No Letting Go Welcomes New Franchisees in London and Gloucestershire

We’re happy to welcome two new regional franchisees.  Tarinder Bassi is providing inventory management services to the Ealing and Chiswick area, while Sheridan and Alastair Lines have taken on the Gloucestershire territory including Gloucester, Cheltenham and Stroud.

Tarinder brings with him 18 years of experience gained in retail and customer service roles, he said, “my passion for high quality customer service and working closely with people fits well with the ethos at No Letting Go and works to my strength. I have always wanted to own my own business and this franchise ticked all the boxes. I’m very excited about this new opportunity and the potential is presents, learning something new and doing something different.”

GloucesterFranchiseesAlastair and Sheridan Lines run their own successful haulage company and have some property experience through owning rental properties.  Sheridan said, “We are not new to business and as landlords ourselves understand the importance of accurate, comprehensive inventories. The property market is extremely buoyant in our area and we believe that we can really build a strong business. Following No Letting Go’s comprehensive training and time spent preparing to launch we have hit the ground running and are already busy. Our first projects have all gone really well.  Our daughter Jacqueline is supporting us with some of the inventory and paperwork and we hope that she will eventually join us full-time.”

Nick Lyons, founder of No Letting Go added, “The private rentals market continues to grow rapidly with over 4.1m people renting privately in England and Wales. Since legislation changes in 2007 inventory management services have become one of the most critical rental documents and yet this is still a young market for those providing inventory management services with enormous potential.  With the addition of online technology and inventories routinely being carried out using tablet and mobile devices, this service is unrecognizable from its paper-based roots.  Today inventory clerks can be contacted in the field and No Letting Go have led the way through its franchise network to provide a national service to exactly meet the needs of Landlords, Letting Agents and Property Managers working in this dynamic environment.”

For more information please visit No Letting Go Franchise website.

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What to Expect When Flat Sharing in London

With the average price of private rental properties in London more than double the rest of the UK, your best bet for securing somewhere to live in the capital is to flat-share.

If you have ever been a student living away from home, you will probably be familiar with the concept of flat sharing. If not, it’s basically where two or more people live in a property together, with a private bedroom and shared communal areas. Renting in this way means you get to split the rent, bills, and other costs between tenants, meaning you can actually afford to live in London.

renting in londonFinding a Flat to Share

There are flat-shares found right across the capital; however, not all areas may be to your taste or within your price range. The best thing to do when looking for a place to live is to focus on areas close to where you work or study, or areas where commuting costs are reasonable. Commuting around London is not going to be cheap and sometimes paying higher rents within Zones 1 and 2 can work our more cost friendly that living in Zones 5 or 6 and travelling to work or college by public transport. If you want to find out about a particular neighbourhood, the Office for National Statistics website is a good resource.

Generally, flat-share rental accommodation is not advertised on typical property websites. However, there are dedicated sites offering plenty of options. Due to the high rate of scams and fraudulent postings, you should probably avoid Gumtree and instead use sites such as Spare Room and Move Flat, both of which are highly reputable.

The Inventory

Upon securing a new place to live and being ready to move in, you will need to sign an inventory provided by the landlord, which details the contents and condition of the property. The idea of the inventory is to monitor the condition of the property and any items therein. An inventory will also be carried out just before you leave a property and will make clear which damages (if any) need to be paid for out of a deposit. If a landlord does not provide an inventory, you should consider having one carried out by an inventory clerk.

Tenancy Agreement

Along with the inventory, a landlord will also ask you to sign a tenancy agreement. The agreement will outline the terms of the tenancy including rent payments and contract expiry, and information concerning the dwelling and its contents.

paying rent in LondonRent Payments

Rent is typically split equally between flatmates and paid per calendar month. Rent payments are made in accordance with the tenancy agreement and, unless previously agreed, cannot be increased without consent.

At the start of your rent, you will be required to pay a deposit. To ensure your money is protected and a landlord does not rip you off, your deposit is stored in a government controlled tenancy deposit scheme. If there are damages to pay for at the end of a tenancy, a landlord will be able to retain a percentage of the deposit without your consent. If you feel that this is not justified, you can appeal through tenancy deposit scheme litigators.

Bills

Like rent, bills will be split between flatmates. How this is done will be arranged between yourself and your new house buddies. Generally, all flatmates pay their share into an account and bills are paid directly to the landlord by Direct Debit.

 

Photo source flickr: Garry Knight, Images Money

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Advice for First Time Landlords

With house prices rising at their fastest rates since the recession, and the gap between those who can afford to buy and those who cannot widening with each passing month, now is as good a time as ever to enter the buy-to-let market and become a landlord.

The buy-to-let market is an incredibly lucrative one at the moment and, for first time landlords, a venture that can prove very financially successful. However, it is important that you approach it in the right way. Buying-to-let is very different from purchasing your own home and any mortgage taken out with the intention to let must be what is right from a business standpoint. Even if you do not intend on purchasing a property but instead wish to capitalise on demand by renting out a room in your own home, a business mentality is essential.

Legal Requirements

Whether you are renting a room in your main home or purchasing a buy-to-let property, there are certain legal responsibilities that you must adhere to in relation to tax, health and safety, and tenants. Before venturing in to the market, it is important that you are well aware of your responsibilities. Gov.uk offers this guide on being a landlord and renting out a room, which covers deposit protection schemes, tenancy agreements, possession claims, evictions, and more. Take the time to read each of the sections in the guide and familiarise yourself with what being a landlord requires.

Mortgage Advice

mortgage advice for first time landlordsIf you are purchasing a buy-to-let property, it is essential that you think from a business standpoint. A good rental property is not necessarily somewhere that you would like to live yourself, but somewhere that is appealing to a tenant, with good transport links and within close proximity to local amenities. When funding your buy-to-let investment, it is crucial that you seek advice from an independent mortgage advisor. While most banks and building societies offer buy-to-let mortgages, some of the best deals do not exist on the high street and can only be found through a whole-market broker. Unbiased.co.uk is a great place to find an independent financial adviser in your area.

Letting Agents

Buy-to-let can be a minefield of red tape and it is important that you do your homework before entering in to the market. From tenant deposit schemes to ensuring items of furniture comply with fire regulations, there is a lot to take in as a first time landlord, so the help of a letting agent could be vital. As well as the finer details of being a landlord, a letting agent will also be able to provide you with advice on potentially lucrative areas to rent. Find a good letting agent through the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).

Insurance

As a landlord you will need adequate insurance to cover the building and contents (if the home is furnished), and your rental income – especially in the early days. Insurance deals differ greatly depending on your preferences and your circumstances. LandlordExpert.co.uk offers a good directory of insurance brokers across all areas of the UK.

Inventory

no letting go property inventoryWhile it is not a legal requirement, an inventory is something you should definitely not overlook as a landlord. An inventory is a listing of all the contents of a property and the condition of the property, designed to help monitor the condition of the contents/property before a tenant moves in and just before they leave. The inventory is signed by both landlord and tenant and works as an agreement between both parties, making clear what damages need to be paid out of a deposit and eliminating possible disputes. It is in the best interests of you as the landlord and your tenants that the inventory is carried out by a professional third-party inventory clerk; this ensures thorough documents, as well as photographic and video evidence.

Photo source flickr: Simon Cunningham.

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Property Inventory: Why It Should Be Considered by both Tenants & Landlords

for rentThe landlord/tenant relationship is a common one in the UK, with a reported 3.8 million people living in rented accommodation in England alone. However, while many tenants enjoy a long and prosperous relationship with landlords, there are also those whose association is less than amicable.

We’ve all heard the stories about landlords from hell; there are enough of them out there to give landlords everywhere a bad name. Nevertheless, the nightmarish tales do not exist solely on the side of the property owner – there are also stories of tenants from hell, making the landlord’s life misery and ruining a rental property.

Most of the issues that occur between both parties in a rental agreement are because of one thing: blame. Landlords blaming tenants for causing damage and tenants insisting damage was pre-existing, it is a common situation; however, it is also one that never has to surface. Playing the blame game pits your word against the word of the other party, the result of which generally ends up being settled in court. A simple document such as a property inventory, though, will instantly eliminate any issue over any aspect of a property.

Property inventories for landlords

As a landlord, it goes without saying that you want to protect your home, your livelihood. Since 2007 and the introduction of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS), it has been much harder to do this. The old days of having full control over a deposit are gone – tenants have more rights and they know this. Since the TDS was brought in, tenants are now more willing to challenge the holding of a deposit; some will do it even if they know they are in the wrong. While this can be frustrating, they are well within their rights to do this and they have a pretty good chance of winning if a case went to court. The only way you can prevent this from happening is with a comprehensive property inventory.

1574578786_377548bf33_oAn inventory, when carried out by an agency, will list all of the contents and record the condition of a property using both written and photographic methods. The inventory will be taken just before a tenant moves in and just before a tenant leaves, to make clear what, if any, damages need to be repaired and paid for out of a deposit. Inventories are generally carried out with a tenant in attendance and must be signed by the tenant, giving you as the landlord assurances that your property is protected.

Property inventories for tenants

As a tenant, the reasons for considering an inventory are the same as those of a landlord: you do not want to be blamed for something you haven’t done. While the Tenancy Deposit Scheme is in place to ensure your deposit is protected, an inventory report will provide you with that extra assurance that you need to leave a property without any hassle.

There are times when landlords and tenants do not agree on certain things – one thing they can both agree on, though, is a property inventory.

Image sources on flickr: Michael Mandiberg & Orin Zebest

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Property Market Facts & Figures – January 2014

Here is a great infographic we recently discovered over at Rentguard Insurance looking at the property market in January 2014. As you can see property prices & rent is likely to increase sharply in the near future meaning it is even more important that you protect your property.
 
 
January2014marketwatch

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Renting in London: What You Need to Know

London is one of the world’s great cities and has something for everyone. Living in this city is an ambition of many people; however, with the cost of buying a home in the capital is more than many people can afford; therefore, renting is the best option. However, once you have made the decision to rent, how on earth do you find somewhere suitable? London is a huge city and if you are not familiar with the various boroughs, finding a nice property in a good location can prove virtually impossible. Fortunately, we are here to help, so here’s what you need to know about renting in the capital.

Finding a property

London_Big_Ben_Phone_box

London has an abundance of houses, flats, apartments, and bungalows available to rent, so you don’t have to worry about finding something that suits your tastes. What is trickier is finding the ideal property in an ideal area; to do this you will need to consider several factors:

  • Time to central London – the chances are you will not find a place right in the centre of the capital, so instead you will need to look for something within close proximity.
  • Transport – driving in London is a pretty stressful task, so you will probably need to look for somewhere that has good transport links.
  • Green areas – life in the city is not for the faint-hearted, so having parks and open spaces close by will be beneficial.
  • Safety – some areas of London have higher crime rates than others. Safety is paramount.
  • Cost – the most important factor. Ideally, you’ll want to find a property that meets all of the above preferences at the cheapest possible price.

Recommended locations

With those factors in mind, you can narrow down the search to several areas.

Highbury
North London is considered an established and trendy area to rent. Within 10 minutes of central London is Highbury, in the Borough of Islington. The transport links here are excellent and there are plenty of restaurants and bars with a real multicultural mix of people. Average rental in this area is around £310 per week.

Battersea
Battersea (home of the power station and famous dogs and cats home) is south of the River Thames and is considered an up-and-coming place to rent, making it more affordable. This ‘urban-cool’ area is a buzzy place to live and has plenty of pubs and bars to enjoy. Average weekly rent is around £310 per week.

Shoreditch and Bethnal Green
Over in east London, Shoreditch and Bethnal Green blends corporate lifestyle with bohemia, as bankers and arty types live side-by-side in one of the London’s trendiest areas. Given its location, Shoreditch and Bethnal Green is one of the most in-demand rental areas in the capital, with average weekly rent somewhere in the region of £380.

Renting a home

view london

Before you rent a home in the capital, it is essential that you view the places that you like before moving in. With rental and deposit significantly higher than most other places in the UK, it is also wise to request that the landlord carry out a property inventory, or else have one done yourself. There are several property inventory services in London that can provide you with an in-depth inventory, ensuring that any pre-existing damage is flagged.

While we are on the subject of inventories, you should make sure that one is carried out just before your tenancy ends – this will prevent you being blamed for any damages that are not your fault and will simplify the exiting process.

The final thing to do before you move in is sign the rental agreement. A property inventory will also be part of the agreement, so that will need to be signed too. A tenancy agreement should include:

  • duration of tenancy
  • rental cost
  • your responsibilities
  • your rights
  • the landlord’s responsibilities.

Remember to always read the agreement carefully and do not sign it until you are happy.

With all of the paperwork in place and the property inventory signed, you will then be ready to move in to your perfect London home!

 

Photo sources:  Julian Osley

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You Break It You Pay For It: Student Housing Advice

student break

As a student leaving home for the first time the thought of going to live with other students is an exciting one. Living with other like-minded individuals, staying up until the small hours of the morning and bonding over Pot Noodles are all part of the student lifestyle and some of the most enjoyable years of your life will be spent in student accommodation. However, living in rented property isn’t all fun and games and it’s important to remember that the house or flat is not owned by you or your fellow students. There are rules that must be adhered to – rules laid out by a landlord when signing a rental agreement and national flat inventory.

Getting back your deposit

When you move into a rented property, the landlord will generally ask for a deposit. This maybe to the sum of one month’s rent, maybe two months’ rent – either way, you are going to be handing over a significant amount of cash.

The idea behind taking a deposit from the landlord’s point of view is that it gives you as the tenant an incentive to look after the house. What it also does is provide the landlord with some financial collateral should any damage show up in the end of tenancy inventory report.

To ensure that everyone is able to have their deposits returned without dispute, you should lay down some ground rules before moving in.

First, every person living in the property should be clear about the rental agreement and what is and is not allowed. Establish how much rent each individual has to pay and when. It can be a good idea to have each member of the household pay their share of the rent by direct debit, this way everyone can avoid lending money and the risk of jeopardising a friendship over disputes.

There should also be a common understanding that whoever breaks something pays for it. That way bills will not end up falling in the lap of other students.

Try to spend as much time together as a group as possible, that way you can all pull together to abide by the rules of the landlord and air any grievances without causing too much tension.

UK property inventories

UK property inventories are an essential part of the rental agreement and something that should be done before you move in and after you move out. Generally, the landlord will compile a property inventory and you will be required to sign it, declaring that the condition of the home and its contents is as the document says. If the landlord does not provide you with an inventory report it is well worth investing in rental inventory services. UK companies carrying this type of report are comprehensive in what they do and will check the house top to bottom for damage, ticking off items down to the last piece of cutlery.

It is also worth carry out regular inventories yourself during your tenancy, just to ensure everything is as it should be.

An inventory report will help prevent disputes over damage and the general condition of a home (usual wear and tear is allowed) and should be signed by all parties involved in the rental agreement.
Before moving out of the home, you should give yourself a few weeks to carry out any cleaning and minor repairs. Schedule an appointment with the landlord at least a week before you move out. This way, anything that is flagged can be rectified. As long as you have kept to the inventory checklist, there will be no dispute over the returning of your deposit.

Living in rented accommodation with fellow students should always be an enjoyable experience that results in you receiving your deposit back and the end of the tenancy. The arrangement of UK property inventories will help ensure that you do get your money back, and we all know how much you’ll need it!

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Trouble with Tenants? How Landlords Can Protect Themselves

There is a lot said about so-called ‘landlords from hell’; newspapers publish features of bullying landlords and television stations run shows all about the plight of tenants.

However, what about the other side of the rental agreement?

Tenants can be troublesome too; in fact, there are more disruptive tenants out there than there are bad landlords. There are dozens of articles online advising tenants of their rights and how to protect themselves from landlords, yet there is virtually nothing on how landlords can protect themselves from tenants – how a landlord inventory and insurance can be used to give a property owner protection.

In this post, we are siding with the landlord and looking at how you can protect yourself from troubling tenants.

Landlord insurance

landlord insurance

As a landlord renting out a property to tenants is largely based upon trust. While references can be sought and background checks can be done to try to determine the history and character of a tenant, ultimately you put your trust in them to respect the property and look after it during their stay.

One of the rights that a landlord must provide a tenant is to allow them to live undisturbed in a property. Unfortunately, the tenant can often abuse this right and your property could be being dismantled without your knowledge. A tenant could be knocking down walls, selling appliances or renting out a spare room without your knowledge. To protect yourself from any such instances, it is advisable to have landlord insurance in place.

Given that you must keep a property in a good state of repair at all times, landlord insurance is pretty useful to have anyway – covering you for damages and any rent that is lost due to repairs being carried out.

In the event of a dispute with a tenant, landlord insurance will also cover legal expenses – both in the event of a tenant taking action against you and you attempting to evict a tenant.

Landlord insurance is based upon the cost of a home being rebuilt in the event that it is completely destroyed, therefore you should consider the building sum insured (BSI) factor and include the actual cost of the build, clearance costs, and surveyor fees when calculating how much insurance you need. Complete landlord insurance should include:

  • building and contents insurance
  • liability insurance
  • alternative accommodation cover
  • loss of rent cover
  • emergency assistance cover
  • rent guarantee cover
  • legal cover.

Landlord inventory

inventory clerk

Since the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) scheme was launched back in 2007, landlords are required to protect the deposit of a tenant through a government-backed scheme. This has meant landlords and no longer able to control a deposit and tenants have more power to challenge the withholding of their money. Backed by this scheme, more and more tenants are taking on landlords even when they know they are in the wrong – the only way to protect yourself from this is with a landlord inventory.

An inventory is a detailed report of the contents and condition of a property. This document contains written and visual evidence of everything related to a property and must be signed by both landlord and tenant, forming part of the legally binding tenancy agreement contract.

A landlord inventory should be carried out just before a tenancy starts and just before a tenancy ends and offers a hassle free way to assess any damages and decide what, if anything, should be paid for out of a deposit. If you are worried about how tenants may be treating a property, it is advisable to also carry out a landlord inventory during the tenancy.

Remember, when it comes to a tenancy, it is your property and your investment and you should do everything you can to protect it. A landlord inventory and landlord insurance are both reccomended but it also helps finding the right tenants in the first place with online services such as Rentonomy and Upad helping landlords do just that.

 

Photo source  - flickr: Chris Potter

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Tenants – Protect You Deposit; Know Your Rights

Before renting a property in the UK, the landlord you are dealing with will ask you to pay an up-front deposit. This will usually be to the total of one or two months’ rent. The general reason for taking a deposit is to give the tenant an incentive to look after the property; however, while most landlords are trustworthy, as a tenant, handing over such a large amount of money to someone you don’t know has to be seen as a risk. Therefore, it is essential that you know your rights and responsibilities.

Here are some tips on how to protect your deposit when moving into a rental property.

Make sure the landlord is a member of a Tenancy Deposit Scheme

As of 6 April 2007, all deposits taken by landlords must have been safeguarded by a Government approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme. There are three schemes available and landlords are free to choose which one to use; safeguarding each deposit and informing the tenant of the scheme used within 30 days or receiving the money.

Before handing over any money to a landlord or signing any home inventory, UK residents are urged to check that the landlord is part of a Tenancy Deposit Scheme. It is also essential to keep a receipt of payment as evidence.

Understand the tenancy agreement

tenancy agreement

Tenancy agreements may seem overly wordy and tedious, but they contain essential information about what you can and cannot do while renting a home. Rental agreements often contain clauses related to the keeping of pets, and certain aspects of the home; if you do not clearly understand these clauses and do not abide by them, you may lose your deposit.

Also essential is a full home inventory. UK-wide inventory company services specialise in providing comprehensive reports into the condition of a property and its contents before a tenant moves in to a home and after they move out. A landlord will generally provide you with such an inventory and it is important that you read and agree with it before signing, otherwise you may be accused of causing damage that was pre-existing.

It can be wise to hire a home or flat inventory company of your own to carry out a report before moving in and out of a property. This will help protect you in a dispute over deposit.

Don’t make changes without permission

If you wish to make any changes to a property, such as replacing doors or painting walls, make sure that you get permission IN WRITING before doing so.

Look after the property

Remember, as a tenant it is your responsibility to look after a property. This means causing no damage and returning it to its original state at the end of the tenancy. Most disputes between landlords and tenants are over the general state of cleanliness. Not keeping a home clean is a silly way to risk losing your deposit.

Only use regulated agents

To avoid rogue landlords, only rent from agents that are regulated by one of the following professional bodies:

  • National Federation of Property Professionals (NFoPP)
  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
  • National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS).

When hiring a home or flat inventory company, it is recommended that you use a member of the AIIC (Association of Independent Inventory Clerks).

Court action

If you believe that a landlord is wrongly holding your deposit and they cannot be convinced to give you it back, it is possible to have a court settle a disagreement. The court will look at all of the evidence in the case and make a decision on whether a landlord should return part or all of the deposit.

In the event of a dispute, a home inventory will be vital in helping a court decide a case, although it should be said that the evidence contained within inventories often prevents disputes reaching court.

 

Photo sources: ohmyapt.apartmentratings.com

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The World’s Most Expensive Homes Infographic

We recently found this infographic over at www.moneysupermarket.com showing the world’s most expensive homes which we thought was well worth a share. Buckingham Palace leading the way is no surprising but there is some international property that you may not of heard of before. Would definitely be worth carrying out a professional property inventory in a few of these to protect against damages!

expensive homes infographic

The world’s most expenisve homes

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