How to clean your rental property…

theorganisedcleaner/how to clean your rental property
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When it’s time to move from your rental property, it’s important to make sure that you leave the place nice and clean so you can a) get your deposit back in full; and b) get a good referral from your landlord or letting agency.

Over 50% of Londoners rent their homes rather then own them so we thought it would be useful to share some top 10 tips on how to clean your renal property to make sure that you get your deposit back when it’s time to move on:

1. Go snap happy on arrival

A simple but essential task when you first move in – take pictures of everything and keep a digital record. Check these photos against the inventory provided by your letting agency or landlord and check these match before confirming.

2. Get a house cleaner!

Unless you have the time to regularly clean your home, on a weekly or fortnightly basis, it would be worth the investment to hire a regular cleaner. This will ensure that your home is kept clean to a respectable standard – and that you will not be hit with an overwhelming cleaning job when you are ready to move. Dusting, mopping and vacuuming on a weekly basis will help reduce the stress when cleaning your rental property, and might save you from having to hire professional end of tenancy cleaners at the end of your tenancy!

3. Clean your oven, fridge and windows each month

Keeping up to date with cleaning your fridge, oven and indoor windows will also help you save time when it comes to the end of your tenancy. A regular defrost of the fridge/freezer, regular cleaning of windows and a wiping out the oven every so often will help keep things more manageable when it’s time to clean your rental property.

4. Monitor wear & tear

Undergoing a monthly check of the condition of your rental property  will help you keep track of the wear and tear your home has undergone since moving in. Taking photos, and keeping a digital record of these images with dates will also allow you to plan ahead – and help you organise these repairs and notify the letting agent and inventory clerk in advance of your move out date.

5. Invest in wooden floor cleaner

If you have wooden floors in your rental, it is important to vacuum, mop and also to apply a wooden floor cleaner every so often. If you have an open plan home, it may also be wise to invest in doormats at each and every entrance, with a rug to cover the exposed areas. This will reduce the chance of scuff marks, scratches and dents.

6. Scrub all kitchen appliances

It may seem to be common knowledge, but it is important to keep all appliances provided by the tenant/landlord in the same condition that you found them. As mentioned, it is important to keep on top of appliances like the oven and the fridge, but the smaller items must not be overlooked. A weekly clean of the toaster, microwave and kettle both inside and outside, will help you keep on top of this.

7. Stay on top of limescale

Limescale can be a pain, especially as it often occurs in hard to reach places – like the inside of coffeemakers and kettles – as well as on faucets and bathtubs, leaving an annoying chalky white substance behind. The best way to ensure you get your deposit back when leaving your rental property is to remove all limescale on a regular basis. Limescale, if uncleaned, leaves a mineral build up that can cause damage, and make soap scum and other dirt harder to remove. This is why it is important to keep an eye on appliances, tubs and faucets – and regularly remove any build up.

8. Regular carpet cleaning

You don’t need to hire a carpet cleaner, but the purchase of a spray on carpet cleaner that can be left for ten minutes and then vacuumed is essential. This does not need to be done each week, monthly will suffice, however it is important to do this regularly as it will make a big difference to how your carpet looks at the end of your tenancy. For deeper stains, especially on lighter carpets, it would be advisable hire a professional carpet cleaning company and have a quarterly or 6 month carpet clean to ensure good maintenance.

9. Property maintenance

If you have hung any artwork in the home, whether with nails or blu tac, remove these 2-3 weeks before your lease finishes. You will then have time to clean the walls, fill in any holes and repaint if necessary. Before you begin the process, always check with your landlord/letting agency that they are happy for you to repaint. There will be no bigger disappointment than having to pay for an entire repaint of the property, when you were only trying to help with a normal wear & tear.

Moving home can be a stressful time, so to make sure you don’t have the added stress of a deduction from your deposit – keep on top of your home cleaning and flow this guide on how to clean your rental property!

If you’re moving home in London and want to hire a professional end of tenancy cleaning company to take care of your clean, contact ProClean Team on 020 8742 1808 or email info@procleanteamltd.co.uk

As you’re online, why not follow The Organised Cleaning Company on Facebook and Twitter for more useful cleaning nuggets!

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!

What you SHOULD know about end of tenancy cleaning!

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As a tenant, you need to be aware of a number of things that need to occur when your tenancy comes to an end. The most common situations when your tenancy will come to an end are as follows:

  • by the written agreement on a fixed date;
  • by your landlord before that date if you are in breach of the agreement; and
  • by yourself before the date of the fixed-term agreement where there is a break clause.

Regardless of the reason, a month’s (or longer) notice is normally required. Once your tenancy is coming to an end, as a tenant you have responsibilities to fulfil which, include:

  • to fix all damages, caused by you, your guests or your pets, having such;
  • to clean the property thoroughly before moving out (you can do it yourself or using a professional cleaning company);
  • to be in the property while the check-out report is prepared or the landlord inspects the property  is inspecting the place;
  • to pay your last months rent;
  • to pay all the utility bills up to the end of your tenancy.

One thing not to get too conceded with is general wear and tear at the property as this falls outside of the remit for matters that need to be rectified at the end of your tenancy.

Pay serious attention to the cleaning!

Data published by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme in 2015 confirms that 54% o all deposit disputes centre around cleaning, so it’s in your best interest to make sure the property is cleaned properly, ideally by a professional cleaning company, to make sure that it his up to standard and to help with the return of your deposit.

Getting your deposit back!

It used to be that paying a security deposit at the outset of your tenancy can be quite stressful as you’re handing over a large chunk of cash without any real guarantee of getting it back when you move out. The introduction of deposit protections schemes has made things a bit easier and more secure for both landlords and tenants with regards to returning deposits and deductions made from deposits.

By law, the landlord is required to pay your deposit into one of three Government approved deposit protection schemes. Generally, a deposit secures the landlord against:

  • unpaid rent;
  • unpaid utility bills;
  • damage caused to the property beyond usual wear and tear; and
  • you have lost or not returned the keys of the property.

Provided you returned the property back in no worse state (wear & tear excepted) than it was at the start of the tenancy and it has been  properly cleaned, you should have no problems getting your deposit back within 10 days of you agreeing with the landlord the amount to be returned. If there are some disagreements between you and your landlord, the Government-backed deposit protection schemes have a set procedure which needs to be followed for disputes, which includes providing evidence and details of costs. You can find out more from our previous post by following this link!

Happy moving!

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 😉

Inventories – why they are so important

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inventory_checklistIf you are a landlord or tenant renting a property, then the property inventory document is essential, and second only to the rental agreement in terms of importance.  Professional  landlords & agents know this but many tenants are not and therefore don’t appreciate how an inventory can protect them as well.

With that in mind, we thought we’d shed some light on the inventories for all you tenants out there blissfully unaware how important they are!

What is an inventory report?

The inventory report is document detailing each room within a property, its contents and their condition and is often supported by photographs.  Two identical inventory reports are performed during every tenancy – one before the tenant moves in, which is normally referred to as the inventory.

As a tenant, you should always request that a property inventory is provided so you can’t be accused of damage for which you’re not responsible when you move out of your property.

Another inventory, called the check out, is performed when the tenant moves out with all their belongings.  The check-out report will list recommended actions if applicable, which are normally assigned as a landlord or tenant responsibility.

 

The two reports should clearly show how the property has changed during the tenancy.  If a disagreement arises, and it leads to a dispute over hygiene or other matters, the inventory will be the most significant piece of evidence.

Avoiding deposit disputes

As a tenant, you’re  only liable for damage and not fair wear & tear.  So occupancy numbers, for example a large family, length of tenancy, age and condition and quality of items are key factors when determining fair wear & tear.

A good inventory report will help to determine replacement costs for any damaged items, repair work or missed cleaning that needs to be carried out. The amount of deposit returned to the tenant will be determined by using the inventory and check out reports.

5 key reasons why tenants should have an inventory report at the start of their tenancy!

  1. The inventory will set out the condition of the property at the start of the tenancy, which is agreed by the tenant
  2. It will assist with the ownership of maintenance jobs during the tenancy.  (For example if a faulty oven door was noted during the check in which subsequently breaks, then it is the responsibility of the landlord to repair it.)
  3. The inventory acts as a comprehensive guide on how to return the property at the end of the tenancy
  4. It reduces the potential for disagreements on who is responsible for repairs and damage at the end of the tenancy, and will aid in determining fair wear and tear.
  5. It will safeguard your deposit, providing you have returned the property in the same condition, if a disagreement leads to a formal dispute

How to spot a good tenant…

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One of the questions asked by most first-time landlords is how to tell whether a tenant is going to be a good investment or not. When it comes to tenanting your property and trusting somebody else inside your pride and joy, there’s no try before you buy.
There are definitely a few tenant tells that should provide you with some guidance about whether to let them sign on the dotted line of the tenancy agreement…or not.
Fashionably late

If a potential tenant turns up late to a viewing without a decent excuse, this is an early warning that they might be difficult to deal with, because there’s a fine line between letting to a fashionista and catering to a diva.

If they’re really interested in your property and invested in creating a landlord/tenant relationship they should be on time, barring global catastrophes or public transport fails.

A list of demands

If the potential tenant spends the viewing pointing out the tiniest flaws in the property and ripping apart everything that isn’t perfect (when it comes to decor, tenants may have to live and let live), their behaviour is telling you that they’re likely to be demanding.
If you’ve got the time to deal with petty demands, go right ahead. Everyone else should consider employing a very patient managing agent or looking for another tenant.

What’s on offer?

What kind of offer have they made, and how have they made it? In the housing market, everybody wants a deal so don’t be put off by someone who offers under the asking price. It’s not what they offer – it’s how they offer it.
So a would-be tenant who tells you how much he likes the property and explains why he’s unable to offer the full rental asking price might still be worth considering. Someone who offers significantly lower than what you want without any explanation may not.

Something to hide

Once you’ve taken a holding deposit, if a tenant is reluctant to fill out the credit checks or supply references, it might be worth looking again. Remember, the holding deposit doesn’t commit you – if you haven’t signed a tenancy agreement you can simply return it.

So, if someone is dragging their heels at this point, it might be an early indication that they’ll be dragging them throughout the tenancy too.

Those who know best

For all of the above, we can’t overestimate the importance of consulting your letting agent and asking them for feedback from viewings. In the early stages, they’ll have had the most interaction with your potential tenants and will be in the best position to advise you about who to go forward with.
When it comes to securing a decent tenant, remember that it’s a two way street. Really valuable tenants will want you to provide that they’re in good hands.

First time landlord? Make sure your property is ready to rent…

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It’s estimated that there are 1.5m landlords in the UK and recent Government red tape has made letting out your home serious business in the UK.

To avoid any pitfalls, follow these simple steps…

  1. Find a good letting agent – they’re worth their weight in GOLD!! Letting agents can help you with marketing the property, finding & screening tenants, preparing the tenancy agreements, recommending the monthly rent to charge, taking the deposit and carrying out an inventory at the start of a tenancy. Bear in mind that there are administration fees for preparing documents and finding tenants, as well as management fees which can be around 10% (plus VAT) of monthly rent, so it’s worth shopping around for the best deal.
  2. Decide what type of tenant you want – This will depend on the size of your property  but some considerations to take into account are – do you allow pets, small children, smokers or tenants that work from home?? Give your agent parameters of what your looking for before signing anything.
  3. Tenancy Terms – Make sure you’re happy with key points in the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (standard contract between landlord & tenant) such as term, notice period and if you want a break clause.
  4. Legal Requirements – This responsibility will fall on the agent but as a landlord, you should be up to date with the law on renting your property, such as needing Gas Safety Certificate and Energy Performance Certificate, carbon monoxide alarm as well as a fire alarm. The deposit will have to be put into a recognised Tenancy Deposit Scheme and the tenant will need to be given the Government’s downloadable How to Rent guide.  New right to rent checks also require the landlord/agent to check that tenants have a right to be in the UK.
  5. Make sure it’s clean – Before tenants move in, make sure you hire professional cleaners to give your property a thorough tenancy clean, including ovens, fridge & freezers, showers, windows and light fittings. This will ensure that on check-out, your tenant leaves the property at the same level of cleanliness as when they moved in, otherwise deductions can be made from their deposit at the end of the tenancy.

Rent received by landlords is classed as taxable income and from 6 April 2016, you will no longer be able to claim 10% ‘wear & tear’ costs against your tax bill if you’re letting furnished property. In April 2017, relief on interest will be capped for all landlords at the basic rate of 20%, even if you pay tax at 45%.

With the budget announcement earlier this week, if you’re buying another rental property there will be an additional 3% Stamp Duty under new regulations being introduced by the Government from 1st April 2016.

ProClean Team, a division of The Organised Cleaning Company, provides professional pre & end of tenancy cleaning services to landlords and agents throughout  London & the Home Counties. Contact us today on 020 8742 1808, email us on info@procleanteamltd.co.uk or visit our website.