Buy-to-let is one of the nation’s favourite vocations and continues to boom all across the UK. According to Your Move and Reeds Rains, rents in England and Wales have reached a new record of £770 per month, while gross yields for landlords are also at a high of 13.3 per cent, which the same report attributes primarily to shorter void periods between tenants.
Minimising void periods – those times when your property has no tenant and is therefore earning no income – is one of the most crucial factors in getting the most from your buy-to-let property. So how can you keep down your vacancies and maximise your returns?
Here are 10 simple tips to keep your rental property tenanted:
1. Maintain your home
Keeping your property in a good condition is key to ensuring your tenants do not look elsewhere for better accommodation. After poor energy performance, tenants’ top complaint in a recent AXA survey was that their landlords did not pay enough attention to routine maintenance. Repeat this mantra: a happy tenant is a long-term tenant.
2. Keep rents realistic
A sure-fire way to leave you facing an unexpectedly empty home is to raise your rents far above the level your tenants can afford – and far above those of the other rental properties around you. When renewing a tenancy and reviewing your monthly rent, check the average market rates to keep your figures realistic.
3. Talk to tenants
If you are not using a letting agency, tenants will need to contact you directly in the event of any emergencies or repairs. Keeping in touch with them regularly will ensure that they are happy and that you are aware of any issues, including whether they are planning to move out – forewarned is forearmed, as they say.
4. Give tenants space
While it is important to be in contact with your tenants, it is equally important to give them space. You are legally required to give any tenants 24 hours’ notice before entering the property. Be sure to follow this and, if possible, give them even longer notice.
5. Plan for market peaks
Like all investments, the buy-to-let market has its peak periods and cycles. If you are in a town with a university, for example, the start of terms in September and January are typically a busy time for students looking for accommodation. If you are facing a void period, planning ahead so that your property is ready for the peak season will increase the likelihood of a replacement tenant moving in sooner.
6. Make the most of vacancies
When vacancies do arise, make the most of them: treat them as a chance to perform maintenance on the property that would otherwise be difficult with people living there. Any improvements to your property can also help to make it more attractive to new tenants and increase your asking rate.
7. Keep the outside tidy
Don’t forget kerb appeal! Keeping the outside of a property presentable is important when selling it and letting a property is no different. Your tenants may be responsible for looking after the garden or trimming the hedge, but during a void period, keeping up those tasks yourself will help to make your home appealing to any new tenants.
8. Invest where people want live
As well as changing the way you approach voids, there are some steps you can take before you invest in a buy-to-let property to make it easier to retain tenants. Most important of all is doing research to find a place where demand is strong, the area is nice and the properties are in decent condition. University towns are a popular choice for many landlords, but if you don’t invest in a location where people would live, you will struggle to find tenants, let alone keep them for a long period!
9. Balance your portfolio
If you are facing an unavoidable vacancy in one of your properties, do you have another with tenants that will still be able to provide you with income? Consider balancing your buy-to-let portfolio with multiple properties, or multiple property types. If you have a residential home, why not look into commercial real estate? Different property markets will also have different market peaks, which can help you to generate a steady return all year round.
10. Prepare for void periods
Preparing financially for void periods will mean that you are not hit with a surprising cash call, even if your property unexpectedly becomes empty. A recent survey by the National Landlords Association found that 90 per cent of UK landlords do not factor in the impact of voids upon their finances, while 19 per cent use their day job to cover the income gap. Ensure that the financial impact of a void does not hurt your wallet and you could have more funds leftover to make further improvements to your home, already preparing you for the next tenancy.
Follow these 10 simple tips and you can keep your buy-to-let property tenanted – and be ready to find another tenant without delay.
Article Courtesy of: The Move Channel