In 2018, the number of landlords using letting agents and management companies rose to 61%, an increase of 7 percentage points from the previous year. However, this still means that 39% of landlords self-manage their properties and self-management may become a more attractive prospect. Self-management may prevent any fall in profit due to letting agents and management companies passing the costs onto landlords from any drop in revenue brought on by the Tenant Fees Act.
One of the key times in the letting process for a self-managing landlord are property viewings. Potential tenants are trying to imagine the property as their home and it is important for the property to look appealing. As failed viewings may result in an empty property and lost income, landlords should be aware of common areas of concern among tenants.
Common Areas of Concern
A survey by property investment company Sell House Fast, found that 76% of tenants were discouraged by cracks or stains on surfaces such as floors, ceilings and walls. As a landlord these issues may be rectified quickly by painting, filling or cleaning problem areas before a viewing, ensuring that current tenants are notified of the work within the agreed timeframe and they agree to the visit.
The next biggest issue identified by 71% of tenants are fixtures such as taps and toilets that do not function properly, problems such as leaking, dripping and low water pressure are all commonly cited. This is closely followed by 66% of tenants naming exposed wiring as an issue and believing it to be a serious safety hazard. Exposed wiring can be safely and quickly masked with cable tidy covers and trunking. These could be installed by the landlord themselves, general tradesmen or electricians after ensuring it is safe to do so.
63% of tenants were dismayed by damaged or uneven flooring. This may make the property less attractive, or potentially be a tripping hazard. A quick fix for this issue could be laminated flooring as it is more flexible and can be fitted quickly and cost-effectively. It can also be more hardwearing than carpet requiring replacement less often. According to MyBuilder.com, laminate flooring can cost between £5 – £10 per square metre, with installation costs of around £10 per square metre.
The kitchen appeared to be an important room, with 54% of tenants reporting that heavily damaged kitchen cabinets and cupboards had a meaningful impact on their decision to rent. Another common piece of advice that is recommended by estate and letting agents is a thorough clean. Spending time carefully cleaning the property can show that it is looked after and would be a nice place to live. Again, the kitchen is important, and any appliances should be intensively cleaned. It may also be a good idea to replace any smaller appliances such as a kettle or toaster, which do not appear as desired as they can be sourced at a relatively low cost, but can have a significant impact on the success of property viewings.
Ensuring that the garden area is presentable is also key as it will often be here where first impressions are made. A neatly trimmed hedge, mown lawn and a working gate can greatly help. Also, it will benefit to give tenants clear directions to the property – factoring in potential tenants mode of transport, providing multiple methods of contact, and dressing and behaving in a professional manner. Improving these areas should increase tenant trust and confidence and will begin the property viewing in the best way.
Allaying these concerns
Many of the issues which are important to a tenant can be amended quickly and economically, a small outlay of time and money can have a large impact on the success of a property viewing. For a private landlord with a smaller portfolio success at viewings is important, as the income generated from the property will help cover the costs of property ownership and maximise the earning potential of the portfolio.
It is important to remember that this process may be disruptive to the current tenant, as repairs and cleaning, as well as the viewings themselves, will provide interruption to their day to day activities. It is therefore critical to adhere to the regulations and properly inform current tenants of visits and make sure they agree to them.
My Builder. 2019. Accessed 30th October, 2019, from https://www.mybuilder.com/pricing-guides/laminate-flooring-installation-costs
Easy Property. 2018. Accessed 30th October, 2019, from https://easyproperty.com/property-viewing-prepare/
Real Homes. 2019. Accessed 30th October, 2019, from https://www.realhomes.com/news/these-are-the-top-turn-offs-for-home-buyers-fix-them-or-lose-a-sale