It’s a well-known fact that Britain is going through a chronic housing shortage. But can landlords actually help to tackle the shortage of homes for tenants and buyers?
Indeed, the Government’s recently announced Housing White Paper presents some measures designed to alleviate the country’s shortage of affordable and high quality homes. But although they’re often painted as the baddies of the property market, landlords could take steps to actually tackle the housing shortage.
The stories that often dominate the news seem to suggest that landlords are worsening the housing crisis, by cramming vulnerable tenants into hazardous properties and failing to comply with the legislation that was created to improve conditions in the private rental sector.
So what can landlords do to turn the tables and help to solve the housing shortage?
Provide suitable properties for your target tenants
You should always have an idea of the type of tenants you’d like to let to when you purchase a rental property. However, if you bought an investment property a few years ago, the type of tenants that you let to then might not be interested in the same property now. For example, rental hotspots change all the time, with outer London boroughs now more popular with young professionals than central areas.
Identifying who would like to rent a property similar to the one you own will help you market it to the right people and provide homes to those who need them. Take a look at the rental housing on offer in the area you own property and assess which tenant type you’d like to target. This will help renters find suitable homes for them.
Consider letting to alternative tenants
It’s very easy to limit your tenant type when initially investing in buy-to-let – for instance, many landlords choose young professionals as a reliable and failsafe option. But there are now millions of renters in the UK, and they’re not all young professionals.
There are many different tenant types to choose from, and targeting an alternative group may help you secure longer tenancies and beat void periods. Catering to unconventional groups, such as retirees, may actually boost your lettings business, as there isn’t as much competition out there. The student housing market or families with children sector could also be profitable choices.
Bring your portfolio up to a high standard
Purchasing more buy-to-let properties at a time when there’s a national housing shortage may not be the best idea, but there are other steps that you can take. One of the most important things for landlords to consider at this point is the quality of their portfolios. Take a look at the properties you own and do an assessment of each one – could improvements be made?
Just Landlordsa leading provider of landlord insurance reminds all investors to stick to the law and comply with the regulations of the lettings sector. This means addressing any health and safety issues within your property in order to protect tenants, while also ensuring that their home is a safe, secure and comfortable place for them to live.
While this may not directly tackle the shortage of homes available, it does make sure that tenants have somewhere they feel they can relax and remain for the foreseeable future.
Try to avoid first time buyer properties
If you do plan to expand your portfolio and provide homes for the nation’s renters, it would be wise to avoid investing in properties that first time buyers may be considering. It’s common knowledge that young people, or generation rent, are struggling to get onto the property ladder.
In order to help as many young buyers purchase their first homes as possible, steer clear of smaller properties with one or two bedrooms. These are the types of homes that prospective first time buyers will be seeking – allowing them to get onto the property ladder will benefit the whole housing market and economy.
Choose areas with high tenant demand
Although buying a home is often the most publicised struggle of the property market, it can also be incredibly difficult for tenants to find suitable, affordable homes. Making sure that you invest in areas with high tenant demand ensures that renters can find the properties they desperately need.
With rents set to rise as a result of the forthcoming reduction in mortgage interest tax relief and proposed letting agent fee ban, competition is vital in creating a balanced, affordable market that works for all.
Although landlords can’t be expected to solve the current housing shortage, there are steps that they can take in helping to keep the market flowing and provide homes to those that need them.