If you rent out your property, you might have considered bundling broadband in with the tenancy. This is now seen as a ‘must have’ as people work more and more from home so not only is it an attractive option, it’s essential in areas without a good Wi-Fi service or high-speed fibre broadband.
But what type of broadband should you consider for the property? What if the tenants are unhappy with the speed? And who should manage more than just the remote but oversee the router? We asked our friends at Broadband Genie to help answer these questions.
Is broadband a legal requirement?
Let’s clear this up first: broadband isn’t a legal requirement or considered essential for putting a property on the rental market. It is however a very attractive bonus – along with a TV aerial and prepaid license fee which is (by the way) a legal necessity. Indeed, many potential tenants may already have their own arrangements in place that they wish to port across when they find a new property and move in.
However, as people are increasingly working from home, this is clearly going to affect the decision of prospective tenants when looking at your property and impact what your current and future tenants expect from future rental agreements. Fast broadband provision with good Wi-Fi could be what separates an empty property from a long term tenancy agreement, so if good internet access is on the tenants list of requirements, it makes sense to ensure they can get it.
What type of broadband should I get for my property?
Various broadband packages from multiple providers are available. These are intended for different scenarios and user types, from small properties requiring a bit of light browsing to larger homes with a demand for streaming in every room.
Essentially, the type of broadband you choose depends on the number of rooms and tenants, and what they’re likely to be using the connection for. If the property is unoccupied, it’s smarter to plan based on the number of rooms, particularly the main living area and each bedroom.
You should then aim to assess the likely use for the connection. Will tenants be working from home? Is streaming TV shows on Disney+ and similar services more likely? Or is home working and Netflix chill time likely to be ditched in favour of online gaming and streaming?
Obviously, it’s going to be tricky to second guess prospective tenants. Having a standard 35Mbps fibre optic connection should be enough in most cases, with the flexibility to upgrade to a faster connection if required. For more information, Broadband Genie have a guide to fibre broadband.
What if your tenants are unhappy with the broadband provision?
Tenants considering your property might not be impressed with the broadband on offer. To handle this, it’s a good idea to provide clear information about the service that is available, along with any upgrade or downgrade options from the provider. Be sure to let your prospective tenant know what the download and upload speeds are, as well as giving them the option to shop around for a more suitable deal. If they want to move their current service to the property, accommodate this where you can.
In most cases, setting up broadband means connecting a router to the phone line. As such, it is something you can do before your tenants move in. They might even be bringing their router, ready to hook up. That should be all that is required to get them online.
However, if the property hasn’t had broadband internet before and you’re planning to have Wi-Fi set up for your tenants or letting them arrange it, be aware that an engineer visit is occasionally required. This is typically to install cables, rather than perform any digging or drilling. Tenants porting their own broadband to your property will need to contact you (or your letting agent) for permission.
If you’ve opted to have Virgin Media set up and the property hasn’t been previously connected (but there is suitable cabling and a green box nearby) then this will require an engineer visit. You could arrange this yourself with the internet provider, or your tenant might do so. Involving your letting agent can save time making phone calls.
Prior to tenants moving in, ensure that Wi-Fi has strong coverage around the property, but be aware that larger sites will often require multiple access points. This might involve installing wireless extenders, powerline adapters, or using mesh routers. These can all be set up without drilling, if necessary, with powerline adapters in particular offering a smart cable-free solution to providing Wi-Fi in every room.
Sián Hemming-Metcalfe; InventoryBase – has advice for would-be tenants and landlords:
“Permission is essential when considering adding broadband options to the rental property. As the landlord; you will want to agree with the service being installed and any drilling of holes and laying of cable need to be done safely and in keeping with the property aesthetics especially if the property has recently been refurbished.
Tenants should contact the landlord or managing agent in writing asking for permission to add the service. Detail exactly where the router will be installed and where the cabling is likely to be laid. If unsure then make sure you are at the property when the engineer is present to keep an eye on the works and to ensure that any damage is noted and repaired.
Landlords should be notified of the completion of the fitting and then arrange to visit the property and inspect the installation so that there are no nasty surprises at the end of the tenancy.
Evidence is key to avoiding disputes so regular contact between both parties is essential as are detailed inventory reports, interim inspections and check out reports so that if things do not go exactly to plan; there is fact based evidence to bring about a speedy resolution.“
Managing the Wi-Fi router
The Wi-Fi router controls internet access. Given how insecure they can be, especially with generic models, it makes sense for a tenant to request admin access to the router. After all, if they’re using someone else’s connection (yours) they have understandable misgivings. Security and privacy concerns can be assuaged by providing admin access to the router, as well as permission to update firmware and reset the router in the event of a fault.
This wouldn’t make sense if you were simply letting a room, however. In this scenario, sharing broadband router access makes more sense, but not to the router admin account. You might set up a secondary guest network for the tenant, which is an option with many recent router models. In addition, recommend your tenant uses a VPN if they have privacy concerns surrounding the router.
Some users might have specialist requirements. These could be due to work from home precautions or privacy issues (such as setting up a VPN on the router). It might be because they want the best internet experience for online gaming and streaming, such as changing DNS instructions and tweaking port forwarding settings. It’s wiser to accommodate these requests – which can all be configured in the router admin settings – rather than refuse them. If the tenant runs into issues, point them towards support pages on the ISP’s website.
Clear instructions on both use and misuse should be made available to tenants both at the start of the tenancy and as a reminder in the property via the property information folder which most rentals (should) have.
The upside of Broadband in rentals
The upside of this is obvious.
Fast, efficient, reliable broadband is now essential to renters whether it’s because they want to connect socially with friends and family for quizzes and games, enjoy cosy nights in front of the TV watching their favourite Netflix show, working from home or gaming with friends both locally and internationally.
By giving tenants the option for fast broadband you will likely have happy renters who look to stay in the long term therefore avoiding the inevitable pain and cost of voids which makes the investment in a specialised broadband provider a real no brainer.