It’s an issue that will probably affect every landlord, so if you are asking, ‘I can’t find tenants, what can I do?’ Then these tips are for you.
It’s a natural part of the letting process that your tenant will give notice and leave so there is no one paying rent. This is known as a ‘void period’.
However, the landlord will then need to pay the council tax and utility bills and also their buy to let mortgage payment.
Act quickly to find a new tenant
This means it’s imperative that landlords act quickly to find a new tenant and if the property has been empty for longer than they thought it would be, then it’s time to think again. You should consider:
- Rent Price: Have you set the rent too high? You need to know what the local marketplace is for similar rents so do you carry out a review on a regular basis? This is where you need to understand your property’s unique selling points and compare them with rival homes nearby. You need to appreciate that a potential tenant is looking at various deals, and is probably choosing the home with the most competitive rent price.
- Clean: Once your tenant leaves the property, you really should clean it so that it’s sparkling and a prospective tenant will be impressed when they walk in. This means cleaning the windows and work surfaces and having a spotless kitchen and bathroom. No one wants to move into a dirty property and you will also need to tidy up the garden. Remember: First impressions count.
- A homely feeling: Should your rental property be unoccupied for any length of time, you will need to visit and allow fresh air in and turn on the heating so the place is warm. Spray lots of air freshener around. You may decide to have a vase of fresh flowers but the overall effect is to give the feeling of homeliness to a potential tenant.
- Marketing: Do you really know who your target market is for your rental property? It may be that if you’re struggling to find a tenant, then you could be advertising it in the wrong place. For example, a young family will be looking for a rental property with different criteria to a young professional who will be looking for something very different that may attract students. You will need to identify a part of the market and aim your property towards their needs. If this means turning your dining room into a bedroom, then you will need to do so.
- Painting: While cleaning is important, it could make a huge difference by giving your property a paint-over. You will need to fill in holes and remove Blu Tack and give every room a fresh lick of paint. The overall impression will be of a well-kept and attractive property but remember, you will need to use fairly plain colours rather than choosing the colours you like. Think Magnolia rather than bright pinks.
- Repairs: You should check that everything works in your property and fix any cracks in the walls and leaking taps. You also need to replace broken lightbulbs and if there are broken tiles, then these need replacing too. Remember, a prospective tenant will be looking around and if they switch on a light and it doesn’t work or a tap is dripping, then this will put them off.
- Tidy up: It’s really important that you de-clutter your rental property as this will help create more space. This then makes it more attractive to potential tenants because they will see how the space works for them and what items they will need.
- Your area: As part of your marketing, you really should know the area and provide a utilities and transport manual so tenants have details of the local bus and railway services If your tenant does not know the area then this is the kind of information they will be needing – and also highlight whether your property will feed into their lifestyle if they need to use public transport to get to work.
- Pets: While most landlords will refuse a tenant with pets, there are various surveys highlighting that pet owners tend to make very good tenants. That is usually because they struggle to find quality rental properties that will accept pets, so if you are comfortable with pets you need to make it clear and well-known.
Landlords who are struggling to find tenants
Our last and final tip is really aimed at those landlords who are struggling to find tenants and that’s to let the professionals have a go.
This means contacting a letting agency that is offering a let-only service because you won’t need to pay them until your property is occupied with a tenant.
In addition, the agents will know the local area and probably have lots of quality tenants on their books – and they will know the local market for your property.
A professional letting agent will also highlight things that need to be done to your property to boost its attractiveness.
If you are struggling to find quality tenants, then you should consider the agent’s fees as being quite reasonable for the work they do in solving your occupancy problem. Expect to pay around 10% of the monthly rent on a let-only service though the agent will also take care of the reference checks and deal with the legal paperwork.
Essentially, if you can’t find tenants and want to know what you can do, then you need to be proactive about thinking like a potential tenant and what they are wanting from a property. And if your rental home does not meet this need then you will continue struggling to find tenants so act fast or ask a letting agent to do the work for you.
What should I do if I can’t let my property?
‘What should I do if I can’t let my property?’ is a valid question for many investors with a property investment in the UK.
Firstly, you are starting a business and you will need to treat it as such since letting a property remains a popular way of generating extra income.
Failing to be professional will lead to ‘void’ periods when no rent is being paid.
The danger here is that if you are paying a buy to let mortgage for the property, then these costs will be yours to bear.
Pay for the property’s utilities and council
In addition, you’ll have to pay for the property’s utilities and council tax and while the property is empty you will need to inform your insurers – check the policy small print for how long they will allow a rental property to be empty without charging an excess fee.
An empty property also means it is an attractive target for those wanting to steal items from it, and also vandalism.So, if you want to know about what you should do to let your property then here is our guide.
Finding tenants for your buy to let home
Firstly, you’ll need to be quick and proactive in finding tenants for your buy to let home. You also need to:
- If you use a letting agent, you need to ask them what they are doing to find a new tenant. Ask for details and statistics, for instance, on how many times potential tenants have viewed your property on a portal such as Rightmove.
- Find out how many viewings have been arranged.
- Get feedback from prospective tenants who view the property to see what improvements can be made if they don’t want to move in.
This last point is crucial because there are several things a landlord can do to find tenants for their empty property. They include:
- Rent: The obvious reason as to why your property is empty and struggling to attract tenants is that you have priced it too high. Depending on your mortgage commitments, this is the time to compromise and find out what other properties in the area are being rented out for.
- Market your property: We have mentioned using a letting agent and some will offer a service to find a tenant and they will use property portals. If your property is not on these portals, then you’ll struggle to find a tenant. If your agent does not use these portals because they cost money, then you need to find another agent.
- Images: Most home sellers will know that quality photographs help sell a property and this is also true when it comes to finding tenants for a rental home. Potential tenants will see whether they need to take a closer look at your property from the images you use and you need to have photographs showing it in the best possible light. It’s also important that the property has been tidied and cleaned before being photographed to give the best impression.
- Your previous tenant: When a tenant gives notice they are still entitled to ‘quiet enjoyment’ of their rental home until the tenancy ends, which means they do not have to accommodate any viewings. So, while they may be uncooperative – in your view – and they may not keep your property tidy and clean, you could offer a financial incentive to help you. Essentially, you will be paying them to keep the property clean and allow viewings to take place.
- Feedback: We have mentioned that you need to hear feedback from those who viewed the property and you may be surprised as to what might be putting them off from renting it. The complaints may range from smells such as food or a ‘fusty’ smell, a dirty property, unmade beds and shoes being left around.
Another important tip, particularly for those who are new to letting an investment property, is they should research which agents are the most popular and successful when it comes to letting properties in your particular area.
You can do this using the property portals and using the ‘let agreed’ facility when searching to which agents are delivering landlord success.
Finding quality tenants for an empty property
This is also the point to mention that when finding quality tenants for an empty property, effective maintenance of the buy to let home is crucial, so you need to be aware that broken cupboards, for example, will have to be repaired as do leaking taps. These are the type of issues that highlight that the landlord doesn’t really care about their rental property.
Another reason that you may struggle to find a tenant is that you have bought your property in the wrong area – you need to research thoroughly beforehand where tenants want to live and how much they pay in rent.
Offering a quality rental property at a good rent
This will then help protect you from void periods because you will be offering a quality rental property at a good rent in an area with high demand.
Remember, because you like a particular area for buying a home does not mean that a tenant will want to do so – this will depend on whether you want to attract young professionals as tenants or young families.
Finally, if your property is unfurnished, then this may be the time to consider offering a furnished rental home which will make it more attractive to potential tenants, particularly younger tenants, and it may even deliver a slightly higher rent.
All of these ideas will help if you want to know what you should do if you can’t let a property and for those landlords with letting agents, this is where they really start to earn their commission. But for those who run their own rental property investment, then you’ll need to work harder to find quality tenants as quickly as possible.