FINDING TENANTS – TEN TIPS
Letting property isn’t always easy, let me share some excellent tips on how to get tenants as quickly and as cheaply as possible. Helping you to avoid the curse of the rental void.
You sometimes need all the help you can get so here are ten practical tips I have picked up over the last 15 years of advertising property to let:
1. Are you looking for students?
Try registering with your local university. They should have an accommodation list. From my experience the universities will normally insist that the premises reach a certain prescribed standard of habitation and safety. This will include adequate fire alarms and a means of escape. Each bedroom is likely to have to reach a minimum size and contain certain items of furniture, such as a desk and bed.
As well as registering directly you could try advertising on one of the dedicated web sites such as www.accommodationforstudents.com . It costs £12 per month per property and ensures that you have national exposure for your rental property.
Remember with student accommodation unlike most other types there is a definite season. Students will generally start looking for accommodation for the start of the academic year from about the middle of August. Once term starts in early October then the market will go quiet as most students will have sorted out their living arrangements by then.
2. Is there a large employer near by such as a hospital?
Is your accommodation suitable for their staff? Like any major employer there maybe a notice board or increasingly an intranet where you can post details for free. The only way to find out unless you know somebody that works there, is to phone up and ask. It’s all about being entrepreneurial. After all what have you got to lose? You never know you might just ‘bag’ the perfect tenant for free.
3. Have you tried word of mouth?
You might think it sounds like a long shot. The reality is that there has been a number of times I have mentioned in conversation that I have a property to rent only for somebody to reply with: ‘I’ve got a friend……’. It happens so be aware of the possibilities. I know a number of people with holiday lets, who seem to get most of their lettings through work and social contacts.
4. Is the property in a small town or village with a shop or post office?
It’s always worth having a look to see if they have a notice board. These places are hubs of community activity. Not much goes on without the shopkeeper or postmaster knowing about it. Just by mentioning it to them is as good as announcing it to the whole village.
5. Look out for the rental property supplements.
There is of course the tried and tested approach of advertising within the property section of the local paper. Many of these have dedicated sections or supplements for property adverts published on certain days of the week. It’s worth finding out when, so you can time your ads to appear in them. To find the paper local to your investment have a look at this site. – www.newspapersoc.org.uk
6. Maximise your chances of getting an ‘inward locator’.
The dynamic of the modern employment market means that increasing numbers of people have to move to new areas because of their work. This means that they often know very little about the area they are moving to and also will do all their accommodation finding on-line.
Almost all these ‘inward locators’ will look to initially rent. It is therefore important that you get your property listed on one of the major web sites such as Rightmove or Fish4homes. This can happen automatically, with some press adverts. Make sure that you know the score and ensure that you have your property listed on at least one decent website to ensure that you might attract an ‘inward locator’.
7. Is your property something a little bit special?
For those lucky enough to have a mansion or a property that is a little bit special. The national and local papers have hundreds of column inches to fill each week in their numerous property sections. As a consequence they are always looking for articles on interesting buildings. Therefore a speculative e-mail may result in a feature in one giving your property an excellent free profile.
8. Make sure you get your ad on-line.
Research shows that between 85-90% use the web to find properties that they are interested in. Increasingly it’s the internet that tenants turn to first to start their search for a place to live. Therefore it’s essential that you get your property on-line if you want to market your property. There are literally hundreds of rental marketing sites.
Many of them will have only a few hundred, possibly as few as a few tens of properties listed. Using one of these sites is a waste of time and money as the chances of one of your prospective tenants accessing a lowly ranked site is very small. What you are better doing is to pay more to get on one of the major listing sites. I review the best sites in my book the Landlords Bible to be released in 2008.
9. Remember it’s a competitive business
Letting property is now a competitive business. Ten years ago if you had anything half decent then tenants would be literally beating your door down to view the property. Then after seeing numerous shabby neglected properties they would be falling over themselves to sign the tenancy agreement.
Now it’s different. The arrival of buy-to-let and the increasing numbers of new apartments aimed specifically at investors and their tenants’ means that the tenant expects more and can afford to be selective.
The result is that you have to work hard & be pro-active in order to fill your property. I have heard stories in some large city centre complexes of landlords going round touting for tenants by offering to undercut their fellow landlords.
In much the same way as house sales tend to go flat over Xmas and the early part of the new year until February and also over the traditional ‘summer holiday’ months of July & August – letting interest also tends to be at its lowest at these times. Therefore, try and avoid having to relet at these times wherever possible.