Protect Your Rental Property This Winter

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Winter weather, particularly flooding, can cause real and structural damage to a property. Not only will your tenants be forced out of their home, but you will have to claim on your landlord insurance. You may find that if your actions or inactions caused the issue, you could be liable for some, or all, of the repairs.

If you know that your tenants will be away over the holiday season, it is vital that you protect your property to avoid any winter-related damage.

With this in mind, follow these tips and arrange an inspection with your tenants, before it’s too late!

  1. Check the lagging in your loft

Head up to the loft and check the lagging around the water pipes and cold water storage tank. Even small gaps could let in cold air and freeze the pipes, or even the water in the tank. If there are pipes in the attic, eaves and cupboards, they are typically more exposed and are prone to freezing.

  1. Leave the central heating on permanently

This is something that you should advise your tenants to do – leave the central heating on at a minimum temperature of 15°C to protect against damp and condensation. Fitting thermostatic valves to the radiators will allow you (and your tenants) to set the valves so that the radiator comes on when the temperature falls below a certain level. This enables the heating to be kept on low without having to heat the entire house all of the time.

  1. Lag the pipes

Alongside leaving the central heating on low permanently, lagging the pipes will prevent them freezing.

  1. Check the property when it is empty

If your tenants will be away over Christmas, check the property when they are out. The main cause of a burst pipe is if they have frozen, and if this isn’t noticed early enough, water damage to the fabric of the property could occur due to leaks, causing significant damage.

  1. Seal holes in walls

Wherever a cable or phone line comes through the exterior wall, check to ensure the hole is sufficiently sealed to stop cold air getting in or warm air escaping.

  1. Leave cold taps dripping

If the property will be unoccupied for a period of time, leave at least one cold tap dripping slightly on each floor. Even the slightest of drips can reduce the risk of water freezing significantly inside the pipes, but only leave taps on if you have a cold water storage tank and are not draining down the water system.

  1. Leave cupboard doors open

If the home is going to be empty, it is a good idea to leave any cabinet or cupboard doors open in the kitchen and bathroom, to allow warm air to reach any hidden pipes.

  1. Leave doors open

If your tenants are going away, suggest they leave the doors within the house open, to enable heat to circulate around the property. Also, leaving the loft hatch open will aid this.

  1. Drain the water system

If your tenants will be away for long periods, drain the water system. The water storage tanks (hot and cold) should be drained, as well as the radiators and central heating pipes.

  1. Insulate the overflow pipe from the boiler

Condensing boilers are known for their efficiency, but in the winter, there is a risk of their overflow pipes freezing and causing damage to the property. Avoid this by getting a boiler with a Siphon trap, which releases the water in one amount. Other ways to guard against a frozen overflow pipe is to insulate the pipe or simply shorten it, so there is not as much of the pipe exposed to the outsid.

  1. Check your insurance policy 

Ensure that your landlord insurance covers you for winter-related damage. If there is an emergency that must be repaired before causing further damage to the property, your policy must cover this so that work can be completed as soon as possible. If the home becomes uninhabitable, make sure your policy covers loss of rent so that you don’t miss out on payments.

Happy Christmas!! :):)

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!

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!

Can you spot a bad landlord?

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Nothing can ruin your rental experience, quite like a horrible landlord. Even if you get the property of your dreams, the last thing you need is having to deal with a landlord who won’t leave you alone or who refuse to handle property issues once you have moved in.

There are landlords out there that manage their own property directly rather than go through agents or a management company, and it is often in these instances when tenants may need to put up with problems such as bad DIYs, unreliable contractors or sudden rent increases.

However, as a tenant you can spare yourself the drama & costs by spotting such owners earlier in the rental process and avoid getting stuck with a dodgy landlord:

1. The landlord is hesitant to give you contact information

If you have troubles getting a hold of your landlord at the very beginning, chances are you will have hard times reaching them later on when you have a maintenance requests. Before you take the plunge and put down the deposit, ensure that the property owner is easily accessible. They should provide you with plenty of ways to get in touch before you sign up a contract. If the only information your potential landlord has given you is a postcode or email address, keep looking.

2. The landlords evades your questions

Pay attention to the landlord’s behaviour while inquiring about the state of the property and the lease. Is the landlord open or more evasive? If the landlord gives you general statements and avoids providing you with specific information, that is a bad sign. A good landlord should be responsive and ready to address all your concerns. They should provide you with a clear plan and timeline for resolving any existing problems. Of course, this is not a guarantee that they will keep up their promise, but it is an encouraging sign.

3. Poorly maintained property

A place that seems to be held together with bobby pins and duct tape reflects not only on the quality of the property, but also on the attitude of the owner. Even if the apartment or house you plan to rent seems immaculate on the inside, consider the look of the area outside as well. Good landlords will keep the outdoors space just as well-maintained as the rented area.

4. Bad reviews from other tenants

If the previous tenants have nothing good to say about the landlord, then move to the next option. Research is important part of the house removals process. Don’t skip it. Check the letting history of your potential landlord. Look out for reviews and opinions from former tenants. Find a way to contact the current tenants if you can.

5. Too-good-to-be-true deal

You found an ideal rental at an unbelievably low price? Maybe you got really lucky or maybe there is something wrong. The odds are it is the second. A landlord that gives you a great deal on a rent that should be much higher is a huge red flag. Even if you are excited about moving house to the new apartment, read carefully the lease. Does it look fishy? Are there any unusual clauses? A bad landlord will try to include additional charges or make you pay for building insurance costs and taxes. If you want peace of mind when protecting your deposit, why not consider using a tenant inventory service?

Good luck 😉

Have you carried out these home improvement jobs before the winter?

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Summer is over, dealt with it! Now it’s time to start thinking about making sure that your home and/or rental property is warm and cosy for the winter. Before the really cold weather sets in, it’s essential for homeowners and landlords to make sure that you’ve have carried out any necessary property repairs needed to ensure that your home or rental is comfortable, safe & warm for yourself or your tenants, even in the worst of weather. Checking things such as your roof, gutters, heating system, pipes and windows are just a few of the essentials when it comes to making sure that your home is ready for winter.

1. Heating Maintenance

Chances are, the heating system has not seen much use over the summer months. However, the majority of homeowners and tenants tend to use their home heating system more and more as the colder weather kicks in and being warm and cosy at becomes more and more essential. Before the winter months arrive, it’s a good idea to have your heating system checked for any potential faults and issues to make sure that it’s in good working order for the weeks ahead.

2. Clean the Gutters

Another essential job to do before the winter is cleaning the gutters. Throughout the year, the gutters will collect dirt and debris which will eventually block them if it is not cleaned out thoroughly. When a gutter has a blockage, it is unable to drain rainwater away, which could lead to problems in your home or rental and can even cause leaks. The best time to have your gutters cleaned before winter is in the autumn when there are leaves falling from trees which could get caught in your gutters.

3. Roof Repairs

Checking the roof for any signs of damage is absolutely essential before the winter weather sets in. Things such as broken roof tiles, cracks or even leaks through the roof should all definitely be dealt with before the weather becomes colder and harsher, as the last thing that you need is a roof which is unable to withstand bad weather. To check the roof, you should first start in your loft or attic before inspecting the outside of the roof.

4. Stop the Draughts

Throughout the warmer summer months, a draught can actually be cooling and comfortable. However, when the weather outside starts to get colder, keeping the cold air out and the warm air in is essential. Before the winter, you should check all the windows and doors for any small cracks which need filling in order to prevent draughts. Along with helping you to stay warm, fixing any draughts before the winter can actually mean that you or your tenants pay less on energy bills winter as there’s less chance of heat escaping from the property.

We’ve had an extended summer and before the weather starts turning completely, now is the best time to start doing these repair jobs to prepare your home or rental for winter.

Good luck!