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Know Your Housing Market

Landlord Know Your Housing Market: With the government seeking to tip the balance towards owner occupiers and away from buy to lets the prospects appear to be relatively unfavourable for landlords.

Understanding the housing market and demography should influence everything private landlords do when planning future investments; everything from population change, housing standards and government policy should inform your next property investment.

Here is a mixture of key points of information from the latest English Housing Survey, commissioned by the Department for Communities and Local Government

• There are an estimated to be around 22.8 million households in England. No one knows the exact number of course, but of these, it is estimated around 14.3 million are owner-occupied, making up 63 per cent of the market – a figure where home ownership is policy for the government – is down from its peak of 71 per cent in 2003, and the figure has remained unchanged for the past three years.
• The private rented sector has increased in size the most. There are now estimated to be 4.5 million households renting privately in England, up from 2.4 million in 2005-06 – an increase of 47 per cent. In comparison, the social housing sector (SHS), which was bigger than the private rented sector (PRS) until recently, has declined 3.9 million households rent social housing.
• The proportion of 25 to 34-year-olds renting privately has nearly doubled in 10 years or so, from 24 per cent in 2005-06 to 46 per cent in 2015-16. The average age for private renting is therefore the lowest of all forms of occupation at 40, which compares to 52 for social renters and 57 for owner-occupiers.
• As might be expected, private tenants move about the most. The average time in their current rental home is 4.3 years, which compares to 11.6 years for social renters and 17.8 years for owner-occupiers.
• 73 per cent of private tenants ended their last tenancy themselves, while 11 per cent of tenancies were ended by the landlord or agent. Of the tenancies ended by the landlord, 63 per cent were because the landlord wanted to use or sell the property.
• It is estimated that 28 per cent, more than a quarter of all private rented homes failed to meet the Decent Homes Standard in 2015. This measure sets minimum requirements on a property’s state of repair; its facilities and services; its energy efficiency and heating; and its health and safety standards. In comparison, 18 per cent of owner-occupied homes and 13 per cent of social rented homes were not up to scratch.
• Nearly three-fifths of private renters (59 per cent) aim to buy in the future, which compares with 27 per cent of social renters. Affordability (the means to provide a big enough deposit) is the main reason private tenants do not expect to be able to own a property.
• The vast majority of the UK’s private rented housing stock is owned by landlords with just a single property – small-scale landlords. Over 93% of landlords in the UK have a single rental property and together they account for 81% of privately rented stock, that’s according to analysis.
• In the year ending 30 June 2016 the estimated population of the United Kingdom increased by an average of 1,475 per day – a total increase in the year of 538,500. This equates to a small town of 10,355 people being added to the country every single week.
• If the UK average of 2.3 people per dwelling is maintained into the future, 641 new dwellings per day would be needed to house 1,475 people, says the report.
• If the population continues to grow at the rate of over 500,000 a year, as the Civitas report forecasts, by 2039 there will be just under 10 million (9.7m) more people living in the UK – that’s enough, says the report, “to populate Greater Manchester three times over”.
• Even if Brexit results in a much more restrictive immigration policy, given the current trajectory, it will be at least 10 years before any reduction in population works its way through the system – as the Civitas report states, policy changes take at least 10 years to have any significant impact. So, the result of any changes made now will not be seen much before 2030.

As landlords are increasingly in the Government spotlight and having to deal with further regulations, hardworking property professionals, who are qualified, skilled and client-orientated are here to assist.

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Landlords, Do You Know Your Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards?

Landlords, Do You Know Your Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards?

With regulations changing, do not get caught out with a property you are not able to legally rent out.

The government has now introduced a minimum energy efficiency standard in April 2018 and it applies to all privately rented properties that are legally required to have an EPC and where rooms are let on one of the qualifying tenancy types in England and Wales. These regulations do not affect sales properties.

We are facing changes and challenges from the government and more will be introduced over the coming months.
As from April 2018 a minimum energy efficiency standard was introduced.

Private sector landlords must not grant a new tenancy of a property this includes extensions and renewals they let after 1st April 2018 and must not let the property on an existing tenancy after 1st April 2020, where the energy performance certificate is below the level of energy efficiency for private rented properties of BAND E.

As property specialists we feel it is our duty of care keeping landlords within Herne Bay updated and invite your collaboration to spread news to other landlords, we have been reliably informed the banding may be increased higher over the coming months and if you require further updates why not contact us and become part of our local network for landlords.

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How to reduce your tax bill as a landlord

How to reduce your tax bill as a landlord

How to reduce your tax bill as a landlord by deducting many of the expenses you incur when letting out a property.

How these work and what you can claim and allowable expenses a landlord can claim

Annual investment allowance for landlords, Changes to landlords’ ‘wear and tear allowance’
What qualifies for the ‘replacement of domestic items relief and How does the ‘replacement of domestic items relief’ work?

As a landlord, you’re bound to incur expenses – be it letting agent fees, cleaners or the cost of trying to find new tenants.
The good news is that you can reduce your tax bill by claiming for many of the expenses you have to meet. But the rules can be quite complex.

 

This guide explains all you need to know about allowances and expenses for landlords – and how to make the most of the allowances you have.

Allowable expenses a landlord can claim. As a general rule, landlords can claim the expenses of running and maintaining their property.

If the rent you charge covers services like water or council tax, you’ll need to count the rent you charge the tenant within your income
– but you can claim the costs you pay as an expense.

The most common types of expenses you can deduct are:
water rates, council tax, gas, and electricity
contents insurance
costs of services, including the wages of gardeners and cleaners (as part of the rental agreement)
letting agents’ fees
legal fees for lets of a year or less, or for renewing a lease of fewer than 50 years
accountant’s fees
rents, ground rents, and service charges
direct costs such as phone calls, stationery and advertising for new tenants

The expense should be incurred wholly and exclusively as a result of renting out your property.
Where only part of the expense meets this condition, you can deduct that part from your income

for example, the cost of lighting and heating a property which is partly used for private purposes as well as renting.

If you let only part of your home or let it out for only part of the year, you have to apportion your expenses. You can also claim some of the interest on buy-to-let mortgages.

Annual investment allowance for landlords

As a landlord, you cannot deduct the expenses of a capital nature from the rental income you earn. That means you can’t deduct the cost of building an extension or renovating a home that’s in a rundown state. You may, however, be able to use the cost of these investments to reduce your capital gains tax bill when you come
to sell your rental property.

Changes to landlords’ ‘wear and tear allowance’

If the property or properties you let out are fully furnished, you used to be able to claim for wear and tear of furnishings, such as cookers, carpets, beds and televisions.
The wear and tear allowance allowed you to claim a maximum of 10% of the net annual rent (income less expenses) each year. However, this has now changed.
The government now allows you to claim tax relief on anything you spend on replacing what it labels as a ‘domestic item.’

Crucially, this only applies to items you are replacing. You can’t claim tax relief on the actual cost of kitting out a property for the first time with furniture or appliances.
It can only apply when an item is genuinely replaced and no longer used in the property.

What qualifies for the ‘replacement of domestic items relief’? The government lists a number of examples of what domestic items qualify for this new relief.

These includes:

  • Replacement beds
  • Replacement carpets
  • Replacement crockery or cutlery
  • Replacement curtains
  • Replacement fridges, washing machines etc
  • Replacement sofas

It’s worth remembering that you can only claim for a like-for-like replacement.

If, for example, you bought a new fridge worth £600, but the cost of replacing your old fridge with a very similar one was only £400, you’d only be able to claim £400 relief.
You can also claim for the cost of disposing items (usually electrical goods).

How does the ‘replacement of domestic items relief’ work? You can deduct the cost of replacements domestic items from your rental income tax calculate your net profit for the year, on which you pay tax.

You replace a number of items in your property, ready for some new tenants. These include curtains for £200, a washing machine for £250 (which also costs £50 to dispose of) and a new bed for £400.
The total relief you can claim for is £200 + £250 + £50 + £400, which amounts to £900.

This can be deducted from your annual rental income to work out your tax bill at the end of the tax year.

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Top 4 Tips To Equip New LandLords

Top 4 Tips To Equip New LandLords

All sorts of people rent these days – some as a lifestyle choice, others because they can’t afford to buy, and many will be renting long-term. They want a property that feels like a home, not a stopgap, so if the property does not meet today’s expected standards, the tenant will either treat it badly or find a better one and most of the time leaving landlords with a possible costly headache or even threatened legal action against them.

Are you equipped to deal with being a landlord whether you are buying a property or opting to become a landlord due to circumstances in your life?

1. Passionate About Your Property

Disengage your emotions and buy a property that will generate a good return. Don’t fall into the common trap of buying a place you like but that is entirely unsuitable for the tenants you have in mind. Be careful to approach the decoration and fittings in the same way. Go for generic colours and furnishings.

2. Do You Have The Funds Available? Calculating Your Time And Costs

Landlords must also be realistic about continuing costs along with the time it takes to supervise and manage your tenant. The boiler can break down at great expense or you could have a leak that needs urgent attention. “Calculate what you can afford and all the expenses that you may face as a landlord. It’s also vital to take professional advice on finding an appropriate mortgage and to factor in the likelihood of an interest-rate rise in the future.

3. Not Having Enough Insurance

I know letting and estate agents are perceived to be all a bunch of money grabbing rogues. This is what the press, government and storytellers who do not do their research and hire the bad agent want you to believe. One of the biggest insurances for landlords is hiring a professionally qualified agent. Landlords should also ensure their letting agent is registered with the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) so that both the landlord and tenant’s money are protected. The agent should be established in their area and by establishing a good trustworthy relationship with the agent, this will enable landlords access to a valuable professional tool with future tenants and further investments. As the agent has a wealth of expertise and professional knowledge of the Industry. This will enable many landlords to comply to all current and incoming legislation obligations, tenancy supervision.

Your property investment requires time to be looked after and problems sorted out quickly. Many landlords make the mistake of not treating it as a professional business or try to manage themselves to save expense. Don’t fall into a common trap where it appears easy until you make a costly mistake. It is harder to put right.

4. Other Insurances That Can Help

Standard home insurance is not designed for rental properties. Landlords will need to take out a specialist buy-to-let buildings and contents policy that includes public liability cover in case a tenant makes a claim against them for an accident they have in the property and landlords need to insure you are covered by accidents where the tenant is the cause. i.e. if the tenant brings a fridge/freezer into the property which starts an electrical fire are you covered. Landlords may also choose to take out rent guarantee insurance to cover unpaid rent if the tenant is still in the property.

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How to apply for Council Tax Exemption For Landlords

How to apply for Council Tax Exemption For Landlords

It’s always a tragic day when the Government conjures up a new and way of squeezing extra pennies out of landlords.
The current landlord news which landlords are moaning a little about is paying council tax when a tenant moves out and the property becomes vacant.

What’s the problem, you ask?

When council tax exemption existed way back in the days, during the pre April 2013 era, landlords were entitled to a beautiful thing known as Council Tax Exemption. Most landlords applied for the Class C Exemption, which meant landlords were entitled to an exemption for up to 6 months while their property remained vacant and unfurnished.

Does it sound familiar?

The exemption made sense because it was particularly useful for that tricky stage in between tenancies, which usually lasts up to a week or two
and longer for landlords doing renovation work in between tenancies, which is also very common. At a time when the government are pushing for higher improvements and standards
in private rented properties.

Unfortunately, landlords will now have to dig a little deeper into their pockets and pay for council tax during those periods.

There’s still an opportunity to make some savings going forward, so listen up!

The new “Council Tax Support” Scheme. From 1st April 2013, the Government abolished council tax benefit, and has asked Local Authorities to replace it with a local scheme called “Council Tax Support”. Is it a new, positive new programme (not really).

From now on, local authorities are allowed to set discounted rates according to their individual budget requirements. Basically, this means they are able to charge whatever they want (something already sounds very Government’ish about this), whether it be a complete exemption (which in theory is still possible), the full 100% council tax or anything in between.

From what I’ve heard, there is no consistency between boroughs and no rules. Some boroughs are actually offering a month’s grace before council tax is payable and others implementing it straight away.

It’s all a bit pie in the sky, but there is a clear objective to charge landlords 100% council tax.

As a letting agent my experience is you wouldn’t count on the full exemption, but more of a discounted rate, and perhaps a grace period.
A month’s grace period would suit most landlords, because it shouldn’t take a landlord/agent longer than a month to find replacement tenants. A problem with the new legislation, besides the added expense, is that it may cause confusion and extra work for landlords with mass portfolios that include properties spanning across different parts of the country.

How much are they expected to pay? Who knows. Each borough will need to be contacted individually to find out at the relevant time.
From what I understand, one of the main reasons for introducing this new scheme is to help minimise the thousands of empty properties in the UK. Unless, it actually is all about the money, and not so much the vacant properties.

My tips as a letting manager in order to save some money and Council Tax Support.

1. Contact your local council tax office before your property is going to be empty and unfurnished.

Contact your local council tax office and find out if you’re liable for council tax. If so, enquire about any discounted rates/grace periods. They will also instruct you on how to get everything arranged. It usually involves completing a form and/or answering a few questions over the phone. Different councils, different rules.

2. Minimise vacant periods

This should already be second nature to landlords, but in light of this added expense, there’s another reason to keep vacancy periods to a minimum. Keep your properties vacant for as little time as possible to keep your overall cost down, including your personal council tax fee
by using a letting agent to minimise the period as they have constant access to tenants.

3.Budget for council tax

Many landlords automatically relied on Council Tax Exemption between tenancies, so they had no need to budget for paying those fees.
With this new “Council Tax Support” in place, it is now important to budget for the extra cost. Keeping a property vacant for a month may cost £185 in council tax fees.

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How to keep your tenants safe?

How to keep your tenants safe?

Landlords are being fined heavily for not being compliant with legislation and in some cases, they are given prison sentences for noncompliance. “ignorance of the law is not a defence.”

A landlord who considers it his duty to give due care and attention to his tenants will comply with all legislation and have peace of mind.

What do you need to know?

As a landlord you will need to understand to start marketing your property you will require a certificate called Energy Performance (legal requirement) and any consent required from the mortgagee, owner’s insurers and if required consent from a freeholder or superior landlord under the terms of the owner’s lease.

  1. A valid energy performance certificate (EPC) as of 1st October 2008

Failure to have a valid certificate can invalidate service of notice on tenants and a fine.

  1. Landlords are required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties as of October 2015.

The requirements outlined to landlords are: as of September 2015

  1. Install smoke alarms on every floor of the property and test them at the start of each new tenancy.

During the tenancy it is a tenant’s responsibility to ensure the alarms work and it is their responsibility to change the batteries during the tenancy.  However, should the alarms become faulty or expire out of date during the tenancy landlords are responsible for replacing them.

  1. Install carbon monoxide alarms in high risk rooms e.g. where gas or solid fuel heating systems are installed.

Failure to install the alarms could incur up to a £5,000 civil penalty

Health & Safety – Legionnaires’ Risk Assessment.

All systems require a risk assessment, however not all systems will require elaborate control measures. A simple risk assessment may show that the risks are low and being properly managed to comply with the law. In such cases, you may not need to take further action, but it is important to review your assessment regularly in case of any changes in your system, and specifically if there is a reason to suspect it is no longer valid.

The Law

Various laws govern the requirement for a landlord or agent to complete a risk assessment namely:

  • Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
  • Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH regulations)
  • Approved Code of Practice L8 (Fourth Edition) – Legionnaires’ disease. The control of legionella bacteria in water systems (ACOP)
  • Technical Guidance HSG274 – Part 2: The control of legionella bacteria in hot and cold-water systems

Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974

Section 2(1) would normally cover agents as it requires all employers to ensure so far as reasonably practicable the health and safety of all employees. Section 3(1) continues to require that employers or self-employed persons (which will include landlords) must ensure all persons not in their employment are not exposed to risks of their health and safety.

 

Legally, it is the landlord’s responsibility to take precautions to prevent Legionella being present in the hot or cold-water system

 

Health & Safety – Gas: Annual Safety Check:

Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 all gas appliances and flues in rented accommodation must be checked for safety within 12 months of being installed, and thereafter at least every 12 months by a competent engineer (e.g. a Gas Safe registered gas installer). NOTE: The safety record can be in paper or electric format. Landlords can also provide tenants with a photocopy of the record or email it

instead.

 

  1. There is a duty to ensure that all gas appliances, flues and associated pipe work are maintained in a safe condition always.
  2. Records: Full records must be kept for at least 2 years of the inspections of each appliance and flue, of any defects found and any remedial action taken.
  3. Copies to Tenants: A copy of the safety certificate issued by the engineer must be given to each new tenant before their tenancy commences, or to each existing tenant within 28 days of the check being carried out.

 

If landlords don’t maintain their tenant’s gas appliances this could result in loss of life and prosecution including a fine and/or a period of imprisonment up to six months set by the Magistrates Court.

 

Tenants can make a complaint to the Health and Safety Executive.

Health & Safety – Electrical:

There are several regulations relating to electrical installation, equipment and appliance safety, and these affect landlords and their agents in that they are ‘supplying during business’.  They include the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, the Plugs and Sockets Regulations 1994, the Building Regulation – ‘Part P’, and British Standard BS1363 relating to plugs and sockets.

 

The National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC) and the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) recommend conducting an electrical installation safety check every five years, with a certificate detailing any works required and the date of the inspection.  The Housing Act 2004 requires that a health and safety risk assessment be carried out regarding the electrical installation.

 

It is now widely accepted in the letting industry that the only safe way to ensure safety and to avoid the risk of being accused of neglecting your ‘duty of care’ or even manslaughter, is to arrange such an inspection and certificate.

 

Do not know who to contact in your property rental area? Your professional local letting agent will know.

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How do Landlords know what is Fair Wear and Tear?

How do Landlords know what is Fair Wear and Tear?

As with many landlords assessing fair, wear and tear can be difficult especially when many landlords believe that the property should be returned to them in the same condition as at the start of the tenancy. As the landlord you are not entitled to betterment (to end up in a financially or materially better position) from when you start the tenancy to at the end of the tenancy.
At the end of any tenancy any actual damage must be considered carefully and any proposed deductions from the tenant’s deposit must be reasonable and in proportion above excess of fair wear and tear. Ensure you have covered all the bases in the event of a deposit dispute with your tenant, collect evidence prior to the start of the tenancy and regular property inspections can guide you when assessing tenants care of the property. At the end of the tenancy collect further evidence and assess for reasonable costs of any damage.
Fair wear and tear means that you must make allowances for:

•The age, quality and condition of any item at the start of the tenancy
•The average useful lifespan of the item
•The reasonable expected usage of such an item
•The number and type of occupants in the property
•The length of tenancy

The best calculation or Betterment Formula.
The following formula considers the value and lifespan of the carpet and splits the purchase cost over the lifespan. The same formula can be applied to other items in the property.
A Replacement cost of similar carpet £500
B Age of carpet 2 years
C Expected lifespan of carpet 10 years
D Remaining lifespan of carpet (C – B) 8 years
E Annual depreciation (A ÷ C) £50 per year
F Apportioned cost to tenant (D x E) £400

AN EXAMPLE – Stain on the carpet – Repair

If the cost to clean the carpet is £50 but you decide to have a new carpet, you cannot lawfully charge the tenant for the full cost of a new carpet. The costs should be apportioned and shared between you and the tenant. If the cost of a new carpet is £500 this should be apportioned as £450 to you and £50 (cleaning cost) to the tenant.

EXAMPLE 2 – Severe damage to carpet – Replace

If the damage to the carpet is so extensive it affects the quality of the property and achievable rent, the most appropriate remedy will likely be to replace the carpet. However, charging the tenant the full replacement cost is unfair, so you must apportion the cost to the tenant.
The expected lifespan of the carpet should reflect the conditions outlined under fair wear and tear such as number and type of occupants. Back up the calculation with a copy of the original purchase invoice and an explanation of how the expected lifespan of the asset was calculated, you will need this in the event of a dispute.

A professional letting agent has experience when negotiating with tenants before disputes are presented further which leads to a good success in agreeing deposit returns before disputes are presented. Presenting a deposit dispute to an adjudication officer is as if you are presenting a court case.

Landlords be prepared to cover the cost beforehand to re let your property before receiving a deposit return factor in the time and money involved. A solicitor maybe required to sign your statement of declaration on single claims which will cost. Professional letting agents have a standard practice of collection of evidence and can present cases for landlords in the manner required. They have a good success rate of winning cases from experience and knowledge and if you employ an agent to manage your property, they will present this for you as part of their service although there maybe additional charges to cover costs.

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How to find Tenants for your rental property and where do landlords advertise.

How to find Tenants for your rental property and where do landlords advertise.

If you want to find tenants quickly for your rental, prospective tenants need to be able to find you. Learn seven popular methods to fill your property and seven tried methods by landlords.

7 Popular Methods for Finding Tenants

The goal of these methods is to reach the most people possible to find a tenant quickly some methods will have a cost and draw on your own experiences to know when a wrong tenant is telling you they are a good tenant as this may cost you more.
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1. Find Tenants on Rental Websites

The internet is a great way to reach the masses. Sites such as Gumtree allow you to post a listing for your rental. These listings are then visible to anyone with internet access who is looking for a property to rent in your area. The prospective tenant can further narrow the search criteria based on rental price, or the number of bedrooms and bathrooms so include these in your advertisement. If you are interested in accepting government subsidized housing this site can help you reach this market. If you have your own website, you must also make sure to list the property there and be sure to reference your website URL in your other advertisements.

2. Use Social Media to Find Tenants

Millions of people use social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you have a company, you should create a Facebook page, Instagram account and a Twitter account for it. You can use your personal accounts to let people know you have a property for rent. You can list your property on Facebook.com, post a status update on your account, post a photo of the rental on Instagram or send out a tweet to your followers via Twitter.

3. Find Tenants in the Newspaper

Some prospective tenants still look for rental properties in the newspaper. Advertise your property on the weekend, and on Sunday, because this is when newspapers see the most traffic.
Rental ads in newspapers are tiny, so you will only have a few lines to make your property stand out. Use abbreviations for words like bedroom (BR) and washer/dryer (W/D) to save space. Placing an ad in the newspaper will cost money, but it is another way to increase exposure for your property.

4. Advertise on Local Notice Boards

Put up flyers for your rental in the community where your property is located. This can include bulletin boards at colleges or schools, supermarkets, churches, newsagents. Since people will be passing by the flyer quickly, use a bold headline and large, colour photographs to draw interest to the flyer. On the bottom of the flyer, include tear-offs for people to take. These Tear-offs should include the property address, the number of bedrooms and your contact information.

5. Find Tenants Through Word of Mouth

Don’t underestimate the power of the spoken word. If you have current tenants, let them know you have a vacancy. They may have a sister, cousin, or brother who is looking for a new place to live. Also, tell your brother, sister, hairdresser, boss, and mechanic that you have a property for rent. Always have flyers with you so you can hand them out when needed. You can even offer a referral fee to give a greater incentive.

6. Place a ‘To Let’ Sign in the Window

While you won’t reach the masses by placing a “To Let” sign in the window, there is no harm in doing it either. A passer-by may be interested or may know someone who is looking to rent in the area. Make sure a phone number can be clearly read from street level. Only if you are comfortable giving out a personnel phone number which everyone can read.

7. Let a Letting Agent Find Tenants for You

For their services, letting agents typically charge a commission of about one month’s rent, sometimes more or sometimes less. While this may be the more expensive way to advertise your property, it can save you a lot of the hassle and headache of dealing with prospective tenants. Your property will also be listed on all the methods of advertising and internet property portals only accessed by professional agents like Rightmove, they will have running tenant mailing lists which will increase your property exposure. All contact with prospective tenants have a safe secure point of contact. A one stop property shop. The service will include referencing the tenant to comply with right to rent tenants and they generally present a high-quality tenant and will have local knowledge of the area, an agent will provide a legally compliant tenancy agreement and ensure your property complies with current legislation. The agent will be able to help with management services if you decide not to deal with tenants direct which can time-consuming and stressful. You can decide not to have the constant interaction with tenants. Respond Quickly to Prospective Tenants – You need to respond to prospective tenants immediately. If you don’t call or email a tenant back promptly, another landlord or letting agent will.

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How to fix common problems that landlords face when renting a property

How to fix common problems that landlords face when renting a property

Renting out a house or an apartment provides a constant income source for property owners. However, landlords often must deal with some common problems. While background checks and high standards can help to reduce the number of troublesome incidents, a few common problems seem to crop up anyway. Knowledge of what might happen is a valuable tool for landlords.

Damage

Whether by recklessness or an isolated mishap, damage often occurs when landlords rent out properties to tenants. Damage can range from a broken window to intentional destruction designed to punish a landlord. Tenants are responsible for maintaining, keeping the property in good clean order and cannot go to landlords to request repairs that are due to negligence. Landlords have the option of sending the repair bills to tenants if negligent, but many tenants refuse to pay the cost of repairs. Meanwhile, taking a security deposit will help cover final costs at an end of a tenancy however may not cover all the costs and certainly not during a tenancy period as the deposit may be not accessible when held lawfully in a deposit security scheme. While landlords have the option of suing, such action can delay the necessary repairs and, when tenants are indigent, prove fruitless. Choosing tenants with a good track record helps to avoid these issues.

Payment Issues

Tenants who pay rent late or not at all are a frequent problem for landlords. To dissuade late payments, landlords often work late fees into lease contracts. But such lease clauses do nothing to help landlords recover lost revenue when tenants simply do not pay. Landlords must turn to the legal system as a result, and that often means evicting tenants and finding new ones. The biggest problem with tenants who fail to pay rent is the effect it has on the landlords’ own expenses. Many landlords are still paying mortgages on their rental properties, and they must find other sources of revenue to make their payments when tenants fail to pay their rent. According to recent studies the eviction process takes anywhere from five weeks to three months and sometimes a bit longer if the landlord has not served the correct information at the time of issuing a notice to tenants. Consider rent and legal expense insurance which is designed especially for landlords who require the security of knowing they are covered.

Complaints

Rental properties can sometimes bring concern from neighbours who hope to maintain a certain atmosphere in their neighbourhoods. If tenants disrupt this tranquility with behaviors such as excessive noise-making, poor lawn maintenance and eyesores such as junk cars and trash on the property. Younger tenants also have a habit of disobeying posted speed limits in the neighbourhood and holding late-night parties that lead to excessive noise and illegally parked vehicles, often known as anti-social behaviour.  In some cases, complaints can come to landlords from the local police department or Council officials, who may issue fines to property owners for code violations. One complaint can lead to more headaches for landlords. Having a professional drawn up legal tenancy agreement can help tackle anti-social behaviour, as tenants will be in breach of their contract which in turn will make it easier for landlords to hold them accountable for their actions.

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How a Landlord deals with a tenant who complains about damp and mould

How a Landlord deals with a tenant who complains about damp and mould

It’s that time of year again when Landlords start receiving numerous telephone calls from tenants complaining about damp and mould problems in their properties.

Different types of damp can affect a property in different ways, and it is important to identify the type of damp you have as soon as possible. There will be different root causes for the different types of damp and various ways of dealing with them.

The NHS says that damp and mould, which is often a symptom of damp, can also cause, or contribute to, allergic reactions, skin conditions such as eczema, and problems with the immune system. Together with health issues, damp can also ruin decorations and furnishings, such as wallpaper and carpets, as well as plaster, woodwork, window frames, and other parts of the structure of the building. It can also get into clothes and other belongings, can create bad smells, and contribute to an unpleasant living environment.

  1. Condensation – Condensation is caused when moisture present in warm air comes into contact with a colder surface, usually, but not always, a window or an exterior wall. This can sometimes be easy to spot because you may see droplets appearing on windows and other surfaces, especially when it is cold outside.

Establishing with the tenant that the damp and mould was not because of rising damp or penetrating damp, but due to condensation. When temperatures drop in an occupied property, the air can no longer hold onto all the moisture that has been generated; it will migrate to the coldest parts of the house and condense onto the windows and walls

Improving the airflow within a property by fitting good ventilation is the best way to deal with condensation damp but there are also many other things you can do. Moisture is always present in the air, but tenants can reduce the amount they create by avoiding drying clothes indoors, leaving lids on pans when cooking, and making sure that tumble dryers that are not self-condensing are properly vented. Tenants should also try to ensure that the property does not get too cold by keeping the heating at an adequate level.

Humidity level in the property is at 80% or above for 6 hours or longer over a prolonged period of time, then mould can occur leading to the dispersion of mould spores and various other mould problems that are known triggers of asthma, dust allergies and hay fever. High internal relative humidity in a property is the result of poor ventilation. For a small investment in each room and a purchase of

Temp/Humidity Monitors with Humidity Comfort Indicator are a great way of giving the tenant a visual indicator when the atmosphere is too cold/good /too hot.

It is often argued that tenant lifestyle is to blame, but the truth is, most of us create at least 4 pints of moisture per day just by breathing, cooking, bathing, washing and drying clothes, normal everyday activities that everyone performs at home. Tenants are naïve and feel it is  for the landlord to correct, when sometimes some gentle advice to the tenant can help with understanding their environment.

https://www.cse.org.uk/downloads/advice-leaflets/energy-advice/insulation-and-heating/advice_leaflet_condensation_damp_mould.pdf

  1. Rising damp – This type of damp is caused by groundwater rising up through the capillaries, or pores, of a wall or floor. It can be difficult to spot until it has taken hold, at which point you might notice plaster or wallpaper bubbling or discolouration along a horizontal band. These ‘tide marks’ are caused by the moisture evaporating when it reaches a certain height and can be a combination of water and salts. Other signs are skirting boards starting to rot, and a noticeable smell of damp.

The usual way to deal with rising damp is to have a barrier called a damp-proof course or damp-proof membrane installed.

  1. Penetrating damp – Penetrating damp gets into the walls or other structures from an external source. It could be rain water getting in through cracks in the wall, missing roof slates, or too much water for the walls to deal with, due to a blocked or broken gutter or water pipe. If it is found at ground level, penetrating damp can be mistaken for rising damp, although it tends to spread horizontally rather than climbing vertically.

Penetrating damp will usually show as damp patches, which get worse when it rains, but serious cases may drip or run. It is essential to identify and rectify the problem that is allowing the water to penetrate in the first place.

  1. Construction damp – There will sometimes be areas of damp in a new-build house or after major renovations or building works. This is caused by moisture working its way out of the structure. It usually shows as patches, especially on bare plaster but can also appear on other surfaces. These may grow before shrinking again, sometimes over a period of months. Time is the best way to deal with this type of damp, and it is also generally the least harmful and damaging.