12th Jun 2020|News|

Landlords – here’s why you need to target your property towards home workers

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a revolution in the way we work, with many more home workers than ever, as the government advice remains to work remotely where this is possible while we gradually ease out of lockdown.

This time last year, around 11-12% of UK working adults worked from home on a regular basis. Since lockdown, this has soared to between 39% and 45% of the UK population, and doesn’t take into account those many workers who have been furloughed who could work from home if their company’s financial situation allowed for it. This means, in reality, the number is probably even higher.

As the economy bounces back in the next few months and businesses consider unfurloughing staff, the likelihood is that the number of people working from home will rise further as the advice remains to social distance and avoid unnecessary travel on public transport (something many people require to get to their office or place of work).

A consequence of this large rise in remote working is that tenants are now placing much greater emphasis on home office space to ensure they have a relaxing and comfortable place to work from. This is likely to be a key priority for many renters in the coming months and even years ahead.

While working from home has posed significant challenges, especially when it comes to childcare and a lack of face-to-face communication with colleagues, it’s also the case that many people have greatly enjoyed the experience, with the extra time spent with their family, the absence of a commute, and the ability to be more productive without office-based distractions.

Remote working has largely functioned well for many businesses – driven by the wonders of modern tech – which means there is likely to be a continued desire for many to work from home even once a greater sense of normality is restored, or a vaccine is found.

Social distancing will be with us for the foreseeable. This, coupled with the guidance to avoid public transport unless it’s essential, could lead to remote working becoming the norm for many.

When letting your home, you will need to bear this in mind, as how well prepared your property is for home working is likely to be a key consideration for many tenants.

Show off your home office space

If your rental property has existing dedicated home-working space, make sure that you show this off to tenants on the initial virtual viewings and then any in-person viewings, too.

If your rental property doesn’t already have dedicated home-working space, you may wish to rectify this by transforming a spare room or even putting a desk and office chair in one of the bedrooms to showcase how it could be used for work.

It’s also a good idea to ask your agent during virtual or in-person viewings to explain how parts of your house – for example the kitchen, the dining room, the living room or a spare room – could be used as home-working space with only a few small modifications.

Certain tenants, in particular the young professionals who make up a huge chunk of the rental market, may need more than one lot of home-working space, so it’s important that you bear this in mind as well. Be clever with your space and highlight how prospective tenants could use certain parts of the home for remote working.

Boast about your internet speeds

Pre-pandemic, fast internet speeds were often outlined as a key tenant priority, often cited as being more important than other key utilities. That will be even more so the case now, with many more tenants now working from home.

Tenants will be searching for homes with excellent broadband – enough to handle those Zoom team meetings or that important piece of software.

Unfortunately, broadband can be a bit of a lottery, and depends largely on the area you live in, but in and around most towns and cities it is likely to be speedy and reliable.

Approximately 95% of UK premises currently have access to superfast broadband, which is defined as download speeds of at least 24 megabits per second (Mbps), according to the government.

For most household uses, superfast broadband is deemed fast enough at present, but the government says that ‘growing data demands are pushing the limits of the copper-based superfast broadband infrastructure’. As a result, focus has shifted to rolling out gigabit-capable full-fibre broadband. However, as of September 2019, just 10% of UK properties had access to full-fibre connections.

The effectiveness of your broadband isn’t something you have a great deal of control of – you might live in a WiFi blackspot, for example – but if you know your rental property does have very good broadband speeds, ensure that you let buyers know about this in your property descriptions and on virtual and in-person viewings.

You may also wish to arrange a broadband package before tenants move in, so they don’t have to deal with the faff of getting it set up (which can sometimes takes weeks). Alternatively, if you have very tech-savvy, switched-on tenants, you may want to pass the responsibility to them to find the most suitable broadband provider, using their own personal knowledge to get the best deal/product.

Make use of your garage/shed

Tenants working from home might not just be those who usually work in an office, and can get by with just a laptop and a phone. Some might run their own business, a small charity or some other private enterprise which they can operate on a remote basis.

This could include sculptors, artists, musicians, manufacturers, architects, food producers and clothes designers, with such professions or business ventures potentially needing a larger area in which to work from.

The garage/shed in your rental property – which you may have neglected or hidden away as you believed it had no real value to tenants – could be highly appealing as an alternative workspace.

You needn’t spend lots of time, money and effort on converting this space into a workshop or studio, but it is crucial to turn it into as much of a blank canvas as possible so your buyer can imagine the space as their own. Declutter where you can and leave the space as bare as feasible.

Don’t neglect your garage or shed space as it could just be a key selling point for some tenants. Remember to include it on any virtual or physical viewings you do as a further part of your sales pitch to renters.

Here at Centrick, we will do all we can to help you successfully let your home while also following the new government guidelines to the letter. To find out about our current operations, please get in touch with us today. If you want to find out how much rent you could be charging each month, check out our instant valuation tool.