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!

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!! :):)

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 😉