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The good news is that potential tenants are out there each December. In fact, although the winter months usually see a dip in tenant enquiries, the tenant quality increases because enquiries come from people who are genuinely motivated to move.
To avoid having to fill a property over Christmas, the best solution is to try and avoid a tenancy coming to an end towards the close of November and into December. If you have a tenant who’s moving in on a six-month contract in June, you might want to discuss extending the tenancy agreement to seven or eight months to ensure that no-one has to think about moving over Christmas.
Or, if someone moves in this December on a 12-month contract, you might consider making it a 13-month contract so that their tenancy is secure until the following January.
When a tenant does hand in their notice, you could even offer to extend the contract for a month or two if it would help them put off their property search until the New Year. Your tenant will probably appreciate knowing that they can enjoy the festive period without having to add house hunting and moving to their to-do list.
If you know that your tenant intends to leave in December or that it could be a possibility even if they haven’t discussed it with you yet, then it’s important to plan ahead and think about the following:
Availability: If you decide to use a property management service then you should discuss with the agent whether they will be working over Christmas and New Year. Knowing somebody is available to take care of unexpected problems such as maintenance issues will allow landlords to relax.
Conducting viewings: If you or your property management company can offer viewings during this time, it might be worth stating ‘View this property over the Christmas period’ in your listings and ads. This protects everyone’s time. When potential tenants come for viewings, try to make sure that the heating has been on for a while and that all the lights in the property are working. A warm and light house feels much more welcoming than somewhere that is cold, dark and has obviously been sitting empty for a while.
Ensure you’re compliant: Also, remember to take steps to protect your property from frozen pipes, especially if it might be vacant in December, and ensure that your annual gas checks have been completed and the boiler is in tip-top condition.
Consider rent incentives: Some landlords consider offering an initial incentive to tenants thinking of moving during December. This might be a reduction in the first month’s rent for a quick move or even a fixed amount of money towards the first quarter’s utility bills. Another incentive is to ask whether potential tenants would like to decorate the house themselves in exchange for a small reduction in their monthly rent. We wouldn’t usually advise this course of action if it can be avoided but, for landlords who really don’t want their property sitting empty, incentives can be an option.
Get the marketing right: When it comes to marketing your property, think about features that would appeal to people who are house hunting in December. Use pictures that show the house in summer, the garden in full bloom or light streaming in through the windows. As we’ve mentioned above, mention local schools/catchment areas and family-friendly amenities – anything that will help people to imagine living in the property all year round.
Use our contact form to get in touch with our property management team to discuss our commercial and residential property management service that will ensure your investment is performing the best it can all year round.
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