If they are, then you could be about to suffer every landlord's dread - the potential void period over Christmas.
As tenant demand flies south for the winter, a tenant vacating in December is probably going to mean an empty property for more weeks than you really could do with at any time of year, let alone now. Much depends on the property type and its location as to how long that void period might last for - for example if you've got a one bedroom furnished flat close to the City centre, you'll benefit from the start of Divorce Season, the traditional post Christmas period of marital breakdowns. On the other hand, if you've a family house in a family neighbourhood, then chances are you're not going to get a family in to replace your outgoing tenants. Famillies prefer to move in the Summer.
So what can you do? Here's a few suggestions:-
1) Get into the property as soons as it becomes vacant and get it gleaming both inside and out. You need to capture what limited demand is out there by making it stand head and shoulders above the competition.
2) Keep the heating on down low but turn the water off at the mains and consider draining down the water tank - your insurance company my require this anyway. By keeping the house relatively warm you'll avoid weather related nasties happening to it and potential tenants will find it welcoming when viewings are undertaken.
3) Bite the bullet with regard to the asking rent. Ask yourself the simple question, how much do I lose by lowering the rent from, say, £700pcm to £650pcm? The answer of course is not £50, its £650 for every month it stands empty plus all of the bills which come back to you. (Talk to us for advice on how to manage this process to avoid a long term downward step change in the rental worth of the property).
4) Take steps to avoid getting caught in the same trap again at some future point. There's a science to this which involves managing tenancy renewals carefully and wherever possible avoiding periodic tenancies arising. This does, however, also involve taking a strictly business approach to your relationship with your tenant - again speak to us for advice.
Where we manage properties for clients we always promote formal renewals for new fixed terms and mostly this gives rise to longer term tenancies. But sometimes, just sometimes, it makes good business sense to allow a periodic tenancy to be created at the end of the initial fixed term and there are occasions where even we end up with December vacations (and I wish by vacations, I meant Holidays!)
Martin & Co Norwich