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;
- Online property portal
- High street letting agent
- Online letting agent
- Social media platforms
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
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.
Finding a reliable removal company can be a challenge, and tenants often turn to their landlord or letting agent for advice at the end of a tenancy.
Providing quality recommendations for trusted tradespeople and services builds trust with tenants and means they’re more likely to pass on your details to friends and family.
In order to provide your tenants with reputable removals services, we explore what to look for when searching for a removal company and the benefits of using this service.
Do I Need a Removals Company?
If your tenant asks this question at the end of a tenancy, the answer is usually yes. Most people gather lots of belongings, even over the space of a year. When packing and transporting expensive items of furniture and fragile items, it can pay to leave it to the professionals.
Unless the property is very small, they are renting one room or rent a fully furnished property, it’s likely a professional removal service will be beneficial.
A professional removal service offers tenants;
- Time saving
- Safer packing and transportation of fragile items
- More van space
A professional removal service is even more important for families with lots of belongings and older tenants who may struggle to pack up their home.
How Do I Choose a Removal Company?
We’ve broken down finding the right removal company into a few simple steps;
The first consideration is location. Removal companies based locally to your rental properties are likely to be cheaper than those that have further to travel.
These companies could become part of a portfolio of recommended tradespeople and services you can offer to your tenants.
One of the first places to go for local removal companies is a comparison site. Here, you will find a list of trusted traders and you will be able to filter your search results to find relevant companies more quickly.
Searching by price point, location and reviews can help narrow down your search.
The next step once you have found a few possible candidates is to check removal quotes. Most tenants will be searching for the most affordable option, so if you can recommend a reasonable company they should be happy customers.
Try to get at least three different quotes for the same move, with each cost broken down into insurance, packing, hourly rate, mileage and storage.
We’ve all heard disaster stories of rogue movers damaging expensive furniture or losing sentimental items, and tenants won’t be happy if your recommendation goes wrong.
Once you have narrowed down the search further, it’s time to check the customer reviews. Sometimes, companies are cheap for a reason, and you should be able to weed out any unreliable movers from the reviews online.
How do I Find a Reputable Moving Company?
We’ve got some top tips on how to spot a quality removal company you can rely on;
Ask for Recommendations
Word of mouth can be a powerful tool for finding reliable tradespeople and services.
Have any of your friends or family moved home recently? They may have their own recommendations to offer. It’s also worth checking which removal companies local letting agents recommend.
Have They Been Regulated?
An easy way to determine whether a removal firm is trustworthy, is to check whether they are a member of any regulatory boards or associations.
Check if the company is a member of The British Association of Removers (BAR), a regulatory body which ensures professional excellence. With lists of residential and commercial movers, all companies listed have been tested to industry standards.
Questions to Ask the Movers
Before you recommend a removal company to your tenant, ask these questions first;
- How long has the company been operating?
- Do you offer pre move surveys?
- Do you offer storage facilities?
- Do your quotes include insurance?
- Is a packing service included?
- Is parking on moving day included?
- What is your delay policy?
- Do you ask for any additional removal costs?
Having all the important information to hand is of great use for busy tenants and will make a great impression long term.
How Much Notice Do Removal Companies Need?
The process of getting an initial quote for moving house, the subsequent survey, finding an available date and getting all of the documents in order can take several weeks. It’s a good idea to remind tenants of this as it comes nearer to the end of their tenancy so they can be fully prepared on moving day.
What is the Average Cost of Removals?
The cost of using a professional removals company is dependent on several factors;
- The number and size of the items being transported
- The distance between properties
- Size of the removals team on the day
- Whether it includes packing and packing materials
The Movers and Storers Show
Another way to find reputable moving companies is to attend an industry event such as the Movers and Storers Show.
This year, the show is taking place in Coventry, 19th-20th November and is a convenient place to find trusted partners.
The Importance of Trusted Property Partners
Reputation is important in the lettings industry. If a tenant has a positive moving experience thanks to your recommendation, they are more likely to consider your services in the future and give positive recommendations to friends and family.
That goes for all services you use to manage the rental properties in your portfolio.
Here at No Letting Go, we offer a range of professional services to help landlords and letting agents manage their portfolios and stay on top of their responsibilities.
From property inventory to property visits, our services are designed to protect your investment for the long term.
Browse our full list of property inventory services here to find out how we can help.
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;
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.
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.
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;
- 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.
Things to Consider When Renting to Elderly Tenants
Here are some main points for landlords to consider to ensure elderly tenants’ needs are met;
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.
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.
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.
With several types of tenancies out there, the variations can get confusing for new tenants and landlords. So, what is a periodic tenancy?
Periodic tenancies can offer great benefits, including increased flexibility and less paperwork. However, they aren’t without their drawbacks.
That’s why we’ve created this guide on the risks and rewards of periodic tenancies, to help you make an informed decision before drawing up a contract.
What is a Periodic Tenancy Agreement?
A periodic tenancy is a tenancy that runs for a certain period of time, most commonly month to month. Periodic tenancies can also run on a week to week or quarterly basis, although this is less common.
Unlike fixed term tenancies, periodic tenancies work as a rolling contract which can be terminated by landlord or tenant by giving notice.
Types of Tenancy Agreements
Tenancies can come in all shapes and sizes, depending on the terms and conditions of the agreement. However, here are the most common types of tenancies you’re likely to come across;
Assured Shorthold Tenancy
Assured shorthold tenancies are the most common and apply to most private rentals with a tenancy date starting after 15 January 1989. Most assured shorthold tenancies begin with a fixed period of 6 or 12 months.
Non-Assured Shorthold Tenancy
If your rental property demands less than £250 or more than £100,000 in rent per year or it is used as a holiday home, it won’t be eligible for an assured tenancy. This means you don’t have to enter the tenant’s deposit into a protection scheme or serve a section 21 notice to evict tenants.
It is unlikely you’ll need an assured tenancy these days unless you are a housing association. This type of tenancy gives the tenant longer-term stability.
Sometimes referred to as a license, excluded tenancies are for tenants who lodge with their landlord and share communal areas.
If a tenancy started before 15 January 1989 it may be a regulated tenancy. The difference being that tenants have enhanced rights when it comes to eviction and ‘fair rent’.
When renting to companies, different rules apply in terms of deposit protection and eviction notices.
Fixed Term Tenancy
A fixed term tenancy lasts for an agreed set of time, depending on what is set out in the tenancy agreement. Usually this will be 12 months.
Short-Term Fixed Tenancy
A short-term fixed tenancy lasts for 90 days or less.
A periodic tenancy works on a rolling basis with no fixed end date. E.g. month by month.
What is a Statutory Periodic Tenancy?
A statutory periodic tenancy occurs when an assured shorthold tenancy comes to the end of its fixed term and the tenant stays at the property without renewing the contract. If the tenant continues to pay rent and it is accepted by the landlord, the tenancy will continue on a periodic, rolling basis.
This transition from fixed term assured shorthold tenancy to statutory periodic tenancy is automatic.
What is a Contractual Periodic Tenancy?
A contractual periodic tenancy differs in that it is agreed in the tenancy contract as opposed to automatically transitioning from a fixed term into a periodic tenancy. This can either be agreed upon at the start of the tenancy or shortly before the fixed term contract expires.
It is also possible to enter into a periodic tenancy from the outset by setting the initial term as one month or week.
How Does a Periodic Tenancy Work?
While a fixed term tenancy lasts for an agreed set of time, a periodic tenancy works on a rolling basis, from month to month or week to week. It doesn’t end until one party gives notice.
In a periodic tenancy, the period depends on when the rent is paid by the tenant. So, in a monthly period tenancy the tenant would pay rent each month.
Shorthold tenancies become periodic tenancies after the fixed term agreement expires and if there is no new contract drawn up with the remaining tenants. The assured shorthold tenancy will automatically become a periodic tenancy as long as the tenants do not change, and they are happy to retain the same contract. The same conditions will apply and there is no further action needed by the landlord or tenant.
Ending a Periodic Tenancy
To end a periodic tenancy, there are several legal processes that can take place;
- Both landlord and tenant mutually agree to end the tenancy
- The landlord decides to evict the tenant
- The tenant gives notice
- The landlord gives notice
Periodic Tenancy Notice: Tenants
To end a periodic tenancy, tenants will need to give the right amount of notice depending on the terms stated in the tenancy agreement. They also need to ensure it ends on the right day. For example, if a monthly periodic tenancy began on 1st January it will need to end on the last or the 1st day of the month. From this date, they will no longer be liable for rent payments.
Statutory Periodic Tenancy Notice
If it is a statutory periodic tenancy, tenants must give at least 1 months’ notice for a monthly contract or at least 4 weeks’ notice for a weekly contract. The notice must end on the first or last day of the tenancy period.
Periodic Tenancy Notice Period: Landlords
Landlords must give tenants a written ‘notice to quit’ which must end on the last day of the rental period, give the minimum notice period and include legal information.
For statutory periodic tenancies, it is also possible for landlords to issue a section 21 notice as long as the landlord gives the tenant at least two months’ notice and the last day is the last day of the tenancy period. If the tenant does not move out on this date, landlords have the right to request a court order to regain possession. However, changes to the law regarding section 21 notices now require a landlord to give their reasoning, alongside relevant evidence.
Benefits of a Periodic Tenancy for Landlords
A periodic tenancy can have wide-ranging benefits for both landlord and tenant, including;
- Increased flexibility. If you suddenly need to regain possession of your property, a periodic tenancy speeds up this process as you don’t have to wait until the end of a fixed period.
- Attracting tenants. For some tenants, this flexibility is a bonus. If your tenant moves a lot for work or often needs to relocate suddenly, a periodic tenancy becomes appealing.
- Reduced letting agency fees. Periodic tenancies can dispel the need for renewals and the administration costs that come with them.
- If for any reason you need to increase the rent, this is made a lot easier by periodic tenancies. Revisions to rent payments can be made much more quickly when operating on a month by month basis.
- If you are having issues with a particular tenant, a periodic tenancy may be in your favour as you are better able to evict problem tenants as a last resort.
Risks of Periodic Tenancies for Landlords
With these advantages also come risks. If you’re thinking of entering into a periodic tenancy, watch out for the following potential dangers;
- Naturally, periodic tenancies are more likely to attract tenants looking for shorter, more transient leases. If it’s stability you’re after, you may want to think twice.
- Similarly, shorter term tenants can cost more in terms of marketing and vetting potential new tenants to replace them.
- With 1 month or less notice periods, you don’t have a long turnaround time if a tenant decides to move out unexpectedly. You will need to have end of tenancy cleaning and maintenance processes finely tuned so as not to lose out.
- If your tenant moves out during a ‘notice to quit’ period, you may be liable for paying council tax for the property. To avoid this situation, make sure you have a contractual periodic tenancy agreement in place to ensure this remains the tenant’s responsibility.
Periodic Tenancies: Good Idea?
Periodic tenancies can be a good idea as they offer increased flexibility for both landlord and tenant and can reduce the number of administrative tasks needed throughout a tenancy.
However, to protect your investment, we recommend;
- Always drawing up a contractual periodic tenancy agreement. This way you have all the agreed terms in writing and won’t be liable for council tax payments if your tenant moves out unexpectedly.
- Getting your property marketing up to scratch to attract new tenants and avoid extended void periods.
- Making sure you have all the processes in place for a speedy turnaround to avoid any losses. This includes;
- A detailed and fuss-free inventory report is vital when you’re dealing with potentially shorter tenancies. Having a streamlined process in place will help protect you against loss or damage and help recover any costs without going through lengthy disputes.
Be Prepared with No Letting Go
The easiest way to protect your investment and maintain a happy landlord/tenant relationship is to entrust a comprehensive, unbiased inventory reporting service.
Here at No Letting Go, we provide a tailor-made service, including everything from check-in to property visits.
Find out more about our property services to see how we could build them into a package that suits you.
Subletting is surprisingly common and can offer benefits for both landlords and tenants. But what counts as subletting? And what do landlords need to know about the risks?
We explore what subletting is and what you can do as a landlord to mitigate the risks.
What is Considered Subletting?
Subletting is when a tenant decides to rent out either a room or whole property to a third party. For example, if a tenant decides to go travelling for an extended period, they might try to let their room out to another tenant to pay their rent. Other reasons could include;
- Change in income
- If they need to relocate before the end of a contract
- If another tenant decides to move out before the end of the tenancy and they need to fill the space
To be a sublet, the original, existing tenant needs to give exclusive access of at least one area of the property to the subtenant. The subtenant will not pay rent directly to the landlord but to the original tenant.
Is Subletting Illegal?
In most cases, subletting is legal if the tenant obtains the landlords permission to let out the rental property.
However, if the tenant sublets without written permission, they could come into legal difficulties.
Can A Landlord Refuse A Sublet?
This all depends on what it says in the tenancy agreement. If there is a section in the agreement that says a tenant can ask the landlord to sublet, landlords will need to have a valid reason for refusal.
However, if there is no mention of subletting in the tenancy agreement, as a landlord, you can refuse more easily.
It’s worth noting that in the case of fixed term tenancies, the tenant may still be able to sublet without consent if there is no mention in the agreement. That’s why it’s important to be clear on the terms of your agreement from the get-go.
Not keen on the idea of allowing a tenant to sublet? There are a few steps you can take to ensure it doesn’t happen;
- Include a section in the tenancy agreement prohibiting subletting
- Arrange regular property inspections to help prevent unwanted subletting. The professional carrying out the inspection will usually be able to tell if something is awry. It will also indicate to your tenants that you aren’t complacent as a landlord.
- Try to develop strong relationships with your tenants so they come to you first if they are having any difficulties making the rent.
If a tenant decides to go ahead and sublet without permission, there are two main circumstances that most commonly occur;
The tenant rents out a room in the property whilst still living at the address.
This is the most common situation, and often happens when flatmates move out unexpectedly.
In this situation, think carefully about how you want to proceed. If the new subtenant has caused no issues and the rent is paid on time, it can sometimes be advantageous to allow them to continue living at the property. If this is the case, draw up an agreement to stay protected. Don’t accept any payment until you have a proper tenancy agreement in place.
The tenant rents out several or all the rooms in the rental property whilst living at a different address.
This could have serious consequences for you as the landlord. If these subletting tenants report issues to the original tenant who they assume is the landlord, property maintenance issues may go unresolved and you start to lose control of your property.
What Happens If Your Tenant Sublets Without Permission?
If you discover your tenant is subletting without your permission, there are a few steps you can take;
- Talk to your original tenant first to find a solution
- If the tenant persists subletting, sub-tenants should be informed, and either be asked to vacate the property or draw up a new tenancy agreement for them
- If all else fails and the subtenant refuses to vacate, you may need to begin the eviction process
What Are The Risks Of Subletting?
If a tenant decides to sublet their room, there are a number of risks you need to be aware of;
Insurance and Mortgage
Some insurance and mortgage providers don’t allow subletting and ignoring this could lead to voiding your contract. It’s vital you avoid this at all costs by checking your agreement before allowing a sublet.
End of The Tenancy
If your original tenant decides to move out, but their subtenant is still living in your rental property, you may come up against issues. Evicting a tenant without a tenancy agreement can get complicated.
How Do You Sublet Safely? Tips for Landlords
Subletting doesn’t always spell disaster. In fact, it can be profitable for both landlord and tenant, solving common issues such as change of circumstance.
If you do decide to grant your tenant permission to sublet, here’s a few steps you can take to ensure your investment stays protected;
- Ensure you are clear on the contents of the tenancy agreement and what it says about subletting. If there is no mention, you may want to add a clause to be on the safe side.
- Spend time on tenant referencing to ensure you end up with reliable, trustworthy tenants.
- Spend time getting to know your tenants and making a good impression. This way, they are more likely to come to you first if their circumstances change.
- Carry out regular property inspections.
Protect Your Investment with No Letting Go
If you need a helping hand protecting your investment, we have teams of experienced inventory clerks across the country ready to support you.
We can provide regular property visits, every 3-4 months to ensure your property is being well maintained and tenants are fulfilling their contractual obligations.
In addition, a comprehensive inventory report is one of the best ways to protect your investment in the long term.
Interested in hearing more? Get in touch or visit our services page to find our property inventory packages.
What if your tenant moves out without paying their utility bills or council tax? Does it fall on you as the landlord to pick up the pieces?
This is a common question among both landlords and tenants, and it needs clearing up. So, who is responsible for unpaid utility bills? Let’s find out.
Are Landlords Responsible For Unpaid Utility Bills?
Not usually. As long as it is the tenant’s name on the bill, and it is stated in the tenancy agreement that tenants are responsible for utilities, landlords are not liable for unpaid bills left over by tenants.
However, as a landlord, there are some steps you will need to take to protect yourself if you find yourself in this tricky situation;
- Always tell the local council when a new tenant moves in. You will need to provide the names of the new tenants and the contact details of the previous tenants so they can get in touch if needs be.
- Inform the energy suppliers of the property of any change in tenancy (this includes gas, electricity and water)
- Encourage new tenants to change the name on the utility bills as soon as possible.
- Make a note of the meter readings at the start and end of each tenancy so you have a record for the utility companies.
- Ensure your tenancy agreement clearly states that utility payments are the responsibility of the tenant.
- Keep a signed copy of the tenancy agreement in a safe, easily accessible place.
What Bills Are Tenants Responsible For?
This depends on the tenancy agreement you have in place.
Commonly, tenants are responsible for the following bills;
- Council tax
However, this is not always the case. Let’s look at two different situations;
Utilities Registered In The Tenant’s Name
When bills are registered in the tenant’s name, the tenant is responsible for paying them from the date they move into the property. However, they are not responsible for any debts left behind from previous tenants. It’s important for tenants to check the meter readings on move-in day so they can supply their energy providers with the correct readings at the start of their tenancy.
In this case, landlords are not required to pay any remaining payments after their tenant has left. The utility companies will have to chase the tenant themselves, meaning the issue is out of your hands.
Utilities Registered In The Landlord’s Name
You can choose to register bills in the landlord’s name and ask the tenant to pay you for their usage. This can be helpful for short lets, or if you rent out a room in your own house. However, if the tenant leaves without paying, you may be responsible for paying the outstanding sum.
To avoid this situation, always follow the steps outlines above.
End Of Tenancy Utility Bills
To end a contract, most utility suppliers require a few days notice before the end of a tenancy. As long as the bills are in the tenant’s name, this is entirely their responsibility to organise.
If there is outstanding debt left over and…
- The utilities are in the landlord’s name
- Or the tenant failed to register for utilities whilst living at the property
You may be able to prove the tenants were living at the property if you supply a copy of the tenancy agreement. However, this will depend on the individual policies of the utility companies.
Who Is Responsible For Bills During Void Periods?
If your property is empty for any period of time, the owner of the property is responsible for utility payments.
This is why it’s best to keep energy usage to a minimum in between tenants. However, during the winter, we recommend keeping the heat consistent to protect against mould and damp and avoid further maintenance costs in the long run.
If your property is left vacant for an extended period, you will need to organise regular vacant property inspections to check for leaks or mould.
Who Is Responsible For Utilities In Multiple Occupancy Properties?
If there are several tenants living at a property, disputes can often arise regarding bills. The main thing to remember is that whoever’s name is on the bill is ultimately responsible.
This means, if all tenants in a house share or HMO rental property have their name registered to a utility bill, they are all equally liable to repay debts, even if it’s only one tenant who hasn’t paid.
Property Management Help From No Letting Go
One of the simplest ways to avoid disputes and protect your investment at the end of a tenancy is to have all of your property reports in one easily accessible place.
All of our check in reports come with utility checks and meter readings included to help landlords and property professionals keep on top of their responsibilities.
Keen to learn more about how our flexible reporting could help? Find our full list of property inventory services here.
As a landlord, you’ll understand the importance of finding reliable tenants that pay the rent on time. One way to secure this is through comprehensive tenant reference checks. But what happens if a potential tenant fails their credit check?
Renting to tenants with bad credit doesn’t necessarily spell disaster. If the tenant ticks all the right boxes, there are ways to get around this issue and protect yourself and your investment.
What Is A Tenant Reference Check?
A tenant reference check helps landlords and letting agents decide if a tenant is likely to be reliable and pay each month’s rent on time.
In addition to a credit check, tenant referencing can look for;
- Proof of identity
- Proof of employment
- Current salary
- Bank statements
- Proof of benefit claims
- Right to rent in the UK
- A previous landlord reference
What Is A Credit Check?
A credit check looks at the tenant’s credit report and financial history, spotting any times they have missed bill payments or have fallen into arrears. This is analysed to produce an individual credit score.
A credit score can range from around 0- 900 points, depending on the score system used. A good credit score could be anything above 750 points.
What’s The Minimum Credit Score A Landlord Should Accept For A Tenant?
An acceptable credit score will be dependent on the scoring system used, as they differ between referencing agencies. However, when a tenant’s credit score comes back as poor or very poor, you may want to think about asking some further questions.
What Causes A Bad Credit Scoring?
A poor credit score can be caused by a number of issues, some more concerning than others when it comes to potential tenants.
Here are a few of the more serious reasons for a poor credit rating;
Naturally, being in debt can negatively affect a tenant’s credit score as it suggests that they struggle to manage their money and are not financially stable. If this issue is uncovered by a credit check, you may think twice about entering into a tenancy agreement.
Being Declared Bankrupt
This should set major alarm bells ringing for landlords as it suggests the tenant has had difficulty managing repayments in the past.
County Court Judgements
A County Court Judgment (CCJ) is when a tenant is forced to repay a debt by the courts. If this shows up, it’s not a great first impression.
Late Credit Card Or Loan Repayments
If a tenant has struggled to pay credit card repayments in time, this doesn’t bode well for rent payments.
There are also a number of issues that can affect credit scores that don’t necessarily mean a tenant will struggle with their finances;
Not Having A Credit History
One reason for a poor credit rating that is particularly common among younger tenants and students is not having a credit history at all. If the tenant has never taken out a credit card or loan and has never paid bills from their bank account, they won’t have a credit trail to check, resulting in a low score.
This is a likely occurrence if you rent to students or young adults who have just left home and doesn’t necessarily mean that the tenant will be bad at managing their money.
Only Making The Minimum Credit Card Repayments
Credit scores can be affected if the tenant only makes the minimum repayment on their credit card each month. The assumption is that they are struggling to keep up with all their outgoings, however this isn’t always the case.
Not Being On the Electoral Roll
Not updating addresses and personal information can affect credit score, as can not being on the electoral roll. This step is easily forgotten when moving house and doesn’t prove the tenant will be unreliable.
No Proof Of Address
If a tenant hasn’t been responsible for paying bills at their previous residence or were not named on the tenancy agreement, it can be difficult for the referencing agency to determine proof of address.
How Important Is Good Credit?
As we explored above, good credit isn’t the be all and end all when it comes to finding a good tenant. Equally as important is whether they fit your target tenant profile.
If you’ve been struggling to rent out your property or think the tenant will make a good fit, there are ways to get around bad credit.
How To Rent to Tenants With Bad Credit
Poor credit rating alone doesn’t mean you should give up on a tenant if they tick all the other boxes. Here are some ways to minimise risk;
The first thing to do when a potential tenant’s credit check comes back as poor, is to find out why. If it was down to late or missed payments it may be best to steer clear, however if it’s something as simple as a lack of credit history then it needn’t stop you from going ahead with the tenancy.
Ask To See Previous Rent Payments
Seeing proof of regular, timely rent payments for a previous rental arrangement will help to ease your concerns about their responsibility as a tenant.
Charge a Larger Deposit
If a tenant has a low credit score, it’s likely they will be prepared to pay a slightly larger security deposit to make up for it. This will give you extra leverage when it comes to recovering costs at the end of the tenancy.
Ask For A Guarantor
One of the best ways to protect yourself if a tenant has poor credit is to ask for a guarantor. A guarantor will be able to cover any costs if the tenant is unable to pay, giving you extra protection.
The guarantor will need to sign the tenancy agreement along with the tenant and have secure financial status.
Ask For A Previous Landlord Reference
One sure way to find out if a tenant is reliable is to ask their previous landlord.
Here are some questions to ask;
- Did the tenant pay rent on time each month?
- Did the tenant look after the rental property?
- How often did the tenant raise issues with the landlord or letting agent?
- Were any complaints received from neighbours regarding the tenant?
- What condition did they leave the property at the end of the tenancy?
- Would you feel happy renting to the tenant again?
Ask For Rent Upfront
While this may be a lot to ask and not always in scope, a tenant with a high risk credit score may be prepared to pay rent upfront. Paying the first six months of rent upfront will ease any initial worries and give the tenant time to prove their reliability.
Receive Payments By Direct Debit
Asking for rent payments via direct debit is common practice these days and is especially important if you’re concerned about a tenant’s financial responsibility.
Shorten The Tenancy
If you’re worried about the reliability of a tenant, setting a shorter, probationary rental period in which the tenant has time to prove their responsibility could be a good idea. If you experience late payments or other issues, you can terminate the tenancy early.
Talk To The Tenant
You can tell a lot from a frank, face-to-face conversation. If your potential tenant willingly discloses their credit issues and can provide a reasonable explanation for the low score, you will be much better placed to make an informed decision.
How To Organise A Tenant Reference Check
Although credit checks aren’t the only way to choose the right tenant, it is important to perform tenant referencing so you aren’t caught out further down the line.
As a busy landlord, you may want to delegate this task to a professional tenant referencing company. Placing this responsibility in the experienced hands of a recommended referencing company will minimise any risks and help the process go smoothly.
Protect Your Property With No Letting Go
In addition to choosing a reliable tenant, a comprehensive inventory is one of the best ways to protect your rental property.
At No Letting Go, we offer unbiased property inventory reports to help safeguard your property against damage and recover essential costs at the end of a tenancy. All the way through from Schedule of Condition, to check in and property visits, our property clerks are there to simplify the rental process and save you time.
Interested in hearing more? Head to our website to discover the full range of property management services we offer.
Mould. The scourge of the rental property market. No matter how much effort you put into ventilating a property and keeping things dry, it somehow seems to find its way back again and again.
But whose responsibility is it to deal with mould in a rental property? And are tenants able to demand rent reductions for lingering mould?
We’re exploring this common problem to help landlords and tenants alike come to a happy solution. From prevention to deposit deductions, let’s look at landlords mould responsibility to get to the bottom of who is culpable and prevent disputes before they arise.
What is Damp and Mould?
Before we delve into who is responsible for dealing with mould in rented properties, let’s look at the different types of mould and its causes.
Rising damp is the name given to the process of water rising up and into a building from the ground through bricks and mortar. All houses should have a layer of waterproof material called a ‘damp proof’ to prevent rising damp. However, when this fails, problems occur.
If this issue isn’t solved promptly, it can lead to mould forming that’s difficult to remove for good.
Penetrating damp is caused by leaks that allow water into the property, causing surface mould growth. These leaks could come from broken roof tiles, blocked guttering or faulty plumbing.
The main thing to remember about penetrating damp is that it comes from outside the property and is usually a structural issue.
Condensation happens when moisture in the air comes into contact with cold surfaces, leading to water droplets and mould growth. If a building is poorly insulated or the ventilation or heating system is faulty, then the condensation is considered a structural issue. However, condensation can also be caused by tenant’s lifestyle habits.
The Health Risks of Living with Mould
The Housing Health and Safety Rating (HHSR) dictates that damp is an essential repair as it can cause health issues for tenants.
Mould is a fungus which can trigger or exacerbate the following health problems;
- Difficulty breathing
- Allergic reactions
- Skin rashes
- Asthma attacks
Not only is mould detrimental to physical health, it can also have an impact on tenant’s sense of wellbeing. This is why it’s so important for landlords to deal with mould swiftly and efficiently.
Is Mould the Landlord’s Responsibility?
With regards to mould, when fingers are pointed, things can get complicated.
Legally, rising damp or penetrative damp caused by structural leakage is the landlord’s responsibility to put right. Under section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, it is the landlord’s responsibility to resolve mould issues caused by structural faults.
However, when interior condensation is caused by the tenant, this shifts the responsibility.
Condensation can be caused by;
- Drying clothes indoors
- Showering and not opening the window
- Cooking without opening the window
- Not heating the property sufficiently
Determining whether mould in a property is due to the tenant’s lifestyle habits or the poor ventilation of the property can be tricky.
First Steps When Mould Is Spotted
If you’re a tenant whose spotted mould anywhere within your rental property, you need to alert your landlord straight away. Describe where the mould is and any damage to furniture or belongings. Once the problem has been reported, the landlord has to respond within 14 days.
For landlords, when a tenant reports mould in the property, arrange an inspection to determine the cause of the mould and, where necessary, ensure repairs are made.
Once a damp problem has been resolved, you may also need to repair any damaged plaster or flooring and redecorate affected areas.
If you don’t respond within the two-week timeframe the tenant could contact the local authority who could force the issue through. That’s why it’s vital to arrange an inspection and repairs as soon as possible.
Can I Withhold Rent for Mould?
If your landlord refuses to make repairs, withholding rent can be risky. Technically, tenants do not have the right to withhold rent and could be subject to repossession or even eviction.
However, tenants do have the right to make the repairs themselves and make up the cost in future rent. If you decide to go down this route, you need to be certain that the repairs needed are the responsibility of the landlord. Be sure to seek legal advice before making this stance and follow the correct procedures.
Can a Landlord Deduct Deposit for Mould?
If there is mould in a property at the end of a tenancy which was not there at the start, landlords have a right to deduct money from the deposit only if the mould was caused by the actions of the tenant.
The amount deducted is at the discretion of the landlord, and will take into consideration any repairs or redecoration needed above the level of fair wear and tear.
Is Mould Considered Normal Wear and Tear?
Whether mould is considered to be fair wear and tear depends on the cause. If there is evidence to show that the mould has been caused by the negligence of the tenants and advice and regular maintenance has been supplied by the landlord or letting agent, then compensation can be claimed.
Can I End My Tenancy Early Due to Mould?
If you’re a tenant who has found themselves in a mouldy property with an inefficient landlord, there are steps you can take.
If your tenancy agreement has a break clause, then you may be able to end the tenancy early. However, if not, contact your local authority who will perform an inspection to determine whether the landlord is culpable of negligence. If so, they will issue a notice to the landlord demanding repairs.
From a landlord’s perspective, if you attempt to evict your tenant without fixing a reported mould problem within six months of it being reported, this could invalidate a Section 21 notice.
Condensation and Mould: Advice for Tenants
If you’re a tenant living in a rental property, there are some simple ways to prevent mould;
- Dry clothes outside when possible or keep them in the bathroom with the doors closed and windows open
- Cover pans with lids when cooking to prevent excess steam escaping
- Close the kitchen and bathroom door when in use
- Use a bath mat to soak up excess water
- Turn on the extractor fan when cooking or bathing
- Leave a gap between furniture and external walls
- Air out cupboards and wardrobes regularly
- Turn on the heating regularly and try to keep the house a consistent temperature
Preventing Mould: Advice for Landlords
Minimising the chances of mould growing at the start of a tenancy agreement could save you money on maintenance in the long run.
Here are some ways to prevent mould in your property;
- Ensure the property is well ventilated
- Maintain gutters and roofs to prevent leaks
- Ensure all plumbing is in good working order
- Repair any rotten window frames
- Improve the insulation of the property
- Install extractor fans in the bathrooms
- Repair or replace faulty damp proof course
Avoid Disputes with a Comprehensive Property Inventory
In cases where it’s difficult to determine the responsibility for mould, a detailed property inventory could help.
Prevent disputes before they can occur by investing in a professional, unbiased inventory report. By providing detailed written and photographic evidence of the state of the property, this report helps landlords and tenants alike by proving responsibility and supporting claims.
At No Letting Go, our team of experienced inventory clerks are well versed in helping landlords and property professionals streamline their workload and comply with regulations.
Whether you’re a landlord looking to recover costs against mould damage, or a tenant leaving a rental property, browse our full list of property services to find out how we can help.
The Equalities and Human Rights Commission have recently revealed that 93% out of 8.5 million rental homes in the UK are not fit for disabled access, leaving at least 365,000 disabled people in unsuitable accommodation.
There is a pressing need for more accessible rental properties across the UK and the government is cracking down on landlords who do not make the necessary changes. However, this does mean that there is a large number of disabled tenants looking for appropriate housing.
From entry ramps to chair lifts, there are many ways to adapt a property for disabled access. Adapting a home and renting to disabled tenants could even open your property up to a wider range of potential renters.
Here, we look at ways to adapt your rental property so you can welcome a new target tenant group to your portfolio.
UK Rights for Disabled Tenants
Before you start thinking about adapting your property, it’s important to be aware of disabled people’s rights in the UK.
The Equality Act 2010 set out ways to protect people in society, including the rental sector.
According to the Act, a person has a disability if;
- The person has a physical or mental impairment, and
- This impairment has a substantial, long-term effect on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities.
Now, let’s look at your responsibilities as a property professional.
Laws for Private Landlords and Letting Agents
It is against the law for a landlord to discriminate against a disabled tenant. For example, as a landlord, letting or estate agent it is illegal to;
- Refuse to rent to a disabled person because of their disability
- Refuse to allow a guide dog or assistance dog under the no pets rule
- Charge higher rent or deposit to disabled tenants
- Refuse access to additional facilities that are available to other tenants (e.g. laundry room or parking space)
- Evict a tenant due to disability or illness
- Give tenants a less secure tenancy agreement
If a tenant feels they are being discriminated against, they could talk to Citizens advice or the EHRC and you could experience serious repercussions.
Landlord Responsibilities when Renting to Disabled Tenants
When renting to a disabled tenant, you are responsible for providing necessary, reasonable adaptations to make your property accessible and suitable to their individual needs. This can include additional services or equipment known as ‘auxiliary aids’.
Auxiliary aids can include;
- Wheelchair ramps
- Written documents and signs in Braille
- Accessible door handles
- Accessible taps
- Special furnishings (e.g. raised toilet seat)
Refusing these changes could mean you’re breaking the law.
How to Adapt Your Property for Disabled Tenants
When renting to a disabled tenant, it’s likely you will need to make some changes to your property in order to make it accessible. These changes very much depend on the individual needs and requirements of the tenant.
Here are some of the ways you may be required to alter your rental property;
Installing Access Ramps
If your tenant uses a wheelchair or mobility scooter and your property has steps up to the entrance or between rooms, you may need to install access ramps at entrances.
Installing Chair Lifts and Railings
For multi-story homes, chair lifts and railings may be required for less able tenants. Railings may also be needed in bathrooms.
Fitting Accessible Kitchen and Bathroom Facilities
Wheelchair users may need lower kitchen and bathroom facilities which are accessible at chair height. Bathrooms may require a wet room and accessible toilets.
Doors and entrance ways may need to be widened to allow for safe wheelchair access. (Usually 750mm)
Raised Plugs and Features
Features such as plugs and light fixtures will need to be accessible to your tenant(s).
Ground Floor Level Access
Some disabled tenants will require ground floor level access. You will need to provide a bathroom, bedroom and kitchen at ground level.
Your tenant may need access to a parking space which is easily accessible from the property.
Written Signs and Documents in Braille
Visually impaired tenants may require all tenancy documents and signs throughout the home to be provided in Braille. This includes features such as fire safety notices. Tenants with learning disabilities may ask for documents provided in alternative formats.
Covering the Costs of Adapting a Property
You may be thinking about the cost of these changes and how you’re going to cover them.
It’s true that some of these adaptations involve significant work, costing around £20,000 to adapt a standard property.
However, there are ways to help cover the costs;
Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG)
Landlords and tenant alike can apply for a disabled facilities grant which provides funds for adaptations. This grant is supplied by the local council and is subject to an eligibility test where an occupational therapist will assess the property and the adaptations needed before making a decision.
The amount you receive depends on the changes needed, but sums of up to £25,000 can be granted.
To apply, contact your local council.
Remember, if you fail to make the necessary changes, it could cost you a whole lot more in legal costs if the case goes to court!
A Helping Hand from No Letting Go
While this information may appear daunting at first, No Letting Go are on hand to help;
- For example, our 360 Virtual Tour and Photography service allows potential tenants to view your property from any location- solving accessibility issues for many disabled tenants.
- Providing a safe, comfortable and accessible home is particularly important when renting to disabled tenants. All of our property services are designed to streamline your workload and ensure your property is fully compliant with current health, safety and legal regulations.
- Once you’ve made these adaptations to your rental property, it’s important to protect your investment. Our professional inventory service helps to safeguard your property by providing evidence of the condition of your property at the start and end of the tenancy.
Discover the rest of our property management services to find out how we could help.
Landlords and property professionals get ready!
Thanks to the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act on 1st June, you’re likely to see an influx of tenants looking to benefit from this ban on tenant fees.
Recommendations from No Letting Go have recently been featured in the Property Reporter, exploring the impact of this upcoming ban on tenant activity and how landlords and property professionals can get prepared.
Read on to find out how to prepare for the tenant fees ban with our handy quiz and guide.
What is the Tenant Fees Act 2019?
The Act sets out new rules and standards for landlords and letting agents, banning several upfront fees.
This ban includes the following:
- Security deposits must not exceed the cost of five weeks rent
- Holding deposits must not exceed one weeks rent (and should be refundable to the tenant)
- The fee to change a tenancy will be capped at £50
Any breaches to these new standards could result in hefty financial penalties from the enforcement authorities, and landlords will be unable to seize possession of a property through section 21 notices until they have repaid these charges.
When is the Tenant Fee Ban Coming In?
The Tenant Fees Bill was first proposed by the government in 2017 with the aim of making renting more affordable for tenants.
The Tenant Fee Act comes into force on 1 June 2019 from which date landlords and lettings agents will no longer be allowed to charge fees as described above.
Tenant Fee Ban Update: Impact on Tenant Activity
Research from the Deposit Protection Service (DPS) identified a lull in rental activity during the first quarter of 2019 which they attribute to tenants delaying moving until this ban becomes law on 1st June.
According to Nick Lyons, No Letting Go’s CEO;
“It’s no surprise to see shrewd tenants delaying moves until after the fees ban and deposit caps are introduced on 1st June. The upfront cost of moving between rental homes can be high – particularly in London and the South East – so renters will do anything they can to keep costs down, even if that means putting their move on hold for a few months.”
The Impact on the Private Rented Sector
With potential tenants waiting to make their move, landlords and property professionals will need to prepare for a surge in activity after 1st June.
It’s likely that tenants have continued their property search over the last few months and will be ready to begin the rental process as soon as the ban is in place.
This swell in tenants could be an exciting time for landlords and property professionals, with lots of potential profits on the horizon. The better prepared you are as a landlord to take this on, the more you can benefit from this demand.
How to Prepare for the Tenant Fees Act
The first thing you can do as a landlord or property professional is to ensure you are fully aware of the details of the ban and which fees are prohibited payments.
The Tenant Fees Act Quiz
Here at No Letting Go, we’ve put together a useful quiz including all the important points you need to remember about the upcoming Act.
This short, multiple choice quiz consists of 15 questions encompassing everything from tenancy deposits to permitted payments.
Another way to stay ahead of the curve is to outsource important reporting and services to the experts.
The Importance of Professional Inventories
With deposits being capped at five weeks rent, landlords and letting agents will need to take extra precautions when it comes to protecting their rental properties.
If you own property in locations such as London or the South East, this change could make a difference to the amount of deposit you can ask tenants to pay. To compensate, having a comprehensive inventory in place can help when it comes to making deposit deductions.
No Letting Go provide independent inventory reports detailing the condition and contents of your property at the start and end of the tenancy. Using the latest software, the report contains extensive written and photographic evidence in addition to meter readings and safety compliance checks.
The benefit of investing in a professional inventory service is that an unbiased account can help prevent and resolve any conflicts that may arise.
For lettings agents, partnering with us could save time and money at what looks set to be a busy period this June. Outsourcing this administrative work will free up time to provide a personalised service to your clients.
Get Prepared with No Letting Go
To ensure you have everything in place before 1st June, it’s best to start preparing now. Once you’ve got clued up and taken our quiz, it’s time to think about streamlining your workload.
No Letting Go provides services encompassing everything from right to rent checks and house viewings to unbiased property inventory reports.
Browse our full list of services here to find out how we can help you navigate this transition.