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The sad cost of renting: How can Landlords respond?

1st Mar 2017

Category: Opinion

Tagged: Supply and Demand, Ideas

An interesting article was published in The Guardian at the weekend related to the 'cost of renting', but not in the traditional sense of 'cost'. We take a quick look at how the rental sector could easily respond.

The Guardian published an article at the weekend entitled, 'The sad cost of renting: never having somewhere to call home.'  

For once, it was not an article lamenting the industry in which we (at Comfort Lettings) and our landlords' work so hard to provide tenants' with high quality homes, but rather the consequences of living in long term rental accommodation.  The 'cost' that it referred to was not in a financial sense, rather in 'loss' of well-being never being in a place to call 'home'.  You can read the full article here.

Some of what the article was referring to was undoubtedly London-centric issues - a number of which simply do not exist in many other parts of the country.  Clearly, the issue of supply and demand invariably leads to the exploitation of those who 'demand', when the supply is so scarce.  For the rest of us 'up-country' folk, we have to work harder than this, because if we don't, people would simply move elsewhere.

I think the article does however pick up on a few recurring themes which we have come across and have spent some time in trying to address.  Our Comfort Standard page reads:

"When the small added extras are consistently delivered and combined with a quality house, the result is a tenant experience that turns a landlord's house into a tenant's home – that's better letting."

We always took the view that if you were able to improve the tenants experience of housing such that it became their home, you were far more likely to create a good property investment.  In taking that approach you achieve 3 key things:

  • Your tenants' would enjoy the house they lived in and would be less likely to leave = Longer tenancies.
  • They would be far more likely to pay the rent on time given they really want to stay = More consistent rental income and fewer voids.
  • They would more likely take time to meet neighbours and create community if they felt like a longer term resident = Fewer management issues and lower risk profile.

All the above outcomes are mutually beneficial to Landlords and Tenants and is part of a culture we try and encourage at Comfort Lettings.  In a practical sense, there are a few things that landlords can do to encourage the house to home transition for tenants.  A few examples might be:

  • Fit good quality picture hooks for tenants to be able to hang their own pictures/art to allow a sense of customisation (rather than plain old 'maggy).
  • Where practical, make provision for pets or redecoration given the appropriate parameters and recourse is in place.
  • Offer longer tenancies (than just 6 months) to allow tenants to 'put down roots' in an area.

There are things the government could do to help these issues such as encouraging build-to-rent schemes and looking on designated developments of this nature favourably.  This would need appropriate support through the National Planning Policy Framework, but there is no doubt their would be an appetite to support such changes.

The role of the Private Rented Sector (PRS) is paramount to the delivery of quality, flexible and fit-for-purpose property that is the country is in desperate need of.  There is no doubt that with some small changes at both a local and national levels, the satisfaction of service and quality of delivery could also be improved bringing huge mutual benefits to Landlords and Tenants.  

Tom Kite

Comfort Partner

An experienced Nottingham Property Specialist and a Founding Partner of Comfort Lettings.

Connect with me on Linkedin

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