Although we all do our best to avoid them, void periods are a fact of life and most landlords and letting agents will find themselves with a vacant rental property on their hands at one point or another.
If you find yourself with an empty property, it’s important to keep it safe and secure. We’ve got some advice on how to protect vacant property and keep it in good condition until your next tenant comes along.
From security solutions to regular inspections, keep your property safe with these tips.
How Long Can A Rental Property Be Vacant?
If your rental property is left vacant for an extended period of time, you will need to inform your insurer. How long this period is can vary from insurer to insurer, so make sure you read the small print in your contract.
Usually, when a rental property is left vacant the insurance will go up as it is considered to be more of a risk.
Vacant Rental Property: The Risks
With no one living in the property to take care of day-to-day maintenance and inform you if something goes wrong, vacant properties present more of a risk for landlords and letting agents.
Here are some of the potential issues you could come across;
- Leaks or water damage
- Electrical faults
- Structural damage
- Pest infestations
- Weather damage
Vacant Property Security: The Solutions
While these potential issues sound scary, there are several steps you can take to ensure your property remains safe and secure.
Secure Doors and Windows
It’s good practice to change the locks between tenancies to minimise the risk of unlawful occupation. Having secure doors and windows also helps to prevent theft or squatting.
The RLA recommends using five lever mortice locks for external timber doors or a multi-point locking system for PVC doors, as well as door chains.
Regular Property Maintenance
Regular property maintenance is vital throughout the year, whether your rental property is occupied or not. By keeping on top of maintenance tasks, when it comes to vacant buildings, there is a smaller chance of structural or internal damage.
The main tasks to address include;
- Exterior maintenance e.g. replacing missing roof tiles or clearing guttering
- Regular servicing of boilers, pipes
- Interior maintenance
Depending on how long the property is left vacant, it may be wise to switch off certain utilities such as the electrics to minimise the risk of fire. However, if you’re dealing with an empty building over the winter period, scheduling the heating to come on periodically can prevent mould growth.
Perhaps the most important measure you can take is to ensure all smoke and CO checks are up to date.
Installing Security Systems
Installing an alarm system or extra site security can discourage theft or vandalism to your property. Security services can include;
- 24 hour security cameras
- Alarm system
- Security lights
- Property security services
Alert the Neighbours
Having a quick chat with the neighbours or sending round a letter is a cost-effective way of protecting your investment. Asking the neighbours to act as property guardians and alert you if they spot any suspicious activity or leaks before they create permanent damage can save you time and money in the long run.
Take Advantage of PropTech
PropTech innovation has come on leaps and bounds over the last couple of years and there are plenty of solutions out there to help landlords and letting agents protect their properties remotely. From leak detection to remote temperature control and live streaming- you’re sure to find an app to put your mind at ease.
Vacant Property Inspections
Vacant property inspections are vital for the protection and security of your property. Most insurance companies require vacant properties to be visited weekly or fortnightly to check for any security or management issues and ensure they are dealt with promptly.
Improve Your Marketing Materials
No landlord or letting agent wants a vacant rental property on their hands. To avoid this situation from occurring in the first place, it pays to invest in quality marketing materials.
We offer a 360 degree virtual property photography service to show off your property to a high standard, producing images for use in marketing and inventory reporting.
No Letting Go’s Vacant Property Protection Services
As experienced partners to landlords, letting agents and property professionals around the UK, we understand the importance of keeping your property safe and secure during void periods.
As part of our services, we offer essential vacant property inspections to check for any damage and arrange for swift repairs. Whether you are a landlord living overseas or a letting agency needing help with your portfolio, our dedicated clerks are on hand to help.
Discover the rest of our property inventory services here.
As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your rental properties are safe and comfortable for your tenants. One element of this is to make sure that the boiler is maintained and checked regularly.
With the summer coming up, you might think that your usual boiler maintenance checks can take a back seat while it’s not in use. However, it’s important to keep on top of boiler maintenance throughout the summer months to ensure it stays in tip top condition, saving you money in the long run.
To help you stay on top of your responsibilities, Paul Ritchie, Managing Director at All England Gas has an essential boiler maintenance checklist landlords will need this summer.
Run the Heating Once a Month
Let’s get started with some simple boiler maintenance tips;
In the summer, the warmer weather means it’s likely your tenants won’t have the heating on. However, this doesn’t mean you can ignore the boiler completely. Leaving the boiler doing nothing all season can cause some mechanical components to seize up and corrode. To prevent this, you should remind your tenants to run the heating for around 10 minutes, at least once a month throughout the summer.
This short period of time should not significantly affect the energy bill, leaving both you and your tenants happy.
Bleed Radiators at the Start and End of Summer
Even when the central heating system is off, pockets of air can find their way into the system and enter your radiators. This means they won’t heat up as well as they should when they’re switched back on in the colder months.
To prevent this, you should bleed your radiators at the start and end of the summer season to avoid any heating mishaps when it gets cold. This is something you can do as a landlord, but if your tenants have the radiator key, you can advise them to do it themselves.
To bleed your radiators, you or your tenant will need a key that fits into a valve at the top and side of each radiator.
Once you have the key, follow these steps;
- Turn this valve with the key until you hear a hissing sound — this is the air escaping.
- When the hissing stops and water starts to spurt out, this indicates that all the air has gone, and you should turn the valve back until the water completely ceases escaping.
- At this point you will usually notice that the system pressure has dropped and needs topping up.
- You can do this by locating the filling loop, which should be a hose with a valve at either end, and opening both valves to allow cold water to enter the main system.
- This two-stage process of bleeding the radiator and re-pressurising needs to be repeated until all of the air has been removed and the pressure is sitting at around 1.5 bar.
Get the Boiler Serviced
An annual service is essential for boiler safety and maintenance. Since your tenants will need the boiler throughout the winter, it might make sense for you to get it serviced during the colder months.
However, it could be more beneficial to have the boiler serviced in the summer instead to make sure it’s in full working order before temperatures drop. Servicing appointments will be cheaper and more readily available during these months, and you’ll have plenty of time if you need to get anything repaired or replaced.
Top tip: ensure you book a Gas Safe registered engineer for the job.
Read the Manual
If you haven’t already, read through the boiler’s owner’s manual. This will show you how it actually operates, and you might find that any issues that arise the following winter, like leaking pipes, are simple enough for you to diagnose and fix yourself.
For safety reasons, never remove the cover to fix any internal components of the boiler. If you suspect there’s an issue inside the cover, always call a Gas Safe engineer to take a look for you.
During the summer, your tenants aren’t going to be using the boiler quite as much as they would in the colder months. This provides you with the perfect opportunity to conduct these basic maintenance checks and get the boiler ready for the following winter.
Stay Secure with Boiler Cover
It’s always a good idea to protect yourself and your tenants against emergency boiler breakdown by purchasing boiler cover.
Your tenants have a right to hot water, working plumbing and heating no matter the season.
Don’t get caught out! Make sure you have a plan in place for when things go wrong.
Have some more questions? All England Gas offer a wide range of boiler tips and advice to help you keep up with all of your landlord responsibilities.
Protect Your Rental Properties this Summer with No Letting Go
If you go away over the summer, leave your property in the safe hands of the No Letting Go team. With 360 virtual photography you can even check up on your rental properties remotely!
For landlords with student properties, you might find yourself left with void periods over the summer months. To prevent damage and protect your investment during this time, No Letting Go offer vacant property visits and reports to ensure your property is secure and there are no leaks or other maintenance issues.
To discover the rest of our professional property services, including unbiased inventory reports and carbon monoxide safety checks, head over to our services page.
They’re the stuff of nightmares, sleepless nights, endless worrying and a bucket load of stress. No landlord wants to be caught up in a rental void period. Unfortunately, they’re pretty common and easy to fall into. This can be really damaging to landlords with a smaller portfolio. Thankfully, there are a few simple tips you can implement to avoid them altogether. Here are our 8 tips for preventing void periods. If you know of any more that could help other landlords, get in touch on Twitter.
1. Properly Maintain Your Property
So, let’s get this one out the way early. There could be an underlying reason why no one wants to rent your property. Ensure everything’s tidy, clean and in a liveable condition. Bathrooms and kitchens are key selling points of your property – do they need any work? Would a quick renovation boost your chances of attracting new tenants? The appearance of your property matters.
2. Advertise Everywhere (and Early)
It’s surprising to some but landlords do require marketing skills. Especially if you’re privately renting, you need to be able to market your property. Advertise your property everywhere you can, from local newspapers to online sites. If you want to stay away from void periods as much as possible, it’s important to advertise your property as early as you can. Don’t wait till the house/flat has been vacated.
3. Charge Reasonable Rent
Don’t inflate the rent you’re charging for the sake of it. Do your research and find out the average rent for the area. Then question how your property compares to the area’s average. Above all, charge a fair rent. You may be tempted to undercut the area’s average rent to ensure your property is seen as more attractive. Be warned, this could change the type of tenant you let to. Consider a deal including amenities if you want to make your listing more appealing.
4. Pick Good Tenants
This is a tricky one but will save you a lot of hassle in the long run. If you can let to good tenants you’ll reduce the risk of sudden changes in circumstance. Unfortunately even the best tenants can have unpredictable lives and there’s no simple way to get around this. Also, it’s very tricky to tell which tenants are genuinely ‘good’. Screening checks don’t tell the full story. The best tenants are steady and secure in their careers and lives.
5. Be Open Minded
It’s always important to have an open mind with potential tenants. Whether they’re looking to redecorate parts of the property or live with a pet, you may not like it but it’s worth considering. A tenant with a pet is likely to be more stable. Whereas a tenant who wants to redecorate will likely see themselves in the property for an extended period of time.
6. Why Not Try a HMO?
If you rent in an area popular with students or young professionals, it may be worth considering turning your let into a house in multiple occupation. You’ll need to adhere to specific licence rules about health and safety but it’s nothing a reasonable landlord couldn’t keep up with. This way, when one tenant moves out, you’re still making money from the other occupants.
7. Upgrade Your Furniture
Back to what we said earlier about how appearance is everything. If you’re offering a furnished property, it may be worth making a few extra purchases. Upgrading furniture will give your property a new lease of life. It could be the difference between attracting new tenants or not.
8. Be Approachable and Professional
Whether you like it or not, as a landlord you could be the reason between a tenant taking your property or not. If you turn up to a house viewing late, wearing sandals and shorts you’ll look unprofessional. Dress well, be prompt, appear approachable and ensure the tenant knows you’re professional.
When you start renting, don’t neglect the importance of a full and accurate inventory. Remove the possibility of disputes with No Letting Go’s inventory services.