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Three ways to improve your rental property

Fri 20 Mar 2020

To attract or keep tenants, it’s vital that your rental property is up to scratch and pleasing on the eye. It needs to be clean, tidy, welcoming and well-maintained, and provide the sort of features that will have renters crowing with delight rather than tutting with despair.

But how can you improve your rental property to ensure it is attractive enough for existing tenants to stay put or for new tenants to choose your home ahead of all the competition?

Below, using our experience as West Lothian’s first dedicated lettings agency, we take a closer look. 

Spruce up garden space

If you have garden space, it could be a major selling point to tenants, in particular the growing number of family, middle-aged and older tenants who are perhaps more likely to appreciate the opportunity to be green-fingered.

However, overgrown, uncared for garden space will hold no such appeal, so you need to make sure that it is clear, tidy and in tip-top condition before you try and let your home.

Fortunately, this doesn’t take much time, effort or money – in fact, improving your garden is one of the easiest home improvement tasks you can undertake, and doesn’t normally require calling in the experts to help you out. 

Mow the lawn, tidy up the borders, de-weed where de-weeding is required, prune any flowers you have, and make any garage or shed space is clutter-free and welcoming. Such space could prove particularly popular to some tenants, who may want to turn it into their own little workshop or private space (with your permission, of course).

If your garden has any wow factors – a pond, a water feature, or a stylish BBQ area ideal for the summer months, for example – make sure these look their best before letting your property. 

If you don’t feel happy or confident in improving your garden space, you could ask your letting agent to step in and arrange this for you.

Garden space – or any outside space, for that matter, notwithstanding how big or small it is – will have widespread appeal and could be a major factor in your sales pitch to tenants, so it’s something you should prioritise if you have it. 

Install a driveway

This might seem like a more dramatic step, but it could pay you back in spades over time, especially when you consider how much many tenants prioritise parking.

This is especially the case in busy towns, villages and cities where parking space is very often at a premium.    

Zoopla research last year revealed the keywords potential tenants are most likely to search when looking for a new home, with ‘parking’ coming out on top. This isn’t the first time research has outlined parking as a top priority, with it often being cited as a must-have for tenants across the UK.

To cater for this, you might want to consider investing in a driveway if your rental home doesn’t already include this.

It’s one of the easier major renovation projects to carry out, as it typically doesn’t require planning permission, takes between a week and two weeks to complete (depending on various factors, including how large you want the driveway to be) and doesn’t cost as much as you might think. A typical one or two car driveway will likely set you back £2,000-£5,000, but this could be recouped in higher rents and higher demand in the future.

In Scotland, you should be able to install a driveway without having to apply for planning permission, through a process known as ‘permitted development’. There are certain situations in which you will have to apply for planning permission – for example if your home is in a conservation area or within the curtilage of a listed building, or if the hard surface you want to add isn’t either made of a porous material or designed to let water run off to a porous area. You can find out more here

Aside from a driveway, garages – which came second in Zoopla’s list – are another popular feature among tenants, and improving your garage space is also likely to be on the more affordable end of the home improvement scale, meaning you won’t need to break the bank.

Consider offering a furnished property

In the same Zoopla research, it was revealed that, when broken down by region, ‘furnished’ was the most popular keyword in Scotland. 

Furnished properties are especially popular in city and town locations where tenants don’t want the hassle and bother of kitting out their rental homes.

It means you could charge higher rents, but also means there is greater risk of damage to goods which are effectively yours and under the stewardship of tenants during the time they are renting. 

Other advantages include being attractive to younger tenants, who don’t want the expense or hassle of having to purchase furniture. Equally, it’s typically easier to let these kind of homes as the market for furnished rentals is usually bigger. 

The above tips are slightly more radical and costly improvements, but there are other, smaller things that can be done, such as giving your home a quick lick of paint when it starts to look tired, making the most of your spare room by converting it into a home office, gym or extra bedroom, and carrying out all those little DIY jobs that you’ve been leaving on the backburner between tenancies. 

On a similar but separate point, we recently analysed how to renovate a rental property on a budget – ensuring you get the maximum value from your portfolio without a huge bank bill to match.

You can give us a call on 01506 496 006 to find out more about how we can successfully let your home. 

We also provide a free and instant online valuation to give you an idea of how much you could be charging in rent each month and how much your rental property could be worth.

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