16 Ways to Make the Most of Your HMO refurbishment

16 Ways to Make the Most of Your HMO refurbishment

Consider the Target Tenant Type for your HMO

The refurbishment standard should be aimed at the market you are delivering the product for so, for instance, a LHA tenant’s needs may be different than those of working professional, or someone looking for a boutique HMO. Think about who you want to attract and offer what they will need.

Do Your Research

Know what your competition is offering and offer something different. In a competitive market it’s advantageous to stand out from the crowd.   Analysing what your competitors are offering, what works for them, what properties are sitting void will help you to both minimise your voids and to gain maximum rents, thus optimising your returns.

 Consider the Design at Refurbishment Stage – Not After!

The cheapest time to build things in is during the refurbishment rather than retrofitting, so consider those extras that will make your product stand out to ensure you minimise voids.  HMO standards are constantly rising so consider being slightly above the curve to avoid earlier than planned upgrades.

Minimise Noise for Your Tenants

This is one of the main reasons for unhappy tenants.  Buy decent door closers which close doors quietly and don’t need constant adjusting. Implement soundproofing both between lateral rooms and between floors to minimise tenant contention.  Consider appliances that make noise and where they are situated, such as washing machines and dryers.

Maximise Storage Space

Ensure you make use of the available space.  Shelves, high level storage, under the bed storage, even coat hooks can help declutter rooms.  Avoid beds with drawers as they always get overused and break.  Make sure that you have provided somewhere tenants can safely store push bikes that is out of the rain or you will find them in the bedroom marking your walls. Kitchens should offer generous cupboard space for tenants to store both food and kitchen implements.

Make Bathrooms Easy to Maintain

If you are installing a bath, buy a steel one, they are a little more money but you will not have to keep resealing them in as the resin baths move.  Ensure you can get access to the shower traps easily by raising the shower cubicle and avoid the temptation of putting in Saniflow toilets if at all possible.  If you have no choice, make sure you provide sanitary bins, and consider penalty clauses for blockages caused by misuse.

 Think About Fire Risk in your HMO

Over and above the regulations, mitigate risks as much as possible. Flood rooms with power sockets so that power extension blocks are not necessary. Consider escape routes of each tenant – wide aperture windows are not much more money than standard windows and can facilitate easier escape.  Fit fire blankets in the kitchen and build in training on how to safely use them in your induction process.  Explain to tenants what they can and cannot do, and make sure appliances and smoke alarms are checked regularly

 Invest in Good Window Dressings

Ensure blinds are fit for purpose, fit correctly and don’t let the light in.  If you have kerb side ground floor rooms consider in augmenting these and offering something which both provides privacy and is secure.

Choose Flooring That Will Last

Ensure you use waterproof flooring in kitchen and bathrooms. High-quality vinyl can actually look quite attractive these days.  Avoid the cheap stuff that tears easily.  Tile flooring has some merit in the kitchen as appliances, when they are dragged out, can easily rip vinyl flooring though I prefer to avoid tiles as a dropped saucepan can also cause problems. Good quality laminate flooring in rooms is generally easier to maintain but ensure you minimise large areas so damaged flooring can be easily replaced do think about noise levels.

Consider Location of Access to Utilities

Ensure you provide isolation valves and that tenants know where they are located. Consider adding additional valves for en-suite bathrooms.  Ensure your electrical circuit boards are clearly marked and you can isolate key areas. Make sure meters are easy to access and not tucked at the back of cupboards which will be used storage

Add Colour

Be creative and add colour to the walls (max 3 colours) to give it a trendier look. Always use acrylic paint so marks can easily be wiped down.  Creative lighting can also add warmth, and there are a plethora of affordable lighting options available which can put you ahead of the crowd.

Think About Presentation

Dress your property and get professional photos taken just after the refurbishment while is still looks brand new. This will give prospective tenants a real feel for what they are buying into and you can re-use the photos for subsequent lets.

Customise Each Room

Consider tweaking each room to give them a slightly separate identity, just like a boutique hotel! This way you can offer each room at different prices or use the different features to upsell or appeal to a slightly different type of tenant.

Consider En-Suite Bathrooms

To en-suite or not en-suite that is the question! Firstly, there is no right or wrong here.  I would suggest adding en-suites can help with bathroom contention and is one of the more desirable things that tenants request.  However, they cost a lot to install and it can take a long time for you to get a return on the additional refurbishment cost. In my view, en-suites really do help with tenant retention but be mindful of water pressure you have available to run them simultaneously.

Offer Great Wi-Fi Coverage

Ensure you have pervasive coverage with a good signal.  Offering 5Ghz and 2.4Ghz spectrum minimises the interference from other nearby Wi-Fi from neighbours.  Normally free Wi-Fi capable routers that come with the broadband supplier have weaker broadcast signals.  Either augment this with a bigger router or, if a very large property, add multiple access points.  If you use a spectrum analyser to plan your channels then you are less likely to have clashes with neighbouring Wi-Fi.  Loss of Wi-Fi is up there with hot water in terms of tenant needs.  As the internet will be heavily used, ensure you have an unlimited internet package to avoid surcharges or throttling and don’t be tempted to buy the cheapest line.

Make your HMO Energy Efficient

When anything is free or at least inclusive within the rent consumption tends to be much higher, which can present its self if high utility bills.  To minimise this consider energy efficient devices, sensor lights in common areas like stairs, hallways and porch areas.  Gas consumption can be managed with British Gas Hive like devices that give you remote access to heating controls with the added ability to lock down the thermostat and heating schedule.  It is legally compliant and provides a boost controls for tenants.  This tends to work better than tenants individually managing heating controls as no two people are the same and you tend to get thermostat fights.  Get a house consensus on the correct temperature and typically go with 18C in the summer months and 22C in the winter.  If tenants request changes to that schedule, it can be done without attending site.  Individual heating in bedroom and common areas can be managed directly by the tenants using thermostatic values on the radiators.  I never apply constraints on hot water.

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