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.
Budgets can be tough to manage for landlord and letting agents alike. Sometimes, property maintenance costs can eat into your finances dramatically.
From what’s involved to how to save, we offer insights and guidance on how to best manage budgets when undergoing maintenance on your property portfolio.
What Is Included In Maintenance Costs?
Before we go into budget management, we need to be clear on what maintenance costs are involved in renting a residential property.
Here’s a list of all the things to consider when it comes to maintenance;
As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to fix any repairs needed resulting from normal wear and tear. This can include;
- Repairing or replacing white goods and appliances
- Fixing boiler issues
- Repairing any electrical faults
Refurbishment & Decoration
Keeping your property looking fresh for new tenants is an important part of being a good landlord and attracting the right target tenants. It’s recommended that carpets are replaced every 5-7 years, and properties are fully redecorated every 3 years.
However, if your property is looking particularly lived in after a tenancy or you come across some questionable stains, you might need to redecorate more often.
Here’s what else is included in refurbishment and decoration;
- Painting throughout
- Replacing carpets or flooring
- Replacing curtains
- Replacing old, tired furniture items every 10-15 years
- Replacing kitchen and bathroom fittings every 10-15 years
It’s not just the inside that needs attention. Staying on top of the exterior of your property can help ward off future structural issues and save money in the long run.
Here’s what it could include;
- Replacing missing roof tiles
- Clearing guttering
- Garden fence maintenance
- Window cleaning and repair
Thorough cleaning is essential between tenancies, and you may also need to arrange for cleaning to be done during a tenancy. If the windows need cleaning for example, or if the property has suffered water damage.
Particularly important during void periods, regular property inspections are an important part of maintenance for buy to let properties.
Inspections protect your property from theft, vandalism or damage from unnoticed leaks, preventing the need for extensive future repairs. We offer a professional vacant property inspection service to give you peace of mind that your investment is protected.
Gas Safety Certificates & Safety Checks
UK landlords have a legal requirement to arrange regular safety checks, including;
- An annual gas safety inspection from a Gas Safe registered engineer
- Electrical safety checks
- PAT tests for white goods
- Energy Performance Certificate
- Ensure smoke detectors are present and working
This cost is usually overlooked by most landlords, but the time you put into the maintenance of your portfolio really adds up. Particularly if you are balancing your duties as a landlord with another paid job, extra time spent on maintenance may mean losing out on wages.
If this is the case, it may be worth investing in a full management service from a property management company so you can swap a management fee for more time for other ventures.
How Much Does It Cost To Maintain A Rental Property?
Maintenance costs will vary depending on several factors;
- Size of the property
- Age of the property- older homes require more upkeep
- Location of the property- service charges vary dependant on area
- Type and number of tenants
For example, if you rent to students or large families, you may have to fork out more for accidental damage repair costs.
Landlord Maintenance Costs: How to Save Money
Now we’ve discussed what’s involved, it’s time to look at ways to save.
Choose Your Target Tenant Wisely
While finding tenants may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to maintenance, the tenant you choose could have an effect on your maintenance costs.
For example, as mentioned above, renting to students can result in more accidental damage as there tends to be more people living in one property, and tenants have a reputation for partying! Similarly, renting to tenants with pets is likely to involve more refurbishment at the end of the tenancy.
Deciding on your target tenant from the get-go is an important part of the process.
Act Fast When It Comes to Repairs
The quicker you act on repairs and maintenance tasks, the more popular you’ll be with tenants and the less likely they are to develop into serious issues. Usually, dealing with problems as soon as they arise means you can save money in the long run as you have time to think about the best possible solution.
Paying for maintenance costs early will also help you to manage your monthly budgets and keep on top of your spend.
Buy Quality Furnishings
Opting for the cheapest furnishings available isn’t always wise. The cost of replacing flimsy furniture every year is likely to add up to more than investing in quality in the first place. This is particularly true for mattresses, sofas and dining tables. Our blog on furnishing your rental property will help you with some handy tips.
Keep It Simple
When it comes to decorating your properties, more is less. You don’t need to go overboard to provide a comfortable home for tenants. Simple, modern furniture without too many frills will appeal to most and will be kinder on the budget.
Tip: Avoid painting everything white as it will require more upkeep. Neutral, mid-tones are much more forgiving.
Don’t Skimp on Landlord Insurance
Landlord insurance is essential when renting a property. Finding the right deal can help you save when things go wrong. Quality contents or accidental damage insurance will protect you in the case of weather damage or accidental spills.
Make sure you shop around for the best deals.
Check Council Tax Exceptions
If one of your rental properties is vacant for a period, or you are performing refurbishment that renders your property inhabitable, you may be eligible for Council Tax redemption. This will leave you with some extra cash to spend on essential repairs and decoration.
Landlord’s Energy Saving Allowance
By increasing the energy-saving potential of your property, you could save money that can be injected back into the maintenance budget.
By reinforcing insulation in your rental property, you could save a significant amount in tax.
Know When To Ask For Help
While rolling up your sleeves and getting stuck in can save on service fees, it’s not always the best option.
Botched DIY can end up costing more than the original problem, and when it comes to electrical or plumbing issues, professional is always best.
Get More Than One Quote
When you need to pick up the phone to a plumber or tradesperson, make sure you do your research.
Particularly important when it comes to bigger jobs, getting several quotes will help you find the most competitive price.
Invest In A Comprehensive Inventory Service
Compiling a comprehensive written and photographic list of all of the items and furnishings and their condition within your property is one of the best ways to recuperate maintenance costs at the end of a tenancy.
If there is any damage beyond normal wear and tear, it will be much easier to deduct the appropriate costs from the deposit.
A professional property inventory service provides an impartial account of your property and is delivered using high quality photography in a handy, easily accessible digital report.
Landlord Maintenance Responsibilities: Help From No Letting Go
The costs of being a landlord are wide ranging. From agent fees to mortgage interest, balancing your rental income with outgoing costs can be tough.
That’s why sometimes it pays to get some help. Whether it’s repairs and maintenance reports or inventory services, our teams of experienced clerks could help streamline your business so you can take control of your budget.
Browse our full list of property management services to find out how we can help.
It’s a common question among new or soon-to-be landlords – do I need landlord insurance?
The short answer is yes. In addition to healthy investment returns, being a landlord comes with a lot of added risks and responsibility. To minimise this risk, investing in reliable insurance is essential.
Protecting your investment is paramount, but the jargon around landlord insurance can make it tricky to keep your facts straight.
We’ve curated a simple, yet comprehensive guide for landlords to help you get your head around landlord insurance and work out which type is best for you.
Here’s what it is, how it works and how to get it.
What is Landlord Insurance Cover?
Landlord insurance is a type of home insurance, specifically designed for rental properties. This broad term can include anything from contents insurance to rental protection.
Your policy could cover;
- Damage to the property
- Loss of rent
- Damage to or loss of contents
- Legal claims made against you by tenants
Is Landlord Insurance a Legal Requirement?
While landlord insurance isn’t a legal requirement, standard home insurance will not cover you for rental properties and going without could cost you dearly in terms of money, time and hassle.
Do You Really Need Landlord Insurance?
Often, you will need permission from your mortgage provider in order to let your property to tenants who will most likely require specialist insurance.
Legal issues aside, it’s always a good idea to protect your property as comprehensively as possible to protect both yourself and your investment.
What’s the Difference Between Home Insurance and Landlord Insurance?
Home insurance is designed to protect private homes from damage and loss. A rental property comes with a whole host of different issues. For example, as a landlord, you are less able to keep an eye on the day to day happenings in the property and have to rely on tenants to update you on any problems that occur.
Here’s a few of the differences between home and landlord insurance;
- Home insurance only covers the owner/occupier if they are in need of alternative accommodation. Landlord insurance covers tenants in this situation.
- Landlord insurance can cover you for loss of rent.
- Landlord insurance can cover any legal costs needed as a result of your actions as a landlord.
Types of Landlord Insurance
Here, we provide a brief overview of the different types of landlord insurance available;
Landlord Buildings Insurance
Buildings insurance covers any damage caused to the building itself. This could mean damage from fire, flooding or even malicious damage caused by the occupants. Every insurance provider is different, so you’ll have to check which type of damage this covers.
We highly recommend getting buildings insurance, especially if you are the freeholder.
Landlord Contents Insurance
Contents insurance protects against loss or damage of goods and furniture within a property. So, if you are renting a furnished property, it could be a good idea. However, this type of insurance does not protect against normal wear and tear.
Different insurance plans offer various cover and allow you to insure different parts of your property. For example, communal areas in flats or shared accommodation. It won’t protect items belonging to tenants.
Accidental Damage Insurance
Accidental damage insurance comes under contents insurance and can cover the cost of anything from spills and stains to broken windows.
Landlord Rent Guarantee Insurance
Otherwise known as rental protection insurance or loss of rent insurance, this type of cover protects you if you are unable to rent out your property as a result of an insured event like a fire or flood.
Tenant Default Insurance
Tenant default insurance covers you if your tenant fails to pay rent for two months, covering the cost for up to eight months. You will need to conduct the proper credit checks at the start of the tenancy to be eligible.
Commercial Landlord Insurance
If you let to a third-party business, you will need commercial landlord insurance. Commercial buildings have different designs and purposes, meaning there are different risks attached.
Commercial landlord insurance can cover accidental damage, vandalism and rental income protection.
Landlord Liability Insurance
Also referred to as property owner’s liability cover, this type of insurance covers legal defence costs and expenses in the event your tenant has an accident and considers it your fault.
With this type of insurance, you’re looking at high limits, usually upwards of £1 million.
Legal Expenses Insurance
This covers legal expenses such as court costs when chasing up late tenant payments and gives you access to legal expertise.
Employers’ Liability Insurance
If you employ anyone else to work at one of your rental properties, say as a gardener or cleaner, you are required by law to have this insurance. Employers’ liability covers legal defence costs and awards made for any injuries, accidents or illness as a result of your negligence.
HMO Landlord Insurance
If you rent out an HMO property, the terms of your insurance cover will differ slightly from single occupancy homes.
Finding an insurance plan tailored to HMO properties could help you get the protection you need.
Alternative Accommodation Insurance
If your property becomes uninhabitable due to an insured event and the tenancy agreement requires you to provide alternative accommodation for your tenants, this type of insurance is a good idea.
Unoccupied Property Insurance
Unoccupied property cover can help during void periods or if you need to make renovations to your property. To qualify as unoccupied, a property usually has to be vacant for 30 days.
You will also need to arrange for regular vacant property inspections.
Multi-House Landlord Insurance
If you have several properties in your portfolio, it is probably worth taking out multi-property landlord insurance.
By including all of your properties on one policy, you could save money and time on paperwork and other processes.
Landlord Home Emergency Insurance
Boiler breakdown or serious leaks are a surprisingly common occurrence. Landlord home emergency insurance provides you with 24/7 access to emergency cover for plumbing, heating, power and security issues.
What Kind of Insurance do I Need for a Rental Property?
The type of insurance you’ll need depends on the type of property you rent and your specific needs as a landlord. We answer some common questions;
Do I Need Landlord Insurance If I Have Buildings Insurance?
In most cases, you will need to take out a specific insurance when renting out a property in addition to your home buildings insurance.
Some policies may allow you to amend your existing home buildings insurance to cover your activities as a landlord, however you may also want to take out extra insurance to cover all bases.
Do I Need Landlord Insurance if Renting to Family?
Yes. It is just as important to have insurance when renting to family members. You will need to draw up a tenancy agreement for legal purposes, even if it’s just a casual arrangement.
Renting to offspring or siblings may feel informal, but if they are paying you rent, you are legally regarded as their landlord and standard home insurance won’t cover you.
Do I Need Landlord Insurance If I Live in the Property?
Even if you live in the property, standard home insurance won’t protect you. Make sure you tell your lender that you live in the rental property when you take out the insurance. Again, you will need a tenancy agreement in place.
Do I Need Landlord Insurance for a Flat?
Renting out a flat is the same as renting a house when it comes to insurance.
The only difference with renting a flat is that you may not need buildings insurance if there is a freeholder arranging this. Be sure to inform them that you are renting out your flat so they can make any adjustments to their insurance policy.
Do I Need Landlord Insurance if Renting a Room?
Again, standard home insurance is unlikely to be valid when renting out a room in the same property you live in.
If you have a lodger, you will need a tenancy agreement in place for your landlord insurance policy.
What Does Landlord Insurance Cover?
Landlord insurance can cover a variety of different risks and situations, depending on your needs. The basics are buildings and contents cover, but you can add extra policies as you see fit.
We answer some common questions about landlord insurance cover;
Does Landlord Insurance Cover Accidental Damage?
Yes. If you want your insurance policy to cover accidental damage such as dodgy DIY or carpet stains, opt for accidental damage insurance to protect your property.
Does Landlord Insurance Cover Appliances?
Yes. Contents insurance covers white goods and appliances provided by you in the rental property.
Does Landlord Insurance Cover Tenant Injury?
Yes. To protect yourself against legal claims made by tenants, landlord liability insurance will provide legal defence costs and expenses.
Does Landlord Insurance Cover Unpaid Rent?
Yes. Tenant default insurance covers you if your tenant fails to pay rent for two consecutive months.
How Does Landlord Insurance Work?
Your first step in purchasing landlord insurance is to decide what type of cover you need. It’s possible to find a tailored policy suited to your individual needs and requirements. Whether you opt for basic cover (building, contents and liability) or go for comprehensive cover, make sure you read the fine print to find out exactly what’s included.
What is Sum Insured?
The sum insured is the amount an insurer will pay out for a claim. The higher the value of your rental property, the larger this amount will be. Make sure the sum insured is enough to rebuild your property, rather than focusing on its market value.
Calculating your rebuild cost accurately will ensure you don’t overpay for your insurance. There are online rebuilding cost calculators to help, although keep in mind, this will only provide you with an estimate rather than exact values.
Levels of Excess
You will also need to think about the amount of excess you are able to pay if you need to make a claim. Higher excess reduces the cost of your insurance and different claims can come with different levels of excess.
Before you buy you will need to know;
- Your rental property’s rebuild value
- The level of excess you can pay
- What type of cover you need
How to Claim Landlord Insurance
If you ever need to make a claim, make sure you do so as soon as possible. You will need to provide as much evidence as you can to get the best pay-out. This could include receipts, invoices and photographic evidence.
How Much Does Landlord Insurance Cost?
The cost of your landlord insurance will be dependent on a variety of different factors;
- Location – Local crime rates and the probability of severe weather in a certain area will affect the cost of your insurance.
- Type of tenants – Students, tenants with pets and those on housing benefits are deemed more of a risk by some insurers, meaning higher insurance costs.
- Size of property – More tenants means higher costs.
- Number of properties – Naturally, more properties mean more costs. Look for an insurer who offers portfolio property discounts.
- Sums insured – Your insurance will cost more the larger your sums insured
Which is the Best Landlord Insurance?
To compare landlord insurance and get a landlord insurance quote, there are plenty of price comparison sites to reference.
Here are some popular landlord insurance providers;
- AXA Landlord Insurance
- Aviva Landlord Insurance
- CIA Landlord Insurance
- SAGA Landlord Insurance
- Direct Line Landlord Insurance
- Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Insurance
Makes sure you shop around and do your research to get the best deal for you.
Protect Your Investment with No Letting Go
We understand the importance of protecting your rental property for the long-term success of your business.
A detailed property inventory is one of the best ways to secure your property by providing the critical evidence you need to recuperate costs. Find out more about our professional, unbiased property inventory service to get started.
Last year we attended the National Franchise Exhibition in Birmingham, where we spoke to potential franchisees about what we offer. This year, we’re heading to the Northern Franchise Exhibition to share our latest franchise opportunities alongside hundreds of other approved franchise brands.
Here’s what to expect from the event and a little more on what a franchise with No Letting Go involves.
What is Franchising?
Firstly, let’s define the meaning of franchising.
Franchising is the process of purchasing a ready-made start-up from an existing company and operating the business under the name of the established company.
This helps companies expand, as well as providing the franchisee with essential training and experience of running a business.
The Benefits of Franchising
Purchasing a franchise gives franchisees added support and peace of mind when it comes to operating their own business.
With the backing of an established brand behind them, new business owners are equipped with expert knowledge and a recognised name from the get-go.
In addition, most franchises offer initial and ongoing training to help secure success.
The Northern Franchise Exhibition 2019
The Northern Franchise Exhibition is being held at EventCity Manchester on the 21-22 June 2019.
If you’re looking to invest in a franchise, or considering franchising your business, this event is a fantastic way of accessing insider industry knowledge. With a huge variety of franchise opportunities on offer, there is something to suit every need.
This event is a BFA supported franchise exhibition. As a partner of the British Franchise Association (BFA), you know that all the franchise opportunities listed are fully accredited.
The event gathers together leading franchise brands for two days of presentations, workshops and Q&A sessions to help those looking for franchise opportunities in the UK.
This year, No Letting Go will be exhibiting to showcase our exciting franchise opportunities currently on offer.
Keen to attend and meet us in person? Visit our stand where our team will be happy to answer all your questions and give you an insight into what it means to be one of our franchisees.
We’re pleased to offer free tickets from the official website. Just use the promotion code KIT1.
A Franchise with No Letting Go
We have over 50 property franchises across the UK, and we’re always looking to expand. A franchise with us means you could be providing your local area with our professional property services, including inventory management and reports.
The great thing about starting a franchise with No Letting Go, is that you don’t need any specialised industry experience or qualifications. All we ask for is your time and commitment. We run a highly accessible scheme, with franchisees from all walks of life heading up our UK offices.
The Training Academy
If you start a franchise with us, you will receive access to an ongoing training programme which covers how to conduct reports, inventories, use our Kaptur software and perfect your sales and marketing techniques.
As well as day-to-day training, we also provide help with business strategy and expansion to ensure you have all the tools needed for long-term success.
How to Start a No Letting Go Franchise
If you’re interested in becoming a No Letting Go Franchisee, and joining our team of successful business owners, here’s how the process goes;
- We’ll start with an informal chat over the phone.
- We can then meet up to get to know you and explain the funding options available.
- The next step is to put you in contact with an existing franchisee so you can get an insight into what a franchise with us is like.
- We’ll then review your financial projection and make a decision.
Finally, you will receive your training pack, ready to get started!
Become a No Letting Go Franchisee
No Letting Go is a leading inventory management company for letting agents, landlords and property professionals. We provide unbiased property reports, checks and check in/check out services for our clients across the UK.
If you’re looking for a franchise opportunity with high income, a quick return on investment, and low set-up costs, then get in touch via our property franchise page.
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.
High tenant demand means buy to lets can offer a lucrative investment for prospective and professional landlords. However, changing terms to tax relief on buy to let mortgages and rising interest rates require landlords to think carefully about the risks and rewards of entering into one.
If you’re considering a buy to let (BTL) mortgage, it’s important you understand the differences between a BTL mortgage and a residential mortgage and the different types available to you.
Having all the information available is one way to make a secure decision. That’s why we’ve created this guide on buy to let mortgages so you can make the right choice for you.
What is a Buy to Let Mortgage?
Put simply, a buy to let mortgage is a loan specifically designed for landlords looking to buy property to rent.
Buy to let mortgages are viewed as higher risk by lenders, meaning there can be higher fees, deposits and interest rates than residential mortgages.
But don’t let that put you off completely!
Can Anyone Get a Buy to Let Mortgage?
If you’re looking to buy property in order to rent it to other parties, it’s likely you’ll need to make a BTL mortgage application.
There are certain criteria you need to meet in order to be considered.
You are eligible for a BTL mortgage if:
- You are looking to invest in residential property (this includes houses and flats)
- You have the financial stability to repay the mortgage
- You own your own home (either with a previous mortgage or outright)
- You have a good credit rating
- You earn over £25,000 per annum
- You are below a certain age. (Most lenders have stipulations regarding the age you are when your mortgage ends which is usually between 70-75 maximum)
How do Buy to Let Mortgages Work?
BTL mortgages aren’t too different from regular mortgages, which, as a homeowner, you’ll be very familiar with.
There are, however, some variations it’s important to be aware of:
- Fees and interest rates are a lot higher than residential mortgages
- The deposit is around 25% of the property’s value as a minimum
- BTL mortgages tend to be interest only, rather than requiring monthly repayments. This means that the loan is to be paid in full at the end of the mortgage term.
- Most buy to let mortgages are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). However, if you are letting the property to a family member, this will be considered as a consumer buy to let mortgage and will be subject to the same regulations as a regular residential mortgage.
Types of Buy to Let Mortgages
Buy to let mortgage deals can differ depending on which lender you go with.
Interest rates will all depend on the amount of money you borrow and how much rental income you receive.
It will also be affected by the type of buy to let mortgage you choose:
Tracker BTL Mortgage
If you opt for a tracker mortgage, your monthly repayments are subject to change each month depending on interest rates. This is great news if rates decrease, but not so good if they increase dramatically.
Discounted Variable Mortgage
A discounted variable mortgage is a mortgage deal with an interest rate set around 2% below the SVR (standard variable rate). These deals usually last around two years. The rate is still subject to change dependant on the SVR, but the discount will stay in place for the agreed time.
Multiple Year Fixed Rate Mortgage
A fixed-rate mortgage will keep your repayments low and stable for two to five years. Different mortgage providers offer different deals, so it’s worth shopping around. Just make sure to check what the rate will increase to at the end of the fixed period.
How to Get a Buy to Let Mortgage
Now you know the basics, it’s time to find out how to apply for a BTL mortgage and where to look.
Most large banks loan BTL mortgages, and a mortgage broker can help you decide which mortgage deal makes the most sense for your needs and purposes.
Another place to look when searching for the best mortgage rates is a reputable price comparison website.
Here are some reliable sites to use:
It’s worth checking a few comparison sites to get the bigger picture before making a decision. And don’t forget to read the small print for hidden fees and extra charges!
How Much Can I Borrow?
Your borrowing limit is connected to your rental income. This is called a loan-to-value, or LTV amount, which is worked out as a percentage of the property value. An LTV for BTL mortgages is usually around 90%- 95% rather than 100% for residential mortgages.
This means that your loan is likely to be lower, due to the perceived high risk factor.
Because of this, it’s recommended that you charge around 25%- 30% more for rent than your mortgage payment.
Local property agents or websites can help you get an idea of the amount of rent you can charge in your desired area.
Despite lower borrowing amounts and a larger deposit, the average buy to let purchase price is actually lower than for a residential property.
Tax on Buy to Let Mortgages
Keep in mind that there will be other outgoings to consider when deciding if you can afford a BTL mortgage.
Income tax, capital gains tax, landlord fees, landlord insurance, and letting agent fees all need to be considered.
With changing terms to tax relief on buy to let mortgages it’s important to keep track.
The new regulations mean that landlords can no longer claim all their mortgage interest against income tax on rent. The amount of interest deductible is being reduced by 25% a year until 2020, when it will become a 20% tax credit on the mortgage interest paid.
This change has the potential to raise some landlords up a tax bracket.
Plan for all Circumstances
As you know, applying for a mortgage is a not a decision to be taken lightly as the responsibilities are a long-term commitment.
To protect your financial security, it’s a good idea to have a plan in place for different eventualities.
For example, it’s not uncommon for a rental property to experience void periods in which no rent is coming in. Or, at some point or another, a pipe might burst, or a roof might need urgent repair. As a responsible landlord, you need to be able to provide effective and timely repairs.
To protect yourself from this burden, making a savings plan is vital. Ensure you are saving as much as possible when you have full paying tenants to avoid any stressful situations in the future. This should happen before making an offer on a house.
Tip: Don’t rely on selling the property to pay the mortgage off! If house prices fall, and you don’t have a backup plan, you’re in serious trouble.
Protect Your Buy to Let Investment
While applying for a mortgage is always a risk, once you have all the information at your fingertips, you can make a better informed decision.
One way to help guarantee the safety of your property investment is to ensure you are fulfilling all your duties and requirements as a landlord.
No Letting Go offer a wide range of property management services including professional unbiased inventories, safety assessments and maintenance reports to help you protect your investment.
Browse our full list of services to find out how we can help.
Thinking of converting commercial property to residential?
While renting out a property this way has its clear advantages, there’s a lot to consider. Ensure you’ve thought every detail through before you decide to go ahead.
Unsure where to start? Here’s a handy guide for landlords considering this path.
What to Consider When Changing Commercial Property to Residential
First things first, you need to decide whether this conversion is feasible for you at this time.
The Type of Property
There are many kinds of commercial building, from office to retail. Some of these may be easier to convert than others – so it’s vital you look into the specific details.
Class J allows developers a lot more freedom, however there are still some exemptions and restraints. Ensure you’re aware of these from the start.
Building Conversion Costs
While you’re not starting from scratch, it’s important to note that the cost of converting the existing building could be considerable.
Particularly if the building requires significant structural work, it might be more costly than expected.
Are you prepared for this?
Planning Permission Commercial to Residential
While it’s not always the case, you may require planning permission before going ahead with any work. Even if the building falls within Class J guidelines, you may still need permission.
Particularly if you plan on knocking down walls, for example, you may need to prepare for this extra expense.
Local Planning Laws
You may need to speak to the local planning authority, or local council, before going ahead with any work.
Bear in mind that the location of commercial properties might not be ideal for residents.
- Transport links
- Local amenities
- Nearby schools
- Noise pollution
- Access for developers
Ask yourself, ‘Can you live in your commercial building?’ If the answer is no, it’s unlikely it will appeal to tenants either.
More and more people are choosing to rent over buy, but location can make or break this. Particularly if you’re trying to encourage a long-term tenancy, the area is everything. Tenants will only want to lay their roots in your property if they like their surroundings also.
Unless you have enough cash upfront, it’s likely you’ll need a mortgage to purchase the property.
This may mean the conversion is subject to your broker’s terms and conditions.
While all landlords should consider insurance, when it comes to conversion, there’s an extra need to safeguard the building.
During the work planned to go ahead, are you covered? Consider the terms of your mortgage agreement – you may be required to get insurance.
Making a Commercial Conversion Liveable
There are a number of requirements that need to be met before tenants could live in the property. A commercial to residential conversion should consider the following:
- Electrical safety
- Removal of hazardous material
- Fire safety
Ensure all these needs are met before you consider letting tenants move in.
Commercial Property Change of Use to Residential – Other Considerations
Of course, there’s more to a conversion than simply making the property safe.
Residential units have things that commercial spaces may not, such as storage areas. Also, how secure is the rental?
It’s a good idea to imagine yourself living in the commercial property. Does it feel like a home?
The Pros of Changing Commercial Property to Residential
There are some undeniable perks with converting commercial buildings, including:
- You could potentially get a bigger property for a lower price
- You may not need planning permission
- There’s no property chain
- Investing in property can be hugely profitable
The Cons of Using Commercial Property As Residential
While there are some positives, there are also some inevitable downsides:
- Sometimes the conversion can be more costly than expected, particularly if planning permission is required
- You’ll need a specialist buildings survey, which can be expensive
- It’s easy for conversion costs to spiral out of control
- Conversions can run on for longer than anticipated
Meeting Your Requirements as a Landlord
Decided this is direction you want to take as a landlord? This journey is both an exciting and difficult one.
As with any property, there are a number of requirements you’ll need to meet as a landlord. But, you’ll also want to ensure your investment is protected every step of the way.
From check-in to check-out, No Letting Go will ensure you’re meeting all the necessary safety standards. As well as this, we’ll ensure your tenants are looking after the property as requested. Our comprehensive property inventory services offer you peace of mind, while making you the best landlord you can be!
New to the buy-to-let game? About to take the first steps to becoming a property investor?
While this is an exciting journey, it can feel overwhelming at times! There’s a lot to learn when you’re just starting out.
To ensure you stay on the right track, we’ve got some tips on property investment for beginners. This advice should help guide you along the way!
Property Investment Basics
Before you start looking at properties – you need to work out what type of property investor you want to be.
Decide Whether You Need Partners
Do you want to invest alone, or with others?
If doing this by yourself, any money you make from letting out the property will be yours alone. However, some people are not in the financial position to do so.
So, first things first, ensure you know what you can afford before you embark on the journey!
How Will You Finance Your Investment?
During the planning process, your investment strategy should take into account exactly how you’ll afford to purchase a property. This should happen before making an offer on a house.
There are a number of different things to consider, including:
- Stamp duty land tax
- Getting a mortgage
- The day to day running of the property
- Current property prices on the market
- Whether now is a good time to buy
- Survey costs
- Solicitor fees
Hopefully, sooner rather than later, the rental income you generate will ensure cash is flowing into your pocket. However, the upfront costs involved with buying a property should not be overlooked.
What Type of Investor Do You Want to Be?
When investing in property, you have a number of options open to you. This could be:
- A new career path
- Your main source of income
- A source of extra income on top of another job
With direct property investment, it helps to have a long-term plan. Imagine yourself in five years’ time. Where do you want to be?
More and more people are choosing to rent over buy. This presents an exciting market for investors to take advantage of.
How to Invest in Property
Once you’ve got the basics sorted and know what type of investor you want to be, it’s time to get started.
But, that can be easier said than done! So, here’s how to find a good investment property:
Choose Where You Want to Invest
Where do you want to invest? Decide early-on.
Here, research is key. There are a number of things to consider, including:
- The average cost of buying a house
- The average rental yield in the area
- The type of tenants in the area (families, students etc.)
- Whether the area is up-and-coming
- How close you want the rental property to be to your own home
Once you’ve decided on the area, it will make choosing the right property to invest in much easier. However, it can be more difficult than anticipated to get to this point!
Identify Your Target Tenant
Who do you want to rent to? It helps to have a target tenant in mind.
For example, if you invest in a studio flat, it’s unlikely this will appeal to families. However, in an area where many residents are postgrads, this could be perfect.
It can be tough to narrow it down – but it’s worth it. Remember, the area you’re in should play a huge role in deciding your target tenant.
Ask yourself who you would and wouldn’t let to. Would you consider renting to students? This may widen your options, particularly in an area with a number of universities.
Make Sure Rental Returns are Competitive
The best way to start investing in property? Be on the lookout for high rental yields.
This can vary place to place, as everywhere in the UK is different. But, these tend to be favourable locations where there’s a high demand for rental homes.
You’ll want to ensure that, over time, the property can not only pay for itself but make you a profit. This includes any extra charges, such as maintenance.
Look for Opportunities to Add Value
The UK property market is constantly changing! Even some of the best estate agents can’t predict what will happen next.
House price growth is one of the main reasons to invest. When you eventually come to sell the property, you want to know you’ll make a profit. One way to ensure this is by looking for ways to add value:
- Consider ways to refurbish/renovate the property
- Choose an up-and-coming location
The best property investments are those which look to the future, rather than just the here-and-now.
Property Investment Advice – Understanding the Risks
If you’ve decided this is the path you want to take, you’ll need some property investment tips to help you along the way.
Ensure you’ve considered these risks:
- Rent is not always guaranteed – which may mean you can’t afford mortgage repayments. Always try to prevent void periods at all costs
- House prices can fall
- Difficult tenants can cause a number of issues, such as damage to the property
- Major house repairs can be extremely expensive
Property Investment Guide – The Potential Returns
Despite some inevitable risks, the world of buy-to-let is an exciting one, and can deliver huge returns.
This market can be a very profitable one! Plus, becoming a landlord is a rewarding career path to follow.
Protecting Your Investment
One of the most important factors to consider? The ways to safeguard your rental property.
Having a comprehensive, detailed inventory is one of the most significant elements – essential for protecting both landlords and tenants.
Unsure how to get started? No Letting Go can help. From check-in to check-out, we’ll make protecting your investment our top priority. Find out more about our inventory services here.
Looking to make the most of being a landlord? Hoping to be more efficient while reducing costs?
There are many ways this can be done! We’ve outlined them for you to help you maximise your opportunities.
Here’s how to get the most from your portfolio in 2019.
Always Run a Tenant Reference Check
If your properties are your source of income, who you let to can make or break your success.
There are a number of consequences that can arise from letting to an untrustworthy tenant! This could be anything from damage to your investment to a costly legal battle.
The result? You may be unable to let out that particular property for some time, causing potentially severe financial consequences.
The solution? Always run a tenant reference check with a professional company!
Meet Your Legal Responsibilities
From insurance to health and safety, landlords have number of requirements to meet. Failure to do so will make your property less desirable to live in.
So, if you’re looking to get the most from your portfolio – never cut corners when it comes to being a good landlord.
Inspect the Property Regularly
Landlords inspections are key for ensuring that your property is being maintained as agreed. As well as this, you’ll appear hands-on and attentive to detail.
When visiting the property, ensure you’re thorough. Keep a record – this will make it easier to determine fair wear and tear from recent damage.
Treat it Like a Business
For many, bricks and mortar aren’t seen as a source of income. However, if you’re a landlord, the opposite is true.
This means you should treat it as such! While being approachable will help you form a strong relationship with your tenants, you should have a business mind.
Here – a structured and organised approach is key:
- Who’s dealing with your finances?
- Which Tenancy Deposit Scheme are you using?
- If you’re unable to look after your property for any reason, such as a holiday, who will take your place?
- If you’re using an agent, are their fees covered?
Keep Researching the Market
Research shouldn’t stop once your properties are let out! The local area, and what people want from it, is constantly changing.
Always have a target tenant in mind – for example a one-bed flat is unlikely to appeal to a market where many families rent.
Work to Reduce Void Periods
All landlords want to prevent void periods! However, this can be easier said than done.
If you keep coming up against this issue, it’s time to start taking it more seriously. Here are some solutions you may not have considered:
- Think about a HMO (house of multiple occupation)
- Be more open minded
- Advertise earlier
- Market your property differently
Maintain the Property Regularly
In 2019, resolve to see property maintenance not as an extra expense – but an investment. Often, what you put in is what you’ll get out.
This doesn’t just apply when trying to attract new tenants. For existing tenants, regular maintenance is key also. It can help you form a good relationship with them, as well as help justify reasonable rent increases.
Remember – it pays to look after your tenants!
Have Set Processes for Dealing With Issues
What procedure do you follow if something goes wrong?
For example, if a tenant falls behind on their rent, what do you do? You should already know the answer to this before it happens. Part of getting the most of your portfolio is understanding that problems can arise – and knowing how to deal with them.
Ideally, if you’re organised enough, you’ll take a proactive, rather than reactive approach.
Keep a Paper Trail
If you’re meeting all the safety requirements, ensure you have proof of this. From legionella risk assessments to smoke detector installation, it’s handy to have a paper trail.
Have a Detailed, Thorough Inventory
One way of ensuring your investment is secure? Have a comprehensive inventory.
This shouldn’t be just a collection of pictures, but a full and thorough report. The key here is clarity – so no issues can arise. Remember, simple facts aren’t enough; details are necessary for determining a weak inventory from a strong one.
This has multiple benefits to all parties, such as reducing the risk of deposit disputes.
But, many landlords struggle to put these together themselves. There’s lack of time and know-how for example! What’s more, even when landlords do put together DIY inventories, they’re often insufficient.
Luckily, we have a solution. Our professional, comprehensive property inventory services will take the hassle out of the process for you. From check-in to check-out, your investment will be protected!