At Oakfield Estate Agents, we’ve seen too many landlords take a short-termist approach to renovating and maintaining their buy-to-let properties.

Their ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ view involves completing the bare minimum of repairs and maintenance so that they just about meet their legal obligations, but nothing more.

We’ve come across landlords who don’t even seem to mind if their rental flat or house is in a sorry state and there’s a high tenant turnover, as long as they’re saving every penny they possibly can. And they may think that given the currently highly competitive rental market, in which demand outstrips supply, landlords don’t need to do very much once they have tenants in place.

But we would argue this is hardly the best approach if you want to get the best out of your investment. We believe that, rather than ‘running’ a buy-to-let place that’s barely functioning, the smarter, longer-term option would be to be proactive and take the time and money to refurbish or extend.

Of course, you always need to take the age and condition of a rental home into consideration before you make any significant changes. And we’re certainly not suggesting that your plans have to take the form of Grand Designs-style projects.

Equally, for example if you improve somewhere so much that it’s worth proportionately more than similar units in the block or street, that’s not going to be worthwhile.

That said, carefully costed and thought-through refurb work that appeals to your target demographic will always pay off in the long run.

Here are some of the reasons for that:

  • Add value to your property: It really is as simple as that. If you complete refurbishments to the highest possible standard, you’ll reap the financial rewards when the time comes to sell your place.
  • Fewer and shorter void periods: While the market remains competitive, it’s still the case that tenants will soon snap up a property that is looking its best.
  • Longer tenancies: Whatever we’ve heard landlords with a frankly cavalier attitude say, no one wants to have to keep finding new renters every six months. The reality is that tenants will simply stay longer somewhere they’re happy living, and which isn’t riddled with problems. This can save an awful lot of hassle all round.
  • Lower repair costs: Ageing kitchens and bathrooms can need multiple repairs. If you sort out issues before they start eating money, you can save a lot of time and effort further down the line.
  • Greater energy efficiency: Replacing single-glazed windows, installing insulation or adding solar panels improves your property’s energy rating, which is good for both the planet and energy bills.
  • Tenants will take greater care and complain less: It stands to reason that tenants are more likely to look after somewhere which was maintained properly in the first place. After all, if you show clearly that you as landlord don’t care what the property looks like, why should they? You’ll experience far fewer tenant disputes over the life of a rental period, sparing yourself a lot of potentially timeconsuming headaches.
  • Better tenants and returns: If you spruce up an otherwise down-at-heel rental, you’ll be able to widen the net in terms of who you market it to, including those in the professional bracket. And therefore you’ll be able to charge more. Equally, in an age that’s driven by image, tenants have high expectations of what their home should look like. A fresh, modern property seriously stands out in terms of both in-person and virtual viewings.

At Oakfield, we cover much of East Sussex as a lettings agent which tenants and landlords have trusted for more than 25 years. For expert advice on adding value to your rental property, contact us today to learn more.