As a long-time renter I notice a significant difference between the quality of long-term and short-term rental properties.
Essentially, properties targeted at tourists tend to be better presented and generally more inviting places to spend time in than properties targeted at long-term tenants – especially in locations where rental property is in short supply.
And in my opinion, this is a short-sighted strategy.
When accommodation is in high demand property owners can be confident that their properties will rent, as long as they’re in reasonable habitable condition. However, tenants come in all shapes and sizes – and that includes their tendency to look after their homes, or not.
Quality tenants are like gold – they will take good care of your property and pay you for the privilege. And long-term tenants, who will stay two years and longer before moving on, mean far fewer headaches for landlords.
But quality long-term tenants are as discerning about where they commit to living as property owners are about their ability to pay the rent.
To avoid having to put your property back out on the rental market every twelve months – and the associated headaches of sifting through potential tenants to find the gems – then step into the shoes of your tenants.
If you were to live into your own property for the next two to three years, would you be happy to do so as it is right now? Or would you want some changes made?
If the décor and furniture are a bit on the dated side, and the place is draughty and cold, or there is a general sense of being unloved, then quality tenants aren’t going to be that attracted. And maybe, due to shortage, they may sign on the dotted line – but mentally they’ll be treating it as a short-term necessity tiding them over until they find a property that they can see themselves calling “home”.
Discerning tenants will be looking for certain qualities in a property that reassure them they will be comfortable and happy there. And tenants who are comfortable and happy where they’re living will stay for a long time.
If you’re looking for tenants of this calibre, then here are some tips to help you attract them:
Repaint before putting the property back on the market.
Neutral colours are the best, but avoid beige. It’s really just blah. Instead opt for soft whites, soft greys and pastel colours. And if your new tenants ask for permission to paint, grant it. (And if it hasn’t recently been repainted and needs it anyway, then pay for the paint.)
If your property is hard to heat, or expensive to heat, then after one winter your tenants will be on the lookout for a toastier home. Ensure your attic is properly insulated and that your doors and windows aren’t draughty. If there are open fireplaces, consider installing a stove or a fire-door to diminish heat-loss through the chimney.
Furnish with current, quality and tasteful décor.
Your rental property shouldn’t be a place where your family’s tired old furniture goes to die. It should be comfortable, properly scaled for the space (that is, no bulky, oversized furniture sucking up all the space out of a room) and fairly neutral in style.
If the sofa has a dated pattern, style it with a sufficiently large throw to neutralise the aesthetic. And if there is orange pine everywhere, then paint it. Not only is it dated and off-putting to most, it can also suck the light out of small spaces. Painting skirtings, doors and frames, bannisters and kitchen cupboards in a soft white can dramatically brighten up a space that was previously dominated by orange wood.
Speaking of orange pine, if your tenants ask for permission to paint that or other shabby furniture, grant it. They’ll be doing you a massive favour. (Feel free to negotiate colour choice with them.)
Within reason, make requested changes.
This could be removing a few items of furniture to make room for their own, adding storage if needed, replacing mattresses etc. All of these actions will demonstrate the qualities of a good landlord, which is important to discerning tenants. If they like you and consider you to be reasonable and fair, this will also help to secure a longer let.
Consider allowing pets.
Most landlords prefer a no-pets policy as they’re concerned that they may cause some damage to furniture and flooring. Well, humans (especially ones that come with small children) can cause just as much damage as a cat or dog – and usually an awful lot more! To protect against these risks there are references and security deposits.
Ticking the pet-friendly box can give your property the edge in securing long-term quality tenants. They’re not just looking for a place that works for them, but one that works for their pet too. Their choices are limited compared to non-pet people, as they’ll often require ground floor level with access to a garden. And if they can find a good quality property that fits the bill, they’ll be keen for a long-term stay.
So while it may seem logical and practical, refusing pets can actually be counter-intuitive if the property would be a good fit for someone with a cat or dog.
Overall, the golden rule is to take good care of your rental property and show a keen interest in supporting your tenant’s needs. Once they have moved in, then respect their privacy and show up only to deal with issues they have flagged – and agree the date and time in advance.
In the end, all of the above can be boiled down to one simple guidline. Be a quality landlord and attracting long-term quality tenants will be a breeze.
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