Being a landlord is a lot like riding a rollercoaster. You’ll go through highs, lows and a lot of loop-de-loops. Having a void property is probably the lowest point on the track, and you want to get back to the top as soon as possible.
Void periods can be a nightmare to deal with. Every landlord will go through one at some point, but some will last longer than others and for different reasons.
To keep a void period short and painless, we’ve put together this article so you can get back to enjoying the ride. But first, let’s go through what it means to have a void property.
What is a Void Property?
A void property is one that doesn’t have a tenant in place. In other words, it’s sitting empty. And empty properties cost landlords money. There are many reasons why a tenant might move out such as:
Relocating for work
Moving in with a partner
Needing more space for a growing family
There’s not much you can really do in situations like these, so it’s best to wish your former tenant luck, and put your property back on the rental market as soon as possible.
If your property is up-to-date and in line with what your target market expects from a rental, you should find a new tenant fairly quickly.
However, a dated property will take a lot longer to rent out. And in some cases, tenants leave not because their circumstances have changed, but because the property just doesn’t do it for them style-wise.
Other properties go through void periods once they’re back on the market because they’re unfurnished. People lead busy lives these days, and spending evenings and weekends looking for online furniture deals isn’t their idea of fun.
Fully furnished properties take that stress away from tenants, and you’ll find people with a higher budget will almost always go down the route of style and convenience.
What’s the Cost of a Void Period?
We asked landlords how long they expect void periods to last between tenant occupations. 38% said one month, 24% said they expected voids to last for two months, and 10% said three months if not longer.
In total, a massive 72% of landlords expect their property to be void for one month at the very least when a tenant moves out.
A void property doesn’t bring in any income. In fact, they cost money. Taking a look at the UK’s Rental Index data for March 2021 (but excluding London), landlords up and down the country are losing an average £847 in rent every month their property is empty. For the landlords that expect a three-month void period, that’s a loss of £2541.
Those figures are even more staggering for landlords based in London, where average rents are £1586 per calendar month. In a three-month period, that’s £4758.
But loss of rental income is just one way a void property loses money. Cash might not be coming in, but you might still have other costs going out such as:
Utilities (water, electricity, etc.)
And if you’re using a letting agent for help, their services come at a price, too, as does remarketing the property.
Put simply, the sooner you have a tenant back in place, the better.
Ways to Minimise Void Periods
Voids are going to happen. You might find a new tenant in a couple of weeks, a month or several months, but even the best properties will sit empty at some point.
The key is to make sure your property is void for the shortest time possible. How do you do that? We’re glad you asked!
Put Tenants First
It’s important to keep in mind that rental properties aren’t just investments, they’re homes. People live their everyday lives in them, laughing, dancing, singing, curling up with a good book, and sleeping in late on Sundays.
So, ask yourself: “If this was my home, would I be happy living here?”
If not, why?
Are the furnishings worn out or dated? Is any furniture broken beyond repair? Does the furniture meet the needs of tenants?
Don’t forget to ask your tenants for feedback regularly. If you ask the right questions, you have the chance to solve any issues before they become serious and they decide to leave.
If your property is new to the market, ask an expert designer for advice. They’ll be able to tell you if your property is what today’s modern tenant is looking for.
Invest in Your Investment
Yes, we did just make a point about how rental properties are more than just investments, but they’re still investments all the same. It’s important to keep your property up-to-date and looking fresh, and for less than the cost of one month’s rent, it’s much easier to do than you might think.
Let’s take the average UK rent of £847 as our budget. With that amount available you could add the following to your property:
A lick of paint (£15 a tin and some of your time)
New cushions (£15 each)
Set of curtains (£25-£50)
A two-seater sofa (from £225)
Unique prints & artwork (£35+)
Work from home essentials (£140 for a desk and chair)
Even if you bought three tins of paint, three cushions and spent the top end of our estimate on curtains, that’s still only £630. It’s a small price to pay when you consider sprucing up your property will keep tenants happy. And if they’re happy, you’re less likely to suffer from voids.
Keeping the Void Property Nightmare at Bay
There’s only one way to really stop void periods from becoming a problem or dragging on for months on end, and that’s by making sure your property appeals to the market.
Tenants have a lot of choice these days. You’re competing against other landlords and build-to-rent properties, so your rental needs that wow factor.