7 ways to efficiently heat your rental this winter!

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Although we’ve gotten away with a pretty mild winter so far, when the frost does become more of a regular occurrence, we want to stay as warm and as cosy inside our rental (or home!) without breaking our heating bill budget. Doing a few small things to prepare can make your winter season much more efficient and save you money!

Follow these handy heating tips:

1. Get to know your boiler or heating system

To heat your rental property  effectively & efficiently, you will need to know how to operate the heating system. Being comfortable using the thermostat and timer will make it easier to create a heating regime that works best for you.

2. Bleed the radiators

Allow the radiators to work at their optimum level by ensuring they have been bled and are heating up properly. If you’re unsure how, follow this how-to guide.

3. Aim for the optimum temperature

During the day, when the heating is most likely to be on, its best that you find an optimum temperature where you are not too warm or too cold. This sweet spot will allow you to enjoy a comfortable home without running up ridiculously high bills from overheating. The NHS recommend that you choose a temperature of at least 18°C (64°F) if you are over 65, but you can lower this if you are younger and active.

4. DIY draught excluder

Draught excluders prevent the loss of heat and the influx of draughts from beneath your door. These handy inventions have been around for hundreds of years, and you can even spare the cost of buying one by making your own. This can double up as a fun DIY craft project if you are looking for something to do indoors in the winter — take a look at the National Trust’s fool-proof guide to making a festive draught excluder for further instruction.

5. Check your windows

Cracks can sometimes form in window frames and allow in a draught. Check the windows and cover any gaps with draught-proofing strips.

6. Put your extractor fan on a timer

Extractor fans in the kitchen or bathroom can cool the house if left on unnecessarily. If possible, install a timer on your fans.

7. Make the most of curtains

Closing the curtains can add an extra layer of insulation, as well as allowing you to show them off!

Make sure you stay warm this winter!

How to carry out an End of Tenancy Clean…

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Before you get started on the task of end of tenancy cleaning their are a couple of things you should do first:
  1. The main thing to do first is to decide who is going to be doing the actual cleaning work;
  2. If you have decided to do the end of tenancy cleaning yourself, it is probably a good idea to go around the entire property with a pen and pad and make a comprehensive list of all the items that require cleaning. By taking this approach their is less likelihood that any items or surfaces will be missed out and consequently picked up by your landlord or their managing agents when the property inventory check is carried out.
  3. Once you have gone around and are satisfied that you have a list of works that covers everything, the next step is to ensure you have all the required cleaning materials and equipment for the job. What will happen if you are not fully prepared is ie. that when it comes to removal of limescale from the taps and shower head or removal of burnt on grease from the oven, without the right products you will spend hours scrubbing to no avail.
  4. Before you actually schedule your work, you will want to make sure all the kitchen cabinets are cleared and also the fridge and that any other items are cleared off the surfaces. This will make the cleaning work much easier than if you try to move things as you go along. Once you are confident that you have all the cleaning products required you should be ready to start cleaning. 

If you want a tip from a professional London cleaning company on end of tenancy cleaning, the best one we can offer, is to tackle the hardest areas first. These are normally the kitchen and bathrooms as these take the most effort and time. Try to get these areas done first while you are fresh and have plenty of energy, you do not want to be tackling the heaviest cleaning tasks when you are getting tired. The bedrooms and living spaces should be lighter work so leave them to last.

Most landlords and their managing agents these days will expect the property to be cleaned to a professional standard. Failure to reach the standard will almost certainly result in financial penalties for the excess work that is specified, or the agents may well appoint their own cleaning firm to re-clean the whole property. This can be costly for the vacating tenant because management fees may well be added to the cleaning firms cost for the agents time. It will also render your own efforts a waste of time as you will be liable to meet the full cleaning costs.

Please bear this in mind if you decide to clean yourself, and if you follow the suggestions in this blog you shouldn’t run into these sort of issues.

 

3 things to consider before becoming a landlord…

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With demand for rental property continuing to grow and showing no signs of slowing down, now is a great time to step into the world of lettings. But being a landlord isn’t right for everyone, and there are things you must consider before investing in the private rental sector.

If you are not dedicated to renting out property, you could find yourself losing money and gaining a considerable amount of stress. This is why we have put together a list of three key things you must consider before becoming a landlord:

How much experience do I have?

Those with previous experience in the lettings sector will be better equipped at renting out property. However, everyone has to start somewhere right?! All landlords need good communication skills and financial abilities.

What type of landlord do I want to be? 

The property market is extremely diverse, which means that you can choose to rent out whatever type of accommodation you wish. If you are purchasing your first rental property, it is a good ideal to choose a specialty and stick to it until you are ready to branch out into something new. You may decide that you want to let your property to student tenants, or maybe you’d prefer to cater to families with children. The best way to make the right choice is to look at the type of demand in the area you are thinking of investing in.

How can I be financially secure?

Most people who rent out property want to make some money from it. However, if you mismanage your portfolio, you could find yourself losing money or struggling to make ends meet. In order to ensure that you’re a successful landlord, you must budget very seriously and understand all of the outgoings that you must pay for on a regular basis. It is always important to protect your investment with Landlord Insurance, which will help if you have any issues with a tenancy or suffer property damage.

After considering these three things, you might be ready to enter the world of lettings – good luck!

Attention Tenants! How to Keep Your Rental Deposits

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Tenancy Deposit Schemes

By law your landlord must put your rental deposit in one of the government-backed tenancy deposit schemes. In England and Wales the schemes are:

There are certain conditions which mean tenants may not receive their deposit back. For example, if a landlord feels that a property has fallen into disrepair due to the tenants actions or lack of care, the price of repairing those damages would be taken from the deposit.

If you treat the property with care you shouldn’t have to worry about losing your deposit. We thought it would be useful to give you some tips to help you keep your rental deposit at the end of your tenancy:

Read your tenancy agreement

Your tenancy agreement may be a bit lengthy but it’s important that you read it. The agreement will lay out explicitly what is and isn’t expected of you while living in the property. For example, some agreements will state that you cannot hang pictures on the walls, or that you must cut the grass regularly. Stick to the agreement and the rules set out by your landlord. If you are unsure about any of the conditions make sure that you discuss these with your Landlord or Letting Agent before signing.

Check the inventory

When you move into the property an inventory will be carried out to confirm the state of the property, and list any furniture or appliances that have been included. When you move out, the check-out report will be compared to the initial inventory to make sure that you have left the property in the same state in which you moved in. If you disagree with anything on the inventory make sure you take photographs and discuss this as soon as possible with your Landlord or Letting Agent.

Pay your bills

All utility bills are the tenant’s responsibility unless your tenancy agreement states otherwise. If you don’t keep on top of your bills you may have money deducted from your deposit when you move out – or even have your tenancy terminated early by your Landlord.

Report repairs

Some repairs and general maintenance will be covered by your Landlord, others you will need to sort out and pay for yourself. Always report any issues to your Landlord or Letting Agent at the earliest opportunity.

Keep it clean

If you leave the property in a mess and your Landlord has to hire a professional cleaner you are likely to have the costs deducted from your deposit. To make sure this doesn’t happen keep on top of your housework – keep surfaces, kitchen appliances, bathrooms and carpets clean to avoid a build up of grime.

Take belongings with you

When you move out of the property ensure that you take all possessions with you – including any rubbish and unwanted items. Any costs incurred by the Landlord for removal of items will most likely be deducted from your deposit.

If you have any queries about your deposit always speak to your Landlord or Letting Agent. Any disputes regarding the deposit can be lodged with the relevant tenancy deposit scheme.

Good luck 🙂

Why is there damp?!

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Damp and mould can mean big problems for landlords, letting agents and tenants. It can cause stress and even health issues to those affected, and can mean landlords having to spend time and money on rectifying the problems.

We’ve posted a couple of articles surrounding this topic recently (check this link and then this one) and is it is damp season, landlords, agents and tenants all need to play their part on combating damp.

1. The main cause of damp

A common cause is from condensation which occurs when air mixed with water at a warm temperature meets a surface at a cold temperature. These occurrences tend to be in microclimatic areas, such as behind cupboards and in the corner of rooms. Additionally, areas that can be affected include places with poor insulation, cold spots such as concrete beams and a lack of ventilation.

2. What you can do to prevent damp and mould

Knowing how you can stop damp and mould forming is by far the best way to defeat it.

  • Heating is also important because it lowers the opportunities for condensation to settle. Make sure your advise your tenant to turn the radiators on regularly.
  • Make sure that your property is insulated so it counters the usual, cold conditions in which condensation can grow. You might want to consider increasing the level of insulation in your property (EWI, cavity fill, double glazing) to improve insulation.
  • Ventilation is key. Keep trickle vents on windows open and try to keep windows open, especially if the tenant is drying clothes, cooking or showering.

3. How to remove existing mould

If you’re unlucky and you’re currently experiencing mould in your property, don’t panic. There are ways to make it eradicate it.

  • Clean the mould on the walls or windows with a fungicidal wash that’s recognised by a Health and Safety Executive ‘approval number’, and follow all instructions on the bottle.
  • Once you’ve done this, redecorate the affected surface(s) by using a fungicidal paint to help prevent mould from reoccurring.
  • For any mildewed clothes or carpets, make sure that you dry clean and shampoo them respectively.
  • If possible, place insulation to the external walls of your property. Seek professional insulation advice if you’re not sure on how to do this.
  • Finally, improve ventilation by installing fans, installing windows with trickle vents, and by using Passyfier vents.

Don’t let damp and mould damage your property. Getting into good habits as a landlord and tenant will help keep things under control and ensure that remedial costs and the effects of damp are kept to a minimum…

First time landlord? Here are some useful tips on being a good one…

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Landlords generally have a bad rep. Most tenants will happily tell you about their experience with a previous tyrant they rented from. Unfortunately, this isn’t always justified. If you’ve just got your first rental property, make sure you start you start your rental business in the right way with these useful tips:

1. Treat It Like a Business

Your property is your business. If your tenants don’t pay, you have to cover your mortgage. If something goes wrong, you’ve got to find the solution. The truth is, you have to go one step further. Put systems in place to cover all possibilities and give your tenants your (or your associates) contact details should they need you.

2. Don’t Let to Bad Tenants

All landlords are desperate not to fall into a void period. This doesn’t mean you should jump for the first tenant who comes your way. You should always follow a thorough screening process to ensure you’re only letting in the good guys. The last thing you want is to be a babysitter, chasing after overdue payments and cleaning up after people’s mess.

3. Meet Safety Standards

All landlords have obligations to fulfil. One of these is to adhere to correct safety standards. Have a checklist of these and ensure your property meets the expected criteria. Gas and electrical equipment needs to be installed and checked every year by a registered engineer. Fire alarms and carbon monoxide alarms must be fitted and checked regularly. Record any such activities and make them available for all to see.

4. Create a Personalised Tenancy Agreement

Most landlords use a standard tenancy agreement which usually covers all bases. The trick is to create a more personalised agreement and make sure you seek legal advice in this regard. By giving your agreement a personal touch, you can dispel any ambiguity and irrelevant clauses and make sure to make it clear who’s responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the property.

5. Be Approachable

It sounds simple doesn’t it? It is however one of the most neglected characteristics a landlord must possess. When your tenant moves in, show your face. Take the time to ensure they’re happy. It’s often comforting for a tenant to be shown how the heating and hot water work. Give your phone number and email address. Let them know they can contact you at any point with their concerns.

6. Get Things Done

There’ll come a time when tenants contact you with an issue that needs your attention. Never ignore this or overlook it. If you can’t fix it immediately, let the tenant know. Communication is key. There are going to be things which you can’t deal with yourself – it’s worth having a good relationship with tradesmen of all types.

7. Keep Your Distance

This can be tough for fresh faced landlords. You might want to be sure your property is being properly maintained but you can’t just pop round for a visit. Don’t hassle your tenants, let them feel comfortable in your property – after all, you want them to treat it like their home. By all means schedule an inspection after 6 months but don’t forget to follow the correct procedure for this.

8. Keep It Clean!

That’s right, you want to make sure that your property is clean and presented in the best possible light for tenants at the start of the tenancy. This will help the tenant appreciate the standard of cleanliness they need to return the property at the end of the tenancy and also creates a generally good first impression when they start living in your property . Need some help? You can either call in the professionals or do it yourself with this handy guide…

9. Inventory

An inventory can seem like a tedious task though it’s a vital one. Without it, a tenant can treat your property with complete disregard and face no backlash. If you don’t have an inventory, you face the possibility of losing any dispute.

Good luck!

21 End Of Tenancy Cleaning Hacks That Will Surprise You!

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End of tenancy cleaning can be time consuming and the last thing you want to do when moving home. We would alway recommend that you use a professional cleaning company to deal with your end of tenancy clean.  However, if you’re pretty hands on and don’t mind doing it yourself, we thought a few more useful hacks will help you along the way!

Kitchen Cleaning Hacks

  • Clean stove burners by putting them in plastic bags overnight with 1/4 cup ammonia. (Wear gloves; do in a well-ventilated area.)
  • Sanitize your garbage disposal during home cleaning by freezing lemon slices and vinegar in an ice-cube tray. Run 2 or 3 cubes through the disposal.
  • Keep your kitchen drain unclogged by pouring boiling water down it weekly.
  • Clean stainless steel appliances by buffing gently with flour on a dampened cloth.
  • For a clean microwave, mix 1 cup of water with chopped lemon. Heat 5 minutes in the microwave. Let cool and wipe the inside.
  • Clean your broiler pan or oven racks by scrubbing with salt.
  • Eliminate dishwasher stains by pouring in lemon drink-mix powder and running an empty cycle.
  • Knock out kitchen-wall grease stains during home cleaning by sprinkling cornstarch on a damp sponge and rubbing the stains.

Bathroom Cleaning Hacks

  • Sprinkle baking soda in the toilet at night. In the morning, swish and flush.
  • Remove lime or calcium on faucets by soaking a towel in vinegar. Wrap it around the area and put cling wrap on the outside. Leave overnight.
  • Remove bathroom soap scum during home cleaning with 1/2 cup vinegar, 1 cup water, and 5 drops of dishwashing liquid. Scrub with a sponge or brush.

Laundry Room Cleaning Hacks

  • Clean your washer by pouring in a cup of bleach or white vinegar (use more for a top loader) and running a hot-water cycle.
  • Clean in and under your dryer’s lint filter with your vacuum’s wand attachment.
  • Eliminate laundry room smells with 1 cup baking soda plus 2 drops essential oil in an old sock. Hang where the odor is the worst.

Other useful Hacks

  • Wipe ant-infested areas with white vinegar; then sprinkle cinnamon where you saw ants (do a test first to guard against stains).
  • Polish copper with ketchup. Apply liberally, leave for an hour, and wipe away.
  • Clean glass with newspapers instead of paper towels; no lint is left behind.
  • An open box of baking soda removes odors from smelly areas.
  • Clean pet carpet stains by removing pet soil, dissolving a few tablespoons of baking soda in a spray bottle, spraying the carpet, and blotting with a dry towel.
  • Eradicate water marks on wood by mixing half ashes, half mayonnaise. Apply to the water mark; rub gently with a cloth.

References (for bedtime reading ;))

  • The 11 best life hacks for keeping your kitchen fabulous. (2013, November 8). Huffington Post.
  • Brown, N. (2013, October 29). 30 squeaky-clean laundry hacks. Buzz Feed.
  • Burton, N. (n.d.). Surprising bathroom cleaning hacks. Mom.Me.
  • Cleaning hacks. (n.d.). Lifehacker.
  • Piro, L. (2014, July 10). 10 foods that are surprisingly good cleaners. Good Housekeeping.
  • Valliant, M. (2014, August 15). Cleaning hacks for 12 things you thought would stay dirty forever. Hella Wella.
  • Walsh, J. M. (2015, May 29). 9 genius kitchen cleaning hacks you need to know. My Domaine