How to deal with things you might not have known your tenants want

by Gary Whittaker

When operating in the UK private rented sector, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking every tenant is the same in terms of their needs and desires. The majority of tenants, for example, want spacious rooms, good transport links and a strong broadband connection from a property. 

However, this doesn't necessarily mean that everyone wants this, and some people will have additional wants when they are choosing where to rent. The problem, according to online letting agent Upad, is that many owners of rental homes are not all that in tune with what tenants are looking for. 

Upad said that in many cases, there is a gap between what landlords are looking to provide, and what the tenant wants, particularly when it comes to those who have had the same rules for a number of years in their properties. 

"It is clear that what tenants want is something completely out of sync with what landlords think tenants want," said Upad founder James Davis. There are, however, a number of steps that can be taken to turn this around and mitigate against friction. Here, we take a look at just a few of these. 

Listen to tenants

Listening to tenants, according to Upad, is the most important things that landlords and letting agents should be doing to make sure they have the best chance of securing a tenancy. It said that in the majority of cases, tenants are very clear about what they want, and they just need to be heard so their desires can be met. 

For example, 17 per cent of people said they want to be able to move a pet into the property with them, and would even be prepared to pay £50 extra per month in order to secure a tenancy that allows this. In addition, 15 per cent said fully furnished properties, not always a guarantee, were the most important considerations for them, with tenants willing to pay £163 extra for such a home. 

Be flexible

It's easy to say no when someone comes to you with a request for something you didn't expect. For example, if a tenant comes to you asking if they can move pets in, the gut reaction is to say no. Pets can be one of the most problematic issues for landlords, causing noise disturbances and even damage. 

However, it's important to judge every case on its individual merits as a letting agent or landlord, and while you may well have rules in place, it can pay to be flexible with them. If someone does ask if they can move their dog into a flat with them, take some time to ask them about their pet, try to meet it if you can, and even negotiate a higher deposit to cover potential damage. All of this not only allows you to be more flexible, it also enhances the chance that you will find a potential tenant, while keeping the risk of loss through damage low. 

Reassess rules

As well as being flexible, it can pay to have a rethink of your own personal rules as a landlord or agent after a number of years. Your rules may have been set in stone for years, stating that no pets or allowed, or any number of other restrictions, but you need to ask yourself if they still fit in with the modern world of renting, and if it would be worth changing them. 

For example, when it comes to decorating properties, which many landlords have long told tenants they cannot do, would it pay off to allow tenants to make the house their own ' After all, people are now staying in rented properties for far longer than they ever did in the past, and they see rented accommodation as home in a way they never have before, so it can be a good idea to perhaps reassess rules like this, as well as those around pets and other things you might have never said yes to before as a landlord or agent. 

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20-July-17Property Management