Many young people in the U.K. live in rentals, even when the pandemic hit. In fact, homeownership in the U.K. has fallen, while renting keeps on rising. As of 2020 data, renting is the most common tenure among low-income earners or the households that earn less than 300GBP a week. Private rental housing is also on the rise, particularly among individuals earning around 641GBP per week.
Considering the economic challenges of COVID-19, it’s quite surprising to see that private rents, in particular, had hit record-high in England. The median rent was highest in London, at 1,425 GBP a month, and lowest in northeast England at just 495 GBP a month.
This had fueled concerns about affordability because research found that 41% of a renter’s income goes to their landlords. To ease their burden, the U.K. government has issued a ban on evictions in England and Wales. The ban required landlords to extend the grace periods for thousands of tenants who couldn’t pay rent on time.
These circumstances posed many challenges for landlords and property managers. This whole pandemic brought unprecedented problems to all industries, forcing all business owners to make quick adjustments. As such, landlords and property managers have been put in a precarious position, potentially making them more prone to mistakes.
That said, here are the mistakes they must do well to avoid while we’re still in the COVID-19 era:
1. Let Out Their Frustration on Their Tenants
Everyone knows that COVID-19 is a tough time for everyone, including landlords and property managers. Their finances also suffered an impact, which affected their families and needs. Therefore, their frustrations are valid. But it isn’t an excuse to lash out at their tenants or to force their tenants to pay rent when they couldn’t.
Besides, the ban on evictions gave landlords and property managers no choice but to patiently wait for the payments they’re due. But sadly, many tenants report getting threatened by their landlords because of their late payments.
A landlord or property manager with common sense and a background in real estate will not do these things, so if you’re one of them, kudos to you. If you hear about cases of other renters suffering their landlord’s wrath, you can offer them your available flat with flexible terms or spread awareness about tenants’ rights during this period.
2. Showing the House or Unit to Other Renters When it’s Still Occupied
Just because a tenant couldn’t pay on time doesn’t mean they’re set to leave soon. Hence, their late payment isn’t an indication of an impending departure. As long as they still occupy the flat or house, and they informed their landlord or the property manager about their situation, the flat or house should remain unavailable to other renters.
Again, this looks like a no-brainer as with the first one, but some landlords can really turn a blind eye to the new laws. Making this mistake doesn’t cause tenants to suddenly have money to pay. Instead, it ruins the rental property’s reputation and makes it lose tenants.
While it can be tempting to accommodate a new tenant who can actually pay, they don’t make existing tenants any less valuable. So if a landlord encounters a potential new tenant, they should only market the vacant properties.
3. Going in With the First Tenant
Some landlords ended up losing tenants during the pandemic, as renters moved back in with their families. With work-from-home becoming the norm, renters may no longer need a place near their workplaces. This can cause landlords or property managers to market their newly vacated properties with haste. But that’s not an advisable move.
Going in with the first tenant out of desperation creates a risk of mismanagement issues. That’s because focusing on the tenant and not on the property can cause landlords or managers to overlook maintenance issues. Therefore, the right strategy is to attract the right tenant, not the first one. And do to that, they should maintain the property first, perform necessary repairs, and finally do the marketing.
4. Foregoing a Representative
If a landlord or property manager is unfamiliar or confused with the new regulations, they should consider enlisting the help of an experienced letting agent. The agent will represent them during talks with tenants and interested renters. They provide a buffer between a tenant and a landlord so that if issues arise, neither would immediately react on impulse. A letting agent can help avoid many pandemic-related renting problems and spare tenants from the hassle of dealing with rental payments they don’t have.
If you’re a fair landlord or property manager, you’d understand the impact of the pandemic on anyone, so you won’t likely make these mistakes. However, other people like you may not be as understanding. So spread awareness about this issue. Be a model of a just landlord or property manager, and the renting industry can emerge stronger from the pandemic.