Lengthy void periods are every landlord’s greatest fear. Whenever a rental property is empty it is known in the property investment business as being a void, or vacant, period. This is not only bad for the landlord and agent, who will be receiving no income during this period, but it also puts the property itself at risk.
There are several actions you can take to reduce the risk of dealing with void periods. In some ways, these suggestions are very similar to those an estate agent would provide when selling a property.
Set a competitive price
Prices can fluctuate rapidly, and they do go down as well as up. If you are struggling to find a tenant it may be because your property is no longer competitively-priced. Analyse the market and adjust your price accordingly.
An older property that has not been decorated for several years will struggle to attract tenants. Today’s tenants are much fussier than they were a decade or so ago, and expect properties to be freshly painted, have exceptionally clean carpets, immaculate bathrooms and well-fitted and well-equipped kitchens. Often an older property has to compete with new apartments that are fitted out with all the latest conveniences, so bear this in mind.
Get a Good Agent
A good agent will work hard to find a tenant. Choose an ARLA licensed agent who already rents similar properties to yours. Agents often get returning customers, and if their usual property is unavailable, yours may be placed next on the agent’s list.
Don’t take the lowest agent fee
It is not always wise to hire the cheapest agent. The highest fees do often signify better quality work. Ultimately, you need your property rented – 25% lower fees are not a good deal when the property is empty for three months a year.
Be open to accepting offers. If you receive a lower offer, negotiate the terms – perhaps you could consider a longer fixed-term tenancy? It is better to take a lower rate if you have a guaranteed income for the next 12 months.
Speak to your insurance company
Another change, due to come in soon, is more stringent tests for buy to let mortgages, which is likely to further reduce the number of people who will be able to invest in a rental property.
If it looks like your property will remain void for a while, ask your insurance company if they can reduce your premiums.
Finally, some agents offer vacant management services, so before agreeing terms with an agent, ask what happens if there is a void period. Will they continue to charge a monthly fee? How hard will they work to proactively find a new tenant? Will they carry out monthly visits to check that the property is safe and secure, pick up post and check meter readings?
The rental market is very competitive, and with high house prices and economic uncertainty, more people than ever before are renting accommodation in the UK. Be flexible and keep a close eye on the markets and stay in constant contact with your agent. Listen to their advice too and act on changing marketing conditions quickly to stay ahead of the competition.