Senior Director, National Head of Lettings
Whether you’re looking to buy your first property to rent, expanding your portfolio or you are an established landlord, knowing how to let properties fast is a key skill and one that can make the difference between success and failure. Kate Eales, National Head of Lettings, gives some tips on how to make sure your property is never empty for long.
Getting the property perfect
A good property isn’t enough – it has to be the best that property can be. When you’re renting out, you face stiff competition – so making sure everything’s in ideal condition is a good place to start.
Before your property goes on the market it needs to look its very best. And the best place to start is the front door.
Curb appeal in a competitive rental market should be high on the agenda. After all, many people make judgements about potential homes on first glance – so that glance better be a good one.
If they need it, give the door and window frames a repaint or at least a clean. Sweep the garden path of fallen leaves and hose it down. It’s even worth going out onto the street to make sure it’s clear of dirty recycling boxes or abandoned sofas.
Inside, keep standards high. Always have a pot of paint handy to go over scuff marks that will be common in the hallways, especially after someone’s moved out. Make sure all the lights are working, the bathrooms have been scrubbed and the kitchen cupboards and fridge empty of old food.
When it comes to furniture, the property should be photographed fully furnished looking its very best – but make clear that you’re flexible when it comes to whether the furniture stays or not. It pays, therefore, to have a storage unit on call in case you need to move everything out at a moment’s notice. If the furniture is staying, give it a quick review to make sure it’s all in good condition.
And make sure that all repairs are handled before you start viewings. As soon as your old tenants move out book your handyman to pay a visit – preferably the next day – to make the appropriate repairs, whether that’s fixing leaky taps, putting loose doors back on hinges or hammering down squeaky floor boards.
Once this is all done, hire a professional cleaner to come round and refresh everything. A good tip is to splash out on professional carpet cleaning as this will make the property feel like new.
Knowing your market
Part of choosing a good property is knowing who is going to rent it. Many properties remain empty because they’re not hitting their target market’s specific needs. If you find out what they want and how much they’re willing to pay for it, your property will be let in no time.
Marketing your property correctly is as important as having it in the right condition. The first step is to know who you are going to target. A one-bed flat might seem ideal for students, but if you’re not near a university your market might be closer to business people flying in for meetings or commuting from outside of the city.
Knowing your target market also allows you to choose the right price. Going on what your neighbours are charging is a good indicator of what you should be charging, but they might not be aiming at the same market. If you’ve got the only 4-bed semi on a street of terraces or flats, then your target market might be different.
It is worth knowing about the local market – what other similar properties are available, are there any new developments that could flood the market with new rental properties etc.
Also, know when to target people. For example, there are key times of the year when the student rental market is busy, while families will be less likely to move around big holidays like Christmas. New school terms can also have an impact on demand from families, while the busiest time for the lettings market tends to be between June and September.
If you can time the end of contracts to coincide with high periods of demand for your property type, your turnaround times could be drastically reduced.
Finally, you can tailor your offering to your specific market. It’s no use having a ‘no pets’ policy if you own a family home near a park as many will have dogs or cats. Many landlords insist on a no smoking policy – but if you’ve got outdoor space then maybe you can be more flexible with it.
And once you’ve found potential tenants, you need to make sure you’re ready to go as soon as possible to help reduce the time your property remains empty between tenants. A good landlord can turn around a property in a matter of days.
This is the side of being a landlord that many people don’t enjoy and even dread – the paperwork. But if you plan in advance it shouldn’t be a problem.
Firstly, if you’re planning on advertising online, make sure you’ve got great photos, a floorplan drawn up and a description you’re happy with. Check the photos to see if they need updating. Your agent should be able to help you with this.
And trust your agents to carry out viewings for you. It means you’re not having to fit them in around your work and so will be able to get more potential tenants through the door in as fast a time as possible. Ask the agent about doing open days if you’re really keen to move fast.
Make sure you get all your paperwork ready to go. Ensure you have photo ID and proof of address so the agent can verify that you own the property. Confirm that the property complies with the relevant safety regulations and that you have a valid Gas Safety Certificate and EPC.
And make up a welcome pack that makes it easy for new tenants when moving in, complete with manuals for all appliances, refuse collection days and other key bits of information.
Agree a moving date as early as you can – this will help you to organise yourself and makes things move faster. For example, if buyers decide that they want it unfurnished, you can have a removal firm ready to go to clear everything out and put it into storage.