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Adapting your property to suit the market

By Liam O'Boyle

Are you considering renting one or more of your properties? You may need to take into account the place or type of property you own and who it would be best suited to. Is it in a suburban area, close to parks and schools? You may find marketing toward young families will provide you with the type of tenant you want.

Below we have listed five ‘types’ of tenant, who they are and what they want. We’ve also included some tips on how to best provide for their individual needs if you’re considering tailoring your property for their target market.

The Uni Students

In their second or third year of university, it is common for students (typically aged 18-25) to seek a rental property to live in while they study. Uni students are sociable beings and like to be close to the local uni or tertiary institute, shops and nightlife. They like to live with a few others to save on rent, so may require three or more rooms or have people sharing rooms.

Some landlords, however, are hesitant to rent to university students as they hear horror stories of noise, damage and unclean environments. In these cases some may ask for a larger bond to give peace of mind for any damage that may occur, accident or not. Fortunately it is only a small minority of students that cause this kind of grief. Many are dependable and conscious of those around them in terms of noise and cleanliness.

The Young Family

The young family has parents in their 20s to 40s and young children under the age of 10. In general, their requirements will revolve on the needs of their children. They look for spaces that are safe for their children to play – a fenced and tidy yard with room to grow. Proximity to local schools, parks and recreation areas is a big bonus, and advertising these will gain you great interest from these young families.

There are a few things to look out for in the house. Small things, like the height of doorknobs, may deter a family if their children cannot get around the house by themselves.

If there is a pool or spa pool on the residence, you are legally required to have a sturdy, self-locking fence around it, with a minimum height of 1.2 meters. This page provides additional information on the NZ fencing law. (link to be included here)

The Elderly

Older people generally like smaller houses that are easy to maintain and are close to local amenities like shops, care/medical centers and libraries. Being close to retirement homes/villages is a plus as some people may go between for visits or stays.

There are certain things you can do to make your home more desirable to older tenants. You may ensure that there is wheelchair access or install a stair lift. Insulation and central heating are also important for this group of tenants. Changes to the bathroom are also very helpful. You may wish to consult with an expert on the best way to update your bathroom to accommodate older tenants.

Disabled People

It’s a big struggle for physically or intellectually disabled people to find rental properties that suit their needs. Someone in a wheelchair needs the house to be fully accessible – this includes entranceways, bathrooms and kitchens. You may need to take into account if someone has a full or part-time care person. A property close to public transportation or medical facilities is helpful.

You are legally required to make reasonable modifications to a house (such as ‘grab bars’ in a shower) to help a disabled tenant, or allow them to make reasonable adjustments, and allow a service dog – such as a guide dog for the blind, to stay in the house even if a ‘no pet’ clause has been created.

Pet Owners

Allowing people with pets to rent your property can increase the number of potential tenants you get and encourage them to stay longer.

If you are hesitant about letting pets into a property, you may wish to create an agreement with your tenant and set clear rules for them to follow. This may include:

– The type of pet they have

– The number or size of pets

– Whether they are trained, neutered and friendly

– How long they may be left alone and if there is someone to take care of them in an emergency

– A pet damage bond

People with dogs in particular may be looking for larger fenced sections. Take into account the noise a pet may make, and if others living in the house/building are allergic to a pet’s fur.

Service dogs (such as guide dogs) are not subject to a pet bond and are allowed by law to be with the person it is assigned to on the rental property.

Think about the area where your property is located. Is there a group of tenants who is underserved by the current rental market? Modifying your property for this group of people could be the perfect way to ensure you always have tenants in your home.

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