Since the turn of the year we’ve seen a trend of increasing void periods (the time it takes for a property to be re-rented after a tenant leaves). Based on data from letting agent software provider Goodlord, we’ve seen that across 4,000 homes rented since the beginning of February 2019, the average void period in Milton Keynes is now 32 days. We’ve seen an increase in new housing stock coming onto the market since Christmas, which has exasperated the situation and ultimately led to this average void period being as high as it is.
We are living in uncertain times, what with Brexit, interest rate rises, increasing taxation for landlords and other relevant factors. This is coupled with an ever-increasing amount of red tape – there are currently more than 140 Acts of Parliament and over 400 regulations affecting landlords in the private rented sector and new rules and regulations are being introduced all the time. A huge volume of documents must now be served on the tenant before the start of a tenancy, otherwise the landlord could lose the right to re-gain possession of the property, or even face a hefty fine.
Waiting almost a month to fill an empty property is something no one benefits from, so we thought we’d provide some tips and thoughts to help you reduce those frustrating and expensive void periods.
Use the right agent
Simply put, a great agent will get your property rented quicker. They’ll have the experience and knowledge of what prospective renters are looking for and they’ll spot the nuances that can help make a property attractive and appealing, so that it’s snapped up quickly. They’ll also know the area well and the perfect price point for the property. Even £50 a month too much can mean the property sits vacant and just a few weeks of extra void can swallow far more profit than the increased rate will bring in. A good tip is to get the property rented as soon as possible and then increase the rent gradually over time, once the tenant is settled.
Advertise on professional portals
Over 90% of tenants begin their search for a property online. If your property isn’t on a major advertising portal, then you risk being left behind as tenants find other properties without ever knowing your property existed.
Also, Gumtree and other free-to-use advertising sites are well used by scammers to con unsuspecting landlords and tenants out of enormous sums of money.
Use professional quality photos in your advertising
You might think this is completely obvious, but you could be surprised at how poor most agents’ property photographs are. Professional quality photos will improve the number of views your property advert receives and they help to engage a far greater number of potential tenants to view the rest of your advert and take action to enquire.
According to Rightmove Consumer Research, professional quality photos are the most important aspect of online advertising and are essential to attract attention. Rightmove measured the impact of professional quality photos on the same property – one with professional quality photos and one without – and discovered that professional quality photographs delivered 300% more leads!
If a tenant has recently left, you’ll be amazed at the difference redecorating a property can make. Freshly painted walls and new fixtures will impress and help rooms feel fresh and vibrant.
Natural light in a property will appeal to a wide range of tenants and subconsciously can make all the difference when people are viewing. It allows them to envision themselves relaxing in a spacious and open environment. If plentiful natural lighting isn’t available, consider investing some money in good quality artificial lighting, perhaps by using ceiling spotlights, rather than pendant lights.
Clutter is a huge turn-off for prospective tenants. Ensuring that a property is clean and tidy, as well as any furniture being arranged in the most aesthetically pleasing way, will again make a huge difference to tenants viewing properties.
Many of us are animal lovers, but most landlords instantly rule out pets of any kind. If you are willing to be pet friendly then you will instantly boost your prospects and could find people flocking to view your property.
If damage is your main concern then it’s easy to reduce the downside risk of accepting pets. At The Right Place we have always had a very robust pet acceptance policy that almost completely eliminates risk to the landlord, whilst still maintaining the positive aspects of accepting pets and often means that a higher rent can be achieved.
Lay out the property in a way that best uses the space.
Have a thorough and inviting description in your advertising.
Be as flexible as you can with potential viewing times. People have busy schedules and may only be able to view at awkward times.
If you follow the above steps, you can be confident that you’ll be going some way towards bucking the trend towards longer void periods and you can keep your bottom line looking healthy.