No Letting Go DigiSign (Automated Check-In Service)

Let Us Take Away the Hassle of Chasing Tenant Signatures

No Letting Go DigiSign can automate the tenant signature process, which enables the Check In to be fully electronic, saving time and money. In addition, our new DigiSign function will take away the hassle of chasing the tenant signature once an inventory has been completed. After a short discussion with your local No Letting Go office to set up your desired parameters you will be ready to go. Gone are the days of time lost gathering signatures in favour of a automated signing system that makes the whole process run seamlessly. The short video below gives a detailed of overview of how this technology works:

DigiSign – Automating the Signature Process

No letting Go’s DigiSign process works by sending out text or email reminders to the tenant with prompts to view, leave comments and sign the inventory. As the agent or landlord, you will be informed at each step of the process with a full audit trail available through our Kaptur Management Software. The tenant simply signs electronically via our link or adds additional comments and photos directly into the report. Any additions are verified by us and the report is returned. If the tenant forgets to respond following the reminders, no problem – the report is deemed accepted, and we notify the tenant.

Bespoke the Process to Fit with Yours

One of the unique features of No Letting Go’s DigiSign service is the level of customisation available, allowing us to tailor this service for each agent. You have the freedom to fit the process to your own by selecting the frequency and method of the reminders. Once set up is complete, the automation completely removes this task for you, and we will be able to take care of the tenant signing process going forward.

The Benefits of Using No Letting Go’s DigiSign

There are many benefits than can be realised through the adoption of No Lettings Go’s DigiSign into your inventory reporting process. Here are a few key points we would like to highlight.

Automation

DigiSign will automatically send the inventory for signing electronically on completion of the job. The signing process will then play out according to your defined parameters from the initial set up. No further input is required from an agent or landlord after set-up.

Amendments

When the inventory is sent for signing, the option is there for the tenant to suggest amendments and upload pictures. At this point it is then the at the clerk’s discretion to accept or reject these comments. This can resolve small disputes with the inventory and prevent further problems.

Communication

All parties are kept well informed at all stages of the of the DigiSign process. At each action point an email or SMS is sent to the parties involved. At no point will you be unsure about what is happening with the inventory.

Digitalisation

Tenants will sign electronically by following a link sent to them be either email or SMS. Once signed this will be stored in our cloud and accessible in KMS. This prevents the need to store hard copies and prevents the risk of documents being lost.

Visibility

You will have visibility at all times of the process via our portal KMS

Repairs and maintenance reports

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Pre-check outs

The purpose of the visit is to ensure the tenant is aware that the property must be put back to its original state at the time of moving in when they check out to ensure their full deposit is returned.

For the client records, a grading of each room and specific items is specified, ranging from “No action required” to “Replacement required”.

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Dilapidations

This is the report prepared by one of No Letting Go’s professional team to determine changes between the start of the tenancy and the end. Using Kaptur mobile technology, we accurately register all change between the condition noted on the original inventory and the property at the end of the tenancy. We will address damage, cleanliness, missing items and provide advice on fair wear and tear or where professional advice is required. The reports by us will also record important maintenance or compliance information for the landlord or agent to attend to, whether it is safety related, maintenance or recommendations related to improvements required.

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Check Out Reports

A quick tenant guide to preparing for your check out

What is contained within a property check out report?

Our check out service provides a detailed report on the condition of the property at the end of the tenancy. The check out document is compared to the inventory report in order to determine how the property has changed since the start of the tenancy. The report will record any items of damage, maintenance and the standard of cleanliness.  The reports includes both written and photographic information.

Taking into account the length of the tenancy and fair wear and tear guidance, we will assign responsibility of the item to the landlord or tenant within the report. For more information on fair wear and tear, please refer to the TDS (Tenancy Deposit Scheme).

For example, if a white wall had been painted yellow, it would be the tenant responsibility to return it to the original colour. If however, there were scuffs and marks in the hallway appropriate to fair wear and tear, they would be marked as such.

Our inventory specialists are training to ARLA Propertymark standards, and understand the TDS guidance on fair wear and tear.

The contents and condition of each room will be assessed and any changes that have occurred from the start of tenancy inventory, will be recorded in addition to an overview section of the property.

Why a check out report is so important

The check-out report is an important document in the event of a dispute between the landlord and the tenant. If the dispute goes to independent arbitration then the adjudicator will be asked to review the dispute using the inventory and check out reports to form their final judgement.

As deductions can be made from the deposit to pay for repairs or cleaning, its important that the tenant checks both documents carefully.

Benefits of using the NLG check out service

  • Check out reports are conducted by inventory specialists who are trained to ARLA Propertymark standards, and are members of either ARLA or the AIIC (association of independent inventory clerks)
  • The reports provide a clear statement of the condition of the property at the point of move out
  • The reports can be used in the event of a dispute are represents an independent assessment.
  • We assign responsibility within the report

The most common disputes

The most common disputes include cleaning, mould, redecoration and damage.  Normally cleaning disputes focus on what standard and extent a property was clean at the start of the tenancy.

Cleaning

A check in inventory/schedule of condition should be very clear on the matter of cleanliness, and should define the standard of cleaning. Eg has it been domestically cleaned by the landlord or ere professional cleaners engaged. This creates the standard that the property can then be judged against at the end of a tenancy.

If a landlord has had a property professionally cleaned at the start of the tenancy, they can insist the property is professionally cleaned at the end of the tenancy. Landlords/agents should retain any invoices and receipts as evidence of professional cleaning prior to tenants moving in. It is not good enough for a tenant to merely clean the property to a domestic standard.

Any description of cleanliness issues should be clear to avoid misunderstanding. For example, a comment like “not clean” on an oven, is not very clear compared to “small crumbs to base, slight grease marks to back of oven”.

Mould

Another big area for disputes is mould, particularly in bathrooms. If there is no window, then ventilation should be installed, otherwise it is likely a claim for mould would fail.

Tenants should be made aware by their agent/landlord that mould is not wear and tear. Tenants should also be informed that they must not switch any ventilation fan off and if there is a window to open it to ventilate the bathroom. The same principles apply if a tenant is drying clothes in the property and not ventilating properly.

Redecoration

Most tenancy agreements prohibit redecoration without the permission from the landlord.

In many cases once permission is sought, the landlord will agree so long as the colours are agreed along with the standard of work.

Damage

It is important the tenant understands their liability and the cost of repair in order to agree deductions at the end of a tenancy. Betterment rules must also be taken into consideration.  For example, the tenant could not be charged the full cost of a new carpet for a large stain.

Abandonment notices

What is an abandonment notice and what service do No Letting Go provide?

If a tenant in your property is expected to have abandoned the residence, either the landlord or letting agent will need to place a notice of abandonment at the rental property. The abandonment notice must be displayed at the property and it is vital that someone attends the property on a regular basis to ensure the notice is still on display. No Letting Go can offer this service and provide not only evidence of the abandonment notice being in place, but also as an independent witness to help with the abandonment process.

What is considered as property abandonment?

It is required that tenants inform their letting agent or landlord if they plan to leave their rented property for a period exceeding 2 weeks; this clause is generally included in all tenancy agreements. However, in some instances it may become apparent that tenants have abandoned the property, usually after a period of not paying rent. However, Landlord and property professionals alike must proceed cautiously under these circumstances, as under the Protection from eviction Act 1977, the tenant is entitled to return to the property withing the tenancy period.  Should a tenant suspected of abandonment return in the period to find the property let to new tenants, the landlord could be charged with a criminal offence. It is therefore essential that it is certain that the property has been permanently vacant and surrendered before re-letting the property; this can be evidence through the proper application of serving an abandonment notice.

Problems arising for landlords when properties are abandoned

Loss of rental income

The most obvious problem arising from abandonment is the loss of income from the non-payment of rent. Therefore, it is important to make sure an abandonment process is enacted in a professional and timely manor to reduce increasing loses.

Risk of vandalism and lack of security at the abandoned property

The longer a property is left abandoned, the more obvious this becomes to undesirables. Often, the knowledge that a property is occupied can be the biggest deterrent to criminals.

Squatters

Unoccupied properties can also draw the attention of squatters causing a whole new host of problems for landlords.

Abandoned properties can result in higher insurance premiums

Many insurance companies become void if properties are left vacant for a certain period. As a result premiums can be eye watering for the time a property is left vacant.

If tenants leave possessions behind, these become the responsibility of the landlord to safeguard

During the period of the tenancy, the tenant’s possessions left behind after abandonment are still the landlord responsibility to safeguard. This is not only burdensome but can also be costly to put into storage.

The responsibilities of Landlord & Letting agents

It is down to both landlords and letting agents to ensure that any evictions being made are not unlawful. Before re-letting or changing lock you must be certain that the property has been surrendered. The first point of call is of course the tenant, recording all contact and attempting to receive written conformation of abandonment. Should you fail to make contract other avenues for evidencing abandonment are:

  • Rent has stopped being payed.
  • Belongings have been removed from the property.
  • Keys have been left at the property.
  • Neighbours have not seen the tenant for a long period of time.

Housing and Planning Act 2016

If you can ensure that your property has been abandoned, and your tenant is in rent arrears you are now able to take back possession of your property under the Housing and planning Act 2016.

Vacant property inspections

No Letting Go offer this important service for both landlords and agents during void periods.  Most insurance companies require vacant properties to be visited either once a week or fortnightly to check that the property remains secure and to ensure that any property management issues such as water leaks, appearance of mould/damp, broken fence panels, are dealt with promptly.

What void periods in tenancies mean for a landlord?

By definition, a void period is the time when a rental property is left unoccupied. The obvious result of this is the landlord or letting agent receiving no rental income during this time, far from ideal! However, there are many other factors that come into play under these circumstances. Vacant properties can cause problems when it comes to insurance, maintenance, vandalism and even squatter to name but a few.

Insurance and vacant properties

Most typical home insurance will not cover long periods when a property is unoccupied, thus making the insurance void. This leave the property owner of losing everything in the event of fire, flood or any other catastrophic event home property insurance protects you from. In many instances this can leave property owner in financial ruin, so it is vital to take these risks seriously.

For instances when a property will enter a void period, special insurance is required, known as unoccupied property insurance. The price of cover is determined by a range of factors, such as the rebuild cost of the property, its location, security and, of course, the reason it is empty. It also goes without saying that these premiums can often be significantly higher than occupied insurance, so it is important to look at ways to bring these costs down. In some instances, you may even find the overall costs are cheaper when this insurance is combined with a periodic inspection from No Letting Go.

Risks arising from properties being left vacant

Falling behind on essential maintenance

When properties are left vacant, small issues can develop into more serious ones simply because they go unnoticed. Problem often develop slower over time such as leaks, electrical faults and infestations. Having a human present and living in property allows this risk to be identified early on so appropriate low-cost actions can be taken to prevent escalations. Our property reporting experts at No Letting Go are probably some of the best people in the country to identify these risks to alert you during a vacant property inspection, saving you from an expensive bill later down the line.

Risk of vandalism and lack of security at the abandoned property

The longer a property is left vacant, the more chance you have of the property falling victim to vandals and criminals. Quite possibly the biggest deterrent to these undesirable visitors is the knowledge that a property is occupied and thus that they will likely be caught. Naturally, void periods lack this deterrent and can even begin advertising your property vacant. Lights left off, overgrown gardens and a bulging letter box are what thieves and vandals look for when targeting properties.

Squatters

Quite possible a landlord’s worst nightmare is the risk of squatters entering the property. Squatters too will look for signs that a property is unoccupied. A regular visit from a No Letting Go property reporting specialist can all help to reduce these risks and identify hazards.

Block management inspections

Shining a light on communal areas

Whether in the social housing or the private residential housing sector, No Letting Go provide estate and block inspections. Providing our clients with regular reports covering fire and safety, estate and block cleanliness and condition, maintenance, legionella risk assessment. Each report has urgent actions summary and are all audited. Working to our client’s service level agreement, reports are bespoke to needs using Kaptur report software. The reports are unique in that they have embedded 360 virtual tours, with a visual walk around the estate, highlighting key areas of detailed the extensive training by all No Letting Go assessors in areas

What do we look for during a block inspection?

Fire and Safety

One of the biggest hazards in poorly managed blocks are fire safety failures. It common to find things such as bikes, pushchairs and even rubbish blocking hallways and fire escapes. A No Letting Go block inspections will check and make you aware of these risks so the appropriate action can be taken. Undertaking these reports also demonstrates due diligence as a block manager to ensure the health and safety of residents is being upheld.

Estate & block cleanliness & condition

It well known that the communal areas in blocks are often not treated with the same love and respect as people’s private homes. As a result, these areas are prone to falling into disrepair; falling victim to damage, vandalism or even just a lack a persistent care. It may also well be the case that these issues go unreported and can get worse over time. Our block inspections can identify these issues and prevent the exacerbation of situations.

Maintenance

In blocks and estates, maintenance is a seemingly never-ending constant. Not only will our reports identify maintenance issues, but they can also check the quality of works carried out are up to standard. Many of our clients have portfolios all over the UK and in many instances, it is not feasible for their own staff to attend every building in the portfolio. We can help by saving you both time and money, checking the works for you and providing a detailed evidenced report.

A bespoke service level agreement

No matter what your needs may be, we at No Letting Go can customize a bespoke report to meet your need whatever they may be. Get in touch and find out how we can help you!

Other services we can offer whilst on site

Legionella Risk Assessments

One of the many legal responsibilities that landlords and letting agents have is ensuring that their properties are free of the Legionella bacteria, which can cause health problems to more vulnerable tenants or to any member of the public that may visit the property. If you have not the time to investigate and learn the requirements or able to visit your property, No Letting Go provide a guaranteed national service. If you would like one of our qualified inspectors to complete a Legionella Risk Assessment for any of your properties, then please contact us for availability.

360 Virtual Tours

Another service we can offer with our block inspections are 360 virtual tours to truly capture everything. These tours are ideal for looking back on those are that are not obvious as well as providing a point of reference to look back upon.

Mid Term Property Inspection Reports

How often is a mid term visit conducted

A personal visit of a rental property is often the only opportunity to assess how the property is being occupied and maintained.  Regular inspections usually take place every three to six months, and are often vital for landlords who are either unable or unwilling to do this themselves.

The benefits of an independent inspection

Instructing an independent inventory company ensures that the agent or landlord keeps a professional distance and will be provided with an objective mid-term report. Whilst these reports do not constitute a full inventory check, they do form the basis for assessing and highlighting any problems with the property.

Its an opportunity to repair any minor problems before they spiral out of control and into major repairs. Something simple as a small leak can transform into a disaster if its neglected for long enough. Tenants tend to report serious issues, but many will not report minor issues until its too late.

Also, its easy to be unaware of problems, such as damp where the tenant has become accustomed to it, but someone else notices it the minute they walk through the door.

The visits also provide the opportunity to assess the tenants living conditions. If the property is not kept in good order, it may not be grounds to evict, but it will allow an agent/landlord to consider whether they wish to renew the tenancy when the fixed term comes to an end.

All parties will receive a copy of mid term report on completion of the assessment unless otherwise agreed by email.  All copies of documentation and digital photographs are retained by No Letting Go for a period of seven years.

What does a mid term report contain

A mid term inspection reports on the condition of the rental property.  The report is a smaller version of an inventory report containing overview photographs, and notes the following:-

  • An overview of the condition of the property and its contents
  • Checks the property is being used by the named tenants only
  • Checks for maintenance work that may need carrying out
  • Checks for smoking and pets within the property

The mid tenancy report is a good way to build relationships with the tenants and check that the property is being treated in a satisfactory manner.

Why use No Letting Go for your mid-term inspections

We carry out thousands of mid term term inspections every year across the UK.  Our reports contain photos and descriptions of the property, providing a good insight into how the property is being looked after, for both the agent and landlord.

We also retain a full audit trail of the reports conducted on a rental property, be it a mid term inspection, inventory or check out.

Our inventory specialists will also confirm the appointment with the tenant prior to attending.  We are happy to conduct the visit in an empty property or with the tenant present, and can re-confirm the process with the tenant once at the property, and note down any concerns they have.

If you are an agent who conducts these visits inhouse, our Kaptur software could provide a quick and easy solution to provide quick reports with an easy storage solution.

A Guide for Landlords: Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors; Is It the Landlords Legal Responsibility?

In October 2015, new regulations were introduced to the private rented sector requiring every landlord to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on each floor of a property. The landlord must evidence that all alarms are tested and working at the start of each tenancy. Fines for non-compliance are a maximum of £5,000 for each failure. No Letting Go will ensure you are compliant. We will check that your alarms are in the correct location, are functioning at move in and install new ones where necessary. All No Letting Go reports have a smoke and carbon monoxide safety section that will guarantee you meet the regulations.

Landlord Responsibilities Outside of England

Since 1st December 2015, Landlords across Scotland must provide carbon monoxide (CO) alarms with integrated long life batteries within ALL rooms hosting a combustion appliance. Even if a CO detector with standard, removable batteries has been supplied previously, it must be exchanged for, or supplemented by a unit with a sealed long life battery to meet the regulations.

A smoke alarm must be installed in the room most frequently used for general daytime living purposes and one installed in every circulation space on each storey such as hallways and landings. A heat alarm must be installed in every kitchen, and all alarms should be ceiling mounted and interlinked.

Again No Letting Go will report this within our inventory at the start of a tenancy to ensure landlords remain compliant.

Different Types of Alarms

There are mainly four types of smoke alarm currently on the market – ionisation, optical (also described as photo electronic), heat and combined.

Ionisation: These are low cost to purchase. They are very sensitive to small particles of smoke produced by fast flaming fires, such as paper and wood, and will detect this type of fire before the smoke gets too thick.

Optical: These are more expensive but more effective at detecting larger particles of smoke produced by slow-burning fires, such as smouldering foam-filled upholstery and overheated PVC wiring.

Heat Alarms: They detect the increase in temperature from a fire and are insensitive to smoke. They can therefore be installed in kitchens. They only cover a relatively small area of a room, so potentially several heat alarms need to be installed in a large kitchen.

Combined Optical Smoke and Heat Alarms: Combinations of optical and heat alarms in one unit to reduce false alarms while increasing the speed of detection.

Combined Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms: Alarms that combine both smoke detection and CO alarm protection in one ceiling-mounted unit. This reduces costs and takes up less of your living space.

Where Should They be Located?

In general, smoke alarms should be fixed to the ceiling in a circulation space, ie a hall or a landing, and carbon monoxide alarms should be positioned at head height, either on a wall or shelf, approximately 1 to 3 metres away from a potential source of carbon monoxide.

How Often Should You Check the Alarm and Who is Responsible?

The landlord is responsible for checking all smoke and co alarms are in the correct locations and working at the start of the tenancy.  A good inventory company will detail the location and whether they are in working order within the inventory at the start of the tenancy. No Letting Go carry spare smoke alarms and will replace a non working alarm where required.  It is then the responsibility of the tenant to ensure they remain in working order throughout the tenancy.  It is advisable to check them once a month.

Should I Know of Any Exemptions?

The regulations are not aimed at the following scenarios:-

Owner occupied properties, so if the occupier shares the accommodation with the landlord or landlord’s family then these regulations will not apply.

A landlord is considered to share accommodation with the tenant if they share an amenity such as a kitchen or living room.

Landlords granting a right of occupation for a term of 7 years or more.

Landlords who are registered providers of social housing.

Responsibility for the enforcement of the legislation lies with the relevant local housing authority, and breaches of the guidance can be punished by a fine of up to £5000.

Social Housing

The smoke and carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 do not apply to social housing landlords.

The key piece of legislation in England and Wales is the Housing Act 2004, which identifies 29 categories of potential hazards, one of which is fire.  The regulatory reform (fire safety) order 2005 (FSO) applies to the common parts of multi-occupied residential housing and requires landlords to carry out a fire risk assessment, and then take appropriate measures.

House of Multiple Occupancy

For a 1 or 2 story HMO with an individual floor area of no more than 200sqm – a fire risk assessment is required to identify an appropriate main powered interconnected smoke alarm system.  CO alarms must be present in all high risk rooms.

For HMO’s 3 stories or higher – a risk assessment is required to identify a fire alarm system with an appropriate panel.  CO alarms must be present in all high risk rooms.

What Will Happen If I Don’t Comply?

Landlords must check the alarms are working at the start of every new tenancy with potential penalties of up to £5,000 if they don’t comply.

Tenants are required to check the alarms are in working order and notify the landlord if they identify any problems.

The responsibility for the enforcement of the smoke and co alarm legislation lies with the relevant local housing authority.

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