During the 21 years as a letting agent, we’ve seen on numerous occasions where people who have decided to rent out a property can’t ‘let go of it’ emotionally.
This often happens with ‘accidental landlords’. These are people who didn’t buy a property with the intention of letting it out, but have ended up doing so. This could happen either because they cannot sell and need to move, decided to buy a new home and hold on to a property as an investment or have inherited it from a family member. The feeling that the property is still their home is sometimes difficult to overcome.
The main issue with putting properties like these onto the rental market are usually with decoration, fixtures and fittings.
Look Good but Wear Well
Rental properties can often take a bit of a beating, it’s the nature of the beast. It is important to decorate or renovate with that in mind. Understandably, most novice landlords make their property aesthetically pleasing for as little as possible but that can be a false economy. A healthy balance between aesthetics and durability
is usually the best solution for both tenant and landlord, even if it initially costs a little extra.
You cannot lose focus on the realities of buy-to-let and how people, especially tenants, live in the real world. Making a property durable isn’t the cheapest route, but over time, you could save a significant amount. There are ways to save in other areas to make costs more bearable.
So here are our top tips to treat your property as business, not personal:
Plan in Advance
Time is Money
The longer you spend renovating, the longer it will take to find a tenant or the longer void period will be.
If you’re planning to renovate or redecorate between tenancies, start the day after the tenants leave by source tools and supplies before hand.
If you need to use professionals, book them in advance. If they’re any good, they’ll be in demand.
If a task is out of your skill-set and isn’t realistically achievable, then get someone qualified to do the work. Do the job once and properly and it will save you money in the long term.
If you are using a letting agent, they should have a panel of specialist contractors that are available to do every type of maintenance or renovation job.
Council Tax Exemption
If the property will remain unfurnished and vacant during your renovation, contact your local council and apply for landlord council tax exception. You may or may not succeed, as every council is different but it’s certainly worth asking.
A lengthy spell of renovation works could amount to a significant saving.
Don’t Get Personal!
As we’ve already said, this is the golden rule when it comes to decorating or renovating a rental property but many landlords seem determined to ignore it.
Use your head not your heart and remember that YOU will NOT be living in the property.
Every “personal touch” you add to your property is a potential repellant to tenants. Tenants need to visualise themselves living in the property so presenting a ‘blank canvas’ will help them do that.
Don’t Go ‘Over-Neutral’
Don’t get caught in the ‘Magnolia’ trap!
A light colour does give the illusion of space and cleanliness, which of course is perfect to entice potential tenants. However, this can have an extremely short life-span. After a few months of practical living, lighter colours can become gloomy and murky. It is extremely difficult to keep light walls and carpets clean.
Try mid-toned browns and greys which are both practical and durable.
And use a good quality paint!
Use Tiles Where Possible
Use tiles instead of paint where possible, especially in rooms that are moist and prone to mould, like bathrooms, utility rooms, and kitchens.
Tiles are much more durable, more resistant to infestations and easier to maintain than paint.
Replacing grout is more cost effective than painting a whole wall.
Keep A Stock
This is a simple but very effective way of both saving money and a lot of hassle in the future. When decorating or renovating, buy a little extra when it comes to the materials that you have used. This will allow for easy paint touch-ups or tile replacements.
It’s amazing how many shades of the beige there are out there!
Floors are the biggest victim of wear and tear and also tend to be the biggest source of argument at the end of a tenancy when determining deposit returns due to the definition of wear and tear.
Spending a little extra on more durable carpets that can withstand heavy treading and carpet shampoos can be a good idea.
Floor tiles can also be a good choice. However, laminate flooring can be a problem. If it gets wet, it can expand, and that can cause serious issues. This can occur in the winter due to moisture in the air, but also, most people clean laminate flooring with a wet mop!
Hard wearing vinyl type tiles – Karndean is an example – are extremely hard wearing.
Mid the Gaps
Don’t leave gaps or perished seals unattended, especially around windows, sinks, baths, showers and cookers. A good quality sealant can be your best friend.
Gaps and poor seals can manifest into all sorts of nasty, unwanted problems including mould and water damage. Apply mastic filler to repair gaps to prevent any issues and use sealant with a mould repellent to repair broken seals.
Avoid Cheap Fittings
Cutting costs in some areas when it comes to renovating a buy-to-let property can be acceptable, but kitchen and bathroom fittings is a cost cut that is definitely not advisable. These rooms are often the make or break decision rooms when prospective tenants are choosing their property.
Cheap taps are definitely a false economy, especially when you consider the labour costs to get them fitted.
So that’s it. There’s nothing wrong with being passionate about your property and looking after it and your tenants.
In fact if you do that you’ll probably enjoy the experience even more. But remember it is a business at the end of the day.
Thanks for reading and if you have any other property related questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us – we’d love to help you.
Call our LETTINGS TEAM on 01332 300170