Finding a new home to rent can be exciting, but it can also be daunting. It’s a big financial commitment and one you don’t want to get wrong. To help renters check that they’ve found the right property, here are five things to look out for before signing on the dotted line.
Five things renters should consider
1. Is the furniture in good condition?
It’s important to check that furniture in the property is in good working order and meets fire safety standards. Furniture that comes under fire safety rules should have labels attached to confirm they meet the required standards. Any furniture, including sofas, beds, cushions and mattresses that don’t meet fire standards, is broken or needs replacing through wear and tear should be replaced at the landlord’s expense. It isn’t your responsibility to replace the furniture in furnished property.
2. Is the property secure?
Different properties have different security needs, but it’s essential to know that your home is secured properly. You need to feel safe in your home, so ensure that locks are fitted properly and of good quality. Windows should also be checked to ensure they close properly and can be locked. It may also be necessary to consider security lighting and an alarm system.
3. Are there signs of dampness?
Damp and mould create uncomfortable living conditions and can be a health risk. Look in the corners of rooms and around widows for dampness and condensation. Signs of mould, flaking paint or wallpaper coming away from walls are all warning signs.
4. Are safety alarms in place?
There are specific regulations around smoke & CO alarms and CO2 monitors in rental properties, and you need to ensure that any property you are looking at has the required alarms in place and that they work. If not, this is a breach of the law and needs to be addressed before you can move in.
5. Check there’s an inventory
A comprehensive property inventory can save you from difficult conversations and disputes at the end of the tenancy. It should list all furniture, appliances, etc. and their condition, and you must agree that the inventory accurately represents the property’s contents and condition. If you don’t have one, you could find yourself bearing the cost of repairs and replacements you weren’t expecting when you come to leave the property.
Don’t rush in, only to pay for it later.
A few checks before you decide to rent a property could save you a lot of heartache and unforeseen costs down the line. Understanding what you and the landlord are responsible for when you look at a property can help you ask the right questions if you are unsure of anything.
Taking time to read a letting agreement can help you feel confident that you and your landlord are starting off on the right foot from the beginning of your tenancy.
No Letting Go
If you would like to discuss how our local support or national network at No Letting Go could become your inventory partner, streamlining your costs, reducing your workload and ensuring that both you and your tenants are well protected, then contact No Letting Go today.
Short term lets have had a significant role to play in the rental market over the past year, performing better than other sectors, and the good news is that this trend looks set to continue in 2022.
What’s driving the growth in short term lets?
Although the short-term rental market has not been immune to the challenges presented by the past couple of years, it has weathered the storm well for three key reasons:
The rise of the “staycation”: Many people are choosing to avoid foreign travel and remain in the UK for their holiday, with the increase of “staycations” driving demand for short-term holiday lets. People’s desire to explore the UK and enjoy the convenience of holidaying while avoiding airports indicates that demand for short-term lets for holidays is here to stay. BuyAssociation reported that 47% of families looking for holiday accommodation were interested in finding a cottage or villa rather than staying in a hotel.
Nomadic workers: Another trend driving the demand for short term lets is that of the nomadic worker. For many people, working from home looks set to remain a long-term work option; it doesn’t matter where they are based if they can continue to work. This has seen a rise in people taking on short term lets they can work from but also use as a base to explore a new area, allowing them to combine travel and work.
Modern rental options: We recently discussed how the build-to-rent sector continues to grow and the increasing availability of purpose-built rental properties specifically designed for the rental market. They offer an attractive proposition with great facilities, easy access to wi-fi, and high-spec interiors. Unlike many traditional rental properties, they offer flexible rental solutions, including short-term lets. These types of properties speak to those who don’t want to rent, and as the number of build-to-rent properties increases, it will also help attract more people to the short-term rental market.
How can landlords adapt?
As the short-term rental market is likely to continue performing well, landlords and letting agents may want to look to their own portfolios to see how they can benefit from the trend. In this case, the ability to be flexible and manage regular changes in tenants will be essential, and technology will play a vital role.
We’ve already seen how technology such as keyless entry, digital property guides, and an array of communications tools can smooth the onboarding process for new tenants. But there’s also an array of technology that supports the quick transition of tenants. Online inventory tools, check-in services, and end-of-tenancy checks all make property management efficient and easy while still protecting your property and keeping operational costs low.
There are plenty of opportunities for landlords and letting agents in the rental market, but you may need to examine how you apply tech to manage your properties to keep pace with change.
No Letting Go
If you would like to discuss how our local support or national network at No Letting Go could become your inventory partner, applying high-tech solutions to streamline your cost and reduce your workload, then contact No Letting Go today.
Will changes in the Model Tenancy Agreement and the proposed Dogs and Domestic Animals Accommodation Bill make renting with pets the new norm? It could make life easier for pet owners looking for rented accommodation, but it may not give tenants the absolute right to keep a pet they were hoping for.
Renting with pets is in demand.
Rightmove reports a 120% increase in the demand for pet-friendly rental properties. This is in stark contrast to the PDSA report that only around 7% of privately rented accommodation is advertised as pet friendly. It reflects that finding a rental property if you have a pet isn’t straightforward.
In a move that may address this, the government is taking steps to make it easier for anyone with pets to find somewhere to rent by changing the default position of landlords on pet ownership.
So what’s changing?
The Model Tenancy Agreement is the government’s recommended contract for landlords to use with tenants, and it has been updated to be more pet friendly. There’s no longer a blanket ban on tenants having pets, and landlords are being encouraged to allow them.
Renters must still seek written consent from landlords to keep pets on the property, but landlords must respond within 28 days, giving a good reason for objecting. However, they still have no legal obligation to accept pets.
In addition, the Dog and Domestic Animals Accommodation Protection Bill is seeking to add further assistance for responsible pet owners to find rental properties. While this bill is still awaiting approval, it proposes that pet owners with a ‘certificate of responsible animal guardianship’ would be able to demonstrate to landlords that they are responsible owners, making the landlord more comfortable with leasing to a pet owner.
Neither of these measures gives tenants the legal right to keep pets in rented accommodation, but they change the default position of pets in rented accommodation. The Model Tenancy Agreement states that landlords must not withhold or delay consent to refuse a pet. The Dog and Domestic Animals Accommodation Protection Bill would require landlords to have a certificate of exemption if they want to prohibit pets, for example, religious objections.
What does this mean for landlords?
Many landlords may wish to support their tenants having pets but are cautious about the potential challenges this can present. These include additional damage and wear and tear a pet may incur at a property or the risk that it may be loud and become a nuisance to other residents.
In our article Should I allow pets in my rental property? we look at the pros and cons for landlords of accepting pets and ways in which they can mitigate potential loss by ensuring that their tenancy agreement stipulates clear guidelines on pet ownership and ways to mitigate any additional costs.
It seems inevitable that demand for pet ownership in rental properties will increase. To keep pace with the change and tenant needs, landlords and agents mustn’t put this on the back-burner. Being prepared for change is the best way to ensure that you have the right solution that works for all parties.
No Letting Go
If you would like to discuss how our local support or national network at No Letting Go can become your inventory partner, protecting your property and its contents while streamlining costs and reducing your workload, then contact No Letting Go today.
We’ve seen rises in the cost of food, fuel and energy recently, but this may not be the end of it for renters. It seems that rents are also set to continue going up in 2022.
What’s happening with rents at the moment?
Since the end of 2021, rental prices have been on the increase. In the 12 months to March 2022, private rental prices paid by tenants in the UK increased by 2.4%, which is the most significant annual growth rate since July 2016.
London is the exception to the recent increase in rent prices, with private rental rates increasing by 0.4%. So if you exclude London, national rental prices across the rest of the country increased by 3.3% during that period.
What’s causing the rise in rents?
The rise in rents is driven by two key factors: a rise in demand for rental properties; and not enough supply to meet the demand. Both the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) report a growing demand for rental properties.
This is an ongoing trend, as the Rightmove rental price tracer for Q4 of 2021 reported:
· Tenant demand is 32% higher than the same time the previous year
· The number of available properties is 51% lower than the same period in the previous year
· Competition between tenants for available properties is at 94%, compared to the same time the previous year
With demand for rental homes increasing by 76% in the New Year period of 2022, compared with the same time in 2018 to 2021, there seems to be no let-up in sight.
What happens next?
Rightmove predicts rents will rise by 5% in 2022 as the struggle between supply and demand continues, whilst Zoopla predicts a rent rise by 4.5% across the UK in 2022, excluding London, where the surge is likely to be a little lower, at 3.5%.
Renting dynamics are expected to change over the coming months as city workers return to the office and want to relocate near their workplaces to avoid commuting. Students return to their places of study, including many from overseas.
Tenants who remained in situ during the pandemic may also be looking to make the move they had put off.
The rental market is expected to move quickly over the coming year, and competition for properties will be fierce. Renters need to move rapidly to secure the property they want. Yet, they could also face the additional challenge of increasing living costs that will squeeze their budgets. This means that many renters will have to reassess what they can afford.
High demand should mean landlords can secure a good return on their rental properties and reduce empty periods. However, it’s still important to maintain properties to a good standard if they want to attract their ideal tenants.
No Letting Go
If you would like to discuss how our local support and national networks at No Letting Go can help you to secure the tenants you want by acting as your inventory partner while streamlining your costs and reducing your workload, then contact No Letting Go today.
The Renters Reform Bill White Paper is expected in 2022 and will outline wide-ranging reforms proposed for the private rental sector. Landlords need to be prepared to make changes to ensure that they meet the new obligations when they are introduced.
What is expected to be in the Renters Reform Bill?
There are several fundamental changes proposed in the Bill that will directly impact landlords:
• Abolishing Section 21 “no fault” evictions: Landlords will need to provide tenants with a valid reason for eviction at the end of the tenancy, which is not currently required.
• A lifetime tenancy deposit: This will ease the financial burden for tenants when moving between tenancies as deposits will be transferred with each move, rather than having to save for a new deposit for the following property while waiting for the last deposit to be returned.
• Improved standards in rented accommodation: To ensure all tenants have a right to redress and stop criminal landlords from unscrupulous practices to improve the standard of rental properties.
• Strengthening repossession grounds for landlords: When the landlord has a valid reason to repossess the property, the Bill will ensure they can do so.
• Introduction of a landlord register: This will improve how they are held to account so tenants can be assured they are renting from a landlord who meets their legal duties.
• Improved eviction process: Making the process easier and quicker for landlords and tenants and providing mediation services to avoid the courts.
• Greater powers for local authorities: To enforce the rights of tenants.
Why are the changes being introduced?
The Renters Reform Bill is seeking to make changes to offer greater security for tenants while also ensuring that the rights of landlords aren’t unfairly diminished, allowing them still to take appropriate action when there’s justification.
The Bill will also elevate some of the financial burdens on tenants regarding managing deposits. These changes should improve standards for tenants with greater clarity on all sides over what their responsibilities are.
How will the proposed reforms affect landlords?
Landlords must make themselves up to speed with all the changes the Bill introduces so they don’t miss any of the new obligations. This could mean updating tenancy agreements, deposit and rental processes, including eviction notices, to reflect new regulations.
To remain competitive and attract the tenants you want, all landlords and agents should already be keeping their properties maintained to a high standard. A robust inventory procedure can help you achieve and maintain standards in your rental properties. If not already in place, landlords and agents should consider this as a tool to meet their new obligations under the Renters Reform Bill.
At No Letting Go, we will be working proactively to ensure that our inventories are ready for any changes the Renters’ Reform Bill introduces and will work with landlords and letting agents so that our services continue to help them meet their regulatory obligations.
No Letting Go
If you would like to discuss how our local support or national network at No Letting Go can become your inventory partner, keeping you compliant with the law, streamlining your costs and reducing your workload, then contact No Letting Go today.
The Covid-19 pandemic created an unprecedented shift to working from home when many offices were forced to shut. This significantly impacted the rental market as tenants reassessed what they needed from their home property to support their new working style.
What changes did tenants want when working from home?
Working from home had an impact on how people looked at their homes, whether owned or rented, in three key areas:
• Space to work
• Outdoor space to enjoy
There was a need for working space for more than one family member for many. Extra space was needed by many to enable them to work from home. Workers desired an extra room to accommodate a home office, but even the ability to set up a specific work area or desk in an existing room made a big difference.
In addition to extra indoor space, people craved outdoor space. A garden, or even a balcony, became important to enable people to get outdoors when they weren’t allowed to leave home. Even after restrictions were lifted, being able to grab a break and some fresh air while spending a long day at a home desk is essential for physical and mental health.
Finally, where people were able to live also changed. They were no longer tied to cities or commuter suburbs to be able to get to the office, saving on travel time and expenses.
They could, and did, choose to live further afield as their homes became their workspaces, especially more flexible renters. This saw many people leaving city and town centres to find cheaper accommodation in the country or market towns where they could afford the extra indoor and outdoor space they desired.
What’s happening after lockdown?
Hopefully, we’ve seen the end of lockdown, and there’s an expectation that things will return to how they were pre-pandemic, including tenants’ expectations. But according to YouGov, 60% of British workers would still prefer to work remotely sometimes, so the need for space and desire to live in more remote locations could be here to stay.
However, there does seem to be some shift back to cities as offices begin to reopen. Last month, the BBC reported that some workers’ gradual return to the office and a winding down of covid restrictions led to increased demand in the urban rental market. In January, demand was up 76% compared to an average January in each of the previous four years.
This is encouraging news for landlords with properties in cities and larger towns. However, they still need to consider that working from home is likely to continue for many tenants and will still influence their choice of property.
Tenants’ rising lifestyle expectations.
We recently spoke about continued growth in the build to rent sector, and part of this boom is the focus on delivering facilities that support modern lifestyles. Popular properties have dedicated working areas, offer access to good broadband and amenities and maintain a high standard of living that accommodates the changing expectations of renters who consciously decide that renting is better for them than homeowning.
A complete return to the pre-pandemic world is unlikely, and landlords who can adapt and keep pace with the changing needs of tenants will continue to see a healthy demand for their properties.
No Letting Go
If you would like to discuss how our local support or national network at No Letting Go can become your inventory partner, ensuring that your property remains desirable to today’s tenants, contact No Letting Go today.
With so many people feeling the pinch and substantial rises in the cost of living predicted to continue into 2022, we’re all looking for ways to save money where we can. One area tenants could look to do this is in their monthly rent charge. If you’re looking to move home, where are the cheapest areas to rent?
Average monthly rent in the UK by region
According to a Statista survey of average rents in December 2021, the average UK monthly rent was £1,060. Starting with the cheapest average rent, the costs across the country were:
- The Northeast (£580)
- Northern Ireland (£724)
- Wales (£736)
- Yorkshire and Humberside (£737)
- Scotland (£738)
- East Midlands (£742)
- West Midlands (£786)
- Northwest (£844)
- Southwest (£983)
- East of England (£1,031)
- Southeast (£1,123)
- Greater London (£1,752)
While the Northeast was the cheapest area for rent, there are vast regional differences in average rental prices. Although the London area has seen some challenging times, with many tenants choosing to leave the capital during lockdown, the average rental cost is over £1,000 per month, more than the top six cheapest places to rent.
What is happening to rental prices?
As we start to see the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK, 2022 still looks like it could be another year of uncertainty as we continue to adjust to the post-pandemic era and manage the financial impact.
According to early indications from the ONS, in the UK, private rental prices rose by 2% in the 12 months to January 2022, increasing from 1.8% in the 12 months to December 2021. The East Midlands saw the most significant increase in rental prices of 3.6%, and London the lowest of 0.1%. In the Northeast, the area with the lowest average rent per month, there was an annual rental price growth of 2.2%.
What does this mean for the rental market?
RICS reported a supply versus demand imbalance in the rental market in January as tenant demand increased. Still, the number of new listings fell, leading to over half of respondents to their survey anticipating rent increases in the next three months.
With the expectation that remote or hybrid working will continue, tenants will continue to have greater flexibility to decide where they live and work so that they can make the most of regional price variations. But as rents are expected to increase further, it will mean that tenants and landlords will keep a close eye on the market and stay flexible as even the cheapest areas see prices rise.
No Letting Go
If you would like to discuss how our local support or national network at No Letting Go could make your property more attractive to rent, streamline your costs and reduce your workload by becoming your inventory partner, then contact No Letting Go today.
The drive to improve the energy efficiency of properties in the UK looks likely to impact landlords in 2025, with the proposed EPC regulations that could require landlords to make potentially significant and expensive changes to their properties.
What are the current energy regulations?
All domestic and commercial properties for rent need to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) confirming the property’s energy efficiency. Ratings range from “A” to the most efficient” to “G”.
Current regulations state that any property being let must have an EPC rating of “E” or above, with certificates valid for ten years. After ten years, landlords only need to renew their certificates when they relet their property to a new tenant.
What are the new EPC regulations proposing?
As part of the government’s objective to increase energy efficiency and achieve net-zero carbon targets, it’s driving for greater energy efficiency in homes. All newly rented properties will need an EPC of at least Band C from 31st December 2025.
Existing tenancies will have until 31st December 2028 to achieve this new practical, affordable, and cost-effective target. Fines for not having a valid EPC will also increase from £5000 to £30,000.
This new legislation is expected to come into effect some time in 2022.
How will this affect landlords?
With approximately two-thirds of homes in the private rental sector having an energy rating of D or below, it means around 3.2 million privately rented properties in England and Wales will require work to meet government targets.
When asked in a recent study, landlords with properties below a “C” rating believe it will cost an average of £10,400 per property to deliver the energy efficacy required. Still, if this action isn’t taken, landlords could find themselves with a property they cannot rent.
What can landlords do to prepare for the proposed change?
It’s difficult to see how any landlords, especially those with tenants already in place, will be able to quickly make the changes to their properties needed to meet the new C band efficiency rating. The work is likely to take time; you also need to work around your tenants to get any disruptive work done on the property and find the funding for such a level of investment.
All landlords need to start understanding the scale of the proposed changes by looking at their properties’ current EPC certificate, the recommendations made at the time, and understanding where the current areas of energy inefficiencies exist.
You can take many actions to improve a property’s energy efficiency and allow yourself time to plan the most effective and appropriate measures for your property that could help you save money.
With the potential for more regulations requiring further investment from landlords, now more than ever, it’s essential to protect your investment by looking after your property and ensuring that it’s well maintained. Regular property inspections and building good relations with your tenants keep your property an attractive proposition on the rental market, spread the cost of improving energy efficiency, and ensure you get a return on your investments.
No Letting Go
If you would like to discuss how our local support or national network at No Letting Go could help keep you regulation-compliant, streamline your costs and reduce your workload by becoming your inventory partner, then contact No Letting Go today.
Following a three-month consultation period, the UK Government announced its proposals on 23 November 2021 to extend the rules for domestic smoke and carbon monoxide alarms within all rented accommodation in England.
The key changes are:
• smoke alarms will be mandatory in all social rented homes
• carbon monoxide alarms will be mandatory in rooms with a fixed combustion appliance (excluding gas cookers) in both private and social rented homes.
• carbon monoxide alarms will also be mandatory upon installation of any heating appliance (excluding gas cookers) in all tenures through building regulations
• landlords will be expected to repair or replace alarms once informed that they are faulty
• amendments to the statutory guidance (Approved Document J) supporting Part J of the Building Regulations to ensure that required alarms meet relevant standards.
More than 50 people died of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in 2019 across England and Wales, with more than a third of those deaths taking place at home. Additionally each year over 4,000 people are admitted to hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning that could lead to brain damage and strokes and the Government’s intention is to avoid these needless deaths and often life-changing illnesses.
Current Building Regulations only require a carbon monoxide alarm to be fitted in residential properties where a solid fuel burning appliance is fitted. Solid fuel is classed as coal or wood and typically these appliances are fireplaces with an open flue, wood burning stoves or older style, coal burning Aga cookers.
The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 currently also require all properties in the private rented sector to have a carbon monoxide alarm situated in any room with a Solid Fuel burning appliance.
The new regulations which are expected to be introduced in 2022 as soon as parliamentary time allows, will require both landlords and house builders to install carbon monoxide alarms in any room of a property that has a fixed combustion appliance. Combustion fuels are gas, oil, coal and wood. Typically these appliances include boilers, warm air heaters, fires and water heaters (excluding gas cookers).
Although gas cookers are exempt from the proposed legislation changes, it is still recommended within the British Standards that these appliances are also covered.
So what impact are the new regulations expected to have upon the BTR sector?
For properties which already have a carbon monoxide alarm fitted under the Building Regulations, it is not expected that the regulations will have a huge impact, unless the landlord/freeholder undertakes refurbishments which include the installation of a fixed combustion appliance.
Nevertheless, older properties built prior October 2010 are unlikely to have a carbon monoxide alarm fitted and therefore Operators are advised to review these portfolios as a priority. It is not yet clear what timescale the Government will allow for landlords to comply once the new regulations are enacted. However, many of us will recall that when the Guidance Notes were published for The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 on the 4 September 2015, landlords and their agents had less than one month to ensure that all rented properties had the required alarms installed by 1 October 2015, with no grace period after this date!
Some will also remember the clamour to buy smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and the shelves being wiped clear in DIY stores including B&Q and Homebase and supplies also being difficult to secure via online suppliers.
With such history in mind, No Letting Go believe it is prudent for the BTR sector to ensure that all older properties currently let where fixed combustion appliances installed, are fitted as soon as feasible with either a battery operated or fixed wired carbon monoxide alarms. Operators will also need to consider appropriate documentation to evidence compliance and one of the most practical ways to demonstrate this is for the Operator to draw up a memorandum to the Inventory report including a photograph of the newly installed carbon monoxide alarm which is then sent to the resident and request their written confirmation of receipt by email.
Currently the legislation requires landlords to prove that the required smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are tested and evidenced as working on the start date of the tenancy agreement, regardless of the date that the resident actually moves into the property.
It is acknowledged that it is often not practical to expect landlords or their agents/contractors to undertake the testing on the first day of the tenancy and Propertymark have lobbied the Government to amend the rules so that the testing can be undertaken prior to the commencement of the tenancy. However at present it is not known whether the new regulations will include this suggested amendment.
Having been established for 16 years with an enviable reputation for quality reporting, professionalism and reliability, No Letting Go are ideally positioned to undertake the assessment of portfolios to establish whether there is a requirement for a carbon monoxide alarm to be installed and if so, our operatives will supply the appropriate alarm/s, test for sound and complete a report to include date stamped photographs to confirm compliance.
No Letting Go offer national coverage across the UK including Scotland and Wales with over 300 operatives, all fully trained, qualified and insured.
If you would like to get in contact with us please call 01322 555128 or contact us through the online form.
Please see map below for UK regulations.