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Landlords take note

Posted: November 2012

By Jo Eccles

According to the Council of Mortgage Lenders, the value of buy-to-let lending in the first nine months of 2012 was nearly 20% more than in the same period in 2011. In fact, 34,000 loans were taken out in the summer of 2012 alone. The buy-to-let sector is still very much alive, and we certainly see this with our own clients’ appetite.

With the proportion of households renting, rather than buying, forecast to dramatically increase over the next decade, an increase in private rented accommodation is a good thing and much needed.

However, buy-to-let landlords need to make sure they’re properly catering for tenants. If you’re a landlord, it’s in your interest to do so as you’re likely to attract better quality tenants who will look after your property, and they’re also likely to stay for longer periods which can increase your rental yield.

The best rental properties I see on behalf of our rental clients are those which have previously been owner occupied, i.e. the landlord previously lived there himself/herself. Tell-tale signs vary. For example, the furniture provided usually matches, rather than so many rental properties which have a mishmash of different furniture thrown together over the years. Storage space is another key indicator. So many investor owned properties provide a measly double wardrobe per bedroom, which, if you think about your own belongings, is rarely enough to even store a fraction of your things. The best properties will provide plenty of storage and it won’t be hollow cupboard space, it is well configured cupboard space with different hanging and shelving sections. It’s amazing how many tenants I’ve seen over the years say no to a property on the grounds that there’s simply not enough storage – or pay a premium for a flat with amazing storage. And no, it’s not just female tenants who value this!

The absence of a dishwasher is often another sticking point, as is the lack of double glazing in properties on busy roads. My advice to landlords is to listen to reasonable tenant requests – although they might cost you money in the short term, you are likely to recoup your investment several times over as your improvements will be valued by future tenants for years to come.

If your property income is your pension, you’d be well advised to remember to look after it, and it should look after you well in return.

If you have a question you’d like Jo to answer please email info@sppropertygroup.com or tweet her @joeccles.