Seven ways for landlords to meet tenants’ new expectations
Since 2002, the private rental sector (PRS) in England has doubled in size to around 19–20 per cent of all households. The proportion of households in the PRS in the UK is set to grow by 22 per cent by 2023, according to Knight Frank’s The UK Tenant Survey – 2019.
In the capital and the South East, the proportion of people renting has increased, especially among those aged 35–44, primarily because of affordability. Also, changing demographics, urbanisation and the so-called third industrial revolution – the digital revolution – mean that jobs and the workforce are evolving and more people enjoy the flexibility of renting.
How should the best landlords respond to this changing environment?
1. Remember your USP
Remember, many tenants appreciate not having the responsibility of owning, or living in an area where they couldn’t otherwise afford to live. According to the latest study of more than 5,000 tenants living in the PRS, conducted for Knight Frank by YouGov (published in February), more than one in 10 tenants said renting allowed them to live in an area they could not otherwise afford.
2. Give your tenants a home
Today’s tenants are a varied bunch and, while individual requirements may differ, what unites them is a wish to make their rented house feel like home. High-quality finishes and well-maintained properties are increasingly what tenants expect. Landlords need to make sure their properties feel homely as well as being functional.
3. Kitchens, en-suite bathrooms and cleaning services are key
Knight Frank’s Tenant Survey found that tenant priorities are more focused on ‘internal’ factors – such as en-suite bathrooms and cleaning services – than on ‘external’ factors such as local shops. Other sought-after amenities that renters are looking for these days include high-end kitchen appliances, fully furnished and fireplaces. “Most tenants want to see a property in good condition, especially internally,” says Simon Scott, director and head of Richmond region at estate agent Savills. “That’s largely driven by the amount of new build-to-rent properties, particularly in and around London.”
4. Ditch the old furniture
If the property is furnished, invest in furniture that is functional and stylish. Dated or worn furniture will put tenants off. Demand, and therefore rental value, is strongest where a landlord has furnished properties with smart sofas, on-trend lighting and bedroom furniture that is in keeping with the style and period of the building. Complementary colour palettes and interior design that flows throughout a property suggest a well-considered interior, created with individuals in mind.
“Any landlord with a Victorian property will have to up the ante in terms of internal condition and décor,” says Scott. “The competition has become very strong as brand-new developments that offer all the most popular amenities pop up.”
5. Make your property pet-friendly
As the PRS has grown, more tenants wish to keep pets. Being flexible where pets are concerned will help a tenant feel more at home and could open up the market for landlords.
Bear in mind that, in light of the Tenant Fees Act, landlords are no longer be able to significantly increase the deposit to factor in additional damage where pets are concerned. Nonetheless, landlords can tailor clauses to an assured shorthold tenancy that can cover any damage and wear and tear caused by pets.
6. Yes, location matters
Location is often a larger concern than the size of the property itself. Twenty-three per cent of tenants claim that location is their second-biggest priority, followed by the size of the property (10 per cent), according to the Knight Frank study.
Scott says: “Depending on the budget, if it’s a tight budget tenants will be location-driven – how near they are to transport links and other facilities, such as the gym or cinema and restaurants.”
Transport concerns follow closely behind, with over a third pointing to the proximity to transport links or the ease of the commute to work as a major factor.
7. Make sure the broadband is FAST
What tenants increasingly expect – and will likely become standard – is fast broadband speeds. “There may come a time when tenants expect to have WiFi in all rentals, otherwise they’ll turn it down,” says Scott. “It’s a competitive market and landlords need to understand that they can’t let it easily without improving their game.” While landlords are under no legal obligation to provide telecommunications to their tenants – unlike gas, water and electricity – the majority of landlords in all corners of the country appreciate the importance of good connectivity.
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