I’ve been a renter for nearly twenty years, with a short period of moving back in with my parents when I was in my early twenties. Since 2013 I’ve been a renter with a family. Let me tell you landlords, there’s quite a difference in property needs when you’re a single/married professional, to when you’re a parent.
That sounds obvious, right? Yet the rental market, or more-so the landlords, don’t seem to take this into consideration when preparing a property to rent.
If you’re a landlord who is preparing a property to rent, I think you need to take into consideration (very carefully) who it is you want to have living in your property.
I think a lot of landlords don’t think about their ‘customer’, when adding the finishing touches to a rental property. Most times it is clear that perhaps they thought more about looks, budget, or what they personally would like, rather than practicalities for who would actually be living there.
But don’t worry! I’m here to help!
So, landlords – this is what you need to be asking yourselves when preparing a house for the rental market:
- Who is my customer? Students; professional couples; families etc
- How long do I want my tenants to stay put? Short term; long term; or potentially very long term (you have no intention of selling)
- What is the best way for me to prepare the house, for my ideal customer?
15 Ways Landlords Can Make A Property Family Friendly
I can’t speak for students, but if you’re looking to have a happy family move in, and you want them to stay long term….you need to read these tips!
Make sure there is good security in place, and that it works! If your property has a front garden gate, make sure it works, and can be made safe to stop young children getting out. Same with back garden gates.
A tenant shouldn’t have to stump up the cost of fixing or replacing a gate that they did not damage.
If you’re adding any safety latches, bolts or chains to the insides of front doors – put them up high! Yes, it can be a pain to have to reach up, but I’d rather that than have my young child be able to reach and unlock it! Yes we could move it ourselves, but are we allowed to drill new holes into the door?? We don’t know! And we don’t want to hassle you with small stuff like this and come across as a pain.
Wherever possible, make sure windows are lockable! No one wants their child to be able to open the windows upstairs.
Please please please – remove any hideous carpet! I’ve found some lovely looking houses for rent, but not bothered going for them purely because of the carpet! Patterned, stained, gross looking – get rid! Especially if there have been pets in the house.
When choosing tiles for the bathrooms – don’t pick 3D effect tiny mosaic type tiles! Do you know how hard they are to keep clean? Let me tell you, they may have looked nice when you had them put up, but they’re the bane of my cleaning life in our house!
Flat and smooth makes for a much easier cleaning experience for a family. Even better – get those hygienic panels/wetroom sheets! They are a dream! And I’m pretty sure they’re cheaper than tiles.
While we’re talking about bathrooms – if you have the option or possibility of adding a mixer tap in bathrooms and kitchen, please do it. Young children can’t use the hot tap to wash their hands, and in the UK during winter the cold tap can be almost as lethal!
This last winter our cold water physically hurt our skin when we used it to wash our hands. So we had to have the boys use the mixer tap in the kitchen, after they’d been to the toilet.
Please be sure that everywhere in the property is safe and fit for purpose. In our current home, in all carpeted areas, the carpet grips protrude. This has meant multiple pierced heels and toes for my children (and myself!), and many tears. Not to mention the socks we go through after they get ripped.
Let’s move on to the garden. If you want to appeal to families, and keep them long term you need to make sure the garden is as family friendly as possible. As nice as grass is, we also like patio (I personally would choose all patio and no grass). Make sure there is plenty of patio please! This essentially means that once the rain has stopped, children can still play in the garden. Make sure there are no broken or dodgy slabs.
Please, please, please – no gravel or shingle in place of patio or grass. That stuff is not child friendly. Children can’t ride their tricycles on gravel! But worse than that, when a child has a bad fall on gravel…it’s not pretty!
If the garden is already small, don’t add unnecessary hedges or bushes. Not only do they take up much needed space, but they also speak to young children, saying “hey, throw your toys in me!”. Sadly for my children, what goes in the bush – stays in the bush!
Also, I have yet to meet a garden bush that isn’t overrun with stingy nettles and weeds. I would love nothing more than to rip up our bushes. I hate them. They currently live life surrounded by a beach wind break so no further toys can get in, but this is an eye-sore.
Oh please, if you’ve got any opportunity to at all – please add an outside tap in the back garden! I have young boys. Young mud loving boys. As our kitchen is at the front of the house, an outside tap would be invaluable! I hate not being able to use a hose. Imagine all the muddy kids and wellies I could wash, and the paddling pools I could fill, and the cars I could wash, if I could use a hose!
Don’t have rules in place that renters can’t put pictures and wall decor up – a family wants to be able to do this. As a tenant there’s nothing worse than not feeling a house is your home, for fear of upsetting the landlord! You want your tenants to feel at home, don’t you? Holes can be filled, don’t worry.
Be clear about what is included in the rental agreement. For example, we previously lived in a house with a garage. We used the garage for storage, as most people do. About two months into living there we saw our landlord outside letting himself into our garage. He broke a few of my vintage belongings while he was there, by knocking over boxes.
The second time he did this we spoke to him to see what was going on, and he told us that the garage wasn’t included in the rent and that he was also allowed to use it for storage. This was NOT in the contract.
He did two things there – not putting that clause in the rental agreement which we signed; but also he didn’t give the legally required 24 hours notice all landlords must give to tenants before visiting. He claimed that as he was only going to the garage and not coming into the house then it wasn’t breaking any terms. We moved out soon after.
This is so important – make sure you do not rent out your property knowing it has damp! Honestly, we’ve been in this situation. It’s too long a story to go into here, but ultimately it was a case that our landlord had painted over a very serious case of rising damp (there was actually two or three different types of damp), in order to rent it out.
We were the unfortunate people to move in to this property. In the end it turned out it was so bad there, that it would have affected our health had we not picked up on it and eventually moved out, when we did. I mean, that’s just shocking. Luckily this was just before I got pregnant with the boys, so no children were living there.
Unless rented on a furnished basis, or made clear in the contract, please don’t leave pieces of furniture in the property. It’s just a pain when you move into a new property, with all your furniture in the van, and you see a huge, ugly, rickety old wardrobe has been left in a bedroom, or a falling apart dining table that’s no good for anywhere but the rubbish tip.
It’s possible you think you’re being helpful…but you’re not. It just means an extra thing we have to sort out on moving day, and we likely have to wait for you to come and remove the piece before we can put our own furniture in place. If we haven’t agreed to having it – don’t leave it.
So landlords, if you’re looking to rent out your property to a family in the hopes that they will be long term, good tenants, you should really consider all 15 tips above.
As a family who rent, we would love to settle down somewhere for many years, and make a house our home. Unfortunately it’s unbelievably hard to find a house that fully meets the needs of a family.
Having a family move in to your rental property can be a great benefit in the long run. Families like to put down roots, so tend to stay longer and be good tenants…if the house is right! If it doesn’t meet the needs of a family…we’ll move on!
Of course, not all things are possible for one reason or another. But if they could be made possible, even at a low cost… isn’t it worth it to know your rental is lived in and looked after for many years by one happy family?