Jump to content

Long Void

Carryon Regardless

Recommended Posts

A self contained 1 bed flat in a purpose built block of 6 (I have 5) has been empty now for nearly 5 months.

I advertise weekly and have had a pitiful few responses, mostly from the less desirable who fail to read the ad anyway (over 25's, no unemployed).

As the years have passed the response has gone from many to very little.

A local agent has had 11 viewings in that time, one all ready to go dropped out at the last minute.

In fact Friday I travelled over for a viewing with a long term sick possible T (he said) who didn't show, not uncommon.

It's possible that the many returning East Europeans have left vacant affordable flats available ??

The only feedback is that it smells of smoke. If I didn't take smokers I would have very few T's, and how do you control anyway.

This week it's due for some painting (LA suggestion) to mask the niff.

Certainly not exec standard, but clean efficient and secure for someone wishing an independent existence.

I don't facelift at every void just keep them acceptable, the area and situation doesn't provide high class so I don't provide for it. Life's experimenters, singles spreading their wings, mid aged separated chaps, just got work in the area are a common experience.

£386 pcm is certainly not expensive for the area, in fact now advertised at 1 month free and still no bites.

If I drop the rent on this one 4 existing T's would see that they are paying too much.

So the question, what would you do ?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So the question, what would you do ?

Well I guess that most landlords have had longer voids than they would like at some time.

I find Christmas and New Year a particularly difficult time to relet and so I would urge you to make every effort to relet before the end of November......which is not as far away as you might think (2 months).

You need to ask yourself am I doing all I can to let this property.

* Is it sole agent ?

* Would multi agent help ?

* Am I paying sufficient fees for them to really make an effort to let it ?

* What media do they use .....local newspaperss, web site, Rightmove, in their shop window ?

* Should you change agents ?

* Do you have a 'To Let' board in the window with your phone number ?

* Are you advertising privately ?.....local shop, local newspaper ? Gumtree and other sites ?

* Are there any large employers or hospitalsi in the area ?

* Have you advertised in Teachers publications ?

* Have you offered your existing tenants a finders fee ?

* Have you received feedback from the agents as to why there are no takers.....in addition to smokers and need for redecoration have you supplied white goods inc' washing machine ?

* Have you looked at what else is available in your area ?

* Is there something you could offer that will surpass the competition ?

etc etc

You could write 10 pages of this......all you need to be is creative.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Everything that RL has suggested and perhaps just one more?

A tub of shake n' vac and a permantly plugged in air freshner ? :D

I think you need to go private advertising as well. Try Gumtree I do believe it maybe free to advertise.

A flat at that price should have gone by now but as I don't know where it is situated it could be the main reason if the area is not in a good location.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you asked for feedback from the agent and if they didnt get offered any by the viewers tell them to find out and call them, that is their job and what you use them for.

He did that..........."The only feedback is that it smells of smoke".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks chaps,

I'll attempt to give some answers, in no particular order.

LL19 7HY, Lower Prestatyn, here we struggle to get professional no chance of exec. A safe area, not overly pretty but not so bad for those that do live there. 1 chap has been my T since 2002, turned his flat into a little palace. Always late with rent but best managed than replaced (if I could).

I gave the LA some advantage of time prior to my advertising, actually we had 2 weeks in the Caribbean early June (property available since 20th May) so little point in my advertising. He has 1/2 page in local rag and his board at the flats.

My ad goes in the local rag each week, in the past it has done well enough.

The fact that my ad has a depressed response indicates that the LA shouldn't be considered as poor.

"Prestatyn 1 bed flat 1st flr, cleanattractive s/c, off road parking. over 25's, sickness / retired welcome. Sorry no DSS. Deposit, guarantor & refs req'd. £386pcm. 1 month free -landline and mobile numbers"

Today a call from a 23 year old for he and she, he working, she pregnant. I nearly considered until that bit.

I've tried Gumtree in the past. I got nationwide responses but none from the flats area.

I've no problem spending dosh on other LA's, although I do prefer to practice some loyalty. The other LA's are larger entities, far less flexible and more costly to T's. I don't believe they are designed to attract the sort of T's the flats are catchment for.

Feedback is the smoker stink.

Over the years I've emptied 3 or 4 Shake and Vac's onto carpets, then left for days, and find it's masking to be short lived. Friday I used mucho Fabreeze, we'll see how good next visit. A plug in jobbo, good idea I should've thought of that one.

Then maybe the coffee pot and fresh bread....... ok I'm just being a bit silly.

Also the avocado bathroom aint to my taste, but some of the less young actually like it / them. I'm reluctant to put white in and then re-tile but maybe some attention in that room might lift it some.

My viewings over the years teach me that if they have the confidence to give feedback, very rare, it is likely to be "it isn't very big".

Ideal for 1 not so good for 2, but couples have lived there a few times. Lounge approx 14ft x 13ft, bedroom 13ft x 12ft, 9.5kw shower into bath, kitchen with elec cooker, plumbing for washer. All floor and window coverings, carpets, lino, blinds.

So few viewings this time around to gain feedback, although I know I lose some potentials due to activities and reputation of the 1 flat I don't have. Another story but one of my greatest blunders of not taking the place in 2003 at £30K. "Too expensive" says I. In 2008 I bought the 5th flat for £62k, spent £7k and now can't get £50k.

My best month for response / turn around is November, Xmas definitely not good but I have managed early January a few times.

As I write the LA rings. Viewing this morning, 63 year old lady, poor credit history, g'tor not been considered - it is now.

She wants to meet me as she likes the flat ( my meeting potentials is my stipulation). I think I like her with or without g'tor, gone before I start to pay Council tax, flat insured again, security down to someone else. After all can I afford to be selective here ?

All suggestions still appreciated, the money isn't in the bank yet and any learning for the next time could be good.

Apologies for the War and Peace

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"As I write the LA rings. Viewing this morning, 63 year old lady, poor credit history, g'tor not been considered - it is now"

Be careful of desperation though.

If she has a poor credit history and you are reaching a point where virtually anyone with a pulse will do to tenant your flat then look at how and if she can afford to run the flat. If the sums add up then well and good.

Also some good solid references would help I reckon.

Still a bit risky though and is she DSS in disguise?


Link to comment
Share on other sites

My experience in this local is that retired is HB, similar.

I hope for 1 of her sons to be a reasonable g'tor, her poor history is from helping her other son or so the STORY goes.

I assume she rents now so LL feedback should be sought. With the LA doing this there is incentive for them to be overly tolerant.

If we have HB then there it's feasible to expect some rents, more than now anyway.

With deposit repossession should be paid for, we can claim the court fees can't we ?

The eyes in back of head considerations,

is she the real T,

what potential for abuse that will cost in repairs and attention, but let's face it that risk is always there the best is to hope we've read the character well enough.

If I 'feel' risks are too great the place will stay empty longer, as said November 'aint so far off.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To update.

Her 2nd son is out of work, so unsuitable as g'tor,

for deposit she intends to apply for a crisis loan,

for up front rents she intends to request the council to assist,

for my benefit she will request HB to be paid direct, this shows some experience of such situations.

You don't have to guess my response.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Statistics show that single person households are on the increase- but maybe not in Prestatyn - I would consider this a temporary blip!

I would consider changing smelly carpets - they are quite cheap these days. First impressions are foremost.

Do you have a local hospital? If so advertise on their system or noticeboard. Ditto with any major employers in the area and supermarket notice boards. What about singles and divorced clubs? Put some flyers out.

Rightmove does seem to be the internet market leader.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

The coffee & fresh baked bread is the one I use. I arrange for viewings at 15 minute intervals usually on a Saturday......most people can make that during the day, its daylight and they usually turn up. As I'm local it works for me to have all the weeks viewings in one day if possible. I insist on taking their mobile number irrespective of wether I've arranged a viewing or my agent has and if they ain't there within 10 minutes of their slot I call them.

I get there well early with my bread maker/ ingrediants & coffee......by the time they turn up its like they have just walked thru the front door of heaven. :D

Perhaps thats why I don't get to upset when I have voids.....I get freshly baked bread as compensation !

These days with competition being tough you really have to go the extra mile and make sure you stand out from the others. My tenants get free use of my Spanish holiday home (after 12 months). I'm sure you could come up with an equally good benefit that also has nil cost to the landlord if you put on your creative 'hat'.B) .

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I considered offering a nice holiday to a hot place like Grimsvotn, free use of the barbecue facilities of course.

On those overcast days, of which there will be few, they have the hot tub to relax in.

Loads of fish for the fish lovers, well cod anyway.

The adventurous can enjoy the local hill climbs, but best with a guide as it gets dark early.

Guaranteed on those really hot days your peace won't be int--errupted by overhead aircraft noises.

I do hear that banking facilities 'aint what they used to be though,

and if like Norway the local steak can be a bit tough.


Wadda ya fink ?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

RL I've given a little thought to your other thoughtful suggestions, for which I am so very very.

The majority of my potential T's require to sleep late on a Saturday to recover their energies as spent on the previous evenings social activities,

in fact most days are similar.

Whilst most will be partial to the consumption of beans, to be later enjoyed appreciated by many, unless ample opportunity is given for their recovery for them to be met by such aromatic delights might result in the carpet requiring a clean, again.

For those of a stronger disposition the full English would be expected, to silver plastic service standards of course. This in my experience could well lead to litigation should they suffer any effects of illness within the next fortnight, from whatever cause (see Holidays to Egypt).

If I were to offer them bread the speed they would empty my wallet at would be a marvel, their activity would be a blur but at least they would have contribution toward the deposit.

As you I take their mobile number, I should recognise the local constables own number by now, I guess this is their humour I think most of them know him well.

For those that do inconvenience themselves enough to show, some are so early they are gone before I get there, others need the answers to their questions reiterated so many times that they are still there when the next arrive, if they do.

Others re-organise themselves some how and prefer a block viewing.

I already perceive that they walk into Heaven, though their belief would be later stated as Hell.

Of course by the end of a tenancy I would agree with them, and by then they would agree with me on the Heaven bit, but we never seem to agree the same thing at the same time

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Cor

I can't really offer anything else that hasn't already been said.

I was in same situation with one of my properties up north, it had been empty for a fair few months :o , had a few candidates and like you even thought(all beit a very quick thought) about accepting benefits tenants as they had a gaurantor.

Then , I had a flurry of interest from prospective tenants , all working ,and did let the house to a lovely couple :) .

So perseverance is the key, don't lower your tenant criteria.

Hope you get it tenanted soon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Thanks to all for your thoughts.

On Thursday I finally signed up a retired chap. His style comes across as good and genuine but no G'tor.

He gets the benefit of a months free rent and it seems he will be taking this long to move in, well his choice.

I drove down the Rhyl promenade (approx 3 miles from my flats) and it's easy to see there are now many, many renovated properties. The majority are small apartments aimed at the singles market. Some are local council owned, so subsidised rents.

Add this to the reducing seasonal work, even in season, then the returning internationals leaving more places available for rent, the realisation that there is much more competition sinks home.

I forget who said it but places don't sell too well these days, so some serious thinking is needed to decide on future direction.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I forget who said it but places don't sell too well these days,

Probably me I would guess as I have renovated and sold 2 properties over the past year.

It is a very slow buying market out there and everyone is looking for the bargain purchase price wise.

I am temporarily retired from property renovation (again) as it is just not worth the capital outlay, time and effort for minimal returns.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it is really a case of location, location, location.

I recently bought another house with problems at a bargain price in a well favoured area (estate agent almost suicidal but been on market since Easter with no takers ). Took 3.5 weeks to refurb and had quality applicants queuing to rent. Unusually for me this is a 3 bed family house but let to a couple coming from different marriages, both very good jobs, wanting to set up home. Older kids at weekends and a small older dog. Will be a very messy divorce situation so they could be with me a while.......... I hope. I nearly went into student lets in nearby 2nd rate Uni town - good job I didn't with tuition fees coming in.

Great time to buy if you are in the right area. I don't know the answer to Prestatyn though.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I see the only choice I have really is to compete with the competition until the market picks up.

The only alternative is to let them go very cheap but even with these type of voids they turn a profit.

The part I don't like is the generally reducing quality of applicant and the eventual increased risk from who I accept.

I'm still holding out from taking real dross as I think that would be the start of the whole block becoming that standard.

Some may remember my biggest mistake of not buying the 6th flat of the block, actually when it was available in 2003 I then only had 4 of 6 but have since bought the 5th.

It is the owner occupier of this 6th flat that prevents the block gaining an improved reputation and restricts my potential for effective management of the whole.

Boy do I kick myself for that one.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cor that does sound like a big mistake about 6th flat. We all do these things and look back and regret it.

Agree about not taking dross as tenants as it seems to encourage the whole area into a sink situation.

Have you thought about marketing at 'retirement flat' by the sea? Excuse me if that has already been mentioned.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

A hundred yards up on the other side of the main road the council have built a new complex (opened last summer) for retired, subsidised rents no doubt.

These are designed with some independence but warden on call. The retired that respond to mine are those that don't wish to be categorised as requiring assistance yet.

The lady that had the flat previously, fell down the stairs with injuries, was seen floundering on the grass at the front unable to get home after a few drinks, believed the lass across the landing had bounced the ladies sofa off the double skin brick wall while having sex outside her front door.

I can see the funny side of most but when she repeatedly bangs on her neighbours door to complain, and posts letters through boxes with a knife I tend to get involved, again.

Often it's like having kids. Last week I was telling the 'retired' married couple, who live in flats 1 and 3 (seperately), to keep their arguments more private, others don't wish to share. While telling hubby he had lost his marbles he pushed her into his car, neighbour called Police, Police called ambulance. She wouldn't get into ambulance or return to her flat so was arrested. Funny really.

He has complained that upstairs is listening in to his telephone conversations. He knows this as he can hear upstairs talking about the conversations on the phone.

I could keep going with these tales and most are harmless, but can be time consuming. Sometimes there is more risk though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you have a lease on 5 out of the 6 flats why dont you go down the right to manage option?

Then you would have a lot say in any improvements



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Grampa, interesting reading even if I need to read a couple more times to decipher the double negatives to understand the exemptions.

This solution to the one 6th flat bad apple, trust me he is and has been on many occasions, is also, as I understand it, a possible future problem because of him.

He would have opportunity to counter any proposal, although with a minority vote.

Attempting to get his 6th share of costs would most definitely be a headache.

You might see an association with my other thread here that I intended to return to after some consideration.

I have opportunity to buy the lease, the value set is too high especially these days, negotiation may be worth while.

My concern anyway is that I spend money to take on more responsibility. No point in me having more responsibility for mopping up after him.

There is a cash flow concern but this could prove to be an investment in time, in that my rental returns may increase. Very dependant on the control possible over him and unknown without hindsight.

If being Freeholder (through a company) gives opportunity to develop the site there is advantage.

If the company can get the share of costs paid by the 6th flat owner no problem. This I doubt so I have been keen to understand if there is possibility to use the legal system to force the sale of his asset to settle any debt.

In attempt to justify my thinking.

I am very much live and let live but this nice chap has already cost me many thousands and great effort.

His destructive nature and ugly associations are a great negative.

Repairs to a kicked in front door twice, 1st time Police attend but no action, 2nd time no proof no point.

Threatened to kill a T, Police play down, no action.

Threatened to "end my days" because he wouldn't listen to how to claim on the block insurance, let's not worry about that.

Caused at least 3 of my T's to depart, although I believe more to be true. The nice ones do scare easily and I don't blame them.

It is funny to see this ugly 5' 4" individual standing outside last January in sub zero temperatures, with his shirt off effectively issuing a challenge to me as I pulled in in my car, alpha male style I guess. Easier to ignore and just laugh internally.

There is more but you'll get the picture by now.

By now most will know that I have preference NOT to invest in this industry further, but here it could be a long term advantage. How to accomplish has been a question for many years (since sometime after 2003 actually).

I have decided long ago that this block can only become a reasonable environment for good people is with his absence, but how ?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I remember reading somewhere of a ruse used by a infamous landlord in London 30 or so years ago.

The story goes that he used to buy up assured tenancies.....you know, the ones where people have a tenancy for life and its very difficult to get them out. So, he picked up whole blocks of flats for next to nothing and then proceeded to get rid of the tenants. He'd send a couple of his 'associates' round to the flat above. They would put the plug in the bath, turn on the taps and leave. Of course the flat below would be seriously damaged by the flood....cieling collapsed, carpets & furniture ruined etc. He'd wait a few months until all had been repaired and replaced and then do it all again, and again, and again until eventually the tenants would say enough and move out. Once the block was empty he would refurbish and its value.......no longer subject to old assured tenancies.....shot up 20 fold and he made a killing.

Hopefully this story will won't provide you ideas on how you could proceed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rumour has it he used grenade to persuade someone, I wouldn't know where to get one of those.

I'm not of a mind to employ such tactics, honestly, no really, I wouldn't trust me,,,, ah but you don't, trust me that is ph34r.gif.

But Ding! (as we affectionately call him) might be getting just deserts.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...