Landlords: are your tenants in it for the long haul?

Posted on 23 May 2022
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Landlords: are your tenants in it for the long haul?

The Tenant Fee Act will be three years old on 1st June – this seismic introduction to the letting industry has changed the way many landlords approach buy-to-let, especially those using a managing agent.

The small extra fees that were often passed on to tenants, but are now banned – check in, check out and new tenancy set up, for example – have, not surprisingly perhaps, found their way onto landlords’ invoices. If your tenant churn is high, these quickly add up and eat into yields.

While keeping tenancy lengths short, perhaps 12 months or less, was the norm before the Act, the associated costs of one tenant moving out and another coming have prompted landlords to pursue longer-length tenancies so administration and tenant-find fees are far less frequent.

The good news is landlords may not have to try very hard to keep renters in their properties for longer spells of time. In fact, market conditions are working in favour of longer lets. New research by the Nationwide Building Society found 70% of first-time buyers hoping to purchase a property in the next two years have delayed their plans due to the rising cost of living and the inability to save for a deposit.

Adding to the picture is news from Canopy that 1 in 10 private renters have been rejected when applying for a mortgage, with lenders citing poor credit history, not having a big enough deposit, past payday loans and too much debt.

The overall effects of a tightening home ownership market are already being felt at letting agency level. Propertymark’s latest report found that tenants are looking to stay in their properties for longer – up to 23 months as of April, compared to 21 months in February. In addition, renters want to extend their current tenancy agreements beyond their initial term as rent rises and a lack of available stock is making it difficult to move on elsewhere.

Securing good tenants and keeping them in a buy-to-let for extended periods is forming the backbone of many shrewd landlord plans. The key to retention in today’s market is creating an environment that feels like a comfortable home, rather than a sub-standard stop gap.

We have full admiration for landlord investor Lindsey Kane, who is perfecting the art of the homely rental and you can follow her progress on Instagram – @lindseykane0

While you may be more familiar with her husband’s work – she is married to the comedian Russell Kane – Lindsey is snapping up properties that need a little TLC, transforming them into homes to be proud of and renting them out – with no shortage of tenants.

If you want to encouraging new renters to sign longer tenancy agreements and prompt existing tenants to extend their stay, here is Viewber’s list of top home comforts to include:

  • New appliances: the quality of white goods should never be underestimated, and tenants appreciate having the latest energy-saving, bill-reducing models. If you can, always find space for a dishwasher.
  • The most reliable wifi: ensure that any property you rent out can access the very best broadband supplier in your local area, and have the latest hub installed for whole-house coverage.
  • Add an en-suite: if there’s any element of house share or more than three bedrooms, an en-suite bathroom makes life much more palatable. Speak to a builder or architect to what’s possible.
  • Working everything: whether it’s an electric shower or a gas fire, tenants will enjoy living in your property if everything supplied is working, serviced regularly or replaced quickly if it’s broken.
  • Offer an eco-friendly home: tenants will love living in your property if everything possible has been done to keep gas, electricity and water bills low. From small gestures, such as LED light bulbs, draught excluders and dual-flush WCs, to major improvements, including electric vehicle charging points, high-grade insulation and heat pumps – these aspects will attract renters and keep them there for longer.

If improvements to your buy-to-let are on the cards, Viewber’s enable access services can play a vital role in the smooth delivery of works. You can book a Viewber to sit in and wait for deliveries, and let in and lock up when contractors are expected.

Don’t forget, regular condition inspections are essential when longer tenancy agreements are signed. Our 24/7 nationally available, but locally based, Viewbers can visit properties to check for signs of wear, tear and damage, using photographs, videos and written statements to help the long-term management of your let.

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