Everyone who owns a rental property knows that the last few months of the year can be quiet and whilst there is always a surge in the number of people looking for property at the start of the year, they can often be looking to move later, all so they have that one month’s extra rent in their back pocket. So how do you go about letting a property in winter?
First of all, it’s important to think about the winter months in context. People generally like to be on a property for around November time. This gives them plenty of time to have settled in both the inevitable rush and cost associated with Christmas.
Once Christmas is out of the way people start thinking about what the new year is going to look like for them. This is often the time that they start having conversations about moving to a different rental property. But most people get paid around Christmas Eve and spend January treading very carefully so they don’t overspend. This means that whilst many people will have the intention to move at the start of the year, many also won’t be in a position - financially - to move.
At MakeUrMove we have many surges of activity and we always advise that landlords update their property listings during the January period, because this is the time of year that prospective tenants will start to inquire. So you’ll be ready.
To ensure your property is let throughout the winter period, the best option is to make sure you’ve got a tenant in place around November. Perhaps you can arrange the tenancy so it doesn’t come up for renewal over the Winter period for example.
Another thing you should do is speak with your tenants to make sure they’re happy with the property. If there’s anything that needs fixing to make sure you do it before winter. During the darker months of late Autumn and Winter can be the time of the year that small maintenance issues can wear extra heavily on a tenants mind.
But not everyone has that luxury. An empty property is one that’s costing you money, whether that’s through mortgage payments, council tax payments, or other costs associated with maintaining an empty property.
In addition, if your property is empty over winter you’re going to have to spend time visiting it or getting someone to visit it, to make sure it’s properly aired, that there’s no damage caused by frost, and that the property is generally secure. Keeping the ventilation is always important because no one wants to walk into a musty damp property.
If you do have a property that you need to find tenants for through Winter, you are going to want to find ways in which to incentivise potential tenants to view and offer on your rental. As discussed the most important thing you can do is ensure you keep the rental property in the best possible condition, so it’s always ready when a potential tenant wants to view the property. This is also the ideal time to do some work on the property. So tidy up those bits of paintwork and repair or replace anything that’s not as appealing looking. It’s best to leave the heating on a timer to put some warmth into the property so damp doesn’t start to creep in.
You are probably going to have to go to market with a reduced rent if you want to make sure you let it over winter. This is simply a supply and demand thing. In winter there are fewer people looking for places to rent, so if you’ve got the keenest priced property you’ll be in a better position than other landlords who have to achieve top of market rents every month. Of course, this will depend on your circumstances month on month.
We always recommend choosing a six month assured shorthold tenancy. You could let your tenant know in advance that they are going to rent the property at a lower rate for the first 6 months and then you’ll be looking to increase the rent. You might even be able to let them know what you would like the rent to be in the future and agree on it in advance.
If you can’t afford to reduce the rent, what could you include that is low cost to you but high value to a prospective tenant. For example, you might want to offer to get the garden tidied regularly for them or you might be able to include window cleaning.
Crucially though, it’s time to get your rental property listed. It needs to be listed as early as possible over the winter period to give it the best chance to attract the right kind of tenant. To get started with MakeUrMove, simply list your property for FREE, then we’ll send it to potential tenants and we’ll also submit it to all the major property portals.