by Andy Graham
10:21 AM, 9th August 2017, About 5 years ago
What should you be focusing on this summer? We take a look at a few things you could be doing to get ahead in the student and young professional HMO market.
The Leicester HMO market is burgeoning with a +2.14% change in property value over the last 12 months and considerably more in the student areas of town. Average rental prices in Clarendon Park are well above the East Midlands’ average. In terms of the HMO scene, the average asking rent in Leicester is now £70 per week per student/room (Min £44, Max £121 over a sample of 1285 properties. With such fierce competition how do you stay ahead of the curve?
Your current tenants have just posted a teary farewell to your property on Facebook, and after much hugging and promises to visit each other, Leicester’s students are returning to their family homes for the summer. And whilst the average HMO student landlord can relax a bit in the Midlands’ sun, their work is not done. The summer presents a great opportunity to get into your property and keep it in tip top condition.
You probably already have tenants lined up or may even be renting to the same students as last year. First and foremost, it’s important that the next tenants understand the terms of their tenancy agreement. You need to make sure they understand their responsibilities and obligations as tenants in your property, and likewise what their expectations of you as their landlord should be. The best thing is to email any tenants staying over the summer. If you’re super organised, perhaps you can prepare and attach a PDF document summarising everything they need to know, like how to report any maintenance issues, what to do in an emergency, how to make sure their rent payments are correct and how quickly they can expect you to get over to change their lightbulb that breaks on a cold wet night in January.
Cheap is not always better. Cheap breaks easily and you run the risk of spending more money in the long term. Having said that, the occasional bumps and scrapes will occur naturally during a tenancy as any professional student landlord will know only too well.
The best way is to buy good quality and durable furniture and fittings and protect them cheaply. Another key factor is to keep with the interior design trend and shabby chic fits the HMO bill perfectly. The essentials of shabby chicing is upcycling – buying second hand tat furniture and redecorating – which provides the home with a sense of character as well as a faux-luxury feel. If you’re too busy or never quite made it as an artist or decorator, you only need to antiques quarter to find some ‘off-the-shelf’ options.
This will always be an issue with student houses and one that often causes the most friction with locals at this time of year. No one wants to see the mounds of rubbish left for collection after students have packed up and thrown away huge amounts of waste. Leicester Council have a good recycling policy, and will collect large bulky items for free providing you notify them online.
If you find unwanted items left over in your property, you should consider recycling them for reuse at the Gypsum Close Recycling Centre. On site, the charity LOROS operate a re-use shop where you can donate select unwanted items for a good cause. Another handy trick is to hold a particular tenant accountable for the state and cleanliness of the bin area for the duration of the tenancy for a small fee. The added £20 a month (or three pizzas) goes some way to motivating students to keep their quarter clean. This is particularly effective if you own multiple flats in the same building.
With any luck, your tenants will have kept on top of the jungle out back in order to have a few BBQs. There’s nothing better than looking out the window at a neat and ordered lawn and, conversely, nothing worse than a lawn that resembles the Serengeti. Here are a few simple tricks to make the garden easier to manage.
Again, paying a tenant will keep the garden from growing unruly and save you a huge task over the summer. If you have a lawn and want it looking spick and span for photo opportunities (tidy gardens sell!), you’ll need to maintain it. Head over, or hire a local gardener, to mow and cut back fortnightly and your efforts will be well worth it. If you have a gravel heavy garden you may want to lay heavy sheets to stifle weed growth. Another option may be to invest in a few potted, low maintenance plants. They require infrequent watering and do not overspill and take over the garden. A good rosemary plant or lavender will be greatly appreciated by your hipster students who like to cook.
With Rightmove, Zoopla and a host of web based showrooms you want your property to stand above the rest. It goes without saying that presentation sells. An airy, colour neutral room and a few stylish tenant-relevant posters go a long way in selling the property as well as more technical aspects such as lighting, camera quality and camera angle.
Unless you’re a budding designer or photographer, your best bet is to stick with professional advice. Too often do you see amateur photos on Rightmove that make the house look cramped, dark or photos that have nothing to do with selling the house. We take our dressing and photography very seriously and find if you get it right, you’ll be inundated with groups desperate to rent your property first, and you’ll be in a position to maximise the rent. If you really want to get ahead of the curve, now might also be a good time to start thinking of virtual reality and walk-through videos to supplement the advertising of your property come November.
Smart property are a student and professional HMO property management and investment company. They offer their services across Manchester, Salford, Sheffield, Leicester and Nottingham and have lots of helpful documents on their website to download.
As well as their property management services, they offer a long term rent guarantee programme that Property 118 founder Mark Alexander found ‘so impressive’ he decided to invest in the company himself. Andy welcomes private landlords, developers and investors to talk to him and his team about property management, guaranteed rent, investment opportunities and block management contracts.