What do a family look for in a rental flat?

(67 Posts)
drspouse Tue 22-Nov-16 09:47:02

We own a flat that used to be my flat (so we are semi-accidental landlords - we probably could have sold this flat). I bought it as a flat for me to share with a lodger and potentially (though I hadn't met DH at the time) as a family flat. As it turned out, we moved away when we got married and we now live in the NW with our two young DC.

The flat is in a fairly family friendly area of East London (some older housing, some council/ex-council properties) and is a converted 2 floor maisonette with a garden. 3 beds though one is small, open plan living/dining/kitchen with a lot of space.

In my book it's ideal for a family and if we still lived there we'd probably still be in the flat.

But when we rent we really struggle to get families to even look at it. We end up with a revolving door of frankly clueless tenants who, for example, never change light bulbs and then insist we call out an electrician because the lights aren't working.

I would far rather rent to a family who'd be there long term, but I have no idea what's putting them off. The estate agents say it may well not be price, or not just price. We have told the EAs that we'd be happy to be more flexible on price for a family/couple/just two adults (we have also had problems with three tenants each moving in a partner and that's less likely to happen even with two sharers).

If it's something we can't fix (area, access to the garden which I admit is via metal steps, though only half a flight as it's raised ground, layout, property type if too large for a couple?) then I will admit defeat.

But if it's presentation or security or something we CAN fix then it might be worth trying that next time. We've just had a new set of tenants in and yet again chasing around after deposits and forwarding addresses for the last lot and pointing out they MUST use standing order to pay the rent and references.

Afreshstartplease Tue 22-Nov-16 09:49:44

We rent a house but ... I've not taken houses viewed before purely on the basis of not having a bath. A bath is important for me as a parent!

drspouse Tue 22-Nov-16 09:50:39

We have a bath!

Afreshstartplease Tue 22-Nov-16 09:52:03

Also a garden that is low maintenance and child friendly. No little pebble stone shit everywhere, no uneven flags

Afreshstartplease Tue 22-Nov-16 09:52:54

Ease of access for those with a pram?

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Tue 22-Nov-16 09:57:18

Security is the best thing you can offer a family. What's the longest tenancy you would be prepared to offer? Even if you were to advertise it as 'longer term may be available after initial period' or something.

namechangedtoday15 Tue 22-Nov-16 10:04:21

A "nice" area so that you feel safe walking with toddlers / baby in a pram when you need to get out of the house for a coffee. Similar young families in the area for socialising.

Family centred activities - playgroup, library, baby/toddler classes, park nearby.

Proximity of good nursery / outstanding primary school.

Proximity of transport links for working parents.

Then its about the house - clean, clean, clean, child friendly (so no open stairs for instance, dirty / worn carpets, bath, garden).

pinkdelight Tue 22-Nov-16 10:06:13

Is it close to a decent school? If not, that would be one of our unchangeables. Otherwise it sounds nice. Is the garden private or shared? The latter would put me off. After that it's probably just down to price. Could a family conceivably rent a house for the same cost? Is it the kind of price that'd make a family choose to move further out and get more for their money? How far in/out is it? Feels like there's a bit of a gulf opening up in some areas of London now where the wealthy and the poor can stay in some areas because money is no object or they have secure tenancies or bought long ago. What can be missing is the middle-ground who can pay a lot for not that much e.g. a flat for a family instead of a house. That could be why you're only getting people with no dependents.

Good luck with it though. Surely can't be impossible, and definitely worth hanging on to as an investment.

YelloDraw Tue 22-Nov-16 10:10:36

Right move link? Go on, we love a RM critique.

Might be anything!
Price
Space
Open plan kitchen/dining/living might not be attractive
Schools
Access up/down stairs with pushchair etc to outside or garden
Distance from transport

Joinourclub Tue 22-Nov-16 10:11:43

Tumble drier
Decent sized fridge freezer
Dishwasher
Semi furnished
Downstairs loo
Flooring - open plan so I assume the same all the way through downstairs? I hate tiles, not just friendly, so anything but tiles!

Can you 'dress the house'for a family and take new pictures ? Ie cot in the small room , toys stored neatly downstairs, kids wellies and coats neatly stored, nice big cosy rug in living area, some family photos up, high chair at the dining table, some kids toys in the garden? Make it look like a family live there successfully and families looking on line might find it more appealing!

Does the listing say 'suitable for families' 'long term let'?

Are pets allowed?

You've said you would be prepared to accept a lower rent for families, can you maybe advertise that you guarantee no rent increase for 'X' years?

drspouse Tue 22-Nov-16 10:15:12

Ease of access for those with a pram?
Really really unlikely in East London. Everything will have steps, except large council blocks with lifts (the low rise modern blocks all have steps, so do the older houses).

Milk I think we'd be prepared to offer something like that - because of the AST regulations/our mortgage provider we probably have to offer 12 months to start with but then the standard is generally to roll over however another 12 months then gives a fixed longer term, and we're happy to do that.
I'm not sure it's possible to have a completely secure tenancy these days as both sides are able to give notice but "rolling" is I think less secure than fixed 12 months.

namechange Not sure about the quality of the schools or nurseries but I can't change that! It's near transport links (without giving away too much it's on the East London Line so actually wasn't near them when I moved in). It is near a park, a library (at least, as near as you get in London). It's in a greener, but inner borough. I do tend to think that people choose an area first and then look for a property, though they may have a few areas in mind at one time.

It's all wood flooring, no dirty carpets. So it is easier to keep clean though I accept you might feel your toddlers thunder around a lot like little elephants! No plans to fit carpets but if carpets aren't a good idea then that's probably better.

We are happy for any periodic paint colour to be chosen by tenants and we're also happy for them to put up shelves/pictures etc. Maybe that's worth flagging up.

Of course it's possible that the area has changed a lot in the time I've been away and it is all 20-something renters with a deposit from Daddy (we've had one or two of those) and no families any more.

And of course the EA is going to push those type of renters on us, aren't they?

LilithTheKitty Tue 22-Nov-16 10:16:09

A dishwasher or plumbing for one and no carpets in the hall or dining room and preferably not in the living room either. I spend a fortune and have a lot of stress keeping the cream carpets in our rented home clean with three children. I don't know why the landlord thought a carpeted dining room was a good idea for a family size rental property.

Lovewatchingrainfall Tue 22-Nov-16 10:24:17

As a family we have looked at a number of houses and flats to rent. Okay we are in the SW but still. The things we have looked at are
Access how easy is it
Parking
Storage within the property
Kitchen, how is the layout of the kitchen is it practical, a dishwasher would be a bonus
Does the bathroom have a bath and shower?
A garden would be amazing.

I would make sure the EA is not just pushing certain people towards you.
We were told that our current rent was not renting to families because it's a 1st floor with no garden. However running into the LL he was happy to rent to anyone.

YelloDraw Tue 22-Nov-16 10:29:02

You're on the east london line? So once cheap now expensive and uber trendy?

Probably a 3 bed flat is just too expensive for a family TBH. The kind of families that can drop over £2k on rent would probably prefer to buy something.

drspouse Tue 22-Nov-16 10:32:44

Yello it's not on the market at the moment, as it's just been rented. Sorry!

No room for a downstairs loo (it's a 3 bed flat in Inner London folks).

The appliances are not fabulous and we could renew them when we put it on the market next, good idea. No real room in the fitted kitchen for a decent fridge freezer but a small chest freezer could fit in the dining area so we could ask if they want that. I am not sure where we'd put a dishwasher - the EAs tend to say go for a freezer first then a dishwasher if room.

It's mainly unfurnished except beds but we'd be happy to change those for the type the tenants want.

I know the previous EA were trying to market to families, but hardly got any viewings either. They said that couples/those with babies only seemed to want 1 or 2 beds. Maybe it is price. It might be helpful to know how low a family would need it to go - because with voids and PITA tenants, it is usually worth having a longer term tenant - but not if they are paying half the price.

We don't live locally and don't set it up ourselves for rentals (we're several hours away) so we're not really going to be staging it, sorry. Especially not dragging all our family kit down! But maybe it's worth finding someone that does that.

We would probably not be able to advertise no rent increase but rents are negotiable and we have said to the EA as above that we're really happy to accept a lower rent for a family or couple. So maybe emphasising that we'd also be happy to fix the rent in any negotiations for such renters.

I also note that almost all of the replies assume "family" means "baby". i.e. cots, buggies, prams, steps. I was assuming I guess that "family" might mean "two school aged children"?

drspouse Tue 22-Nov-16 10:38:36

Yello you may well be right. There are still families living in the area (going by the existence of previous services such as the Brownies I used to help at, the toddler group in the same hall) but they may be living in ex-council properties now, or have been there for ages like us.
I am not sure how low we'd have to go to get responsible long term family tenants. We are talking that ballpark at the moment, you are right.

Lilith don't worry we don't do carpets in a rental flat!

Love there is residents parking (not what you were hoping for I imagine!) but a lot of people don't have a car (TBF that's going by when I lived there 10 years ago, again things may have changed, and again some of the families I knew did have cars).

There is a garden which currently is (from memory - it's changed a lot!) flags and flower beds. At one point the PITA tenants put raw turf over the flags and wondered why it died.

drspouse Tue 22-Nov-16 10:39:40

Yes and love you are dead right about the EA. I wonder if we should call round all the EAs and ask if any of them would be specifically willing to market to families/long term tenants given how much of a pain the current/previous revolving door has been.

PatriciaHolm Tue 22-Nov-16 10:41:05

Families with school aged kids are only going to be interested if there are decent schools they can get to easily, primary and secondary. I know this is something you can't change, but it would be nice to know because then you would understand whether it is an issue or not. And if you are bang next to a fab primary then the agents need to be pushing that! ;-)

namechangedtoday15 Tue 22-Nov-16 10:44:04

If you think family might include school aged children then you need to know about the schools!! If the catchment school is poor, and a family could rent within the catchment of a good or outstanding school for similar cost, you're not going to get any interest from families with school aged children.

Manumission Tue 22-Nov-16 10:44:08

You might be better off cashing in now and investing the profits closer to home. London rental prices are not family friendly any more and it might be that you just don't have the right property for easy long term letting.

drspouse Tue 22-Nov-16 10:47:15

Patricia and namechange OK with both of you saying the same thing together that is something we need to look at!

Manumission we do have the intention to, maybe, move back (we'd like to if the right job came up for me, as DH can just transfer to London, and now we have decided no more DC I'm actively looking). But we could never afford that if we sold... so it's got to stay. But it could be 2 or 5 years.

EssentialHummus Tue 22-Nov-16 10:47:31

Get onto schoolcatchment.co.uk and check the primary school situation. I'd wager it's either that, or price, or both. FWIW I'm in SE London, on the Overground, in a two-storey ex-council maisonette, no garden, and when we've looked to rent in the past it has been all families interested.

EssentialHummus Tue 22-Nov-16 10:48:50

And if you're stuck with sharers, suck up the extra cost and use a "fully managed" service, so all the calls about light-bulbs etc go to the agent.

drspouse Tue 22-Nov-16 10:49:07

(In fact, having said that - if we moved back it would be a minimum of 2 years from now as jobs are very slow moving in my industry. We probably wouldn't bother moving if it was 10 years from now, as the DC would be settled in secondary school. So I think we'd be guaranteeing a rental for 2-5 years - and that might be too short for a family - maybe I am not being fair on them).

drspouse Tue 22-Nov-16 10:56:11

OK it's not school.. or at least unless the reputation locally is different to the Ofsted report. I remembered the nearest primary and it's 200m, Ofsted Outstanding, last admitted distance was 375m last year. So it's unlikely to slip out of the area.

So that's one for the ad. There's a faith school about the same distance in the other direction, and one which is 425m away (LAD 475m) which is Good.

Secondary schools are frankly, well, let's just say a very well known (and lovely) politician was slated for sending her children to a private school and lives in the same area.

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