How to compete for tenants when vacancy rates are high

Fuelled by low interest rates, home lending to property investors is at a record high – leading to the prospect of increased competition between landlords hoping to attract tenants.

Here are 10 tips for landlords and property managers in a high-vacancy-rate scenario:

  1. If the vacant property lacks a dishwasher, heating, cooling, an outdoor entertaining area or adequate storage, adding these popular items could get it rented out faster. A fresh coat of paint can also work wonders.
  2. Many advertisements for rental properties are not appealing – with poor photos, no floor plan and a cursory description that fails to appeal to tenants’ emotion as well as their wallets. If you commission a floor plan and professional photos – which can have virtual “furniture” added for scale – you can use them every time your property is vacant. Make sure the text in the advertisement sells tenants on the experience of living in the property, not just the number of bedrooms.
  3. Some agencies are starting to experiment with using video in advertisements, which could be worth a try.
  4. Australians are a nation of pet lovers. If you allow pets, you’ve got a far wider pool of prospective occupants – and much less competition as many landlords won’t allow pets.
  5. When properties are in plentiful supply, prospective tenants can afford to only attend open house inspections that are at a convenient time for them – make sure the property is open for inspection at least twice a week, including on the weekend.
  6. Get feedback from prospective tenants at the opens. Are they interested? If not, why? Is it something you can address?
  7. Be flexible in the length of the lease – some tenants want the certainty of a two-year lease, others may only need six months.
  8. If you do drop the rent to get a tenant, don’t forget to be extra vigilant when it comes to subsequent regular rent rises – moving is a hassle and most tenants are prepared to pay extra to avoid it.
  9. Don’t lower your standards too far – it’s better to have no tenant than a tenant who is always late with the rent or leaves your property trashed.
  10. If your property is vacant for an extended period of time, it is important to notify your landlord insurance provider to discuss the implications and make sure you remain covered.
  11. Consider changing your approach – would the property be more in demand if it were furnished, or available for short-term let?