How to protect yourself against a long vacancy period

As a landlord, it can be both stressful and frustrating when your tenants move out and your investment property sits vacant for a long period of time. Fortunately, there are a number of steps you can take to minimise the vacancy period.

Modern apartment building
A property that is well kept will often lease quicker than one that is not maintained regularly. Photo: Shutterstock (Image source:

As a landlord, it can be both stressful and frustrating when your tenants move out and your investment property sits vacant for a long period of time. Fortunately, there are a number of steps you can take to minimise the vacancy period.

For owners of an investment property, one of the most frustrating times can be when your house is sitting vacant. Every week that goes by when you don’t have a tenant can take a considerable bite out of your projected yield.

Fortunately, there are a number of steps you can take to protect yourself from a long vacancy period:

Understand the market price of your property

One of the first things you need to do is understand the market price of your property.

It is important that when the time comes to advertise the property, that you do so at market price. 

Although it may be tempting to advertise at a higher rate, if your property is overpriced you are likely to generate less interest. Your agent should complete a current market appraisal for you. This will compare similar properties of the same size and in the proximity of your investment property that have been recently rented. This will give you an estimate of what your property’s current rate should be.

Appoint a property manager that you can trust

Finding a property manager that you can trust and follow their advice  regarding price reductions is also vital as they are dealing with vacant properties every day and will be aware of the current market conditions.

Advertise at the right time

One of the key steps you can take is is to make sure your property is advertised at the right time. Generally speaking, three to four weeks before the property is available is usually appropriate. If your property is advertised too early then your campaign may lose momentum.

On the other hand, if you wait until just before the property is available then you are unlikely to find a tenant for the first available occupy date. Most tenants will need to give notice at their current property and this may be 21 or 30 days depending on the type of tenancy they are in.

Monitor the campaign and adapt if necessary

When the listing is up, monitor it closely. If you are not getting any interest during the first couple of weeks this can be a sign that your property is priced too high and should be adjusted. As your advertising campaign continues, if you find you are generating interest, but you are not receiving any applications then this is also a sign that there is an issue. This could be price or something else.

Pay attention to presentation

Aside from pricing, presenting your property well for viewings is also vital. Make sure your property is clean and that all appliances are in good working order. Re-paint periodically and choose a hard-wearing floor that is easy to keep in good condition. Keep the gardens neat. A run-down property puts prospective tenants off or could attract tenants who care less for their surroundings. In my experience, a property that looks like it has been cared for is more likely to attract tenants that will care for it.

Offer an incentive

Offering an incentive is another way you can help make your property more appealing to prospective tenants. For example, offering one week’s free rent can really help a tenant financially when they are moving. Often tenants have an overlap on their tenancies for a week or so to allow time to move and clean the old property before returning it to the previous agency. A week’s free rent can really appeal to tenants and help reduce the financial burden.

Consider additional inclusions

Depending on the type of property you may attract more interest if some appliances are included in the lease. A washing machine, dryer, dishwasher or fridge freezer are all good examples. Be aware however that if any of these items need repair or replacement during a tenancy this is an owner responsibility.

Organise your leases around peak periods

If possible, organise your leases around peak periods. For example; coastal properties or properties with a pool may rent faster during the summer months.

Hold on to great tenants where possible

If you have a current tenant who pays rent regularly and is maintaining the property well it is highly advisable to try to keep them. If they have handed in their notice to vacate contact them immediately to see if renegotiating the terms of their lease could keep them at the property.

Keep on top of maintenance

While your property is tenanted, make sure maintenance is completed in a timely manner and purchase upgrades when required.

Be realistic when increasing the rent

Try to keep rental increases to a minimum and let them know that if you have increased the rent that you have kept it below market price because you value them as a tenant.

Renegotiate lease extensions early

If your tenant’s lease is coming to an end, renegotiate a lease extension early before the tenant has started looking for alternative properties. If the tenant has any issues address them at this point. A vacancy period can be stressful and add to your out-of-pocket expenses, but with good planning and know-how, you can certainly minimise the period between tenants.

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