In a world where going online has become an everyday occurrence for the majority of the population, expectations surrounding internet and Wi-Fi access, as well as broadband speed, in private rental homes have increased rapidly in recent years.
In the past, internet access may not have been near the top of very many tenants' priority lists. Now, however, it has seemingly become one of the more important things tenants consider before moving into a rental property.
Some landlords provide internet in their properties, while others leave it for the tenants to sort out. Either way, it's becoming increasingly vital that tenants are given the best opportunity possible to have access to reliable, fast broadband, as well as being up and running in next to no time when moving in to a rental property.
Why is broadband access becoming so crucial in the PRS?
For many tenants, internet access is considered a 'fourth utility' after water, gas and electricity. This is partly down to the fact that a high proportion of tenants are aged between 18 and 35 - a demographic that has grown up using the internet and has become less and less accustomed to being 'offline'.
What's more, many private tenants are students - who require broadband or Wi-Fi access to complete their course work - while more people are now working from home, a scenario which again requires fast and reliable access to the internet.
How do tenants feel about internet access in their rental property?
A recent study of 500 25-30-year-old tenants, carried out by LivingCom, revealed some interesting findings and some strong opinions on broadband in rental properties.
- 8 in 10 participants believe high speed internet connectivity is an essential part of renting
- 96% of young professional tenants say a lack of internet access when moving into a rental property is a source of major frustration
- 75% would be more inclined to rent a property that had pre-installed internet access
- 83% of respondents have had to wait longer than a week to be connected to the internet when moving between rental properties
There have also been numerous other studies in the last few years which offer similar conclusions:
- 83% of tenants highlight fast internet as something they specifically look for in a rental property (Glide, June 2015)
- 88% of student tenants regard good internet connection where they live as important (The Mistoria Group, March 2016)
What can landlords do?
There are varying arguments for and against landlords providing broadband access for tenants, but what’s most important is that whether you choose to or not, you make sure tenants have the best possible chance of getting access to a good internet service quickly when they move in to your property.
This can be traced all the way back to your initial investment – it’s advisable that when researching an area in which to invest, you check that high speed broadband is available. If you're looking to let to younger tenants, and the property you purchase is in an area with poor connectivity and signal, you'll certainly find it harder to occupy.
Most areas are now very well connected unless they’re particularly isolated or rural. However, it's still wise to check the speed of your connection as well as what type of broadband is available in your area.
If the signal in parts of your property is poor this could be off-putting to tenants, particularly in a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). There are a range of relatively inexpensive signal boosters that you can install which could help to generate an even coverage in the more far-flung parts of the property.
Location and the property itself may still remain the most important aspects of a rental home for tenants, but reliable access to the internet is now placed firmly in the top echelons of the average tenant's list of rental criteria.
Landlords who choose to provide internet access should make sure they secure the best package possible and that everything is set up when tenants move in. Meanwhile those landlords that don't pre-provide internet access must ensure that when tenants do sort out their broadband provision, everything is in place for a smooth and hassle-free process.