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!! :):)

5 ways to protect your family from carbon monoxide poisoning

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A recent survey by npower has revealed that only one in 20 parents know the symptoms of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and the more than a third of UK homes aren’t fitted with a CO alarm. In order to raise awareness following Carbon Monoxide week (21-25 November), we’ve put together five ways in which you can protect you and your family from the dangers of CO poisoning:

1. Know the most common symptoms

Only 6% of people in the UK can spot the most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, which means that possible cases can be missed. Dizziness, headaches, nausea and vomiting, tiredness and confusion, stomach pain, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing are all symptoms of CO poisoning. If you notice any of these, make sure to seek medical help.

2. Fit CO alarms in your home

The only way to detect a CO leak is with a CO alarm, it’s a simple and relatively cheap way to make sure you’re protecting your family from potential CO leaks.

3. Get your appliances serviced regularly by registered engineers

Whether you’re getting new appliances fitted or you’ve had them for a while, regular services by registered engineers are necessary to ensure that everything is working correctly and any malfunctions that could cause CO leaks are picked up.

4. Make sure your kitchen is fitted with an extractor fan and do not block air vents

It’s really important to make sure all your rooms are properly ventilated, if you have air vents in any of your rooms make sure that items of furniture are not covering them.

5. Ensure your chimneys and flues are swept regularly by qualified sweeps

Blocked flues and chimneys mean that carbon monoxide can’t escape, it’s a good idea to schedule in inspections once a year to make sure they are working correctly.

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…

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 😉

Is condensation a landlord or tenant problem?

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As we head towards winter, condensation and mould caused in residential property can become a bone of contention between landlords & tenants.

In the UK, condensation and mould are a common problem. Rental properties are particularly vulnerable, as many of them are older properties with inadequate heating and ventilation. The problem can vary in severity from a small patch of mould or discoloured wallpaper behind a cupboard in the corner of a room to serious amounts of mould growth across walls, inside wardrobes and on furnishings, carpets and in basements.

Condensation in residential property is caused by warm, moist air generated in areas like kitchens and bathrooms penetrating colder parts of the building. When the air becomes cold, it is unable to hold the extra moisture produced by everyday activities, so some of this moisture appears as small droplets of water – most noticeable on windows or on places where there is little movement of air. If not properly dealt with, this extra ‘dampness’ can lead to mould growth on walls, furniture, window frames and even on clothes.

Condensation can lead to mould, a serious problem for both landlords and tenants because of the health risks associated with mould spores. Mould growth caused by building defects in the rental property are clearly the landlord’s responsibility. It is sometimes caused by inadequacies in the building, but very often the main cause of mould growth is the lifestyle of the occupants – the tenants.

The average tenant will produce condensation through cooking, washing, internal drying, etc. Landlords and agents need to be aware of the potential problems which excessive condensation and mould growth can cause and should take steps to minimise the risks.

We’ve put together some advice that landlords & agents should give tenants to try and keep condensation to a minimum:

  • Dry all windows, windowsills, and any other surfaces that have become wet. Ensure you wring out the cloth thoroughly, do not dry on the radiator!
  • Try to keep the interior temperature of the property at a reasonably constant level
  • If possible, always hang your washing outside. If this is not possible, hang it in the bathroom with the door closed and window slightly open for ventilation. Do not dry washing on radiators as this will add to moisture already in the air.
  • Ensure that all extractor fans are working efficiently. Noisy extractors will encourage tenants leave turned off. (If an extractor cannot hold a postcard to the vent when switched on it is not efficient enough.)
  • If you use a tumble dryer, ensure it is well ventilated to the outside, or that it is the new condensing type.
  • Try to ventilate your kitchen when in use, either by opening a window slightly or using the extractor fan. Try to ventilate both kitchens and bathrooms for at least twenty minutes after use.
  • If your property is prone to condensation then daily use of a de-humidifier unit can be very beneficial. These come in all shapes and sizes, cost very little to run and draw out the excess moisture from the air, helping to keep the condensation under control.

Useful tips on keeping good relations with your landlord…

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Being a tenant can be a challenging experience – not only do you have to find the right property to rent, in the right area, at the right price – once you’ve got that property, you also need to maintain a good relationship with your landlord!

There are many ways to keeping your landlord happy, and we have set out the three most common ways below:

cleaning_regularly-300x2301. Clean the property regularly.

That’s right, grab those marigolds and take care of your rental on a regular basis as if it’s your own home! This creates a positive impression for the landlord when they carry out their inspection and find that you are looking after their property. The areas to pay special attention to when cleaning are the kitchen & bathroom – especially as these are the most frequently used areas!

If you don’t clean regularly, these are the places that become harder to deal with when the time comes to move out of the property. Regular cleaning will definitely save you a lot of time & effort when you decide to move out. All tenancy agreements contain a provision requiring the tenant to leave the property in the same condition than at the start of the tenancy, so you will are required to give it a good clean when you do move out.

If you decide to clean yourself, check out our DIY guide to end of tenancy cleaning! Otherwise, call the professionals in to help you clean…

unclog_drains-300x2012. Repair the property when there’s damage…

When we talk about repairing we mean small issues like dealing with mould, unclogging the drainpipes and dealing with minor decorating matters or other damage caused in the property by you or your guests. Normal wear & tear or some electrical appliance failure to the dishwasher, microwave, oven, washing machine, coffee machine, etc. will best be left to the landlord to deal once you have given him a heads up that they need fixing. Keeping in touch with your landlord will show that you are a responsible tenant and fixing small problems yourself will help to build good relations as well.

It goes without saying that it’s in your interest to avoid damaging the property, especially if you rent one with furniture, as any damages that aren’t fixed by the end of the tenancy can be deducted from your deposit.

pay_on_time-300x1803. Pay your bills and rent on time.

Nothing will earn your landlord’s trust more then paying your utility bills and rent on time. Every landlord wants his or her new tenant to act responsibly and observe every clause of their tenancy agreement, which includes paying bills and rent!