10 Clever Ways Landlords Can Avoid Void Periods
It’s an unprecedented, uncertain time for landlords in the UK and worldwide. Where finding new renters was once simple, attracting tenants has taken on new urgency and new challenges.
The COVID-19 pandemic has eased in some areas and intensified in others, and authorities are expressing concern that headway made in flattening the curve over the summer months might disappear as cold weather drives people indoors, and as flu season compounds difficulties caused by the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, landlords are between a rock and a hard place, with more than more than 30 percent of tenants unable to pay the rent in the US. This makes tenant referencing (UK) or tenant screening (USA) an important matter for future cash flow management.
Avoiding Tenant Evictions
In the US, state and local authorities encourage landlords to work out payment plans and deferments, and new CDC regulations forbid eviction for non-payment of rent when tenants can certify that they have no other housing options. Landlords are responding with kindness in many cases; still, many are having difficulties with making ends meet as rental income slows to a trickle.
In the US, programs like Freddie Mac’s COVID-19 relief plan can help landlords with mortgage deferments, but stop-gap measures don’t cover costs such as those associated with keeping property up and running. And, let’s face it – just like tenants will eventually need to pay the rent if it has been deferred, landlords will need to catch up on their mortgages when grace periods come to an end.
Compounding the issue is the fact that fewer people are looking for rentals – so landlords with unoccupied units are finding it more difficult to find tenants, and void periods are often extended for months rather than mere weeks.
Whether your property is residential, commercial, or a blend of the two, you’ll find that these simple strategies help reduce void periods and attract quality tenants.
1. Price your Rental Competitively
Overpricing is one of the worst mistakes landlords and property managers can make, particularly in a renter’s market. Overpriced units achieve fewer showings and result in a smaller pool of potential tenants to choose from. Competitive pricing might bring in less revenue initially but over time, being uncompetitive can lead to long void periods that translate to less income in the long run.
2. Offer some Upgrades
Entice potential tenants with nice extras such as free Wi-Fi, basic security systems, and low-cost cosmetic upgrades such as better light fixtures, nice new cabinet handles, fantastic showerheads, and attractive faucets. These apartment upgrades – along with pricier ones such as upgraded flooring and built-in storage – help your unit stand out from the competition, particularly if the price is right.
3. Spring for Professional Photography
According to The Wall Street Journal, listings with one photo have 20 seconds to grab a reader’s attention, while those with three images get a full minute of attention. Those with no photos get a mere two seconds to compete.
Hire a pro. Get great photos and consider adding a video tour to attract renters to your home!
4. Select Tenants with Care
When units have been vacant for long periods of time, there’s a temptation to accept any tenant who arrives, deposit in hand, ready to rent. Watch out for red flags, though, and make sure you screen applicants and undergo tenant referencing. Here’s a good online resource for US landlords looking to screen tenants, and here’s another great online resource for UK landlords looking for tenant referencing.
Once tenants are in place, it is very difficult to move forward with eviction if things don’t work out.
- Verify income
- Verify employment
- Contact current / previous landlords
- Contact other references
- Check credit scores
At the same time, ensure that you follow all of your UK district or US state’s laws pertaining to the choosing tenants.
5. Go digital: Take Advantage of Property Management Software
Take advantage of technology. In a world where everything takes place online, it’s now possible for landlords and property managers to adapt. The latest property management software makes everything from advertising to viewings to lease signing simple, speeds up the entire process, and helps ensure that future tenants feel comfortable.
Once tenants are in place, property management software can help with all aspects of the landlord / tenant agreement by tracking leases, keeping up with essential maintenance tasks, and streamlining operations. With the right software landlords can automate, streamline operations and reduce costs, collect rent, manage finances, and instantly take action to avoid void periods.
6. Advertise your Units Everywhere
Leave no stone unturned in your search for suitable tenants. According to Buttonwood property management, failing to advertise is one of the biggest mistakes landlords make – but solid advertising campaigns can help prevent extended void periods.
Go old school: Advertise in local papers
- Advertise on popular sites such as Craigslist, Apartmentfinder, Apartments.com
- Put up fliers
- Place “For rent” signs in unit windows and in lawns if applicable. Ensure that contact information is large and easy to read from a distance
7. Be Accessible to Potential Renters
Be sure that you’re available. Make it very easy for people to reach out as soon as they spot your advertisement. Since it isn’t possible to answer your phone 24/7, consider using software that helps you create a customized website where you can show off your property, connect with applicants, accept applications online, and interact with renters once they’re in place.
This way, you’ll be one step ahead of the competition and your property won’t sit vacant for quite so long.
8. List all the Most Pertinent Details
When advertising, include a quick rundown of details. This way, you’ll cut down on mere inquiries and only those who are truly interested in your property will contact you. Include:
- Number of bedrooms / bathrooms
- Monthly rent
- Security Deposit
- Total Move-in price
- Availability date
- Any standout amenities
- Any prohibitions, i.e. no smoking, no pets, etc.
- Be sure to include photos on all fliers, websites, etc.
9. List Area Amenities
What’s great about your unit’s neighborhood? Name a few nearby amenities that make your property more enticing. People want to enjoy their surroundings, and mentioning things like great shopping, good schools, and nearby green spaces can help you compete.
10. Lower the Rent a Little More
Ouch! Desperate times call for desperate measures. If your unit has been on the market for some time and you’re not receiving applications, it’s likely that the rent is not competitive enough. Gradually lower the rent until you start to receive some offers. Again, finding a tenant immediately and accepting a lower rent is far better than allowing your unit to sit vacant for months on end.
Tenant referencing is the best way to ensure you’re getting the right tenant for you and avoiding them being in a situation they cannot fulfill.
See also: Property Management | Tenant Screening | Property Management Software UK | Property Market UK | Rent Aid UK | Property Management Services | Apartment Rental Advertisement | Rental Property Software | Property Management News | Switch Software Companies | How to Increase Property Management Profitability | Property Management Companies Los Angeles | Australian Property Management | Apartment Listings | Hire Property Manager