that haven’t rented to international students before will want assurances that their tenants will see through the end of their lease with no issues. Remember that it’s a huge undertaking to travel abroad for higher education. Unsurprisingly, the majority of overseas students have the required financial means and a strong desire to succeed in their studies.

There may be times when a student neglects their cleaning duties, which could result in property damage. You will then be faced with returning the unit to its original state when they leave, requiring a major time and money investment. It’s important to note, however, that these difficulties are not exclusive to international students and might appear when renting to any renter, including domestic students and professionals. One of the things that we see with Greater Boston landlords that enjoy renting to international students is performing more frequent walk throughs of their properties about once per quarter to make sure the property is being taken care of in an respectful manner. Many Boston landlords have expressed that they actually enjoy this process because they simultaneously also discover some potential deferred maintenance that they can address while the matter is small thus saving them money by avoiding a larger problem.

Tenant and landlord agreeing


We nearly always recommend that landlords collect last month’s rent and a security deposit. In case the worst happens and the tenants leave unexpectedly, then the landlord will at least be left with a month of rent while looking for new tenants and a security deposit to cover any damage. It also never hurts to check in with your tenants in March or April to make sure they are going to be staying here for the summer or the duration of the lease. Regardless of whether it is an international or locally based student, there is often a lot of subletting that occurs towards the summer because of specialized remote courses or co-ops that take them to other locations. Generally speaking it is always better to over communicate with your tenants about all things housing related than under communicate.

Other landlords request international students obtain U.S. based cosigners. While this is a great option if they can find someone in the US, some international students are unable to provide a U.S. based cosigner that they know personally. However, you may suggest cosigning services such as Jetty or The Guarantors that provide cosigning services for qualifying applicants. While we do not endorse any one service over another, we do encourage landlords to engage in discussions with potential international renters and agree on one that meets both of their needs.

Apartment for rent furnished

What are international students’ priorities when looking for a rental?

International students often seek rental apartments that offer a blend of comfort, convenience, and a conducive environment for their academic pursuits. Being close to their university is important since it cuts down on travel time and makes campus services more accessible. Being close to grocery stores, pharmacies, and access to public transportation are other important items for international students- especially if they are unfamiliar with Boston and all the city has to offer. International students often also look for places that are either partially or fully furnished, as it reduces their upfront moving costs and makes the transition into their new city a little easier. This may be beneficial for landlords that are looking to further maximize their investments- by adding basic furnishings, even just in common areas such as the living room/ dining room, they will be able to charge more in rent. Speaking with apartment leasing companies with a long history of renting to international students in Boston can also help you dramatically in understanding the nuances of optimizing this particular leasing process.

Boston apartments

Boston Pads is Here to Help

Real estate agents that are powered by the Boston Pads network help landlords rent thousands of international students apartments for both long and short term leases. If you apartment is still on the market for a 9/1 move- in date- don’t panic! Simply dial 617-208-2197 to reach our Landlord Hotline. Every single licensed specialist working at the Landlord Listings Desk is prepared to assist you. Our seasoned professionals will be able to advise you on what to do if your apartment is still on market for 9/1, collect all relevant paperwork from potential renters, and present you a neat package you can quickly review and approve.

We will help get your apartment marketed to the widest possible audience imaginable in the shortest period of time. Our team will syndicate your apartment listings to the most locations on the internet and social media outlets to get you the maximum exposure. Having rented the most apartments in New England is just another reason why so many landlords turn to Boston Pads. It’s our goal to make sure you never have to worry about a vacant apartment ever again.

For our Landlords that prefer to log themselves and get real time neighborhood renting information and analytical data— The Boston Pads real estate portal is much more than a search engine for Boston rental apartments. We provide thousands of landlords with their own private Property Owner Portal (POP) where they can compare their apartment to other like kind properties so they can set their own rental prices based on their own desires. Our “POP” provides you with a wealth of useful tips, tools, and valuable information including a myriad of other tools so you can feel confident in your leasing decisions. Boston Pads is your best source for information on Boston real estate and the local real estate scene. Contact us– we look forward to working with you.

Aubrey Liss

Aubrey Liss

Published August 23, 2023

Aubrey Liss has been a licensed real estate professional since March of 2004. Aubrey relocated to Boston in early 2005 and began working with Jacob Realty. With a well-rounded background of residential sales and longstanding family history of property development, she was instrumental in the expansion of the Jacob Realty sales team. Her policies and leadership qualities helped gain her the title of Director of Operations since 2006 for several leading brokerages. Aubrey stays engaged and well informed regarding the latest market trends in both investment and residential products. Ms. Liss enjoys helping agents and landlords develop properties to their highest potential for both sales and rentals depending on market conditions. Aubrey has over a decade of complex development experience including by-right projects and successfully navigating the variance process throughout the Greater Boston area.