How to Reduce Void Periods and Get Your Property Let Quickly
“Void" periods can be the most expensive time for landlords: Council tax and utilities standing charges to pay, as well probably as financing costs, and no income coming in. The cash flow is all one way, and sums can quickly mount up. And, because tenants can now move on with just 28 days’ notice, they are perhaps more likely to do so if things aren’t working for them. But there are a few things you can do to minimise void periods:
Make sure you attend to repairs properly and quickly - happy tenants stay longer!
Encourage open communication with your tenants (or make sure your agent does) so that they won’t feel inhibited about raising any concerns or faults with you and, when they do, be responsive to ensure the continued enjoyment of their stay in your property. Treat even small problems seriously so that they feel valued as your tenant. If the tenant hands in notice, find out why they want to move on, and see if there is anything you can do to learn from this or persuade them to stay.
Be fair when reviewing rents. Any proposal to increase the rent should be justifiable by reference to rents passing for similar properties in the area. You shouldn’t increase the rent just because one of your costs has gone up. Rents should be increased only when there’s evidence of rents increasing in the area. Doing so otherwise may well prompt your tenant to up sticks and move on.
When seeking tenants make sure your property is "staged" for marketing photographs and ensure that these photographs are of a high quality. Most tenants are persuaded by images much more than by written description, and so it’s vital that marketing images are clear, bright and appealing. Show some of the property’s features in detail and avoid distorted or leaning facades. Ensure that the property is clean and uncluttered and consider adding a few finishing touches launch as a well-arranged quality flower arrangement on the table.
If letting unfurnished, do provide blinds/curtains and lampshades. Nothing gives an impression of miserliness more than exposed lightbulbs dangling from ceilings. Consider feature lighting, which can really “lift” an uninspiring property and giving it instant appeal. Consider too one or two sizeable mirrors. These can make rooms seem larger and more appealing. Upgrading cheap uninspiring hollow-wood doors with something more substantial, perhaps with feature glass panels and attractive handle-sets can transform a property without substantial expense. Think about your market profile – the sort of tenants you’re seeking to attract - and try to see your property through their eyes.
Ensure that the property is immaculately clean for viewings, and that any necessary repairs are completed. “We’ll get that done before a tenant moves in”, doesn’t always inspire confidence. The heating should be on for viewings – there are few things more unwelcoming than a cold house. Try to create instant appeal on approach: A tidy weed-free garden with lawns neatly trimmed creates a good first impression. Above all, don’t have rubbish, carpet remnants, or building debris on display.
When advertising for tenants, be pragmatic with your rents. It is better to have 80% of something than 100% of nothing! Even one month's void will eat into your profit, so endeavour to let your property out as quickly as possible, even if that means taking a hit on the rent. You can offer an "introductory" special offer rent to be reviewed after six months.
You need to consider the cost of holding out for the right price. As an example, suppose you're renting a property and asking £650 per month. Within a short time of advertising the property you get an offer for £625. You reject this offer because you have your mind set on achieving your £650 objective. However, suppose it takes an extra 2 months to get the £650 you want.
Have you achieved a good result? Your initial though may be "yes" because you've achieved your £650. But in fact, over a 12-month period if you had let at £625 per month your income would be £7,500. If you held out for an extra 2 months until you got a rent of £650, your income over the same period would only be £6500.
Your property is competing with others and if it’s taking a time to let when others aren’t, you should reconsider reducing your asking rent.