Best Apps For Landlords

There’s really no disputing the fact that mobile technology has made life exponentially easier for the average UK landlord. But at the same time, it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to choosing the very best mobile applications to use for professional purposes.

apps-for-landlords-nolettinggoFrom local landlord inventory services to helpful communication software and so much more, the market really is quite enormous. Which is why we’ve rounded up a selection of the very best – all of which are more than worth trying out:

1) The Landlord App

In the case of this particular app, the name really does say it all. The Landlord App basically offers a comprehensive array of conveniences and features to help landlords operate and manage their businesses more effectively. From finding new tenants to scheduling utility bill payments to chasing payments owed and so on, there’s an incredible amount packed into this superb app.  Highly recommended by the vast majority of landlord inventory services in the UK.

Available at – http://www.thelandlordapp.com 

2) Scanbot

Absolutely fantastic for keeping track of all your most important documents, Scanbot allows the user to create high quality JPEG or PDF copies of documents in a matter of seconds.  From contracts to receipts to invoices and so on, it is simply a case of using your smartphone’s camera to instantly scan and record your documents. Copies are saved in excess of 200dpi for outstanding quality and the app does a great job of reducing motion blur.

Available at – https://scanbot.io/en/index.html 

landlord-phone3) Rightmove

The Rightmove app basically takes absolutely everything the market-leading online estate agency offers and slips its right into your pocket. It is one of the best and most important applications you will come across when it comes to keeping a close eye on local markets and assessing property values/rent averages. It can also be a fantastic app to use if you plan on using Rightmove to advertise a property on your own.

Available at – http://www.rightmove.co.uk/mobile-platforms/android-app.html 

4) Ask A Lawyer:

This particular app was created for those with important legal questions to ask, though neither the desire nor means to pay huge sums of cash to arrange a consultation. The app makes it possible for any landlord at any time to ask any question whatsoever with regard to their business. Expert answers and advice are then offered from qualified and experienced legal professionals up and down the country – all of which is made available 100% free of charge.

Available at – https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ask-a-lawyer/id796482136?mt=8 

5) My Landlord

Last but not least, My Landlord is by far one of the best mobile apps of its kind to hit the market so far. My Landlord basically serves as the most convenient and reliable method for reporting and recording minor to moderate maintenance issues. The tenant is able to describe the problem, take a picture of it with their device and send it straight to the landlord’s device. It can also be used to report things like graffiti and vandalism, dumped rubbish, abandoned vehicles and more.

Available at – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=uk.gov.lookinglocal.hfa&hl=en_GB

Photo sources: pixabay.com – Sean MacEntee

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Infographic: Step by Step Guide to Being a Landlord

Are you are considering investing in property? With demand far outstripping supply, buy-to-let is certainly an attractive income investment for many people. This infographic by Commercial Trust will help move your first steps towards becoming a successful landlord.

Step by step guide to being a landlord

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What’s New For Landlords?

As of February 1st this year, landlords up and down the United Kingdom found themselves lumped with a pretty sizeable load of newly-assigned responsibilities. For the first time, and for the indefinite future to say the least, it is now entirely the responsibility of landlords to ensure that their tenants are in fact legally entitled to rent their properties. Known as the ‘Right to Rent’ rule, no longer are landlords able to in any way turn a blind eye to the legality of their tenants’ residency in the United Kingdom.

what's new for landlordsUnsurprisingly, the change ruffled more than a few feathers across the country. Many a landlord and national inventory company alike responded quite strongly to the newly-imposed responsibilities, suggesting that it paves the way for landlords to be punished unfairly when dealing with dishonest tenants. Nevertheless, it’s a change that’s only just come into effect and isn’t going anywhere in the near future, so it’s crucial to comprehensively understand what responsibilities now fall with landlords.

Guidelines for Tenants

One plus point from the landlord’s perspective is the fact that the government has recently published an updated How to Rent guide, which was created to help tenants better understand both sides of the deal. It may assist in the on-going battle against unscrupulous landlords, while at the same time helping tenants understand their obligations.

How-to-rent-guide-NoLettingGoWhether working alone or in conjunction with landlord inventory services UK, the change basically makes it the duty of the landlord to check their tenants’ right to rent before allowing them to move in. It’s a means by which to enhance the government’s efforts to gain better control over illegal immigration, making it difficult for illegals to find places to live. And in any instances where landlords are found to be housing illegal immigrants without having carried out the necessary checks, they will be liable for fines of up to £3,000 per occupant.

Making assumptions or taking the word of tenants at face value will no longer be sufficient. Instead, landlords are required to make the necessary checks, demand that the required identification be produced and maintain meticulous records for future inspection.

In  this video Paul Shamplina – from Landlord Action – gives clear directions on the new Right to Rent immigration checks.

Checking Documents

In terms of going about the document checks, it’s crucial for landlords to know both what it is they are looking for and how to keep the necessary records.

For example, all forms of ID produced to prove residency status must be approved documents, such as passports, visas and so on. No form of ID can be accepted if it isn’t recognised.

In addition to this, the documents must in every instance be the originals – photocopies are strictly prohibited. Landlords must then keep photocopies for their own records, but these should be taken from the original documents only.

If there is any doubt whatsoever as to either the authenticity of the documents or that the image is a true likeness of the individual, additional checks must be carried out before allowing tenancy. Documents should be cross-checked in detail.

All copies must be signed by both parties, dated and stored in a safe place, in case required at a later date.

The Home Office is also providing a telephone helpline to help landlords and tenants understand how these measures apply to them and how to carry out the right to rent checks. You can use this service by calling 0300 069 9799.

Photo source: Sarah Smith

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Are You Flat-Sharing? 5 Questions to Ask a Potential Housemate

Renting with a housemate can be a tricky proposition if the person you intend to live with is not a close friend or family member. And even at that, it is easy to quickly become enemies if housemates are not on the same page. Before you agree to live with someone on a long-term basis, be sure to take the necessary steps to protect yourself. Those steps include interviewing any and all potential candidates.

flatmatesHere are five questions to ask every potential housemate:

1. What is your current housing situation and why are you planning to move?

Most people looking to move are doing so because of work or life changes that are completely legitimate. Others are moving under less desirable circumstances: they are unemployed, they were forced to leave their previous housing arrangement, they could not pay the mortgage, etc. It is always a good idea to know as much as possible about the housing history of potential candidates so that you don’t end up supporting a stranger. It is no different than getting typical flat inventory in the UK.

2. What is your current employment situation and history?

Anyone you choose as a housemate should have steady employment that pays well enough for that person to cover his or her share of the rent and common expenses. Be wary of potential candidates who seem to change jobs every four or five months. Hopefully, you can find someone with a stable employment history and fairly dependable income. Otherwise, you would again have the potential of supporting a complete stranger in the future.

3. Will you agree to check-in and check-out?

Local property inventories are commonplace among landlords with large property portfolios. If you are renting from a landlord with a smaller portfolio, a property inventory may not be included. Ask any future housemates whether they are willing to agree to a check-in and check-out at both ends of the tenancy. An inventory check of all shared spaces and the potential housemate’s room would be the minimum.

Inventory Check Out4. What is your current relationship status?

Just like a check-in inventory is necessary to protect your deposit, a relationship inventory might be needed to preserve your sanity. It’s important to know if any potential housemates are involved in long-term relationships that could result in romantic partners spending enough time at your flat to actually become residents. There is room for partners staying over now and then, but having them live with you without being actual tenants is a no.

5. Do you have any health issues or personal idiosyncrasies?

Every potential housemate has his or her own way of doing things. Most of these things can be accommodated. However, some candidates may have particular health issues that could be problematic. For example, food allergies can be very serious. And, of course, there are some people with strange idiosyncrasies that could lead to unnecessary fighting and bickering. As uncomfortable as it is, you need to ask about such things.

Renting with a housemate is one way to reduce your living expenses and enjoy some company every now and again. But choose your housemates wisely. A poor choice could come back on you in ways you never imagined.

Photo sources: flickr.com/photos/julio_ – flickr.com/photos/serenejournal

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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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