The phrase “void period” is certainly the least favorite among the landlords, however it’s the most common issue that I hear about.
I hear from many landlords on how their property has been empty for months and all the efforts on finding a new tenant have been unsuccessful.
The latest story comes from a local landlord who had his property empty for more than 4 months, when advertising with a well known estate agency chain in Turnpike Lane.
I understand that the London market can be very unpredictable and Brexit has certainly influenced a few things, but a 4 month void period for a landlord and myself is something quite unacceptable.
Five years ago, when we started as a small family-run business in North London, it was normal for us not to have any void periods at all as we would do our best for each one of our landlords and treat our HMO property like our child.
At present, after 5 years of managing HMO properties in North, East and Central London we still have managed to keep the void periods down to only 0.08%.
Here are 13 very useful tips we have compiled that will help you in avoiding any void periods. Many of them can also be used for single let properties too.
1. Start advertising the property as soon as you know that your existing tenant is leaving or as soon as you know you will have the property available.
2. Make sure that your tenant knows well in advance about all of the viewings, so they have enough time to tidy up.
3. Keep good relationships with your tenants and resolve any misunderstandings or arguments in the best possible manner. When the relationships are good, the tenants will always do their best in assisting with the viewings and ensuring the room is presentable.
4. Make sure that you or your viewings/lettings manager goes to the property at least 15 – 20 minutes before the viewing. This will allow you or your employee enough time to tidy up the room or any communal areas if needed.
5. Inform all of the other tenants at the property that a new room will become available, so they can offer it to their friends. We also have a referral system where we reward our tenants in value of £100 for a successful new tenant.
6. Always ensure you take professional quality pictures of the property. On average it will cost £100, but the pictures will stay with you forever and the difference it can make is unimaginable.
7. If the room is empty – dress it up. Make sure it looks homely and welcoming and most importantly – make sure it is clean!
8. Book small group viewings. 15 minute slot for each group. For example 2 – 3 people for each 15 minute slot. Prospective tenants will see that there are others interested, but it won’t get too overcrowded.
9. Provide the potential tenants with lots of information about the area and the existing housemates. It makes an incredible difference when you help someone to get to know the area or the household. Besides describing the typical working professionals, I would name all the tenants by their names, where do they come from and add some interesting facts. For example, John is from London and he enjoys watching movies and Helen is from Hungary and loves Kinder Bueno.
10. Ask people to give you their decision straight after the viewings. Don’t be shy in asking ”So, what do you think, would you like to apply for the room?”
11. Make the tenant application process as easy and simple as possible. After they decide they want to take the room – make sure the application process is as straightforward as possible, ensuring the room is secured, for their peace of mind and yours.
12. When creating your adverts, invest the extra time in making them more unique by choosing welcoming and creative language. I would also suggest to have a testimonial from one of your existing tenants in the description part of the ad.
It also helps if you renew and change your ad after every set of viewings as it will boost it higher up in the list.
13. Most importantly – do your best in everything that you do so your tenants wouldn’t want to leave, unless they really have to. Go that extra mile in building your relationships. Bring the whole house together and creating a nice ”family” feel. Always repair everything on time and be as helpful as possible, but in the meantime don’t be a pushover.
I really hope that this guide will help you to in keeping your void periods down and take away some of the worries that might have been occupying your mind.
If you have any other HMO management related questions and you feel we could help you with anything, please feel free to contact us.
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