Should buy-to-let landlords offer a fully inclusive rental price?
As a buy-to-let landlord, have you ever stopped to consider what your tenants expect from you? Sure, they pay rent, but what is it that they pay rent for? What do they expect to be included in your offer?
The answers to questions like these are important. They could help you secure the best long-term tenants. Not understanding what it is that renters want the surefire way to rack up short tenancies and lots of void periods. You’ll get tenants who simply use your property as an emergency stopgap between rental properties they are happy to call home.
In this article, we examine how you can give tenants what they want. It should help you minimise void periods and maximise rental income.
What your tenant wants depends on who the tenant is
In our last article, “Know Your Target Tenant to Maximise Buy-to-Let Profits”, we introduced the concept of three broad types of tenants based on their age: first-time independents, young families, and silver-haired renters. The exact needs of your tenant will depend upon which of these tenant types you target. For example, younger and older tenants tend to value communal facilities more highly, while young families desire properties with gardens.
Younger tenants also want more included in their rent. The bills such as electricity and other utilities, the cost of high-speed broadband, and council tax, for example. It helps them budget and introduces them more gradually to all the costs of independent living.
Older tenants are more likely to have their furniture, while first-time independents probably won’t.
What should you include in the rent?
Across the spectrum of tenants, there are some costs that most expect to be included in the rent. For example, maintenance and parking (where provided). Other items such as TV licence, contents insurance, broadband, and council tax are ‘nice-to-haves’ that will probably be scrutinised by older and more experienced tenants.
Maintenance – a must-have in the rental price?
Some buy-to-let landlords don’t like to include maintenance costs in their rent. They believe that it puts them at risk of tenants who abuse their property. There are strategies you should employ to mitigate this. For example:
- If you have vetted your tenant correctly, the chance of malicious damage happening is greatly reduced.
- Use appropriate clauses in the tenancy agreement to ensure your tenant knows their responsibilities, and which cover the malicious damage.
- Make it easy for tenants to report maintenance and damage.
- Make sure you or your property manager conduct regular property inspections.
Approximately three in four tenant applicants expect maintenance costs to be included in the rent. Is this reasonable? We think it is. After all, if you make sure your property is well maintained, it is easier to find quality tenants and charge a higher rent. Its value should also benefit.
On the other hand, if you allow your property to fall into a poor state of repair, how can you expect your tenants to look after it and treat it with respect?
When we speak to tenant applicants, one of the most common questions we are asked is whether basic maintenance is included in the rent. When we can answer ‘yes’, the conversation quickly moves on. If the landlord doesn’t want maintenance included, the applicant often quickly moves on.
More tenants want the freedom to make your property their home
Renting is becoming mainstream in the UK. Already there are more than 5 million households in the private rented sector. This number is expected to rise to more than 7 million by 2026. As the number of renters is growing, we’re witnessing a greater desire of tenants to ‘personalise’ their home.
While few tenants want to undertake large projects, such as replacing windows and doors, they do want more leeway to create their space. Common requests include redecoration, putting up shelves, and hanging pictures. We’ve even had tenants ask if they can re-landscape gardens as they are viewing a property.
Removing some of the restrictions in this area could help you secure great tenants. People who talk about landscaping gardens are usually those who plan to stay for a long time, and who will look after your property well.
This said we understand the concerns of buy-to-let landlords. You can’t simply allow a tenant to do whatever they wish on your property. Again, you should use the tenancy agreement to make clear what the tenant can do in your property, and include a clause that stipulates that when they vacate the property, it must be returned to its previous state – redecoration, for example, will have to be paid for.
What costs should you include in your property’s rent?
The costs that you include in your rent may depend on several factors. These include your target tenant and their needs, as well as location and competition.
Whatever you include, you should ensure that you:
- Weigh up the pros and cons of doing so
- Undertake a costs analysis to make certain that you are not out of pocket
- Include relevant clauses in the tenancy agreement to underscore the tenant’s responsibilities
The cost of renting is a major concern for many tenants. Making your rent as inclusive as possible could make your rental price look much more attractive when compared to your competition. That’s why it’s also necessary to review rental prices near to your property whenever you undertake a rent review or are in the process of finding new tenants.
Want to know more about strategies to attract and retain the best tenants? Contact one of the Ezytrac team on +44 01522 503 717, and discover why we’re one of the largest and fastest-growing investment property managers in the UK today.