The ‘best’ tenants are essentially those who look after your property and pay their rent on time and in full every month and the key to getting them into your buy to let, rather than anyone else’s is to give them exactly what they’re looking for.
As rental property standards continue to improve and tenants are now staying in a property for longer than they used to (almost two years on average), the expectation of most tenants is for safe, up-to-date and comfortable accommodation that they can really call home.
There will be wants and needs particular to your target tenant type – for example, families will want a decent garden and city professionals will expect en-suites and high-end finishes – but there are some universal truths across the board. So make sure you get these basics right and then speak to a good local agent to find out what else you can do to secure the best tenants for the highest rent.
Maintain the property well
Having a landlord that doesn’t keep on top of necessary repairs is one of the biggest turn-offs for tenants and these days, if a property doesn’t look as though it’s taken care of, you’re likely to experience longer void periods, be unable to get even the average market rent and you certainly won’t appeal to the best tenants.
Schedule regular maintenance and property inspections and always do a ‘proper job’ of any repairs, i.e. don’t be tempted to cut corners because the problem will almost certainly come back and it’s a false economy. You’re legally obliged to comply with the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, which includes things like making sure the property is mould free, properly heated and there isn’t any risk of falling on stairs, floors or paths, so take a look around the property and make sure there’s nothing that could cause a tenant to question how well it’s being maintained.
If you are unsure what to look for, talk to a qualified agent who is a member of ARLA, NALS and RICS as they will often be happy to come and check your property for you.
Between tenancies, touch up paintwork, clean thoroughly and particularly check hinges on cupboard doors to make sure they’re hanging correctly and don’t look tired. Check door and window locks and give your tenants confidence that the property is safe and secure.
Make the kitchen and bathroom/s look as good as possible
When it comes to cooking and washing, tenants want modern and clean. So, if the kitchen is more than ten years old, you should probably consider updating at least the unit doors and possibly the counter top. If you’re letting furnished, kitchen equipment can be bought for a very reasonable price at supermarkets and other retailers these days, so consider replacing things like microwaves, kettles, crockery and glassware every one or two tenancies to keep it looking fresh.
In the bathroom, install a fantastic shower which has easy to access working parts for maintenance and, if there’s enough space, a large bath, which doesn’t have to be expensive. Keep the suite white and tile as much of the room as possible, so that it’s easy for the tenants to keep clean themselves. And if any grout or lino flooring is looking discoloured, re-do it.
Have the technology up to scratch
Almost all tenants really value high-speed internet, so do everything you can to ensure the property has the best possible connection, whether that’s connecting to superfast fibre or boosting the signal with powerline adapters. Being able to have satellite or cable is also a popular requirement among tenants and, if you are letting the property furnished, they will expect the TV to be a ‘smart’ TV.
Provide a parking space and external storage
These days, a lot of tenants have their own car and knowing that they are able to park it right outside their home is a big plus. If you’re letting to a couple or a family, they may have more than one vehicle and it may be well worth sacrificing a bit of front garden to create an extra parking space. It may even add value to a property – up to 10% in some places, rising to 20% in parts of London.
Most tenants also expect some storage to be included in their rent, so if your property doesn’t already have an outbuilding or sturdy shed, consider putting one in. If there isn’t enough room outside, look at whether there’s any loft space that could be boarded out and made safe and suitable for the tenants to use.
It’s very easy to lose a potentially excellent tenant if you stick rigidly to your original conditions of let. For example, around a quarter of tenants would pay a little more if they were allowed a pet, so you might want to consider allowing that and stipulate terms as an appendix to the tenancy agreement.
Essentially, if everything else looks right about a tenant but they’re asking you to spend a little money to change something that would then make the property perfect for them, it’s well worth considering, not least because you’ll be starting the tenancy with a very appreciative tenant.
Although making your property as desirable as possible will require some capital input, when you consider the potential benefits - additional rent, longer tenancies, minimal void periods and tenants who take good care of the property– you should find that it’s money well worth spending.
There is no guarantee that it will be possible to arrange continuous letting of the property, nor that rental income will be sufficient to meet the cost of the mortgage.
Your property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.
There may be a fee for mortgage advice. The actual amount you pay will depend upon your circumstances. The fee is up to 1% but a typical fee is 0.3% of the amount borrowed.