Dear Barry

I own a 2-bed terrace property in East Belfast which has been empty for a while (while we have been fixing it up) and has been on the rental market for 6 weeks* with a local estate agent. I wonder if it would be worth furnishing it and offering it for short term lets? I hear that Film and TV production companies are always on the look-out for short term rentals and that there are currently few options in Belfast. What do you think? If I did decide to go ahead, where would I best advertise it? Thanks, Elizabeth.
Ask Barry Image

Dear Elizabeth

To avoid gaps in rental income, we would always recommend holding viewings even while work is ongoing in a property. You may have had specific reasons for not advertising at that time, but it’s something to bear in mind for future rentals.

We would have advised potential tenants that as they can see, the property is currently getting work done but will be completed by… and specify your completion date.

Property rentals tend to be seasonal i.e. not many people have the money for their first month’s rent plus deposit during the Christmas period / New Year.

This is maybe why it hasn’t let*, and a good agent will always advise of seasonal fluctuations.

Your agent should be giving you feedback on current viewings and advising on how to attract good tenants and get that property making some income for you. If not – ask “why not?”.

I am not sure how much you are marketing your property for -  is the price too high - is that the feedback coming back to your agent? What are other properties in the area going for? Are they furnished or unfurnished? Answers to these questions will help you decide what to do next.

I wouldn’t recommend added expense such as furniture purchases, unless your agent advises tenants are specifically asking for this.

Look at the area and other rentals - how much they let for and if they were furnished, unfurnished or partly furnished. This will help you make a judgement on whether your price is right.

Offering short-term lets is always an option of course, but I would recommend doing this only in response to specific interest. Perhaps your agent could advertise the property as offering a minimum term of 6 months and maximum of 12 months. This could gauge demand for shorter contracts, while leaving the property open to those preferable longer tenancies.

At time of writing, we are seeing no drop in demand for properties like yours; neither are we seeing a surge in demand for short-term lets, or enquiries by film and TV production companies. So, it’s my feeling that one of the other factors like price or marketing efforts are the real key.


Does your agent make a point of mentioning your property if they get phone or email enquiries for 2-beds? How are they marketing your property – is a board up; which websites are they advertising on; do they have a Facebook page and is it being promoted there; can they highlight it as ‘property of the month’ on their online channels; are they monitoring their website and social media traffic to your property advertisement?

Offering a short term let may cost you more.  If you use an agency, you’ll pay them fees every time you let the property – so potentially four fee payments a year rather than just one. If you manage it yourself, think of the time and money you’ll spend doing all the legwork and paperwork yourself.

If you do opt for this route, you could advertise the house on classified sites and apps such as Gumtree, a local newspaper, or a property advertising site such as Property Pal or Property News.

Always remember to vet your tenants in detail - complete credit checks, previous landlord checks, employer checks, credit history, and ask for home-owning guarantors for security for rent – you want to have good, vetted tenants and a hassle-free tenancy. 


In summary:

  • Talk to your agent

    • Have they had interest?
    • Did people mention short term lets or wanting furnished properties?
    • Ask for enquirers’ contact details and negotiate directly; let them know you are prepared to add furniture or offer shorter contracts if those are deal-breakers.
  • Check the current area pricing for rentals – what are other similar properties renting for?

  • Types of letting – furnished or unfurnished; is your property more expensive than other unfurnished 2-beds?

  • Fully vet your potential tenants - think of the type of people you want living in your property

  • Do you want the hassle of having to change tenancies every 3/6/9 months for short term lets?

  •  Is your agent working hard enough? What can other agents offer?



Are you having problems with a property on the rental market? Drop us a line to see if we can advise.



*Editor’s note: This letter is taken from a reader query and response in early February 2017.