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

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

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

 

What Is DigiSign Software?

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

 

How Does DigiSign Work?

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Benefits of Automated Check-In Systems

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

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

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

Tenant using Digisign automated check-in service outside

Streamlining the Property Inventory Process

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

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

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

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

 

Why Choose No Letting Go?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

To Ban or Not to Ban

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

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

 

Managing the Neighbours

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

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

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

When dealing with noise complaints from neighbours;

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

 

Clear and Open Communications

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

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

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

 

Choose Simple Party-Proof Furnishings

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

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

 

Regular Property Inspections

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

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

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

 

Is Renting to Students Worth It?

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

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

 

Protect Your Student Rental Property: Inventory Management

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

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

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

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

If you’re a letting agent or landlord, it pays to stay ahead of the latest news and trends in the property sector. One of the best ways to do this is to attend an industry event.

We’ve rounded up some of the best London property events coming up in 2020 for letting agents and landlords to help you organise your calendar and plan for a year of success.

 

Why Should I Attend an Industry Event?

Not only are property events insightful, they can even offer exciting opportunities to grow your business. Here are some of the most important reasons to attend an event;

  • Network with peers and industry leaders
  • Gain fascinating insights and ideas from others in your sector
  • Discuss current challenges and find solutions
  • Make new business contacts
  • Find trusted partners and service providers

Let’s get stuck into the best upcoming events;

 

NAEA Propertymark National Conference

When: 27/02/2020
Where: 133 Houndsditch, London
Who for: Estate agents
Tickets: £195 + VAT for non members

Advertised as ‘The UK’s biggest and most reputable estate agents’ conference’, NAEA Propertymark’s National Conference gathers industry leaders for a day of exhibitions, keynote talks and networking opportunities.

NAEA is the most prominent professional and regulatory body for estate agents in the UK and their annual conference attracts over 500 delegates.

Highlights from this year’s event include talks; ‘behind the headlines of the property market’ from Knight Frank and legislative and industry updates from the chief executive of NAEA.

 

IPF Inaugural Property Investment Conference

When: 27/02/2020
Where: Hilton London Tower Bridge
Who for: Estate agents

The theme of this year’s IPF Inaugural Property Investment Conference is ‘People, politics and purpose – changing themes in UK real estate’. From the impact of changing UK demographics to new innovations in the sector, this event is helpful for estate agents looking to get the bigger picture.

Property investment leaders such as Savills and ING Real Estate Finance are providing speakers, making it a great opportunity for those seeking property investment advice.

 

National Landlord Investment Show

When: 19/03/2020
Where: Olympia London, Kensington
Who for: Landlords & Letting agents
Tickets: Free

The National Landlord Investment Show invites participants to network with peers and meet industry suppliers to gain valuable advice and services. Ideal for those interested in the buy-to-let industry, this event is tailored to landlords and property investors seeking maximum return on investment.

At the show you can;

  • Learn about your local property market
  • Meet local suppliers and businesses
  • Attend industry seminars

 

ARLA Propertymark Conference and Exhibition

When: 24/03/2020
Where: ExCel London
Who for: Anyone operating in the private rental sector

This year marks the 25th edition of the ARLA Propertymark conference.

The conference offers attendees the chance to stay updated on changing legislation in the private rental sector and take part in roundtable discussions. One focus this year will be on the changes to section 21 and headline speakers include retail expert Mary Portas and digital business leader Dido Harding.

We’ll be exhibiting in 2020 at stand D13 where we’ll be explaining how our inventory management services could fit into your business.

 

The Property Investor & Homebuyer Show 2020

When: April 2020 (TBC)
Where: ExCel London
Who for: Property investors, estate & letting agents, landlords and suppliers to the property industry

The Property Investor & Homebuyer Show 2020 brings together a wide range of stakeholders in the property sector to network and share ideas. For London letting agents, this event offers the chance to hear from property service suppliers that could develop and strengthen your own service package.

 

The ESTAS Estate & Letting Awards 2020

When: 15/05/2020
Where: Grosvenor House Hotel in Mayfair
Who for: Estate & letting agents, mortgage advisers and suppliers to the property industry

The annual ESTAS awards celebrate customer service by awarding the very best players in the lettings industry. The awards are based on real-life customer feedback, making them a trusted and prestigious achievement.

The final awards ceremony is a glamorous affair, and in 2020 is being hosted by property TV star Phil Spencer. You might even see us there!

 

What Type of Event Should I Attend?

Industry events are packaged differently depending on what’s on offer. Here’s a quick guide to the different event types;

Conferences

A large event gathering members of a particular sector with a shared interest. They usually include talks, seminars and exhibits.

Property Shows

A show can feature talks and exhibits and usually has ‘celebrity’ headliners or speakers.

Exhibitions

The focus of a property exhibition is the businesses attending who are looking to share their products or expertise to gain new business.

Talks

Usually smaller events centred around one specific theme or question.

Awards

Celebrating achievement in the industry.

 

Make 2020 Your Year of Success

It’s time to start planning your upcoming year and make 2020 a year of learning, growth and business success.

And we can help with our range of professional property services tailored to meet the needs of individual letting agents, landlords and property businesses.

From comprehensive inventory reports to property inspections and appraisals, our property services for letting agents are designed to streamline reporting and help you keep on top of current legislation.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Ramp Up Your Marketing

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

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

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

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

 

Short Holiday Lets

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

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

 

Rethink Your Target Tenant

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

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

 

Offer a Festive Incentive

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

This could take the form of;

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

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

 

Is Your Property Appealing?

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

Property maintenance can include;

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

Painting and decorating equipment in room

Managing Winter Void Periods

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

Some vital winter property maintenance tasks include;

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

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

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

 

Gift Yourself this Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Exterior Property Maintenance

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

This can include;

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

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

 

Roofs and Guttering

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

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

 

Repair Cracks and Crevices

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

Key areas to focus on include;

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

 

Winter Garden Maintenance

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

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

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

 

Winter Pipe Maintenance

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

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

 

Fireplaces and Chimneys

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

 

Door Locks

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

 

Prevent Pests

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

 

Interior Winter Maintenance

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

 

Winter Boiler Maintenance

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

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

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

 

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

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

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

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

 

Winter Property Security

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

 

Timed Lighting Systems

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

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

 

Exterior Safety Lighting

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

 

Emergency Contact Numbers

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

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

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

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

 

Invest in a Professional Inventory Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Do I Need An Inventory?

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

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

 

Property Management Inventory Checklist

An inventory report must include the following key components;

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

It must also include essential safety points;

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

 

Check Out Report

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

Following the final inspection, the check out report should;

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

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

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

 

Top Reasons for Tenancy Deposit Disputes

Some of the main reason’s disputes occur include;

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

 

Dealing with Deposit Disputes

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

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

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

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

 

Celebrity Rental Drama: The Power of Inventories

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

What is Fair Wear and Tear?

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

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

However, when we talk about damage this could include;

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

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

 

How To Protect Your Rental Property from Damage

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

Regular Property Inspections

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

Target Long Term Tenants

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

Keep it Simple

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

 

Avoid the Risks with A Professional Inventory Service

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

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

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

Thinking of investing in London rental property? There are plenty of benefits for landlords, including high demand from a wide range of tenant groups and convenient access to quality tradespeople and property services.

Buy-to-let in London can offer great rewards, as long as you’re clever about where you invest. We explore why investing in London property is worth the risks and how to protect your investment for the long term.

 

The Advantages of Being a London Landlord

Thinking of becoming a London landlord? Here are some of the benefits you can expect;

 

Is Property in London a Good Investment?

There has been a lot of debate recently around whether investing in the UK property market is still a safe investment. Despite some instability in the London property market due to Brexit uncertainties and recent changes to stamp duty and tax relief for landlords, there are still many factors that make London a good opportunity for property investment.

 

High Rental Demand

For one, it is unlikely that the demand for rental properties in popular areas of London will decrease significantly in the long term as London remains a hub for many industries.

With a large number of students and young professionals, London offers a wide range of tenant groups to target.

Shorter term, Brexit uncertainties have been putting off first time buyers from taking the plunge- increasing the demand for rental properties further.

 

Opportunity for Capital Gain

While some property prices in central London have experienced dips, central London prices are now on the rise and there are plenty of up and coming areas marked for big property development projects. By investing in areas likely to experience long-term price growth, you are well placed to earn impressive capital growth when you decide to sell.

 

Where is the Cheapest Place to Buy in London?

House prices vary significantly from each London borough. According to Homes&Property, some of the cheapest areas to buy in London in 2019 include;

  • Barking and Dagenham – average house price £300,518
  • Bexley – average house price £341,784
  • Newham – average house price £365,182
  • Croydon – average house price £365,931
  • Havering – average house price £375,014
  • Sutton – average house price £382,607
  • Hounslow – average house price £395,734
  • Enfield – average house price £396,908
  • Hillingdon – average house price £399,639
  • Greenwich – average house price £411,492

However, the purchase price isn’t the only factor to consider when searching for an investment property.

If you’re looking for buy-to-let, the location’s desirability to your target tenant is just as important as getting a good deal. If you can’t find tenants to fill your property, you risk losing money. That’s why it’s equally important to consider factors such as transport links and the proximity of schools and shops to assess the risks and return.

In addition, looking at rental yield data is essential in order to calculate your return on investment.

 

Best Buy to Let Areas in London

When looking for the right location to buy to let, London has a few hotspots that still offer impressive rental yields.

Totally Money’s Buy to Let rental yield map provides valuable data when searching for the most profitable postcodes. Here are some of the top buy to let areas in London according to the map;

  • E12 in East London including Manor Park, Little Ilford, Alderbrook, Newham and Redbridge have a 6.04% average yield.
  • SE17 in South East London including Walworth and Newington has a 5.75% average yield.
  • IG11 in Barking has a 5.59% average yield.
  • Romford is home to several top performing postcodes including RM9, RM8,RM6 and RM10. Find property inventory services in Romford here.
  • SE11 in South East London including Kennington and Vauxhall has a 5.12% average yield.
  • SE28 including Southwark, Lewisham and Greenwich has a 5.00% average yield.
  • N18 in North London including Upper Edmonton, Edmonton and Enfield has a 4.92% average yield.

 

How Do I Buy My First Investment Property?

Once you’ve decided that becoming a London landlord is right for you, there are several steps you need to take;

 

Choose a Location

Decide on the right location, taking into account your budget, target tenant and the rental yields in the area.

 

Find a Buy-to-Let Mortgage

To start the buying process, you will most likely need to apply for a buy-to-let mortgage. Our guide on buy-to-let-mortgages provides helpful information on the different types of mortgage available and how to choose the right one, as well as tips and advice on the process.

 

Protecting Your Investment

Decided to become a London landlord? Our No Letting Go offices throughout London are home to dedicated and experienced inventory clerks ready to help you on your journey.

From inventory reports to check in services, we can provide professional support to help manage your portfolio.

We offer;

To explore our full list of offices, search our branch pages to find property inventory services near you.

With Brexit looming, it’s unclear what the state of the UK economy will look like in a few months’ time, let alone the private rented market.

While it’s right to be wary, Brexit doesn’t necessarily spell disaster for landlords. In fact, there may even be some positive developments. Here, we look at how Brexit will affect the rental market, what it might mean for landlords and how to protect your investment in this unsettling period.

 

Will Brexit Affect Right to Rent?

Since February, 2016 it has been a legal requirement for landlords to ensure that their tenants have the right to rent in the UK. If landlords are found to be letting to an illegal immigrant, they could face fines of around £600 per tenant.

However, Brexit brought new uncertainties as guidance on the new regulations after leaving the EU were unclear, particularly in regard to the status of EU national renters.

For now, the Home Office have confirmed that during this transitional period, EU nationals will still have the right to remain in the UK and will be able to use their current passports or ID as proof of legal status. According to the Home Office, the European Union settlement scheme will provide legal EU citizens with digital documents to make these checks easier for landlords.

However, longer term this could cause issues, especially if longer term tenancy agreements are signed, as the legal status of some tenants may change post-Brexit.

The most recent update from the government confirms that the right to rent check regulations will stay the same until January 2021, regardless of whether a deal is made. Similarly, the requirements for Irish citizens will not change.

 

How to Stay Protected

One of the easiest ways to stay on top of essential document checks is to enlist the help of a professional reporting service.

No Letting Go clerks can verify right to rent documentation at check in, to determine whether they match the tenant’s appearance as part of our right to rent service. This is particularly helpful for landlords who aren’t able to meet with tenants personally.

 

Unstable House Prices: Good News for Buy-To-Let Landlords?

Brexit uncertainty has caused the UK housing market to slow down, with average UK house prices falling by £5000 at the beginning of this year.

This could be seen as a positive for buy-to-let landlords who can take advantage of this lull in the UK property market. For landlords looking to expand their portfolio, it could be your chance to buy for less.

However, a lack of stability is understandably putting some people off;

  • Recent changes to stamp duty have meant that landlords have to pay an extra 3% on each band on new buy to let properties, significantly increasing outgoings.
  • While the reduction of tax relief for buy-to-let mortgages means landlords will be paying more in tax by 2020 and may even find themselves in a higher tax bracket.

Combined, these changes are making landlords think twice about investing in buy-to-let as it may be harder to enjoy the same rental yields as before.

 

How to Improve Your Rental Yield

If you do decide to take the plunge, you may find a real buy-to-let bargain!

To minimise the risks, it’s worth doing your research to find the best place in the UK for rental yields.

 

Brexit and Mortgages

Depending on what happens to Bank of England interest rates, mortgages could be affected by Brexit. It has been suggested that the base rate may rise after Brexit, which could make buy-to-let mortgages more expensive. One way around this could be to re-mortgage your property now, before the economy shifts.

Nonetheless, if this is the case, mortgages will be equally difficult to obtain for prospective house buyers, adding to the increase in those looking to rent.

 

The Impact of Brexit on the Rental Market

The instability of the UK housing market could put off potential home buyers from taking any risks in the near future. With less people buying, this could be good news for letting agents and residential landlords, as more people will be looking to extend their lease.

Shortages in social housing could also result in a rise in rental demand, placing landlords and property professionals in the private rental sector in a good position.

Bearing this in mind, it looks like the rental market should stay secure for the foreseeable future.

One thing to think about is that the location of your rental property could have an impact on the number of prospective tenants looking for housing. For example, some No Letting Go regional branches in which a higher level of EU nationals reside experienced lulls after the referendum due to uncertainty surrounding legal status.

 

How to Stay Protected

Providing quality rental properties that people want to live in will help minimise the risk of any void periods as we prepare for this transition. Staying on top of essential property maintenance and providing an appealing home for tenants will help to ensure you don’t lose out.

 

Property Renovation and Build to Rent

If you’re thinking of renovating your rental property or building property to rent, Brexit could make things a little difficult.

As much of the construction materials and labour resources used are imported from around the EU, tariffs and ease of supply could be affected. So, if you’re thinking or extending or renovating, you may need to save up more than you originally planned for to be on the safe side.

Thankfully, the government has confirmed that those with EEA qualifications, such as EU architects will still be able to work in the UK, even in the event of a no deal Brexit. Therefore, there shouldn’t be any disruption to ongoing work.

 

Brexit for Landlords: Stay Protected

To sum up, Brexit may not be the blow some private landlords thought it might. Although it’s hard to predict what might happen in the coming months, unstable house prices and rising mortgage rates could even drive the demand for rental properties.

To make sure you don’t miss out when the time comes, it pays to have a solid plan in place. And that’s where we come in.

Our professional property inventory services provide you with the essential reports you need to stay on top of the latest legislation. Covering everything from right to rent to property appraisals, our teams of experts are here to help protect your investment and give you peace of mind.

Browse our full list of property services to find out more about our individually tailored services.

Usually, landlords don’t have to worry about council tax. However, when it comes to HMO properties and vacant periods, things can start to get confusing.

It’s important to understand your landlord council tax responsibilities so as not to get caught out by any unexpected bills or legal issues. So, who pays council tax? What happens when your property is empty? And what about unpaid tenant debts?

From who is responsible to available discounts and exemptions, our council tax guide covers everything responsible landlords need to know.

 

Should I Be Paying Council Tax?

All residential properties in England and Wales are liable for council tax. If you fail to pay on time, there could be serious financial and legal consequences.

How does it work? The council tax system works according to a hierarchy of liability. The first on the list to pay is any adult over the age of 18 who is an occupant of the property. The landlord or property owner comes much further down this list.

 

How Is Council Tax Calculated?

Properties are assessed by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) and placed within bands A-H according to the location and type of housing. The banding is based on the amount the property could be sold for and the cost for each band varies by council.

 

Who Pays Council Tax: Tenant Or Landlord?

This depends on the sort of tenancy agreement you have in place. Usually, if you rent the entire property to one or several joint tenants, it is their responsibility to pay. (This includes single occupants, families and shared tenancies) In this case, the bills will be sent directly from the local council to your tenants, leaving you out of the equation.

However, if you rent to several tenants with individual tenancy agreements, you will become responsible for paying council tax. Therefore, if you rent out an HMO property, you will be liable to pay.

 

Do Landlords Pay Council Tax On Empty Properties?

Yes. During void periods, the landlord is responsible for paying council tax.

The size of the bill depends on your local council. You could be given a discount of up to 50% while the property remains unoccupied. However, this is becoming more unlikely as the number of unoccupied properties grow.

If your property is unfurnished, you may be exempt from council tax for up to 6 months.

 

Is A Landlord Liable For Unpaid Council Tax?

Not usually. As long as the tenancy agreement stipulated that council tax payments were the responsibility of the tenants, then landlords should be safe if tenants leave with unpaid debts.

If your property is vacant for any time, as the landlord, you will be responsible for paying tax during this period. However, you should not be responsible for repaying leftover bills that should have been paid by tenants while they were living in the property.

Without proof of a signed tenancy agreement, it will be harder to convince the council of your exemption if your tenant moves out early without notifying you.

See our blog on who is responsible for unpaid utility bills for more answers to common questions regarding bills.

 

 

Landlord Council Tax Exemption

Some properties and tenants are either exempt from paying council tax or are eligible for a discounted rate.

If you’re a landlord of an HMO property, make sure you check your tenant’s status to find out if you are eligible for any discounts. For example, if there is a mix of full-time students and one adult, you may receive a 25% discount.

 

Who Is Exempt From Council Tax?

There are certain groups of people who are exempt or eligible for a discounted council tax bill;

  • Single occupants of a property receive a 25% discount
  • Full time students are exempt
  • Live in carers are exempt
  • Tenants below the age of 18 are exempt

 

What Properties Are Exempt From Council Tax?

 

There are also a number of properties that are exempt from paying council tax;

  • Unfurnished properties may be exempt for six months
  • Recently repaired properties may be exempt for six months
  • Properties occupied by full time students only
  • Properties solely inhabited by tenants under the age of 18 receive a 50% discount

 

 

Landlord Council Tax Advice

To ensure you stay on top of your council tax responsibilities and avoid any unexpected bills, follow these simple tips;

  • Always determine who is responsible for paying council tax in the tenancy agreement
  • Keep a signed copy of this agreement on file
  • Notify your local authority at each change of tenancy and give the names of new tenants
  • For HMO properties where you are liable to pay council tax, ensure you factor this cost into the rent price
  • Plan for any void periods in which you may have to pay council tax
  • Check for any council tax discounts or exemptions you may be eligible for
  • Try to minimise void periods to avoid paying council tax in between tenants

 

 

Property Inventory Management From No Letting Go

If you’re a busy landlord looking for help managing your portfolio, we could help. Our wide range of professional property services includes comprehensive inventory reports, vacant property inspections and right to rent checks.

Here’s what else we offer;

  • Floor plans
  • Smoke and CO reports
  • 360-degree property photography
  • Property appraisals
  • HHSRS
  • Legionella risk assessments
  • Digi Sign
  • Check in/check out
  • Mid-term reports

 

For all your property management needs, browse our full list of property services to find out how our friendly team could help streamline your business and protect your investment.

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;

 

Unpaid Debts

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;

 

Dig Deeper

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.