London Landlord Deposit Disputes Highest In the UK
When it comes to the end of a tenancy and the return of the tenant deposit, there are plenty of things that can go wrong, wherever your property is based.
However, according to a recent report, London landlord deposit disputes appear to be the highest in the UK.
This blog delves deeper into the reasons behind landlord/tenant disputes in London and what can be done to avoid these disagreements altogether.
London Deposit Disputes
According to Property Wire, London is home to the highest cases of rental disputes between landlords and tenants.
This data comes from Ome, a deposit replacement membership scheme, who found that a sizable 37% of all rental disagreement cases last year came from the UK’s capital. London was followed by the South East with 16% of cases and the North West coming in at 11%.
Why London? It could be partly due to the fact that rental prices are far higher, demanding hefty deposits. The greater the sum being argued over, the more likely both parties will want a return on their investment.
Common Causes of Deposit Disputes
The data showed that the number one reason for deposit disputes across the majority of the UK, including London, was poor communication. Whereas, in the South East, the most common cause was cleanliness at check out.
Other common reasons for disputes include;
- Damage to property
- Missed payments
- Inventory discrepancies
Landlord Deposit Dispute: Wear and Tear
What constitutes fair wear and tear is an issue that often occurs at the end of the tenancy, as the definition can vary from person to person. Our guide on fair wear and tear sets out what is considered to be normal and unavoidable wear and tear and how to help tenants prevent further damage.
Landlord Deposit Dispute: Cleaning
Cleanliness at check-out was another common issue when it came to rental deposit disputes last year. This can be avoided through regular property inspections and investing in a pre-check out service.
How to Avoid Deposit Disputes
If you’re a landlord or letting agent in London, minimising the chance of disputes will most likely save you time and money in the long term (not to mention stress!)
Here are some of the ways you can avoid a dispute in the first place;
Tenancy Deposit Protection
Ensure the deposit is protected in a tenancy deposit scheme as this is a legal requirement. Failure to do so could lead to your tenant demanding a full return of their deposit or more.
Tenancy Deposit Return Time Limit
At the end of a tenancy, landlords must return the deposit within 10 days after any deposit deductions have been agreed.
Invest in a Professional Inventory Service
One of the most important steps you can take to avoid deposit disputes is by starting the tenancy right with a thorough and professional inventory.
A professional inventory report will set out the condition of the property and its contents at check-in, highlighting any changes at the end of the tenancy. This vital document provides evidence to support you if you need to deduct from the deposit. For example, if there is damage to the property or furnishings beyond normal wear and tear or if there are items missing from the final inventory.
An inventory report signed by the tenant is your best protection if your tenant decides to raise a dispute over deposit deductions. Without it, you are very unlikely to recover the funds for maintenance and repair.
Consider a Pre-Check Out Service
Another way to avoid a dispute is to provide tenants with a pre-check out service at the end of their tenancy. As part of this service, a property clerk will visit the property and provide advice to tenants on what maintenance needs to be undertaken in order to have their full deposit returned.
The benefits of a pre-check out service include smoother transitions between tenants, less maintenance needed and therefore less chance of deposit disputes.
Regular Property Inspections
Organising regular property inspections to your rental helps to minimise the chance of disputes as experienced clerks can check that the property is being properly maintained by tenants and reduce the chance of damage at check-out.
It may sound obvious, but this is a common problem amongst landlords / letting agents and tenants, particularly in London. A breakdown in communication or negative feedback can lead to a lack of trust and a greater chance of deposit disputes when you reach the end of the tenancy agreement.
To avoid this, it’s best to give a positive first impression to tenants and maintain regular and honest lines of communication.
Landlord Deposit Dispute Advice
If issues can’t be solved through direct and honest communications, it may be worth seeking the advice of a dispute resolution service to resolve the issue. An impartial adjudicator will be able to assess the dispute and hopefully come to an agreement that is acceptable to both sides.
If it comes to this, having a detailed inventory report is vital. At No Letting Go, we provide professional inventory reports to landlords, letting agents and property businesses throughout the UK. With expert local branches around the country and the latest property technology at our disposal, we’re experienced at helping property professionals protect their investment.
Find your local London property inventory service here.
Don’t let a deposit dispute affect your business, explore our property inventory service today.
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.
A new year brings with it fresh opportunities to maximise the potential of your property portfolio and grow your business. It also brings new changes to the private rental sector.
So, what will the rental sector look like in 2020? And how can landlords, letting agents and property professionals keep abreast of changing regulations? Our rental property predictions 2020 looks ahead to key events in the industry.
From an overview of regulatory changes in the past year, to upcoming developments, we’re looking ahead to what 2020 will bring to the rental industry.
What Happened in the Rental Sector in 2019?
Before we start looking ahead, let’s catch up on some of the most important changes and updates to the private rental sector over the last year and what effects they’ve had on the industry;
Making Tax Digital
In 2019, the government announced that they would be helping small businesses convert to a new digital tax system to be fully implemented by the end of 2020 called Making Tax Digital.
From April 2019, VAT tax records and returns went digital, affecting landlords with an annual rental income of over £10,000. This change required landlords to use software or apps to keep track of tax records and to update HMRC through a new, digital tax account, if they weren’t already. Hopefully, this has made doing taxes more accurate and efficient for the majority of property professionals.
Letting Agency Fees Ban
February 2019 saw the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act 2019, prohibiting many of the fees required by letting or estate agents. From 1st June, letting agencies were no longer able to demand fees for;
- Security deposits over five weeks rent
- Holding deposits over one weeks rent
- Change in tenancy costs over £50
The Letting Agency fees ban raised alarm among some parties, with ARLA claiming that a blanket tenant fee ban would ‘put additional pressures on landlords, with fewer tenant checks and a lower quality of service’.
In 2019 PropTech became the buzzword on the lips of almost everyone in property. But what does the term actually mean? Put simply, PropTech or Property Technology is all about the digital transformation of the property industry, from big data to VR.
Moving tenant checks online and Apps that help landlords manage their property maintenance have been making everyday tasks faster, easier and more secure for professionals in all areas of the property industry.
For example, Kaptur is a digital property inventory system that allows users to manage work flows, reports and inventories all in one place.
This trend for digitalisation shows no signs of losing momentum as we move into 2020.
What’s New for 2020 in the Rental Industry?
Now, let’s turn our attention to upcoming changes that could have an effect on the private rental sector in 2020;
Abolishing Section 21
The new Conservative government has announced plans to abolish Section 21 repossessions in order to protect tenants. This change is likely to be implemented by the end of 2020.
This proposition has caused alarm amongst several landlord bodies, including ARLA, who are concerned that it will make it harder for landlords to regain possession of their properties if needed.
Good or bad, this will result in changes to the way landlords and tenants can legally end tenancy agreements. For landlords, this means following the Section 8 possession process set out in the Housing Act 1988.
Changes to Mortgage Interest: Section 24
By April 2020, tax relief for buy-to-let landlords will be reduced to the basic rate of income tax and landlords will no longer be able to deduct any mortgage interest payments from their rental income.
In addition to paying more tax on rental properties, this change could even move some landlords up into a higher tax bracket.
Making Tax Digital
The scheme to completely digitise the tax system by the end of 2020 aims to make taxes more accurate, efficient and easier to manage.
But what does this mean for landlords and rental property businesses?
In addition to minimising the chance of error, a digital system should allow landlords with multiple properties to stay on top of their taxes more easily. With all the information accessible on a mobile device, you will be able to see how much tax you owe ‘as you go’ rather than waiting to find out at the end of the tax year.
However, if you’re not naturally tech-savvy, the new system might take a little getting used to – so you better get started!
Brexit and the Rental Industry
Regardless of your opinion on Brexit, landlords and property professionals may take some comfort as uncertainties regarding the effects on the housing market begin to stabilize.
Although a lot is still up in the air, it looks like we are definitely leaving the EU so landlords can start making long-term plans to grow their portfolio.
The effect of Brexit on the rental industry could even be a positive one, with an increasing number of first time buyers delaying getting onto the property ladder while agreements are being finalised.
Continued Demand for Rental Properties
On the whole, 2020 looks set to be an exciting and prosperous year for the private rental sector.
The number of people living in rental properties in the UK has been steadily growing over the last few years, and this looks like a continuing trend as we move into 2020. Clearly, this is good news for those working in the sector who are likely to enjoy relatively stable returns on investment.
Protect Your Property Investment in 2020
Keen to maximise the potential of your property portfolio in 2020? That’s where we come in.
Ensure your investment stays protected, attract the right tenants and encourage long-term tenancies with the help of our varied property services including;
- Property inventory reports
- 360 virtual photography
- Right to rent checks
- Mid term reports and inspections
- Property appraisals
- CO and Smoke reports
- Check in/check out reports
Want to find out more? Browse our property inventory services to get started.
Thinking of investing in Build to Rent but not sure how to go about it or if it’s right for you? Our guide on why to invest in Build to Rent explores the risks and rewards of getting involved in the sector.
Build to Rent developments are growing across the UK thanks to higher demand for quality, purpose-built rental accommodation among young professionals and the over 50s. This burgeoning sector has great potential for property investors and commercial landlords, as long as you do it right.
What is Build to Rent?
Build to Rent, or (BTR) describes the process by which residential properties are purpose built for the private rental sector. In most cases, this is done by large property development companies, investors and commercial landlords.
Build to Rent developments commonly contain 50 homes or more, all managed by one landlord. They often feature desirable perks such as in-house gyms, entertainment facilities and sophisticated security systems.
The Build to Rent Trend
The Build to Rent sector in the UK is on the rise. According to property experts, Knight Frank, £50 billion will be invested into the sector by 2020 to accommodate for the growing demand in the private rented sector.
We’re now well aware that the rental sector is growing. Rising house prices and new working trends have resulted in a wider pool of tenants looking for suitable, long-term rental properties.
The demise of home ownership has resulted in a slightly older, professional tenant group looking for quality rented accommodation, complete with all of the modern conveniences.
How Does Build to Rent Work?
Typically, a Build to Rent development is owned by a large institution, such as a bank or pensions company and managed by a lettings agency.
Funding comes from investors keen to take advantage of reliable rental returns and long term growth. Some Build to Rent Schemes are also being supported by the Government to help with the building process and supporting infrastructure.
The main players in the Build to Rent process are;
- Build to Rent investors
- Build to Rent developers
- Build to Rent letting agents
- Commercial landlords
To invest in Build to Rent property, there are a few routes to go down, one of the easiest being through one of the large private rental developers.
The Benefits of Build to Rent Properties
According to Savills, Build to Rent investment came to £2.6 billion in 2018, suggesting that it can be a lucrative option for commercial landlords. There are many exciting opportunities for landlords investing in Build to Rent. Here are some of the benefits;
- Longer tenancies are common (3 years +)
- High tenant demand
- Higher rent rates (around 11% higher than standard rental accommodation)
- Reliable rental income and likely growth
- Landlords retain control over their investment
- Long term investment rewards
There are also many benefits for tenants which will make advertising and filling vacant rental properties much easier;
- Greater choice of housing
- Quality, purpose-built buildings with special amenities such as gyms and entertainment facilities
- Access to convenient services such as security, laundry and concierge
- Modern, sustainable buildings
- Bills usually included
- On-site management
- Encourages regeneration in surrounding areas
The Risks of Build to Rent
With all investment comes potential risk. Before going ahead, it’s important to understand what these risks are and how to manage them.
Construction is a risky business, and all sorts can go wrong or take longer than planned, leading to greater financial costs.
Planning Permission Issues
As a relatively new phenomenon, planning permission for Build to Rent can take longer, resulting in growing costs and a reduction of rental income.
As the landlord, you may experience delays in receiving the full rental income as the development fills up. To avoid long void periods, you could implement a tenant sign-up scheme while the building is still in progress. Alternatively, you could plan the development in stages to ensure some rental income is coming in throughout the process.
Drawbacks for Tenants
It’s also important to consider the disadvantages for tenants when it comes to Build to Rent, as this will help you determine your target tenant and mitigate any risks.
Some drawbacks for tenants include;
- Many Build to Rent developments target elderly tenants or young professionals and may not appeal to families or lower income renters
- This type of accommodation can be more expensive for tenants
Homes UK Event
From incorporating affordable housing into your Build to Rent project, to attracting institutional investment, Homes UK: The Future of Living will be answering the pressing questions in the sector today.
Taking place at Excel in London 27-28 November 2019, the event is a great place to meet important players in the industry.
Protect Your Investment
Keen to take advantage of this fast growing sector? Here at No Letting Go, we supply a specially designed range of Build to Rent services to ensure compliant reporting, no matter the size of the development.
- Inventory management
- Property visits
- 360 virtual property photography for use in marketing, reporting and Build to Rent projects
- Check in and right to rent
- Legionella risk assessment and water testing
- Central account management for national, corporate or large regional clients
- Fully insured, qualified and professional clerks, surveyors and inspectors
- 24 hour turnaround for reports
With our national and local services you get consistency, accuracy and efficiency delivered by our 65 offices across the UK.
Find our full list of Build to Rent services here.
Finding a reliable removal company can be a challenge, and tenants often turn to their landlord or letting agent for advice at the end of a tenancy.
Providing quality recommendations for trusted tradespeople and services builds trust with tenants and means they’re more likely to pass on your details to friends and family.
In order to provide your tenants with reputable removals services, we explore what to look for when searching for a removal company and the benefits of using this service.
Do I Need a Removals Company?
If your tenant asks this question at the end of a tenancy, the answer is usually yes. Most people gather lots of belongings, even over the space of a year. When packing and transporting expensive items of furniture and fragile items, it can pay to leave it to the professionals.
Unless the property is very small, they are renting one room or rent a fully furnished property, it’s likely a professional removal service will be beneficial.
A professional removal service offers tenants;
- Time saving
- Safer packing and transportation of fragile items
- More van space
A professional removal service is even more important for families with lots of belongings and older tenants who may struggle to pack up their home.
How Do I Choose a Removal Company?
We’ve broken down finding the right removal company into a few simple steps;
The first consideration is location. Removal companies based locally to your rental properties are likely to be cheaper than those that have further to travel.
These companies could become part of a portfolio of recommended tradespeople and services you can offer to your tenants.
One of the first places to go for local removal companies is a comparison site. Here, you will find a list of trusted traders and you will be able to filter your search results to find relevant companies more quickly.
Searching by price point, location and reviews can help narrow down your search.
The next step once you have found a few possible candidates is to check removal quotes. Most tenants will be searching for the most affordable option, so if you can recommend a reasonable company they should be happy customers.
Try to get at least three different quotes for the same move, with each cost broken down into insurance, packing, hourly rate, mileage and storage.
We’ve all heard disaster stories of rogue movers damaging expensive furniture or losing sentimental items, and tenants won’t be happy if your recommendation goes wrong.
Once you have narrowed down the search further, it’s time to check the customer reviews. Sometimes, companies are cheap for a reason, and you should be able to weed out any unreliable movers from the reviews online.
How do I Find a Reputable Moving Company?
We’ve got some top tips on how to spot a quality removal company you can rely on;
Ask for Recommendations
Word of mouth can be a powerful tool for finding reliable tradespeople and services.
Have any of your friends or family moved home recently? They may have their own recommendations to offer. It’s also worth checking which removal companies local letting agents recommend.
Have They Been Regulated?
An easy way to determine whether a removal firm is trustworthy, is to check whether they are a member of any regulatory boards or associations.
Check if the company is a member of The British Association of Removers (BAR), a regulatory body which ensures professional excellence. With lists of residential and commercial movers, all companies listed have been tested to industry standards.
Questions to Ask the Movers
Before you recommend a removal company to your tenant, ask these questions first;
- How long has the company been operating?
- Do you offer pre move surveys?
- Do you offer storage facilities?
- Do your quotes include insurance?
- Is a packing service included?
- Is parking on moving day included?
- What is your delay policy?
- Do you ask for any additional removal costs?
Having all the important information to hand is of great use for busy tenants and will make a great impression long term.
How Much Notice Do Removal Companies Need?
The process of getting an initial quote for moving house, the subsequent survey, finding an available date and getting all of the documents in order can take several weeks. It’s a good idea to remind tenants of this as it comes nearer to the end of their tenancy so they can be fully prepared on moving day.
What is the Average Cost of Removals?
The cost of using a professional removals company is dependent on several factors;
- The number and size of the items being transported
- The distance between properties
- Size of the removals team on the day
- Whether it includes packing and packing materials
The Movers and Storers Show
Another way to find reputable moving companies is to attend an industry event such as the Movers and Storers Show.
This year, the show is taking place in Coventry, 19th-20th November and is a convenient place to find trusted partners.
The Importance of Trusted Property Partners
Reputation is important in the lettings industry. If a tenant has a positive moving experience thanks to your recommendation, they are more likely to consider your services in the future and give positive recommendations to friends and family.
That goes for all services you use to manage the rental properties in your portfolio.
Here at No Letting Go, we offer a range of professional services to help landlords and letting agents manage their portfolios and stay on top of their responsibilities.
From property inventory to property visits, our services are designed to protect your investment for the long term.
Browse our full list of property inventory services here to find out how we can help.
The number of older tenants in the private rental sector is growing. Factors such as a rising elderly population along with the cost and effort of property maintenance is making older people turn to rental properties in their later years.
The benefits of renting to elderly tenants are plentiful. From longer tenancy agreements to reliability, we explore these advantages, along with the factors landlords and letting agents need to consider to meet their needs.
The Benefits of Renting to Elderly Tenants
Focusing on elderly groups as your target tenant can bring great advantages to landlords and letting agents;
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.
Anyone who has worked within the lettings industry will understand the importance of a thorough inventory for rental properties.
And when landlords skip this vital step, major issues can occur. If you’re left facing serious damage at the end of a tenancy without the proper reports, you may lose out on thousands of pounds.
We explore the power of inventories by highlighting a recent high-profile case featuring a former pop star and £70,000 worth of damage.
Do I Need An Inventory?
Without a detailed inventory, you could be left having to repair damage out of your own pocket. We’ve created a simple guide on the key components to include and why they’re necessary;
Property Management Inventory Checklist
An inventory report must include the following key components;
- A record of meter readings and keys provided
- The condition and cleanliness of each room, including appliances, fixtures and fittings
- A record of the condition of the garden, including any damage
- A signature from the tenant confirming they agree with the contents of the report
- A record of the condition of the mattresses if fully furnished
- Date & time stamped photos of the property and its contents
It must also include essential safety points;
- A record of furniture and furnishing fire safety labels
- Evidence that the Smoke and CO alarms comply with legislation (working order & correct placement)
- A record of loose or frayed carpets, cracked glass or windows, missing keys and inoperable locks
Check Out Report
In addition to the initial inventory report and schedule of condition that takes place when a tenant moves into a rental property, you will also need a check out report when they move out at the end of the tenancy.
Following the final inspection, the check out report should;
- Include a detailed record of the condition of the property
- Clearly show how the property has changed throughout the tenancy (in combination with the initial check in report)
- Include recommended actions for landlords and tenants
This report provides a vital benchmark to help assess any changes to the property from the start of the tenancy to the end.
If any deposit disputes arise, these reports should provide clear evidence to help landlords get a fair return on any losses or repairs required.
Top Reasons for Tenancy Deposit Disputes
Some of the main reason’s disputes occur include;
- Cleaning 54%
- Damage 49%
- Decoration 31%
- Rent 20%
- Gardening 16%
Dealing with Deposit Disputes
The security deposit taken at the start of a tenancy is considered the tenant’s money. This means that it can be tricky for landlords to withhold the deposit in response to damage or loss without significant evidence.
You will need to prove there is damage to your rental property above normal wear and tear in order to claim on the deposit.
That’s why poorly compiled inventory reports are one of the most common reasons landlords lose disputes.
Tip: Always enter the deposit into a tenancy deposit protection scheme as this is a legally required step!
Celebrity Rental Drama: The Power of Inventories
To demonstrate our point, we’ve got a high profile case study in which a property rental disaster was averted thanks to comprehensive inventory reports.
Former En-Dubz star and X Factor Judge, Tulisa Contostavlos was recently ordered to pay over £70,000 worth in damage to the landlord of her former luxury rental property.
Reported damage to the luxury North London flat included a smashed sink, cigarette burns, stains and doors ripped from hinges. Despite arguing that the damage was normal wear and tear, she was ordered to pay compensation, interest and legal costs to her former landlord.
Key to this case was the presence of a thorough and professional inventory and check-out report.
Clearly, a high rental value is no protection against severe damage, so no matter which end of the market you’re positioned in, covering your back is essential if you want to recover your costs.
Looking for help managing your portfolio of rental properties in London? Find a list of our No Letting Go London offices.
What is Fair Wear and Tear?
It can be problematic working out what is considered fair wear and tear as it differs case by case. Some examples of fair wear and tear include;
- Small scuff marks on walls
- Naturally worn down carpets
- Frayed fabrics
- Faded curtains
- Carpet indentations
However, when we talk about damage this could include;
- Broken locks or doors
- Burn marks or large carpet stains
- Holes in the walls
- Broken windows or furniture
- Poorly painted walls
One of the easiest ways to determine the difference is by commissioning a professional inventory clerk to visit the property and make a detailed report, including photographic imagery at the start of the tenancy.
How To Protect Your Rental Property from Damage
There are a few more steps you can take to protect your rental property;
Regular Property Inspections
Target Long Term Tenants
In addition, targeting long-term tenants who are more likely to treat the property as their home will help to avoid intentional damage.
Keep it Simple
Keep decoration simple and ensure your property is thoroughly clean at the start of the tenancy to avoid any future disputes.
Avoid the Risks with A Professional Inventory Service
You’ve heard the warning, now it’s time to cover your back. One of the easiest ways to protect your investment as a landlord or letting agent is to commission a professional inventory company to undertake comprehensive inventory reports and checks.
Our independent inventory clerks across the country are experienced at providing essential reports, checks and visits to help you stay protected from move in date up until the end of the tenancy agreement.
To find out how we could help, browse our list of professional property inventory services to get started.
With recent changes in regulations and unstable house prices, is property still a good investment?
If you’re looking for a long-term investment, buy-to-let property can still provide rewarding returns.
We explore the benefits and drawbacks of buy-to-let investments to help you decide whether expanding your portfolio or becoming a first-time landlord is still worth the risk.
Buy-To-Let Investment: The Risks
We would be lying if we said investing in property was completely risk-free. It’s important to understand the risks involved before making any big investments.
Here’s a look at some of the potential risks currently facing the buy-to-let sector;
Unstable Property Prices
With Brexit on the horizon, no one can be entirely certain what the after-effects will do to the UK property market. If house prices fall, you may lose out on money if you decide to sell.
However, this works both ways. If the property market experiences an uplift post-Brexit, as it often does after slow periods, your investment worth could grow by a significant amount.
Stamp Duty Changes
The changes to stamp duty made in 2016 mean that landlords now have to pay up to 3% more on buy-to-let properties. This can greatly increase your initial outgoings so needs to be factored into the decision-making process.
However, this doesn’t apply to first-time, buy-to-let buyers who can pay the standard home mover rates instead.
Reduction to Tax Relief
A new tax system is being phased in, and by 2020, buy-to-let landlords will no longer be able to deduct any mortgage interest payment from their rental income before paying tax.
These changes mean most landlords will be paying higher tax on their rental properties and may even find they move up a tax bracket.
Unfortunately, void periods can happen, and are sometimes out of your control. Extended void periods can negatively affect your annual returns and are best avoided.
To prevent void periods, there are some simple steps you can take;
- Invest in quality marketing
- Keep up with maintenance
- Think about your target tenant
- Ensure compliance with current health and safety obligations
Investing in Residential Property: The Rewards
When you get it right, buying residential property to rent can still be a profitable investment. Here, we explore some of the benefits;
HMO Properties: Higher Rental Yields
Investing in an HMO property is a good way to see larger returns on your investment.
An HMO property is shared by multiple people or ‘households’, and according to Property Investment UK, can provide rental yields up to three times higher than single lets.
With the demand for shared housing continuing to grow in cities and student towns, investing in property with the idea of renting it as an HMO remains a solid investment.
Location: Maximising Returns
When looking for a stable investment property, location remains key.
While larger cities in the North such as Manchester and Liverpool are currently experiencing an uplift in local housing markets, some areas of London are slowing down.
Finding the right rental market in an up-and-coming area will improve your chances of enjoying a higher rental yield.
For example, properties in larger University towns make a great investment for student landlords as there is a steady supply of students looking for housing.
To get a better idea of where to invest now, the following areas have been tipped as providing a solid investment;
Look for areas with a younger population who haven’t yet stepped a foot onto the property ladder and areas with good transport links into popular areas.
Long Term Rewards
As long as you’re willing to exercise patience, investing in buy-to-let property still brings with it worthwhile, long-term rewards.
The security of a steady income flow and the possibility of inflation provides a solid return on investment and a safety net for retirement.
The Brexit Effect: Should I Be Worried?
Due to Brexit uncertainty, many people have delayed selling or buying a home. But that shouldn’t necessarily put you off investing in buy-to-let property.
The UK population is growing, and people still need homes to live in. In fact, as first-time buyers are thinking twice, the demand for renting may even rise in the short term.
Although it’s hard to predict, unstable house prices and rising mortgage rates could result in a higher number of people looking to rent, allowing private landlords to enjoy a stable rental market.
Either way, the residential property market continually experiences ups and downs, meaning that quiet periods don’t usually stay quiet for long.
Look After Your Investment with No Letting Go
If you’re thinking of investing in buy-to-let, it’s vital to have all of your documents and property checks in order.
Here at No Letting Go, we help landlords, letting agents and property professionals alike manage their portfolio by providing reliable inventory reports and other essential services.
From check-in services to property appraisals, discover our wide range of professional property inventory services to see how we could help protect your investment.
With several types of tenancies out there, the variations can get confusing for new tenants and landlords. So, what is a periodic tenancy?
Periodic tenancies can offer great benefits, including increased flexibility and less paperwork. However, they aren’t without their drawbacks.
That’s why we’ve created this guide on the risks and rewards of periodic tenancies, to help you make an informed decision before drawing up a contract.
What is a Periodic Tenancy Agreement?
A periodic tenancy is a tenancy that runs for a certain period of time, most commonly month to month. Periodic tenancies can also run on a week to week or quarterly basis, although this is less common.
Unlike fixed term tenancies, periodic tenancies work as a rolling contract which can be terminated by landlord or tenant by giving notice.
Types of Tenancy Agreements
Tenancies can come in all shapes and sizes, depending on the terms and conditions of the agreement. However, here are the most common types of tenancies you’re likely to come across;
Assured Shorthold Tenancy
Assured shorthold tenancies are the most common and apply to most private rentals with a tenancy date starting after 15 January 1989. Most assured shorthold tenancies begin with a fixed period of 6 or 12 months.
Non-Assured Shorthold Tenancy
If your rental property demands less than £250 or more than £100,000 in rent per year or it is used as a holiday home, it won’t be eligible for an assured tenancy. This means you don’t have to enter the tenant’s deposit into a protection scheme or serve a section 21 notice to evict tenants.
It is unlikely you’ll need an assured tenancy these days unless you are a housing association. This type of tenancy gives the tenant longer-term stability.
Sometimes referred to as a license, excluded tenancies are for tenants who lodge with their landlord and share communal areas.
If a tenancy started before 15 January 1989 it may be a regulated tenancy. The difference being that tenants have enhanced rights when it comes to eviction and ‘fair rent’.
When renting to companies, different rules apply in terms of deposit protection and eviction notices.
Fixed Term Tenancy
A fixed term tenancy lasts for an agreed set of time, depending on what is set out in the tenancy agreement. Usually this will be 12 months.
Short-Term Fixed Tenancy
A short-term fixed tenancy lasts for 90 days or less.
A periodic tenancy works on a rolling basis with no fixed end date. E.g. month by month.
What is a Statutory Periodic Tenancy?
A statutory periodic tenancy occurs when an assured shorthold tenancy comes to the end of its fixed term and the tenant stays at the property without renewing the contract. If the tenant continues to pay rent and it is accepted by the landlord, the tenancy will continue on a periodic, rolling basis.
This transition from fixed term assured shorthold tenancy to statutory periodic tenancy is automatic.
What is a Contractual Periodic Tenancy?
A contractual periodic tenancy differs in that it is agreed in the tenancy contract as opposed to automatically transitioning from a fixed term into a periodic tenancy. This can either be agreed upon at the start of the tenancy or shortly before the fixed term contract expires.
It is also possible to enter into a periodic tenancy from the outset by setting the initial term as one month or week.
How Does a Periodic Tenancy Work?
While a fixed term tenancy lasts for an agreed set of time, a periodic tenancy works on a rolling basis, from month to month or week to week. It doesn’t end until one party gives notice.
In a periodic tenancy, the period depends on when the rent is paid by the tenant. So, in a monthly period tenancy the tenant would pay rent each month.
Shorthold tenancies become periodic tenancies after the fixed term agreement expires and if there is no new contract drawn up with the remaining tenants. The assured shorthold tenancy will automatically become a periodic tenancy as long as the tenants do not change, and they are happy to retain the same contract. The same conditions will apply and there is no further action needed by the landlord or tenant.
Ending a Periodic Tenancy
To end a periodic tenancy, there are several legal processes that can take place;
- Both landlord and tenant mutually agree to end the tenancy
- The landlord decides to evict the tenant
- The tenant gives notice
- The landlord gives notice
Periodic Tenancy Notice: Tenants
To end a periodic tenancy, tenants will need to give the right amount of notice depending on the terms stated in the tenancy agreement. They also need to ensure it ends on the right day. For example, if a monthly periodic tenancy began on 1st January it will need to end on the last or the 1st day of the month. From this date, they will no longer be liable for rent payments.
Statutory Periodic Tenancy Notice
If it is a statutory periodic tenancy, tenants must give at least 1 months’ notice for a monthly contract or at least 4 weeks’ notice for a weekly contract. The notice must end on the first or last day of the tenancy period.
Periodic Tenancy Notice Period: Landlords
Landlords must give tenants a written ‘notice to quit’ which must end on the last day of the rental period, give the minimum notice period and include legal information.
For statutory periodic tenancies, it is also possible for landlords to issue a section 21 notice as long as the landlord gives the tenant at least two months’ notice and the last day is the last day of the tenancy period. If the tenant does not move out on this date, landlords have the right to request a court order to regain possession. However, changes to the law regarding section 21 notices now require a landlord to give their reasoning, alongside relevant evidence.
Benefits of a Periodic Tenancy for Landlords
A periodic tenancy can have wide-ranging benefits for both landlord and tenant, including;
- Increased flexibility. If you suddenly need to regain possession of your property, a periodic tenancy speeds up this process as you don’t have to wait until the end of a fixed period.
- Attracting tenants. For some tenants, this flexibility is a bonus. If your tenant moves a lot for work or often needs to relocate suddenly, a periodic tenancy becomes appealing.
- Reduced letting agency fees. Periodic tenancies can dispel the need for renewals and the administration costs that come with them.
- If for any reason you need to increase the rent, this is made a lot easier by periodic tenancies. Revisions to rent payments can be made much more quickly when operating on a month by month basis.
- If you are having issues with a particular tenant, a periodic tenancy may be in your favour as you are better able to evict problem tenants as a last resort.
Risks of Periodic Tenancies for Landlords
With these advantages also come risks. If you’re thinking of entering into a periodic tenancy, watch out for the following potential dangers;
- Naturally, periodic tenancies are more likely to attract tenants looking for shorter, more transient leases. If it’s stability you’re after, you may want to think twice.
- Similarly, shorter term tenants can cost more in terms of marketing and vetting potential new tenants to replace them.
- With 1 month or less notice periods, you don’t have a long turnaround time if a tenant decides to move out unexpectedly. You will need to have end of tenancy cleaning and maintenance processes finely tuned so as not to lose out.
- If your tenant moves out during a ‘notice to quit’ period, you may be liable for paying council tax for the property. To avoid this situation, make sure you have a contractual periodic tenancy agreement in place to ensure this remains the tenant’s responsibility.
Periodic Tenancies: Good Idea?
Periodic tenancies can be a good idea as they offer increased flexibility for both landlord and tenant and can reduce the number of administrative tasks needed throughout a tenancy.
However, to protect your investment, we recommend;
- Always drawing up a contractual periodic tenancy agreement. This way you have all the agreed terms in writing and won’t be liable for council tax payments if your tenant moves out unexpectedly.
- Getting your property marketing up to scratch to attract new tenants and avoid extended void periods.
- Making sure you have all the processes in place for a speedy turnaround to avoid any losses. This includes;
- A detailed and fuss-free inventory report is vital when you’re dealing with potentially shorter tenancies. Having a streamlined process in place will help protect you against loss or damage and help recover any costs without going through lengthy disputes.
Be Prepared with No Letting Go
The easiest way to protect your investment and maintain a happy landlord/tenant relationship is to entrust a comprehensive, unbiased inventory reporting service.
Here at No Letting Go, we provide a tailor-made service, including everything from check-in to property visits.
Find out more about our property services to see how we could build them into a package that suits you.