What do tenants want? The guide to being a great landlord

3 minutes

You can stand out from the landlord crowd and keep good tenants for longer with an on-point communications and care strategy. Learn the lessons of successful letting from the experts.

  • Which furnishings should you provide?
  • The alterations you could permit tenants to make
  • Understand your tenant's needs

The guide to being a great landlord

Writing for LV= Landlord insurance, property journalist Sarah Warwick (@SMWarwick) talks to experts and tenants to find out how landlords can do that little bit extra.

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?

Consider part furnishing rental properties

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:

  • Arrange cleaning of the kitchen and bathrooms, perhaps for two hours every couple of weeks, as it gives you access to make sure things are running smoothly and the tenant reassurance that they’re likely to get the full deposit back.
  • Make extra parking spaces available.
  • Consider combining different types of tenancy, if it’s appropriate to the area. For example, furnished for nine or ten months with a switch to short lets for the remainder of the year could work in a big university town where students aren’t around during the holidays – just check the terms of the lease first

Find out what your tenants want

‘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.’

Matt also recommends:

  • Make sure your property is clean, tidy and ready to move into. The first impression will set the tone.
  • Have regular maintenance inspections planned in advance.
  • Small gestures, such as a bottle of wine and welcome card, will go a long way to getting off on the right foot.
  • If you can’t meet your tenant when they move in, make sure that you call them to introduce yourself on day one.
  • Have a manual with all of the user guides for the appliances or, even better, show your residents how to use everything.
  • If you have more than one person living in the property, a group chat on a messenger app is a good way to keep everyone informed.
  • Reply quickly to messages, and if you’re not always going to be available, have a default service to deal with issues when you can, as maintenance problems have a habit of happening after hours.
  • If a problem does occur, regular updates and feedback will keep everyone on side.

Allow tenants to personalise their home

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.

Respond to tenant requests swiftly

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.