SOWING THE SEEDS FOR BETTER RENTALS - With summer fast approaching, it's time for landlords to 'think outside the box' and consider the value a well-planned garden space can add to their rental property.
SOWING THE SEEDS FOR BETTER RENTALS
National property specialist Belvoir says look towards the garden
With summer fast approaching, it’s time for landlords to ‘think outside the box’ and consider the value a well-planned garden space can add to their rental property.
Local letting specialist, Carly French who runs the Belvoir office at St Peters Hill in Grantham, says: “Whilst a great deal of importance is usually placed on ensuring the interior of a rented property is properly presented to new tenants, the outside space can also prove to be a deal clincher’.”
Gardens attached to rented accommodation can sometimes be viewed as a challenge, in terms of on-going maintenance and upkeep. But landlords can get it right by knowing the type of tenant they want to attract – and then creating an outside space that is both attractive and cost effective.
“The responsibility to maintain and keep tidy a garden more than often falls on the tenant, but landlords who have given thought to what an outside space should offer can make life much easier and trouble free for both parties,” adds Carly.
“A well maintained garden can turn a small piece of land into another living room – especially in the summer months. It will add extra appeal when trying to attract new tenants by providing an attractive recreational area in which to relax, socialise and play.”
The key to success is in understanding the tenant profile and then providing a garden area relevant to their needs.
A family with young children might need a lawned area and space for play equipment. For others, a barbecue area, tree shaded spot, vegetable patch or greenhouse could be more appropriate - or would a hard paved area with a shed for storing bicycles or camping equipment be the best solution?
Any garden area that has been well thought out will not only add appeal, but will also be easier to check and manage – either by landlords themselves or by their letting agent.
Below is a list of Belvoir’s top tips to consider when adding extra garden appeal to your property investment.
In larger gardens:
- Families with younger children tend to look for a rental property that provides a sizeable and safe area in which they can play.
- Lawned areas, with space to play games or sports and soft landscaped features such as sand pits, or tree bark surfaces for the housing of swings, slides or other play equipment, fit the bill.
- Perimeter fencing needs to be structurally sound, with secure gating but can be brightened with a trellis or climbing plants.
- For safety’s sake, ornamental ponds, prickly shrubs or plants that could create a skin irritation should be avoided. Beware of any planting that produces or sheds poisonous leaves or flowers.
- Bedded areas should contain plants that are either of a dwarf variety or very slow growing. Lawns can be treated with a product that reduces the need for weekly cutting by encouraging lateral rather than vertical grass growth.
- And finally, all paths and walkways should be even and firm and any brickwork or stone walls in good condition and well drained.
In smaller gardens:
- More compact outside spaces lend themselves to low maintenance garden features.
- Create an area that uses or combines an attractive covering of coloured slate, gravel or stone. Remember to lay a plastic based membrane to suppress weed growth.
- Construct a patio area from block paving, natural stone paviors or timber decking.
- Build into the design a small rockery, planted with easy to maintain, weather durable and hardy alpines or heathers that require very little upkeep.
- Consider a small water feature, run by solar power, to add interest and the soothing sound of trickling water.
- Solar powered patio or garden lights will transform the look of a small garden area as the sun starts to go down.
- Wall mounted directional spotlights – operated from inside the property, can also add an extra glow and provide an illuminated area for barbecues. Units fitted with heat sensors will also double up as security lighting to help deter intruders at night.
- Also consider providing tenants with hardwearing patio furniture or park style bench seating on a hard standing surface. It will create a comfortable place, for ‘al fresco’ dining, that is very easy to maintain.
- Some tenants will own equipment they would prefer to store outside the main property to help create more living space.
- Garden sheds or lockable, timber or moulded storage units will cater for this need.
- Greenhouses, garden ‘lean to’ structures, waste bin ‘tidies’ or stand-alone garages/workshops are other external features that can be incorporated into a garden layout – adding a valuable facility without detracting from any recreational space.
- Remember that garden tools (such as picks/ladders/ shovels etc.) are not only susceptible to being stolen, but could also be used to break into the main property.
- Be sure to secure shed or garage doors or frames with a strong lock/bolt mechanism and also consider providing battery operated security alarms and internal bolted anchorage points.
Carly adds: “Most tenants will appreciate the use of an outside area when the weather is fine. Even apartment dwellers, with very limited outside space, like to sit out on a balcony to read, take in some sun, tend to pot plants and generally relax.
“By creating an attractive external extension to your rental property you are maximising on the pleasure a garden or patio will offer tenant clients. For relatively little outlay it’s a good investment that will reap its own rewards over years to come.”