At a recent meeting with Relocation Agent Network colleagues from across the country we estimated that the average void period ie the length of time a rental property is unoccupied in the UK was around 3 weeks. That’s nearly a whole month where that Landlord receives no income whatsoever from that property . We then discussed ways Landlords can take action and put in place some measures that may reduce future void periods. Reducing these voids will remove uncertainty and also improve rental yields .
Set realistic rents
While rental properties are in high demand in most parts of the UK, this should not be taken as a guarantee of back-to-back tenancies. As well as asking the advice of a letting agent, it is also worth doing your own research to find out if the level of rent you are charging is suitable for the area. Remember that the overall cost of an extended void period can outweigh the perceived loss associated with setting a sensible rent, which will , almost certainly , also make the property quicker to let.
Foster good tenant-landlord relations
A tenant’s right to reside, with quiet enjoyment, within a property during their tenancy period is enshrined in law. This means that, except in an emergency, a landlord must give tenants 24 hours’ notice before requesting entry to the property for viewings or for maintenance work. By upholding basic obligations, landlords have a greater chance of establishing a good relationship with tenants, and they may be more likely to stay in the property longer.
Make the property desirable
Ensuring the property is in good order could help to make it more desirable, meaning it will be easier to let and may even mean tenants want to stay longer.
While tenants have a duty to look after some internal fixtures, landlords are generally responsible for the repairs (unless the damage is caused by the tenant) as well as the structure of the building, the exterior and the roof. In addition to this, a landlord must ensure heating and hot water installations, sinks, baths and other sanitary fixtures are maintained to a reasonable standard. But further decorating and appointing the property appropriately, and to a good standard, may help it stand out to potential tenants.
See a void as an opportunity
While it is important for landlords to keep up to date with necessary repairs, a void period could provide a good time for non-essential, intrusive maintenance and improvement works to be carried out with minimum disruption to tenants. This could, in turn, make the property more attractive.
Hire a letting agent
A good letting agent can help guide you through the day-to-day complexities of being a landlord , do all the work in finding prospective tenants, provide appropriate documentation , inventories and deal with deposit arrangements , meaning you will have less work to do when a tenancy comes to an end.
However, as there are currently no restrictions on who becomes a letting agent, there are some unscrupulous agents who may not have a landlord’s or tenant’s best interests at heart. For peace of mind, seek advice from a lettings agent affiliated to a professional organisation like the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) or the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA). Such agents are licensed and must also adhere to a strict code of conduct, as well as offering client money protection and redress schemes, which protect all parties if things go wrong.