How to keep rental void periods to a minimum
From March to May 2020, when the UK first locked down, the property market was put on hold for two months. That was bad news for the lettings market and particularly for landlords whose tenancies ended around that time.
Because we were unable to carry out viewings in person, we had to come up with new ways of securing tenants including; virtual viewings and video tours.
The good news is that, since then, the market has not only recovered but bounced back in a really positive way. ARLA Propertymark's Private Rented Sector (PRS) report for February 2021 showed half of agents reporting that their landlords were increasing rents and voids have fallen back down to an average of 21 days.
Of course, at the moment we’re still bound by restrictions and are adhering to government advice:
- Viewings must be conducted by appointment
- Virtual viewings should continue to be used where possible
- Back-to-back and open property viewings are not allowed
So, although things have been busy in the lettings market, the ongoing social distancing restrictions and hygiene practices have meant a few days’ break between tenancies has been unavoidable.
In ordinary circumstances, we’re able to check a tenant out one day and move the new one in the next, with no gap. But with restrictions on the number of different households allowed in a property at the same time and to keep any danger of cross-infection to an absolute minimum, we’ve tended to:
- Let the tenant move out
- Then have the check-out inventory done
- Ensure the property is cleaned appropriately
- Check the new tenant in the following day
Our priority is always to keep everyone as safe as possible.
While we continue to our very best to keep properties tenanted, here are some important things you as a landlord can do to help minimise voids:
- Stay top of the viewing pile by making sure your rental looks appealing: modern fittings, fresh décor and good-quality fixtures and furniture.
- Keep your rent at a realistic level - your agent will advise you on how much you should be charging. If you ask for too much, tenants will simply go for a more reasonable option and your property will sit on the market.
- Be flexible to secure the right tenant. If someone wants to be in your property for a few years and they’re happy to pay a good market rent, consider things like accepting a pet, allowing the tenant to redecorate (within reason) and upgrading the broadband if you can.
Then, once your tenant has moved in…
- Fix issues quickly. The sooner problems are put right, the happier your tenant will be. Even if you suspect something was their fault – e.g. mould forming because they didn’t ventilate properly – it’s often not worth arguing about it. And remember, you have an obligation to keep the property in a good state of repair.
- Show the tenant you see them as a person, not just an income source. Check periodically that they’re okay and ask if there’s anything that they need or that would make them more comfortable - within reason! Something like a small gift at Christmas can go a long way to making your tenant feel valued.
Most tenants today are looking for a home for several years, not just temporary lodgings. So the more you can do to make your tenant feel at home in your property, the happier they’ll be, the longer they’ll stay and the fewer voids you’ll have.