The Franchisee Awards 2016 took place on Saturday evening, celebrating outstanding performances for the Year April 2015 to March 2016. The awards gala dinner was held at Ansty Hall, a 17th century country manor located in Coventry.
With plenty of wine and cocktail dresses in full flow, it was Rachel Farr from NLG Bath who took the top honour of the night, winning Franchisee of the Year 2015/2016. Dominic Baines from NLG Manchester South and Rachel Farr took home the heaviest suitcases winning the most awards, and were closely followed by NLG Portsmouth and NLG Nottingham.
2016 saw the introduction of a new award based on a mystery shop. Franchisees were judged on the amount of information provided, helpfulness and knowledge. I’m delighted to say that all franchisees contacted provided a fantastic level of service, and it proved very difficult to select just 1 winner.
This year’s Award Gala provided a fantastic opportunity to get together, share experiences and share in the achievements attained by so many of our franchisees.
This Tuesday 1st November the No Letting Go team will be exhibiting at The Negotiator Conference & Expo, a key networking and educational event for the residential property industry. The conference is regarded as the networking event of the year for residential estate and letting agents, and it has also been endorsed by leading professional bodies for the property industry.
Delegates from all over the country will be in attendance, for an event that has become an essential date in the calendar for property professionals. At No Letting Go we will be providing insights into what we can offer letting agents and property professionals by going into detail about our inventory software, Kaptur.
Our CEO, Nick Lyons, said: “The Negotiator Conference & Expo is a key networking event for letting agents, and features some great speakers. We are delighted to be exhibiting our latest service offering to letting agents, which helps them to manage fluctuating business levels. Our inventory technology Kaptur software has revolutionised the property reporting process, making it faster and more efficient.”
The Negotiator Conference takes place at The London Hilton on Park Lane, and you can find out everything you need to know about it on the official website. If you’re attending then don’t forget to come and say hello to the No Letting Go team!
For many years it has been notoriously difficult to find a landlord that’ll happily let to pet owners. Opening the door to pet owners offers many potential benefits but can be a serious gamble. There are many genuine considerations that need to be made before landlords allow pets to live in their properties. If you’re a landlord considering this decision, here are a few pros and cons that’s help make up your mind. We’ve also included a few vital tips at the end in case you decide to go through with this.
Last year’s Pet Population report noted that 46% of UK households had an animal of some kind living within. Having said that, only about 3% of London landlords openly accepts pets in their property. So what does this mean to you? What is the up-side of allowing pet owners to rent from you?
Expands your options: By allowing pets in your property, you open the door to a far greater number of potential tenants.
Longevity: Tenants with pets know it’s not easy to find a landlord accommodating to their situation. This means your tenants are likely to stick around and settle in your house.
Higher Rent: It’s fair to up the rent of any property that accommodates pets. We recommend adding a small amount that will help to account for wear and tear later on. Don’t forget, you can’t claim back any money from the security deposit for fair wear and tear. Increasing the rent on a property from £600 to £650 per month, for example, is a reasonable decision. It’s not a drastic inflation though this can help to cover any additional work needed when the property is vacated.
Higher Deposit: A pet brings a greater risk of damage to your property. This is especially prevalent if your let is furnished. We recommend adding a fair amount onto the deposit to cover any additional costs that could be attributed to the animal’s presence. This may not be seen as a benefit as such though peace of mind should never be underrated.
A Positive Start: As renting a pet friendly house is so rare, you seem like a reasonable and positive person for allowing it. This may (though not always) give your tenant more respect for you.
More Settled Tenants: Tenants with pets are generally more settled in their lives. This is due to the responsibility that comes with owning an animal. The more stable and responsible the tenant is, the more likely they are to respect your property.
Reduced Void Periods: A pet friendly property is likely to let out quicker than one which isn’t. This means facing the prospect of a void period is far less stressful for landlords.
So with all these positive points, why are landlords so reluctant to let pets into their property? Here are a few common reasons.
Damage: Pets are renowned for causing damage to properties. Of course it’s possible to claim this back on the deposit though it’s still frustrating for landlords.
Smells: Pets are notoriously smelly – even when they’re cared for properly. These smells can be seriously difficult to shift. They can also give the property a dirty feel which can lead to difficulty bringing in new tenants.
Animal Hair: Animal hair is difficult to remove from upholstery and carpets.
Extra Cleaning: A property which houses a pet requires a more thorough clean once it’s been vacated. This isn’t only costly but time consuming too.
Allergies: There’s the potential that future tenants have a pet allergy which can lead to a particularly troublesome situation.
Aggressive Behaviour: If you let to an unsavoury tenant with an aggressive pet, you’re likely to face some serious difficulties. This could be the welfare of your neighbours, the difficulty of communicating with your tenant, threatening behaviour or even being unable to inspect the property.
There’s a New Zoo in Town: We frequently hear the same horror story told by landlords. They allow a tenant to move in with one pet. This then leads to an entire zoo worth of animals taking residence in their property. This can cause permanent damage, disruption and economic burden.
Tips for Landlords Considering Renting to Pet Owners
So you’ve weighed up the pros and cons of letting pet owners rent from you and you’re still here interested. If you’re seriously considering the possibility of letting pets into your let, there are a few things you can do to make the situation as stress free and pleasant as possible.
Don’t Just Say Yes: We don’t recommend just making the decision to accept any tenant with pets that applies. Simply acknowledge that you’ll consider pets. This offers no obligation and means you can make a consideration on a case-by-case basis.
Meet the Pet: This is a seriously good way of gauging whether you’d like a pet in your property. Ask to visit your prospective tenants at their current home to meet the animal. This way you can judge its behaviour, cleanliness and the effect it has on the surroundings.
Edit Your Tenancy Agreement: It’s not recommended to add a simple umbrella clause in your tenancy agreement which says that pets are accepted in your property. Make your tenancy agreement specific and relating to the individual pet you’ve agreed. Also it’s worth noting in this clause that the tenant accepts responsibility for the control, care and cleaning of the animal.
Take Additional Deposit: We spoke about this earlier but be sure to take a higher deposit to cover any potential pet related damage. Don’t forget to place this in an approved deposit protection scheme.
Inventory Services: With pets in your property it’s even more important to ensure your inventory is watertight. Remove the stress of this with a professional inventory service like No Letting Go. We’ll run a thorough, impartial check before the tenant moves in and after they leave. Find out more about our services for landlords here.
Ending a tenancy agreement needn’t be a headache for landlords. It is however very important to get it right. There are procedures and laws in place to ensure you’re doing everything fairly and within reason. So before you begin to feel as if you’re drowning in regulations and rules, here’s a simple guide to the process.
First thing’s first, you’re going to have to give your tenants some notice and often some information and preliminary warnings. Everything depends on the type of tenancy agreement and its specific terms. Get your contract out, give it a read and see what’s most appropriate for you.
Assured Shorthold Tenancies
In some assured shorthold tenancies, you don’t need to give your tenant a reason for taking your property back. For this to be the case, you must first meet the following criteria:
The deposit is protected in a deposit protection scheme
You give your tenants 2 months’ written notice
The tenancy agreement ends at least 6 months after the original tenancy began
The agreement is a periodic tenancy. Alternatively, you can do this with a fixed term tenancy as long as the fixed term has ended
Ending a Fixed Term Tenancy
Okay we get it – you’re finding out how to end a tenancy agreement because you’ve got a reason. We’re guessing this reason concerns your tenants themselves. Maybe they’re in arrears and it’s putting you under financial burden? Or maybe you’ve heard reports that they’re selling drugs from your property and you want them out? Both completely acceptable reasons for wanting them gone. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy – even if they’ve broken rules of the tenancy agreement! Your reason for wanting possession whilst the fixed term is still in effect must meet the specifications set out in the Housing Act 1988. The notice period you have to give will vary from reason to reason. More information on this can be found here.
To regain possession of an Assured Tenancy, you must follow the Housing Act 1988 and use an applicable reason.
Excluded Tenancies or Licences
An excluded tenancy or licence is usually found when you share a room with a lodger. The rules for regaining possession in these instances are less strenuous. You must give ‘reasonable notice’. The term itself is slightly ambiguous though it’s recommended that you give the length of the rental payment period. For example if you collect payment every month, a month’s notice is considered reasonable. You do not usually need to give notice in writing for this type of agreement.
Non-Excluded Tenancy or Licence
The agreement can be ended at any time. You must give a written notice to quit. The notice period is usually 4 weeks unless otherwise stated in the tenancy agreement.
Most tenancy agreements will include a break clause. This means that after a specific amount of time has passed, either the landlord or the tenant can serve notice to quit. Sometimes contracts feature a tenant-only break clause though this is uncommon and not recommended. Some break clauses will be unconditional while some rely on conditions such as the rent being up-to-date etc. The landlord does not have right to possession of the property throughout the first period until the break clause is met.
What if the Tenant Doesn’t Leave the Property?
Whatever you do, don’t force your tenant out your property – that’s illegal! If the notice period’s up and your tenants refuse to budge, it’s time to start the process of eviction through the courts.
Ending a tenancy agreement can be a stressful time. Take the strain of inventory management off your plate with No Letting Go’s Inventory services. Find out more information here.
Becoming a landlord isn’t easy. It’s not a career choice that should be made without genuine thought and consideration. Many people become landlords to capitalise on solvency or as an investment for the future. If you’re considering becoming a landlord at some point, here are the 5 things you need to know first.
1. There are rules which you must follow
This is an absolute must. When you become a landlord, it’s imperative that you understand what rules and laws you must follow. It’s also important to scratch up on your rights and the rights of your tenants. Ask yourself the following:
Do you know what you can and cannot ask when interviewing potential tenants?
Do you know how to handle a security deposit?
Do you know what your responsibilities are for property upkeep?
Do you know how to go about evicting a problem tenant
As a landlord, there’s many more questions you’ll find yourself asking. It’s imperative to know where your position is in the eyes of the law.
2. Being a landlord isn’t a normal job
Being a landlord isn’t a 9 to 5 job. You may be you own boss and you may enjoy your independence. This doesn’t mean your working day isn’t altered and changed by others. At any moment, a tenant can call you with a major issue and no matter what, it’s your responsibility to resolve that issue. The severity obviously affects the time frame you can take to respond. If there’s a major issue which needs to be resolved immediately, it’s up to you to deal with it or call in someone who can. Your days will be unstructured and spontaneous. Be prepared for a tenant’s call at the most inconvenient of moments.
3. Your job title goes further than just ‘landlord’
The best landlords do far more than that which naturally falls within the remit of the job title. In fact, you role will go far more than you could initially expect. Here are a few professions that your time as a landlord could prepare you for:
A lettings agent – this one’s pretty obvious. If you’re a private landlord, you’ll find yourself doing all the jobs of a lettings agent.
Salesman/woman – there’ll come a time when showing potential tenants around your property will seem more like a sales pitch than a viewing.
Negotiator – okay so this one is very similar to the salesperson. There will come a point when tenants will attempt to negotiate with you. Be firm but fair.
Debt Collector – this one’s pretty obvious too. Is someone not paying their rent? You need to know how to deal with this.
Therapist – Your tenant’s just broken up with their long term partner, lost their job and can’t make the rent payments. Be prepared for a teary phone call coming your way.
Detective – Someone’s applied to rent your property. Time to do some digging and detective work. Referencing, credit checks and general questioning should give you enough evidence about your potential new tenant’s renting habits.
4. Expect a learning curve
When you’re a landlord, no matter how much research you’ve done, you’ll always be surprised. Expect small issues to linger for a while and then expect major problems to suddenly dominate much of your waking life. Thankfully, the longer you do this job, the more likely you are to recognise potential complications. You’ll also learn after a few bad tenants, which warning flags you should look out for and what circumstances breed disaster.
5. Hard work is rewarding
Whatever your own personal goals may be, being a landlord can help you achieve them. As a landlord, you’ll get freedom, money and power. If you make enough, you can even grow your own mini empire of properties. Put the hard work in and benefit from the rewards further down the line.
So the issue all landlords despise has happened. A tenant has moved out but left some of their belongings in your property. You’re now unsure what to do next. From this moment onwards, your actions have to follow law and must stand up to scrutiny – the tenant can still make a claim against you for damages. Follow our advice below and the situation will hopefully be resolved with ease.
It’s Still the Tenant’s Property
As soon as you see the items left behind, you’ll have a pretty good idea of whether it was left as rubbish or simply forgotten. DO NOT be tempted to throw any of this away, sell it or neglect the issue. Everything still legally belongs to the tenant and they retain rightful ownership – even after they’ve left it behind. If you throw away any items and they hold value, you’ll be liable for damages. There is however, a silver lining to this terribly frustrating situation. You may be able to charge the tenant for the cost of clearing your property and possibly any storage afterwards. Be sure you follow the right procedures for these.
The Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977
Thankfully, you do have some legal backing in this situation. The Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 allows you to dispose of any belongings left behind, on the condition that you follow a specific course of action first.
What You Need To Do
A written letter is the best place to start. We recommend doing this via recorded delivery so you can guarantee the tenant receives it. Explain in your letter that you wish to dispose/sell the items. You must inform them on how to contact you to retrieve them. As well as this, you should include a detailed description of the items, where they are being stored and when you’ll be selling/disposing of them. Be sure to allow the tenant enough time to take preventative measures. Remember, this could all be a genuine mistake. You should give your tenant the chance to rectify the situation. Keep a copy of the letter in your records.
What If I Don’t Have the Tenant’s New Address?
Don’t worry, a resolution can still be found. You need to be able to prove that you’ve made a reasonable attempt to get in touch with the tenant. We recommend using a tracing agent to track down the tenant’s address. These companies usually won’t charge you if they can’t find the individual’s location. Keep the report that states they can’t find your tenant and you’re good to go ahead with the disposal.
Decided to Sell the Items?
You’ve followed the strict procedure, you’re now ready to sell the items and pocket the cash. Unfortunately the money’s not actually yours to keep, it belongs to the tenant. This is infuriating, we know. Thankfully, if there have been any charges or costs incurred throughout the process, then you’re good to go ahead and reimburse yourself.
A great day was had by all during the first No Letting Go Annual Golf Day. 12 participants tested their skills at Hever Castle in an attempt to discover just who the best golfer was amongst players from NLG, Your Move, Miles & Barr, Hawes & Co and Fixflo.
Bragging rights were shared by Adam Jenken – who hit the longest drive during the day – and Rob Jones – who managed to hit the ball closest to the pin. Meanwhile the winning three ball team was made up of Lorraine Verlander, Chris Payne and Adam.
A special thank you to all those who came along, including:
Joe Mullan – Your Move
Lee Archer – Your Move
John – Your Move
Chris Payne – Your Move/Invited Guest
Bertie Kerr- Fixflo
Toby Paul – Hawes & Co
Adam Jenken – Miles & Barr
Nick Lyons – NLG
Gary Claven – NLG
Mike Knibbs – NLG Franchisee
Lorraine Verlander – NLG
Rob Jones – Invited Guest
Well done to everyone who took part. We’re already counting down the days until next year’s event!
It has been reported today that Countrywide Group estate agency is to close around 60 of its UK offices in the coming weeks.
In a comment to Estate Agent Today, Countrywide said: “Following consultation with colleagues, we have made the decision to close 59 branches within the retail arm of our business. This is part of our ongoing ‘Building our Future’ strategy.”
The company go on to cite that this is a strategic decision to ensure the right people are in the right places to meet customer needs. Countrywide have clearly stated they want to avoid redundancies wherever possible though it can be deduced that there’ll be a loss of staff following such a drastic change to the business.
These closures are the crescendo to what has been a year of speculation and concern surrounding the future of some brands and offices. Chief Executive of Countrywide Group, Alison Platt, brought speculation to the forefront of workers’ minds in October 2015 when she succinctly told investors the company was moving in the direction of “fewer, stronger brands”.
The leaked list of closures sees a dramatic loss of offices across England, Scotland and Wales with the most damage being seen across the Midlands and Southern England. Below you can find a list of offices reported to be closing:
Palmer Snell in Lyme Regis.
Bridgfords in Bingley, and Ripon.
Manchester and Lancashire:
Bridgfords in Hale, and Bramhall.
Mann in Bitterne, Cosham, Godalming, Haslemere and Hythe,
Gascoigne-Pees in Grayshott,
Watson Bull & Porter in Shanklin.
Geering & Collyer in Canterbury and Folkestone,
King & Chasemore in Eastbourne, Lancing and Littlehampton,
Freeman Forman in Mayfield.
Ian Peat in Bingham,
Bairstow Eves in Derby,
R A Bennett in Solihull,
Dixons in Tamworth.
Stratton Creber in Mawnan Smith,
Fulfords in Shaldon, Topsham and Torquay.
Wales and West:
Entwistle Green in Crewe, Frodsham and Prenton,
Beresford Adams in Denbigh and Flint.
Abbotts in Billericay, Clacton, Dedham, Felixstowe, Haverhill, Leigh-on-Sea, Sudbury, Wickford and Witham,
Bairstow Eves in Halstead, Ipswich, Leigh-On-Sea and Tiptree.
Taylors in Kettering and Olney,
Wilson peacock in Newport Pagnell.
Scotland and NE:
Countrywide in Ayr.
R A Bennett in Bourton-on-the-Water, Chipping Campden, Cirencester, Stow-On-The-Wold, Thornbury, Wootton-Under-Edge and Yate,
Taylors in Churchdown, Evesham, Portishead, Shirehampton, Swindon West and Warndon.
Being a landlord is a very unique line of work. You see how people behave behind closed doors. There’s a lot you can tell about a person by the way they conduct themselves during and how they leave a tenancy. Sometimes tenants can take lease of your property and really care for it. Other times, landlords are not so lucky. So who are the worst kind of tenants? We decided to take a look and offer some wisdom that’ll hopefully help you from taking in any undesirable individuals.
We’ll start by explaining that we aren’t going to write about any horror stories. There are some really nasty experiences that have been spoken about online. In fact, if you’re interested read this r/AskReddit thread where landlords explain their worst tenant stories. In this article, we’ll look closer at the generalised tenant groups that should be avoided if you want an easy life. We must warn you, these are generalisations and stereotypes. You should scrutinise your prospective tenants fully before allowing them to move in.
The Party Animal
If you’re a landlord in a student area, you’ve probably come across this type of tenant. This individual just wants to party all the time. This can even be during the week, when neighbours have to wake up early for work. Sometimes the party animal will bring recreational drugs into your property which can pose a big issue. The loud music, frequent visits from friends and regular mess can often be a real pain for landlords. It’s difficult to tell the party animal tenant from others but students regularly fall into this demographic.
The Animal Lovers
It’s not unusual for a prospective tenant to ask whether pets are allowed in the property. In fact, this is quite a responsible question. It is unfortunately a common occurrence for tenants to ignore a landlord’s response. One of the most frustrating things for a landlord is to enter the property after a tenant has left to find it smelling of animals. Often the people who ignore a landlord’s wish for no pets are those who do not necessarily take much care of their animals. This can result in a fierce smell, nasty stains and lots of hair.
The Extended Family
This is a really tough one. We’ve heard of situations before when a couple view a property, sign the rental agreement but convert your one bedroom flat into a living area for them and their entire family. The issues this causes go far beyond what you may initially expect. Wear and tear becomes far more apparent, the property smells and often there’s a general lack of respect for your investment. Sometimes there is a conversion process which means your living room space is no longer a living room. IF your property is furnished, this can be particularly costly.
The Wannabee Lawyers
This can be one of the most frustrating tenants to come up against. This tenant is usually fresh out of university or only recently in professional employment. They have an ingrained opinion that landlords don’t play by the rules. They will scrutinise every move you make to ensure it’s by the book. They will talk to you as if you don’t know the law or your own profession. Once they’ve moved out, if you find a genuine reason to detract from their deposit, they’ll refuse and enter into legal proceedings. These will be both costly and time consuming.
The Chronic Late Payers
You never truly know whether you’ll get a chronic late payer. These tenants disguise themselves well. Sometimes late payments can develop for genuine and honest reasons, sometimes tenants can just try their luck. You must look at things from a business perspective, this is your livelihood after all. When arrears mount up and it’s affecting your everyday life, you need to take action.
Being a landlord isn’t easy. There can be some great highs to the job but some real lows too. Landlords are often hit with unnecessary and avoidable costs. It doesn’t have to be this way. We’ve put together a few insightful tips to help you save money and keep costs down.
If you haven’t bought your property yet, consider the location carefully. Do as much research as you can. A few metres in the right direction and you’ll be quids-in! Think about amenities too. Where’s the local school? How far is the nearest supermarket? Put yourself in the shoes of the prospective tenant and ask the questions they would.
Now think about the tenant. You should only take on great tenants. This sounds simple but the reality is quite the opposite. As a landlord you never fully know who you’re dealing with. It doesn’t matter where you find your tenants, there’s always a risk. Ideally your tenant will pay on time, be respectful and keep the property in good shape. Be sure to properly check and reference your tenants. Keep an eye out for suspicious behaviour or circumstances.
Shop Around for Your Agency
Don’t be tempted to take the easy option. Shop around and find the right agency for you. Do you need property management services? Think about this carefully. Some landlords prefer the agent to deal with everything whereas others just use them to find new tenants. Alternatively, you could opt to do it all yourself. This option is growing in popularity. If you choose this, make sure you understand the correct procedures for tenant referencing.
Alike your agency, shop around for insurance. Ensure you know what each plan covers as well as what you’ll pay. Never let your building insurance run out. If there’s a fire or incident and your property’s uninhabitable, you may still be liable to pay the mortgage. Consider taking out a Landlord Rent Guarantee insurance too. This is especially important if dealing with new tenants. This policy is relatively cheap and will safeguard your rent if a tenant falls into arrears.
Cut Void Periods
As a landlord, you should avoid lengthy void periods at all costs. These pose a serious financial risk and could lead to a few sleepless nights. If you find yourself approaching a void period, think about how you’re marketing the property. Consider the price of rent, its visibility online, how it’s presented and your availability for viewings.
Maintenance: Tradespeople Vs DIY
So you need some maintenance done? When bringing in tradespeople, it’s important to think about costs as well as reviews. Don’t go for the first you find and don’t necessarily go for the cheapest. You need the job to be done properly, as well as cheaply. If you’re considering a DIY fix, make sure you do a good job. You don’t want to be revisiting the same issue again in a few months. Sometimes the cost of bringing in a tradesperson is better than the time expenditure of doing it yourself.
Furnishing your property is a great way of adding value. Check out all options for this. Sometimes bulk buying furniture from retailers will get you a better deal. Why not look for second hand options? This can add a unique character to your property but also save you money. Take a look at auctions as well as sites like Freecycle, Gumtree, Ebay and Amazon.
Review Your Mortgage and Hire an Accountant
A landlord’s main expense is their mortgage. It’s good practice to regularly review this and ensure you’re getting the best deal. This can mean saving money immediately. Search around and see if there’s a better deal out there. If you’ve got extra money hanging around, consider making an additional payment on your mortgage. This can seriously lower your interest rates.
It’s said that a good accountant will save you more than their fee. For a landlord, hiring an accountant should be a serious consideration. There are plenty of legal tax exemptions and breaks that you could qualify for. Speak to an accountant, see how they can help. Ask them about the possibility of off-setting your expenses against your tax bill.
Get Your Inventory Right
Your property is your livelihood. As a landlord you have the right to deduct money from a tenant’s deposit if your property is damaged. With recent changes to the law, it can be more difficult than ever to do this – even if you’re in the right. If you haven’t got your inventory spot on, you’ve got no chance of recuperating any costs. By using an impartial and unbiased service like ours, the decision is taken out of your hands. We’ll undertake a comprehensive report of your property in a fair and unbiased way. If you’re sick of deposit disputes with tenants or simply want peace of mind, get in touch with us here.