Students are demanding customers these days, which isn’t surprising. Going to university is more expensive than ever, and has in many ways encouraged students to expect much more from their university experience than was the case even just a few years ago.
As such, universities and large developers have created a swathe of extremely high spec accommodation blocks, catering mainly for freshers and international students, and have subsequently been able to charge extremely high rents. This has served to push student’s minimum standard expectations ever higher.
HMO landlords have been forced to raise their game, and the most savvy of them have recognised that respecting and responding to this shift in student’s mindset by investing in their properties pays great dividends. Providing genuinely great places to live is rewarded with faster lettability, higher rents and greater tenant satisfaction.
Undoubtedly, full and well designed refurbishment with high end fixtures, fittings, furniture and amenities is the gold standard. But even when this is not practical, there are some fairly low cost improvements which can genuinely enhance a HMO’s appeal and the rent it returns.
First of all, ensure that you’ve got the basics covered. For example:
- Your HMO is well maintained overall. A question to ask yourself on this is whether there is anything in the property that you wouldn’t dream of putting up with in your own home.
- Bathrooms and kitchens have been refitted or upgraded in the last seven years. These areas are subject to a lot of wear and should look good rather than just function adequately.
- It’s been decorated throughout within the last three years. If not, chances are it’s looking tattier than you’d care to admit.
- The flooring is in good condition. If any of it is chipped, ripped, stained, ill fitting or just obviously past its best, it will simply look rubbish.
- Fixtures, fittings and furniture are of a good standard. However good your HMO is, if it’s been kitted out on the cheap, that’s how it will look and feel.
Being brilliant at the basics is important, not just for the student’s customer experience, but also for your bottom line. Taking care of the above will lower maintenance bills and more easily attract more tenants and higher rent.
So, assuming you’ve nailed this, here are some other cost effective things you can do to enhance your HMO’s appeal:
Bespoke bedroom furniture
Custom-built furniture fitted to a room’s specific shape makes a big difference in bedrooms. Durable, modern and low maintenance desks, wardrobes and shelving allows for creative space solutions whilst also giving a sense of class and interior continuity. This costs about £700 per bedroom.
Having a feature wall in any room of your HMO can really give a wow factor. It’s an inexpensive and effective way to make a statement and leave prospective tenants with a lasting impression.
Make the most of outside space
Making sure your HMO’s garden is tidy is really important and easily overlooked by landlords. Low maintenance solutions such as paving or astroturf can make all the difference to an often neglected area. Providing outside furniture such as a pub bench is most definitely welcomed by tenants as it gives the property more of a communal feel. Brick barbecues are also a great idea. But you don’t have to stop there, you can be as creative as you like.
Landlords that go the extra mile with modernising bedrooms reap the rewards in rental income. Small additions such as USB ports can really update a HMO.
More costly extras like TVs in each bedroom – which are becoming more and more expected – really work to future proof an asset. A 4 bed HMO with TVs in the lounge and one in each bedroom would cost around £2000.
Horizontal window blinds (composite rather than wood) are a suburb option for windows in your HMO. They’re durable, come in a lot of great shades, can be made to measure and fitted for relatively little expense, and provide a much slicker and cleaner look than curtains. On a standard 4 bed HMO, all blinds could be designed and fitted for around £1000.
Small additions such as prints on the wall make a visual impact and can really elevate any HMO. Including these little touches illustrate pride in your property thus creating a welcoming environment for your appreciative tenants.