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!

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!

Attention Tenants! How to Keep Your Rental Deposits

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Tenancy Deposit Schemes

By law your landlord must put your rental deposit in one of the government-backed tenancy deposit schemes. In England and Wales the schemes are:

There are certain conditions which mean tenants may not receive their deposit back. For example, if a landlord feels that a property has fallen into disrepair due to the tenants actions or lack of care, the price of repairing those damages would be taken from the deposit.

If you treat the property with care you shouldn’t have to worry about losing your deposit. We thought it would be useful to give you some tips to help you keep your rental deposit at the end of your tenancy:

Read your tenancy agreement

Your tenancy agreement may be a bit lengthy but it’s important that you read it. The agreement will lay out explicitly what is and isn’t expected of you while living in the property. For example, some agreements will state that you cannot hang pictures on the walls, or that you must cut the grass regularly. Stick to the agreement and the rules set out by your landlord. If you are unsure about any of the conditions make sure that you discuss these with your Landlord or Letting Agent before signing.

Check the inventory

When you move into the property an inventory will be carried out to confirm the state of the property, and list any furniture or appliances that have been included. When you move out, the check-out report will be compared to the initial inventory to make sure that you have left the property in the same state in which you moved in. If you disagree with anything on the inventory make sure you take photographs and discuss this as soon as possible with your Landlord or Letting Agent.

Pay your bills

All utility bills are the tenant’s responsibility unless your tenancy agreement states otherwise. If you don’t keep on top of your bills you may have money deducted from your deposit when you move out – or even have your tenancy terminated early by your Landlord.

Report repairs

Some repairs and general maintenance will be covered by your Landlord, others you will need to sort out and pay for yourself. Always report any issues to your Landlord or Letting Agent at the earliest opportunity.

Keep it clean

If you leave the property in a mess and your Landlord has to hire a professional cleaner you are likely to have the costs deducted from your deposit. To make sure this doesn’t happen keep on top of your housework – keep surfaces, kitchen appliances, bathrooms and carpets clean to avoid a build up of grime.

Take belongings with you

When you move out of the property ensure that you take all possessions with you – including any rubbish and unwanted items. Any costs incurred by the Landlord for removal of items will most likely be deducted from your deposit.

If you have any queries about your deposit always speak to your Landlord or Letting Agent. Any disputes regarding the deposit can be lodged with the relevant tenancy deposit scheme.

Good luck 🙂

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!

Time to move?

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Thinking about upping sticks to move across the country and start again or having found a new job? The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) provides five top tips to ensure moving house runs smoothly.

1. Visit the new area

It can take six to eight months to feel at home in a new town, so make sure you are happy with the location of your new house. It’s worth visiting the new area a few times to get your bearings – spend some time driving around surrounding towns and villages. This will also help with finding transport links.

2. Settle the children

If children are moving with you, make sure you take them on a tour of the new area to point out schools, local parks and opportunities for social activities. The best time of year to move with children is usually before the start of a new school year, or at the beginning of a new term, because this will give them more time to settle in.

3. Talk to people

Speak to the existing owner or landlord of the house you intend to buy or rent, as well as the neighbours. Ask them about the best things to do in the area and for information on local events. Recommendations for local services such as doctors and dentists are also important, as well as takeaway menus for that first night after a long moving day!

4. Prepare your pets

If you have any pets, it would be worth taking a trip to your new area in advance so they can also get a sense of their new home. You could even arrange for them to be looked after while you move, as this will minimise stress for you and them on moving day.

5. Service your car

If you’re driving to your new location, it’s worth servicing your car beforehand to minimise any chance of a breakdown during your journey. Also stop regularly for breaks and speak to your removal company because they are governed by strict rules around the length of time drivers can travel for. And a full removal lorry can’t go very fast! You will want your belongings to arrive the same day that you do.

Long distance moving can be stressful enough but with careful planning and organisation, you can ensure moving day runs smoothly!

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!