A vital part of being a successful buy-to-let landlord is ensuring your property not only attracts the best tenants, but encourages them to stay for longer.
In the current market, more landlords than ever are seeing their rental properties snapped up quickly after listing due to exceptionally high tenant demand, along with an overall shortage of supply. This is particularly the case in sought-after city locations with growing populations, such as Manchester and Birmingham.
But for landlords who want to ensure they have a wide appeal for tenants, keeping in mind the priorities of the renters you are catering for can make your investment even more successful. A high-quality, well-equipped property can command greater rents, and reduce void periods.
In a recent survey by Uswitch, tenants were surveyed to find out what were the most off-putting factors in a rental property, and the results delivered some key takeaways for landlords who may be considering a new investment, or existing ones who want to improve their offering and their returns.
Ten red flags for tenants
Damp and mould in a rental property is the biggest no-no among tenants at the moment, with 79% of respondents saying this would put them off signing a tenancy agreement. Damp conditions are not only unpleasant to live in, but can cause serious health issues, so landlords should ensure this is never an issue in their properties.
A bad smell was flagged up by 67% of tenants, which can normally be easily rectified by a good clean or replacing soft furnishings. Next, signs of physical deterioration was another negative for tenants, which would put off 62% of people.
The next issue, for 60% of respondents, was more structural: lack of natural light. This is something that might not be fixable in an existing property, but investors can keep this in mind when they are considering a new purchase. Single glazed windows (rather than double or triple glazed) was next on the list for 58% of tenants.
The final five items that would put tenants off renting out a property were noise (54%), poor cleanliness (49%), no built in storage space (47%), having a prepayment energy meter (41%) and white goods not being included (38%).
It is an interesting and wide-ranging list, with some of the issues being easily mitigated or resolved while others may take a little more investment. However, it is certainly a good starting point for landlords considering how best to attract and retain tenants.
Looking at location
When any investor first embarks on their property search, location is likely to be one of the first things to consider. For some, a high-yielding location with the best capital growth prospects is the most important thing, while others may prioritise properties close to where they live or in a familiar area.
Uswitch’s survey looked specifically at the factors in a property’s location that are the most important to tenants, which can also be used as a guide to investors. The safety of the surrounding area came out as the top priority for the highest percentage (61%), which is something landlords should carefully consider.
Next, proximity to local amenities was important for 39% of tenants, while being close to public transport links followed close behind for 38% or respondents.
Other priorities for landlords
In recent years, the energy efficiency of the housing market at large has been put under the microscope by both the government and wider environmental drives, not to mention rising energy bills. Perhaps unsurprisingly, almost a third (32%) of tenants now prefer a higher energy performance certificate (EPC) rating.
This shift in priorities has led many landlords to either consider investing in more energy efficient rental properties, or even new-builds, while others have taken steps to improve their EPCs. Even since the government scrapped some of its energy policies in the private rented market, is likely to remain a priority for many.
Uswitch buy-to-let mortgage expert, Kellie Steed, commented on the findings: “When putting your buy-to-let on the market, ensuring you meet demands on a renters’ wishlist can heighten your confidence in finding tenants. You can also tailor your property to attract the type of tenants you want.
“Additionally, it offers flexibility in what you charge for rent, allowing you to maximise the return on your investment.”