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A vacant property for a landlord can be a concern, and whenever a tenant gives notice of their intent to move out it can be a nervous time. There is the potential for your property to lie empty for quite some time, causing a loss of income. This can sting more if your tenant has been in your property long term and you have enjoyed a positive relationship with them.

Replacing a good tenant with another comes with the risk that they won’t be as reliable, respectful or as long-term as the outgoing resident. There is also the issue of what to do with your property.

If your tenants have been in for a long time then your property is likely due for some wear and tear maintenance, potential upgrades and deep-level cleaning. With all this in mind, let’s look at how to prepare for what comes next when the end of a tenancy agreement has been reached.

 

How to maintain a property between tenants

No matter whether you are managing one property or 20, each one is a significant investment that must be looked after to ensure its value is retained. This is especially important if being a landlord is your main source of income. But, after one tenant vacates the premises, a landlord has an opportunity to spend a sustained period maintaining their property without disrupting the renter’s life.

One of many essential maintenance checks to make is to assess whether your property remains safe, healthy and fit for purpose. Responsibility for the structure and fabric of the building lies firmly with the landlord. Tenants must take reasonable care to avoid causing damage to the structure of the building and report any problems they find.

It is then the landlord’s responsibility to repair those faults as quickly as possible and certainly before welcoming new tenants. The end of tenancy is an opportunity to inspect for water damage from leaking pipes, look at the guttering and assess the overall condition of your property. You may also wish to assess whether you can deduct anything from the previous tenant’s deposit for damage, neglect, or cleaning costs.

Although not necessary, for the quality of finish to your property it is recommended to leave your tenants with minimal need to carry out any DIY work. Letting them loose in your home with a drill or other power tools may be asking for trouble, so touching up anything that is ‘shabby-looking’ will remove the temptation.

One thing landlords must consider is to ensure that their property fits the latest energy (EPC) requirements and is as energy efficient as possible. Not complying with the latest requirements can lead to fines & issues with letting out a property. In addition, it’s 

 

Property provision essentials

If you are supplying your property unfurnished, that doesn’t mean you can just rent out a shell of a home. There are still some essentials that must be provided to a tenant and regularly maintained too. 

By law, landlords must provide their tenants with working light fittings that are regularly checked and serviced by an electrical professional. Not only does this improve a tenant’s comfort it is also a safety must-have. For example, frayed or cracked wires must be attended to as quickly as possible.

Other essential items include curtains and blinds, although these are not required by law, most landlords provide them as they often need to be custom fitted. If your outgoing tenants are taking curtains or blinds with them for some reason, it’s a good idea to supply these for whoever moves in next.

As for ‘white goods’ and equipment in the kitchen, landlords are required to provide tenants with a cooker and hob. There must also be access to clean running water for drinking and hot water for hygiene. An unfurnished tenancy doesn’t work for everyone so if your outgoing tenants are taking white goods with them it’s recommended to include at least a washing machine and fridge/freezer to appeal to potential residents.

Any electrical goods you provide must be regularly checked and given a routine PAT (Portable Appliance Testing) service. Landlords are also responsible for the maintenance and provision of adequate heating systems.

Finally, in the bathroom landlords must supply a toilet, sink, and a bath, shower or both. They must be in full working order with no leaks, clogs, mildew or mould. If any of your existing bathroom furniture is looking a bit worse for wear or is at risk of falling into disrepair, the end of a tenancy is an ideal time to get this fixed.

Cleaning and upkeep

Tenants are expected to take reasonable care of the property they are renting which includes regular cleaning. However, if they spot any problems they should report them to the landlord who then becomes responsible for solving them.

As for cleaning, while tenants are responsible for leaving the property in a clean state, it’s often worth arranging for a deep clean with a cleaning company. Whether you need a quick turnaround or your property has been vacant for a while, a comprehensive end of tenancy clean makes a huge difference.

From professionally cleaning carpets to removing stains and odours to descaling, grease removal and window frame cleaning, it all helps. After years of use, stubborn dirt and grime can build up which can be difficult to remove yourself. A professional cleaning company provides a thorough service, ensuring that potential tenants are impressed by the way the property looks.

The end of a tenancy period isn’t just good for cleaning, it’s also the ideal time to carry out those essential maintenance tasks. Depending on the type of property you own, you may need to ensure that your tenants are provided with smoke alarms, carbon monoxide monitors, fire doors and extinguishers and multiple escape routes. With unrestricted access to the property, you can complete many of those little jobs that typically stack up over the years. An end of tenancy allows you to essentially hit the reset button on a particular property, giving you the opportunity to make amendments as you see fit.

Sustaining a good relationship with tenants

Providing just the bare essentials is perfectly legal but it doesn’t go far in trying to maintain a positive relationship with your tenants. Even just supplying some basics as a welcome package, such as a doormat, toilet roll, dustbins and cleaning supplies can go a long way to starting off on the right foot.

As a landlord, it is part of your job to understand how to deal with people and your role involves supporting your tenant and providing what they need. Simple ways to create good working relationships with your tenants include being accessible and communicative while showing understanding and providing reliability. These are the cornerstones of becoming a good landlord making for happy tenants who are more likely to treat your property with respect.

With your existing tenants moving out it’s time to find some new ones and one of the best ways to protect your property and investment is to find the right ones. When searching for new tenants some useful screening criteria are their credit worthiness, employment history and income. 

It’s essential to check references of a potential tenant, either from previous landlords or from their employers. Getting a judge of their character gives you more information to make a decision on who to trust in your rental property.

Once they move in, make sure to behave in a professional and accommodating manner. After all, happy tenants aren’t in a hurry to move out which gives you the peace of mind that they will stick around. A good relationship with your tenants is also likely to lead to plenty of advanced notice if they intend to move out, giving you more time to prepare for their end of tenancy.

Vacant property: dealing with a loss of income

If you don’t have someone lined up to replace your outgoing tenants, you could face a period where your property lies vacant. While it’s a great time to perform essential maintenance it’s also a concerning stage as you will miss out on the income from your tenants. Plus there is the fear of not knowing when your property will be occupied once more.

Fortunately, there are some things landlords can do to prepare for and reduce the risk of a vacant property impacting them. Budgeting throughout the good times for leaner stretches ensures you have money left in the kitty for when your property lies vacant. 

Perhaps you have a buy-to-let mortgage that you rely on your rent to cover; putting some excess income aside can really get you out of a bind. This method is also useful for covering the costs of essential maintenance and council tax which still needs to be paid whether your property is occupied or not.

You may wish to consider landlord insurance to help cover the loss of income, particularly if it is a sustained period. Carrying out some of the essential maintenance we have covered is a great way to bring new tenants in, especially if this improves the aesthetics. Potential tenants are commonly looking for a well-presented property with good fixtures, fittings and furniture in place.

Find a good lettings agent

If you still find yourself struggling to fill your property, consider partnering up with a letting agent to help get your listing out there. Not only can an agent promote your property but they offer advice and can look after the property management side of things.

The longer your property lies vacant, the more important it becomes to secure it against vandals or squatters. A lettings agent can assist with your property protection needs, while changing the locks and setting a light timer can make it seem like the residence is occupied.

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Rentround March 29, 2022