For landlords, experiencing occasional void periods is inevitable. However, there are actions you can to tempt tenants to stay for longer, extend tenancies and hopefully reduce void periods. Here are some tips for reducing void periods with your rental property.
As a landlord, when your property is vacant, you are not collecting rental income. But you could also still be paying certain costs such as mortgage installments, ground rent, and insurance, as well as council tax, gas, and electricity bills.
It is therefore critical to minimise void periods where possible, especially if your buy-to-let properties are single tenancy. The end of all tenancies cannot be avoided. After all, you need to take into account that people move on, buy their own home, and circumstances change. But there are ways to keep tenants for longer and reduce void periods.
Find the best tenants and keep them
In order to find tenants you can trust, you will need to vet them effectively. This means checking their backgrounds, previous rental history, current employment, a reference from a previous landlord (if they have one), and running a credit check on them or perhaps you can use a referencing agency.
Once you’ve found suitable tenants, it’s worth building a good working relationship with them; this will encourage transparency between both parties.
Keeping long term tenants
If you are able to form longer-term relationships with tenants, then you will have fewer change overs, naturally reducing rental voids. The key is to make sure tenants are happy, satisfied and keen to extend after a fixed term tenancy.
- Respond to any problems quickly. Arrange repairs or like-for-like replacements where necessary and do it fast.
- Be flexible and responsive to a degree with specific requests. If good tenants ask for permission to do personalised decorating or want to get a pet, be prepared to accommodate their reasonable requests.
- Keep up with maintenance. If a tenant stays in your property for a number of years it’s important that you keep up the general standard of the property. Paint exterior woodwork, keep growing hedges and trees manageable and update fixtures and fittings where appropriate.
- Think carefully before increasing rent. With very long lets it may be necessary to increase the rent you charge in line with market changes. If you decide to do this, make sure you suggest a fair rate that takes into consideration the benefits of having good, reliable long-term tenants.
- Offer longer fixed-term tenancy. By requiring tenants to sign up for a minimum rental period of a year you can avoid a series of shorter lets that will cost you time and money, reducing your rental income. Longer tenancy agreements also offer peace of mind and security for your tenants.
Keep your rent competitive
If you set your rent too high, existing tenants will be tempted to leave – especially if they’re long-term – and it may be difficult to tempt new tenants. If you decide to raise your rent, though, suggest a fair rate that all parties can work with.
Try to stay competitive with rental prices and consider your tenants as well as costs and inflation. It’s better to retain good tenants than set rents so high that you force them out.
Act quickly and accordingly
If your current tenants give notice to leave, start advertising for new tenants as soon as possible. Even when you first buy a rental property and it’s not yet ready to let, you can start marketing the property to get tenants lined up for when work is complete. This way, the void period won’t last too long.
By being prepared and having a strategy to keep void periods at bay, you can perform better than the average landlord and have your property occupied for much longer.
How to reduce rental voids
Unless you buy a property with tenants already in place, most likely there will be a void period when you buy a property. After the initial letting, there will be times when you need to find replacement tenants. And these tips for making the process quick and efficient will help reduce your rental voids.
- Advertise immediately- As soon as your current tenant gives notice, start advertising for potential tenants. Even when you first buy a rental property and it’s not yet ready to let, you can start advertising. This way, you will have a list of potential tenants for when you complete the work.
- Set the right rent. Research what else is available locally and make sure you are offering a competitive rental rate that will be attractive to potential tenants. Be sure that what you are offering is of good value.
- Choose the right tenants. Wherever possible, try to select tenants that you know will be happy to call your property home. Also, ensure you carry out the correct and thorough referencing requirements. If you have an HMO (House in Multiple Occupation), ensure new tenants are a good ‘fit’ with the rest of the people in your property. This helps to maintain a harmonious household.
- Be organised. When you do have a tenant interested, ensure to have an efficient system for getting all documents, keys, utility information, and financial checks carried out.
To maximise your profitability you need to reduce rental voids as much as possible. Planning ahead can help ensure a quick turnaround of tenants at the end of each tenancy. But it’s usually more cost-effective to keep existing tenants for as long as possible.
Remember to offer your tenants a consistently high level of service and support. That way, if they do decide to leave, it will only be because of a change in their personal circumstances.