A Void Period Doesn’t Have to Be Doom and Gloom
A void period – when your buy-to-let property sits empty – is costly. There is no rent coming in. Meanwhile, you still have the mortgage interest to pay as well as other expenses. The longer the void period, the more expensive it becomes.
In our article ‘Facts about Void Periods, All Buy-To-Let Investors Should Know’ we discussed the common reasons for void periods and how to keep them to a minimum. However, there will come a time when a void period is unavoidable. In this article, we explain how savvy landlords take advantage of these.
The Unavoidable Void Period
Your tenant tells you that they are moving on. You have only a month to advertise, find and vet new tenants. That’s not a long time. It will whizz by. Before you know it, your property could be empty with you no closer to finding your next tenant. Here are 10 ways you can use this void period productively – and perhaps even recoup some of the expense of the void period by obtaining a higher rental price.
1. Test All Appliances
It’s amazing how often appliances break down when a new tenant moves in. That’s a cost you could avoid by ensuring that all the appliances you supply with the property are in good working order.
Test each appliance in the property:
- Bake a cake in the oven and boil some eggs on the hob
- Put a load in the washing machine and make sure it works efficiently
- Use the tumble dryer to dry the load you washed
- Switch room thermostats on and off, and to different heat settings
- Test the air conditioning
- Make sure that the water heater is working
If you find that any appliance or service is not performing at its peak, call in a service engineer. A service now could save an expensive repair later, and the new tenant will appreciate all their appliances working properly when they move in.
2. Clean Windows, Doors and Curtains
Prospective tenants will notice dirty windows and doors. They will smell that curtains are dirty. Let’s be honest, your last tenants probably haven’t cleaned the curtains for a year. They may not have cleaned the windows for months.
Take the time to make the windows sparkle, and remove any dust from the window frames and sills, too. Don’t forget to give all the doors a good wash – little hands especially leave their prints behind. And take the curtains down and have them dry cleaned – or replaced if need be.
3. Look Down at the Floor
Floor coverings and carpets get some of the roughest treatment in a home. Make sure that linoleum and vinyl floors are not lifting and are still fit for purpose. Refinish scuffed hardwood floors. Have carpets professionally cleaned? A little focus on the floor could help to transform your property into a home the next tenant applicant wants to move into and cherish.
4. Clean, Deodorise, Decorate
An empty property is far easier to spruce up. Put on your cleaning hat and gloves, get out the dusters, hoovers, mops and buckets, and get into deep cleaning:
- Degrease the kitchen
- Disinfect bathrooms and toilets
- Clean all cupboards, inside and out
- Don’t forget mirrors, windows and walls
Now you have a clean canvas, you’ll see what small repairs must be done and what decorating is needed. Get the paintbrushes out and paint those walls and woodwork.
5. Change the Locks
Make your property secure. Give your new tenants a real sense of safety. Change the locks, and make certain that all window locks work and have keys.
6. Check the Alarms
This is a legal requirement – check the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure they are working. If they aren’t, check the battery or replace the alarm. Don’t break the law!
7. Apply for Your Council Tax Exemption
Speak to the local authority as soon as possible, and apply for any council tax exemption that may apply. Every little helps!
8. Review the Rent
A void period is a perfect time to conduct a comprehensive rent review. Consider the condition of your property (it should be excellent after the cleaning, redecorating and appliance servicing you have done), and compare with others in the surrounding location. Identify what other similar properties are being let for, and adjust your rent accordingly.
9. Review Your Letting Agent
A void period is an excellent opportunity to take stock of how well your letting agent has performed for you. Have you had problems with rent collection in the past? How hard are they working to find new tenants for you? How well do they communicate with you? Do they offer advice on property management issues and landlord legislation? Have they attended to maintenance issues promptly?
10. Review Your Landlord Insurance
Finally, its time to review your landlord insurance. Are you insured for everything you should be? Are you covered for non-payment of rent? Are all your appliances covered? What damage is covered? Importantly, is your property insured during the void period?
A void period is a costly inconvenience. It is also a convenient time to ensure that your property is in top condition. An empty property is easier to work in. There are no tenants making it difficult to enter your property. You will also be able to review your rent, landlord insurance, and other financial aspects of your buy-to-let property.
If your property falls into a void period and you are not convinced that your letting agent is doing its job as well as it should, contact Ezytrac today at +44 0 1522 503 717. Ask about our effortless property management system, and discover why we are (probably) the fastest-growing national property manager in the UK.
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