How to avoid a rental void

how to reduce the risk of a void period in your BTL

UK landlords lose an estimated £3bn a year due to void periods in their rental properties, costing on average £1,000 per property and half the net profit of an average landlord.  However, mortgages, service charges, insurance and utilities all still need to be paid.

To improve the chance of a property being tenanted full time it is vital to get things right from the start.  Location, marketing and property presentation will all play key role in maximising a landlord’s chance of renting their property.

According to Penny Mosgrove, chief executive at Quintessentially Estates: “a tenant’s first consideration is how long it will take to get to work or get the kids to school, so proximity to public transport is paramount”.  Landlords who own property that is well located should highlight this when advertising their properties.

A property should be marketed at least 6-8 weeks before it is available to ensure sufficient time to find a new tenant.  It is important to get exposure on as many portals and websites as possible, such as; Rightmove, Zoopla, OnTheMarket, Gumtree or OpenRent, to ensure you reach as many prospective tenants as possible.

Tim Hassell, managing director of Draker Lettings, advises that it is crucial to get the price of a property right, particularly in a market where tenants have a lot of choice.  He said: “If your property is being regularly viewed and is well presented but you are struggling to find a tenant, the chances are the price is too high”.

Estate agent Jeremy Leaf added that with rents falling in many areas, landlords may need to reduce their rents to keep hold of a tenant or carry out necessary repairs/works their tenant may want.

Lynsey Schipper, head of lettings at Lurot Brand warns landlords not to “chase the market downwards”.  She believes it is better to spend money on improving the property than continually dropping the price.  A landlord could offer to pay a Tenant’s TV licence or broadband to help ‘sweeten a deal’.

Landlords should try to avoid letting tenancies become periodic by renewing their tenancy for a longer period instead. Tenants in a periodic tenancy only need to give their landlord or agent one months’ notice which can be problematic for landlords whose property becomes available in winter when it is more difficult to rent due to the reduced number of tenants looking to move.

Letting agents should help to manage the end of one tenancy alongside lining up a new tenancy whilst minimising the void period.  Spicerhaart’s lettings operations director, Paul Sloan, says landlords and agents “should start marketing as soon as possible so that new tenants can be found and the admin carried out within good time”.

According to the latest English Housing Survey, 40% of tenants expect to live in their rented accommodation for up to 10 years with more than half of them saying they expect to be renting for up to 5 years.  Paul Sloan adds: “landlords should look to increase the lengths of their tenancy agreements to match the demand or risk losing out to other landlords who are prepared to do so”.

Catherine Cockroft, lettings director at Aylesford International says all properties should be immaculately presented from clean windows and carpets to properly dressed beds.  She believes a property should be presented ‘like a show home’ when it comes onto the market.  A good tip to start a tenancy on the right foot is to leave a welcome basket filled with essentials, such as tea bags and washing up liquid, to make life easy for a tenant when they first arrive.

Mark Harris, SPF Private Client, believes that if a landlord has a good tenant in situ they should do everything in their power to keep them happy by carrying out the necessary improvements immediately and maintaining a good working relationship.  He said: “It is far easier to keep existing tenants than to find new ones”.

Full article available at The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/landlord-guide/how-to-avert-a-rental-void/

RentPro has been providing letting agent software for over 10 years. Our property management solutions are available in a number of plans for landlords and letting agents alike

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