JODY Betts of Maxey Grounds & Co LPP and member of ARLA, explains the average void period (length of time a property is unoccupied) for a UK rental property is three weeks.
The research comes from the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), which is urging landlords to take measures that may reduce future void periods. Ian Potter, Operations Manager at ARLA, said: “Void periods can cause uncertainty and affect overall rental yields. While they are a fact of life in the rented sector, there are steps landlords can take to help reduce the chance of a property being untenanted for extended periods.
“Periods without occupancy can also give a landlord a chance to carry out routine maintenance and any additional work designed to make a property more attractive.” ARLA recommends five key points.
• Set realistic rents. While rental properties are in high demand in many parts of the UK, this should not be taken as a guarantee of back-to-back tenancies. As well as asking the advice of a letting agent, it is worth doing your own research to find out if the level of rent you are charging is suitable for the area. Remember that the overall cost of an extended void period can outweigh the perceived loss associated with setting a sensible rent.
• Foster good tenant/landlord relations. A tenant’s right to reside, undisturbed, within a property during their tenancy period is enshrined in law. This means that, except in an emergency, a landlord must give 24 hours notice before requesting entry to the property.
• Make the property desirable.
Ensuring the property is in good order could help make it more desirable and easier to let.
While tenants have a duty to look after internal fixtures, landlords are generally responsible for the repairs, unless the damage is caused by the tenant, as well as the structure of the building, the exterior and the roof. A landlord must ensure heating and hot water installations, sinks, baths and other sanitary fixtures are maintained to a reasonable standard. • See a void as an opportunity.
While it is important for landlords to keep up to date with necessary repairs, a void period could provide a good time for maintenance and improvement works. • Hire a letting agent. A good agent can help guide you through the complexities of being a landlord and also share the work in finding prospective tenants.
There are no restrictions on who becomes a letting agent. For peace of mind, seek advice from a lettings agent affiliated to a professional organisation like ARLA, whose members must adhere to a code of conduct. For further advice contact Maxey Grounds with offices in Wisbech, March and Chatteris.