Tenancy deposit disputes are messy and often frustrating for all involved. While the number of formal disputes remains low, the pandemic will have far reaching effects on all our finances and agents must prepare for increasing expectations in this area from both sides – landlords and tenants.

Disputes frequently arise from lack of knowledge or understanding about how this part of the tenancy process works.

While documentation is critical, it’s worth spending extra time with the tenant at the inventory stage of the process to prevent problems arising at the end of the tenancy.

Good inventory management protects both the landlord and the tenant and establishes what the tenant obligations are at both the start and end of the tenancy.

The deposit schemes will advise tenants to attend both the inventory and check-out appointment, but this is not always practical with these reports taking 1-2 hours and more on larger properties.

Tenants generally do not want to trail behind an inventory specialist, for this length of time. It is much easier, once the tenant has the report, to follow the structure which is clearly laid out and check the report is an accurate reflection of the property and its contents.

Detailed inventory and schedule of condition reports can run into 40+ pages, and whether conducting them in house or using an inventory specialist, neither are infallible – the tenant has a key role to play with the inventory, and will usually be allowed seven days to settle into the property and check through the inventory in detail.

Tip 1 – Educating tenants – a stitch in time…

The inventory and schedule of condition is a visual check of the property and not a maintenance report. If the scope of the inventory report is not understood, it can lead to delays in obtaining signatures – if, for example, the shower, boiler or hot water does not work properly, which is a maintenance issue.

Tenants must be aware it is their responsibility to check the inventory carefully, note any omissions and take pictures. Talking them through the process and explaining how the inventory protects them, is more effective than simply relying on T&Cs.

We have on occasion experienced irate tenants who have found a minor omission and believe it is a conspiracy to keep their deposit – so not a positive start for the agent or landlord.

Tip 2 – Check in the tenant – physical or digital

An accompanied check-in reaffirms the point above, and assists the tenant to understand the potential impact an inventory may have on the deposit.

Highlighting any issues within the property also makes them feel part of the process – and for these reasons, a check-in is highly recommended.

However, as minimising contact now takes precedence, use automation to capture areas of concern and obtain signatures within seven days.

Tip 3 – Terms and guidelines

Cleanliness is the main area of dispute, so take steps to head this one off at the start of the tenancy.

A good inventory will show the overall cleanliness of the property in addition to cleanliness room summaries using a glossary of terms contained at the start of the inventory document.

Cleanliness can be subjective, so it is advantageous to highlight where the glossary of terms is listed. Fair wear and tear does not apply to cleanliness, and so the property must be returned to the same standard, otherwise a deduction may apply.

Tip 4 – Not all cleaners are ‘professional’

Just because a professional cleaner has attended the property, it does not always mean the clean is to a ‘professional standard’ – if, for example, dust was present on skirting boards and shelves. In this situation, the term ‘good domestic standard’ may be used.

We are sometimes asked why it states this when a professional cleaner has conducted the clean. It is always advisable to get this right as it is generally the most contentious issue with tenants.

Tip 5 – Educate your landlords about fair wear and tear

It is vital to manage the landlords’ expectations. When a claim goes to adjudication and the breach is accepted, often the amount of the claim is reduced by the adjudicator, leading to a disappointed landlord.

This can occur for a few reasons, but the most common one is because fair wear and tear has not been factored into the claim.  For example, if a carpet is three years old, the tenant is not responsible for those three years, so even if they have damaged the carpet, the claim has to factor quality, age, lifespan and condition.

A good check-out report will highlight if dilapidations are due to damage or fair wear and tear. See our landlord guide on fair wear and tear.

Tip 6 – Changes to the property – requesting permission

This is covered in most ASTs, but it is good practice to advise tenants to ask permission first.

Common deductions are attributed to damage or changes to walls from hanging pictures, adding additional hooks or shelves, painting walls and using blue tack.

It’s not unreasonable for tenants to make minor adjustments to their new home, but get them in the habit of asking first so you have the opportunity to remind them of their obligations.

Tip 7 – Outside maintenance – how does your garden grow…

Tenants often forget about the garden at check-out so they need to ensure it is left as they found it, otherwise they will face a gardening deduction.

Tip 8 – Videos are not the whole picture

Some agents use these as a quick alternative, but unless you are a professional cameraman, the video tends to go up and down and all around – not pleasant viewing for landlords or tenants!

Video evidence is acceptable by the deposit dispute schemes, but often does not capture quite enough detail, as its easier to miss items using this method– so if you go to dispute, you may end up disappointing your landlord.

No Letting Go

With No Letting Go’s inventory services, you’ll receive the peace of mind which comes with an impartial, fully documented check in and check out procedure. Our service is reliable and consistent producing reports which stand up to scrutiny during any dispute.

A thorough inventory report will provide evidence of the property and its contents at the start of the tenancy and at the end to help landlords and agents cover the cost of any damage made on the premises by the tenant.

Discover our property inventory services today.

 

For property services to continue to operate in the “new normal”, we’ve all had to adjust our working practices to comply with Covid-19 rules. Yet in one key aspect of inventory management, we already had systems in place that enabled effective social distancing – our fully comprehensive property inventory software

What you need from property inventory software

At No Letting Go, we have a specifically designed property inventory software called Kaptur. With compliance at its core, it captures, stores, reports and manages property information.

In a previous post, The benefits of using a property inventory reporting system, we discussed in detail how these systems facilitate great property management from check-in to check-out, making them a great time-saving tool for letting agents. But in these times, when social distancing is paramount, the efficiency and operation of these systems take on new importance. Not only do they improve the property inventory management process, but they also enable letting agents continue supporting the letting of properties while observing social distancing.

How property inventory software enables social distancing

Our property management software was created to facilitate the smooth operation of property inspections and cause minimal disruption to tenants, landlords and letting agents by taking away the requirement to be physically present for inspections. This also supports social distancing:

  • Inventories are electronic, so no documentation is passed by hand between individuals
  • Inventories are reviewed online
  • We use Digisign so all parties can sign reports online
  • Allows parties to review reports online
  • Parties are able to amend reports online
  • Queries can be managed online
  • Photos added to reports make it easier to illustrate issues to tenants and landlords

Ensuring tenants and landlords have confidence in the system

Property inventories provide key evidence should a dispute arise about the state of a property. As a letting agent, it’s important for you that all parties can trust this process and feel comfortable that outcomes are objective, even when tenants and landlords haven’t been present at any inspections.

Landlords and tenants also feel that a third party conducting a property inspection is a good way to ensure an independent perspective. Providing a tool that generates detailed reports and lets all sides engage demonstrates how you, as the letting agent, are committed to meeting compliance obligations, which builds confidence.

There are many reasons why property inspections are so important, even in these challenging times. If it’s proving difficult to provide property inventory management for your landlords and their tenants while observing social distancing, then it’s time to reconsider your current approach and look for a system that ensures the safety of your client landlords and their tenants.

No Letting Go

If you would like to discuss how our local support or national network at No Letting Go could become your property management partner, streamline your cost, reduce workload and keep accurate property inventories then contact us today.

Research by Statista, a statistics portal for market data, found more than half of landlords who responded were in disputes with their tenants, the main reasons being arrears, cleanliness, pets, subletting and breakages. Using regular property inventories letting agents can help their landlord clients to avoid such problems.

When should you use a property inventory?

A property inventory provides a detailed report on the contents and condition of a property, listing furniture, fixtures and fittings and alongside the condition and cleanliness.

A property inspection must take place for each new tenancy to detail the condition of the property at the start; at regular intervals throughout the tenancy to record any changes and damages from the check-in inventory; and finally, at the end of the tenancy to assess the property as the tenant departs.

These regular inspections provide a full report of the property’s condition for the complete duration of the tenancy.

Why are property inspections of benefit?

Completing a property inventory might seem like a time-consuming task for a busy letting agent looking after a number of properties. However, a comprehensive inventory process can stop a landlord-tenant dispute from escalating into a legal dispute, which would be far more costly in time and money. A proper inventory system offers other benefits:

  • Essential evidence about the state of the property
  • Crucial evidence if you need to take the cost of a repair or replacement from a tenant’s deposit
  • Claiming on insurance is much easier with inventory evidence
  • A speedy inspection process to reduce the period between tenancies and maximising a property’s income potential
  • Using a standard inventory process ensures that nothing is missed during a property inspection

What does an adequate property inventory look like?

To ensure that a property’s inventory and schedule of condition will be useful to avoid a dispute, it must include:

  • Full contents of the property, fixtures, fittings and state of decoration
  • Details of the condition for each item
  • Photographic, date-stamped evidence
  • A declaration page for relevant parties to indicate their agreement to the contents of the report

It must also be completed in an objective and unbiased way and enable easy comparison between reports to identify any changes in contents or condition. Ideally, a property visit should be completed every three to six months

Disputes between landlords and tenants are time-consuming, potentially costly and can affect the reputation of a landlord and their letting agent. Using an independent inventory service can help boost the credibility of an inventory for tenants because they will see it as being independent.

Discussing the tried and tested landlord inventory service we use at No Letting Go can help letting agents understand how our inventories are structured to facilitate comprehensive property inspections and designed to capture the right information to prevent disputes.

No Letting Go

If you would like to discuss how our local support or national network at No Letting Go could become your property management partner, streamline your cost, reduce workload and keep accurate property inventories the please contact us today.

A new year brings with it fresh opportunities to maximise the potential of your property portfolio and grow your business. It also brings new changes to the private rental sector.

So, what will the rental sector look like in 2020? And how can landlords, letting agents and property professionals keep abreast of changing regulations? Our rental property predictions 2020 looks ahead to key events in the industry.

From an overview of regulatory changes in the past year, to upcoming developments, we’re looking ahead to what 2020 will bring to the rental industry.

 

What Happened in the Rental Sector in 2019?

Before we start looking ahead, let’s catch up on some of the most important changes and updates to the private rental sector over the last year and what effects they’ve had on the industry;

 

Making Tax Digital

In 2019, the government announced that they would be helping small businesses convert to a new digital tax system to be fully implemented by the end of 2020 called Making Tax Digital.

From April 2019, VAT tax records and returns went digital, affecting landlords with an annual rental income of over £10,000. This change required landlords to use software or apps to keep track of tax records and to update HMRC through a new, digital tax account, if they weren’t already. Hopefully, this has made doing taxes more accurate and efficient for the majority of property professionals.

 

Letting Agency Fees Ban

February 2019 saw the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act 2019, prohibiting many of the fees required by letting or estate agents. From 1st June, letting agencies were no longer able to demand fees for;

  • Security deposits over five weeks rent
  • Holding deposits over one weeks rent
  • Change in tenancy costs over £50

The Letting Agency fees ban raised alarm among some parties, with ARLA claiming that a blanket tenant fee ban would ‘put additional pressures on landlords, with fewer tenant checks and a lower quality of service’.

 

PropTech Innovation

In 2019 PropTech became the buzzword on the lips of almost everyone in property. But what does the term actually mean? Put simply, PropTech or Property Technology is all about the digital transformation of the property industry, from big data to VR.

Moving tenant checks online and Apps that help landlords manage their property maintenance have been making everyday tasks faster, easier and more secure for professionals in all areas of the property industry.

For example, Kaptur is a digital property inventory system that allows users to manage work flows, reports and inventories all in one place.

This trend for digitalisation shows no signs of losing momentum as we move into 2020.

Woman wearing a virtual reality headset

What’s New for 2020 in the Rental Industry?

Now, let’s turn our attention to upcoming changes that could have an effect on the private rental sector in 2020;
Abolishing Section 21
The new Conservative government has announced plans to abolish Section 21 repossessions in order to protect tenants. This change is likely to be implemented by the end of 2020.

This proposition has caused alarm amongst several landlord bodies, including ARLA, who are concerned that it will make it harder for landlords to regain possession of their properties if needed.

Good or bad, this will result in changes to the way landlords and tenants can legally end tenancy agreements. For landlords, this means following the Section 8 possession process set out in the Housing Act 1988.

 

Changes to Mortgage Interest: Section 24

By April 2020, tax relief for buy-to-let landlords will be reduced to the basic rate of income tax and landlords will no longer be able to deduct any mortgage interest payments from their rental income.

In addition to paying more tax on rental properties, this change could even move some landlords up into a higher tax bracket.

 

Making Tax Digital

The scheme to completely digitise the tax system by the end of 2020 aims to make taxes more accurate, efficient and easier to manage.

But what does this mean for landlords and rental property businesses?
In addition to minimising the chance of error, a digital system should allow landlords with multiple properties to stay on top of their taxes more easily. With all the information accessible on a mobile device, you will be able to see how much tax you owe ‘as you go’ rather than waiting to find out at the end of the tax year.

However, if you’re not naturally tech-savvy, the new system might take a little getting used to – so you better get started!

 

Brexit and the Rental Industry

Regardless of your opinion on Brexit, landlords and property professionals may take some comfort as uncertainties regarding the effects on the housing market begin to stabilize.

Although a lot is still up in the air, it looks like we are definitely leaving the EU so landlords can start making long-term plans to grow their portfolio.

The effect of Brexit on the rental industry could even be a positive one, with an increasing number of first time buyers delaying getting onto the property ladder while agreements are being finalised.

 

Continued Demand for Rental Properties

On the whole, 2020 looks set to be an exciting and prosperous year for the private rental sector.

The number of people living in rental properties in the UK has been steadily growing over the last few years, and this looks like a continuing trend as we move into 2020. Clearly, this is good news for those working in the sector who are likely to enjoy relatively stable returns on investment.

Adults signing tenancy agreement at a desk

Protect Your Property Investment in 2020

Keen to maximise the potential of your property portfolio in 2020? That’s where we come in.

Ensure your investment stays protected, attract the right tenants and encourage long-term tenancies with the help of our varied property services including;

  • Property inventory reports
  • 360 virtual photography
  • Right to rent checks
  • Mid term reports and inspections
  • Property appraisals
  • CO and Smoke reports
  • Check in/check out reports
  • Digisign

Want to find out more? Browse our property inventory services to get started.

With the festive period in full swing and New Year’s Eve celebrations on the horizon, many student landlords are bracing themselves for that dreaded call from a disgruntled neighbour in the early hours of the morning.

It’s no secret that lots of students like to party, and if not managed correctly, related disputes can create rifts that are difficult to repair.

It can be a tough balancing act, meeting the needs of your student tenants and keeping the local community happy. That’s why we’ve produced this student landlord advice guide on how to deal with student parties at your rental property without alienating tenants or neighbours.

 

To Ban or Not to Ban

If you’re concerned about your student tenants hosting large parties in your rental property, you could insert a clause into the tenancy agreement banning parties of a certain size. While this helps to deter tenants from hosting massive gatherings that could damage your property, it could prove difficult to enforce.

For lots of tenants, a steadfast rule against parties of all kinds could put them off renting your property in the first place, and this decision will narrow your pool of prospective tenants. However, banning gatherings over a certain size is a sensible idea, especially in suburban areas.

 

Managing the Neighbours

The majority of student accommodation is in busy, suburban areas with convenient amenities close by. While this is great for students, it also means there tends to be a lot of neighbours living within close proximity.

So, if your tenants like to host noisy parties, this can become a problem and damage your reputation as a responsible landlord in the area.

It’s difficult to actually prosecute a landlord for their tenants’ antisocial behaviour, unless you deliberately ignore the problem, or the issue is ongoing. However, staying on good terms with the local community will make your life easier in the long run.

When dealing with noise complaints from neighbours;

  • Make sure the surrounding neighbours have your contact details or the details of the letting agent in case an issue arises
  • Talk to your tenants calmly to get both sides of the story
  • Refer your tenants to the relevant ‘noise’ or ‘nuisance’ clause in the tenancy agreement to explain which one they have broken and why, and the possible consequences if this continues
  • Never threaten eviction as a first reaction as this could backfire on you and damage your landlord/tenant relationship
  • If problems persist, you could arrange a meeting with neighbour and tenant to clear the air and come to a solution
  • As a last resort, you could contact your local council, the police or begin the eviction process

 

Clear and Open Communications

One of the most important pieces of advice we can offer is to retain a cool and clear head when communicating with tenants and to keep interactions open and honest.

If you’re straightforward with your tenants, they’re more likely to be honest back. Make it clear from the start of the tenancy that you are happy to discuss any issues and ensure they have your contact details to hand.

If they feel like you’re on their side, they’re more likely to obey house rules.

 

Choose Simple Party-Proof Furnishings

As wear and tear tends to be higher in student rentals, furnishing a student property with expensive furniture is pointless. This is particularly pertinent when it comes to student parties. With extra bodies in the house and alcohol involved, a plush carpet and glass coffee table aren’t going to stay perfect for long.

Go for simple, more affordable essentials from somewhere like IKEA that won’t cost an arm and a leg to replace if necessary. Wipe clean surfaces and easy to clean lino floors are also a sensible option and will help your tenants stay on top of their duties.

 

Regular Property Inspections

One way to keep an eye on what’s going on in your rental property and help determine if regular parties are taking place is to schedule regular property inspections.

However, you need to ensure the correct procedures have been followed, as there are laws in place regarding the frequency and delivery of landlord inspections.

A professional property inspection will help determine if your property is being appropriately cared for, and whether your tenants are fulfilling their contractual agreements. This could include anything from red wine stains or cigarette burns on the carpets to extra people living in the property. Inventory clerks can even check in with the neighbours to ensure everyone is happy.

 

Is Renting to Students Worth It?

Despite these possible drawbacks, renting property to students can be very rewarding and comes with great benefits;

  • High demand in student towns and cities
  • Short term, set contracts of 12 months
  • Predictable, reliable market
  • Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) offer higher yields
  • Students don’t expect fancy furnishings and are happy with simple amenities
  • Low void periods

 

Protect Your Student Rental Property: Inventory Management

The most important step you can take to protect your student house is to ensure a thorough inventory is taken at the start of the tenancy.

A professional inventory service helps you recover any costs or losses due to damage at the end of the academic year. And that’s where we come in. We’re experienced at working with private landlords and letting agents by providing essential reports and property management services.

From check in to property visits, we’re on hand to make the process as stress-free as possible for landlord and tenant.

Find out how our property inventory services could help you manage your student property.

Thinking of investing in Build to Rent but not sure how to go about it or if it’s right for you? Our guide on why to invest in Build to Rent explores the risks and rewards of getting involved in the sector.

Build to Rent developments are growing across the UK thanks to higher demand for quality, purpose-built rental accommodation among young professionals and the over 50s. This burgeoning sector has great potential for property investors and commercial landlords, as long as you do it right.

 

What is Build to Rent?

Build to Rent, or (BTR) describes the process by which residential properties are purpose built for the private rental sector. In most cases, this is done by large property development companies, investors and commercial landlords.

Build to Rent developments commonly contain 50 homes or more, all managed by one landlord. They often feature desirable perks such as in-house gyms, entertainment facilities and sophisticated security systems.

 

The Build to Rent Trend

The Build to Rent sector in the UK is on the rise. According to property experts, Knight Frank, £50 billion will be invested into the sector by 2020 to accommodate for the growing demand in the private rented sector.

We’re now well aware that the rental sector is growing. Rising house prices and new working trends have resulted in a wider pool of tenants looking for suitable, long-term rental properties.

The demise of home ownership has resulted in a slightly older, professional tenant group looking for quality rented accommodation, complete with all of the modern conveniences.

 

How Does Build to Rent Work?

Typically, a Build to Rent development is owned by a large institution, such as a bank or pensions company and managed by a lettings agency.

Funding comes from investors keen to take advantage of reliable rental returns and long term growth. Some Build to Rent Schemes are also being supported by the Government to help with the building process and supporting infrastructure.

The main players in the Build to Rent process are;

  • Build to Rent investors
  • Build to Rent developers
  • Build to Rent letting agents
  • Commercial landlords

To invest in Build to Rent property, there are a few routes to go down, one of the easiest being through one of the large private rental developers.

 

The Benefits of Build to Rent Properties

According to Savills, Build to Rent investment came to £2.6 billion in 2018, suggesting that it can be a lucrative option for commercial landlords. There are many exciting opportunities for landlords investing in Build to Rent. Here are some of the benefits;

  • Longer tenancies are common (3 years +)
  • High tenant demand
  • Higher rent rates (around 11% higher than standard rental accommodation)
  • Reliable rental income and likely growth
  • Landlords retain control over their investment
  • Long term investment rewards

There are also many benefits for tenants which will make advertising and filling vacant rental properties much easier;

  • Greater choice of housing
  • Quality, purpose-built buildings with special amenities such as gyms and entertainment facilities
  • Access to convenient services such as security, laundry and concierge
  • Modern, sustainable buildings
  • Bills usually included
  • Furnished
  • On-site management
  • Encourages regeneration in surrounding areas

 

The Risks of Build to Rent

With all investment comes potential risk. Before going ahead, it’s important to understand what these risks are and how to manage them.

 

Construction Risks

Construction is a risky business, and all sorts can go wrong or take longer than planned, leading to greater financial costs.

 

Planning Permission Issues

As a relatively new phenomenon, planning permission for Build to Rent can take longer, resulting in growing costs and a reduction of rental income.

 

Void Periods

As the landlord, you may experience delays in receiving the full rental income as the development fills up. To avoid long void periods, you could implement a tenant sign-up scheme while the building is still in progress. Alternatively, you could plan the development in stages to ensure some rental income is coming in throughout the process.

 

Drawbacks for Tenants

It’s also important to consider the disadvantages for tenants when it comes to Build to Rent, as this will help you determine your target tenant and mitigate any risks.

Some drawbacks for tenants include;

  • Many Build to Rent developments target elderly tenants or young professionals and may not appeal to families or lower income renters
  • This type of accommodation can be more expensive for tenants

 

Homes UK Event

From incorporating affordable housing into your Build to Rent project, to attracting institutional investment, Homes UK: The Future of Living will be answering the pressing questions in the sector today.

Taking place at Excel in London 27-28 November 2019, the event is a great place to meet important players in the industry.

 

Protect Your Investment

Keen to take advantage of this fast growing sector? Here at No Letting Go, we supply a specially designed range of Build to Rent services to ensure compliant reporting, no matter the size of the development.

We offer;

  • Inventory management
  • Property visits
  • 360 virtual property photography for use in marketing, reporting and Build to Rent projects
  • Check in and right to rent
  • Legionella risk assessment and water testing
  • Central account management for national, corporate or large regional clients
  • Fully insured, qualified and professional clerks, surveyors and inspectors
  • 24 hour turnaround for reports

With our national and local services you get consistency, accuracy and efficiency delivered by our 65 offices across the UK.

Find our full list of Build to Rent services here.

Finding a reliable removal company can be a challenge, and tenants often turn to their landlord or letting agent for advice at the end of a tenancy.

Providing quality recommendations for trusted tradespeople and services builds trust with tenants and means they’re more likely to pass on your details to friends and family.

In order to provide your tenants with reputable removals services, we explore what to look for when searching for a removal company and the benefits of using this service.

 

Do I Need a Removals Company?

If your tenant asks this question at the end of a tenancy, the answer is usually yes. Most people gather lots of belongings, even over the space of a year. When packing and transporting expensive items of furniture and fragile items, it can pay to leave it to the professionals.

Unless the property is very small, they are renting one room or rent a fully furnished property, it’s likely a professional removal service will be beneficial.

A professional removal service offers tenants;

  • Time saving
  • Safer packing and transportation of fragile items
  • More van space

A professional removal service is even more important for families with lots of belongings and older tenants who may struggle to pack up their home.

 

How Do I Choose a Removal Company?

We’ve broken down finding the right removal company into a few simple steps;

 

Location

The first consideration is location. Removal companies based locally to your rental properties are likely to be cheaper than those that have further to travel.

These companies could become part of a portfolio of recommended tradespeople and services you can offer to your tenants.

 

Comparison Sites

One of the first places to go for local removal companies is a comparison site. Here, you will find a list of trusted traders and you will be able to filter your search results to find relevant companies more quickly.

Searching by price point, location and reviews can help narrow down your search.

 

Removal Quotes

The next step once you have found a few possible candidates is to check removal quotes. Most tenants will be searching for the most affordable option, so if you can recommend a reasonable company they should be happy customers.

Try to get at least three different quotes for the same move, with each cost broken down into insurance, packing, hourly rate, mileage and storage.

 

Customer Reviews

We’ve all heard disaster stories of rogue movers damaging expensive furniture or losing sentimental items, and tenants won’t be happy if your recommendation goes wrong.

Once you have narrowed down the search further, it’s time to check the customer reviews. Sometimes, companies are cheap for a reason, and you should be able to weed out any unreliable movers from the reviews online.

 

How do I Find a Reputable Moving Company?

We’ve got some top tips on how to spot a quality removal company you can rely on;

 

Ask for Recommendations

Word of mouth can be a powerful tool for finding reliable tradespeople and services.

Have any of your friends or family moved home recently? They may have their own recommendations to offer. It’s also worth checking which removal companies local letting agents recommend.

 

Have They Been Regulated?

An easy way to determine whether a removal firm is trustworthy, is to check whether they are a member of any regulatory boards or associations.

Check if the company is a member of The British Association of Removers (BAR), a regulatory body which ensures professional excellence. With lists of residential and commercial movers, all companies listed have been tested to industry standards.

 

Questions to Ask the Movers

Before you recommend a removal company to your tenant, ask these questions first;

  • How long has the company been operating?
  • Do you offer pre move surveys?
  • Do you offer storage facilities?
  • Do your quotes include insurance?
  • Is a packing service included?
  • Is parking on moving day included?
  • What is your delay policy?
  • Do you ask for any additional removal costs?

Having all the important information to hand is of great use for busy tenants and will make a great impression long term.

 

How Much Notice Do Removal Companies Need?

The process of getting an initial quote for moving house, the subsequent survey, finding an available date and getting all of the documents in order can take several weeks. It’s a good idea to remind tenants of this as it comes nearer to the end of their tenancy so they can be fully prepared on moving day.

 

What is the Average Cost of Removals?

The cost of using a professional removals company is dependent on several factors;

  • The number and size of the items being transported
  • The distance between properties
  • Size of the removals team on the day
  • Whether it includes packing and packing materials

 

The Movers and Storers Show

Another way to find reputable moving companies is to attend an industry event such as the Movers and Storers Show.

This year, the show is taking place in Coventry, 19th-20th November and is a convenient place to find trusted partners.

 

The Importance of Trusted Property Partners

Reputation is important in the lettings industry. If a tenant has a positive moving experience thanks to your recommendation, they are more likely to consider your services in the future and give positive recommendations to friends and family.

That goes for all services you use to manage the rental properties in your portfolio.

Here at No Letting Go, we offer a range of professional services to help landlords and letting agents manage their portfolios and stay on top of their responsibilities.

From property inventory to property visits, our services are designed to protect your investment for the long term.

Browse our full list of property inventory services here to find out how we can help.

The number of older tenants in the private rental sector is growing. Factors such as a rising elderly population along with the cost and effort of property maintenance is making older people turn to rental properties in their later years.

The benefits of renting to elderly tenants are plentiful. From longer tenancy agreements to reliability, we explore these advantages, along with the factors landlords and letting agents need to consider to meet their needs.

 

The Benefits of Renting to Elderly Tenants

Focusing on elderly groups as your target tenant can bring great advantages to landlords and letting agents;

 

Longer Tenancies

Older people are more likely to require a settled home rather than move house every few years. As they’ve passed the age of extending their families, older tenants have stable jobs or are in retirement. If you’re looking for a long term tenant (which means less costs and time spent on the property in the long term) then elderly tenants are a good bet.

 

Reliability

Tenants with more life experience tend to be reliable, have a steady income from their job or pension and pay their rent on time. When issues arise, older tenants are more likely to have the experience and knowledge to report them swiftly and keep on top of their own day to day property maintenance responsibilities.

 

Quiet Lifestyles

Unlike younger tenants and students, elderly tenants are unlikely to host lots of parties or demonstrate any behaviour that could irritate neighbours. If your property is located very close by other properties or you have had issues with noise complaints in the past, older tenants could be a solution.

 

Elderly Tenant Rights

As with any tenant, landlords must be vigilant in upkeeping tenants’ rights and not discriminating by age or any other factor.

Anti-discrimination laws are in place to protect tenants from unlawful eviction and ensure they find suitable housing.

As a landlord or letting agent you must;

  • Ensure all rental property advertisements do not discriminate by age, race or any other defining factors. E.g. you cannot specify an age range when advertising for tenants
  • Never tell a prospective tenant that the property is unavailable when it is
  • Never end a tenancy without reason
  • Make any necessary adjustments to your property when renting to tenants with disabilities as can be found in the Equality Act 2010

 

Elderly Tenants and Health Issues

One of the big factors to consider when renting to elderly tenants is the possibility of health issues and disabilities. Some common health problems that occur in later life include;

  • Dementia
  • Arthritis
  • Mobility issues
  • Hearing impairment
  • Sight impairment

Tenants with dementia may struggle to remember to pay rent on time or find the right numbers to call to report issues. In this case, you may need to set up an automated payment system and make more regular property inspections.

As a landlord, you may need to make adjustments or allowances for tenants with health issues or disabilities if they’re living in your property. From fitting stair lifts to changing your communication channels, we explore this in more detail further down the page.

Interior of property with walking aid

 

Things to Consider When Renting to Elderly Tenants

Here are some main points for landlords to consider to ensure elderly tenants’ needs are met;

 

Property Location

Elderly tenants are more likely to require a peaceful area with easy access to essential amenities such as shops, the post office and everyday services.

If you’re targeting elderly tenants, do your research first to find desirable areas for this tenant group.

 

Consider Allowing Pets

For many older people, pets provide essential companionship and emotional support. When renting to this tenant group, it’s worth considering allowing pets as this will make your property more desirable to a wider pool of tenants.

If you’re worried about damage to the property, asking for a higher deposit is a reasonable request.

 

Straightforward Communication

Many older people who have not grown up with email or mobile phones may struggle to use these communication channels. When dealing with older tenants, you may need to stick to phone calls or letters.

Determining the easiest forms of communication at the start of the tenancy will help encourage a positive landlord/tenant relationship. Some tenants with sight impairments may require all written communication in Braille.

 

Property Adjustments for Older People

Under the 2010 Equality Act, landlords are required by law to make any reasonable adjustments to their properties to allow tenants with disabilities to live safely and comfortably.

This could include;

  • Installing access ramps for wheelchair or mobility scooter users
  • Installing stair lifts
  • Installing railings in the bathroom
  • Fitting accessible kitchen and bathroom facilities
  • Widening doors for wheelchair access
  • Ground floor level access
  • Unrestricted parking access

 

Living Safely: Family Contact Numbers

If your tenant has a fall or you are unable to contact them and are concerned for their safety, it’s a good idea to have access to the contact details and phone numbers of close family members. Having a small number of people you can contact regarding your tenant can help ensure their safety and strengthen the lines of communication.

 

Property Security

Elderly tenants can be more vulnerable to break ins and door to door scams. Ensuring the rental property is safe and secure can help protect your tenant against crime. To secure your property;

  • Always change the locks between tenancies
  • Ensure all windows have good quality locks
  • Ensure all external doors are well fitted
  • Consider an alarm system
  • Fit security lighting
  • Fit a front door buzzer or peep hole to allow tenants to check who’s at the door before answering

 

Evicting An Elderly Tenant: The Right Way

For elderly tenants, finding a new rental home can prove more difficult, particularly if they suffer from age related health issues. If your tenant is late on rent payments or if there are any property maintenance issues, try to find a solution before beginning the eviction process.

For example, helping the tenant set up automated rent payments or providing advice on where to find government financial support could make all the difference. Likewise, encouraging your tenant to employ a cleaner or approaching family members for help could solve any property maintenance issues.

However, if there is no alternative and you need to evict your tenant, here’s some advice;

  • Seek legal advice before proceeding
  • Always follow the correct laws, regulations and procedures

 

Protecting Your Property

For some older people, property maintenance becomes harder as they experience reduced mobility. This can be a concern for landlords of furnished properties, worried about damage beyond fair wear and tear.

To protect your property long term, always invest in a professional property inventory report as evidence of the condition of the property at the start of the tenancy. This way, you will be in a better position to recover any costs at the end of the tenancy.

 

Get Help Being A Responsible Landlord

Renting to elderly tenants can be very rewarding, as older tenants tend to look for longer tenancies. However, renting to this tenant group can require certain adjustments and property management tasks that take up time.

If you rent to elderly tenants, investing in a professional property inventory service can save you time and help to ensure you’re fulfilling all your obligations as a landlord.

From regular property inspections to property inventory reports – No Letting Go provide a wide range of property services across the UK.

Browse our full list of property inventory services to find out how we could help.

Winter brings with it potential hazards that could harm your rental property and cost you money if left untreated. High winds, excessive rain, snow and ice can lead to anything from frozen pipes to blocked guttering.

That’s why it makes sense to get ahead and protect your rental property before the worst of the UK weather kicks in.

We’ve prepared a winter maintenance checklist for landlords and lettings agents, to help you protect your rental properties over the winter period.

 

Exterior Property Maintenance

As a landlord, you are largely responsible for the exterior maintenance of the rental properties in your portfolio.

This can include;

  • Roof and guttering repairs
  • Garden and fences
  • Window cleaning and repairs

The following tips will help you protect the exterior of your property over the winter;

 

Roofs and Guttering

Missing roof tiles can cause expensive structural problems in the long-term. If your property is missing a few tiles, a particularly bad winter storm could result in leaking and interior damp.

Likewise, a blocked gutter can lead to water damage. An annual gutter clean is a sensible maintenance task to perform at the beginning of winter, after the autumn leaves have fallen and before the worst of the weather hits.

 

Repair Cracks and Crevices

Any gaps or cracks in the exterior of your property could result in long term problems if left untreated. If moisture from the outside finds its way into the property, you could be facing serious damp and mould issues. This is easily avoided through regular inspections and property maintenance.

Key areas to focus on include;

  • Air leaks around windows and doors
  • Garage or shed doors
  • Ill fitted exterior doors

 

Winter Garden Maintenance

Usually, general garden maintenance is the responsibility of the tenant. However, if your property is experiencing a void period or you are preparing for a new tenancy, you may need to perform some garden maintenance.

Broken fences are the responsibility of the landlord, so it’s a good idea to check for any loose posts before the wind sets in. In addition, any trees with dangerous overhanging branches may need tending to.

To protect yourself from any disputes regarding garden maintenance at the end of a tenancy, always ensure the tenancy agreement clearly sets out which tasks are the responsibility of the tenant.

 

Winter Pipe Maintenance

When water freezes in very cold weather it expands and can result in burst pipes. To prevent this;

  • Ensure pipes are well insulated
  • And there are no cracks
  • Fix any dripping taps
  • Get the boiler serviced regularly
  • Run the heating at a low temperature during void periods
  • At the start of a new tenancy, make sure your tenants are aware of the location of the stopcock and understand what to do in case of an emergency

 

Fireplaces and Chimneys

If any of your rental properties contain working fireplaces, a professional clean by a chimney sweep will help to prevent debris build up which could pose a fire hazard.

 

Door Locks

Sometimes, extreme cold weather can freeze locks. Rather than getting a late night call from a tenant locked out of their home, a pre-emptive spray with lubricant will prevent sticking.

 

Prevent Pests

Cold weather can draw in pests such as mice and voles. To prevent any unwelcome visitors, ensure all small holes and cracks around the exterior of the property are properly sealed.

 

Interior Winter Maintenance

The following winter home maintenance tips refer to the interior of your rental property;

 

Winter Boiler Maintenance

Perhaps the most important consideration for your tenants, is ensuring the property’s heating system is in good working condition before the cold winter weather hits.

If the weather drops severely, your boiler is at risk of freezing. To avoid this;

  • Remind your tenants to run the heating regularly.
  • If your property is going through a void period, it’s worth setting the heating to come on at certain times throughout the day or to run it constantly at a low temperature to help prevent damp and keep the boiler in good condition.
  • We also recommend bleeding the radiators regularly to prevent pockets of air entering and affecting the heat they give off.
  • Get the boiler serviced once a year by a gas safe registered engineer before winter really kicks in.

 

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

The start of winter is a good time to check your smoke and CO alarms are all present and in working order.

Since 2015, it has been a legal requirement for landlords to install working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on each floor of a property. Failure to do so could result in a £5000 fine for each non-working alarm.

If you’re busy managing your portfolio, we provide Smoke and CO inspections as part of our inventory and check in service.

 

Winter Property Security

Fewer daylight hours and empty properties around Christmas time can result in higher levels of property crime. Encouraging your tenants to practice these safety tips should help to avoid any nasty surprises;

 

Timed Lighting Systems

If your rental property is left vacant over the Christmas period as tenants visit family and friends, it’s more vulnerable to theft and damage.

Encouraging tenants to use a timed lighting system when they go away for extended periods can help to prevent break ins. Alternatively, leaving the bathroom light on uses up minimal energy whilst warding off burglaries.

 

Exterior Safety Lighting

If you’re worried about a vacant property, installing security lights can help to prevent break-ins.

 

Emergency Contact Numbers

One of the most important ways you can protect your rental property over the winter is to provide your tenants with a list of emergency numbers to contact if things go wrong. This should include;

  • Plumber
  • Electrician
  • General property maintenance provider
  • Locksmith
  • Letting agent contacts

This is particularly important if you are planning to go away over the Christmas break.

By providing your own list of numbers, you can ensure that any repairs or maintenance issues are attended to by reliable tradespeople, approved by you.

 

Invest in a Professional Inventory Service

One of the easiest ways to protect your rental property over winter, is to invest in a thorough inventory service.

From maintenance reports to health and safety checks, our teams of inventory clerks across the UK are on hand to help you manage your property portfolio all year round.

Need some help? Browse our list of available property inventory services to protect your investment this winter.

Anyone who has worked within the lettings industry will understand the importance of a thorough inventory for rental properties.

And when landlords skip this vital step, major issues can occur. If you’re left facing serious damage at the end of a tenancy without the proper reports, you may lose out on thousands of pounds.

We explore the power of inventories by highlighting a recent high-profile case featuring a former pop star and £70,000 worth of damage.

 

Do I Need An Inventory?

Yes, as a landlord or letting agent, it is important to have an inventory report in place to provide the evidence needed if you need to make a claim on the deposit at the end of the tenancy.

Without a detailed inventory, you could be left having to repair damage out of your own pocket. We’ve created a simple guide on the key components to include and why they’re necessary;

 

Property Management Inventory Checklist

An inventory report must include the following key components;

  • A record of meter readings and keys provided
  • The condition and cleanliness of each room, including appliances, fixtures and fittings
  • A record of the condition of the garden, including any damage
  • A signature from the tenant confirming they agree with the contents of the report
  • A record of the condition of the mattresses if fully furnished
  • Date & time stamped photos of the property and its contents

It must also include essential safety points;

  • A record of furniture and furnishing fire safety labels
  • Evidence that the Smoke and CO alarms comply with legislation (working order & correct placement)
  • A record of loose or frayed carpets, cracked glass or windows, missing keys and inoperable locks

 

Check Out Report

In addition to the initial inventory report and schedule of condition that takes place when a tenant moves into a rental property, you will also need a check out report when they move out at the end of the tenancy.

Following the final inspection, the check out report should;

  • Include a detailed record of the condition of the property
  • Clearly show how the property has changed throughout the tenancy (in combination with the initial check in report)
  • Include recommended actions for landlords and tenants

This report provides a vital benchmark to help assess any changes to the property from the start of the tenancy to the end.

If any deposit disputes arise, these reports should provide clear evidence to help landlords get a fair return on any losses or repairs required.

 

Top Reasons for Tenancy Deposit Disputes

Some of the main reason’s disputes occur include;

  • Cleaning 54%
  • Damage 49%
  • Decoration 31%
  • Rent 20%
  • Gardening 16%

 

Dealing with Deposit Disputes

The security deposit taken at the start of a tenancy is considered the tenant’s money. This means that it can be tricky for landlords to withhold the deposit in response to damage or loss without significant evidence.

You will need to prove there is damage to your rental property above normal wear and tear in order to claim on the deposit.

That’s why poorly compiled inventory reports are one of the most common reasons landlords lose disputes.

Tip: Always enter the deposit into a tenancy deposit protection scheme as this is a legally required step!

 

Celebrity Rental Drama: The Power of Inventories

To demonstrate our point, we’ve got a high profile case study in which a property rental disaster was averted thanks to comprehensive inventory reports.

Former En-Dubz star and X Factor Judge, Tulisa Contostavlos was recently ordered to pay over £70,000 worth in damage to the landlord of her former luxury rental property.

Reported damage to the luxury North London flat included a smashed sink, cigarette burns, stains and doors ripped from hinges. Despite arguing that the damage was normal wear and tear, she was ordered to pay compensation, interest and legal costs to her former landlord.

Key to this case was the presence of a thorough and professional inventory and check-out report.

Clearly, a high rental value is no protection against severe damage, so no matter which end of the market you’re positioned in, covering your back is essential if you want to recover your costs.

Looking for help managing your portfolio of rental properties in London? Find a list of our No Letting Go London offices.

 

What is Fair Wear and Tear?

It can be problematic working out what is considered fair wear and tear as it differs case by case. Some examples of fair wear and tear include;

  • Small scuff marks on walls
  • Naturally worn down carpets
  • Frayed fabrics
  • Faded curtains
  • Carpet indentations

However, when we talk about damage this could include;

  • Broken locks or doors
  • Burn marks or large carpet stains
  • Holes in the walls
  • Broken windows or furniture
  • Poorly painted walls

One of the easiest ways to determine the difference is by commissioning a professional inventory clerk to visit the property and make a detailed report, including photographic imagery at the start of the tenancy.

 

How To Protect Your Rental Property from Damage

There are a few more steps you can take to protect your rental property;

Regular Property Inspections

To avoid a similar situation, making quarterly inspections of the property can help encourage tenants to practice good property maintenance.

Target Long Term Tenants

In addition, targeting long-term tenants who are more likely to treat the property as their home will help to avoid intentional damage.

Keep it Simple

Keep decoration simple and ensure your property is thoroughly clean at the start of the tenancy to avoid any future disputes.

 

Avoid the Risks with A Professional Inventory Service

You’ve heard the warning, now it’s time to cover your back. One of the easiest ways to protect your investment as a landlord or letting agent is to commission a professional inventory company to undertake comprehensive inventory reports and checks.

Our independent inventory clerks across the country are experienced at providing essential reports, checks and visits to help you stay protected from move in date up until the end of the tenancy agreement.

To find out how we could help, browse our list of professional property inventory services to get started.