Advice for Landlords in Battle to Retain the Demand for Buy-to-Let

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    Due to the pandemic and the desire for greater flexibility, rental properties, especially in the capital, remain in high demand. For landlords and buy-to-let investors, this is great news, but how can this demand be sustained for the future? 

    Why are rentals so popular right now?

    Research from the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) suggests that 39% of private landlords saw an increase in the demand for rental homes during the second quarter of 2021, with figures showing the demand at a five year high. Part of the reason was that throughout the pandemic and in the ‘fever for remote working’, people sought out properties elsewhere. But this was also a response to the spiralling house prices that have made buying unaffordable for so many people, particularly in and around London. 

    The flexibility that rentals provide meant that there was a huge surge in the need for rental homes. The other reason for this continued uplift in rental properties is that more people are in search of houses. In the aftermath of the pandemic and a new year in sight, people continue to shift their perspectives and priorities. This has resulted in a demand for homes with outdoor areas, extra rooms for offices to work remotely and generally more space. With this in mind, how can landlords retain an interest in their properties and ensure that they find tenants quickly?

    Keep the property in great condition

    Just because people are keen to rent properties doesn’t mean that standards can slip. Your future tenants want a clean, modern home that is in great condition, so as a landlord, you need to ensure that your properties are well maintained. This means keeping any outdoor spaces tidy and free from clutter or weeds, making sure that the walls are freshly painted, that appliances are all in working order and that any furniture is kept clean. 

    Tracey Donegan, Director of Operations and Marketing at commercial cleaning company Supreme Cleaning, explains that “quite often, private landlords and letting agents require their tenants to get a professional deep clean of their rented property before they return their deposit. They quite often make a checkout list which details repairs and specific cleaning requirements, such as getting carpets and upholstery cleaning, plus oven and kitchen or bathroom deep cleaning”. 

    Whether you’re in between tenancies or at the start of your buy-to-let journey, investing in commercial cleaning services can ensure that there are no areas untouched before a new tenant arrives, so that everything looks its best to make moving in a more enticing prospect. 

    Offer the latest mod-cons

    Tenants today demand more from the properties they rent and the latest appliances and devices can make living in a property more comfortable and convenient. From high-speed WiFi to smart tools and energy-efficient kitchen appliances, investing in these types of mod-cons can set your property apart from others on the market. 

    Modern renters need to know that their home is equipped for the likes of home working. Meanwhile, offering devices such as smart thermostats can also be an incentive to choose your property. It is not only more environmentally friendly (which many people are looking for in properties), but it can also help tenants save money on their utility bills. Similar tools to give your rental the edge include smart security cameras and lighting options. 

    Be pet-friendly

    Finding properties that will accept pets is incredibly challenging for renters, but attitudes are shifting in favour of animal lovers. Welcoming pets into your property, even if it’s on an individual case basis, could encourage renters to choose your property and widen the market for you as a landlord. 

    Prior to new legislation being brought in in early 2021, just 7% of landlords accepted pets, leaving millions struggling to find a rental property. But landlords are no longer allowed to put a ban on tenants with pets. Enabling tenants with pets to rent your home will not only broaden the market of potential renters but can also encourage people to stay in the property for longer, resulting in a win-win situation for everyone involved. 

    Consider price incentives

    No landlord or property investor wants an empty property that’s costing them rather than turning a profit. And, while the demand is currently high, there is a way you can maintain interest in your property over others on the market, even if trends start to dip, and that’s through price incentives. For example, you may be able to get tenants to stay in your property longer by giving them a discount on their monthly rent if they agree to sign a rental agreement for longer than a year. Likewise, consider giving tenants a discount on their first month of renting the property or including certain utilities in their rent, such as their energy bills or water rates. 

    In summary

    Rentals are a priority for the general public. At the end of 2021, an estimated 5.8m households were expected to be in private rentals thanks to the prohibitively high cost of homeownership in the UK. So, to maintain interest in your buy-to-let portfolio, there are several things you can do. Make sure the property is well maintained and kept to a high standard, both structurally and decoratively. Respect the needs of your tenants, whether that’s through the facilities you offer within the home or the lifestyle they lead. By factoring in the wants and needs of tenants, you can set yourself apart from the competition and find long-term tenants.