Property Redress Scheme First Agent Workshop

The Property Redress Scheme (PRS) is holding its first Agent Educational Workshop at The Strand Palace Hotel in London on Wednesday 16 March. The morning workshop will give agents a chance to get advice and guidance on essential industry topics.

PRS-Workshop-NoLettingGo-BlogSpeakers include Paul Shamplina from Landlord Action, member of the PRS Advisory Council and known for the Channel  5 programme “Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords”. He will cover what an agent can do to retain a landlord when a tenancy goes wrong.

The workshop also gives delegates a chance to benefit from the experience of Sean Hooker, Head of Redress at the PRS and a guest on BBC Breakfast as an adviser on property matters. Sean will talk about effective complaint handling covering how you deal with a complaint can have a massive impact on how quickly and successfully it is resolved.

Inventories are also an important part of any successful letting business. Our CEO & Co-Founder – Nick Lyons – gives tips on best practice to offer the highest quality letting inventory services available and demonstrates Kaptur – the latest property information collecting tablet technology.

Finally, Suzy Hershman, Head of Dispute Resolution  at mydeposits, will offer a detailed insight in how to provide quality evidence for disputes relating to tenancy deposit protection schemes. From 1st April mydeposits will offer free custodial tenancy deposit protection in addition to its popular insurance-based tenancy deposit protection that counts over 3000 letting agent members.

For agents, this event is an unmissable opportunity to get expert advice and network with key industry players. For Members of the PRS the cost is only £40, while non-members fee is £60. There is limited availability of spaces but PRS Members can bring a friend at the Member price. Refreshments including lunch are provided and all delegates will receive a certificate of attendance. Buy your tickets here.

Photo source: flickr.com/photos/europedistrict

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5 Common Landlord Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

The buy-to-let market continues to be one of the hottest investment markets in the UK. People are purchasing properties and building portfolios in anticipation of providing the kind of retirement they would never get from a pension. But as with any other investment, becoming a landlord also means added responsibility. There are mortgages to pay, tenants to deal with, and a myriad of maintenance and upkeep issues. If you don’t know what you’re doing, being a landlord could become a nightmare.

Landlord-mistakes-NoLettingGoHere are five common mistakes landlords make along with ways to avoid them:

1. Failing to Properly Screen Potential Tenants

Tenants are the lifeblood of any property portfolio. The last thing a landlord needs are tenants who do not pay their rent or who abuse property with very little discretion. A good way to end up with these kinds of tenants is to fail to screen potential candidates correctly. Screening is an absolute must.

One of the best ways to do this is to use a letting agent. Letting agents are experts at tenant screening, and they have access to certain tools that make it easier to discover questionable rental histories and other potential problems. Using a letting agent is well worth the money spent.

2. Failing to Have a Property Inventory in Place

There are companies that provide national property inventory checks for landlords at very reasonable prices. Yet some landlords fail to take advantage of this. By failing to have a property inventory in place, those landlords are taking a big risk in assuming that tenants will take good care of the property throughout their tenancy.

Property-inventory-NoLettingGoThe solution to this mistake is very simple: work with a local or national inventory company to do a complete inventory of your property. Furthermore, utilise a check-in and check-out at both ends of the lease. There are plenty of companies offering landlord’s inventory UK-wide at excellent prices; utilise them.

3. Failing to Keep Tenants Happy

The successful landlord is a landlord able to secure and maintain long-term leases. The longer tenants can be kept in the property, the more financially secure the property becomes. On the other hand, constantly turning over unhappy tenants increases the landlord’s risk of void periods in which the mortgage still has to be paid despite no rental payments coming in. Not keeping tenants happy is a big mistake.

Landlords can avoid this mistake by doing whatever they can to make the tenant experience unforgettably pleasant. For example, you do not have to charge market value rents just because you can. If you can offer a lower rent and still cover your expenses and make a profit, you will have a happy tenant who is less likely to look around for something cheaper near the end of the tenancy.

4. Choosing Properties in the Wrong Location

Residential property is a lot like commercial property in the sense that location is crucial. The most desirable renters tend to want homes in neighbourhoods that are safe and have access to common amenities like public transportation, entertainment options, good schools, and additional opportunities for the family. Choosing properties in bad locations can turn what a landlord hoped to be a great investment into a financial disaster.

The best way to avoid this mistake is to do plenty of research before you purchase. Landlords can work with a specialist property company who deals only in buy-to-let investments; such companies are usually very good at determining which neighbourhoods are desirable and which are not.

5. Failing to Save Money

Owning rental property is essentially a business. And as with any business, there are certain capital expenses that are unavoidable. Landlords who fail to save money for such capital expenses can easily find themselves in financial trouble when things go wrong. If things get too bad, they could jeopardise the business.

Save-money-NoLettingGoLandlords should establish a savings account into which they routinely deposit a portion of every rental payment they receive. The money should not be touched for anything other than making capital improvements or emergency expenses. When money is taken out of the account, it needs to be replaced as quickly as possible.

Being a landlord is a very good way to establish a stable and comfortable income. But it is not without responsibilities. The most successful landlords know what it takes to run a property business and make every effort to avoid the most common mistakes.

Photo sources: flickr.com/photos/reginarentals – flickr.com/photos/shelleygibb – flickr.com/photos/59937401@N07

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10 Worst Things About Renting

Everybody needs a home, right? Some purchase, others rent, and still others are content to live with family for the rest of their lives. It’s all good. Well, mostly anyway. Every housing arrangement has its pros and cons to deal with. Where renting is concerned, there are some unique advantages and disadvantages that only renters are familiar with.

To-Let-NoLettingGoFrom noisy neighbours to an uncooperative landlord, renters do have to stay on their toes. Here are the ten worst things about renting you may already be familiar with:

1. Absentee Landlords

Landlords are known to use all kinds of professional services to make their lives easier. They include letting agents, property management companies, and rental inventory services. UK landlords may utilise such services but still pay close attention to their properties. The same cannot be said for foreign landlords. Those who are not based here tend to be absentee landlords who do not necessarily put a lot of time and effort into the properties.

2. Risking Your Deposit

Few things are as frustrating to renters than having to fight to get the deposit back at the end of a tenancy. Disputes over deposits arise from disagreements over the condition of the property at the start and end of the lease. Renters can protect themselves by insisting on both a check-in and check-out. The landlord can contract with a flat inventory company to handle the details.

3. Limited Decorating Freedom

Landlords understandably want to limit the number of physical changes made to their properties so as to keep their maintenance and remodelling expenses as low as possible. But this often translates into limited decorating freedom for tenants. Therefore, renters have to be very creative in order to decorate without running afoul of the landlord’s property inventory check.

Flat-decoration-NoLettingGo4. Potentially Obnoxious Neighbours

If there is one thing renters know all too well, it is that you can’t control your neighbours. You might end up with someone who is sweet as pie and a joy to have around. Then again, you might end up with an obnoxious neighbour whose dictionary doesn’t include the word ‘quiet’. These days it seems there are more obnoxious neighbours than nice ones.

5. Laundry Is a Hassle

Unless you live in a flat with an in-house washing machine included you will probably have to leave your unit to do your laundry elsewhere. Back at home, you may be limited in the amount of space you have to hang your wet laundry to dry. The long and short of it is that doing laundry in a flat is a hassle.

6. Limited Outdoor Space

Some people choose to rent because they do not want outdoor garden space to have to care for. For everyone else, a little outdoor space would be nice. Most flats don’t provide nearly enough, requiring tenants to go to parks and other public spaces just to get outdoors for a while.

7. Lack of Natural Lighting

Your average flat is not a wide open space with lots of windows letting in natural light. This is not good for someone who adores the sunshine and blue skies. But, you make do. Keep your blinds open as often as possible without compromising your privacy.

8. Appliances Can Be Questionable

What makes a fun conversation for a group of renters? Standing around and talking about appliances. One renter might be dealing with a cooker and refrigerator from the Thatcher era while another has appliances that are barely recognisable as such. You never know what you are going to get when you move to a new flat.

Old-Appliances-NoLettingGo9. Mail and Packages

Standard mail is usually not a problem for renters on a day-to-day basis, but packages can be a real challenge. When no-one is home to accept a package, it could be left unattended in front of the door or held hostage by a neighbour or the leasing office. There is just no good way to receive packages if you are a renter living in a flat.

10. Limited Storage

The UK is not known for abundant personal storage even in the nicest of single-family homes. Storage is an even bigger problem for renters. They have to be extremely creative, using every bit of open space they can find. Thank goodness for storage beds and modular shelving!

So there you have it – the ten worst things about renting. There are, though, just as many ways to turn it around and make the most of your home.

Photo sources: flickr.com/photos/criminalintent – flickr.com/photos/gromgull – flickr.com/photos/g_kat26

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Christmas Decorations That Will Not Dent Your Deposit

Who among us does not appreciate the beautiful lights and festive decorations of Christmas? If you are the kind of person who likes to decorate for the holidays, this is the time of year when your creative juices can begin flowing. But wait. What if you rent a flat rather than owning your property, meaning that you have to consider flat rental inventory? Decorating for Christmas can be a bit more iffy.

Before you begin putting up the fairy lights and stockings, take a look at your lease agreement to see what it says. The agreement may include restrictions about how you can attach things to the walls; it might even stipulate whether or not you can bring a living pine tree into your residence. Once you know your restrictions, you have a good idea how to proceed and can rest in the knowledge that your property inventory checks will be okay at the lease’s end.

Artificial Christmas Trees

Smaller, artificial Christmas trees make it possible for you to have a tree without running afoul of restrictions on the living variety. What’s more, today’s artificial trees look more realistic than ever before. Many of them even come with fairy or berry lights already strung within the boughs and branches. You can easily add plastic and paper ornaments that are easy on the budget and much more safe than glass.

Christmas-tree-NoLettingGoChoose LED Lights

Anyone planning to use holiday lighting in a rented property should seriously consider using LED lights. LED technology uses considerably less electricity and significantly reduces the risk of fire hazard. As always, make sure to read and understand the instructions that come with your light sets so as to not overload electrical sockets.

You can hang lights from curtain rails or attach them to larger furniture pieces. This enables you to string lights without having to damage walls. If your lease agreement allows it, you can buy suction cup hooks or adhesive hooks that use temporary, peel-away strips that do not damage walls.

Christmas-LED-Lights-NoLettingGoWreaths and Garlands

Wreaths and garlands are great holiday decorations you can put just about anywhere without the need to attach anything to the walls. Wreaths can be placed on the dining table with a few candles while a garland can be the wound around the staircase railing, a stand-up lamp, or your curtain rails. Garland also makes a very nice accessory for your Christmas tree. You can get it in a variety of colours and styles to suit your preference.

Christmas-Wreaths-NoLettingGoWindow Decals and Stencils

Windows makes a great canvas for holiday decorations by way of decals and stencils. Window decals are made of vinyl so they easily stick to windows as long as the panes are clean. After the holidays, they peel right off with no damage done. If you prefer stencilling, you can create some gorgeous designs using a can of artificial spray-snow.

The stencilling idea is a bit more challenging but well worth the effort. And don’t worry about the spray-snow, it will wipe right off with some warm water and a towel. In the meantime, you can enjoy snowflakes and holiday messages glistening in the sunlight as it comes through your windows.

Another good way to put your windows to work is to create silhouette images using white paper. Attach the silhouettes with a little bit of sticky tape and you’re done. During the daylight hours the silhouettes are simple pictures people will enjoy as they pass by; at night they look fantastic against the background lighting of your room.

Christmas-Window-Stencils-NoLettingGoYou can decorate for the holidays even if you live in a rented property. You just need to be a little creative and keep in mind what your lease agreement stipulates without worrying about letting inventories.

Photo sources: flickr.com/photos/johnnylcy – flickr.com/photos/theyoungthousands – flickr.com/photos/ewulina – flickr.com/photos/quinnanya

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Top tips for Property Investors & Landlords

The property market has become an obsessive past time in Britain. Speculative musings can be found on nearly every news source asking the question, ‘What will happen next?’ £7bn will be pledged to prioritize housebuilding according to the Autumn Statement 2015Here are the 6 things every landlord should check before buying an investment home:

  1. Research the local area

From local amenities to nearby parks and playgrounds, the area the property is located in can prove to be a real asset to the home, or can be a deterrent. Look into things like the ratings and ability to get into the local schools, the amount of the council tax, the ability to get a take away, and even the flight paths. If you aren’t familiar with the area it makes it hard to know if there are planes which fly overhead or if your tenant would be able to enrol their children in the local school.

Playground-NoLettingGo2. Research the commute

A stressful commute has been known to cause all sorts of frustrations including higher blood pressure, higher cholesterol and increased anxiety. Investing in a property near public transport or a reliable trainline can increase the appeal of the home, because of the location. Having knowledge of the ease of transport from the property can be a big USP when attracting tenants or future buyers.

Commute-NoLettingGo3. Don’t forget to think about what a tenant wants

It is imperative that you look at investing in a property which will be for the type of tenant you’d like to have. If you are interested in students consider a property near a university. If you are interested in attracting a young professional in London consider a property near a central line.

University-NoLettingGo4. Mind your budget

Purchasing the property is only one financial aspect of this investment. It’s important to consider not just the price of the mortgage, but also what you plan on charging for your rents and what the annual costs of maintaining the property would cost as well.

Budget-NoLettingGo5. Mind your time

It’s unavoidable that your tenants will need help from time to time. At the beginning there will be a large demand on your time if you plan on managing the property yourself. From marketing to potential tenants to overseeing the viewings, it can feel like a full time job. Even after the property has been rented the best appliances need repairing and tenants can lock themselves out of their home from time to time. So it’s important to consider how you value your time and if having a professional property management team take care of your investment is the best choice for you.

Time-NoLettingGo6. Don’t forget the little things

From flooding risks to sinkholes, not all properties are on solid ground. It’s imperative to get the necessary searches and perform your own research in order to know how at risk your investment might be. Although flood zones or sinkholes might be anomalies, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Recent Floods in Perry County KYProperty Detective helps people make more informed, smarter decisions about where they want to live or invest, by giving them the complete picture about their local areas. Visit PropertyDetective.com for more info.

Photo source: geograph.org.uk – wikipedia.org – flickr.com/photos/76657755@N04

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New Smoke Alarms Installation & Inspection Service

New Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Legislation 2015 for England, comes into effect on 1st October which means that landlords of residential properties must have smoke alarms fitted on every floor and carbon monoxide alarms in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance. To support landlords and letting agents, No Letting Go has launched an inspection and installation services across its 50 regional offices. These regulations cover all private rented properties not just new tenancies which are let on assured shorthold tenancies and is retrospective.

Smoke-Alarm-Service-NoLettingGoNick Lyons, CEO of No Letting Go, says “with the enormous and somewhat challenging task agents and landlords now have with which to meet the requirements of the new legislation, we have launched a fully insured and audited inspection and installation service both as a standalone service or combined with our current inventory or check out , to help agents and landlords across the UK comply with the legislation.”

By providing this service No Letting Go will test, register and record all existing alarms, replace batteries and/or install new alarms where necessary. All information will be recorded in a report and on our web base system, accessible 24/7 providing a full audit trail to ensure agents and landlords meet these latest legislative requirements.

Check for details of your local office here, call our head office on 0203 1264 409 or e mail us at alarmcompliance@nolettinggo.co.uk.

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TDS – The Dispute Service Annual Review 2015

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) – the government approved deposit protection scheme for landlords, agents, and tenants in the UK – today announced the value of deposits protected has grown by £100m from last year, to over £1.3bn and a 25% increase in deposit disputes, to 11,900.

tdsThe TDS figures show that 19.2% of all disputes raised resulted in 100% pay-outs to tenants; 19.8% of all disputes raised by landlords or agents resulted in 100% pay-outs to them; while in the remaining 61% of cases saw the disputed money split between the parties.

Most of the disputes in England and Wales were about cleaning (58%), followed by damage (52%), redecoration (32%), gardening (17%) and rent arrears (10%).

It is worth noting the average amount of money disputed in cases across England and Wales was £831 – Our average inventory costs only 10% of this value; isn’t it worth considering a professional inventory service?

You can avoid the trend of increasing tenancy disputes with leading inventory provider No Letting Go: with an incredibly successful track record, we are the largest and most respected property inventory company with over 40 offices throughout the UK.

Call us today for enquires 01322 555128.

You can read the full TDS Dispute Service Annual Review 2015 here.

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Smoke Detector & Carbon Monoxide Detector Regulations

On 11 March 2015 Housing Minister Brandon Lewis announced that landlords will be required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties.

Smoke Detector & Carbon Monoxide Detector RegulationsThe draft legislation says:

A relevant landlord in respect of a specified tenancy must ensure that

  • during any period beginning on or after 1st October 2015 when the premises are occupied under the
  • a smoke detector is equipped on each storey of the premises on which there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation (this includes bathrooms, toilets halls and landings)
  • a carbon monoxide detector is equipped in any room of the premises which is used as living accommodation and contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance; and

(b) checks are made by or on behalf of the landlord to ensure that each prescribed detector is in proper working order on the day the tenancy begins if it is a new tenancy.

With just three weeks to go, the draft Regulations have still not been approved by Parliament and, on Monday 7th September, the House of Lords threw them out and demanded it should debate them.

A week later – on Monday 14th September – Parliament has finally approved the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015.

The deadline is October 1st and local authorities will fine landlords who fail to comply up to £5,000.

Smoke-Detector-NLGAside from the impending legislation, as part of our standard service No Letting Go now offer smoke detector and carbon monoxide testing at the point of inventory and checkout. We always strive to provide the best service possible by raising our standards and ensuring the health & safety of all our clients, that’s why we recommend that you buy and install alarms in your properties.

For more information call: 01322 555128 or email: info@nolettinggo.co.uk

Updated on 15/09/15

Photo source: wikipedia.org – nest.com

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Infographic: Guide to Becoming a Landlord

This infographic by Access Legal shows some of the things landlords need to do, the costs involved, the classic errors to avoid to make sure you get the best from buy-to-let – and how to look after your tenants so they look after you.

Access Legal - Guide to becoming a Landlord v3

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Infographic: Student Property Investment

Did you know that the UK is the number one host country in the world for international students? With this in mind, it’s clear to see that there are big opportunities for financial success in this sector.

If you are considering investing in student property, then check out Aspen Woolf‘s infographic to find out statistics and facts on university applications, offers and rented properties.

Infographic-student-property

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