How can letting agents help to reduce void periods for landlords?

Written by
Pete Howroyd
Co-founder & CMO
Agents
August 21, 2019

As a letting agent, one of your principal goals will be to ensure that your landlords’ rental properties are occupied at all times and bringing in a steady stream of rental income. This, in turn, improves their chances of achieving decent yields.

You’ll be keen to make sure they swerve any void periods – where their property is empty and there is no rental income coming in, but they are still having to pay for the mortgage, maintenance and other fees associated with owning a property.

But what can you do to ensure void periods aren’t an issue, or at the very least reduced to a very manageable level? While it’s impossible to eliminate void periods completely – with turnover of tenancies unavoidable at times – steps can be taken to minimise the impact of a landlord’s home being empty for a period of time.

Below, we take a closer look at what can be done by agents to reduce void periods for landlords...

Be hot on maintenance

This is important in two ways – firstly, a well-maintained home is likely to encourage tenants to stay for longer, which means you don’t have to worry about getting new tenants in when the old ones vacate. Secondly, while the majority of void periods are caused by natural tenant turnover, some are caused by landlords needing to undertake vital maintenance works – for example the eradication of persistent mould and damp or the urgent need to fix something with the roof or structure of the building.

Such large (and expensive) repairs will probably require an empty property. These void periods are entirely avoidable if preventative maintenance is carried out before problems snowball, and if you as the agent react quickly to any issues that are a cause for concern.

Building a good relationship with tenants helps here, giving them the confidence to report any problems that require addressing – and knowing that they will be dealt with promptly.

Source the best tenants

The best way of reducing the chances of void periods is to fill your landlords’ homes with long-term, reliable tenants.  

It’s important to get the right kind of tenants in place to begin with, and then to work hard to keep them there. For this, you need to vet tenants thoroughly on behalf of your landlords. This is where services like Canopy can help, offering simple, automated and instant referencing, which can help to improve transparency and reduce void periods.

Canopy looks after everything – from the landlord and employer referencing and credit checks, to rent affordability checks through Open Banking – to ensure that the best possible tenants are matched to your landlords’ homes.

By pre-approving a tenant, and making sure they are ready to rent, this can help to save you and your landlords’ time and money, allowing you to focus on other tasks that will improve the renting experience for all parties.

What’s more, our products aim to reduce the time it takes to let a property – further reducing void periods – and enables you to let property faster by offering deposit-free renting and fully digital services.

Make sure the property looks the part

As well as a home being well-maintained, it will also need to be warm and welcoming – somewhere tenants will be happy to call home for the long-term. An attractive, well-furnished home is also likely to rent much faster than one which is tired and shabby.

It pays, then, in terms of both getting tenants in place and then keeping them there, for properties to look as good as they can. You could advise landlords to invest money in kitchens and bathrooms, two of the most important parts of any house, and work with them to spruce up the garden, improve the property’s kerb appeal, modernise where needed, and decorate in neutral colours to provide the most mainstream appeal.

Landlords who want to rest faster and for more money may also want to let furnished homes, with high-quality furnishings and white goods.

Providing a good-looking, comfortable home is one of the best ways of reducing void periods, and keeping them at bay for a long time with long-term tenants in place, so it’s something that is worth putting some time and investment into.

Offer competitive rents

Naturally, landlords will want to charge the highest possible rents for their homes, but this needs to be tempered by realism and awareness of market trends. Landlords who charge rents that are too high could see frustrated or money-strapped tenants look elsewhere, and could then struggle to secure new tenants if rents are too high above average market prices.

As a result, rents need to be set at realistic levels. This is something you, as the agent, can help with – using your knowledge of the local market and the rents typically charged and advising your landlords accordingly.

What’s more, landlords who are struggling to entice tenants into their properties might want to offer some kind of incentive to secure a new tenancy faster. This could include a lower security or holding deposit, or perhaps even a discount on the first month’s rent to make the home more appealing to tenants.

Factor in the risk

It can be a good idea for landlords to set aside some money to act as a buffer in the event of extended void periods being experienced. If void periods are budgeted for, their financial impact automatically goes down.

You may also want to encourage them to consider landlord insurance and any guaranteed rent products you offer. In the case of guaranteed rent, void periods are effectively eradicated as a problem as landlords still receive an income even if their rental home is standing empty.

As we said before, void periods are hard to eradicate completely – and might be something your landlords experience from time to time – but there are steps you can take to help minimise and reduce them.  

You can find out more about the services Canopy offers to landlords and agents here, from a reduction of rent arrears to an all-digital experience for property managers.

Get Canopy in your inbox

Sign up to our emails for updates, product releases, and tips to make you financially resilient.