In this article, we are going to discuss :
Katherine just had to give notice to one of her tenants because they left a trail of garbage everywhere they went, fostering a breeding ground for tiny critters. Izaak just bought his first buy-to-let but doesn’t have much dispensable cash and hasn’t had any luck looking for tenants. And Jem is on the hunt for a new tenant after one of his renters suddenly moved abroad before the lease was up. Katherine, Izaak and Jem are all looking for tenants urgently, but finding tenants – especially amiable and respectful ones – can be a costly challenge. Flex Living’s property management services connect landlords with professional, considerate tenants every day, so here are our top tips on how to find good tenants in the most cost-effective way.
Why is it Important to Find Good Tenants?
Your tenants are your property’s caretakers. They should inform you of any maintenance issues so you can keep your place running smoothly and not let problems build up. Ultimately, finding a tenant who respects both you and your property means less work for you in the long run.
Finding good tenants is also important because they represent you in the community. Of course, you’re usually not responsible for your tenant’s actions, but neighbourhood disdain or complaints could impact your ability to rent out your property in the future.
Finding tenants who respect your property is essential if you don’t want to pay unnecessary costs or waste your time. When looking for tenants, check if they have a good record of on-time rental payments, a good landlord reference and a stable income.
A bad tenant may:
- Cause damage
- Leave without notice before the lease is up
- Pay late or not at all
What Are the Mainstream Ways to Find Tenants?
There are two primary mainstream ways to find tenants.
1. High Street letting agents and;
2. Online letting sites
Amongst their other responsibilities, High Street letting agents can act as a tenant finder service by marketing your property to find tenants. Alternatively, online letting sites allow you to post your own advertisement at varying costs. Let’s go into more detail…
High Street Letting Agents: Pros and Cons
Using a letting agent as your tenant finder may be one of the least budget-friendly ways to find good tenants.
Let’s break down the cost of using a High-Street letting agent as your tenant finder with an example. Your agent has found you a tenant who has agreed to sign a 12-month contract. Here’s what it could cost you:
|Contract length||12 months|
|Property rental price||£1200 per month|
|Monthly agency fee||13% + VAT = £187.20|
|Net rent received||£1200 - £187.20 = £1,012.80|
Your agent could also burden you with a Tenancy Renewal Fee. Landlords must pay this additional charge if they want to keep the same tenant after the 12-month contract expires. The Tenant Fees Act 2019 banned tenants from paying unjust renewal fees, but letting agents can still impose the fee on landlords. And, since they can’t recoup finances from tenants anymore, many letting agents attempt to recover their losses elsewhere, charging excessive renewal fees. As a landlord, you can potentially avoid paying the renewal fee if you convert to a periodic (or rolling) tenancy once the first term is up (because then you haven’t strictly renewed the lease).
You can see how quickly finding a tenant might become an expensive venture!
Despite the cost, using a letting agent as a tenant finder service does have some positives. For instance, a letting agent will save you time by:
- Sifting through applications
- Conducting all reference checks
- Conduct viewings
If you’re a novice landlord and are new to finding tenants, a letting agent could be useful to assist you with the entire process so you know what to do/what to look for next time.
Flex Living’s property management services allow landlords to not worry about looking for tenants. Our corporate let model means our trusted corporate partners supply tenants; only the most professional and respectful people will stay in your property
Online Listing Sites
One of the more affordable ways to find tenants for your rental property is using online listing sites. For instance:
- OpenRent: This is an online service that takes your first lettings advert on OpenRent and publishes it on major property portals such as Rightmove, Zoopla and Primelocation. OpenRent is our favourite online listing service for its speed, efficiency and high volume of site users.
- TheHouseShop: a property portal similar to Rightmove but allows you to advertise your property for free
- Gumtree: a site for free classified ads; you can advertise your property listing here (although use of the site in this way has been cautioned due to the higher number of online scammers)
- Upad: an online letting agent service that advertises your property on more expensive property portals (such as Rightmove, Zoopla and Primelocation) for free.
- Spareroom: a free property listing website (with optional payments for additional ‘bold ad’ benefits). This tenant finder is not as useful for single-let rentals (focussed more on renting individual rooms), but is still worth using because of the low cost. If you want to rent your property out to a group of sharers but don’t want the hassle of dealing with individual room contracts, you can still advertise your property as a whole on Spareroom and give recommended room prices to help the interested groups divide the rent.
When using online listing sites, it’s paramount that you advertise your property well. This means:
- High-quality photos
- A clear and detailed description and;
- Accurate information
Low-Cost DIY Tenant Finding
Flex Living’s guaranteed rent letting agents believe that low cost shouldn’t mean low quality. So, here are our recommendations on how to find good tenants without paying hefty agency fees.
Use Social Media
A slightly more informal alternative to using traditional online property listing sites to find tenants is to use social media avenues like Facebook and Instagram. These digital platforms are home to hundreds of renting groups inundated with tenants looking for places to live. Using these platforms is more likely to be free, with the whole premise of ‘community’ facilitating the landlord/tenant connection.
a) Facebook Marketplace
Facebook has over 2 billion monthly active users, so you’re likely to have a vast audience for your property listing. You can use Facebook’s Marketplace domain with zero cost to advertise your property and find new tenants. You can either use your personal Facebook page or a business page to advertise your property:
- A personal page is good for keeping in touch with tenants anytime. Tenants can message and enquire directly, so there’s no need to go through an expensive agent to ‘get to know’ a potential renter.
- A business page allows you to collect reviews and provides page visitors with buttons and links to other places, such as your website. You can also benefit from statistical reports that show you how certain ads perform.
b) Facebook community groups
Alternatively, you can use Facebook to search for community groups in particular localities. People use these groups to post ads looking for accommodation, looking for tenants or asking for any other advice about living in that particular area. The downside to using Facebook Marketplace and other community groups is that it could expose your personal details (if the listing is done through your personal Facebook account). You would also still need to sort out additional services such as EPC’s, tenant referencing and professional photography (if you want to create a superior listing). And don’t forget to watch out for scam enquiries, make sure you reference applicants carefully.
Instagram is a prime location for visual advertisements. It’s also one of the best social media platforms to spread announcements via word of mouth (you don’t pay for earned media!).
Like Facebook, there’s the added benefit of Instagram being an intimate communication channel, so you can communicate directly with potential tenants and avoid expensive agency fees. You can also use Instagram’s built-in advertising features to get statistical feedback on your ads’ performance (with a business account).
Since Instagram is known for its image element, you’ll need to ensure your advertisement contains high-quality images. The disadvantage of this is that you may need to spend extra on a professional photography service.
Use the right social media platform to find tenants online
Important: If you’re thinking about using any social media platform to find tenants, make sure you know the most popular demographic of users for each site, so you know who your target tenants are.
Audience targets for different social media platforms:
|· 18% between 18-24 years old
· 58% between 25–54 years old
· Good to reach a wide variety of potential tenants
|· 90% under 25 years old
· Good for younger house share tenants or students
|· 80% are affluent millennials between 18-29 years old
· Good for younger house share tenants, students and young professionals
|· 61% are 30-64 years old
· Good for finding professional tenants
IMPORTANT: Be careful using online platforms to find tenants
A word of caution with online listing sites: given the few restrictions regarding referencing and proof of identity on these sites, you need to be wary of scam enquiries and fake profiles. People often use these services for the very reason that there are lax reference requirements. So, if you use one of these platforms, make sure you meet the tenant face-to-face before agreeing to anything, and carry out your own rigorous checks using a platform like Rent Guard.
Ask Your Current Tenant
This one may seem obvious, but it costs nothing and could help you find a vetted tenant more quickly. There are always people looking for a place to rent. Particularly in 2022, people living in the UK have been scrambling to find accommodation, with some property viewings amassing nearly 30 attendants within the hour.
If you have a good relationship with one of your current tenants and you can count on them to provide honest and helpful information, chances are they’ll know someone looking to rent a place or fill a room. Assuming their recommendation is based on fact, you can save time and eliminate issues associated with vetting the suggested tenant’s character. You’re much less likely to end up with a bad tenant.
Flex Living’s Corporate Let Model
Flex Living’s property management services can help with finding tenants. We source professional tenants from our corporate partners who need to provide their employees with accommodation for work in various cities. Our corporate letting approach offers added tenant verification. Since our tenants are employees of our professional (and highly trusted) corporate partners, they are likely to live respectfully in your property and treat it as their own home.
Our dedicated support and management team handles all tenant communication at no extra cost, so you won’t have to worry about organising anything. At the same time, if you have questions or concerns, you’ll have a dedicated account manager with you as a single point of contact.
Another benefit of using our property management services is our free property upscaling service. We revamp and redecorate your property into a superior listing suited for our corporate clients, and you get to keep everything we install!
How Can I Widen My Tenant Pool?
Posting your listing online probably makes your property discoverable by thousands of potential tenants. However, it can be difficult to sift through these strangers, especially with the rise in scam enquiries. Here are two other ways to widen your tenant pool without making your job harder:
1. Specify that you accept pets in your advertisement
Particularly with the rise in pet ownership during Covid, countless renters need pet-friendly accommodation. ‘Lets with Pets’ – a campaign by the Dogs Trust’ – states that almost half of households in the UK currently own a pet. But here’s the thing: less than 10% of landlords advertise their properties as pet-friendly, so most are missing out on a huge portion of the tenant market. Pet owners also tend to be responsible people. Keeping a pet requires routine commitment and a stable income – both desirable qualities in a good tenant! So, if you’re happy to, make sure you clearly state that you accept pets in your advertisement (and your landlord pet policy later down the track).
2. Pre-furnish your property
If you need tenants quickly, pre-furnishing your property is an excellent way to attract people who want to move in immediately. Particularly in London, there’s a vast segment of the tenant pool who have moved to the city only with a suitcase and are more enticed by hassle-free, pre-furnished property.
But it’s expensive to furnish a property, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be! Our property management services at Flex Living provide an entire upscaling and redecorating of your property free of charge before our corporate tenants move in. You get to keep all additions and furnishings as your own.
How Long Does It Take to Find a Tenant?
Preparation is key. You must start your tenant search early, so you don’t end up paying for your vacant property. Leaving yourself more time to find tenants also means you won’t resort to frantically filling a room with someone who may not treat your home like their own! Or, instead of paying for expensive tenant-finding services, you can leave the entire process up to our guaranteed rent letting agents at Flex Living.