May 06, 2021
4 min read
If there’s one phrase that landlords hate hearing more than “capital gains tax,” it’s “void periods”. And unforeseen, lengthy void periods are likely to have a damaging impact on rental income. After all, an empty property isn’t earning you money.
The savviest landlords know that it’s possible to minimise void periods by acting fast and knowing how to find tenants quickly. While tenants come and go, there are some quick and easy steps that will always help keep your property from sitting empty.
Void periods are where a rental property remains empty, with no paying tenants. These periods may occur for a variety of reasons. The property may require some maintenance, so the landlord is unable to take on any new tenants; there may be difficulty in finding new tenants; or the current tenant may have packed up their belongings and left without notice. Sometimes this happens suddenly, other times, it’s planned months in advance.
These void periods can be costly as not only are you missing the rental income, but you may also still have to pay the mortgage, council tax and utilities. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to make sure you’re not caught by surprise when a tenant moves out.
It goes without saying that a well-maintained rental space is less likely to suffer from void periods. Current tenants will be reluctant to leave and competition will likely be higher if the property does become available. The key to sustaining your property’s standards is performing regular maintenance, fixing damage as soon as possible, and frequently inspecting the space to ensure you’re not overlooking any glaring issues.
Before you market the property, ensure it’s ready for prospective tenants to view. You don’t need to wait until the property is vacant to conduct viewings, either. As soon as you receive notice from the current occupier, start marketing and scheduling viewings (it goes without saying that you’ll need to inform your current tenant, too).
A savvy landlord will do all they can to hang on to good, reliable tenants. That means being responsive to their needs, acting on any issues raised and being flexible with their requests. The better relationship you or your Letting Agent has with them, the less likely they are to leave (with or without notice).
A fixed-term is where the tenant cannot end the tenancy by serving notice. They are locked into the contract, agreeing to pay rent for a certain number of months. Using fixed terms can be wise as it secures an income for you (the tenant is still liable to pay the rent until the end of the fixed period, even if they move out), and it attracts those who are committed to a long-term let. The major benefit for tenants is that the rent won’t increase during the fixed term, which gives them stability and security.
One great way to reduce the risk of a void is to offer longer fixed terms. While many landlords only offer six months, you can choose to offer anything up to seven years (but bear in mind this may open you up to legal and tax implications as the tenancy becomes similar to a leasehold). To settle somewhere in the middle, three years is a great offering (as it doesn’t have to be signed as a deed). Generally speaking, longer lets attract more reliable and stable tenants while giving you peace of mind for longer.
A key factor in keeping your rental property full is to ensure your rent is neither astronomically over the average for the area nor too low where you see pennies for profit instead of pounds. Take a pragmatic approach to this and remain flexible. While you may want to score £750 a month, if the average is £600, you may need to meet the market in the middle. If you’re struggling to price your rental competitively, a local Lettings Agent will be able to offer professional advice.
If finding tenants is an issue, you might get more takers if you offer a discount on the first three months of rent or if utility bills are included. If the property is furnished to a high standard, you may want to publicise the high-end appliances and furnishings in the space. Think of something small you can do to sweeten the deal and it could pay off and minimise the risk of voids.
Rent guarantee insurance covers the rent if the tenant defaults on payments or if your rental is left empty, usually covering you up to 90 days. This is particularly useful if you have a niche property that doesn’t always attract tenants instantly.
Not sure how to find new tenants? Work with a Letting Agent who can do all the heavy lifting. From securing new tenants and running references to checking the inventory and lining up a new tenant when a term is ending, Letting Agents can help you sidestep void periods as much as possible.
Not every void period is to be feared. Just like every cloud, void periods have a silver lining. They give you the opportunity to complete repairs, perform essential maintenance, give everything a deep clean, thoroughly check the inventory and even give the space a makeover. Use the Property Playground to source all the inspiration and products you need to make your rental feel like home.
Boomin is the only place where your property can be visible and gather interest from the moment you book a free valuation with a Letting Agent. We work with some of the UK’s top Letting Agents that help you fill your rental property and keep void periods to a minimum. Get started on renting out your house. It’s your stress-free way to let.