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Lettings is firmly in the post pandemic period and a number of tenants will be using 2022 to relocate but what do tenants want from landlords in the months ahead?

We’re all used to the phrases, ‘re-evaluated priorities’, the ‘race for space’ and ‘The Great Reset’ but while these may have sounded glib or even clichéd in 2021, there are now plenty of legitimate reports lending gravitas to the readjustment trend.

Deciding whether to reinvent a buy-to-let based on the below needs careful consideration, as Open Property Group’s Jason Harris comments: “The UK is made up of different rental microclimates. While rents may be rising in some hot spots, they are plateauing or even declining in some areas. Drastically changing a buy-to-let’s offering should only be done in line with local demand and with one eye on the future.”

“In many cases, the Government is in tune with what tenants want and incoming legislation will coerce landlords into making changes. Perhaps it is those that alter their offering ahead of schedule that stand to gain the most, in terms of tenant appeal, higher rents and property appreciation.”

Here are three aspects that are in high-demand among tenants:

Pet-friendly properties

Data collected by Rightmove showed demand for pet friendly rental properties increased by 120% in July 2021, compared to the year before – not surprising given that 2.1 million people acquired a pet in lockdown1. And with an estimated 1.8 million of us planning to add a pet to our households in the near future - is now the time for landlords to revise their opinion on domestic animals?

It all comes down to appealing to the biggest tenant base possible. According to the PDSA animal care charity, only 7% of landlords advertise pet-friendly properties and with the Dogs & Domestic Animals Protection Bill held up in the House of Commons, only voluntary action by landlords will change this figure.

“There is a real opportunity for landlords willing to take a calculated risk to show compassion towards pet-owning renters,” says Jason. “Yes, there may be increased wear and tear, and extra cleaning needed at the end of the let, but the right tenancy agreement and insurance products in place will allow landlords to advertise ‘pet friendly’ lets with confidence - and potentially for a higher fee.”

A home working zone

If you think it’s a case of ‘all back to the office’, you can think again. Landlords need to consider our greater adoption of home working in 2022. In fact, The Office for National Statistics found 85% of employees who had experienced home working want to split their time between their home and a shared office in the future.

You only have to look at Zoopla’s latest living analysis to see how people are placing greater emphasis on a home working zone. The portal found 41% of British homeowners adapted their home during the pandemic to suit their changing needs. Of the reputed 8.8m bedrooms that were lost, nearly five million new home offices took their place.

“Although the trend is clear, this will create a moot point among landlords, for whom the number of bedrooms, the rent achievable and the yield are inexplicably linked,” says Jason. “Losing a bedroom to create a dedicated home office is a decision that’s best made with a letting agent on board. In areas where rental values are stagnating or dipping, such a swap may be counterproductive.”

Energy efficiency measures

Successive surveys among tenants make it clear that energy efficiency is an increasingly important priority when renting. A YouGov/PCWorld poll found 80% of tenants thought property owners should give consideration to the environmental impact of their property, with 32% of participants indicating they would expect a smart meter as part of a furnished rental property.

But before landlords get caught up in the costs involved in improving energy standards, there is evidence to suggest that tenants are willing to pay for greener rental properties. “It’s interesting that 53% of respondents to a survey by Lettingaproperty said they were prepared to spend extra to rent a greener property,” comments Jason.

“Just over half would willingly pay 10% more in rent; a further third would accept a 5% increase, while 1 in 12 would find a 20% rise acceptable. This evidence should allay fears that eco investment are going to be hard to recoup – welcome news given that many landlords will have to make costly improvements to their buy-to-lets in order to meet rising minimum energy efficiency standards.”

If you would like help with developing a strategy for your buy-to-let future – whether that’s further investment, outsourcing management or even disposing of your rental assets, talk to the Open Property Group team today.

1 Poll conducted by The Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association
Published on 7th March 2022

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