Last Landlord Standing …

Here at 4 Walls, we have always been of the opinion that, as professional Landlords, we should offer a superior product and a superior service. As a Landlord, you are a “service provider” and therefore your success will be determined by the level of service you offer your clients. This has never been more true than in the challenging and competitive market conditions we are currently all experiencing.

Clients (tenants) have a great deal of choice, and they KNOW it.

last man standing

We believe it will be the professional Landlords who survive and prosper in these challenging times.

Here are some of our tips to be a winner in the lettings game:

In areas of over-supply of rental stock, ensure your property stands out from the crowd. Give it a unique selling point. The days of identi-kit, “me too”, magnolia boxes are over. Add a few upgrades and finishing touches to ensure your property is elevated above its competitors. An example of this is a friend of ours who has a lot of student lets. He fits all his houses with jacuzzi baths and students always pick his houses for obvious reasons! Look to see where you can create “lifestyle” touches i.e. garden furniture for the garden, plasma screen TV, etc.

Ensure “kerb appeal” from the outside, with a well kept garden and house name/no., with outside security light. We passed a property today where the Landlord hadn’t bothered to put a house number on the door, and the developer’s sign for the Plot Number was the only identification. There was also a large pile of old carpet in the front garden. This does not give the appearance of a “home” that the owner cares about.

Ensure your property is “staged” for marketing photographs and ensure that these are of high quality. Tenants “buy” from the photos far more than the marketing spiel, so ensure that the house is immaculately clean, the lights are on, there are some thoughtful finishing touches.

Make your property work on a practical level by putting in some finishing touches like mirrors, hooks on the back of doors, some nice handwash next to the basins, shelves, and storage solutions.

Ensure that the property is immaculately clean and maintained.

Offer incentives to get prospective tenants to commit. This could be anything from a crate of beer in the fridge, to six months free broadband, to six months gym membership included. (The Gym offers membership for £14.99 per month and is 24 hours per day. New gyms being added all the time. Have a look at www.thegymgroup.com for details).

It’s worth paying a bit extra for decent mattresses. If your tenants can’t get a good night’s sleep, they will soon leave. Ensure that blinds/curtains block out all the light so tenants working on shifts can sleep during the day.

The days of “that I’ll do ‘em” are well and truly over. Treat a tenant like that, and you will turn your tenants over a lot faster and suffer more voids as a result.

If a maintenance problem arises, sort it within 24 hours. Use local trusted workmen or post your job on www.myhammer.co.uk to get a keen quote.

Keep an open and friendly dialogue with your tenants yourself (or through an approved agent) to ensure the continued enjoyment of their stay at your property. Treat even small problems or niggles seriously so that they feel valued as a tenant.

Tenants are increasingly worried that the Landlord may be planning on selling the property as soon as the market recovers, and they will then lose their home. Reassure your tenants that you are in this for the long-term and that the property will be available as long as they want it.

It is our advice not to rock the boat with an increase in rent at the moment. Tenants are worried about the economic down-turn and fearful about losing their jobs, so an increase in the rent might be enough to tip them over the edge to hand in their notice. This could lead to a void period, which should be avoided at all costs.

See where you can add value and give value at ever opportunity. A recent example from our portfolio: a tenant reported that the fridge had stopped working and that they had lost all their week’s food supply. We got the fridge fixed straight away, but we also sent the tenant some vouchers towards replacing the lost food. This again makes the tenant feel valued.

Security is increasingly important to tenants. You should ensure that there is a security light outside and you could also consider a burglar alarm.

Budget for a face-lift for your property approx. every five years to keep it up to standard. Tenants respect a pleasant environment and are more likely to keep up standards if high standards have been set from the start of the tenancy.

In the current market conditions, be price sensitive with your rents. Remember: it is better to have 80% of something, rather than 100% of nothing! Even one month’s void will eat into your profit, so endeavour to let your property out as quickly as possible, even if that means taking a hit on the rent.
You can offer an “introductory” special offer rent to be reviewed after six months.

Worth noting: With the new survery from the Halifax reporting massive outward migration from city centres, houses in the suburbs are less likely to suffer from over-saturation, and can be let on a single occupancy or multi-let basis.

Please add your tips below so that we can build up a wiki on how to be a professional and successful Landlord. It might sound obvious, but you will only be successful if tenants want to rent from you, and want to stay in your properties as long as possible!.

Those that treat tenants with respect and give value and add value at every turn will be the last Landlord standing!

You can read our Investor Blueprint here.



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