Brexit is having an impact in the rental as well as the for-sale market. Concerns are growing over changes to regulation; dips in property value; possible interest rate hikes meaning rents will have to increase, affecting affordability for tenants; and the ambiguity around having EU nationals as tenants.
But amidst this turbulence is an opportunity for landlords to bring some stability to the rental sector and move forward with the evolving tenant. While the waiting game on Brexit continues, we can look at how to be more effective and responsible as landlords overall.
PPP Capital has been developing and renting property for over 15 years, but in the past few years we have had to think more creatively in the face of Brexit uncertainty about our approach to the evolving tenant. Below is a list of suggestions we have found effective in attracting and retaining good tenants and we are confident this approach will help our portfolio weather whatever Brexit brings.
Move forward with tenants’ changing profile: For example, many tenants are now pet owners. Landlords are often reluctant to accept pets, but we give applying tenants the chance to describe their pet before we decide whether to accept. We also suggest putting a clause in the contract about having pets in the property. In our experience, if we show flexibility and care as a landlord, we receive the same respect in return.
Engage in efficient two-way conversations with tenants: One way to do this is to use property maintenance software that updates tenants in real time. Making them feel connected to their landlord eliminates rounds of calls or emails and speeds up simple maintenance requests, but also builds trust between both parties.
Enabling your company, tenants, contractors and tradespeople to access it separately and simultaneously makes things easier for all involved. A digital maintenance log also helps you to see if properties are costing more than was forecasted.
Be open to installing high quality finishes and extras: More tenants than ever envisage themselves as long-term tenants rather than homeowners. For a landlord, this means tenants will give extra care to the property, treat it more like their own home and stay for years. So it is often worth investing in some ‘extras’ such as smart home systems, underfloor heating or safety features such as alarm systems and great outdoor lighting.
Give back to the community: One way to do this is sponsor a local community initiative or help to create an outdoor communal area or park nearby. This is an idea we have started exploring but not yet implemented. We have donated to national charities but also want to identify projects in communities where we have developments.
Our priority is to identify opportunities that support a greener, brighter future for the communities we are present in.
Renters’ needs are evolving. Property selection and the decision to stay for the long-term are not only determined by the basics but by a landlords’ attitude to diverse tenants and how responsible they are as a landlord. There are ambiguous times ahead, but private and corporate landlords with mid-to long-term buy-to-let and build-to-rent properties should remain very optimistic about the future.
Let’s focus on the long-term yield while doing our best to be responsible landlords with solid portfolios occupied by respectful tenants.
Sanjeev Patel is managing director of PPP Capital