Getting and Keeping the Right Tenants 1st Mar 2016

With rental demand at an all-time and high and voids at an all-time low, there are no shortage of tenants looking for properties. However finding the right tenants for the right property is essential for a safe, long-term let. How do you find the right tenants for your property, and more importantly when you find the right tenants, how do you keep them?

Property Size and Location
This will likely dictate who your tenants will be. If you have a large property near colleges and universities then you will likely find the student market knocking on your door. If you are in the suburbs near schools then you will probably be looking at a family let. And if you have a flat in the centre of town, this will be suited to professionals. There are also areas that are suited to the housing benefit market - currently the Scottish average is 62% (comprising unemployed, and employed with benefit top ups) and so this is not a sector that should be ignored. However if a property is of a suitable standard to attract a working tenant, then working tenants would always be preferable . . . and if a property is not to a standard that will attract a working tenant, then why isn't it?

Presentation of Property
It is essential that your property is well presented (internally and externally) in order to attract the right tenants in the first place. A poor quality property will fall to less desirable tenants, as most people will just pass it by. Throughout the tenancy the property has to be well maintained – invest in improvements in order to maintain the value of your property. The Key Place advises all of our fully managed landlords on this at regular intervals. Allowing tenants to make their mark, such as painting walls (if they are able and the colour is agreed), putting up pictures using picture hooks etc, makes it feel more like the property really is their home, and they may well stay for longer.

Finding Good Tenants
Primarily it is essential that prospective tenants are put through a thorough referencing process. Simply collecting references is not enough – they need to be checked and verified. Call the employer and the previous landlord, calculate whether there is enough money evidenced on bank statements to cover the rent, get copies of passports or driving licenses. If you have any concerns consider credit checking. There is no need to pick the first people that view the property and you should trust your gut instinct – if you don’t feel that you would be happy dealing with these people then do not let them sign a lease on your property. And finally never take a tenant without meeting them. This is a time consuming process and The Key Place will deal with all of this for you.

Keeping Good Tenants
The only thing better than a good tenant is a good long-term tenant, and if you have a good long-term tenant who pays their rent and looks after the property, then you want to do everything you can to keep them. The following will help:

• Be a Good Landlord – be fair and be responsive. This is your tenant’s home and they should be comfortable in it. Attend to repairs quickly, maintain the fabric of the property, and invest in upgrades - when a carpet gets worn replace it, when a room needs painting get it painted. Never ever enter the property unannounced as this is illegal.
• Rent Increases – these should be fair and timely. Rents cannot be increased within the 6 month lease period. As the lease comes up for renewal, comparable market rents can be considered, and a fair increase applied. The Key Places regularly reviews rents and will advise landlords accordingly.
• Communicate – respect your tenants’ privacy, however do keep in touch. Regular communication will enable you to keep an eye on how things are in your property. The Key Place regularly communicates with all of our tenants.
• Routine Inspections – these will allow you to see what needs done in the property. Once you have identified any issues then act on them. The Key Place carries out regular thorough inspections and feeds back our findings to our landlords.
• Look after your Tenants – according to research conducted by Endsleigh Insurance Services, 70% of tenants who received an act of kindness stayed in their property for 24 months or more, compared to just 53% who hadn’t. This can be as simple as providing a bottle of wine at the start of the tenancy, or putting credit on the electricity meter for when they move in.

By combining all of the above, you may well be in the enviable position of being a landlord who has good, long-term tenants – one of the biggest components in making property investment a success.