What are buy-to-let tenants looking for?

As a buy-to-let investor, you know better than anyone how competitive the marketplace is right now. So what can you do to get ahead of the pack? Well, understanding exactly what tenants want and are searching for can make a big difference.

After all, the rental property isn’t solely occupied by people who can’t afford to get on the property ladder. Many tenants will be renting as a lifestyle choice, due to their job, circumstances or simply because they prefer not being tied to a specific property.

So you can tailor what you offer accordingly, making sure you’re telling prospective tenants what they want and need to hear.

According to new data from property website Rightmove, seen by the BBC, the rising cost of living is having a direct impact on the type of property tenants are looking for and what arrangement they want to enter into.

For example, all-inclusive rents are becoming increasingly sought after, with the phrase “bills included” coming second on the list of search terms – up from fourth a year ago.

As Tim Bannister, property data expert at Rightmove, observes: “Any landlord able to offer this to a tenant is likely to be met with a long queue of applicants.”

But some things never change, and both this year and last, pets came top of the list of search terms for rental properties, so again, this could be a decisive issue for landlords wanting to attract prospective tenants and enjoy higher occupancy rates and rental returns.

Another appealing element of living in rented accommodation is that it’s the property owner, not the tenant, who is responsible for the upkeep of the property.

In a recent poll by the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), 52 per cent of tenants said they liked not having to worry about maintaining or repairing their home. Meanwhile, 37 per cent revealed they enjoyed having the flexibility to move house without being fixed to one location.

Proximity to work was also found to be appealing to many, with 45 per cent of tenants saying they lived within five kilometres of their workplace.

Understanding what’s driving the decisions of tenants can be crucial for landlords who want to make the most of their investment, such as what type of property to buy, its location and how to market it to prospective occupants.

With that in mind, it’s also important to understand that owning a property is not everybody’s wish, at least for the moment. As the NRLA survey shows, just 18 per cent of tenants polled said they would like to own a house now instead of renting.

But despite the lifestyle and financial benefits renting clearly offers to many, it’s just as crucial that landlords are aware of what tenants don’t like.

The cost came top of the list, with 48 per cent saying that renting a property can be expensive. Meanwhile, 37 per cent said they didn’t like the insecurity of the tenure, and – interestingly – 25 per cent didn’t like dealing with their landlord.

Buy-to-let property owners are essentially selling a service to consumers, so it’s worthwhile spending time finding out what your target audience want, need and prefer. Getting this right could make a big difference to the success of your investment, both in the short and longer term.

If you have any questions about managing your investments and property portfolio, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

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The guidance and/or advice contained within this website is subject to the UK regulatory regime and is therefore primarily targeted at consumers based in the UK. Welby is a trading name of Welby Associates Wealth Management Ltd Company Registered Number NI630504 who is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, FCA register number 697372. The Financial Ombudsman Service is available to sort out individual complaints that clients and financial services businesses aren't able to resolve themselves. To contact the Financial Ombudsman Service please visit www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk

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