Buy to Let

How to secure long-term tenants for your property

Whether you’re a seasoned investor or about to embark on your first buy-to-let property, the value of having good, long-term tenants can never be under estimated. However, getting such tenants is not always simple, nor is it easy. Landlords can suffer from a high turnover of unsuitable tenants and the time and effort taken to replace occupants can be expensive. The ideal scenario is to have long-term tenants for your property who you can trust and get on with well. Vivo Property Buyers explains why it is valuable to have long-term tenants and how to secure them.

What are the benefits of having long-term tenants?

The primary benefit of having long-term residents is that it establishes regular income from the property (negating any vacant periods where you won’t earn) and saves you the hassle of constantly advertising for prospective tenants). Furthermore, having a lower turnover of people living in your property means less chance of encountering a bad tenant, for example, one that neglects the house and causes expensive damage. Adding to this, you will not have the cost of cleaning and redecorating the property after each tenant moves out too.

Moreover, it helps to develop a trusting working relationship with the tenant and having happy ones can, in turn, result in good referrals, which is especially useful if you have multiple rental properties.

How does this benefit a tenant?

Aside from the landlord’s perspective, this situation benefits the tenant as well. Firstly, this arrangement offers long-term security to them, especially for families with children who are looking for a place to semi-permanently settle down. Moving house at the end of each year is expensive and emotionally stressful, so the reassurance that they can reside in a property for an extended length of time is welcome. Additionally, with fewer people being able to get on the property ladder these days, the rental market audience is likely to continue to grow, as will the demand for long term rentals (as found in mainland Europe). Therefore, it’s a good opportunity for you to bridge this need in the market for longer-term residents.

How to do this

Pre-qualify tenants

Before a tenant has even moved in, you can work towards having a long-term occupant at the advertising stage. Besides specifying this in your property advert, in this period you should question any interest in your property and find out what the motivations are for a person(s) moving into the property. Probe whether they are looking for a quick fix or somewhere to settle down. Find out why they are leaving their former property (it may indicate that there was conflict from tenant to landlord) and how long they have spent in former addresses to see if they are serial movers.

Develop a good relationship

It is important when a new tenant moves in that you are there to deal with any initial queries or issues. Check in with them regularly and really listen to any concerns they may have, rather than dismiss them. It may slightly dent your pride to see that a tenant has issues with your property, but no house is perfect. If you need to visit the property for any minor fixes, it is a good opportunity to see how they are settling in and whether they are treating the property with care. As well as being available as a landlord, you want to develop a mutual trust with your tenant. So, while it is important that you’re not completely absent from them, make sure you also respect their privacy and let them settle in.

Instilling house pride

While you may own the property, it is important to remember that it is your tenants that live there day-to-day, so it’s vital to help the tenant make the property feel like ‘home’. Renting pre-furnished properties make it easier for tenants to immediately move in but it also means that they can move on a lot easier too (plus your furnishings are at risk of getting damaged/going missing). Thus, by leasing your home as unfurnished, it allows occupants to properly move in and furnish the property with their own belongings. Allowing them to have their own stamp on the property will create a sense of ownership, meaning that they are more likely to stay for a long time and look after the property. Strict regulations such as the banning of putting up Christmas decorations, for example, will stifle the renter and make them feel disconnected from the property. Sometimes in order to get a good, long-lasting tenant, you need to break the rules. This does not mean completely abandoning your principles and regulations, but don’t let something small prevent a good potential tenant fall through the net. This means when the right renter arises, consider reverting some of your initial policies such as no pets or painting of the walls.

While you have your view on how you want your property to be looked after, empowering the tenant will ensure you don’t have to worry.

Move with the times

Finally, a key component of keeping your renters long-term is to move with the times. If your property feels aged or outdated and tenants do not have the ability to change it, they have the option to simply leave. Don’t forget the requirements for homes change (remember there was once a time where homes didn’t have to be internet-friendly!) so always look to upgrade and modernise your property to keep it relevant to the market. Whether that is a new fridge-freezer or an eco-friendly shower head, it could help tenants stay. Furthermore, by upgrading the property, it gives you weight if you decide to raise rental prices, without putting your tenants’ nose out of joint. This, in turn, negates one of the biggest criticisms against long-term tenants which is that you can raise rents easier when you have a high turnover of tenants.

We hope you have found these tips helpful in how to secure long-term tenants for your rental property. Having a good tenant relationship can be tough to find but it is definitely worth investing in!

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