My buy to-let won’t let – what am I doing wrong?

Solutions to the 6 common reasons why your property remains untenanted

One of the most common reasons for landlords turning to Ezytrac is that they can’t get their property rented. If this sounds like a problem you currently have, you must do something about it quickly. In this article, you’ll learn the most common reasons why a buy-to-let property remains untenanted, and how to turn things around.

Why you must get your property rented

If you are struggling to let your property, you must act fast. Void periods are the number one reason landlords fail their rental income profits. The longer a void period continues, the worse your finances are going to get (see our article “Facts about void periods all buy-to-let investors should know”).

Void periods mean that you:

  • Must pay the mortgage from other income
  • Will need to cover council tax and utility bills
  • Are more likely to suffer from vandalism at the empty property
  • Could have a squatter problem to deal with

You mustn’t let the letting process take its course. You must be proactive, and you’ve got to know how to find tenants when you’re a buy-to-let landlord. You’ve also got to be realistic, and understand why your property isn’t letting.

The reasons your property won’t let

There are six reasons your property won’t let. Each can be tackled with a sensible approach.

1.    Rental price

Overprice your property, and it won’t rent quickly. And if you do let it at an uncompetitive price, you’ll find that your tenant won’t stay long. Your void periods will be longer and more frequent.

Before marketing your buy-to-let property, do some rental price research. Call a local agent and find how much similar properties are achieving. Remember, local agents, are likely to tell landlords one (higher) price and tenants a different (lower) price. They want to secure the business from both parties. The real rental value is somewhere between these extremes.

If your property isn’t letting and the price is the reason, then drop the price. Don’t hesitate to do this. 90% of your original asking rent is better than nothing.

2.    Marketing

Marketing is another big problem for many landlords. Box adverts in local papers don’t get a great response. The web is the way to go, and advertising through local agents.

You should think about who is most likely to let your property for you. An estate agent that lets property on the side may not be focused on getting your property rented.

Another pointer to who may have the marketing muscle to get your property let quickly is size. Larger dedicated property managers are likely to have a deeper local market knowledge, and a bigger list of tenants searching for properties like yours.

3.    Images

If you’ve ever watched cookery programmes, you’ll know how much emphasis the top chefs put on the presentation. People eat with their eyes. It’s the same with letting your property. Cheap, grainy images won’t tempt tenants to book a viewing. Tenants also want to know that their property will be well managed and that the landlord (or property manager) is caring and conscientious.

Professional, stage-managed photographs are essential to letting success. Make sure your property is clean, tidy, and presented in its best light to take photos of each room. Better still, consider a video walkthrough – an increasingly popular form of showing your property to a wide audience online.

4.    Tenant turn-offs

Great, you’ve negotiated the first three hurdles. You’ve got a tenant viewing. This is where the tenant turn-offs rear their ugly heads, and there are many of them.

·      Poor presentation technique

More homes are sold when the estate agent shows possible buyers around a property. The same is true of buy-to-let: more properties are let faster (and at a better rental price) when viewings are conducted by a professional agent with experience of viewings. They know the tell-tale signs of poor tenants, and what features need to be highlighted. They also have experience of dealing with all types of people (a level-headed approach is essential).

·      Unsavoury smells

Unsavoury smells are one of the first things a potential tenant will notice when they walk into a property. These include the smell of pets, cigarette smoke, and last night’s takeaway.

Ventilate the property, put baking bread in the oven, and use scented candles to give the air a more appealing odour.

·      Untidy hallways

Pegs overladen with coats. Dirty, damp shoes strewn around the floor. It looks like the property is unloved, and it reduces the appearance of space (isn’t there enough storage space?).

Tidy up. Get rid of the clutter.

·      Unmade beds and stained carpets

Is this a student let? No? Then why are the beds not made?  And those stained carpets spell the words ‘not cared for’.

Dress the beds for success. Clean those carpets, and if they still look filthy you’ll need to bite the bullet and replace.

·      General dirt

Dust. Grime. Handprints on walls. All these things and more are not conducive to good presentation of your property. The longer your property remains uncleaned, the more difficult it will be to clean. The longer your property remains empty, the dustier it will become. And while human squatters may not be your problem, spider webs and nesting birds won’t help your ambition of getting the property rented.

You should ensure that your property is clean, as well as tidy when viewings are conducted.

·      Maintenance issues

You cannot explain to a tenant applicant that you ‘will attend to that’ should the tenant decide to rent. Common small maintenance issues that will damage your chances of securing a good tenant include cupboard doors hanging off, lifted linoleum, broken windows, chipped walls and doorframes, and broken bannisters.

Making effective property inspections should catch these small maintenance issues early before they become larger repairs. When a tenant leaves, make sure you inspect the property again, and take care of all maintenance issues before marketing and conducting tenant viewings.

·      Poorly maintained gardens and dead plants

The garden is the first thing that tenant applicants see. If the grass is overgrown, trees unpruned, and fences and gates are broken, that all important first impression will fail in its mission. Watch, too, for dead plants in the garden and in the house.

When walking through your property, look at it through the eyes of prospective tenants. Ask if this is a place in which you would want to live. Take special care when inspecting bathrooms and kitchens and remove mould. Ensure that all lights and appliances are in working order. Replace light bulbs as necessary.

5.    Your current tenant won’t allow viewings

Your current tenant doesn’t have to agree to allow viewings. It is their home, after all. If you’ve maintained good tenant relationships and avoided conflict, the chances are that they will help by allowing viewings. However, if your tenant digs their heels in and refuses, then you may need to offer a financial incentive. Whichever is the case, make sure that your tenant knows their responsibilities and that they should keep the property clean and tidy.

6.    Failing furnishings

If you’re letting a property furnished, you must ensure that the furniture is of good quality and durable. Consider two apartments, one with modern furniture in keeping with the apartment’s modern lines, and the second furnished with a mishmash of 70s-style second-hand furniture from a house clearance. Which will let easiest, fastest, and at the best rental price?

Get your furniture right. If feedback from viewings is that the furniture is a turn-off, then you should consider a new approach and invest in furniture for property investors.

I know this is a lot to consider, but if your property is not letting as quickly as you would like or at a comparable market price, it’s probably because of one of the above six reasons.

Getting properties let quickly is one of the ways in which we help our landlord clients. 97% of the properties we have under management are let within six weeks. Get in touch with the team at Ezytrac, on +44  0 1522  503 717 and discover how we maintain some of the fastest and best let rates in the country.

Live with passion,

Brett Alegre-Wood

By | 2018-06-05T05:14:37+00:00 June 11th, 2018|Landlord lessons, Property Management, Self Managing|0 Comments

About the Author:

Brett has over 20 years experience in all facets of property, he owns various companies centred around property and is the driving force behind the education and training at Ezytrac. His companies have sold over £850 million in UK and London property and he manages over 1200 properties through his estate agency chain. Today he shares his time between UK, Australia and Singapore. He is married to Arlene and together they have 4 kids. Brett holds both the Level 3 Property Mark Qualifications for Property Sales and Property Lettings and Management.