The National Landlords Association has just published research that suggests that void periods in private residential properties have fallen to their lowest level in over a year. The NLA says this was helped by strong and consistent tenant demand. They conducted on-line interviews with 824 of their members and this showed that only 33% of them experienced vacant periods in the last three months. This represents a year on year reduction of 13%.

Voids are greatest in the North East of England where the research found that 54% of landlords have experienced empty periods in the last three months. In London the strong market helped landlords to keep their properties occupied- only 20% reported voids over the same period.

The average void period has reduced to 60 days. In the early part of 2012 it was 69 days. Landlord insurance clients will be pleased to hear the results of this research. Another finding was that arrears of rent were at their lowest level since March 2010. This is encouraging but it is worth noting that the research found that 41% of the landlords interviewed had experienced instances of rental arrears in the last year, a reduction of 9% on a year ago.

The Chairman of the NLA commented:

“It is in every landlord’s business interest to maintain good, long lasting tenancies and avoid voids. At a time when demand far outstrips supply, it is imperative that empty properties are filled quickly, following any necessary maintenance and improvements”.

Any landlord who has suffered a long void period will know how the bills mount up when the property is empty. It is often better to reduce the rent if this will persuade a tenant to stay rather than move out. It is also important to respond effectively to any comments, complaints or suggestions that the tenant makes. Perhaps a relatively modest improvement in the property will mean that he or she renews the tenancy and the landlord avoids a gap in cashflow.

Remember to check your let property insurance policy if your property becomes empty. You will probably have to notify the insurer and there may be additional conditions attached.

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