Bruce Barnard stands in front of his house

Thinking of renting to students this year?

August 7, 2023

Landlord Bruce Barnard shares his story

Bruce Barnard has been renting rooms in his home to students since 2014. Before that, he owned the Painted Turtle Guesthouse in downtown Nanaimo, providing accommodation for 110,000 guests from around the world. He says renting to students is a great way for him and his family to learn different perspectives and meet new people. He’s currently looking for another long-term student. Bruce shares some of the benefits of hosting students and breaks down stereotypes about student renters.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in Australia. I graduated with a degree in sport science and worked in the high-performance sports system both in Australia and Southeast Asia for 20 years. In 2003, I travelled around the world for a couple years, taking in five continents in my little adventure. I ventured to Vancouver Island and immediately felt an attraction. Twenty years later I am still here. Although I love the Island, my plan is to move back to Australia for its warmth and beaches!

How and why did you start having students in your home?

My main reason for having students is to shift the balance in the house from being just a family house. The student(s) provide an interesting perspective and input. My kids get to meet new people and learn how to co-exist. They learn about different cultures or interests that people have and the context that they come from. Additionally, the experience for the student is much more enriching than renting a space and living by themselves. We only do room rental. Each student is responsible for their own lives – shopping, cooking, transportation, social activities, etc.  

When did you start?

That’s not easy to pin down. When I was a child and teenager, we had numerous Rotary exchange students passing in and out of our family house, some for three months, some for a year. Many of those exchange students are still good friends of mine. When I was in my 20s, I used to have work for stay students live with me. Then of course the Guesthouse and now room rentals.

What are some of the main benefits?

I think I mentioned some of these above. In one word: enrichment!

What is one belief you had about renting to students that you realized was not true?

When you room rent, you are not their parent, you are not responsible for their personal livelihood. You are more like an uncle/aunt. Always there to help, support and share, but these are young adults, most of them just out of home, forging their way in the big wide world. Room rental provides guard rails for them, not parenting rules and expectations. They are not your kids. The type of student who is attracted to a room rental in a family home is not a wild and woolly frat person, quite the contrary. They usually come from similar family upbringing. They add to your family unit, they are not a burden.  

You also hire students, right?

Simply The Best Cleaning Services is our new small business. We provide residential and commercial cleaning services. We are a one-stop shop for all cleaning needs: homes, apartments, small and large businesses. We provide “maid” services, pressure washing, tile and grout cleaning, professional carpet cleaning, and more. We are constantly expanding with new clients and are always looking for staff, whether that is part-time or full-time. The work can be Monday to Friday or weekends. We have day work as well as evening work. We pay very well and there is a great growth path. We have a very close team with high morale. We need dedicated and committed help. Call us if you are interested at 236. 544.0100. Also call us if you ever have a need for cleaners.

Why rent to students?

Renting a room or a home to students can be a great income helper during challenging economic times. is VIU’s preferred partner for reliable, student-targeted listings. We are pleased to announce discounted rates for the summer. Book your rental advertisement between June 15 and August 15 and save! 

Did you know VIU students can now take VIU Rent Wise? This free course guides student renters through their rights and responsibilities to become educated tenants and good neighbours. Why not ask your new tenants if they have a certificate? 

Renting to students has lots of benefits. VIU Off-Campus Housing is always happy to answer your questions and support you.

Don't hesitate to reach out

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