The world we are in today, stalked as we are by the coronavirus, is clearly a different place from that world we can all remember so clearly from just a few months ago.
It seems so close, so tantalisingly close, we should be able to just reach out our hands and touch it …
But as we are all learning, you can’t make something happen by wishing.
We are where we are and it looks like Coronavirus is here to stay. For the next year or so at least. And even if we get a vaccine which works, the boffins tell us that more viruses could be on their way …
So what do we need to survive in this new and dangerous world? How can we earn the cash to keep food on the table?
Social distancing and jobs
The truth is that most jobs that involve close contact with others are either dead in the water or will only survive if people are shrouded in PPE. For example nursing and other jobs in the National Health Service.
Services and jobs likely to survive:
- Selling things online
- Computer work
- Work which can be done remotely from home
Services and jobs under threat:
- Anything in hospitality which involves indoor events and services
- (Sadly) the performance arts, particularly where the performance is indoors
- Airlines and holidays abroad
If your work is in the second category – try to see if it can be converted into something in the first. If you can.
So how does this affect landlords?
This is the Landlord Law Blog where we look at how things affect private renting. So what sorts of properties are people going to want to live in? And what can good landlords do to help their tenants?
Remembering that helping tenants to survive in a post coronavirus world means making it more likely that they will pay their rent …
Here are some suggestions:
Good broadband is essential
It was clear even before the pandemic that people needed good broadband. Now it is an absolute necessity for many people – their jobs depend on it. So ensuring that your properties all have as good a broadband service as is possible will help them.
This then leads on to
Making provision for home offices
As many people will be working from home, they will need somewhere to work from.
Consider helping tenants to set up a room to use as an office, or if there is no room but the property has a garden – why not install an outside home office? This will cost but the cost can be recouped over a few years in higher rent.
Note by the way that we have a post here on the legalities of working from home in rented properties.
Properties with gardens and balconies
As we all know from the lockdown if you have a garden you have a better life. So rented houses with their own garden will be at a premium particularly with families.
If you are considering investing in more properties, then consider family homes with gardens, or at least a balcony.
Larger intergenerational homes
One of the big problems in lockdown is childcare. Particularly if your job involves leaving the home. However, if your parents or grandparents live in the same property – you have live-in childminders!
If periodic lockdowns continue then there may well be a trend towards larger family homes, or maybe homes with ‘granny annexes’ where families can share expenses and cover childcare needs by living together.
Smaller towns and villages
In the past, the highest rents tended to be in the large urban areas in particular London.
However with so many people working from home, there is less need to live in London or other big cities and many people will be looking to move to smaller towns, suburban and even rural areas for a better quality of life.
People are understandably nervous about travelling on traditional public transport. It looks as if the future of travel may move to electric vehicles, not just cars but e-bikes and scooters too.
This means that properties will need
- Recharging points for electric cars (if there is on-site parking), and
- Secure storage facilities for e-bikes and (if they become allowed) e-scooters. Otherwise, people will carry them indoors as they are expensive items.
With the problems in overseas travel and in particular the difficult relations with China, there may well be a serious drop in overseas students. This could be exacerbated by a move by colleges and universities to online training.
Student landlords may find they need to convert houses back to family homes or maybe look to a different HMO market. Although according to this article traditional homes are likely to do better than purpose-built student accommodation.
Moving away from Airbnb type lets
It looks as if foreign travel is going to be severely restricted meaning that renting properties for short term holiday lets are going to become riskier.
Landlords of such properties may be better off converting them to family homes which will (so long as the families can afford the rent) ensure a more reliable income.
Or, if you own a property in a traditional holiday area, such as a seaside town, you may want to cater more for English family holidays. With the problems with foreign holidays, family holidays in England are likely to become more popular.
Landlords are lucky as their business is unlikely to be shredded by the coronavirus pandemic in the way that others have been. People will always need somewhere to live.
However, landlords looking to grow their portfolio and rental income should look to issues such as these to increase the value of their investments.