As a landlord, one of your worst fears is probably an extended void (vacant) period when your property is untenanted. And with good reason. Void periods play havoc with your rental yield, and if you have a mortgage, mean you may end up using your own money to continue the repayments.
But if you follow our golden rules you can try to avoid this costly scenario.
First, choose a letting agent that is well known in your area and ask them to market the property as soon as your existing tenant gives notice. The letting agent should have extensive marketing resources and advertise in all the relevant press and online property portals so that your property receives maximum exposure. They should take good, high quality images that will show your property in its best light.
Next, presentation. Clearly, a well presented home will let more quickly than one that looks grubby and tired. So between tenancies, make sure the property has a lick of paint, any repairs are carried out, new curtains fitted if necessary and possibly carpets, either that or a thorough, professional clean. Check out the furnishings too and replace them if necessary. We recommend furnishings are replaced every two or three years to avoid that worn look that can be offputting to prospective tenants. Always buy the best furniture you can afford, especially if you want to attract professional tenants who will expect high standards.
If you’re buying a property in a new development, one of the best ways to avoid any delay in initially letting your property, particularly if a number of apartments are coming on stream at the same time, is to have it furnished professionally to make sure it stands out from the competition. This is where using an interiors specialist can really reap dividends. They’ll give the apartment a really stylish designer look which applicants will often just fall in love with. A furnishing package is a good option too, offering the designer look without the price tag.
Be flexible about asking rents. The London rental market is very competitive and demand can fluctuate from year to year, from season to season and between different types of property. Take advice from your letting agent as to the nature of the market right now – things may have changed even from as little as a few weeks ago. If you own a two bed apartment and there is currently an oversupply of similar properties in your area, ask your agent what the current asking rental is and be prepared to accept their advice. If an applicant makes a lower offer, be prepared to negotiate. A tenant paying you a lower rent is better than no tenant at all.
If the property is in a development that isn’t yet completed and there are still building works to be finished, we sometimes recommend that a landlord accepts a slightly lower rent to compensate for the inconvenience. When the tenancy is up for renewal, the rent can then be increased more in line with the market value.
When the tenancy comes up for renewal, believe it or not there may be more important things to consider than automatically raising the rent. For example, if you have a good tenant who looks after the property and always pays their rent on time, it might be worth keeping the rent the same or only increasing it slightly, in order to save yourself the hassle of finding another tenant, who may not be so co-operative. Decide what is most important to you.
The time of year a tenancy ends can influence how long the property will take to re-let. For example, if a yearly tenancy agreement is due to end just before Christmas, we always try and encourage the tenant to go for a slightly longer one, that may run, say, until the end of January. A tenancy that runs out in mid December could mean an empty property for several weeks until the market picks up after Christmas. By having a tenancy agreement that doesn’t run out until the end of January instead we can avoid this and there will be more applicants looking for properties.
Lastly, stay on good terms with your tenant. If you or your letting agent are in regular contact with your tenants, you’ll hopefully know if anything is wrong and have a chance to put it right before they decide to leave. If not, and it is simply that the tenant is moving on to pastures new, you’ll hopefully receive plenty of notice and have time to find a new one.
So a few tricks of the trade and hopefully by planning ahead and avoiding the dreaded void periods, you can increase your rental yield with minimal effort.
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