Protect your profit by avoiding the dreaded void with these ten simple solutions from the experts at Belvoir…
“Empty rental properties cost landlords money so it’s important to invest in the right type of property at the beginning of your investment journey,” says co-owner of Belvoir Liverpool Central and Belvoir Liverpool West Derby Adam Rastall.
“Your short-list of properties should be tailor-made for the tenant-type that is predominant in your area, whether that be families, couples, single renters or sharers.
“Research the local rental market carefully to ensure the property you’re looking to purchase ticks the appropriate boxes.”
√ Price it right
“Even the most attractive of properties will struggle to attract tenants if the price isn’t right,” says Adam.
“Check out the rental prices of other similar properties in your area to ensure that you’re in touch with current market value… and adjust yours accordingly.
“Overinflated prices that are not in line with market conditions will certainly limit your appeal and maximise the potential for periods of void.”
√ Marketing matters
“Tenants are not going to apply to live in your property unless they are aware that is available,” says owner of Belvoir Swansea and Belvoir Mumbles Ben Davies. “Badly marketed properties can (and often do) remain empty.
“If you’re not using a letting agent make sure you maximise your own marketing campaign, making the most of local newspaper advertising, online portals, social networking and public notice-boards.
“Timing is also important so don’t forget that you can start marketing your property for re-let a month (and sometimes even earlier) before your current tenant is due to leave.”
√ In the frame
“It’s essential to include photographs in your marketing material because if you don’t potential tenants will wonder why,” adds owner of Belvoir Portsmouth Samantha Bateman. “As a shop window for your property, these should be picture perfect and show off all your property’s best features.
“Photography should be taken on a bright day and, if possible, when the property is empty. This will maximise the feeling of space and prevent potential tenants being discouraged on account of the current tenant’s furnishings or clutter. It’s also important that the garden or any outside space is showcased and that it’s presented as neat, tidy and well maintained.”
√ Ask around
“In addition to your official marketing campaign, it may also be worth assessing interest among the people you know,” says Adam. “Is anyone in your social circle looking for a rental property… or do they know of someone else who is?
“Before committing to letting to family or friends, always make sure that you are 100% certain about their ability to pay the rent – and be aware that if anything does go wrong during the tenancy your relationship with them may be affected.
“Ask your tenant if they know of anyone suitable too,” continues Adam. “Their own family or friends will probably have visited the property during the tenancy and will therefore already be familiar with it.”
√ Presentation perfection
“Today’s tenants care about presentation and poorly presented properties have the potential to be overlooked,” says Ben. “Neutral colour schemes will have mass market appeal, woodwork and walls should be neatly painted and white goods should be modern and in good working order. It goes without saying that the property should be clean and tidy too.
“Also, if your property is currently empty, ensure it is fully ‘ready for rental’ before you market it. Promises of ‘I’m hoping to do this before you move in’ or ‘I may have time to do that if you think it’s necessary’ rarely cement a tenancy deal.
“In fact, the way a property is presented is often seen as reflective of the landlords themselves. Good presentation can help increase a potential tenant’s confidence in you and your commitment to looking after the property while they are living there.”
√ Key communication
“In order to forward plan for your property’s future needs it’s essential that you maintain a good relationship with your current tenant,” says Adam.
“A solid relationship, with a firm focus on transparent communication, will mean that you will be kept in the loop as to your current tenant’s potential exit plans and the timescales in which they are likely to be executed.”
√ Remain and retain
“One of the best (and easiest) ways to avoid the void is to retain your current tenant for a longer period of time,” says Samantha.
“If you have a good tenant keeping them in situ will mean fewer marketing fees (if you’re marketing the property yourself) or tenant-find fees (if you’re using an agent) and less wear and tear by regular movement of furniture into and out of the property.
“In addition, you won’t have to start afresh building a relationship with someone new and, importantly, there will be no potential periods of void between one tenancy and the next.”
√ Valuable viewings
“Being able to access the property for viewings is vital in the fight against the void,” says Adam. “The more people who view the property, the increased likelihood of a speedy let.
“However, if your property is occupied these viewings will have to take place at your current tenant’s convenience and with their consent. To ensure of their cooperation make certain that there is a clear clause in the tenancy agreement enabling access for viewings in the month before they are due to leave.
“At Belvoir Liverpool West Derby and Belvoir Liverpool Central we usually give at least 24 hours notice, plus often set up one day a week as a ‘viewings day’ to limit the inconvenience for the current tenant.”
√ Help on hand
“A letting agent is a valuable tool for any landlord looking to avoid the void,” says Ben. “They will market the property for you and will usually have a website of their own, access to the online portals, and a shop window frontage in which spread the word of your property’s availability at speed. Additionally, they are also likely to already have a database of tenants looking for a property just like yours.
“A good letting agent will also be able to advise on how you can make the property more desirable to tenants and which simple adjustments you will need to make,” concludes Ben. “Sometimes even the most modest of modifications can help minimise periods of the dreaded void.”
Article Courtesy of Belvoir Lettings