Every landlord and tenant wants exactly the same thing: security and stability. As a landlord, you want an uninterrupted income stream, while tenants want an uninterrupted home life. Renting a property has become a more permanent lifestyle choice, and tenancies are getting longer and longer. Many tenants plan to stay in a home for 3 or 4 years – and sometimes more than that – which means they're looking at potential properties in more detail.
From our experience with the homes we manage, we can say that the longer a tenant enjoys living in a property, the more connected they feel and the more they learn to love and care for it as if it were their own. Longer tenancies also mean less tenant turnover, resulting in less paperwork, less wear and tear from people moving in and out, lower administration costs and fewer void periods. In short, it's really worth preparing your property to capitalise on the trend. The lettings market in Southampton has many high-quality people looking for long-term homes to rent, so we've packed our blog this week with valuable tips on attracting great tenants and keeping them for years. Enjoy the read!
EXTEND AN INVITATION
It might seem blindingly obvious, but a sure-fire way of attracting long-term tenants is to openly declare that you want them. The description of your rental property is the perfect place to advertise that you're actively seeking enquiries from tenants in search of a long-term home, so ask your agents to include some words to that effect. You don't need to sign a longer tenancy agreement. Life throws too many curveballs for tenants and landlords to over-commit, but welcoming applications from long-term tenants will send a clear message to the people you want to attract. Be clear that your goal is for you and your tenants to be happy for many years and that longterm happiness for you means having the rent paid on time, your property looked after and no complaints from neighbours about noise or nuisance.
REMOVE PESKY NIGGLES
We all know what it's like to stay in a hotel or Airbnb with dribbling water pressure or cheap fittings. They can take the sheen off a holiday, saved only by the promise of heading back home. But having to deal with minor annoyances every day of your life would soon have you looking for somewhere new to live. Typical on the list of niggles for tenants are rickety door handles, wobbly taps, mouldy grouting, fiddly locks, difficult windows, loose loo roll holders and a leaky shower hose. Each is fairly trivial on its own, but they can soon grow into a long list of bugbears and reasons to leave. These are simple jobs that are easy to fix, and they add to a sense of carefree comfort where petty problems don't exist. Remember that you can claim repairs as a tax-deductible expense, so avoid the temptation of cheap and short-term fixes. Think instead about the long-term value of your investment and remedy everything as though your buy-to-let is where you live.
OFFER A FRESH START
Is there anything at your buy-to-let that's starting to look tired? Keeping your property up-to-date has a direct impact on increasing your monthly income and the value of your investment, as well as demand from tenants and holding onto them.
A good-looking and powerful shower makes all the difference in starting the day in a good mood instead of a bad one.
Mixer taps with a hose don't cut it anymore, and an independent thermostatically controlled unit is an inexpensive and highly visual upgrade. In the kitchen, we've come a long way from the solid plate electric hobs and dark brown ovens of the 1990s. Even if they still function, they won't be energy-efficient, and they drag down everything around them.
Replace any dated appliances with good-quality new models: stainless steel goes with everything, white looks fresh and clean, and black is a dash of sleek style.
Scruffy paintwork will only ever get worse, but scuffs don't always mean you need to redecorate. Marks will often wash off with a magic sponge, so try one of those first to revive your walls and give your tenants a fresh-feeling home. If you do need to paint, pick a light and airy neutral shade like an off-white or soft Nordic grey to go with anyone's taste and furnishings.
SHOW HOW MUCH YOU CARE
Staying in touch with your tenants from time to time is a valuable exercise in nurturing your relationship. Half-yearly inspections are not just about checking up on your property. There's also an opportunity to show that you care about your tenants' enjoyment of living there. We love making interim visits to the homes we manage because they keep a connection between the tenants and us. They know we haven't forgotten them, and they can see our interest in caring for where they live. Sometimes a minor repair goes unnoticed by your tenants, or they feel it isn't yet worth reporting. A fresh pair of eyes can spot anything they missed, and fixing even the slightest issue gives your tenants confidence and comfort while nipping a potentially larger problem in the bud.
CONSIDER THE VIP TREATMENT
When you look at the lifestyles of your likely tenants, could you add any services to the rent to make the experience of living at your property even more special? Many people will happily pay extra for convenience and time saved. Window cleaning is an often-forgotten chore in lettings, but sparkling panes significantly increase the amount of natural light in any home and make it a more enjoyable place to live. A regular visit from a window cleaner would maintain that bright and fresh feel.
If your property has a beautiful garden, you might want it to stay that way. Not every tenant has green fingers, but that doesn't mean they won't appreciate a lovingly tended space to be outside. An organised monthly visit from a gardener to mow the lawn and look after the plants could well be what hooks and keeps the perfect tenants.
Final words With a little extra thought, you can design your buy-to-let as a home where tenants want to live for many years, and the rewards are plentiful and tangible. We've helped many landlords attract high-quality, long-term tenants to get the best return on their investment, and we'd love to help you do the same. If you own a rental property in Southampton, call us on 02380 987610 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for some expert and friendly advice.