COVID-19 has turned almost every aspect of our lives upside down, and the lettings market is no exception. David Knight, from Roof Windows 4 You, explains how landlords can appeal to prospective tenants in the wake of the pandemic, and hopefully make some extra money from their lets.
How to increase the rental value of your buy-to-let after COVID-19
As we head into the autumn during this strange and turbulent year, we’re starting to see what the long-term effects of the pandemic might be for the lettings market. The lockdown has shifted the priorities of many renters, who are now more likely to be looking for properties with home offices, garden access, or just a bit more space to relax. Plus, now that many renting professionals have swapped costly commutes for home working, they may be both willing and able to spend a greater proportion of their salaries on accommodation that suits their new lifestyles, too.
Make the most of outside space
When the lockdown confined us all to our homes earlier this year, it didn’t take us long to realise how important access to outside spaces can be for our wellbeing. As a result, there was a huge surge in demand for rental properties with gardens, balconies, and terraces, especially in cities and urban areas (LettingAgentToday). So, if your property currently has a dingy yard, neglected terrace, or overgrown garden, you’ll want to get it spruced up and add some lighting and garden furniture to make it into a welcoming and usable space. This will help you to get the best rental price for your property.
Decked or paved outside areas tend to be the easiest to maintain and will prevent weeds from taking over, so consider adding some attractive paving or decking. If you do have a green space, remember to keep on top of it: weeds, overgrown shrubs, and messy lawns won’t do any favours for the rental value, so make sure that the garden is looking it’s best before taking any photos or arranging a viewing. For larger spaces, it may help to hire a gardener to keep the outside space looking it’s best. Remember to add any garden furniture, accessories, or equipment to your rental inventory, too.
Create space for home workers
The lockdown turned a nation of commuters into home workers almost overnight. And now, even though the lockdown is starting to ease in most parts of the country, many people are continuing to work remotely, with many industry leaders predicting that this will continue into the late autumn. It’s also thought that this new way of working could become the new normal, with 86% of professionals saying they would prefer to work from home some or all of the time going forward (Business Matters Magazine).
As a result, many prospective tenants are likely to be looking for properties that are both a home and a workspace rolled into one. So, you may want to make sure that any box rooms, lofts, or other unused spaces are optimised for use as offices. Adding natural daylight using roof windows can make a dark and dingy attic space into a more welcoming, energetic environment, while bright lighting can also make a tiny box room seem more like a workspace. If your buy-to-let is furnished, remember to add a desk and ergonomic chair, so tenants will have somewhere to work. Don’t forget to add any additional furnishings to your property inventory, too.
Even if you don’t have a space that can act as a dedicated home office, there are still ways to incorporate a workspace into your property. Adding a fold-out desk or bureau to a bedroom or living area will show prospective tenants that working from home is possible in a smaller space. If you have a cupboard or alcove, you could also add a laptop desk and some shelving, to create a mini “home office” that is sure to appeal to remote workers.
Be flexible and allow pets
Another way to ensure your property stands out is to be flexible with the terms of your lease, like allowing tenants to keep pets at the property, for instance. The lockdown has seen a number of people take on new pets, and they may be willing to pay a higher rent in order to find a home that’s suitable for their new companion. 44% of households already own pets (RSPCA), so you’ll be widening the pool of potential tenants you have access to, as well.
Just be sure to include a pet agreement in addition to the lease, so the tenants understand how many animals they can keep at the property, and what their responsibilities are with regard to any pet-related damage.
Today’s tenants are increasingly committed to sustainable living — particularly young professionals and millennials, who are more likely to be renting. And, many of them may be willing to spend a little extra in order to find products and accommodation that aligns with their values. So, if you want to attract the best tenants from this key demographic, you can set your property apart by ensuring it’s as energy efficient and eco-friendly as possible.
Installing double glazing, loft insulation and modern A+ rated appliances can significantly improve your properties EPC rating, as well as lowering running costs and utilities — both of which will impress potential tenants. You could even consider adding an electric vehicle charging point: these are set to become much more in-demand as petrol and diesel vehicles are phased out, so adding one of these could be a significant boon in years to come. Plus, you can take advantage of government grants to help reduce the cost of installation.
If you’re looking to increase the rental value of your buy-to-let, it’s well worth considering some of the changes I’ve outlined here.