Letting in Winter

Demand for rental property has never been higher, and while holiday homes in rural parts of the country are exceptionally desirable for second-home buyers, rental property has seen the biggest jumps in urban areas. Estate and lettings agent Barrows and Forrester recently examined the levels of rental demand across the UK, and came up with some surprising results*.

Overall, demand has continued to rise in most large UK cities throughout the third quarter of the year. The average rental demand was around 42.9%, a 9.9% increase when compared to the previous three months, and 6.8% higher than the same period in 2020.

They believe that the biggest driving force has been the gradual return to normal working practices in the UK after COVID-19, and there has been a noticeable uplift in rental inquiries for city locations right across the UK. Top of the list are Cardiff and Glasgow, with demand up by 22.1% in both cities, while Bristol has seen rental demand increase by 21%. Other cities have experienced large increases too, with Manchester up 14.8%, Newcastle up 11.2%, and Birmingham up 10.5%.

These numbers make it clear that for landlords, the usual winter drop in demand simply isn’t happening this year, and that tenants are looking for new rental property throughout the year. So how can landlords make the most of this unprecedented winter rush?

Advertising – making the most of your property

For winter letting, how you word your advert matters. Rather than terms such as ‘light and airy’, descriptions that portray a property as ‘warm and comfortable’ will be more attractive to potential tenants. City property needs to be close to those all-important transport links so that tenants aren’t walking for miles in the cold and wet to get to and from home. Plus, points such as affordable heating costs, fully insulated dwellings and cheap utilities are winners all year round, but especially during the winter.

Showing your property off at its best

Letting property in the winter means you don’t have the advantage of that summer sunshine to make your property look its best. So ensure you carry out any repairs to the exterior and the interior before you take any advertising images. Clear away weeds from driveways and make the property look as good as possible. Choose a day when the weather is good to take your photos – a rainy picture can make even the most glamorous property look drab and dull.

When you’re taking those pictures, don’t settle for ‘it’ll do’ quality shots – pick the best pictures and make sure they show your property at its most desirable.

Be competitive

There may be an unprecedented demand for rental property right now, but that doesn’t mean you can push the rent up. Your potential tenants will still be looking for an affordable property so do some investigation as to what similar apartments, houses and flats are achieving in your local area, and price-point your rent at a comparable rate. If you under or over-price the property, you may find that you either have to wait longer in between lets to take on new tenants, or that your turnover of tenants is higher, leaving you with a vacant property more often.

Expand your marketplace

Contacting letting agencies is a good way to ensure your property has a higher occupancy rate, and in turn, delivers a greater rental return. You will have to pay a fee, but if you factor this into your costs and adjust your rent accordingly, you should still be able to see a good return throughout the year. City properties may be more attractive to corporate clients, who may be looking for short-term lets for overseas employees.

Protecting your property

As well as defending your property against burglars with effective security measures, you’ll may also want to  consider protecting your property against damage by tenants. To help make sure you’re not out of pocket if the worst happens, landlord insurance can offer you peace of mind and can also cover periods of vacancy caused by damage to the property too, which can protect your income.

Keep it warm

During the winter, the one thing that every tenant wants is a warm home. Currently, (as of 2021) there are various government schemes available to help homeowners and landlords ensure properties are adequately insulated and heated1. In fact, rental properties must reach certain energy efficiency standards before they can be let, so it’s worth investigating what options are available to keep running costs down and the property warm all year round.

Be aware of dampness

During the winter, damp can be a real issue, leading to uncomfortable, cold and unpleasant living conditions, and encouraging the growth of black mould, which can be hazardous to health. If a tenant complains of damp in the property, get it addressed sooner rather than later, to avoid potential legal action from your tenants.

Protect piping

Water damage can be hugely expensive to repair, leaving your property in a poor state for months on end, and losing rental return as a result. It can be easily avoided by ensuring that piping is lagged and protected properly to prevent freezing and splitting. If a property is being left unoccupied for any length of time over the winter (especially if it’s a holiday let or static caravan), then ‘draining down’ the plumbing system is a good idea. To find out more about draining-down, read our article here. [hyperlink to draining down article]

Check-in regularly on unoccupied property

If your property is being left unoccupied over the winter months, make sure you check in regularly to ensure that it’s in good condition. If your property is overseas or a long way from where you live, it may be worth employing a management company to ensure the property is regularly inspected and that any issues are dealt with quickly.

And finally – insurance

At Intasure, we specialise in holiday home insurance for all kinds of properties. We understand what it takes to be a landlord, and the challenges you face, especially during the winter months or when the property is unoccupied.

Holiday home insurance, static caravan insurance and cover for rental properties helps protect your property. Contact us today to find out more, and to talk to our professional team for further information on rental property insurance.

*https://www.propertyinvestortoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2021/10/rents-on-the-rise–uk-rental-demand-increase-by-10-in-q3

1 https://www.vent-axia.com/green-homes-compliance-scheme

This note is not intended to give legal or financial advice, and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon for such. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and/or market practice in this area. In preparing this note we have relied on information sourced from third parties and we make no claims as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein. It reflects our understanding as at 16.11.2021, but you will recognise that matters concerning COVID-19 are fast changing across the world. You should not act upon information in this bulletin nor determine not to act, without first seeking specific legal and/or specialist advice. Any information relayed to our clients is as an insurance broker and is provided subject to specific terms and conditions, the terms of which take precedence over any representations in this document. No third party to whom this is passed can rely on it. We and our officers, employees or agents shall not be responsible for any loss whatsoever arising from the recipient’s reliance upon any information we provide herein and exclude liability for the content to fullest extent permitted by law. Should you require information about your specific insurance arrangements or specific claim circumstances, please get in touch with your usual contact at Intasure.

*The opinions and views expressed in the above articles are those of the author only and are for guidance purposes only. The authors disclaim any liability for reliance upon those opinions and would encourage readers to rely upon more than one source before making a decision based on the information.

Ref: FP1466-2021