What are top tips for avoiding rental voids?
Rental voids, where your property lies empty, costing you money, are a landlord’s worst nightmare. Follow these top tips to stay devoid of voids.
- Keep the rent reasonable. In the current financial climate, it makes sense not to rock the boat by putting the rent up. If you are happy with your tenants and they are reliable payers, keeping the rent at the same level for a couple of years can pay dividends. You may be tempted to increase the rent, particularly if the cost of your buy-to-let mortgage goes up, but if that results in just one month’s rental void then you’ll probably be out of pocket overall.
- Go for long-term commitment. Avoid six month contracts where possible. While most rental tenants are averse to committing to one place for longer than a year at a time, getting a 12 month contract in place means that you only face the possibility of a rental void once a year. Bear in mind that, if you use a letting agent, most will charge the complete finder’s commission to renew a contract after six months – even if the existing tenant stays there.
- Reward committed tenants. Some tenants live in the same property for years and years. These are likely to be people who are not only satisfied with the property but also have a good relationship with their landlord. Help establish a good relationship by rewarding their loyalty. Some landlords give their tenants Christmas presents or treats such as vouchers, flowers, wine or even meals out.
- See to repairs promptly. If repairs are necessary make sure they are carried out quickly and professionally – happy tenants stay longer. And treat small problems as seriously as big ones. That way your tenant will feel valued.
- Go the extra mile. As a landlord it is your duty to know your legal obligations regarding a broad range of issues from tenancy deposit schemes to public liability insurance and ensuring basic safety standards. Going a few steps further can win your tenants loyalty. Installing carbon monoxide detectors and window locks, for example, makes tenants feel safe and cared for.
- Be highly visible. When tenants leave, get your property out on the market as quickly and effectively as possible. Most people these days use websites such as Rightmove.co.uk and findaproperty.com, so make sure you are on these sites.
- Get the picture. When you do advertise online, provide plenty of photographs. Research shows that tenants are most interested in what the living room looks like, followed by the garden if there is one. But the more decent photos you can provide the better. Apparently adverts with photographs generate three and a half times more enquiries.
- Redecorate. Keep your property fresh and attractive by redecorating every couple of years – or give your tenant permission to do it. Some tenants would love to go away for the weekend and come back to a pristinely-repainted magnolia flat. Others can’t wait to put their own imprint on their ‘home’.
- Find out why. If your tenant is planning to leave the property, find out why. If they need a bigger or smaller place, you may have something more suitable in your portfolio. If they can no longer afford the rent or are struggling to pay it, it might even make sense to offer to reduce it, at least for an agreed period, rather than experiencing a rental void. If they are renting furnished but want to buy furniture, offer to remove your furniture. Negotiations will be all the easier if you have maintained a good relationship with them.
- Treat others with respect. It may sound obvious (or cheesy), but treating other people in the way you would like to be treated is generally a good maxim for life, and it holds true in the property rental market. If you treat your tenants with suspicion and/or fear, assuming they want to trash your property and not pay your rent, they are likely to see you as the ogre landlord who doesn’t want them to settle in, throw a party or complain when something goes wrong. If you are suspicious of them, they’ll be suspicious of you.