What if you could take away the hassle of chasing tenants for signatures? Obtaining your tenants signature is a vital part of the inventory process. By automating this process, you could save yourself some time and even money.
So, what is DigiSign? And how can this automated check-in service benefit landlords and property professionals?
We take a closer look at this service to give you the full picture.
What Is DigiSign Software?
Digisign automated check-in is a service that allows us to collect electronic signatures from your tenants. This web-based signing process makes inventory signing and management even easier for all parties, allowing for remote digital signage and automated reminders.
How Does DigiSign Work?
Our DigiSign process is simple. The software will send a reminder to your tenant via email or text message, notifying them that they are required to sign the inventory report. As the landlord or property manager, you will also receive a notification for each tenant reminder sent out.
Next, the tenant follows the online link to the electronic documents where they can add their digital signatures at the touch of a button. The tenant is also able to make their own comments and add pictures directly into the report at this stage. This collaborative process can help prevent any disputes over inventories when it comes to the end of the tenancy.
Any additions are verified by us before returning the report to you.
Using the DigiSign service, we can even send automated reminders to your tenant if they fail to sign first time. The method and frequency of these can be tailored specifically to your needs. This completely removes the frustrating and laborious task of chasing tenants for signatures.
If the tenant fails to respond to these reminders, there’s no need to worry. We will deem the report accepted and will notify the tenant.
The Benefits of Automated Check-In Systems
This automated inventory service comes with a range of advantages, benefiting both landlord and tenant;
- Inventories are automatically sent out for signing according to your specific limit
- You and the tenant can make amendments online
- Queries can be managed online by us
- Text or email reminders can be sent out to tenants to speed up replies
- Tenants are able to sign the inventory remotely, using an online link
- Increased visibility for landlords, property professionals and tenants throughout the process
- This flexible system can be tailored to your needs
- Automation saves time and effort
- Reduces the chance of human error
- You’ll never have to chase a tenant for their signature again!
These benefits help to free up your time for more important things, helping you to manage your portfolio with minimal hassle.
Streamlining the Property Inventory Process
Having a detailed, professional property inventory report in place at the start of a tenancy is vital when it comes to protecting your investment and recovering any necessary costs when the tenancy comes to an end.
By making these services as easy as possible through automation, we aim to increase efficiency in your business, helping you on the path to success.
To maximise the potential of property technology, why not take advantage of Kaptur Inventory Software – a program designed with busy property professionals in mind. Kaptur provides the most efficient way to collect, prepare, report on and manage information through its flexible system.
This includes easy user experience, 24/7 customer support and custom reports tailored to you and your business needs. For inventory reports, this means branded digital documentation, embedded photos and professional templates as a start.
Why Choose No Letting Go?
Helping landlords, letting agents and property professionals manage their workload and protect their investment is what we do every day.
We offer a range of services to make your life easier, including;
- 360 virtual photography
- Floor plans
- Property appraisals
- House viewings
- Smoke and CO checks & reports
- Legionella risk assessments
- Right to rent checks
- Mid-term reports
- Check-out reports
- Abandonment notices
If you’d like to find out more about our property inventory services, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Do you own or manage property in the London area? Whether it’s a single rental property or a large portfolio of flats and houses, it helps to have a professional team behind you ensuring things run smoothly.
With over 65 UK offices, we offer professional property inventory services throughout London and the surrounding areas.
Looking for property inventory in London? We’ve gathered a list of our London offices to help you find your local No Letting Go branch.
What is a Property Inventory?
An inventory is a legal document providing an accurate record of the contents and condition of a property at the start of a tenancy.
Property Inventory reports can include written and photographic evidence to protect landlords and tenants alike. A professional inventory service helps landlords recover costs to cover damage and repairs by determining how much money is deducted from the deposit.
A comprehensive, quality inventory report can even help settle disputes at the end of a tenancy by providing unbiased evidence.
What is an Inventory Check-In?
An inventory check-in is simply the process of the inventory being taken and provided to the tenant by the inventory clerk or landlord at the start of a tenancy. Usually, the tenant is given a short period to check the property before signing.
A check-out report then determines any changes made to the property between the start and end of the tenancy.
When Should Inventory Be Done?
The best time to schedule an inventory is immediately before the start of a tenancy. This means that the report will provide the most accurate representation of the cleanliness and condition of the property on move-in day.
Do Landlords Have to Provide Inventory?
While there is no legal requirement for a landlord to provide an inventory, it is highly recommended.
When claiming against a deposit, it is the landlord’s responsibility to prove that the tenant has damaged the property. Without a high-quality inventory report, this becomes a lot harder to justify and conflicts can arise.
For this reason, having the protection of an inventory report undertaken by independent inventory clerks is essential if your tenant decides to contest any deductions taken.
Our Property Services at a Glance
Property inventory is just one of the wide-ranging professional services we offer. Here’s a taste of what working with us could provide;
- Inventory management
- Check in services
- Right to rent checks
- Property visits and inspections
- Check out services
- Dilapidation reports
- House viewings
- Floor plans
- Property appraisals
- 360 virtual photography
- Health & Safety reports
- Real time support
Now we’ve covered the basics, let’s look at the No Letting Go property inventory services, London and where to find them;
Property Inventory West London
Looking for property management services near you? Here’s a list of our No Letting Go offices in West London:
Letting Go Uxbridge
The Uxbridge office is run by John Farrell, an experienced inventory and property reporting specialist, with great local knowledge.
Their DigiSign feature enables the collection of digital signatures with automated reminders, meaning no more chasing up tenants!
48 Drayton Grove, London W13 0LA, UK
Office Tel: 07889 996922
Property Inventory Services in East London
For landlords, letting agents and property professionals in the East London area, here’s where you can find our services:
No Letting Go Romford & Docklands
Lead up by Patur Mohan, the Romford and Docklands Inventory services cover Romford, Ilford, Dagenham and the Docklands.
Offering a professional, reliable check-in/check-out service to help safeguard your property, this branch is dedicated to helping businesses and landlords protect their investment.
Office Tel: 07544 466617
No Letting Go Stratford & Newnham
The No Letting Go Stratford & Newham team are headed up by Mundeep and Satinder Grewal.
Covering Stratford, Royal Docks, Gallions Reach, East Ham, Canning Town, Plaistow, Beckton and Forest Gate, the team offers everything from inventory management to Smoke and CO inspection.
London Borough of Newham, UK
Office Tel: 0207 760 7569
Property Inventory North London
For rental properties in the North of London, we have the following branches:
No Letting Go Barnet
With Mitchell and Gabriella Walters at the helm, No Letting Go Barnet is committed to providing detailed reports tailored to their client’s needs. With over 7 years in the property industry, Mitchell is passionate about representing his clients out in the market.
This branch covers North London, St Johns Wood, Swiss Cottage, Hampstead, Highgate, Finchley, Barnet, Hendon, Willesden, Cricklewood, Muswell Hill, Edgeware and Borehamwood.
41 High St, Barnet EN5 5UW, UK
Office Tel: 0845 139 1400 / 07761 236340 / 07811 209773
No Letting Go Enfield
Also run by the Mitchells, No Letting Go Enfield covers the following areas;
Enfield, East Barnet, Stoke Newington, Seven Sisters, Tottenham, Edmonton, Southgate, Welwyn Garden City, Stevenage, Winchmore Hill, South Woodford and Ilford.
41 High St, Barnet EN5 5UW, UK
Office Tel: 0845 139 1400 / 07761 236340 / 07811 209773
No Letting Go Islington & Camden
Chris Ford has been busy building a strong, highly trained team around him at the Islington and Camden property inventory company. With over 23 years in the retail industry, Chris is dedicated to providing a high level of customer service.
This branch covers; Islington, Kings Cross, Haringey, Harringay, Hornsey, Upper Holloway, Archway, Crouch End, Camden, Highgate, Hampstead Heath, Holloway, Barnsbury, Tufnell Park, Highbury and Highbury Fields.
48 Weavers Way, London NW1 0XE, UK
Office Tel: 07415 087316
No Letting Go Walthamstow
Walthamstow property inventory services are owned and operated by Ann Ennis who has over 45 years of experience in the property industry. The team prides itself on providing a smooth service to free up time for property professionals.
This branch covers Walthamstow, Leyton and Leytonstone.
Bramley Close, London E17 6EG, UK
Office Tel: 07854 966621
Property Inventory Services South London
For landlords and letting agents looking for help managing their portfolios in South London, here’s who to turn to:
No Letting Go Battersea
Owned by Rafi Khan, the Battersea No Letting Go franchise pride themselves on going the extra mile for customers and will always try and accommodate last minute bookings.
Covering SW11 & SW18, the team provide wide-ranging services such as property visits and Legionella Risk Assessments.
12 Saint Olaves Road, London E6 2PA, UK
Office Tel: 07863 357196
No Letting Go Bromley & Bexley
Abby Chilvers has worked in the housing sector for most of his life, including social housing and housing associations in London.
The Bromley and Bexley No Letting Go team are the people to go to for professional, tailor made reports.
Areas covered; Bromley, Bickley, Downham, Keston, Shortlands, Hayes, Beckenham, Eden Park, Elmers End, West Wickham, Orpington, Petts Wood, St Paul’s Cray, St Mary Cray, Chelsfield, Green St Green, Chislehurst, Swanley, Bexley, Albany Park, Sidcup and Foots Cray.
The Glades, Bromley, High St, Bromley, UK
Office Tel: 07956 676 120
No Letting Go Croydon
The Croydon property inventory services branch is run by Sean Rieder and provides detailed reports, designed to protect landlords in the event of a dispute.
Covering Croydon, South Croydon, Mitcham, Warlingham, Purley, Streatham, Norbury, Thornton heath and Furzedown.
Beckenham Rd, Beckenham BR3 4RL, UK
Office Tel: 07889 634974
No Letting Go Fulham
Yosha Hussain leads the No Letting Go Fulham office, providing inventory services to all letting agents, property management companies, estate agents, councils, commercial letting agents, housing associations and landlords in and around the Fulham area.
Covering SW6 & W14.
67c Holland Road, London W14 8HL, UK
Office Tel: 07885 727265
No Letting Go Greenwich
From inventory management to smoke and CO reports and installation, Shewana Zaffar is more than happy to discuss your needs as an agent or landlord at the Greenwich No Letting Go branch.
This branch covers Greenwich, Woolwich, Plumstead, Blackheath and Thamesmead.
Tarnwood Park, London SE9 5PA, UK
Office Tel: 07581 248953
No Letting Go Richmond
Syed and Zoofa Wasti own the Richmond No Letting Go office, providing Kingston, Richmond, Staines, Chiswick, Ealing, Surbiton, New Malden, Hounslow, Feltham, Kew, Teddington, Hampton, Worcester Park, East Molesey, Roehampton and Barnes with professional property services.
London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, UK
Office Tel: 07880 343851
No Letting Go Southwark
Richard Seymour has a breadth of experience within the lettings industry and comes highly recommended by clients for his professional, reliable team at Southwark.
Covering Southwark, London Bridge, Shad Thames, Borough, Tower Bridge, Waterloo, The Southbank, Elephant and Castle, Old Kent Road, East Dulwich, Camberwell, Denmark Hill, Peckham, Herne Hill and Nunhead.
London Borough of Southwark, UK
Office Tel: 0207 237 6666
No Letting Go Sutton & Merton
No Letting Go Sutton & Merton is owned & operated by Garry Lockwood. As a landlord, Garry understands the importance of a detailed inventory and takes pride in his team’s thorough, common-sense approach.
Covering Ashstead, Carshalton, Cheam, Epsom, Leatherhead, Merton, Morden, Raynes Park, Wallington, Wimbledon and surrounding areas.
Grove Rd, Sutton SM1 2AP, UK
Office Tel: 0202 8234 6189 / 07905 619060
Property Inventory Services in Central London
And last but not least, here’s where you can find out property inventory services in and around central London.
No Letting Go City West End
Luke Marriott leads the No Letting Go City West End office, which offers inventory services and 360 virtual tours to all estate agents, holiday rentals and management companies.
The City West End branch covers the following areas; Victoria, Pimlico, Belgravia, Chelsea, Kensington, Mayfair, Marylebone, Whitehall, Fizrovia, Bloomsbury, Covent Garden, West End, Clerkenwell, Islington, City of London, Shoreditch and Hackney.
3c Great Ormond Street, London WC1N 3RA, UK
Office Tel: 0203 151 7027
How Can I Make My Inventory Easier?
From floor planning to mid-term inspections, No Letting Go can help you stay on top of your property portfolio, even on the go!
We use the latest Kaptur technology to provide comprehensive inventories including safety reports, fire furnishing requirements and meter readings to ensure you remain compliant with current regulations.
To discover the rest of our property services in London, visit our services page and find out how we can help.
The subject of lodger deposits has always been one of a great many grey areas for both landlords and tenants.
Given the fact that every penny of the deposit money technically belongs to the tenant or lodger, and that deposit disputes can take time and money, it is in everyone’s best interest to ensure both sides fully understand their rights and obligations.
From carrying out a comprehensive check-in inventory at move in, to knowing your rights as a landlord, letting agent or lodger – we explore how to negotiate the return of the lodger deposit.
What is the Difference Between a Lodger and a Tenant?
The difference between a lodger and a tenant is:
- A tenant pays rent and lives in a property you own but do not live in
- A lodger lives in the same property as you and pays rent
Negotiating the return of a deposit if you are a lodger, living in student halls or living at the same property as your landlord is a slightly different process to that of the standard rental property tenant.
The most important difference in regard to rights, is that landlords and letting agents are not required to place a lodger deposit into a deposit protection scheme.
In comparison, lodger agreements are called licenses rather than tenancy agreements and landlords are legally permitted to give a reasonable notice period anywhere from 14 days to 28 days. The time period should be set out in the original license and agreed upon by both landlord and lodger.
How Much Is A Deposit?
A standard lodger’s deposit tends to be one month’s rent. However, this isn’t fixed and some landlords and letting agents demand up to 6 weeks.
Negotiating the Return of a Lodger Deposit: First Steps
When the time comes to begin negotiating the return of a deposit, the first step is for the lodger to request the return in writing. Lodgers should write directly to the landlord and ask them to return the deposit, being sure to keep copies of all correspondence in both directions. You may be required to produce evidence of such requests at a later time, so it’s a good idea to hold onto them.
The best time to return the deposit to a former lodger is after they have moved out with their possessions and you have checked the room thoroughly for any damage.
Lodger Deposit Protection
What’s different about this particular scenario is the way in which lodgers are not considered short-hold tenants, which means the landlord is not under any legal requirement to protect deposits using an appropriate tenancy deposit scheme. This doesn’t necessarily affect lodger’s actual rights when it comes to the deposit in general but can affect the negotiation and deposit return processes.
Establish a Deadline
Most professional landlord inventory services in the UK agree that problems generally occur when lodgers are not direct and/or demanding enough when it comes to requesting what is rightfully theirs. If the deposit should have been returned but has not, the best course of action is to begin with a written request for its immediate return with a specified deadline – something like two weeks.
Lodgers can also take the opportunity to ask in the letter why the deposit has not yet been refunded, along with whether or not they can expect any deductions to be made and the respective reasons.
If unsure how to go about this, there are plenty of useful templates available online.
Lodger Deposit Disputes and Deductions
As a lodger landlord, you are required to clearly list and explain any deductions to be taken from the deposit. If you fully agree with your lodger that the deductions are fair, you can confirm your agreement and arrange for the remaining deposit to be refunded.
If deductions are made, though no breakdown or explanation is provided, lodgers can request that this is done urgently. And if there are any deductions you do not agree with, you may need to dispute the deposit.
What are Reasonable Deductions?
Landlords and letting agents can deduct money from the lodger’s deposit if the lodger has any outstanding rent or if they have caused any damage to their rented living space. Damage above the level of fair wear and tear could include damage or stains on furniture or furnishings or missing items from the inventory.
Lodger Agreement Deposit Return: Court Action
From time to time, disputes cannot be resolved through talking alone and you may find that your lodger takes court action. Lodgers can also claim online through the Courts & Tribunals Service.
For a claim to be successful, it will need plenty of documented evidence of attempts to recover the deposit manually, as well as evidence in regard to the condition of the rented space at check-out.
Landlords do have the option of making an offer before the case proceeds any further.
Don’t Skip the Inventory Report
One way to ensure the return of the lodger deposit goes smoothly, without resorting to the courts is to have a detailed inventory report in place.
- Provide evidence of the condition of the room or property at the start and end of the lodging period
- Provide evidence of the condition of furniture and furnishings
- Provide lodgers with check-out information to minimise disputes
If you’re a resident landlord or a letting agent looking to take the stress out of the inventory process, find out how No Letting Go can help with our wide range of property inventory services.
Everybody needs a home, right? Some purchase, others rent, and still others are content to live with family for the rest of their lives. It’s all good. Well, mostly anyway. Every housing arrangement has its pros and cons to deal with. Where renting is concerned, there are some unique advantages and disadvantages that only renters are familiar with.
From noisy neighbours to an uncooperative landlord, renters do have to stay on their toes. Here are the ten worst things about renting you may already be familiar with:
1. Absentee Landlords
Landlords are known to use all kinds of professional services to make their lives easier. They include letting agents, property management companies, and rental inventory services. UK landlords may utilise such services but still pay close attention to their properties. The same cannot be said for foreign landlords. Those who are not based here tend to be absentee landlords who do not necessarily put a lot of time and effort into the properties.
2. Risking Your Deposit
Few things are as frustrating to renters than having to fight to get the deposit back at the end of a tenancy. Disputes over deposits arise from disagreements over the condition of the property at the start and end of the lease. Renters can protect themselves by insisting on both a check-in and check-out. The landlord can contract with a flat inventory company to handle the details.
3. Limited Decorating Freedom
Landlords understandably want to limit the number of physical changes made to their properties so as to keep their maintenance and remodelling expenses as low as possible. But this often translates into limited decorating freedom for tenants. Therefore, renters have to be very creative in order to decorate without running afoul of the landlord’s property inventory check.
4. Potentially Obnoxious Neighbours
If there is one thing renters know all too well, it is that you can’t control your neighbours. You might end up with someone who is sweet as pie and a joy to have around. Then again, you might end up with an obnoxious neighbour whose dictionary doesn’t include the word ‘quiet’. These days it seems there are more obnoxious neighbours than nice ones.
5. Laundry Is a Hassle
Unless you live in a flat with an in-house washing machine included you will probably have to leave your unit to do your laundry elsewhere. Back at home, you may be limited in the amount of space you have to hang your wet laundry to dry. The long and short of it is that doing laundry in a flat is a hassle.
6. Limited Outdoor Space
Some people choose to rent because they do not want outdoor garden space to have to care for. For everyone else, a little outdoor space would be nice. Most flats don’t provide nearly enough, requiring tenants to go to parks and other public spaces just to get outdoors for a while.
7. Lack of Natural Lighting
Your average flat is not a wide open space with lots of windows letting in natural light. This is not good for someone who adores the sunshine and blue skies. But, you make do. Keep your blinds open as often as possible without compromising your privacy.
8. Appliances Can Be Questionable
What makes a fun conversation for a group of renters? Standing around and talking about appliances. One renter might be dealing with a cooker and refrigerator from the Thatcher era while another has appliances that are barely recognisable as such. You never know what you are going to get when you move to a new flat.
9. Mail and Packages
Standard mail is usually not a problem for renters on a day-to-day basis, but packages can be a real challenge. When no-one is home to accept a package, it could be left unattended in front of the door or held hostage by a neighbour or the leasing office. There is just no good way to receive packages if you are a renter living in a flat.
10. Limited Storage
The UK is not known for abundant personal storage even in the nicest of single-family homes. Storage is an even bigger problem for renters. They have to be extremely creative, using every bit of open space they can find. Thank goodness for storage beds and modular shelving!
So there you have it – the ten worst things about renting. There are, though, just as many ways to turn it around and make the most of your home.
Who among us does not appreciate the beautiful lights and festive decorations of Christmas? If you are the kind of person who likes to decorate for the holidays, this is the time of year when your creative juices can begin flowing. But wait. What if you rent a flat rather than owning your property, meaning that you have to consider flat rental inventory? Decorating for Christmas can be a bit more iffy.
Before you begin putting up the fairy lights and stockings, take a look at your lease agreement to see what it says. The agreement may include restrictions about how you can attach things to the walls; it might even stipulate whether or not you can bring a living pine tree into your residence. Once you know your restrictions, you have a good idea how to proceed and can rest in the knowledge that your property inventory checks will be okay at the lease’s end.
Artificial Christmas Trees
Smaller, artificial Christmas trees make it possible for you to have a tree without running afoul of restrictions on the living variety. What’s more, today’s artificial trees look more realistic than ever before. Many of them even come with fairy or berry lights already strung within the boughs and branches. You can easily add plastic and paper ornaments that are easy on the budget and much more safe than glass.
Choose LED Lights
Anyone planning to use holiday lighting in a rented property should seriously consider using LED lights. LED technology uses considerably less electricity and significantly reduces the risk of fire hazard. As always, make sure to read and understand the instructions that come with your light sets so as to not overload electrical sockets.
You can hang lights from curtain rails or attach them to larger furniture pieces. This enables you to string lights without having to damage walls. If your lease agreement allows it, you can buy suction cup hooks or adhesive hooks that use temporary, peel-away strips that do not damage walls.
Wreaths and Garlands
Wreaths and garlands are great holiday decorations you can put just about anywhere without the need to attach anything to the walls. Wreaths can be placed on the dining table with a few candles while a garland can be the wound around the staircase railing, a stand-up lamp, or your curtain rails. Garland also makes a very nice accessory for your Christmas tree. You can get it in a variety of colours and styles to suit your preference.
Window Decals and Stencils
Windows makes a great canvas for holiday decorations by way of decals and stencils. Window decals are made of vinyl so they easily stick to windows as long as the panes are clean. After the holidays, they peel right off with no damage done. If you prefer stencilling, you can create some gorgeous designs using a can of artificial spray-snow.
The stencilling idea is a bit more challenging but well worth the effort. And don’t worry about the spray-snow, it will wipe right off with some warm water and a towel. In the meantime, you can enjoy snowflakes and holiday messages glistening in the sunlight as it comes through your windows.
Another good way to put your windows to work is to create silhouette images using white paper. Attach the silhouettes with a little bit of sticky tape and you’re done. During the daylight hours the silhouettes are simple pictures people will enjoy as they pass by; at night they look fantastic against the background lighting of your room.
You can decorate for the holidays even if you live in a rented property. You just need to be a little creative and keep in mind what your lease agreement stipulates without worrying about letting inventories.
This article up from Property Drum by Operations Manager for ARLA, Ian Potter, further highlights how critical inventories with schedule of condition report have become.
With such large sums of money at stake, ARLA has called on tenants and landlords to consider the benefits of establishing a comprehensive property inventory check upon the commencement of a new let.
Ian Potter, Operations Manager of ARLA, said, “Deposit disputes can be one of the biggest problems for both parties involved in any rental property, and many potential issues can be avoided if a professional inventory is prepared.
“A licensed letting agent will offer you the best advice on checking to see if an existing inventory is available or whether any extra charges are invoked in drawing up a new document. A true inventory is not simply a list of items in a property – it also includes a description of the condition and cleanliness at the start and finish of the tenancy, enabling one to be compared against the other with clarity and accuracy.
“Photographs are a good support for comments made in a written inventory but should not be considered a replacement for the written word. Photographs which are unsigned and undated generally are not worth the effort, so make sure they are accepted at the outset and again at the check-out stage.”
Ian Potter said, “A well put-together inventory can give both landlords and tenants peace of mind throughout the occupation period. The inventory is not designed to catch tenants out, but rather to ensure both parties are in agreement over the quality of the property being rented.
“If conducted correctly, and agreed by both tenant and landlord, an inventory should form a key point of reference for any deposit-return queries or issues over reported damage. In recognition of the importance of inventories ARLA has its own sub division, the Association of Professional Inventory Providers, whose members have passed an accreditation exam as well as having a Code of Practice to follow.”
For Professional Inventory Management Services throughout the UK talk to No Letting Go, APIP members, who can provide all inventory management services including Inventory, Check In, Propert Visits and Check Outs with full dilapidations reports. Contact us on 0800 8815 366 or contact one of our local offices at www.nolettinggo.co.uk/contact
With student market nearly upon us, New Student Publications carried out an interesting straw survey on Student Landlord Problems
Different categories were addressed covering areas from unpaid rent to cleanliness issues.
Unpaid rent, filthy tenants and panicking about filling your properties for next year?
The results were astounding, with over 14% of landlords saying that their current biggest problem is just finding tenants to take their properties and fill in any gaps should someone drop out during a contract, with more than 2% feeling like they are struggling just to get viewings. One agent simply said “we have unlet properties remaining for July 2011, the situation is worse than in previous years” In a similar 2009 survey finding tenants was also the biggest problem raised by landlords.
Landlords cited dirty tenants as their second biggest problem, with 16% left to pick up massive cleaning bills, or called out at 4am to change a lightbulb. The general consensus was “students don’t take care of the property or make any effort to keep the house clean.” 3.5% of agents thought that students demanded a much higher standard of accommodation than ever before, although it seems that tenants are unwilling to take out contracts for a full twelve months, with one landlord struggling to get even shorter terms “the majority of people contact me to rent for one or two months.”
Pressure From Pupose Built Halls
Many of the landlords surveyed said that they felt increased pressure from new purpose built student villages found in many city centres; more than 8% of those surveyed would eradicate those villages if we gave them one wish! 2% of landlords are afraid that their properties were not close enough to ‘hotspots’ and so would soon be abandoned in favour of more central locations.
11% of businesses struggle with unpaid rent, while 2% note that this messes with their cash flow and although some are sympathetic to the issues caused by the Student Loans Company, most are fixed on the bigger picture; “a lot of time is spent chasing payment. Students seem to think that it is not always necessary for them to pay their rent.” This coupled with tenants excessively using all inclusive utilities means that businesses are less profitable. One landlord’s wish was simply that we could ‘undo the recession’ as 8 different landlords complained of increases to the cost of maintaining their properties to a decent standard.
Bogged down with HMO paperwork and expense? Over 18% of those surveyed would love to change or relax the regulations and the council powers to control them. One landlord stated; “there should be a national guide for HMO legislation.” Some landlords feel so strongly about HMO licensing that they named specific city councils or even actual councillors as their biggest fear for the future. 3 landlords said they had qualms about council schemes to shift populations from one area of a city to another, and how it would affect their business.
Worries Over Tuition Fee Increase
Landlords are worried about the tuition fee increase, with more than 14% saying that if they had one wish, they would fight the fees and leave the system as it stands, a worry which probably contributes to 13% of them saying that they feel the future of the market is uncertain, as some students may choose to stay at home to study. Competition from the university owned housing is a headache too, with 4% saying an increase in that sort of accommodation would be detrimental to their ability to let.
Problems With Advertising
Landlords raised the issue of advertising, when to do it and how the culture of marketing lets so early can damage the business, with nearly 5% of landlords thinking there should be a guideline that means property is marketed in January and not before. 4% thought university accommodation offices charged them too much for advertising, and 5% would like to see cheaper, and more effective advertising available to them.
Deposit Protection Unfair
Some landlords were concerned that the existing Deposit Protection Scheme did not offer them enough scope to reclaim money for damage to their properties. Eight separate landlords would like to see the entire system revised, with 1% of those surveyed listing it as their biggest problem. A case from the survey highlights the DPS’s flaws; “£1500 worth of damage but ex tenants refuse to give consent to DPS to pay the landlord.” And some feel that from a legal standpoint the law does not protect them, 3% of landlords would like to see more legislation to protect the financial interests of the landlord.
Worries Over The Potential Drop In Student Numbers
And what of the future of the student property market? More than half of those surveyed were very worried about the potential drop in student numbers next year, with one landlord summing up the problems this will create; “if student numbers drop because of the £9,000 a year course fees then we might see empty houses, lower rents or both.” A worry shared by 3% of those surveyed, who fear the contraction in the market will mean a forced reduction of rents, while other suggested offering shorter term contracts or starting to appeal to the housing benefit market was the only way to keep the business afloat.
No Problems At All
But this isn’t the full picture. Almost 9% of those surveyed have no major problems with the lettings market, their tenants or filling their properties. One landlord is more than happy with his tenants; “we enjoy our students. We pride ourselves in helping them learn how to care for and run the house. We regard them as ‘professionals-in-training’ and teach them what they should reasonably expect from a landlord and what they should reasonably do as a tenant.” One respondent would use a magic wand to change the public’s attitude towards students; “they tend to live in larger houses that are too big for modern families and therefore almost act as guardians for some of our most impressive architecture. They should be seen as a positive part of any community.”
|Top 5 biggest fears for the future||Number of responses||Percentage|
|Fewer students in the future||101||54%|
|Legislation increasing workload||15||8%|
|Unpaid rent due to fees||10||5%|
|Universities moving into market||8||4%|
|Top 5 current biggest problems||Number of responses||Percentage|
|Uncertainty for the future||49||13.1%|
No Letting Go are working with a number of student letting agents and bodies around the UK to help protect both landlords and tenants from many of the issues arising from cleanliness and deposit protection. Better use of Inventory services, checking tenants in, property visits and managing the check out is critical to ensuring that potential problems are dealt with in advance and issues arising from check outs are dealt with quickly and efficiently. Contact No Letting Go on 0800 881 5366 or find your nearest office at www.nolettinggo.co.uk
Compiled by Emma Parker New Student – Student Housing Magazines – www.newstudent.co.uk
TDS state that the following percentage awards (in terms of deposits held) were made during 2010
Percentage of awards made to tenant – 56%
Percentage of awards made to landlord – 42%
Percentage of awards made to agents – 2%
The lack of landlord generated accurate paperwork seems to still be a problem.
TDS state that in 2009/10 the top three causes of disputes were as follows:
Cleaning – found in 46% of complaints
Damage – found in 29% of complaints
Redecoration – found in 24% of complaints
I read a great article written for Upad this week….if you missed it then here it is. It is always good to remember the basics.
The Buy-to-Let boom is unlikely to return any time soon. A serious lack of good deals from BTL mortgage lenders is compounded by a distinct absence of confidence right now. But it does look like those green shoots of optimism are starting to appear again and 2011 may well be the year when a little cheer returns for budding Buy to Let landlords.
Tenant demand has never been stronger and banks say they want to lend again. Combine that with rising rents in many areas and a housing market that continues to splutter, and you’d be right to think that now is a good time to reconsider a Buy to Let investment.
And invest is the key word. Buying to let is just another way of getting your capital to work as hard as it possibly can for you in order to generate returns. How you do that is up to you. Perhaps you want the boost of a monthly rental income from a property. Or you could fancy a longer term punt and hope to rake in the cash when you sell the property some way down the line. But whatever your intentions, make sure you don’t make any of the common errors that often put a Buy to Let landlord’s investment at risk.
Don’t spend too much for too little return.
Calculate what you can afford and take into account all the expenses of being a landlord. Don’t overstretch yourself. Be realistic about your finances and take professional advice on taking out an appropriate mortgage. Consider future interest rates. Over the next few years, interest rate rises are inevitable. Don’t be caught out: will your investment be as attractive if any mortgage payments you make rise dramatically?
Being a landlord also attracts all manner of expenses and they can sometimes come out of the blue. Ensure that you can afford them and also that they don’t dent the profitability of your investment. In a rented flat, the boiler could go kaput at considerable expense or a service charge bill could come out of the blue. Expect the unexpected.
Remember that your rental income might occasionally be reduced. Tenants might miss the rent and get into arrears or you could experience voids between tenants when the property isn’t generating any revenue. Ensure that you should mitigate against these and that you can afford to keep going through the leaner times.
Don’t forget to “futureproof” your investment.
Many landlords come a cropper because they spot a cracking property at a great price and just go for it. Don’t forget Elvis: only fools rush in. With a little local research, you might discover why the property is such a bargain. Is the location up to scratch? Is crime a problem? Is a new motorway just about to plough through the local nature reserve? Maybe a supermarket is planned for the end of the road? It doesn’t take much nous to do some research and understand what’s happening in the area. A bargain property is always a bargain for a reason. Just make sure that some third-party development isn’t going to blight your enterprise.
Buy for your tenants, not yourself.
Channel your inner Vulcan, disengage your emotions and buy a property that will generate a fine return. That’s the challenge Don’t fall into that all-too-common trap and buy a place you like but which is entirely unsuitable for the tenants you have in mind. And be careful to approach the decoration and fittings of your property in the same way. Go for generic colours and furnishings and think of your future tenants at all times.
Don’t forget the taxman. (He won’t forget you!)
In general terms (and you are best advised to consult a professional accountant on such matters), if you are making more than £2500 profit on your property each year you’ll need to file a self-assessment tax return. So make a merit of it. You can claim tax relief on certain expenses you incur as a landlord. A canny accountant will help you pay not a penny more (and not a penny less) than you have to and is well worth the expense for all the expertise they can offer.
Do you understand the role of a landlord?
Sometimes landlords jeopardise their investment by failing to appreciate and understand the legal frameworks that surround every landlord. Firstly, whilst it may be your house, it isn’t your home. You can’t just pop by on a whim and you are also responsible for maintaining the property in a fit state for the tenants. Bone up on the law, read a few books and keep up with the news. Joining one of the landlord associations out there is always a good idea.