The Private Rental Sector (PRS) provides housing for a growing and increasingly diverse section of the population. And in response to increasing standards and quantities of rental properties, long-term renting has become a lifestyle choice for many.
Whether you're a landlord targeting a young professional tenant, family renter or retired household returning to the PRS, it's important to stay ahead of the game in terms of tenants expectations, particularly if you want the opportunity to charge a premium rent for a 'desirable property'. With this in mind, here's an overview of ten of the most popular must-haves for modern tenants for 2020 landlords should be considering (if they haven't already)…
1. High-speed internet
Having good internet access at home has become so important that it is now described by many as the 'fourth utility'. When looking at your rental property's USPs, you need to consider whether the local area has good broadband signal and access to high-speed internet.
Whether you're providing the internet as part of the rent or tenants are responsible for sorting their own connections, you need to shop around to find the best deals and the tariff that suits your or your tenants' individual circumstances.
2. A deposit choice
There is now an alternative to paying a traditional security deposit in the form of a no-deposit insurance policy. The number of these products and their popularity is growing rapidly with many renters enjoying the lower moving costs they allow.
Whether or not a no-deposit alternative is for you, having the choice of an upfront security deposit or low-cost insurance policy when entering a tenancy is becoming an industry standard for many landlords and agents.
3. Smart heating
Smart heating services such as HIVE are becoming increasingly popular with renters for a variety of reasons. The ability to control your heating remotely makes life easier and much more comfortable during the winter months.
Being able to control heating more effectively also helps to keep energy bills down and reduce wastage which is in turn beneficial for the environment. It wouldn't be a surprise if this type of technology is installed in the vast majority of homes over the next decade and tenants wont want to miss out just because they don't own the property.
4. Smart Power
Similar to smart heating, smart meters allow renters to have more control over their heating and energy consumption. As discussed above, this can help to reduce your carbon footprint and keep monthly bills at acceptable levels.
These meters make energy readings more accurate and the Government has previously outlined plans - although unlikely to be achieved now - for a smart meter to be offered to every home in Britain by 2020.
As well as smart meters and smart heating, what about smart power delivery? USB capable power sockets are an affordable upgrade that can bring added value to prospective tenants.
5. Credit score recognition
For many years, tenants have been paying their rent on time with no benefit to their credit score. Slowly but surely, however, there are more ways for tenants to pay their rent and boost their credit rating – in the same way as a mortgage payment.
As long-term renting becomes widespread and having a good credit score is so important, being able to boost your credit rating with your rent payments really is becoming a must-have for tenants. One such provider is CreditLadder offers the service free for Tenants, reporting monthly rent payments to the Experian Rental Exchange.
6. Enhanced lifestyle expectations
Today’s renters are raising the bar in terms of expectations from their living space. Changes in lifestyle and even current trends drive demand for ever increasing facilities from today’s renters. With an increase in ‘working from home’ a home office space is no longer just a ‘nice to have’ for some renters. Positive eco friendly features such as solar panels ground/air source heating, A+ rated appliances, space for recycling waste bins and more can be an enticing prospect for those concerned for the environment. Whereas some renters may consider more basic luxuries, such as an en-suite or secure parking, a ‘must-have’ rather than simply a ‘nice-to-have’.
It’s true but the old adage ‘location, location, location’ has never been more relevant. Being close to good transport links, shops, schools and more is traditionally an important objective for many tenants and it’s unlikely that will ever change. However todays renting population have ever increasing expectations from their local amenities. From a 24 hour gym, places to eat, childcare providers, food delivery and essentials such as a pharmacy nearby, expectations are rising.
When searching for a rental home, it’s vital that you take amenities into account alongside the quality and suitability of the home. Having poor access to amenities can be massively frustrating and limit your potential pool of tenants to rent your property.
7. Digital communication
Solid communication between tenants and their landlords is one of the bedrocks of a successful tenancy. Smooth and open channels of contact in your desired medium will make sure everyone is on the same page.
From searching for a new home, to setting up the tenancy, renters ideally expect a seamless online transaction, rather than a slow paper based system.
During the tenancy, increasingly, WhatsApp and text messaging are becoming the go-to communication method for landlords and tenants, so it’s best to agree in advance between you which is your preferred method of keeping in touch.
From ‘Ring’ style doorbells that call your mobile through to security cameras and alarm systems. Today’s tenants want to be reassured their home is safe and secure. Investing in solutions to help your tenants to feel protected shows your tenants that their welfare is at the top of your priorities.
9. Quick response and action
Broken appliances and property damage are never ideal and the issues can be made worse if you are slow to respond or take action.
Where possible, and services allowing, it may be worthwhile to consider support from a third party – whether a managing agent or for example a gas maintenance contract. Such contracts allow your tenants to call directly if they have any issues, meaning one less thing for you to resolve.
10. The opportunity to make a home
Whether short-term or long-term, one of your key objectives will likely be to make your rental property feel like a home.
You can help your tenants to achieve this by providing security of tenure through a tenancy agreement, the opportunity to personalise the property (within reason) and ensuring tenants are free to reasonably enjoy the property without interference. Read our blog How to make a rental house a home for more tips on how to make your rental house a home.