As a landlord, every now and again you will probably find that one of your properties goes through a void period. However this doesn’t mean you can just leave it and hope that one day you will find a tenant to move in. Even though the demand for private rented property is high at the moment there is also a focus on landlords making sure that all their properties are up to scratch and affordable. If yours doesn’t currently fall into this category then you may find it difficult to let out. Here we look at what to do with your unoccupied properties:
Leaving them Empty
Sometimes landlords don’t have the time or money to renovate a sub-standard property, especially if they have just bought it, and so it is likely that it will be unoccupied for a certain period of time while you save up. However, even properties that are unoccupied need to be looked after; otherwise you could find that the building could be targeted by thieves or, even worse, squatters. Squatting is a huge problem in the UK right now, especially as so many people are struggling to afford a property so you need to make sure you protect your property against this.
Unoccupied property insurance is a great way to protect your properties while they are going through a void period, and it can help with the costs if they are vandalised or broken into. Your unoccupied property insurance can also help when it comes to squatters, as squatting is currently illegal in residential buildings, and can lead to a £5,000 fine or a six month jail sentence. If you are concerned about squatting in your property the best thing to do is make sure you visit it on a regular basis and even ask your neighbours to warn you if they think someone is trying to get in!
If you have a property that is unoccupied you will eventually find that it can be a big drain on your funds, especially as the government has changed the rules concerning council tax on unoccupied properties. Currently, it’s up to your local council whether you will receive a discount for council tax on your unoccupied property, however most are becoming more strict in order to encourage landlords to get properties back on the market.
If your property is not currently at a standard where you can legally let it out then you need to make a checklist of everything you need to do, how much it will costs and a realistic time frame for how long everything will take. However, if your property is perfectly fine to let out and you just can’t find a tenant why not think about the way you are marketing it and why it isn’t currently working? If you are really struggling marketing your properties then you could hire a letting agent that will find tenants for you, as well as help with arranging viewings and even draw up your tenancy agreements.
A number of councils throughout the UK are currently looking into ways to get commercial property landlords with void properties to find new tenants, especially those that own properties on high streets. The UK’s high street is currently going through a tough time, and council leaders are adamant that they want landlords with empty properties to find new tenants as soon as possible in order to rejuvenate their local high streets and improve trade.
However, many commercial landlords are concerned over letting their properties to retailers, especially as so many have recently gone into administration and defaulted on their rent payments. This is why it may be a good idea to let out your commercial properties to ‘pop-up’ shops that will only need a short-term lease, meaning that they are less likely to fall into rent arrears. You could also arrange short-term leases with other retailers, or a periodic tenancy agreement that is renewed each month or week and can be ended with little notice. It’s important for commercial landlords to consider these options as not only can they benefit them but also retailers and the UK economy as a whole.
Even though unoccupied properties mean that you don’t have to deal with tenants, they are still a lot of hard work, and sometimes can be even more so than those that have been let out. It is important then to get yours back on to the market as quickly as possible and take care when they are going through a void period.