Although we all do our best to avoid them, void periods are a fact of life and most landlords and letting agents will find themselves with a vacant rental property on their hands at one point or another.
If you find yourself with an empty property, it’s important to keep it safe and secure. We’ve got some advice on how to protect vacant property and keep it in good condition until your next tenant comes along.
From security solutions to regular inspections, keep your property safe with these tips.
How Long Can A Rental Property Be Vacant?
If your rental property is left vacant for an extended period of time, you will need to inform your insurer. How long this period is can vary from insurer to insurer, so make sure you read the small print in your contract.
Usually, when a rental property is left vacant the insurance will go up as it is considered to be more of a risk.
Vacant Rental Property: The Risks
With no one living in the property to take care of day-to-day maintenance and inform you if something goes wrong, vacant properties present more of a risk for landlords and letting agents.
Here are some of the potential issues you could come across;
- Leaks or water damage
- Electrical faults
- Structural damage
- Pest infestations
- Weather damage
Vacant Property Security: The Solutions
While these potential issues sound scary, there are several steps you can take to ensure your property remains safe and secure.
Secure Doors and Windows
It’s good practice to change the locks between tenancies to minimise the risk of unlawful occupation. Having secure doors and windows also helps to prevent theft or squatting.
The RLA recommends using five lever mortice locks for external timber doors or a multi-point locking system for PVC doors, as well as door chains.
Regular Property Maintenance
Regular property maintenance is vital throughout the year, whether your rental property is occupied or not. By keeping on top of maintenance tasks, when it comes to vacant buildings, there is a smaller chance of structural or internal damage.
The main tasks to address include;
- Exterior maintenance e.g. replacing missing roof tiles or clearing guttering
- Regular servicing of boilers, pipes
- Interior maintenance
Depending on how long the property is left vacant, it may be wise to switch off certain utilities such as the electrics to minimise the risk of fire. However, if you’re dealing with an empty building over the winter period, scheduling the heating to come on periodically can prevent mould growth.
Perhaps the most important measure you can take is to ensure all smoke and CO checks are up to date.
Installing Security Systems
Installing an alarm system or extra site security can discourage theft or vandalism to your property. Security services can include;
- 24 hour security cameras
- Alarm system
- Security lights
- Property security services
Alert the Neighbours
Having a quick chat with the neighbours or sending round a letter is a cost-effective way of protecting your investment. Asking the neighbours to act as property guardians and alert you if they spot any suspicious activity or leaks before they create permanent damage can save you time and money in the long run.
Take Advantage of PropTech
PropTech innovation has come on leaps and bounds over the last couple of years and there are plenty of solutions out there to help landlords and letting agents protect their properties remotely. From leak detection to remote temperature control and live streaming- you’re sure to find an app to put your mind at ease.
Vacant Property Inspections
Vacant property inspections are vital for the protection and security of your property. Most insurance companies require vacant properties to be visited weekly or fortnightly to check for any security or management issues and ensure they are dealt with promptly.
Improve Your Marketing Materials
No landlord or letting agent wants a vacant rental property on their hands. To avoid this situation from occurring in the first place, it pays to invest in quality marketing materials.
We offer a 360 degree virtual property photography service to show off your property to a high standard, producing images for use in marketing and inventory reporting.
No Letting Go’s Vacant Property Protection Services
As experienced partners to landlords, letting agents and property professionals around the UK, we understand the importance of keeping your property safe and secure during void periods.
As part of our services, we offer essential vacant property inspections to check for any damage and arrange for swift repairs. Whether you are a landlord living overseas or a letting agency needing help with your portfolio, our dedicated clerks are on hand to help.
Discover the rest of our property inventory services here.
As a landlord or letting agent, what do you do if your tenant disappears? Tenant abandonments can cause a lot of hassle and complications for those managing the property, so if it happens to you, it’s best to be prepared.
If a tenant is expected of abandoning, the landlord or letting agent will need to place a notice of abandonment at the rental property. We explain what this means, the responsibilities involved and how we can help with our abandonment notice service.
Tenant Abandonment: The Facts
Tenant abandonment is the term given for when a tenant leaves your property before the end of the tenancy agreement without notifying you (the landlord or letting agent).
In the case of abandonment, whoever is managing the property needs to ensure the tenant has permanently vacated the property before they can rent it out again.
Rent will still be owed until the end of the tenancy or until the property is let out again.
Issues for Landlords
If your tenant abandons the rental property, this can cause several problems;
- Loss of rental income
- Risk of vandalism and lack of security at the abandoned property
- Abandoned properties can result in higher insurance premiums
- If tenants leave possessions behind, these become the responsibility of the landlord to safeguard
What is an Abandonment Notice?
If you believe your tenant has left the property before the end of the tenancy, you need to place an abandonment notice.
An abandonment notice is a written statement that must be displayed in a prominent, accessible position on the property informing the tenant that the locks have been changed and where to find a replacement key if they wish to return.
It should give the tenant a limited time to get in contact and request a new set of keys.
By completing an abandonment notice, you are protecting yourself from being accused of unlawfully evicting the tenant.
What is Considered Property Abandonment?
Tenants are obligated to inform their letting agent or landlord if they plan to leave their rented property for more than two weeks. The tenancy agreement should include this clause as a form of protection for residential landlords.
Landlords and property professionals need to act cautiously, as under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, the tenant is entitled to return to the property within the tenancy period. If the tenant decides to return and the property has been let to someone else, this could constitute a criminal offence on the part of the landlord.
Without obtaining a lengthy and expensive court possession order, the tenant is still legally the occupant- even if they are in rent arrears.
This means you need to be certain that the tenant has permanently vacated and surrendered the property before re-letting or entering the property.
Landlord and Letting Agent Responsibilities
In order to ensure you are not making an unlawful eviction, if your tenant appears to abandon the property there are steps that must be taken;
Before letting the property to someone else or changing the locks you must first ensure the tenant has surrendered the property.
Firstly, try to contact the tenant to establish whether they are surrendering the tenancy. If you can get written confirmation from the tenant and they return the keys, you are safe to go ahead and re-let the property.
If you cannot get a hold of the tenant check if;
- The tenant has stopped paying rent
- The tenant has removed their belonging
- The tenant has left the keys at the property
- The neighbours have seen the tenant at the property
Housing and Planning Act 2016: Abandonment
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.
In this case, you can place a written warning at the property requesting rent repayments. If the first warning is ignored, a second warning notice is required. If the tenant still fails to respond, a third and final notice must be displayed. If this is also ignored, the landlord can take repossession of the property.
Can I Enter an Abandoned Property?
If you believe your tenant has abandoned, you can only enter the property if;
- It is in a vulnerable state and you need to secure the property by changing the locks
- There is any danger to neighbours (e.g. regarding the electric or gas supply)
There is damage that needs urgent repair
That’s where we come in. Our clerks can act as independent witnesses and help with the abandonment notice process, informing the tenant the locks have been changed.
What Should an Abandonment Notice Include?
There are certain elements an abandonment notice should include;
- Written notice that you believe the tenant has abandoned the property. Don’t forget to include important dates such as how long the property has been empty
- The full name, address and contact details of both the landlord and tenant
- A section asking anyone who knows the tenant’s current location to contact the landlord or property manager
- An agreed date by which the tenancy will be assumed abandoned or surrendered by the tenant (if the tenant fails to make contact by this date)
- A section recommending the tenant seeks legal advice
- The name of the independent witness
No Letting Go’s Abandonment Notice Service
In the event that either a landlord or letting agent places an Abandonment Notice up at a property, it is vital that someone attends the property on a regular basis (ideally every 3-4 days) to ensure the notice is still in place. We offer an abandonment notice service whereby we will visit the property as instructed to ensure the notice has not been removed or displaced and to report on the security of the property.
No Letting Go are dedicated to providing professional and unbiased property inventory services from the start of tenancy to the end. From appraisals and right to rent checks, to property inspections and maintenance reports – we’re here to help you protect your investment.
Discover how we could help by browsing our full list of property inventory services.
Is your tenant coming to the end of their tenancy agreement? If so, you might want to start thinking about providing them with some essential information regarding their check-out process.
Investing in a professional pre-check out service can benefit both landlord and tenant. From ensuring smoother transitions, to minimising the amount of maintenance needed, we explain how opting for a pre-check out service can save property professionals time and money.
Check Out Procedure for Rental Property
Before we look at the process in more detail, here’s a quick overview of standard check-out procedure for a private rental agreement;
- Notify tenants of their responsibilities at least 2 weeks prior to the end of the tenancy
- Provide pre-check out service
- Tenants return property to original condition
- Provide check-out visit on the last day of the tenancy
- Provide check-out report
- Tenant accepts/challenges report
- Deposit return is negotiated
- Deposit is released
Let’s take a closer look…
What is A Pre-Check Out Service?
The purpose of a pre-check out service is to ensure that your tenant is fully aware that the property must be returned to its original condition as it was found on move-in day.
This service consists of a visit, in which property clerks grade each room of the property and specific items within it with actions ranging from ‘No action required’ to ‘Replacement required’. The original inventory report provides evidence of the state of the property at check-in.
This service provides tenants with a realistic view of the tasks required in order to return the property to an acceptable state and have their deposit returned in full.
Benefits for Tenants
By having all the information and guidance they need at their fingertips, a pre-check out visit arms tenants with the tools to ensure their full deposit is returned.
Often, property professionals find that tenants are unaware of certain tasks that need completing before the end of the tenancy, for example, cutting the grass or maintaining any out buildings.
This information should be accessible in the official tenancy agreement document, however not all tenants remember to read it thoroughly at the end of a tenancy.
Tenant Check Out Responsibilities
Examples of the tasks and responsibilities that could be recommended at the pre-check out include;
- Replace any furniture or furnishings that have been considerably damaged or stained beyond normal wear and tear
- Cut the grass and trim back foliage in outdoor spaces
- Thorough cleaning throughout
- Defrost freezers
- Replace old light bulbs
- Remove all food and personal items from the property
- Replace any items that were present at check-in
- Ensure furniture is in the same position as at check-in
Once these tasks have been completed, tenants are much more likely to have their full deposit returned to them, minimising time-consuming disputes.
Benefits for Landlords, Letting Agents & Property Professionals
Some of the benefits of providing your tenants with a pre-check out service include;
- It makes the transition between tenants quicker and smoother
- It minimises the amount of property maintenance needed between tenancies
- It helps maintain a positive relationship between letting agent/landlord and tenant
- It saves time and money
To sum up, pre-check outs can be very valuable for time poor landlords and property professionals seeking a quick turnaround and minimal maintenance work.
When Is the Best Time to Provide A Pre-Check Out?
We usually recommend supplying your tenant with a pre-check out visit at least two weeks before the official end of the tenancy. This gives them some time to make necessary repairs or replacements before they move out.
Inventory Check Out: Who Pays?
Since the Tenant Fees Act came into play on the 1st June 2019, landlords and letting agents are no longer permitted to charge tenants fees for inventory services.
However, don’t let this change put you off investing in professional inventory and pre-check out services as they could save you a significant amount of time and money in the long run!
Next Steps…Check Out Inventory Report
Once check-out day arrives, either the landlord or the letting agent managing the property will visit the rental in order to complete the check-out process. Everything in the property will be cross-referenced with the original check-in inventory to create the report.
Here at No Letting Go, we use Kaptur property software to record any changes from the start to the end of the tenancy. Covering everything from cleanliness and damage to missing items and fair wear and tear advice- our detailed reports help property professionals stay on top of any maintenance needed.
Do I Need an Inventory Report?
Yes! All successful end of tenancies start with a detailed inventory report. Our property clerks use the original inventory report made at the start of the tenancy to grade the property and advise on what tasks need completing.
A thorough inventory report includes detailed images of each area of the property to ensure everything is returned as it was found. The inventory report also provides valuable evidence if you need to recover costs at the end of the tenancy. For example, if your tenant leaves the property in a damaged state beyond the level of fair wear and tear, the inventory report can help to demonstrate the changes from the start to the end of the term.
Looking for help managing your property portfolio? Our property inventory services provide a clear, unbiased picture, helping you to recover costs and protect your investment.
We also offer;
- Check-in services
- DigiSign automated check-in
- Health & safety checks
- Property inspections
- Check out reports
- Maintenance reports
Discover our full range of property inventory services for landlords and property businesses.
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.
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;
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.
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.
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;
- 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.
Things to Consider When Renting to Elderly Tenants
Here are some main points for landlords to consider to ensure elderly tenants’ needs are met;
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.
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.
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.
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.
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;
- General property maintenance provider
- 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.
Usually, landlords don’t have to worry about council tax. However, when it comes to HMO properties and vacant periods, things can start to get confusing.
It’s important to understand your landlord council tax responsibilities so as not to get caught out by any unexpected bills or legal issues. So, who pays council tax? What happens when your property is empty? And what about unpaid tenant debts?
From who is responsible to available discounts and exemptions, our council tax guide covers everything responsible landlords need to know.
Should I Be Paying Council Tax?
All residential properties in England and Wales are liable for council tax. If you fail to pay on time, there could be serious financial and legal consequences.
How does it work? The council tax system works according to a hierarchy of liability. The first on the list to pay is any adult over the age of 18 who is an occupant of the property. The landlord or property owner comes much further down this list.
How Is Council Tax Calculated?
Properties are assessed by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) and placed within bands A-H according to the location and type of housing. The banding is based on the amount the property could be sold for and the cost for each band varies by council.
Who Pays Council Tax: Tenant Or Landlord?
This depends on the sort of tenancy agreement you have in place. Usually, if you rent the entire property to one or several joint tenants, it is their responsibility to pay. (This includes single occupants, families and shared tenancies) In this case, the bills will be sent directly from the local council to your tenants, leaving you out of the equation.
However, if you rent to several tenants with individual tenancy agreements, you will become responsible for paying council tax. Therefore, if you rent out an HMO property, you will be liable to pay.
Do Landlords Pay Council Tax On Empty Properties?
Yes. During void periods, the landlord is responsible for paying council tax.
The size of the bill depends on your local council. You could be given a discount of up to 50% while the property remains unoccupied. However, this is becoming more unlikely as the number of unoccupied properties grow.
If your property is unfurnished, you may be exempt from council tax for up to 6 months.
Is A Landlord Liable For Unpaid Council Tax?
Not usually. As long as the tenancy agreement stipulated that council tax payments were the responsibility of the tenants, then landlords should be safe if tenants leave with unpaid debts.
If your property is vacant for any time, as the landlord, you will be responsible for paying tax during this period. However, you should not be responsible for repaying leftover bills that should have been paid by tenants while they were living in the property.
Without proof of a signed tenancy agreement, it will be harder to convince the council of your exemption if your tenant moves out early without notifying you.
See our blog on who is responsible for unpaid utility bills for more answers to common questions regarding bills.
Landlord Council Tax Exemption
Some properties and tenants are either exempt from paying council tax or are eligible for a discounted rate.
If you’re a landlord of an HMO property, make sure you check your tenant’s status to find out if you are eligible for any discounts. For example, if there is a mix of full-time students and one adult, you may receive a 25% discount.
Who Is Exempt From Council Tax?
There are certain groups of people who are exempt or eligible for a discounted council tax bill;
- Single occupants of a property receive a 25% discount
- Full time students are exempt
- Live in carers are exempt
- Tenants below the age of 18 are exempt
What Properties Are Exempt From Council Tax?
There are also a number of properties that are exempt from paying council tax;
- Unfurnished properties may be exempt for six months
- Recently repaired properties may be exempt for six months
- Properties occupied by full time students only
- Properties solely inhabited by tenants under the age of 18 receive a 50% discount
Landlord Council Tax Advice
To ensure you stay on top of your council tax responsibilities and avoid any unexpected bills, follow these simple tips;
- Always determine who is responsible for paying council tax in the tenancy agreement
- Keep a signed copy of this agreement on file
- Notify your local authority at each change of tenancy and give the names of new tenants
- For HMO properties where you are liable to pay council tax, ensure you factor this cost into the rent price
- Plan for any void periods in which you may have to pay council tax
- Check for any council tax discounts or exemptions you may be eligible for
- Try to minimise void periods to avoid paying council tax in between tenants
Property Inventory Management From No Letting Go
If you’re a busy landlord looking for help managing your portfolio, we could help. Our wide range of professional property services includes comprehensive inventory reports, vacant property inspections and right to rent checks.
Here’s what else we offer;
- Floor plans
- Smoke and CO reports
- 360-degree property photography
- Property appraisals
- Legionella risk assessments
- Digi Sign
- Check in/check out
- Mid-term reports
For all your property management needs, browse our full list of property services to find out how our friendly team could help streamline your business and protect your investment.
Mould. The scourge of the rental property market. No matter how much effort you put into ventilating a property and keeping things dry, it somehow seems to find its way back again and again.
But whose responsibility is it to deal with mould in a rental property? And are tenants able to demand rent reductions for lingering mould?
We’re exploring this common problem to help landlords and tenants alike come to a happy solution. From prevention to deposit deductions, let’s look at landlords mould responsibility to get to the bottom of who is culpable and prevent disputes before they arise.
What is Damp and Mould?
Before we delve into who is responsible for dealing with mould in rented properties, let’s look at the different types of mould and its causes.
Rising damp is the name given to the process of water rising up and into a building from the ground through bricks and mortar. All houses should have a layer of waterproof material called a ‘damp proof’ to prevent rising damp. However, when this fails, problems occur.
If this issue isn’t solved promptly, it can lead to mould forming that’s difficult to remove for good.
Penetrating damp is caused by leaks that allow water into the property, causing surface mould growth. These leaks could come from broken roof tiles, blocked guttering or faulty plumbing.
The main thing to remember about penetrating damp is that it comes from outside the property and is usually a structural issue.
Condensation happens when moisture in the air comes into contact with cold surfaces, leading to water droplets and mould growth. If a building is poorly insulated or the ventilation or heating system is faulty, then the condensation is considered a structural issue. However, condensation can also be caused by tenant’s lifestyle habits.
The Health Risks of Living with Mould
The Housing Health and Safety Rating (HHSR) dictates that damp is an essential repair as it can cause health issues for tenants.
Mould is a fungus which can trigger or exacerbate the following health problems;
- Difficulty breathing
- Allergic reactions
- Skin rashes
- Asthma attacks
Not only is mould detrimental to physical health, it can also have an impact on tenant’s sense of wellbeing. This is why it’s so important for landlords to deal with mould swiftly and efficiently.
Is Mould the Landlord’s Responsibility?
With regards to mould, when fingers are pointed, things can get complicated.
Legally, rising damp or penetrative damp caused by structural leakage is the landlord’s responsibility to put right. Under section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, it is the landlord’s responsibility to resolve mould issues caused by structural faults.
However, when interior condensation is caused by the tenant, this shifts the responsibility.
Condensation can be caused by;
- Drying clothes indoors
- Showering and not opening the window
- Cooking without opening the window
- Not heating the property sufficiently
Determining whether mould in a property is due to the tenant’s lifestyle habits or the poor ventilation of the property can be tricky.
First Steps When Mould Is Spotted
If you’re a tenant whose spotted mould anywhere within your rental property, you need to alert your landlord straight away. Describe where the mould is and any damage to furniture or belongings. Once the problem has been reported, the landlord has to respond within 14 days.
For landlords, when a tenant reports mould in the property, arrange an inspection to determine the cause of the mould and, where necessary, ensure repairs are made.
Once a damp problem has been resolved, you may also need to repair any damaged plaster or flooring and redecorate affected areas.
If you don’t respond within the two-week timeframe the tenant could contact the local authority who could force the issue through. That’s why it’s vital to arrange an inspection and repairs as soon as possible.
Can I Withhold Rent for Mould?
If your landlord refuses to make repairs, withholding rent can be risky. Technically, tenants do not have the right to withhold rent and could be subject to repossession or even eviction.
However, tenants do have the right to make the repairs themselves and make up the cost in future rent. If you decide to go down this route, you need to be certain that the repairs needed are the responsibility of the landlord. Be sure to seek legal advice before making this stance and follow the correct procedures.
Can a Landlord Deduct Deposit for Mould?
If there is mould in a property at the end of a tenancy which was not there at the start, landlords have a right to deduct money from the deposit only if the mould was caused by the actions of the tenant.
The amount deducted is at the discretion of the landlord, and will take into consideration any repairs or redecoration needed above the level of fair wear and tear.
Is Mould Considered Normal Wear and Tear?
Whether mould is considered to be fair wear and tear depends on the cause. If there is evidence to show that the mould has been caused by the negligence of the tenants and advice and regular maintenance has been supplied by the landlord or letting agent, then compensation can be claimed.
Can I End My Tenancy Early Due to Mould?
If you’re a tenant who has found themselves in a mouldy property with an inefficient landlord, there are steps you can take.
If your tenancy agreement has a break clause, then you may be able to end the tenancy early. However, if not, contact your local authority who will perform an inspection to determine whether the landlord is culpable of negligence. If so, they will issue a notice to the landlord demanding repairs.
From a landlord’s perspective, if you attempt to evict your tenant without fixing a reported mould problem within six months of it being reported, this could invalidate a Section 21 notice.
Condensation and Mould: Advice for Tenants
If you’re a tenant living in a rental property, there are some simple ways to prevent mould;
- Dry clothes outside when possible or keep them in the bathroom with the doors closed and windows open
- Cover pans with lids when cooking to prevent excess steam escaping
- Close the kitchen and bathroom door when in use
- Use a bath mat to soak up excess water
- Turn on the extractor fan when cooking or bathing
- Leave a gap between furniture and external walls
- Air out cupboards and wardrobes regularly
- Turn on the heating regularly and try to keep the house a consistent temperature
Preventing Mould: Advice for Landlords
Minimising the chances of mould growing at the start of a tenancy agreement could save you money on maintenance in the long run.
Here are some ways to prevent mould in your property;
- Ensure the property is well ventilated
- Maintain gutters and roofs to prevent leaks
- Ensure all plumbing is in good working order
- Repair any rotten window frames
- Improve the insulation of the property
- Install extractor fans in the bathrooms
- Repair or replace faulty damp proof course
Avoid Disputes with a Comprehensive Property Inventory
In cases where it’s difficult to determine the responsibility for mould, a detailed property inventory could help.
Prevent disputes before they can occur by investing in a professional, unbiased inventory report. By providing detailed written and photographic evidence of the state of the property, this report helps landlords and tenants alike by proving responsibility and supporting claims.
At No Letting Go, our team of experienced inventory clerks are well versed in helping landlords and property professionals streamline their workload and comply with regulations.
Whether you’re a landlord looking to recover costs against mould damage, or a tenant leaving a rental property, browse our full list of property services to find out how we can help.
When starting out as a landlord, it can be difficult to keep track of all your legal obligations. We thought we’d offer a little helping hand. We’re shedding some light on landlord responsibilities and your health & safety obligations. Don’t cut corners here, it’s important to get this right.
As a landlord, you need to take gas safety seriously. Make sure all gas equipment is installed and maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Every appliance also needs an annual gas safety check by a registered engineer. By law, you must get a Gas Safety Certificate every twelve months. You need to provide a copy of this to new and existing tenants within 28 days of the check.
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Any electrical system or appliance in your property must be safe to use. By law, you are responsible for the general electrical system as well as the safety of appliances you provide, e.g. cookers, kettles, toasters, washing machines etc. Ensure all appliances are tested by an electrician and display the PAT (portable appliance test) sticker clearly on the plug.
This is another crucially important area of responsibility for landlords. You must follow fire safety regulations. You must provide smoke alarms on each storey of your house, this can be either mains or battery operated.
You also have to provide a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. coal fire or wood stove). There is no legislation requiring you to fit a carbon monoxide alarm in a room with a gas burning appliance (e.g. boiler or gas fire). Despite this lack of regulation, many landlords and agents are choosing to supply CO alarms in these rooms for peace of mind.
An overlooked part of legislation is that all landlords must ensure the alarms are in working order on the start date of each new tenancy. This is the case even if a new tenant doesn’t move in till after that time. You must provide evidence that an alarm is in working condition from the start date, an ideal way of doing this is via a thorough inventory check-in procedure.
You must ensure tenants have access to adequate escape routes at all time, this includes preventing obstructions. If you supply a furnished property, you must ensure that all furniture is fire safe.
If you’re letting a large house in multiple occupation (HMO), you’re required to provide adequate alarms and fire extinguishers.
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The Responsibility of Repairs
This can be a sticky topic. As a landlord, you’re responsible for the majority of repairs. Here’s a list of repairs you must carry out:
- The property’s structure and exterior
- Basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary fittings (this includes pipes and drains)
- Heating and hot water
- Gas appliances, pipes, flues and ventilation
- Electrical wiring
- Common areas like staircases (this will usually be mentioned in the tenancy agreement)
The Housing Health and Safety Rating System
HHRS stands for the Housing Health and Safety Rating System. This is a risk-based evaluation which local authorities use to deem whether a property presents health and safety hazards. If your property is deemed unsafe, your local council can take action. This is something you seriously want to avoid.
How Does the HHRS Work?
Hazards are separated in categories depending on how serious they are. This system also considers the extra risk to the young and elderly.
Category 1 Hazards
Hazards which are the most dangerous and pose the most potential threat to health or safety are labelled as category 1. If your property displays any examples of a category 1 hazard, the local council is obliged to take action. Here are a few examples of category 1 hazards:
- Leaking roof
- Mould on the walls or ceilings
- Rats, pest or vermin infestations
- Broken steps at the top of a flight of stairs
- Exposed wiring or overloaded electrical sockets
- A dangerous or broken boiler
- Excessively cold bedrooms
- Poor security (as a result of lock problems or badly fitting doors, etc.)
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Sometimes it can be difficult to prove your property is in a safe condition before your tenants move in. By using No Letting Go’s inventory services, our full check-in service will be able to record exactly what condition your property is in. This not only removes the potential for deposit disputes but also assists with proving items like fire alarms meet regulations. Find out more about our inventory services for landlords here.