The most recent survey by the Council of Mortgage Lenders was taken in 2016, at which time around 62% of private landlords in the UK owned just a single property from which to make an income.
With just one (or a handful) of properties to rent out, being seen as a good landlord is vital in helping to attract and keep reliable tenants. This way, void periods – when the property is unoccupied, no rent is being received, but maintenance and safety checks must still be paid for – can be kept to a minimum. How can you attract and retain the best tenants?
The distinction between furnished and unfurnished rental properties isn’t as clear cut as it used to be.
The days of a landlord having a property that’s very barren apart from a washing machine are fading,’ says Fiona Patton, head of lettings at Pritchards in Bath (@pritchardsbath). ‘All the white goods are expected to be there, probably including a washer-dryer.’
But it’s not just fridge-freezers, dishwashers, and curtains and blinds many of today’s tenants require. Often renters are attracted by part-furnished properties. Beds, sofas, and dining tables and chairs might all be included. It’s a money-saver for potential renters, and more practical if they come from overseas.
There are other ways to add extra, depending on the rental sector you’re in, suggests Fiona:
‘We regularly survey our residents to find out what else they want to have in their building,’ says Matt Finch, head of asset management at be:here Hayes (@behereliving). ‘It helps us improve the living experience and so our residents stay longer.’
First-time landlords or those who want to improve their game should put themselves in tenants’ shoes, advises Michelle Niziol, CEO of IMS Property Group (@IMS_Bicester) and vice-president at ARLA Propertymark (Association of Residential rel="noopener noreferrer" Letting Agents) (@arla_uk).
‘Landlords should make sure that the properties they market are properties they would be happy to call home and reside in,’ she says.
Letting tenants personalise is key.
‘Be open to changes the tenant may want to make to the property, such as painting walls, putting up shelves and changing curtains,’ says Michelle.
Prompt action from her landlady impressed Stacey Osafo, who shares a house rental in Buckinghamshire.
‘I texted my landlady at about 10pm one night letting her know that the toilet flush in my ensuite was broken,’ says Stacey.
‘The cistern is hidden behind a wall, so it’s not easy to get to. The landlady replied immediately saying she’d be there the next morning to stop it running, which she did, and then she had someone out within a couple of hours that day who fixed it for me completely.’
Stacey’s landlady also made sure the house was kept warm when a problem occurred with the radiators.
‘Once we had messaged her, within a couple of hours she was round with numerous electric heaters to make sure we stayed warm while she was sorting the problem out,’ says Stacey.
For her part, Stacey makes sure she’s only in touch when the situation warrants it.
‘If it’s something I can sort out myself, I don’t like to bother her,’ she says.
It’s no surprise that much of what landlords look for in tenants is what their renters expect from them. Swift communication and resolution of any issues is essential, as is seeing your property as the tenant’s – albeit not-forever – home.