Guest post: Open-Plan Living for Higher Rental Income
The whole point of buy-to-let renting is to generate as much income as possible. The best strategy in the long run is to make your property attractive to prospective tenants, allowing you to charge higher rents — an approach that benefits everyone.
So what will be attractive to tenants? Owner-occupiers are increasingly turning to open-plan living, rather than the traditional model of separate rooms. While this isn't a new idea — combining living and dining areas, for instances, has been fashionable for decades — more emphasis is now being put on making spaces flow into one another, including kitchen, conservatory and garden.
What's popular with owner-occupiers will also go down well with tenants, and it can apply as much to a small flat as to a large house. One simple way of increasing flexibility even in a small space is to use modern aluminium bifold doors, which are available quite cheaply from many companies such as FD2U. This offers the option of securely closing off spaces for privacy or opening up to allow the different areas of the property to flow seamlessly into one another.
A Light Modern Feel
Together with open-plan living, it's important to give every aspect a light, modern feel, especially in a property to let. Where an owner-occupier may wish to make their home quirky and unique, a buy-to-rent property needs to appeal to a range of prospective tenants.
Modern-style furnishings go well with the open-plan look, especially in the kitchen and bathroom, while floors and walls should be light and fairly neutral, so they go well with whatever style of furniture the tenant wants to use. If the property has patio doors, especially bifold doors which create the best connection between inside and outside, a good tip is to use floor-covering that matches the patio, whether actual tiles or synthetic covering. This will make the spaces flow together better.
None of this comes cheap, and buy-to-let landlords are unlikely to have the resources of corporate owners. Real Homes Magazine suggests ways of financing improvements, which apply as well to buy-to-let landlords as to owner-occupiers, that can help you make all the difference in maximising your rental income.
Why Make Improvements?
Besides the commercial reasons, regulation is increasing all the time, with the government recently announcing new controls on rogue landlords. While these won't directly affect the vast majority of landlords who treat their tenants appropriately, they underline the importance of making the property tenant-friendly.
The regulations sometimes work against the interests of both landlord and tenant, but there are ways around them. Landlord Law Blog highlights a case where a council was ordering a landlord to add internal doors to an open-plan space, which wouldn't have benefited anyone. It's not revealed how this was resolved, but an excellent compromise would have been to install bifold doors, fulfilling the requirements but leaving the tenants free to enjoy an open-plan space at will.