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Does a landlord who cuts corners really save any money?

The approach of landlords to their property portfolios can differ vastly and it is interesting to consider whether trying to “do things on the cheap” is a false economy of simply makes good business sense.

The first thing to clarify is that the letting market has widely ranging needs and target markets and as such there will never be a stock answer for every property and landlord. However let us focus on the increasingly popular professional let market:

Professional tenants have a choice of property. Yes the market is strong, and property moves quickly, but the type of tenant the majority of landlords wish to attract will still have choices.

If a property is not well presented when it is placed on the market then a landlord’s first loss of income happens straight away; the rent will be less. Pretty straightforward! What is worse is that it may sit on the market for too long losing rent for every day it isn’t let as the poor quality of presentation puts tenants off, yet more loss.

“Well, the property will rent anyway” the landlord might say. True, however have they considered that the type of tenant they will be attracting is not someone who necessarily cares about the environment they are living in. A tenant who does not take care of their home is likely to increase the amount of “wear and tear” which occurs leading to the requirement for redecoration at the end of their tenancy. So, you have had less rent for the last 12 months and now you may need to redecorate, further loss of income.

“Well, I’ll claim the decorating cost from the deposit” the landlord might say. Possible, however if the property was not well presented at the start of tenancy making a claim through one of the required deposit protection schemes is unlikely to succeed in full and unless it can be conclusively shown that the scuffs and marks on your walls and flooring cannot be classed as “fair wear and tear” you may not be claiming anything at all.

Let’s move on. The tenant is in. They are a “good tenant”. A repair occurs in the property. It is not something which falls under Section 11 of The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and the Landlord refuses to carry out the repair as “I don’t have to”. Fine. It may be true that they “don’t have to” however this refusal might upset the tenant who looks after the property and pays rent on time every month.

The tenant hands their notice in and leaves as repairs are not being carried out. Unavoidably the Landlord will have at least a few days of downtime between tenants. The lost rent in this period may very well have covered the cost of the repair that was refused in the first place. Not only that but as they are going to have to look for a new tenant the repair may very well have to be carried out anyway to make sure that the property is as attractive as possible on the market. Double the financial loss and the next tenant may not be as well behaved as the disgruntled tenant that vacated!

The message seems clear. Have a well presented property that will achieve a higher rent and be attractive to good quality tenants. Once the tenants are in look after them. Landlords should remember that the maintenance the tenant’s request is on their property and therefore the ultimate beneficiary is always the landlord.

A rented property is ultimately a business. Proper investment in any business from day one increases the chance of success. The professional letting market is no different. So let’s have happy landlords and tenants all round with better accommodation for tenants and more income for landlords! Isn’t that what we all want?

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