Extended void periods, where the property is standing empty between tenancies, are one of the biggest risks for landlords because it’s a double financial loss. Even just a couple of weeks without rent coming in could wipe out your own profit for the month – meanwhile, you still have bills to pay and if you have a mortgage on the property that’s usually covered by the rental income, you’re going to have to dip into your own savings.
Although properties are generally letting quickly in the current market, where demand is well outstripping supply in most areas, making basic errors can still result in an extended void period.
So, here are five key steps to take to help ensure you have a quick turn-around between tenancies and don’t lose any more days’ rental income than absolutely necessary.
1. Ensure your property is well maintained.
The better condition you can keep the property in throughout a tenancy, the less work there will be to do at the end. So, carry out periodical inspections every 6-12 months to check whether any maintenance and repairs are needed that your tenant might not have reported. And always use an experienced contractor who understands the standards that need to be achieved for rental properties to remain legally let. For more detailed information and advice, see our earlier blog, ‘15 tips for keeping on top of property maintenance’.
2. As soon as notice has been given, carry out a property inspection.
This will allow you or ensure your agent can see what repairs and redecoration might need doing before the next tenancy begins, so contractors can be booked to start work as soon as the tenant moves out. It will also help to let the tenant know whether there might be any deductions from their deposit and give them chance to put things in order themselves.
3. Price your property correctly.
Because rents tend to vary and fluctuate less than prices in the sales market, it’s very easy for tenants to see when a rental property is overpriced. So, if you want to charge more than the local average, you need to have a good reason, such as offering extra facilities or allowing pets.
Tenants can be put off viewing a rental property that’s even just £25 a month more than other similar homes, so it really is advisable to charge a fair rent that’s in line with the local average. Accepting a small amount less per month than you’d ideally like can make much more financial sense than having your property empty for weeks, especially as you’re likely to have to reduce the price eventually.
4. Start marketing – and make sure your property stands out!
We know the importance of having an eye-catching listing that gives tenants lots of information about the property. That’s why we approach listings in the same way as our sales colleagues do, including plenty of professional photographs and virtual tours where possible. Every viewing is accompanied, and we ensure every prospective tenant is vetted to make sure they are the right fit for your property. If you would like to talk through our marketing package, just contact your local branch and one of the team will be delighted to help.
5. Be flexible.
The more open you can be to the type of tenant/s you will accept, the better your chance of securing a new tenancy as early as possible. For instance, you might have ideally not wanted to house a pet, but if there is a prospective tenant who’s easily able to afford the rent and looking for a long-term home – the only thing is, they have a small dog – it might be well worth compromising, as they could make an excellent long term tenant. Remember, the longer a tenancy runs, the less often you have to worry about voids.
An important final point to make is that if you’re doing everything properly there will (and should) always be a short gap between one tenant moving out and the next moving in. That’s because (as a minimum) the check-out inventory needs to be completed, the property may need to be ‘deep cleaned’ and potentially redecorated, and a new check-in inventory should be made. And if works are needed to ensure the property is safe and fitted out to a good standard, the time between tenancies may be unavoidably longer. For this reason, it’s always wise to make an allowance for voids when you put together your budget for a let.
If you’d like to speak to us about letting your property or have any questions about marketing, we’re always here to help. Just get in touch with your local Reeds Rains branch and have a chat with one of our lettings experts.