Families are among the most stable tenants you can find, not least because the process of moving home is so much more complicated than for single people and couples.
As well as having more furniture and belongings to pack and transport, the potential disruption to children's lives, including changing schools and finding new friends, means families are usually on the hunt for a long-term home. That's good news for you as a landlord because it cuts down on void periods and means your tenants get to form a deeper and longer connection to your property, which usually translates into caring for it as if it were their own.
That's backed up by research from the National Landlords Association that family homes are, on average, 30% less work to manage. Families look for particular qualities in considering whether a property is suitable for them, so this week is all about ensuring your buy-to-let property ticks all the boxes as a family home.
If you'd like to talk in person about the best locations for buying a family rental property in Southampton, or for advice on making your existing buy-to-let more family-friendly, call 02380 987610 or email email@example.com.
THE RIGHT LOCATION
Families have multiple considerations when it comes to choosing where to live. Location has a substantial impact on value, rentability and profitability, so the trick is to hit the right combination of schools, transport and safety.
Schools Education is a hugely important area for families, with parents keen to give their children the very best start in life. If you're looking for a family rental property in Southampton, ask us about the most popular local schools, their catchment areas, and which streets will give you the best rental return and speed of let.
Transport Whether it's the bus or the train, local transport connections can be a consideration for the entire household. If children are taking public transport to school, make sure there's a bus stop or station nearby that goes where they're going. Also, consider where parents are likely to commute and how convenient a property is for travelling between home and work. Safety Families with children of a school-going age tend to avoid homes on main roads. Look for streets with less traffic and plenty of other families, so your tenants feel at home among their neighbours and confident in the safety of their children when they go outside.
FREE TIME AND FUN
As well as having a comfortable home, families need to think about enjoying weekends and evenings, whether as a complete unit or apart. Take family activities like seeing a film, walking in the woods, having a picnic, swimming, eating out… From parks and nature to sports facilities and entertainment venues, every parent and child will have their own interests, so look at what's within striking distance that caters to a family-friendly lifestyle. It's also worth considering whether access is only by car.
If parents always need to drive, that will open up possible conflicts with teenagers feeling stranded. As they gain a stronger sense of independence, they'll want to meet up with their friends alone, so explore what's reachable by foot, bike or public transport.
THE RIGHT ACCOMMODATION
Whatever size of family you wish to attract, there are some golden rules to follow. Storage space is vital. Suitcases, daypacks, sports equipment, tools, bikes, an ironing board, vacuum cleaner, coats, shoes, umbrellas, Christmas decorations and plenty more besides, all need somewhere to go. Look carefully at how your property can swallow modern family life and all its belongings - cellars, lofts, understairs cupboards, and garden sheds are all useful for hiding away stuff, whether for occasional or everyday use.
A good-size garden with a lawn is essential as a haven for children and pets to play, as well as family mealtimes and barbecues. Make sure any boundary walls or fences are secure and keep any planting simple and low-maintenance. Steer clear of the temptation to carve up bigger bedrooms into smaller spaces. Children tend to outgrow their bedrooms rather than shrink into them, so keep the original layout.
By all means, add extra bedrooms if there's space in the loft or for an extension, but check with us first that your plans are in line with demand. Remember that more bedrooms mean more people, so find a way to include at least an en-suite shower room to alleviate the morning rush in a larger household. In the main family bathroom, be sure to retain the tub for kids' bath time.
Most families have at least one car and will want somewhere to park. Although driveways and garages are ideal, they're less common in homes before the 1930s, and many families will be okay with street parking. Look at the overall parking situation on the street and whether permits are available for residents.
THINK ABOUT PETS
Be open to pets. They're a precious part of life for most families and are usually problem-free. You can alleviate any concerns with some well-chosen questions, and you'll find most families are happy with an extra clause in the tenancy agreement that sets out responsibility for damage by either their pets or visiting ones.
Dogs are the neediest and shouldn't be left alone for long periods, so if the family does have a dog, ask whether someone is usually home during the day. It's also worth finding out the breed so you can gauge whether your property is a suitable size. Cats are more independent, and a secure, lockable cat flap installed in a door to the garden will make it easy for them to get outside.
The fittings inside a family home should balance durability, the practicalities of modern family life, and child safety. Childproof catches on windows, external doors and floor-standing kitchen cabinets are an inexpensive way of providing welcome peace of mind for parents - and for showing you care.
Kitchens need plenty of cupboards for food, pots, plates and gadgets, as well as ample work surfaces. A tall, family-sized fridge freezer is essential, and, depending on the size of the property, you should either include or be open to including a full-size dishwasher.
Extend the same openness to including a washing machine with at least a 7kg load capacity to cope with family use. Models from mid-range brands like Neff, AEG or Bosch will give you years of service. Curtains or blinds are expected even in unfurnished lettings, and we suggest wooden Venetian blinds with twist-wand controls, or fitting safety cleats at a height beyond the reach of children. Solid floors are a wise option as they're far less susceptible to damage and stains than carpets, particularly in living areas with the spills and thrills of busy households and children.
Final words Striking the right balance between location, accommodation and specification will attract the best family tenants, achieve the highest rent and help you achieve valuable long-term tenancies and minimal void periods.
For expert advice on the best streets in Southampton for renting a property to families, why not get in touch? Call for a chat on 02380 987610 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for genuine local insight on creating the perfect family home from your buy-to-let investment.