When you first get the keys to your new buy-to-let property, you need to factor in that you probably won’t be moving tenants in straight away.
It is likely that you’ll need some time to undertake some maintenance or refurbishment to the property or add a few fixtures and fittings.
You will also need time to advertise the property, conduct viewings, and reference the chosen tenants and complete all of the relevant paperwork and safety checks before finally moving tenants in.
Being pro-active can help to minimise this initial void period (when the property is empty). I try to advertise the property as soon as I am allowed to by the seller, have a confirmed ‘earliest move-in date’ and can take representative photographs that show the property off well.
Ideally you would conduct viewings at this stage too (between exchange and completion). If that’s not possible, a live advert still enables you to take prospective tenants names, numbers and details so that once you are in a position to conduct viewings you have a shortlist of interested parties ready to go on day one.
Letting agents or landlords with multiple properties should have a head-start as there are often tenants who ‘missed out’ on a similar property and therefore may find your latest one of interest.
It is also important to advertise the property at the correct rental price. You may even consider offering the property below the ‘going rate’ so as to attract more interest, rent the property quicker and thus minimise the time it sits empty (when the property is earning you nothing).
Ideally the initial batch of viewings would lead to a suitable set of tenants who wish to rent the property. The next issue then becomes when they can move-in. It’s unusual for someone to be able to move-in immediately as they generally need to give their current landlord their notice period. In fact, I’d be wary of someone who can move in the following day as it doesn’t show much stability in their lives.
Property type can play a part here though; smaller properties may be filled quicker as the tenants tend to be of a more transient nature, whereas larger family homes often come with tenants that have more commitments (and stuff to pack!) before they can move.
Under normal circumstances though, if a property is advertised and a tenant is not found within a few weeks (not necessarily moved in but scheduled in to do so) then I would say something is wrong – normally the price, property or marketing.
One key proviso for a landlord is that the objective should always be to get the best tenants possible, not necessarily the first ones that come along.
If you are buying your first rental property and would like someone to help you with the whole rental process, please get in touch.