Why do tenants prefer private landlords?

It is no secret that tenants often prefer to rent from private landlords as opposed to those associated with larger, more institutionalised rental organisations. So why do tenants prefer private landlords?

Tenants often prefer private landlords due to the perception that private landlords are more responsive to their tenants’ needs and more communicative in general. In contrast, many renters feel that the larger rental organisations can be unresponsive and unyielding.

There are many reasons why tenants might prefer to rent from a private landlord rather than a letting agent. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of both options, as well as what landlords need to know in order to attract and retain tenants.

What is a private landlord?

A private landlord is the owner of a property who rents it out to tenants. Private landlords may have one or more properties that they rent out.

Private landlords typically do interact with tenants directly, ensuring they have met even when using letting agents or management services.

Where a landlord doesn’t use an agent they’ll be responsible for all negotiations and paperwork until a contract is signed and the property is let. 

There are other types of landlords, for example:

A housing association is a non-profit organisation that provides low-income residents with housing assistance. Housing associations provide housing for families who cannot afford to pay rent on their own. They also offer financial aid to help cover the cost of utilities and other expenses.

A local authority is a government body responsible for providing public services such as education, social welfare, law enforcement, and infrastructure in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. 

A corporate landlord is typically someone who rents out office space to businesses. They often provide services such as janitorial supplies, security, and cleaning. The landlord also provides office furniture, computers, and other equipment.

In a YouGov poll 58% of respondents owned their home.  Of the remaining 42%, 15% rented from a private landlord while 6% rented from a housing association.

YouGov Poll Results
Source: https://docs.cdn.yougov.com/jit4pxr9kw/Renting%20survey%20results.pdf

Why do tenants prefer private landlords over other types of landlord?

When you understand the different types of landlord it becomes very easy to spot why tenants prefer private landlords over the local authority or housing associations.

Private landlords are better suited to providing a more personalised level of service. They are more communicative and responsive to their tenants’ needs, which often leads to a better quality of living.

Unfortunately for many people, a large number of housing associations have been hitting the headlines recently due to the terrible service provided, for example:

You may have also seen some horendious stories make the national news such as this one:

I hope these are exceptional cases, and I personally know people who rent from the local government, and they’re very happy and well looked after.

As a private landlord, I hope my tenants also think that I can offer a more personal touch and that they are getting value for money as I invest time and effort into maintaining their properties. If any of our tenants contact us with a problem we fix it straight away. We want to make sure our tenants are happy as that means they are going to stay in the property. There is nothing more expensive and time consuming than a void!

And because this is my business, I have an incentive to keep the property well maintained and the tenants happy so as not to lose them.

In many cases a landlord may appoint a property management company.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a full time professional landlord or part-time single rental property owner, being a landlord can be a lot of work, so offloading elements such as marketing, vetting potential tenants, signing the tenancy agreement, and arranging maintenance to a 3rd party can be a real time saver.

Even with this reduced contact, you can still be a stand out landlord that tenants will be happy to deal with for a long time.

How you can be a stand-out private landlord

There are some very simple ways to make a good impression:

  • Be friendly
  • Be approachable
  • Be available
  • Have good communication skills
  • Offer a high standard of customer service
  • Keep your property clean and presentable when empty
  • Make sure everything works properly

And there are some less obvious things that can set you apart from others:

  • Being ‘local’
  • Being flexible
  • Being responsive
  • Being personal

Let’s take a closer look at why tenants value these qualities.

Why do tenants prefer private landlords who are local?

Renting from a private landlord who is local can have many benefits for tenants. One of the main advantages is that these landlords are more likely to be available and accessible in case any problems or issues arise during the tenancy. Additionally, private landlords who live close by can quickly deal with any repairs or maintenance that may need to be carried out on the property.

Since these landlords don’t have to use an estate agent, they will often advertise their properties in local newspapers and online. Cutting out an agency fee can mean offering cheaper rent, which tenants will always appreciate!

Private landlords are more likely to be accommodating when it comes to requests for changes such as increasing/decreasing the number of occupants permitted at the property, or having pets living there. They may also be more flexible with regards to deposits and rent payments.

Why do tenants prefer private landlords who are more flexible?

While some landlords or agencies may have strict rules about who they let their properties to, others are more flexible and willing to work with potential tenants.

For example, do you allow pets?  Smoking?  What is your policy around the number of people living there?  (e.g. a single person moves in, do you allow a future partner to move in at a later date?).  Are you flexible on the rent payment date?

In time, you’ll develop a sense of how flexible you’ll want to be and the pros and cons of such flexibility.  Being a cat-friendly landlord will attract some, but possibly put off others who have allergies.

Why do tenants prefer private landlords who are more responsive?

Finding the right property to rent can be a difficult process. Both landlords and agents are picky when it comes to who they let their properties to. There are many risks involved for landlords, such as delayed payment, unpaid rent, or that benefits would not be sufficient enough to cover rent.

Minor issues can lead to a breakdown in trust between tenants and landlords, leading them to prefer private landlords who are more responsive when communicating.

Tenants feel more comfortable raising issues with a property manager who will take the time to handle the situation professionally instead of chasing up issues via multiple emails or phone calls.

Landlord and tenant resentment may result from lack of personal interaction on both sides, which could have been resolved if communication was better handled from the beginning.

Why do tenants prefer private landlords who offer more personalised service?

I’ve found that a major advantage of being a private landlord is the ability for me to offer a more personalised service and take the time to get to know my tenants on a personal level.

This creates a much more friendly and comfortable environment for all involved. In addition, getting to know them better allows me to make more informed decisions if situations crop up, such as where someone has difficulty making payments.

I think it’s also nice to add little extras, such as a welcome bottle of wine or small gift during the holiday season. We always send our tenants a gift voucher at Christmas, which they really appreciate.

Use of Letting Agents

A question every landlord will face at some point is if they wish to do all the work or if they should hire a letting agency/property management company.

Advantages of using a letting Agent

There are several advantages to using a letting agent when renting out a property. For one, the experience of a letting agent can help smooth over any potential bumps in the road that may come up during the rental process.

Letting agents are typically more experienced and know how to handle different situations that may arise. They can also take care of tasks that would normally need to be done by other people on behalf of the landlord or tenant, such as renting out properties and handling maintenance requests.

In addition, there is often a monetary cost associated with using a letting agent–but this could potentially save you time and hassle in the long run. Letting agents will often charge an upfront fee based on what your property rents for each month, which means there’s no risk involved in renting out your property as long as it meets the seller’s set price-tag criteria.

Overall, using a letting agent can provide landlords and tenants with some peace of mind knowing that they have someone who is knowledgeable and experienced helping them through the rental process.

Disadvantages of using a letting agent

There are a few disadvantages of using a letting agent when you’re looking for a property to rent. Firstly, they can be expensive, some charge up to 15% of the annual rent as commission.

Secondly, many people find the idea of dealing with an agent unpalatable, they can seem like another hurdle in an already difficult process.  If you become too removed from the process you lose the benefits mentioned above because you no longer get to know the tenants.

Thirdly, there is no end of letting agents, which can make the choice seem overwhelming. It’s important to do your research and find one that suits your needs (and budget!).

Finally, landlord forums on the internet are a good way to get an idea of what other landlords think about particular letting agents. This is helpful because it means you don’t have to rely on personal recommendations (which may not be impartial).

Researching the best letting agent can save time, stress, and money down the line. 

Final thoughts

Renting property to tenants is a great way to build a new income stream thanks to the regular rental payments, but it does come with a lot of work.

Being hands-on means you will need to dedicate a period of time to managing issues, but doing so puts you in a much better position to get to know those who are renting from you.

There is no perfect answer for how involved you should be, it’s something you’ll need to figure out as you gain experience as a property investor and landlord.

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