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!! :):)

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!

Handy tips for landlords!

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Forget about Brexit, the new law about owning second homes, the change in accounting for mortgage interest and the rest, as long as there is a demand for rental properties, there will always be landlords ready to rent out their property.

We thought a few handy little pointers will help with getting our rental ready for tenants:

Preparing your property

Decide whether you want to let your property furnished or unfurnished. It’s great if you can offer both options, as this means the agent can market it to a wider audience. In terms of decorating and soft furnishings, keep it fresh and neutral. A well-maintained, clean property will attract good tenants.

Make sure you have a Gas Safety check every year and get all electrical equipment tested once a year too. It goes without saying that your rental property should be fitted with smoke alarms throughout and carbon monoxide detectors.

You’ll need an EPC (energy performance certificate) for your rental properties you won’t be able to market the property without one, so get it sorted as soon as possible – they’re valid for 10 years.

It’s a really good idea to get a professional inventory taken at the start and end of each tenancy as it can help with any disputes that may arise when a tenant moves out.

Your tenants

Keep a relatively open mind about your potential tenants and don’t set unrealistic expectations, as this only reduces your target market. Try not to become too emotionally attached to the property either, as it is always hard to let go of a property you love – try to distance yourself from the process.

Potential tenants may try and negotiate on the price. Depending on the tenant’s offer, it’s worth weighing up if the price you want is worth holding out for, or if it’s better to accept it and reduce the time the property is empty and not making money. It’s well worth listening to your estate agent’s advice.

What level of service do you want from your agent?

You need to figure out how much involvement you want from your estate agent. Do you just want them to find you a tenant and conduct all the security checks, or would you like them to look after the ongoing rent-collection and property management? Of course, there is an additional cost for the agent’s ongoing involvement, but it could save you a whole lot of hassle in the long run.

Ongoing considerations

Consider employing staff to help look after your property, like a cleaner and gardener. This means you can retain some level of control over your property’s care and maintenance.

Good luck!

 

Landlords – how to ensure your property gets let…

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As a landlord, if your property is on the rental market you should take steps to ensure that it is let as soon as possible and find a reliable tenant. Prepare your property now so that prospective tenants will see it at its best. Staging the property will help it let faster and can guarantee that you secure a good rent price.

So what can you do to ensure get your property let?

Declutter 

It is vital that you leave your rental property fairly empty to allow tenants to move their own belongings in and make the place feel like home. Aside from essential furniture, clear the space of personal or quirky items.

Fix it up 

If you’ve recently had a tenant in your property, you’ll need to look out for any signs of wear and tear that could put a future tenant off. Fill any old picture-frame holes in the walls, secure any loose tiles and replace well-worn carpets. These aren’t huge jobs, but they could turn a potential tenant off.

Go neutral 

Traditionally, neutral tones are the recommended colours for rental property décor. A neutral property will appeal to the widest range of tenants, giving you a greater chance of getting it let out quickly. A new lick of paint will also brighten the property up and make it appear larger.

Focus on the kitchen

Kitchens are incredibly important to most tenant types. More often than not, a kitchen is worth more per square foot than any other room, so it can make all the difference. However, unless the kitchen is a real state, it doesn’t always make financial sense to completely replace it. Simply resurface worktops and replace any out-of-date appliances, and you can really modernise the space without spending a fortune.

Sort the garden

While your rental property may not have a garden, don’t forget to sort out any outside space it does have. Most tenants will be interested in having a balcony, yard or garden, so smarten these areas up. Cut back any overgrown bushes, weed the garden, and clean any furniture outside. If you are letting a house, clear the front garden and put some pots outside to boost kerb appeal.

Clean it!

If your tenants didn’t clean the property well at check-out or it’s been empty for a while, remember to make it sparkly clean before viewings. Remember to remove limescale, scrub tile grout and clean windows inside and out to help the property look as good as possible.

Don’t forget that the property needs to smell good too – a bad smell is the single biggest turn off for those looking to move house. Make sure that the drains are clear, the bins washed out and the kitchen is aired.

If a smoker tenant has recently been in the property, place bowls of vinegar around the place. Leave these for three days, then remove and open the windows. The vinegar smell will disappear quickly, and take the cigarette smell with it.

You’re welcome 😉

Landlord’s guide to Fire Safety – Part 2

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We published Part 1 of our guide to Fire Safety for Landlords last week, which covered smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. You can read it by following this link right here!

To continue the 4 part series, this part covers electrical safety checks and regulations which landlords need to be aware of.

Electrical Safety

As a landlord, you must ensure that the property you let out is safe. This means that you need to certify a number of things about your property to make sure that you uphold your legal responsibilities.

At the beginning of a tenancy, you need to check that the electrics are safe and are kept in a safe condition throughout the tenancy, including the electrical circuits, switches, sockets and light fittings. Every so often it’s advised that you conduct a property inspection to check that there are no signs of damage, such as cracks, burn marks or frayed leads.

The best way to be sure is to have work conducted by a qualified electrician. All Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) must have their electrics inspected by a professional every five years. For ordinary rental properties, you are not legally required to do so, but it may still be a good idea to help you keep your tenants safe and your property in a good condition.

You also need to make sure that any electrical appliances you provide are safe. Only buy appliances with a CE marking, which shows it meets EU safety requirements. It’s also recommends that you have your appliances PAT tested every year by a registered electrician. Although you are not legally obliged to do so, you are legally required to ensure that your electrical equipment is safe, so that you can provide proof of responsibility should something go wrong.

Also, check that your fuse box has RCD protection; this means its design will protect against electric shocks and reduce the risk of an electrical fire breaking out.

 

12 Things You Need To Know About Carbon Monoxide Poisoning!

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Unknown-2To help keep your family safe and secure, here’s 12 things you should know about carbon monoxide poisoning from npower.

How safe is your home?

  • 95% of the UK say they know what CO poisoning is, but around a third of UK homes are not fitted with carbon monoxide alarms and less than six percent of the UK can actually identify the most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Although more than 80 percent of the UK correctly said a faulty boiler can be a cause of – however less than 40 percent have had their boiler serviced in the last 12 months.
  • Despite recent legal changes for landlords, the research also showed that over a third of privately rented homes are not fitted with alarms, and only 5% of private tenants were able to identify the most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Since October 2015, it has been the law for landlords to fit a carbon monoxide alarm in every room with a solid fuel source.

What exactly is CO poisoning?

CO is produced when fuels such as gas, coal or wood don’t burn fully. As you breathe it in, it enters your bloodstream and mixes with haemoglobin to produce carboxyhaemoglobin. This leads to less oxygen being carried through your blood which causes the body’s cells and tissues to die.

Understanding the symptoms of carbon monoxide and what to do if you think someone is suffering is vital and could save someone’s life.

How to spot if someone is suffering from CO poisoning

Due to similarities between the symptoms of CO poisoning and the symptoms of flu or food poisoning, it is possible to miss the signs that someone is suffering from CO poisoning.

Unlike flu, CO poisoning does not cause a fever and the most common symptoms include:

  • Headache
  •  Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness and confusion
  • Stomach pain
  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing

5 ways to protect you and your family from Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning

  1. Know the most common symptoms
  2. Fit CO alarms in your home
  3. Get your appliances serviced regularly by registered engineers and ensure all new appliances are installed by registered professionals
  4. Make sure your kitchen is fitted with an extractor fan, do not block air vents and ensure all rooms are property ventilated
  5. Ensure your chimneys and flues are swept regularly by qualified sweeps

Make sure you use this guide wisely and protect your home!

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.