Rental Property Presentation: Aim to Please

“Buy-to-let landlords should pay attention to the presentation of their rental properties”, says Daniel Bourke. “A good clear up and fresh bed linen can make all the difference”.

Although a mystifying number of property owners still see fit to show their homes to prospective buyers with last night’s dinner plates in the sink and dirty laundry on the floor, most of us know the power of persuasion that a few candles and a thorough decluttering can have.

The same efforts are needed to attract tenants. The market may currently be tilted in favour of landlords, with reports of more prospective than properties to show them, but if the landlord has made little effort to make the place inviting, prospective tenants will look elsewhere. It’s particularly the case at a time when tenants are seeking to stay for longer periods. It is reported that the current average tenancy is now 19.2 months.

Dressing your rental properties won’t just achieve the best rent; it will see the properties let out more quickly, too. Developers know how to sell a lifestyle by dressing a property. Private landlords also need to learn a few tricks.

Daniel Bourke director of Belvoir Lettings in Dunstable, says: “Being well presented doesn’t just mean the condition of the property, but the way it is dressed. In keeping with the current trends I would recommend one painted or wallpapered ‘accent’ wall in the reception and maybe master bedroom to give an interior design look. It’s not expensive but it makes the flat stand out”.

He continues. “Beds should be made and dressed with coloured cushions and throws, tables laid, towels put in the bathrooms, and all mirrors and pictures hung on the walls. Tenants are discerning and the difference between a dressed and a poorly furnished property is enormous and will affect the rental value. For landlords, it’s a small investment and the return always outweighs the cost.” That difference can be as much as 20 per cent.

In new developments, tenants will always go for the property that is better dressed, “even if it’s on a much lower floor without the views,” says Daniel.

Dressing to let can be tricky if your property is occupied, so you either need to wait until a void period, then style it just how you want it, or you need amenable tenants. Telling them that if they keep the property clean and tidy they will be less inconvenienced by work to smarten it up should help.

Getting a lettings agent to do the viewings without you is fine – tenants can often be intimidated if the owner is present anyway and forget to ask pertinent questions. But find a lettings agent who will go the extra mile, advises Daniel: “At Belvoir Dunstable we always carry out viewings, after all both Landlord and Tenant are our clients, a fact that is often overlooked by other agents. We are here to create a long lasting relationship with both parties and being present at a viewing allows us to understand the needs of the tenants and on occasion find a solution to a potential problem which might have resulted in them not taking the property”.

Before a viewing it is sometimes necessary for your agent to prepare the property before a viewing that means opening windows to air the flat before viewers arrive, switching on the lights and heating, hiding piles of free post and letting the landlord know if the windows need cleaning or the grass cutting.

As more than 80 per cent of applicants start their search online, having good high-resolution photos that sell the best aspects of the property are crucial. “Make sure your property doesn’t go live on portals without them and that the flat is kept in a viewable state,” says Daniel and also “Ensure you get all feedback from viewings, positive or negative, and act on it accordingly.”

Some landlords might throw in Wi-Fi – to tempt tenants in an age when having Internet access is nearly as important as having a cooker. “Marketing a property is about incentivising potential renters and staying ahead of the competition. Securing a tenant and maximising income is down to how a property feels the moment you walk through the door”.

There are four main deterrents for potential tenants, says Daniel: evidence of pets, children, tobacco smells and chip pans. “The most important thing is to make it feel like a home. Declutter and depersonalise the property so anyone can imagine themselves living there.”