The introduction of the government’s stamp duty holiday scheme has had a significant positive impact on the housing market but there is now speculation about what happens when this popular scheme begins to wind down from June onwards and the effect it will have on buyers’ behaviour and the market.

Why was the stamp duty holiday scheme introduced?

In July 2020 the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced that the government would temporality increase the lower limit from where stamp duty on property purchases would be paid to £500,000. This measure was taken to boost the housing market, which had been hit dramatically by the first lockdown, and to support buyers whose finances were badly affected by lockdown.

The scheme has been a success; 2020 saw the busiest October for a decade for residential transactions, and house prices were boosted, with Nationwide reporting a year-on-year growth rate in average house prices of 5%, a new record. It created such high demand that in the March budget, the Chancellor announced the scheme would be extended to June 2021, tapering back to normal stamp duty levels in September of this year.

What is likely to happen when the party ends?

After such a success, concerns were raised that the end of the stamp duty holiday, initially planned for March 2021, would create a dramatic drop off in the housing market. With the extension to the scheme there’s some relief, but many feel it only delays the inevitable and could see some negative consequences:

• A decline in buyer interest: RICS survey found buyer inquiries fell sharply in Feb 2021, leading to the original end of the stamp duty holiday.
• A drop in house prices: Nationwide reported signs that prices have started to fall for the first time in six months.
• Sales missing the stamp duty deadline: More sales will miss the new deadline as existing sales still struggle to be processed and new ones are added to the high workload
• Buyers pulling out of deals: If purchases can’t be completed by the deadline because they haven’t budgeted for the additional stamp duty.

The end of the stamp duty holiday is likely to see a levelling off in demand and a return to more normal timescales to complete transactions. Although some believe that house prices will decline, February 2021 saw them continue to be strong, even with the original end date of the stamp duty looming.

What will happen at the end of the stamp duty holiday remains uncertain. However, we are heading into spring and summer, traditionally busy times for the housing market. And as we continue to emerge gradually from lockdown, optimism may stay high and the market resilient. Whatever happens, we will be keeping a close eye on the market over the months to come.

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.

If you are a landlord or have responsibility for managing a rental property, you need to ensure that you are aware of your obligations under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), or you could find yourself facing a hefty fine.

What is the HHSRS?

The government’s guidance on the HHSRS states that the landlord must look after:
• The exterior of the dwelling and structural elements, and
• The inside facilities that are part of the dwelling.

These requirements have been put in place to ensure residential premises are safe and secure for residents and anyone who may be visiting the property. As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to ensure there is no risk or, if unavoidable, an acceptable level of risk from the hazards identified by HHSRS.

What types of hazards are assessed?

The HHSRS is a very comprehensive rating assessment that considers twenty-nine hazards found in the home. These hazards relate to:

• Dampness and excess cold/heat
• Pollutants, such as carbon monoxide and asbestos
• Lack of space, security, lighting, noise
• Hygiene, sanitation, water supply
• Accident risks, such as electric shocks, falls, cuts, burns, collisions
• Explosions and structural collapse.

How do the inspection’s work?

Local authorities will conduct the assessment by completing a matrix containing the twenty-nine hazards and are given extensive powers to act if the standard of a property is unacceptable. Each hazard will be given a rating (bands A-J), with bands A-C considered the most serious category 1 hazard and band D-J a less serious category 2.

The overall assessment will be made on the likelihood of an occurrence of an incident and the range of likely harmful outcomes.

What happens when the inspection finds a problem?

Local authorities have a wide range of sanctions to use against the landlord to remedy any hazards they find:

• Hazard Awareness Notice
• Improvement Notice
• Prohibition Order
• Emergency Order
• Demolition Orders and Clearance Areas

If you fail to comply with this notice requiring action, you could be fined up to £5,000.

What happens when the inspection finds a problem?

Landlords know that ensuring their property is maintained to a good standard is about ensuring their tenants’ safety and comfort and looking after their investment. HHSRS assessments are just another reason to ensure your property remains fully maintained, both inside and out.

Regularly inspecting properties can be time-consuming, and many landlords may not have the knowledge to conduct a comprehensive assessment that would pick up all the potential risks present. Regular inspections, such as those offered by No Letting Go’s property management services and regular check-ins, will keep you on top of property maintenance and can avoid large repair costs by picking up problems early on. Regular property inspections are an investment in your investment.

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, ensure compliance with regulations and keep accurate property inventories, then contact us today.

Are you keeping your tenants safe and your property protected? Are you sure that it has fully functioning smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors installed? Here’s a reminder of your responsibilities to your tenants as their landlord.

What are your responsibilities?

Regulations for private sector landlords were introduced in October 2015 detailing a legal responsibility to protect tenants from the risks of fire and CO poisoning. The expectation of landlords is very clear, and there is no grace period to let you meet legal requirements. You need to ensure that your rental property has fitted:

• At least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of the property which is used as living accommodation;
• A carbon monoxide alarm installed in any room used as living accommodation where solid fuel is burned. A solid fuel-burning appliance could be a coal fire or wood-burning stove.

In addition to the alarms being fitted, you should also:

• Follow the legal requirement to check that alarms are in working order on the first day of each new tenancy. After this, the tenants are responsible for regularly testing alarms. Guidance suggests that this should be done monthly.
• Consider where you fit the alarms. Smoke alarms should be on a ceiling in spaces where the air circulates. CO alarms should be at head height and only a few meters from the fuel-burning appliance. However, the manufacturer’s instructions should be followed.
• Ensure alarms are audible throughout the property.
• Consider fitting a CO monitor near gas appliances as these can also emit carbon monoxide (although this is not required by law).
• Consider how you will prove you have checked the alarms at the required times.

Landlords who fail to comply with the regulations can expect a fine of up to £5000.

Regular property inventories can ensure compliance

As highlighted in our smoke and CO verification information, if your property is outside England, or you have a different type of rental property, there are different requirements you need to be aware of.

To ensure your ongoing compliance with all regulations affecting a landlord can be difficult and time-consuming, but something that good landlords and property agents are keen to do. At No Letting Go, we support our landlords and property agents with smoke and CO alarm verification and compliance with other legislation through inventory checks.

Pre-tenancy checks, regular inventory check-ins and end-of-tenancy inventories ensure that throughout a tenancy and at the start of every new one, you are providing tenants with a safe property that is in good order. We can schedule regular inventories that tenants will sign off to provide an audit trail for your compliance with regulations should this become necessary. We will also provide feedback and guidance where a property may be falling short of legal requirements.

No Letting Go

If you would like to discuss how the local inventory specialists at No Letting Go could become your property management partner, streamline your costs, reduce workload and keep accurate property inventories, then contact us today.

Despite the challenges of lockdown, landlords and property agents still have responsibilities to tenants to maintain their properties. At No Letting Go, we have tailored our service to ensure that we can still deliver regular property checks safely and effectively even when we cannot physically visit a property.

Keeping priorities in check

The landlords and property agents we support are familiar with the start-to-finish support our inventory management service offers. From a pre-tenancy inventory check, through interim checks and ending with an end-of-tenancy check, we have created a rigorous audit regime so that those responsible for managing properties can:

• Fulfil their legal obligations
• Keep tenants safe
• Maintain properties in a good condition
• Maintain high levels of property management service
• Meet contractual requirements
• Continue providing value for money as property agents

To ensure that none of these responsibilities slip, we have expanded how we conduct regular property visits that will ensure you keep meeting your obligations as a landlord and property agent, even during these difficult times.

Virtual property visits supported by the latest technology

Property visits have always been key to ensuring that all is in order with the property and a good relationship is maintained with tenants. While lockdown is a requirement, No Letting Go has looked for ways to reduce contact and minimise the risk to those around us, establishing a process for virtual property visits when tenants are not comfortable with a face-to-face visit.

Thanks to the investment we’ve made in our propriety inventory software called Kaptur and our Digisign function, we already have the tools in place to enable virtual property visits. Through a 15-minute phone call to tenants, we can complete an inventory questionnaire covering key aspects of a property inspection.

The information provided during the call will be recorded on our Kaptur software and sent to the tenants. They will be able to upload photos of the property, raise any maintenance issues they may have, review the report, digitally sign it, and then return the report electronically.

Quick and efficient, these checks ensure landlord priorities can be met while tenants still feel supported in their home with minimal disruption.

Don’t let lockdown stop you from meeting your rental property commitments

Everyone has to spend more time in our homes at the moment; as a landlord, it is important that you remain on top of your commitments to tenant safety and protect your property investment.

If you are a property agent managing several properties, you cannot afford a backlog of property visits to build up and risk not meeting your contractual obligations to your clients. Maintaining regular checks is key to protecting your property and ensuring your tenants’ safety, maintaining a good reputation as a landlord, and protecting your long-term income.

If you would like to discuss how the local inventory specialists at No Letting Go could become your property management partner, streamline your costs, reduce workload and keep accurate property inventories, then contact us today.

At No Letting Go, we are very proud of the market-leading property management franchise business we’ve built together with our franchisees. As we continue to grow, we thrive on working with dynamic and driven individuals looking for the opportunity to run their own business, and we’re looking for new business partners.

What we do at No Letting Go

We provide reports on the conditions of residential rental properties for landlords, agents and tenants. There are several vital reports services in our portfolio, but most common are check-in and check-out reports for tenant changes.

What sets us apart from the competition is our bespoke tablet-based technology which offers full flexibility, allowing reports to be completed online while on-site. Accurate and efficient, it allows our franchisees to provide an excellent service to their clients.

Why landlords need inventories

Continued demand in the rental sector grows the need for clear and in-depth reports because they have an important role to play for landlords and their agents in ensuring a smooth tenancy:

• Meeting legislation requirements and ensuring safety standards are adhered to
• Building good relationships with tenants by providing objective reports
• Providing a key administrative service, freeing time for landlords to focus on growing their portfolio and other tasks
• Protecting an investment by confirming the good condition of a property
• Employing experienced experts to complete reports
• Providing an end-to-end service

The breadth of value an inventory service can add to a rental enterprise makes it an integral tool for any landlord or agent and offers them reassurance over the ongoing safety and upkeep of their investment properties.

Why become a franchise owner?

If you have ever thought of running your own business, being a franchise owner offers a great opportunity while providing a higher level of business support.

We continue to invest in our bespoke technologies, developing our offering to landlords and tenants so that franchisees don’t have to. You can reassure clients that they are meeting their legal and health and safety obligations with the latest software.

We also provide a national network that allows us to support national and large accounts so we can build a broad portfolio of clients.

As a franchisee, in addition to being part of a strong and growing franchise group with a strong reputation, you will be supported in making your franchise a success:

• Training at our Training Academy that covers not only how to produce reports but also how to launch your business, with ongoing learning and development support
• Business development support to grow your own business
• A national support network through our franchises
• The latest technology that provides a competitive advantage and enables you to work efficiently

Running your own business can be highly rewarding. The opportunity to do this with the support of a leading national brand opens a world of potential. If you would like to learn more about our exciting franchise opportunities or would like to contact us, you’ll find details here.

A property inventory process is crucial if a landlord wants to protect themselves against picking up the bill for property repairs caused by a tenant.

However, to be useful during a dispute, especially if the matter goes to court, it’s important that the inventory has been thoroughly completed as part of a well-managed process so that it covers every aspect of a property and is correctly preserved.

Why is an inventory system necessary?

One of the most common causes of disputes between landlord or letting agent and a tenant is over the return of a deposit at the end of a tenancy, especially if some needs to be retained to cover repair or replacement costs.

For all assured, shorthold tenancies in England and Wales which began after 6 April 2007, landlords must place deposits in a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme (TDP) where it is legally protected.

A landlord, or their letting agent, must return the deposit in full if the tenant meets the terms of the tenancy agreement, doesn’t damage the property and pays their rent and bills. However, if you end up in a dispute with your tenant over the state of the property when they leave, the deposit remains protected in the TDP scheme until the issue is sorted out.

In this scenario, a well-managed inventory system provides the crucial evidence needed to settle any dispute and allow you to cover the cost for any damage.

What should an adequately managed inventory cover?

A property inventory is a comprehensive written and photographic report detailing the state of your property, including outside spaces, at the beginning of a tenancy.

It provides information on the furniture, fixtures, fittings and general wear and tear, details keys, appliance manuals and meter readings. Anything damaged or missing should be recorded in front of the new tenant.

A report also includes a safety section to record the evidence that a landlord or letting agent complies with safety regulations, such as smoke/CO detectors and the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations, 1988.

An inventory must be scheduled for the check-in and check-out procedures of a tenant, to record the property’s condition as the tenant departs. This clearly shows any changes that occurred during the tenancy. Additional checks can also be scheduled during the tenancy.

It is important that all inventories are fully documented and witnessed. Having a professionally prepared inventory can help establish the landlord’s credibility if the case goes before a tribunal or judge.

How does inventory management benefit the landlord?

The details recorded in a property inventory provide the evidence needed to prove whether the damage was done during a tenancy and if it was the responsibility of the tenant. This makes a subsequent claim by the landlord or their letting agent against a protected deposit or zero-deposit replacement insurance much simpler and more likely to be upheld.

A detailed inventory also helps reassure your tenant that they won’t be blamed for any damage they weren’t responsible for. This gets the relationship between landlord, or letting agent, and tenant off to a good start and a happy tenant is much easier to deal with than an unhappy one.

No Letting Go

At No Letting Go we offer an independent and unbiased professional inventory management service, providing a written and photographic report on the condition of the property and its contents.

If you would like to find out more about how our local support or national network could support you as your property management partner to streamline your cost, reduce workload and keep accurate property inventories, then contact us today.

The Coronavirus pandemic has hit every sector of the economy, but it hasn’t been a disaster for the rental market that some were fearing – in fact, it’s remained relatively stable. So, what does 2021 have in store after such an unpredictable year?

Predictions for 2021 rental market

In 2021 the overall demand for rental properties is expected to be strong, which is good news for landlords and letting agents, but there are challenges ahead that could affect the market:

 

  • Ongoing global pandemic: Landlords and letting agents will need to continue managing tenants experiencing reduced incomes and government temporary measures to prevent some evictions, at least in the short term. This will lead to some challenging times ahead and a need to adapt to any new measures put in place.

 

  • Brexit: Rules allowing Europeans to work, travel and rent in the UK will change, leading to a reduced number of European tenants and business lets. Uncertainty around Brexit will also cause financial unease and changes in legislation that may affect the numbers of people willing to invest in property.

 

  • The economy: Economic uncertainty will mean many renters could choose to delay purchasing a property, keeping the demand for rentals high. However, those on low incomes, typically renters, may see salaries continuing to be depressed, making rent rises difficult.

 

  • Changes in taxation: Capital gains tax is under review, and there’s concern that general increases in taxation may make investing in property less appealing, reducing the supply of rental properties. This is better news for current landlords.

To what extent these factors affect supply and demand for rental properties has created mixed views in the sector. According to the site Letting Agent Today, Hamptons and Belvoir are predicting either minimal rent rises or static levels in 2021, while Savills suggest rental prices will increase as the sector continues to see demand strengthen.

Moving forward to 2021 

Uncertainty is the most straightforward prediction to make for 2021. Yet, demand for rental properties is likely to remain high, and even if the environment is challenging, the sector is now better equipped to manage it.

In our 2019 predictions, we stated that ongoing digital transformation in the property sector would continue to be necessary, and it was. Technology has enabled our industry to navigate restrictions and continue business when the lockdown was lifted. In fact, digital tools such as No Letting Go’s DigiSign system has facilitated social distancing requirements for property check in’s and check outs, and reduced the admin burden of agents chasing for signed reports.

It’s these types of innovations and opportunities for increased efficiencies that will ensure our sector remains agile and able to react to whatever changes 2021 has in store.

 

No Letting Go

Whether you are a landlord or a letting agent, if you would like to discuss how our local support or national network could become your property management partner, streamline your cost, reduce workload and keep accurate property inventories, then contact No Letting Go today.

 

If you are a landlord, then enlisting the support of a qualified inventory specialist can save you time and hassle as there can be no question of bias. Professional service means that your report will be fair and accurate, and is less likely to have important points missed off. It can also ensure that any disputes at the end of a tenancy do not get personal, and are resolved fairly.

A common bone of contention for landlords and tenants is – what counts as fair wear and tear and what is damage. An inventory specialist will consider factors including the quality of an item, its condition at the beginning of the tenancy, and if the property had been let to a single professional or family with young children.

Here are 10 reasons why you should consider using an accredited independent inventory company:-

1 – Members of ARLA Propertymark or APIP, will have in depth training and specialist knowledge. Members must adhere to a strict code of conduct, which protects you against any problems or disputes that you (hopefully don’t) encounter with your inventory company.

2 -Being part of an official organization will keep the inventory company up to date on current legislation and changes to the law in relation to the inventory and buy to let sector in general.

3 -If a deposit dispute is raised, an independent adjudicator will lend more weight to an inventory that’s been compiled by an independent third party.

4 – An inventory company will provide a visual and written report on the condition of the property including detailed information and observations on all contents, fittings and fixtures at the beginning, middle and end of the tenancy. This is supplemented by high quality date stamped, digital photographs of every room, any specific damage and the level of cleanliness.

5 – A third party supplier can be relied upon to produce an inventory that reflects the property exactly as it is.

6 – The check-out report will detail whether any deterioration is beyond normal wear and tear and whether they consider any damage or deterioration to be the landlord’s or the tenant’s responsibility. This should make it easier to decide what, if anything, to deduct from the deposit.

7 – Independence demonstrates to tenants that you are professional, transparent and have their best interests at heart.

8 – Comprehensive property reporting and photographs take up a lot of storage. A professional inventory company will securely store your reports remotely for you, providing you access at all times.

9 – Fire and CO alarms will be tested according to the fire safety regulations, and some inventory companies will provide an on-site replacement service, saving the hassle of using another contractor.

10 – Professional inventory companies will be covered by public liability and professional indemnity insurance.

No Letting Go specialise in providing comprehensive, unbiased, detailed inventories. We’ll take out the hassle of carrying them out for you, by ensuring every inventory is done by an expert, to the highest standard. This will not only help mediate disputes, but prevent them altogether, ensuring every tenancy is a happy one!

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.

Without a doubt, regular property inspections are one of the most important things you can do to protect your property investment. However, for many property owners, it’s still one of those admin chores that’s difficult to find time for. So why are property inspections such a vital element of property management?

The benefits of regular property inspections

Recent feedback from one of our customers Faye Walker, Property Manager at Fry & Kent in Hampshire, who regularly uses our property inspection service, is a reminder of why property inspections should be a regular, planned activity:

“Property inspections by No Letting Go give me real peace of mind. Their experience and use of inventory software designed specifically for the job means nothing gets past them. That way, I am reassured that my tenants are safe and happy and my property, which I’ve invested a lot of money into, is being kept in good order.”

Some landlords are worried about checking up on their tenants, but far from being intrusive, regular inspections show your tenant that you care about their welfare and can head off problems before they become expensive disputes.

This peace of mind comes from knowing that a comprehensive property inspection covers many aspects of being a landlord, including:

• Reviewing the condition of the property and its contents, to spot any repair and maintenance issues before they become costly problems
• Ensuring compliance with the tenancy agreement
• Making sure no illegal activities are taking place at the property
• Building a good relationship with tenants
• Demonstrating that as a landlord you are fulfilling your responsibilities
• Creating documentation that can provide evidence if a dispute arises

Making property inspections easy

Property inspections are time-consuming. Defining what needs to be checked, recording the findings of an inspection and organising inspection visits all take time. A great way to relieve the burden of regular property inspections is to use a property inspection service.

At No Letting Go, we utilise our bespoke inventory software to ensure all property inspections are thoroughly conducted logically, with written and photographic evidence included in the report. Together with an inspection at the end of a tenancy and the beginning of a new tenancy, regular property inspections provide a full audit trail of the properties condition.

The benefits of using a property inventory reporting system mean that inspections can be completed promptly and they also provide consistency over what is being monitored, so nothing is missed, either during the inspection or because of lost records. Online reports are easily recalled and compared when necessary to review changes.

Our thorough and rigorous inspection services are all about protecting the landlord’s investments and ensuring tenants have a good tenancy experience, working hard to ensure all our customers feel as reassured as Faye says:

“Having been in the Lettings Business for many years, No Letting Go is by far one of the best Inventory companies I have used. They are always professional, reliable and the quality of work is second to none with reports always received on time.”

No Letting Go

If you would like to find out more about 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.