The Property Redress Scheme (PRS) is holding its first Agent Educational Workshop at The Strand Palace Hotel in London on Wednesday 16 March. The morning workshop will give agents a chance to get advice and guidance on essential industry topics.
Speakers include Paul Shamplina from Landlord Action, member of the PRS Advisory Council and known for the Channel 5 programme “Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords”. He will cover what an agent can do to retain a landlord when a tenancy goes wrong.
The workshop also gives delegates a chance to benefit from the experience of Sean Hooker, Head of Redress at the PRS and a guest on BBC Breakfast as an adviser on property matters. Sean will talk about effective complaint handling covering how you deal with a complaint can have a massive impact on how quickly and successfully it is resolved.
Inventories are also an important part of any successful letting business. Our CEO & Co-Founder – Nick Lyons – gives tips on best practice to offer the highest quality letting inventory services available and demonstrates Kaptur – the latest property information collecting tablet technology.
Finally, Suzy Hershman, Head of Dispute Resolution at mydeposits, will offer a detailed insight in how to provide quality evidence for disputes relating to tenancy deposit protection schemes. From 1st April mydeposits will offer free custodial tenancy deposit protection in addition to its popular insurance-based tenancy deposit protection that counts over 3000 letting agent members.
For agents, this event is an unmissable opportunity to get expert advice and network with key industry players. For Members of the PRS the cost is only £40, while non-members fee is £60. There is limited availability of spaces but PRS Members can bring a friend at the Member price. Refreshments including lunch are provided and all delegates will receive a certificate of attendance. Buy your tickets here.
The buy-to-let market continues to be one of the hottest investment markets in the UK. People are purchasing properties and building portfolios in anticipation of providing the kind of retirement they would never get from a pension. But as with any other investment, becoming a landlord also means added responsibility. There are mortgages to pay, tenants to deal with, and a myriad of maintenance and upkeep issues. If you don’t know what you’re doing, being a landlord could become a nightmare.
Here are five common mistakes landlords make along with ways to avoid them:
1. Failing to Properly Screen Potential Tenants
Tenants are the lifeblood of any property portfolio. The last thing a landlord needs are tenants who do not pay their rent or who abuse property with very little discretion. A good way to end up with these kinds of tenants is to fail to screen potential candidates correctly. Screening is an absolute must.
One of the best ways to do this is to use a letting agent. Letting agents are experts at tenant screening, and they have access to certain tools that make it easier to discover questionable rental histories and other potential problems. Using a letting agent is well worth the money spent.
2. Failing to Have a Property Inventory in Place
There are companies that provide national property inventory checks for landlords at very reasonable prices. Yet some landlords fail to take advantage of this. By failing to have a property inventory in place, those landlords are taking a big risk in assuming that tenants will take good care of the property throughout their tenancy.
The solution to this mistake is very simple: work with a local or national inventory company to do a complete inventory of your property. Furthermore, utilise a check-in and check-out at both ends of the lease. There are plenty of companies offering landlord’s inventory UK-wide at excellent prices; utilise them.
3. Failing to Keep Tenants Happy
The successful landlord is a landlord able to secure and maintain long-term leases. The longer tenants can be kept in the property, the more financially secure the property becomes. On the other hand, constantly turning over unhappy tenants increases the landlord’s risk of void periods in which the mortgage still has to be paid despite no rental payments coming in. Not keeping tenants happy is a big mistake.
Landlords can avoid this mistake by doing whatever they can to make the tenant experience unforgettably pleasant. For example, you do not have to charge market value rents just because you can. If you can offer a lower rent and still cover your expenses and make a profit, you will have a happy tenant who is less likely to look around for something cheaper near the end of the tenancy.
4. Choosing Properties in the Wrong Location
Residential property is a lot like commercial property in the sense that location is crucial. The most desirable renters tend to want homes in neighbourhoods that are safe and have access to common amenities like public transportation, entertainment options, good schools, and additional opportunities for the family. Choosing properties in bad locations can turn what a landlord hoped to be a great investment into a financial disaster.
The best way to avoid this mistake is to do plenty of research before you purchase. Landlords can work with a specialist property company who deals only in buy-to-let investments; such companies are usually very good at determining which neighbourhoods are desirable and which are not.
5. Failing to Save Money
Owning rental property is essentially a business. And as with any business, there are certain capital expenses that are unavoidable. Landlords who fail to save money for such capital expenses can easily find themselves in financial trouble when things go wrong. If things get too bad, they could jeopardise the business.
Landlords should establish a savings account into which they routinely deposit a portion of every rental payment they receive. The money should not be touched for anything other than making capital improvements or emergency expenses. When money is taken out of the account, it needs to be replaced as quickly as possible.
Being a landlord is a very good way to establish a stable and comfortable income. But it is not without responsibilities. The most successful landlords know what it takes to run a property business and make every effort to avoid the most common mistakes.
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.
We’re delighted to welcome Janine Gehlig who is heading up our new branch in Liverpool. Janine has been involved in the property sector since 2008. She has excelled within the sector of construction and property clerking, as well as leasing in the commercial and residential divisions. Janine has extensive inventory experience. She spent four years in South Africa working in the market as well as working with No Letting Go since January 2014.
Her achievements have given her an opportunity to set up the Liverpool No Letting Go branch which she is sure to tackle head on. Not only has Janine provided a level of service which is always held up to a high standard, her professional and “always willing to get the job done” attitude ensures the Liverpool No Letting Go branch will succeed.
Nick Lyons, Managing Director of No Letting Go added, “The property rental market and subsequently the property services sector is extremely buoyant. Liverpool has become one of the UK’s Top 6 rental markets for Landlords, yielding even better returns than London property. Janine will ensure service levels are maintained throughout the area in line with our philosophy of providing a national service that is delivered locally. ”
For more information please contact Janine Gehlig direct on 07474 736 313 or Gary Claven on 07475 526 111; alternatively visit www.nolettinggo.co.uk.
Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, letting inventory services in the UK are an essential part of property rental. The idea of an inventory is to catalogue the contents and condition of a property recording details of the home and any items that are included in the tenancy. The compiled report is then used as part of the legally binding contract between landlord and tenant preventing disputes over possible damages between both parties and aiding in a smooth transition from one tenant to the next.
Over the years, inventory reports have traditionally been compiled in writing, text still rules the roost; however, as technology advances and many people now have access to cameras in smartphones and tablets, there are an increasing number of landlords incorporating photos into inventories. There is an old saying that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ and it’s hard to argue with this; but, can this saying really be applied to property inventory in the UK?
Finding the right balance
A picture can add a lot to an inventory, and photographs of large areas of damage such as holes in doors, carpet burns, and damage to worktops will go a long way in building a solid case against a tenant. However, when it comes to providing the perfect inventory report, a photo is only worth a thousand words if the right balance is found.
According to the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC), an overseer of excellence in rental inventory services in the UK, photographs are being used more regularly in inventories. However, they are at the expense of written descriptions and this is leaving landlords exposed to costly disputes with tenants over damage.
In many reports, the AIIC has found that photos no bigger than thumbnails are being used as evidence. Naturally, with a picture being so small, detail is hard to see. Photographs of a decent size and quality though, can be very useful and many of today’s modern smartphones have the capability to produce detailed images.
Only quality photos will do
The comprehensive nature of inventories means that it photos must only be provided if they are backed up by a written presentation. The most common disputes between landlords and tenants are over small damages, such as chips in cupboard doors, scratches in sinks and baths, and knife marks on worktops. Such damages, while minor, can result in financial losses for landlords and tenants if negligence cannot be proved and a photo alone is often not sufficient evidence as details are so fine.
In order for property inventory services in the UK to help landlords win disputes for either side in a rental agreement, it is essential that photos are of a high quality and printed in A4 or even A3. In addition to this, the photo should be dated on camera and only be used to make up part of a written report.
The written inventory may still rule the roost, but the use of photos is definitely here to stay.
Photo source: Paul Reynolds
Britain is a nation of pet lovers. According to latest statistics by National Pet Month, a massive 48% of UK households have at least one pet – that’s 13 million homes across the UK! Taking these statistics to be true, that means the majority of homes (52%) are occupied by people without pets, and with around 3.84 million homes in the UK being rented properties, we can easily assume that a large proportion living as tenants are without furry, feathered or scaly companions.
In the aftermath of the recession, demand for rental properties increased dramatically; however, the number of pet victims increased in kind. Most landlords refuse to allow pets in their properties, resulting in many people having to give up their dogs, cats, birds, and other forbidden pets.
Most landlords see pets as a hassle. They often fear that properties vacated by pet owners will result in significant damage that will not only cost money to repair, but be off-putting to prospective new tenants. However, with the number of loving pet-owners desperately looking for rental property, is it time for landlords to rethink their stance?
No pets allowed
Looking at things from a landlords point of view, there are legitimate reasons for not wanting to allow pets into a home:
- Damage – animals can scratch and chew walls and floors and cause damage to furniture.
- Disgruntled neighbours – barking dogs and squawking birds can be annoying for close neighbours.
- Odours – animals that are not properly groomed or have accidents inside or outside properties can lead to long-lasting odours.
- Liability – pets may pose the risk of biting or attacking other tenants or neighbours.
As a landlord hiring a UK wide inventory company to check over a rental property, any of the above showing in a report will be far from ideal. However, there are a number of positives to allowing pets that make the proposition a lot more appealing.
There is a genuine gap in the market for rental properties that allow pets and making a house or flat pet-friendly can really expand the prospective tenant pool. Given the fact that pet-loving landlords are hard to find, there is also the opportunity of increasing rent amounts. People would much rather pay more to rent a home than face the alternative of getting rid of a pet.
Another plus side of the general lack of available properties allowing pets is the fact that tenants will be more likely to stay in a home for longer.
Home inventories coming back with reports of damage and odours is the main reason for the refusal of pets, but there are ways to counter this: firstly, you can pet-proof your property with pet-friendly carpets, cork-based Vi-Plank flooring and carpet tiles. Secondly, you can add additional clauses to rental agreements that cover the returning of a property to its original pet-free state, and finally, ask for a larger deposit.
Rather than worrying about what home and flat inventories are going to say, think about the extra money and monthly income that could be earned as a landlord that allows pets, and how happy you could make pet-loving families in the process!