How to avoid rental voids – or use them to your ad­van­tage

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - Sharon Dale

NEW re­search re­veals that av­er­age void pe­riod (the length of time a rental prop­erty is un­oc­cu­pied) for a UK rental prop­erty now stands at three weeks, the long­est since the first quar­ter of 2011.

The re­search comes from the As­so­ci­a­tion of Res­i­den­tial Let­ting Agents, which is urg­ing land­lords to take ac­tion and im­ple­ment mea­sures that may re­duce fu­ture void pe­ri­ods.

Alra op­er­a­tions man­ager Ian Pot­ter says: “Void pe­ri­ods can cause un­cer­tainty and af­fect over­all rental yields.

“While they are a fact of life in the rented sec­tor, there are sim­ple steps that land­lords can take to help re­duce the chance of a prop­erty be­ing un­tenanted for ex­tended pe­ri­ods.

“These pe­ri­ods with­out oc­cu­pancy can also give a land­lord a use­ful win­dow to carry out rou­tine main­te­nance and any ad­di­tional work de­signed to make a prop­erty more at­trac­tive for in­com­ing ten­ants.”

ARLA rec­om­mends five key strate­gies: While rental prop­er­ties are in high de­mand in many parts of the UK, this should not be taken as a guar­an­tee of back-to-back ten­an­cies.

As well as ask­ing the ad­vice of a let­ting agent, it is also worth do­ing your own re­search to find out if the level of rent you are charg­ing is suit­able for the area.

Re­mem­ber that the over­all cost of an ex­tended void pe­riod can out­weigh the per­ceived loss as­so­ci­ated with set­ting a sen­si­ble rent, which may also make the prop­erty quicker to let. A ten­ant’s right to re­side, undis­turbed, within a prop­erty dur­ing their ten­ancy pe­riod is en­shrined in law.

This means that, ex­cept in an emer­gency, a land­lord must give ten­ants 24 hours notice be­fore re­quest­ing en­try to the prop­erty for view­ings or main­te­nance work.

By up­hold­ing ba­sic obli­ga­tions, land­lords have a greater chance of es­tab­lish­ing a good re­la­tion­ship with ten­ants, and they may be more likely to stay in the prop­erty longer. En­sur­ing the prop­erty is in good or­der could help make it more de­sir­able, mean­ing it will be eas­ier to let and may even mean ten­ants want to stay longer.

While ten­ants have a duty to look af­ter in­ter­nal fix­tures, land­lords are gen­er­ally re­spon­si­ble for the re­pairs, un­less the dam­age is caused by the ten­ant, as well as the struc­ture of the build­ing, the ex­te­rior and the roof.

In ad­di­tion to this, a land­lord must en­sure heat­ing and hot wa­ter in­stal­la­tions, sinks, baths and other san­i­tary fix­tures are main­tained to a rea­son­able stan­dard.

But fur­ther dec­o­rat­ing and fur­nish­ing the prop­erty ap­pro­pri­ately, and to a good stan­dard, may help it stand out to po­ten­tial ten­ants. While it is im­por­tant for land­lords to keep up to date with nec­es­sary re­pairs, a void pe­riod could pro­vide a good time for nonessen­tial, in­tru­sive main­te­nance and im­prove­ment works to be car­ried out, with min­i­mum dis­rup­tion to ten­ants.

This could, in turn, help to make the prop­erty more at­trac­tive to a po­ten­tial ten­ant. A good let­ting agent can help share the work in find­ing good ten­ants.

NO LET UP: Avoid your prop­erty re­main­ing empty be­tween ten­ants.

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