Although we all do our best to avoid them, void periods are a fact of life and most landlords and letting agents will find themselves with a vacant rental property on their hands at one point or another.

If you find yourself with an empty property, it’s important to keep it safe and secure. We’ve got some advice on how to protect vacant property and keep it in good condition until your next tenant comes along.

From security solutions to regular inspections, keep your property safe with these tips.

 

How Long Can A Rental Property Be Vacant?

If your rental property is left vacant for an extended period of time, you will need to inform your insurer. How long this period is can vary from insurer to insurer, so make sure you read the small print in your contract.

Usually, when a rental property is left vacant the insurance will go up as it is considered to be more of a risk.

 

Vacant Rental Property: The Risks

With no one living in the property to take care of day-to-day maintenance and inform you if something goes wrong, vacant properties present more of a risk for landlords and letting agents.

Here are some of the potential issues you could come across;

  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Squatters
  • Leaks or water damage
  • Fires
  • Electrical faults
  • Structural damage
  • Mould
  • Pest infestations
  • Weather damage

 

Vacant Property Security: The Solutions

While these potential issues sound scary, there are several steps you can take to ensure your property remains safe and secure.

 

Secure Doors and Windows

It’s good practice to change the locks between tenancies to minimise the risk of unlawful occupation. Having secure doors and windows also helps to prevent theft or squatting.

The RLA recommends using five lever mortice locks for external timber doors or a multi-point locking system for PVC doors, as well as door chains.

 

Regular Property Maintenance

Regular property maintenance is vital throughout the year, whether your rental property is occupied or not. By keeping on top of maintenance tasks, when it comes to vacant buildings, there is a smaller chance of structural or internal damage.

The main tasks to address include;

  • Exterior maintenance e.g. replacing missing roof tiles or clearing guttering
  • Regular servicing of boilers, pipes
  • Interior maintenance

 

Manage Utilities

Depending on how long the property is left vacant, it may be wise to switch off certain utilities such as the electrics to minimise the risk of fire. However, if you’re dealing with an empty building over the winter period, scheduling the heating to come on periodically can prevent mould growth.

Perhaps the most important measure you can take is to ensure all smoke and CO checks are up to date.

 

Installing Security Systems

Installing an alarm system or extra site security can discourage theft or vandalism to your property. Security services can include;

  • 24 hour security cameras
  • Alarm system
  • Security lights
  • Property security services

 

Alert the Neighbours

Having a quick chat with the neighbours or sending round a letter is a cost-effective way of protecting your investment. Asking the neighbours to act as property guardians and alert you if they spot any suspicious activity or leaks before they create permanent damage can save you time and money in the long run.

 

Take Advantage of PropTech

PropTech innovation has come on leaps and bounds over the last couple of years and there are plenty of solutions out there to help landlords and letting agents protect their properties remotely. From leak detection to remote temperature control and live streaming- you’re sure to find an app to put your mind at ease.

 

Vacant Property Inspections

Vacant property inspections are vital for the protection and security of your property. Most insurance companies require vacant properties to be visited weekly or fortnightly to check for any security or management issues and ensure they are dealt with promptly.

 

Improve Your Marketing Materials

No landlord or letting agent wants a vacant rental property on their hands. To avoid this situation from occurring in the first place, it pays to invest in quality marketing materials.

We offer a 360 degree virtual property photography service to show off your property to a high standard, producing images for use in marketing and inventory reporting.

 

No Letting Go’s Vacant Property Protection Services

As experienced partners to landlords, letting agents and property professionals around the UK, we understand the importance of keeping your property safe and secure during void periods.

As part of our services, we offer essential vacant property inspections to check for any damage and arrange for swift repairs. Whether you are a landlord living overseas or a letting agency needing help with your portfolio, our dedicated clerks are on hand to help.

Discover the rest of our property inventory services here.

As a landlord or letting agent, what do you do if your tenant disappears? Tenant abandonments can cause a lot of hassle and complications for those managing the property, so if it happens to you, it’s best to be prepared.

If a tenant is expected of abandoning, the landlord or letting agent will need to place a notice of abandonment at the rental property. We explain what this means, the responsibilities involved and how we can help with our abandonment notice service.

 

Tenant Abandonment: The Facts

Tenant abandonment is the term given for when a tenant leaves your property before the end of the tenancy agreement without notifying you (the landlord or letting agent).

In the case of abandonment, whoever is managing the property needs to ensure the tenant has permanently vacated the property before they can rent it out again.

Rent will still be owed until the end of the tenancy or until the property is let out again.

 

Issues for Landlords

If your tenant abandons the rental property, this can cause several problems;

  • Loss of rental income
  • Risk of vandalism and lack of security at the abandoned property
  • Squatters
  • Abandoned properties can result in higher insurance premiums
  • If tenants leave possessions behind, these become the responsibility of the landlord to safeguard

 

What is an Abandonment Notice?

If you believe your tenant has left the property before the end of the tenancy, you need to place an abandonment notice.

An abandonment notice is a written statement that must be displayed in a prominent, accessible position on the property informing the tenant that the locks have been changed and where to find a replacement key if they wish to return.

It should give the tenant a limited time to get in contact and request a new set of keys.

By completing an abandonment notice, you are protecting yourself from being accused of unlawfully evicting the tenant.

 

What is Considered Property Abandonment?

Tenants are obligated to inform their letting agent or landlord if they plan to leave their rented property for more than two weeks. The tenancy agreement should include this clause as a form of protection for residential landlords.

Landlords and property professionals need to act cautiously, as under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, the tenant is entitled to return to the property within the tenancy period. If the tenant decides to return and the property has been let to someone else, this could constitute a criminal offence on the part of the landlord.

Without obtaining a lengthy and expensive court possession order, the tenant is still legally the occupant- even if they are in rent arrears.

This means you need to be certain that the tenant has permanently vacated and surrendered the property before re-letting or entering the property.

 

Landlord and Letting Agent Responsibilities

In order to ensure you are not making an unlawful eviction, if your tenant appears to abandon the property there are steps that must be taken;

Before letting the property to someone else or changing the locks you must first ensure the tenant has surrendered the property.

Firstly, try to contact the tenant to establish whether they are surrendering the tenancy. If you can get written confirmation from the tenant and they return the keys, you are safe to go ahead and re-let the property.

If you cannot get a hold of the tenant check if;

  • The tenant has stopped paying rent
  • The tenant has removed their belonging
  • The tenant has left the keys at the property
  • The neighbours have seen the tenant at the property

 

Housing and Planning Act 2016: Abandonment

If you can ensure that your property has been abandoned, and your tenant is in rent arrears you are now able to take back possession of your property under the Housing and planning Act 2016.

In this case, you can place a written warning at the property requesting rent repayments. If the first warning is ignored, a second warning notice is required. If the tenant still fails to respond, a third and final notice must be displayed. If this is also ignored, the landlord can take repossession of the property.

 

Can I Enter an Abandoned Property?

If you believe your tenant has abandoned, you can only enter the property if;

  • It is in a vulnerable state and you need to secure the property by changing the locks
  • There is any danger to neighbours (e.g. regarding the electric or gas supply)
    There is damage that needs urgent repair

That’s where we come in. Our clerks can act as independent witnesses and help with the abandonment notice process, informing the tenant the locks have been changed.

 

What Should an Abandonment Notice Include?

There are certain elements an abandonment notice should include;

  • Written notice that you believe the tenant has abandoned the property. Don’t forget to include important dates such as how long the property has been empty
  • The full name, address and contact details of both the landlord and tenant
  • A section asking anyone who knows the tenant’s current location to contact the landlord or property manager
  • An agreed date by which the tenancy will be assumed abandoned or surrendered by the tenant (if the tenant fails to make contact by this date)
  • A section recommending the tenant seeks legal advice
  • The name of the independent witness

 

No Letting Go’s Abandonment Notice Service

In the event that either a landlord or letting agent places an Abandonment Notice up at a property, it is vital that someone attends the property on a regular basis (ideally every 3-4 days) to ensure the notice is still in place. We offer an abandonment notice service whereby we will visit the property as instructed to ensure the notice has not been removed or displaced and to report on the security of the property.

No Letting Go are dedicated to providing professional and unbiased property inventory services from the start of tenancy to the end. From appraisals and right to rent checks, to property inspections and maintenance reports – we’re here to help you protect your investment.

Discover how we could help by browsing our full list of property inventory services.

What if you could take away the hassle of chasing tenants for signatures? Obtaining your tenants signature is a vital part of the inventory process. By automating this process, you could save yourself some time and even money.

So, what is DigiSign? And how can this automated check-in service benefit landlords and property professionals?

We take a closer look at this service to give you the full picture.

 

What Is DigiSign Software?

Digisign automated check-in is a service that allows us to collect electronic signatures from your tenants. This web-based signing process makes inventory signing and management even easier for all parties, allowing for remote digital signage and automated reminders.

 

How Does DigiSign Work?

Our DigiSign process is simple. The software will send a reminder to your tenant via email or text message, notifying them that they are required to sign the inventory report. As the landlord or property manager, you will also receive a notification for each tenant reminder sent out.

Next, the tenant follows the online link to the electronic documents where they can add their digital signatures at the touch of a button. The tenant is also able to make their own comments and add pictures directly into the report at this stage. This collaborative process can help prevent any disputes over inventories when it comes to the end of the tenancy.

Any additions are verified by us before returning the report to you.

Using the DigiSign service, we can even send automated reminders to your tenant if they fail to sign first time. The method and frequency of these can be tailored specifically to your needs. This completely removes the frustrating and laborious task of chasing tenants for signatures.

If the tenant fails to respond to these reminders, there’s no need to worry. We will deem the report accepted and will notify the tenant.

 

The Benefits of Automated Check-In Systems

This automated inventory service comes with a range of advantages, benefiting both landlord and tenant;

  • Inventories are automatically sent out for signing according to your specific limit
  • You and the tenant can make amendments online
  • Queries can be managed online by us
  • Text or email reminders can be sent out to tenants to speed up replies
  • Tenants are able to sign the inventory remotely, using an online link
  • Increased visibility for landlords, property professionals and tenants throughout the process
  • This flexible system can be tailored to your needs
  • Automation saves time and effort
  • Reduces the chance of human error
  • You’ll never have to chase a tenant for their signature again!

These benefits help to free up your time for more important things, helping you to manage your portfolio with minimal hassle.

Tenant using Digisign automated check-in service outside

Streamlining the Property Inventory Process

Having a detailed, professional property inventory report in place at the start of a tenancy is vital when it comes to protecting your investment and recovering any necessary costs when the tenancy comes to an end.

By making these services as easy as possible through automation, we aim to increase efficiency in your business, helping you on the path to success.

To maximise the potential of property technology, why not take advantage of Kaptur Inventory Software – a program designed with busy property professionals in mind. Kaptur provides the most efficient way to collect, prepare, report on and manage information through its flexible system.

This includes easy user experience, 24/7 customer support and custom reports tailored to you and your business needs. For inventory reports, this means branded digital documentation, embedded photos and professional templates as a start.

 

Why Choose No Letting Go?

Helping landlords, letting agents and property professionals manage their workload and protect their investment is what we do every day.

We offer a range of services to make your life easier, including;

  • 360 virtual photography
  • Floor plans
  • Property appraisals
  • House viewings
  • Smoke and CO checks & reports
  • HHSRS
  • Legionella risk assessments
  • Right to rent checks
  • Mid-term reports
  • Check-out reports
  • Abandonment notices
  • Dilapidations

If you’d like to find out more about our property inventory services, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Is your tenant coming to the end of their tenancy agreement? If so, you might want to start thinking about providing them with some essential information regarding their check-out process.

Investing in a professional pre-check out service can benefit both landlord and tenant. From ensuring smoother transitions, to minimising the amount of maintenance needed, we explain how opting for a pre-check out service can save property professionals time and money.

 

Check Out Procedure for Rental Property

Before we look at the process in more detail, here’s a quick overview of standard check-out procedure for a private rental agreement;

  1. Notify tenants of their responsibilities at least 2 weeks prior to the end of the tenancy
  2. Provide pre-check out service
  3. Tenants return property to original condition
  4. Provide check-out visit on the last day of the tenancy
  5. Provide check-out report
  6. Tenant accepts/challenges report
  7. Deposit return is negotiated
  8. Deposit is released

Let’s take a closer look…

 

What is A Pre-Check Out Service?

The purpose of a pre-check out service is to ensure that your tenant is fully aware that the property must be returned to its original condition as it was found on move-in day.

This service consists of a visit, in which property clerks grade each room of the property and specific items within it with actions ranging from ‘No action required’ to ‘Replacement required’. The original inventory report provides evidence of the state of the property at check-in.

This service provides tenants with a realistic view of the tasks required in order to return the property to an acceptable state and have their deposit returned in full.

 

Benefits for Tenants

By having all the information and guidance they need at their fingertips, a pre-check out visit arms tenants with the tools to ensure their full deposit is returned.

Often, property professionals find that tenants are unaware of certain tasks that need completing before the end of the tenancy, for example, cutting the grass or maintaining any out buildings.

This information should be accessible in the official tenancy agreement document, however not all tenants remember to read it thoroughly at the end of a tenancy.

 

Tenant Check Out Responsibilities

Examples of the tasks and responsibilities that could be recommended at the pre-check out include;

  • Replace any furniture or furnishings that have been considerably damaged or stained beyond normal wear and tear
  • Cut the grass and trim back foliage in outdoor spaces
  • Thorough cleaning throughout
  • Defrost freezers
  • Replace old light bulbs
  • Remove all food and personal items from the property
  • Replace any items that were present at check-in
  • Ensure furniture is in the same position as at check-in

Once these tasks have been completed, tenants are much more likely to have their full deposit returned to them, minimising time-consuming disputes.

 

Benefits for Landlords, Letting Agents & Property Professionals

Some of the benefits of providing your tenants with a pre-check out service include;

  • It makes the transition between tenants quicker and smoother
  • It minimises the amount of property maintenance needed between tenancies
  • It helps maintain a positive relationship between letting agent/landlord and tenant
  • It saves time and money

To sum up, pre-check outs can be very valuable for time poor landlords and property professionals seeking a quick turnaround and minimal maintenance work.

 

When Is the Best Time to Provide A Pre-Check Out?

We usually recommend supplying your tenant with a pre-check out visit at least two weeks before the official end of the tenancy. This gives them some time to make necessary repairs or replacements before they move out.

 

Inventory Check Out: Who Pays?

Since the Tenant Fees Act came into play on the 1st June 2019, landlords and letting agents are no longer permitted to charge tenants fees for inventory services.

However, don’t let this change put you off investing in professional inventory and pre-check out services as they could save you a significant amount of time and money in the long run!

 

Next Steps…Check Out Inventory Report

Once check-out day arrives, either the landlord or the letting agent managing the property will visit the rental in order to complete the check-out process. Everything in the property will be cross-referenced with the original check-in inventory to create the report.

Here at No Letting Go, we use Kaptur property software to record any changes from the start to the end of the tenancy. Covering everything from cleanliness and damage to missing items and fair wear and tear advice- our detailed reports help property professionals stay on top of any maintenance needed.

 

Do I Need an Inventory Report?

Yes! All successful end of tenancies start with a detailed inventory report. Our property clerks use the original inventory report made at the start of the tenancy to grade the property and advise on what tasks need completing.

A thorough inventory report includes detailed images of each area of the property to ensure everything is returned as it was found. The inventory report also provides valuable evidence if you need to recover costs at the end of the tenancy. For example, if your tenant leaves the property in a damaged state beyond the level of fair wear and tear, the inventory report can help to demonstrate the changes from the start to the end of the term.

Looking for help managing your property portfolio? Our property inventory services provide a clear, unbiased picture, helping you to recover costs and protect your investment.

We also offer;

  • Check-in services
  • DigiSign automated check-in
  • Health & safety checks
  • Property inspections
  • Check out reports
  • Maintenance reports

Discover our full range of property inventory services for landlords and property businesses.

With the festive period in full swing and New Year’s Eve celebrations on the horizon, many student landlords are bracing themselves for that dreaded call from a disgruntled neighbour in the early hours of the morning.

It’s no secret that lots of students like to party, and if not managed correctly, related disputes can create rifts that are difficult to repair.

It can be a tough balancing act, meeting the needs of your student tenants and keeping the local community happy. That’s why we’ve produced this student landlord advice guide on how to deal with student parties at your rental property without alienating tenants or neighbours.

 

To Ban or Not to Ban

If you’re concerned about your student tenants hosting large parties in your rental property, you could insert a clause into the tenancy agreement banning parties of a certain size. While this helps to deter tenants from hosting massive gatherings that could damage your property, it could prove difficult to enforce.

For lots of tenants, a steadfast rule against parties of all kinds could put them off renting your property in the first place, and this decision will narrow your pool of prospective tenants. However, banning gatherings over a certain size is a sensible idea, especially in suburban areas.

 

Managing the Neighbours

The majority of student accommodation is in busy, suburban areas with convenient amenities close by. While this is great for students, it also means there tends to be a lot of neighbours living within close proximity.

So, if your tenants like to host noisy parties, this can become a problem and damage your reputation as a responsible landlord in the area.

It’s difficult to actually prosecute a landlord for their tenants’ antisocial behaviour, unless you deliberately ignore the problem, or the issue is ongoing. However, staying on good terms with the local community will make your life easier in the long run.

When dealing with noise complaints from neighbours;

  • Make sure the surrounding neighbours have your contact details or the details of the letting agent in case an issue arises
  • Talk to your tenants calmly to get both sides of the story
  • Refer your tenants to the relevant ‘noise’ or ‘nuisance’ clause in the tenancy agreement to explain which one they have broken and why, and the possible consequences if this continues
  • Never threaten eviction as a first reaction as this could backfire on you and damage your landlord/tenant relationship
  • If problems persist, you could arrange a meeting with neighbour and tenant to clear the air and come to a solution
  • As a last resort, you could contact your local council, the police or begin the eviction process

 

Clear and Open Communications

One of the most important pieces of advice we can offer is to retain a cool and clear head when communicating with tenants and to keep interactions open and honest.

If you’re straightforward with your tenants, they’re more likely to be honest back. Make it clear from the start of the tenancy that you are happy to discuss any issues and ensure they have your contact details to hand.

If they feel like you’re on their side, they’re more likely to obey house rules.

 

Choose Simple Party-Proof Furnishings

As wear and tear tends to be higher in student rentals, furnishing a student property with expensive furniture is pointless. This is particularly pertinent when it comes to student parties. With extra bodies in the house and alcohol involved, a plush carpet and glass coffee table aren’t going to stay perfect for long.

Go for simple, more affordable essentials from somewhere like IKEA that won’t cost an arm and a leg to replace if necessary. Wipe clean surfaces and easy to clean lino floors are also a sensible option and will help your tenants stay on top of their duties.

 

Regular Property Inspections

One way to keep an eye on what’s going on in your rental property and help determine if regular parties are taking place is to schedule regular property inspections.

However, you need to ensure the correct procedures have been followed, as there are laws in place regarding the frequency and delivery of landlord inspections.

A professional property inspection will help determine if your property is being appropriately cared for, and whether your tenants are fulfilling their contractual agreements. This could include anything from red wine stains or cigarette burns on the carpets to extra people living in the property. Inventory clerks can even check in with the neighbours to ensure everyone is happy.

 

Is Renting to Students Worth It?

Despite these possible drawbacks, renting property to students can be very rewarding and comes with great benefits;

  • High demand in student towns and cities
  • Short term, set contracts of 12 months
  • Predictable, reliable market
  • Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) offer higher yields
  • Students don’t expect fancy furnishings and are happy with simple amenities
  • Low void periods

 

Protect Your Student Rental Property: Inventory Management

The most important step you can take to protect your student house is to ensure a thorough inventory is taken at the start of the tenancy.

A professional inventory service helps you recover any costs or losses due to damage at the end of the academic year. And that’s where we come in. We’re experienced at working with private landlords and letting agents by providing essential reports and property management services.

From check in to property visits, we’re on hand to make the process as stress-free as possible for landlord and tenant.

Find out how our property inventory services could help you manage your student property.

December can be a slow period for the rental industry. As students return home for the festive season and people hold off on moving until the new year, finding tenants in winter can become tricky, and some landlords and lettings agents can start to feel the pinch.

To attract tenants for rental property over the Christmas period and minimise void periods, we’ve got some tips. From ramping up your marketing efforts, to offering incentives, find out how to rent your property during the festive season.

 

Finding Tenants in Winter: Why is Christmas a Slow Period?

Christmas and New Year bring parties and family engagements, with many people travelling across the country to visit relatives. During this busy time of year, most people are looking to relax and recharge, putting off big chores such as moving house until after the New Year’s celebrations have come to a close.

This can spell bad news for the rental sector in December, as tenants delay their property search, slowing down the rental property market. Christmas is an expensive time for landlords and tenants, and losing out on rental income during this period is best avoided.

To minimise void periods this winter, we’ve got some tips for landlords;

 

Ramp Up Your Marketing

Getting your rental property out there is half the battle. Investing in high quality, professional marketing can be the difference between an empty property or a wide pool of tenants to choose from.

Start by ensuring your property is advertised through at least one of these avenues;

Your marketing assets need to appeal to your target tenant. So, if you’re targeting families, highlighting your property’s proximity to local schools should help to attract the right tenants.

When it comes to advertising your rental property, detailed descriptions and quality images work best. To maximise your property’s potential, investing in a professional 360 virtual photography service can really make it stand out from the crowd.

 

Short Holiday Lets

If you’re struggling to find long term tenants in December, you could consider a short-term holiday let. Those in need of immediate income could advertise property on a short-term holiday lettings platform.

However, if you do decide to go down this route, you need to be aware of the risks involved. Sites such as these provide less security when it comes to protecting your property and you need to be careful about who you accept.

 

Rethink Your Target Tenant

If you’re not having any luck letting to your target tenant, why not try advertising to a different tenant group?

For example, most students return home for the holidays. If you’re normally a student landlord, advertising to young professionals over this period could solve your rental income issues in the short-term.

 

Offer a Festive Incentive

Some landlords and letting agents are resorting to incentives to attract tenants over the slower winter months.

This could take the form of;

  • A temporary reduction in rent
  • Free utilities for the first month of a tenancy

This slight reduction in rental yield for the first month of the tenancy is worth it if it means you can avoid empty properties over winter.

 

Is Your Property Appealing?

As there is less competition over the Christmas period, tenants can afford to be more choosy. To make your property stand above the rest, it’s worth ensuring that property maintenance is up to scratch and your property is appealing to your target tenant.

Property maintenance can include;

  • Winter garden maintenance
  • Replacing tired furniture and furnishings
  • Freshening up paint work
  • Ensuring all repairs have been made in time for property viewings from prospective tenants

Painting and decorating equipment in room

Managing Winter Void Periods

If you do find yourself facing a December without tenants, it pays to ensure your property is well equipped to handle the winter months left empty.

Some vital winter property maintenance tasks include;

  • Having boilers and heating systems serviced to avoid burst pipes
  • Setting the heating on a timer to avoid damp and mould
  • Repairing any cracks in the property exterior to prevent leaks
  • Replacing missing roof tiles and clearing autumn leaves from guttering
  • Installing a robust security system
  • Commission regular vacant property inspections to check for damage

By keeping on top of property maintenance, you can avoid disasters such as burst pipes and mould growth during winter void periods, saving you money in the long run.

If you’re worried about loss of income over this period, it may be worth investing in unoccupied property insurance. This type of landlord insurance covers you if your property is vacant for 30 days or more.

 

Gift Yourself this Christmas

Busy landlords need a break too. Treat yourself this Christmas with the gift of a professional property inventory service.

Here at No Letting Go, we can help you minimise the risk of void periods by offering 360-degree property photography to amplify your property advertising, alongside essential property reporting services.

We also offer vacant property inspections and maintenance reports to protect your property over the winter.

Need a helping hand? Get in touch or browse our full list of property inventory services.

Thinking of investing in Build to Rent but not sure how to go about it or if it’s right for you? Our guide on why to invest in Build to Rent explores the risks and rewards of getting involved in the sector.

Build to Rent developments are growing across the UK thanks to higher demand for quality, purpose-built rental accommodation among young professionals and the over 50s. This burgeoning sector has great potential for property investors and commercial landlords, as long as you do it right.

 

What is Build to Rent?

Build to Rent, or (BTR) describes the process by which residential properties are purpose built for the private rental sector. In most cases, this is done by large property development companies, investors and commercial landlords.

Build to Rent developments commonly contain 50 homes or more, all managed by one landlord. They often feature desirable perks such as in-house gyms, entertainment facilities and sophisticated security systems.

 

The Build to Rent Trend

The Build to Rent sector in the UK is on the rise. According to property experts, Knight Frank, £50 billion will be invested into the sector by 2020 to accommodate for the growing demand in the private rented sector.

We’re now well aware that the rental sector is growing. Rising house prices and new working trends have resulted in a wider pool of tenants looking for suitable, long-term rental properties.

The demise of home ownership has resulted in a slightly older, professional tenant group looking for quality rented accommodation, complete with all of the modern conveniences.

 

How Does Build to Rent Work?

Typically, a Build to Rent development is owned by a large institution, such as a bank or pensions company and managed by a lettings agency.

Funding comes from investors keen to take advantage of reliable rental returns and long term growth. Some Build to Rent Schemes are also being supported by the Government to help with the building process and supporting infrastructure.

The main players in the Build to Rent process are;

  • Build to Rent investors
  • Build to Rent developers
  • Build to Rent letting agents
  • Commercial landlords

To invest in Build to Rent property, there are a few routes to go down, one of the easiest being through one of the large private rental developers.

 

The Benefits of Build to Rent Properties

According to Savills, Build to Rent investment came to £2.6 billion in 2018, suggesting that it can be a lucrative option for commercial landlords. There are many exciting opportunities for landlords investing in Build to Rent. Here are some of the benefits;

  • Longer tenancies are common (3 years +)
  • High tenant demand
  • Higher rent rates (around 11% higher than standard rental accommodation)
  • Reliable rental income and likely growth
  • Landlords retain control over their investment
  • Long term investment rewards

There are also many benefits for tenants which will make advertising and filling vacant rental properties much easier;

  • Greater choice of housing
  • Quality, purpose-built buildings with special amenities such as gyms and entertainment facilities
  • Access to convenient services such as security, laundry and concierge
  • Modern, sustainable buildings
  • Bills usually included
  • Furnished
  • On-site management
  • Encourages regeneration in surrounding areas

 

The Risks of Build to Rent

With all investment comes potential risk. Before going ahead, it’s important to understand what these risks are and how to manage them.

 

Construction Risks

Construction is a risky business, and all sorts can go wrong or take longer than planned, leading to greater financial costs.

 

Planning Permission Issues

As a relatively new phenomenon, planning permission for Build to Rent can take longer, resulting in growing costs and a reduction of rental income.

 

Void Periods

As the landlord, you may experience delays in receiving the full rental income as the development fills up. To avoid long void periods, you could implement a tenant sign-up scheme while the building is still in progress. Alternatively, you could plan the development in stages to ensure some rental income is coming in throughout the process.

 

Drawbacks for Tenants

It’s also important to consider the disadvantages for tenants when it comes to Build to Rent, as this will help you determine your target tenant and mitigate any risks.

Some drawbacks for tenants include;

  • Many Build to Rent developments target elderly tenants or young professionals and may not appeal to families or lower income renters
  • This type of accommodation can be more expensive for tenants

 

Homes UK Event

From incorporating affordable housing into your Build to Rent project, to attracting institutional investment, Homes UK: The Future of Living will be answering the pressing questions in the sector today.

Taking place at Excel in London 27-28 November 2019, the event is a great place to meet important players in the industry.

 

Protect Your Investment

Keen to take advantage of this fast growing sector? Here at No Letting Go, we supply a specially designed range of Build to Rent services to ensure compliant reporting, no matter the size of the development.

We offer;

  • Inventory management
  • Property visits
  • 360 virtual property photography for use in marketing, reporting and Build to Rent projects
  • Check in and right to rent
  • Legionella risk assessment and water testing
  • Central account management for national, corporate or large regional clients
  • Fully insured, qualified and professional clerks, surveyors and inspectors
  • 24 hour turnaround for reports

With our national and local services you get consistency, accuracy and efficiency delivered by our 65 offices across the UK.

Find our full list of Build to Rent services here.

The number of older tenants in the private rental sector is growing. Factors such as a rising elderly population along with the cost and effort of property maintenance is making older people turn to rental properties in their later years.

The benefits of renting to elderly tenants are plentiful. From longer tenancy agreements to reliability, we explore these advantages, along with the factors landlords and letting agents need to consider to meet their needs.

 

The Benefits of Renting to Elderly Tenants

Focusing on elderly groups as your target tenant can bring great advantages to landlords and letting agents;

 

Longer Tenancies

Older people are more likely to require a settled home rather than move house every few years. As they’ve passed the age of extending their families, older tenants have stable jobs or are in retirement. If you’re looking for a long term tenant (which means less costs and time spent on the property in the long term) then elderly tenants are a good bet.

 

Reliability

Tenants with more life experience tend to be reliable, have a steady income from their job or pension and pay their rent on time. When issues arise, older tenants are more likely to have the experience and knowledge to report them swiftly and keep on top of their own day to day property maintenance responsibilities.

 

Quiet Lifestyles

Unlike younger tenants and students, elderly tenants are unlikely to host lots of parties or demonstrate any behaviour that could irritate neighbours. If your property is located very close by other properties or you have had issues with noise complaints in the past, older tenants could be a solution.

 

Elderly Tenant Rights

As with any tenant, landlords must be vigilant in upkeeping tenants’ rights and not discriminating by age or any other factor.

Anti-discrimination laws are in place to protect tenants from unlawful eviction and ensure they find suitable housing.

As a landlord or letting agent you must;

  • Ensure all rental property advertisements do not discriminate by age, race or any other defining factors. E.g. you cannot specify an age range when advertising for tenants
  • Never tell a prospective tenant that the property is unavailable when it is
  • Never end a tenancy without reason
  • Make any necessary adjustments to your property when renting to tenants with disabilities as can be found in the Equality Act 2010

 

Elderly Tenants and Health Issues

One of the big factors to consider when renting to elderly tenants is the possibility of health issues and disabilities. Some common health problems that occur in later life include;

  • Dementia
  • Arthritis
  • Mobility issues
  • Hearing impairment
  • Sight impairment

Tenants with dementia may struggle to remember to pay rent on time or find the right numbers to call to report issues. In this case, you may need to set up an automated payment system and make more regular property inspections.

As a landlord, you may need to make adjustments or allowances for tenants with health issues or disabilities if they’re living in your property. From fitting stair lifts to changing your communication channels, we explore this in more detail further down the page.

Interior of property with walking aid

 

Things to Consider When Renting to Elderly Tenants

Here are some main points for landlords to consider to ensure elderly tenants’ needs are met;

 

Property Location

Elderly tenants are more likely to require a peaceful area with easy access to essential amenities such as shops, the post office and everyday services.

If you’re targeting elderly tenants, do your research first to find desirable areas for this tenant group.

 

Consider Allowing Pets

For many older people, pets provide essential companionship and emotional support. When renting to this tenant group, it’s worth considering allowing pets as this will make your property more desirable to a wider pool of tenants.

If you’re worried about damage to the property, asking for a higher deposit is a reasonable request.

 

Straightforward Communication

Many older people who have not grown up with email or mobile phones may struggle to use these communication channels. When dealing with older tenants, you may need to stick to phone calls or letters.

Determining the easiest forms of communication at the start of the tenancy will help encourage a positive landlord/tenant relationship. Some tenants with sight impairments may require all written communication in Braille.

 

Property Adjustments for Older People

Under the 2010 Equality Act, landlords are required by law to make any reasonable adjustments to their properties to allow tenants with disabilities to live safely and comfortably.

This could include;

  • Installing access ramps for wheelchair or mobility scooter users
  • Installing stair lifts
  • Installing railings in the bathroom
  • Fitting accessible kitchen and bathroom facilities
  • Widening doors for wheelchair access
  • Ground floor level access
  • Unrestricted parking access

 

Living Safely: Family Contact Numbers

If your tenant has a fall or you are unable to contact them and are concerned for their safety, it’s a good idea to have access to the contact details and phone numbers of close family members. Having a small number of people you can contact regarding your tenant can help ensure their safety and strengthen the lines of communication.

 

Property Security

Elderly tenants can be more vulnerable to break ins and door to door scams. Ensuring the rental property is safe and secure can help protect your tenant against crime. To secure your property;

  • Always change the locks between tenancies
  • Ensure all windows have good quality locks
  • Ensure all external doors are well fitted
  • Consider an alarm system
  • Fit security lighting
  • Fit a front door buzzer or peep hole to allow tenants to check who’s at the door before answering

 

Evicting An Elderly Tenant: The Right Way

For elderly tenants, finding a new rental home can prove more difficult, particularly if they suffer from age related health issues. If your tenant is late on rent payments or if there are any property maintenance issues, try to find a solution before beginning the eviction process.

For example, helping the tenant set up automated rent payments or providing advice on where to find government financial support could make all the difference. Likewise, encouraging your tenant to employ a cleaner or approaching family members for help could solve any property maintenance issues.

However, if there is no alternative and you need to evict your tenant, here’s some advice;

  • Seek legal advice before proceeding
  • Always follow the correct laws, regulations and procedures

 

Protecting Your Property

For some older people, property maintenance becomes harder as they experience reduced mobility. This can be a concern for landlords of furnished properties, worried about damage beyond fair wear and tear.

To protect your property long term, always invest in a professional property inventory report as evidence of the condition of the property at the start of the tenancy. This way, you will be in a better position to recover any costs at the end of the tenancy.

 

Get Help Being A Responsible Landlord

Renting to elderly tenants can be very rewarding, as older tenants tend to look for longer tenancies. However, renting to this tenant group can require certain adjustments and property management tasks that take up time.

If you rent to elderly tenants, investing in a professional property inventory service can save you time and help to ensure you’re fulfilling all your obligations as a landlord.

From regular property inspections to property inventory reports – No Letting Go provide a wide range of property services across the UK.

Browse our full list of property inventory services to find out how we could help.

Winter brings with it potential hazards that could harm your rental property and cost you money if left untreated. High winds, excessive rain, snow and ice can lead to anything from frozen pipes to blocked guttering.

That’s why it makes sense to get ahead and protect your rental property before the worst of the UK weather kicks in.

We’ve prepared a winter maintenance checklist for landlords and lettings agents, to help you protect your rental properties over the winter period.

 

Exterior Property Maintenance

As a landlord, you are largely responsible for the exterior maintenance of the rental properties in your portfolio.

This can include;

  • Roof and guttering repairs
  • Garden and fences
  • Window cleaning and repairs

The following tips will help you protect the exterior of your property over the winter;

 

Roofs and Guttering

Missing roof tiles can cause expensive structural problems in the long-term. If your property is missing a few tiles, a particularly bad winter storm could result in leaking and interior damp.

Likewise, a blocked gutter can lead to water damage. An annual gutter clean is a sensible maintenance task to perform at the beginning of winter, after the autumn leaves have fallen and before the worst of the weather hits.

 

Repair Cracks and Crevices

Any gaps or cracks in the exterior of your property could result in long term problems if left untreated. If moisture from the outside finds its way into the property, you could be facing serious damp and mould issues. This is easily avoided through regular inspections and property maintenance.

Key areas to focus on include;

  • Air leaks around windows and doors
  • Garage or shed doors
  • Ill fitted exterior doors

 

Winter Garden Maintenance

Usually, general garden maintenance is the responsibility of the tenant. However, if your property is experiencing a void period or you are preparing for a new tenancy, you may need to perform some garden maintenance.

Broken fences are the responsibility of the landlord, so it’s a good idea to check for any loose posts before the wind sets in. In addition, any trees with dangerous overhanging branches may need tending to.

To protect yourself from any disputes regarding garden maintenance at the end of a tenancy, always ensure the tenancy agreement clearly sets out which tasks are the responsibility of the tenant.

 

Winter Pipe Maintenance

When water freezes in very cold weather it expands and can result in burst pipes. To prevent this;

  • Ensure pipes are well insulated
  • And there are no cracks
  • Fix any dripping taps
  • Get the boiler serviced regularly
  • Run the heating at a low temperature during void periods
  • At the start of a new tenancy, make sure your tenants are aware of the location of the stopcock and understand what to do in case of an emergency

 

Fireplaces and Chimneys

If any of your rental properties contain working fireplaces, a professional clean by a chimney sweep will help to prevent debris build up which could pose a fire hazard.

 

Door Locks

Sometimes, extreme cold weather can freeze locks. Rather than getting a late night call from a tenant locked out of their home, a pre-emptive spray with lubricant will prevent sticking.

 

Prevent Pests

Cold weather can draw in pests such as mice and voles. To prevent any unwelcome visitors, ensure all small holes and cracks around the exterior of the property are properly sealed.

 

Interior Winter Maintenance

The following winter home maintenance tips refer to the interior of your rental property;

 

Winter Boiler Maintenance

Perhaps the most important consideration for your tenants, is ensuring the property’s heating system is in good working condition before the cold winter weather hits.

If the weather drops severely, your boiler is at risk of freezing. To avoid this;

  • Remind your tenants to run the heating regularly.
  • If your property is going through a void period, it’s worth setting the heating to come on at certain times throughout the day or to run it constantly at a low temperature to help prevent damp and keep the boiler in good condition.
  • We also recommend bleeding the radiators regularly to prevent pockets of air entering and affecting the heat they give off.
  • Get the boiler serviced once a year by a gas safe registered engineer before winter really kicks in.

 

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

The start of winter is a good time to check your smoke and CO alarms are all present and in working order.

Since 2015, it has been a legal requirement for landlords to install working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on each floor of a property. Failure to do so could result in a £5000 fine for each non-working alarm.

If you’re busy managing your portfolio, we provide Smoke and CO inspections as part of our inventory and check in service.

 

Winter Property Security

Fewer daylight hours and empty properties around Christmas time can result in higher levels of property crime. Encouraging your tenants to practice these safety tips should help to avoid any nasty surprises;

 

Timed Lighting Systems

If your rental property is left vacant over the Christmas period as tenants visit family and friends, it’s more vulnerable to theft and damage.

Encouraging tenants to use a timed lighting system when they go away for extended periods can help to prevent break ins. Alternatively, leaving the bathroom light on uses up minimal energy whilst warding off burglaries.

 

Exterior Safety Lighting

If you’re worried about a vacant property, installing security lights can help to prevent break-ins.

 

Emergency Contact Numbers

One of the most important ways you can protect your rental property over the winter is to provide your tenants with a list of emergency numbers to contact if things go wrong. This should include;

  • Plumber
  • Electrician
  • General property maintenance provider
  • Locksmith
  • Letting agent contacts

This is particularly important if you are planning to go away over the Christmas break.

By providing your own list of numbers, you can ensure that any repairs or maintenance issues are attended to by reliable tradespeople, approved by you.

 

Invest in a Professional Inventory Service

One of the easiest ways to protect your rental property over winter, is to invest in a thorough inventory service.

From maintenance reports to health and safety checks, our teams of inventory clerks across the UK are on hand to help you manage your property portfolio all year round.

Need some help? Browse our list of available property inventory services to protect your investment this winter.

Anyone who has worked within the lettings industry will understand the importance of a thorough inventory for rental properties.

And when landlords skip this vital step, major issues can occur. If you’re left facing serious damage at the end of a tenancy without the proper reports, you may lose out on thousands of pounds.

We explore the power of inventories by highlighting a recent high-profile case featuring a former pop star and £70,000 worth of damage.

 

Do I Need An Inventory?

Yes, as a landlord or letting agent, it is important to have an inventory report in place to provide the evidence needed if you need to make a claim on the deposit at the end of the tenancy.

Without a detailed inventory, you could be left having to repair damage out of your own pocket. We’ve created a simple guide on the key components to include and why they’re necessary;

 

Property Management Inventory Checklist

An inventory report must include the following key components;

  • A record of meter readings and keys provided
  • The condition and cleanliness of each room, including appliances, fixtures and fittings
  • A record of the condition of the garden, including any damage
  • A signature from the tenant confirming they agree with the contents of the report
  • A record of the condition of the mattresses if fully furnished
  • Date & time stamped photos of the property and its contents

It must also include essential safety points;

  • A record of furniture and furnishing fire safety labels
  • Evidence that the Smoke and CO alarms comply with legislation (working order & correct placement)
  • A record of loose or frayed carpets, cracked glass or windows, missing keys and inoperable locks

 

Check Out Report

In addition to the initial inventory report and schedule of condition that takes place when a tenant moves into a rental property, you will also need a check out report when they move out at the end of the tenancy.

Following the final inspection, the check out report should;

  • Include a detailed record of the condition of the property
  • Clearly show how the property has changed throughout the tenancy (in combination with the initial check in report)
  • Include recommended actions for landlords and tenants

This report provides a vital benchmark to help assess any changes to the property from the start of the tenancy to the end.

If any deposit disputes arise, these reports should provide clear evidence to help landlords get a fair return on any losses or repairs required.

 

Top Reasons for Tenancy Deposit Disputes

Some of the main reason’s disputes occur include;

  • Cleaning 54%
  • Damage 49%
  • Decoration 31%
  • Rent 20%
  • Gardening 16%

 

Dealing with Deposit Disputes

The security deposit taken at the start of a tenancy is considered the tenant’s money. This means that it can be tricky for landlords to withhold the deposit in response to damage or loss without significant evidence.

You will need to prove there is damage to your rental property above normal wear and tear in order to claim on the deposit.

That’s why poorly compiled inventory reports are one of the most common reasons landlords lose disputes.

Tip: Always enter the deposit into a tenancy deposit protection scheme as this is a legally required step!

 

Celebrity Rental Drama: The Power of Inventories

To demonstrate our point, we’ve got a high profile case study in which a property rental disaster was averted thanks to comprehensive inventory reports.

Former En-Dubz star and X Factor Judge, Tulisa Contostavlos was recently ordered to pay over £70,000 worth in damage to the landlord of her former luxury rental property.

Reported damage to the luxury North London flat included a smashed sink, cigarette burns, stains and doors ripped from hinges. Despite arguing that the damage was normal wear and tear, she was ordered to pay compensation, interest and legal costs to her former landlord.

Key to this case was the presence of a thorough and professional inventory and check-out report.

Clearly, a high rental value is no protection against severe damage, so no matter which end of the market you’re positioned in, covering your back is essential if you want to recover your costs.

Looking for help managing your portfolio of rental properties in London? Find a list of our No Letting Go London offices.

 

What is Fair Wear and Tear?

It can be problematic working out what is considered fair wear and tear as it differs case by case. Some examples of fair wear and tear include;

  • Small scuff marks on walls
  • Naturally worn down carpets
  • Frayed fabrics
  • Faded curtains
  • Carpet indentations

However, when we talk about damage this could include;

  • Broken locks or doors
  • Burn marks or large carpet stains
  • Holes in the walls
  • Broken windows or furniture
  • Poorly painted walls

One of the easiest ways to determine the difference is by commissioning a professional inventory clerk to visit the property and make a detailed report, including photographic imagery at the start of the tenancy.

 

How To Protect Your Rental Property from Damage

There are a few more steps you can take to protect your rental property;

Regular Property Inspections

To avoid a similar situation, making quarterly inspections of the property can help encourage tenants to practice good property maintenance.

Target Long Term Tenants

In addition, targeting long-term tenants who are more likely to treat the property as their home will help to avoid intentional damage.

Keep it Simple

Keep decoration simple and ensure your property is thoroughly clean at the start of the tenancy to avoid any future disputes.

 

Avoid the Risks with A Professional Inventory Service

You’ve heard the warning, now it’s time to cover your back. One of the easiest ways to protect your investment as a landlord or letting agent is to commission a professional inventory company to undertake comprehensive inventory reports and checks.

Our independent inventory clerks across the country are experienced at providing essential reports, checks and visits to help you stay protected from move in date up until the end of the tenancy agreement.

To find out how we could help, browse our list of professional property inventory services to get started.