Extend rental contracts and avoid tenancy voids
According to a recent survey, buy-to-let landlords have around a 10% chance of their tenant moving on before the end of a tenancy. If this happens to you, your buy-to-let is likely to be non-income-producing for several weeks while you spend money trying to find another tenant. Suddenly your cash flow projection has flown out the window, and your property investment is in danger of treading water at best and sinking at worst.
If you’ve taken steps to make your residential lettings stand out from the crowd, you should re-tenant your property faster than average. However, with a few straightforward and effective strategies, you might be able to avoid tenants leaving early.
In this post, you’ll learn a few landlord tips that will help you retain the best tenants. Together with our clients we’ve used a variety of these ourselves. Some landlords have benefitted from long-term tenants who signed up for an initial tenancy period of six months. Eight or nine years later, they are still in the same home, paying the buy-to-let investor his rent with no questions asked.
1. Give them a housewarming gift
Nothing extravagant, but a bottle of wine, cake or biscuits will create a great first impression. You’re someone who cares about their tenants from the very beginning.
2. Remember birthdays and Christmas
Send a text or a card to wish them a good day. This is a friendly gesture without being ‘in your face’. At the end of the day, they are paying you a third of their income every month. Confirm that you care about their welfare with a card on special occasions.
3. Act in a timely fashion
If your tenant calls or emails you with a problem, get back to them when you say you will. If you are tardy in your response, they’ll act the same way when it comes to paying the rent.
4. Be approachable
Let the tenant know that you are the landlord who listens. It’s your responsibility to keep the property up to scratch. The last thing you want is for your tenant not to tell you of issues that arise because they feel they can’t talk to you. Small issues have a habit of becoming large problems if left – don’t make the tenant so uncomfortable that you don’t hear of the small issues until it is too late to resolve them.
5. Be proactive
Let your tenant know that you are a landlord on the ball by being proactive. If you are aware that the oven is old and on its last legs, replace it before the tenant has to ask. Your life will be a lot easier, and your tenant will know they have a landlord in a million.
6. Be friendly from a distance
Remember that even though the property is your investment, it is the tenant’s home. Let them enjoy it. Be friendly, but not over-friendly. The tenancy agreement is, after all, a business transaction.
7. Show some flexibility
While the tenancy agreement sets out the terms of the tenancy, there is always room for you to show some flexibility. For example, if the tenant wants to make some reasonable changes to the décor, would it really do you a lot of harm?
Again, we come back to the fact that you want the tenant to feel that your property is their home. The more they feel this way, the harder it is for them to move on to pastures new.
8. Don’t be tight
If you have a great long-term tenant, the chances are that you’ll need to do repairs, maintenance, and switch old white goods for new. Don’t be tight. Saving £100 on a new cooker could cost you a great landlord/tenant relationship and eventually the perfect tenant.
9. Treat your tenant reasonably at renewal (and always)
You’ve got a great tenant. It’s nearing renewal. You don’t want to lose them. Now’s the time to be fair. Offer them an incentive to stay. Check the local rental market, and if prices haven’t gone up by as much as you thought they would, consider not pulling the trigger on the automatic increase clause you’ve got written into the tenancy agreement.
This kind of fairness goes a long way – and you’ll also find it easier to raise rents next time.
It’s a lot cheaper to keep your tenant
I considered making this tip number ten. Every time a tenant leaves and you have to find a new tenant; you’re going to take on a lot of costs. You’ll need to advertise for a tenant, vet the applicants, write new tenancy agreements, conduct full-blown inventories, and so on. That’s a lot of costs to absorb.
By following these tips for landlords, you’ll increase your chances of keeping your existing tenant if you want to. Your income won’t be disturbed, in fact, your costs will be lower, and your profit will be higher.
When we manage properties for our landlord clients, these are the principles that we follow. The results speak for themselves: it’s why we’re probably the UK’s fastest-growing property management company.
Please feel free to contact us by phone +44 1522 503 717 for information about our services.