Simply put, a void property is one that doesn’t have a tenant living it. As a result it is classed as a vacant property. For those in the property business or social housing providers, this has the potential to be real problem.
Recent data on voids and social housing properties shows that around 3% of the total housing stock in England is empty and across the UK, that figure is rising at around 2-5% per year.
Managing vacant properties
For those with a property portfolio, having vacant properties not only means a loss of rental income or a missed opportunity for someone to create a home but also the potential for the property to attract anti-social behaviour, squatting, fly-tipping, pests and event issues like structural issues like damp or rotting.
Keeping your property portfolio safe
It’s important for vacant properties to be managed effectively to ensure they are kept safe and secure until new tenants are found. Things to check can include:
- Make sure windows and doors are securely locked
- That all utility supplies are switched off
- Any available CCTV is covering vulnerable areas like access doors
- External items such as bins are properly secured
It’s also a good idea to arrange a full voids inspection to ensure that any areas of disrepair, or that may be susceptible to issues, are logged for repair prior to the property welcoming new tenants.
Portfolio monitoring: refurbishments and repairs
When there are multiple properties or a cycle of repairs that are needed, managing repairs as a project is the most efficient way to ensure works are completed. Getting a void property ready for new tenants can incorporate a lot of different work from gas checks, to damage repair and even just generic cleaning.
Working with a single partner to manage the various trades involved can be a cost-effective and smart way of making sure you have the trades and skills needed for the list of works and that they are managed as a single team, rather than a complex list of individual components.
Turning a void property into ‘ready to let’
When prioritising work, it’s important to think about what the acceptable timeframe is for unoccupied properties to help ensure any financial loss is minimised. For a portfolio, this may mean prioritising housing in demand or those in geographies that will quickly find tenants once ready.
There is also an option to incentivise tenants to complete elements of work, such as providing decorating vouchers so that a property can be personalised to the occupant’s liking.
There are minimum requirements for standards in any property that will house tenants and a number of assurance checks that will need to be completed, including gas safety. These checks should not be taken lightly and completed well in advance of the property being released back into the market. Proactive maintenance can also play an important role, in getting ahead of potential issues by scheduling regular repairs and replacements to ensure properties remain modern and functional.
Empty properties are undesirable for many reasons, not least for the disruption, they can cause to local communities. The ability to quickly turn around a vacant property through a void management process can significantly reduce the commercial impact whilst providing a much-needed home for a family in need.