Landlords! How to Make Short-Term Work for You
There is an uneasy balance between landlords and tenants: landlords need tenants in order to make their money, but overly demanding tenants can be time- and money-consuming for landlords, especially if their property is their secondary income, with full-time employment and family commitments using up much of their time and energy. If you are a landlord for a short-term property, you will know all about having to decorate and refresh your property, often as much as once or twice a year.
Students and Visitors and Businessmen
Short-term property rentals often deal with the above three types of tenant: Students tend to live in accommodations for about nine months of the year, from September/ October to June/ July depending on the length of their course. Obviously, different courses and different colleges may have different term times, but the above dates are fairly standard for most UK universities. This means that you, as landlord, will have a relatively leisurely three months to get into the property, clean it up and renovate it ready for the new intake the following academic year.
Visitors from other countries, tourists and so on, tend to come during the warmer summer months when days are longer and the country is looking its absolute best. Holiday rentals tend to run for a much shorter time, often May at the absolute earliest, until September or October but more often the busy holiday season runs from June through July and August – high summer. Landlords for summer rentals tend to offer a more luxurious premises for correspondingly more money in order to maximise the profit they can make during their one quarter of the year of busy-ness.
Business travellers can arrive at any time, and can require a home away from home for anywhere from a few days to several months. It all depends on their reason for traveling and how long that business will take them to be completed to the satisfaction of head office.
Landlords offering premises to business travellers will usually keep their properties exclusively for professional businesspeople, while those catering to students and holiday visitors can enjoy some overlap. After a hectic academic year, the property can be quickly refreshed and made ready for the holiday tenants. During September, the property can be left vacant while a coat of paint or fresh wallpaper is applied before a fresh batch of students move in to resume their studies. Obviously, this is a great way of maximising income from the property, ensuring that the premises are occupied for about eleven months of a year – but it does mean that the brief unoccupied period is sure to be a busy one, with lots of cleaning, scrubbing, and redecorating. If your property is let furnished, you might have to spend some time checking the inventory and repairing or replacing anything damaged, lost or broken.
Get A System Going
When your property is briefly vacant is not the time to start thinking about getting replacement products and furnishings. Instead, try to anticipate the needs of your property – for example, if the bed is several years old and beginning to creak, do not put off buying a new one until it breaks. Your tenant could be injured and your reputation as a decent landlord will suffer.
If you own more than one property, you must have an efficient system to ensure that the premises are inventoried and renovated on a regular basis. Being a landlord can be a relatively easy way to make some money off your investment, but if you do not keep track of your spending, any profits can easily be lost. Soft furnishings should be washed regularly and examined for signs of wear and tear, being replaced as needed. Furniture should be tested and repaired or replaced if it is becoming unstable, and electrical equipment should be PAT tested for safety. Replacement items can be sourced fairly easily once you have good suppliers lined up, and you can even have them delivered right to your property – just make sure that you are there to take receipt on the right day!
Make sure that you have a good landlord’s insurance policy in place in case your tenants have been more destructive than you had allowed for, as sometimes happens, and scrupulously replace any damaged items that could become healthy and safety hazards if left alone.
Your best bet, at all times, is to make sure that you pick the best tenants for your premises. These might not necessarily be the people who are prepared to pay the most – sometimes students with plenty of access to cash can be the least inclined to maintain their home well. Instead, try to meet with prospective tenants and see how they behave when you show them around the place. And, of course, always run a tenant check on any prospective tenant – it is always better to be safe rather than sorry!