The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the business landscape for almost every sector, and the rental market was one of them. But perhaps not in the way you would assume. Upon recommencing, the rental market refused to slow down, an extremely positive sign for landlords – but what we have seen is a shift in tenant demand.
Since reopening in May, the housing marketing, including the rental market, saw a surge in demand for homes with gardens. It seems that time spent in lockdown has led to an increased number of people placing more value on outdoor space, with restrictions and warmer weather increasing our yearning to be out in the fresh air.
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What is the data telling us?
Data gathering in the industry found that 49% * of renters have now changed the key elements they are searching for in their next property, with a garden or outdoor space a top priority. A survey of more than 4,000 movers found that while studio flats were previously the most sought-after properties, two-bedroom properties with access to a garden are now in-demand by tenants.
In May, searches for ‘homes with gardens’ on property apps increased by 84% YOY and Google Trend show that searches for the same term have seen spikes in April, May and June. It seems that some renters are even willing to accept higher rental prices for properties with south-facing gardens. This information should make landlords realise that properties with appealing outdoor space should be considered a valuable asset to have in your property portfolio, and one to be taken care of.
Of course, the size, condition and location of the property will influence the rent you can command, but landlords should be taking these recent findings on board to secure tenants for their rental properties.
The push for gardens means that the pool of potential tenants has just widened. Previously it might have been that it was young families with children that were attracted to properties with a garden – but now single and professional people have also recognised the importance of outdoor space. With all of this in mind, landlords must place just as much emphasis on gardens, getting them ready in time for letting agents to market the property.
Below, we offer some guidance on creating a space that moves your rental property on to your audience’s short-list.
Creating an enticing garden on a budget
With clever planning, you can create a garden with an abundance of flora and fauna on a low budget.
Opting for perennial plants and shrubs that require little maintenance, or growing plants from your cuttings, you can build borders that flower all year round, creating a relaxing space for your tenants to enjoy, and feel inspired to take care of. Invest in buying bulbs and seeds online; you can often bulk buy these for a reduced price, which makes financial sense if you have more than one property.
Often, all a fence or shed needs to look like new is a sanding down and a lick of paint. Traditional colours can now seem outdated, so opting for darker greys or black stains for woodwork are often well-received as well as making any greenery more impactful.
Be sure to jetwash and weed patios or clean decked areas – and even add some sturdy pots for extra colour.
Nourish the lawn
It doesn’t take much for a lawn to look a little worse for wear through neglect, or extreme weather. But when well-maintained, it can make an enormous difference to the overall impact of the garden and feeling of space.
A sprinkle of good quality grass seed, covered with topsoil, watered regularly and fed with fertiliser can soon bring a lawn back to life.
Low maintenance garden options
If you are looking to create an outdoor space that requires little upkeep, consider a courtyard garden. Opt for paving, gravel or decking to build a space that accommodates outdoor seating and dining.
A low maintenance garden doesn’t mean you have to compromise on plants. Make the most of potted plants and use trellis’s with dramatic climbing varieties to create the illusion of more space and height. Climbing roses, jasmine and honey are all heavily perfumed and make even a small space more enjoyable.
Getting the garden photo ready
By paying attention to outdoor spaces in time for the marketing of a property, letting agents can take high-quality images that allow would-be tenants to imagine their lifestyle in the area and move your property on-to their rental short-list.
If you can, add garden tables and chairs to the space. This further helps potential tenants to picture themselves spending time, relaxing in the garden.
By implementing all of the above steps, your garden will be camera-ready, ensuring that your property aligns with tenant demand. Failure to do so could mean your property is overlooked, meaning that you miss out on monthly rent to properties have had marketed their outdoor space.
Arrange ongoing maintenance
Tenants are likely to want to spend as much time in the garden as possible, having developed a new-found love for outdoor space. With this in mind, you must uphold your responsibilities regarding the garden maintenance of a rental property.
Landlords are required to maintain areas of a garden that would be considered unreasonable to expect a tenant to uphold. This work usually extends to ensuring trees, large shrubs and fences are properly maintained. It also means that any issues reported by tenants that are not their fault are acted upon quickly.
Often, portfolio landlords will instruct the services of professional gardeners to maintain the outdoor spaces at their properties, applying the cost to the tenants rent if this is agreed. Although if the services of a gardener have been stated in the AST agreement, landlords are legally required to provide this service for the length of the tenancy.
Otherwise, day-to-day maintenance such as weeding and mowing the lawn is down to the tenants.
If you have a property that would like to discuss the management of, or you are looking to become a portfolio landlord, speak to a member of the City and County team today, to understand more about the benefits of partnering with us.
*data from Rightmove