London Landlord Deposit Disputes Highest In the UK
When it comes to the end of a tenancy and the return of the tenant deposit, there are plenty of things that can go wrong, wherever your property is based.
However, according to a recent report, London landlord deposit disputes appear to be the highest in the UK.
This blog delves deeper into the reasons behind landlord/tenant disputes in London and what can be done to avoid these disagreements altogether.
London Deposit Disputes
According to Property Wire, London is home to the highest cases of rental disputes between landlords and tenants.
This data comes from Ome, a deposit replacement membership scheme, who found that a sizable 37% of all rental disagreement cases last year came from the UK’s capital. London was followed by the South East with 16% of cases and the North West coming in at 11%.
Why London? It could be partly due to the fact that rental prices are far higher, demanding hefty deposits. The greater the sum being argued over, the more likely both parties will want a return on their investment.
Common Causes of Deposit Disputes
The data showed that the number one reason for deposit disputes across the majority of the UK, including London, was poor communication. Whereas, in the South East, the most common cause was cleanliness at check out.
Other common reasons for disputes include;
- Damage to property
- Missed payments
- Inventory discrepancies
Landlord Deposit Dispute: Wear and Tear
What constitutes fair wear and tear is an issue that often occurs at the end of the tenancy, as the definition can vary from person to person. Our guide on fair wear and tear sets out what is considered to be normal and unavoidable wear and tear and how to help tenants prevent further damage.
Landlord Deposit Dispute: Cleaning
Cleanliness at check-out was another common issue when it came to rental deposit disputes last year. This can be avoided through regular property inspections and investing in a pre-check out service.
How to Avoid Deposit Disputes
If you’re a landlord or letting agent in London, minimising the chance of disputes will most likely save you time and money in the long term (not to mention stress!)
Here are some of the ways you can avoid a dispute in the first place;
Tenancy Deposit Protection
Ensure the deposit is protected in a tenancy deposit scheme as this is a legal requirement. Failure to do so could lead to your tenant demanding a full return of their deposit or more.
Tenancy Deposit Return Time Limit
At the end of a tenancy, landlords must return the deposit within 10 days after any deposit deductions have been agreed.
Invest in a Professional Inventory Service
One of the most important steps you can take to avoid deposit disputes is by starting the tenancy right with a thorough and professional inventory.
A professional inventory report will set out the condition of the property and its contents at check-in, highlighting any changes at the end of the tenancy. This vital document provides evidence to support you if you need to deduct from the deposit. For example, if there is damage to the property or furnishings beyond normal wear and tear or if there are items missing from the final inventory.
An inventory report signed by the tenant is your best protection if your tenant decides to raise a dispute over deposit deductions. Without it, you are very unlikely to recover the funds for maintenance and repair.
Consider a Pre-Check Out Service
Another way to avoid a dispute is to provide tenants with a pre-check out service at the end of their tenancy. As part of this service, a property clerk will visit the property and provide advice to tenants on what maintenance needs to be undertaken in order to have their full deposit returned.
The benefits of a pre-check out service include smoother transitions between tenants, less maintenance needed and therefore less chance of deposit disputes.
Regular Property Inspections
Organising regular property inspections to your rental helps to minimise the chance of disputes as experienced clerks can check that the property is being properly maintained by tenants and reduce the chance of damage at check-out.
It may sound obvious, but this is a common problem amongst landlords / letting agents and tenants, particularly in London. A breakdown in communication or negative feedback can lead to a lack of trust and a greater chance of deposit disputes when you reach the end of the tenancy agreement.
To avoid this, it’s best to give a positive first impression to tenants and maintain regular and honest lines of communication.
Landlord Deposit Dispute Advice
If issues can’t be solved through direct and honest communications, it may be worth seeking the advice of a dispute resolution service to resolve the issue. An impartial adjudicator will be able to assess the dispute and hopefully come to an agreement that is acceptable to both sides.
If it comes to this, having a detailed inventory report is vital. At No Letting Go, we provide professional inventory reports to landlords, letting agents and property businesses throughout the UK. With expert local branches around the country and the latest property technology at our disposal, we’re experienced at helping property professionals protect their investment.
Find your local London property inventory service here.
Don’t let a deposit dispute affect your business, explore our property inventory service today.
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.
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
- Legionella risk assessments
- Right to rent checks
- Mid-term reports
- Check-out reports
- Abandonment notices
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.
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?
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
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.
Ending a tenancy can be awkward for both tenants and property professionals. Dealing with tenancy deposit returns, outstanding rent and resolving disputes can take time and a lot of effort. So, how can tenants and landlords alike ensure the end of tenancy goes smoothly?
No Letting Go’s chief operations officer, Lisa Williamson recently joined Richard Blanco on his podcast ‘Inside Property’ to discuss the types of issues that can arise and how to resolve them through unbiased, end of tenancy services.
Lisa was joined by Suzy Hershman, head of dispute resolution at My Deposits, and Al McClenahan, the director of Justice4Tenants to get a full picture from all sides of the story.
Here is a roundup of the key insights that came out of the programme;
Start as You Mean to End
Lisa’s top tip on ending a tenancy well is to determine a clear position from the start. The way to do this is through a well thought out inventory including detailed but concise information, clear photographs and a comprehensive list of contents and condition.
Creating a tenancy format which is easy to read by both parties is essential for avoiding confusion at the end of the tenancy.
Another tip for landlords from Lisa is to ensure that tenants sign the inventory report to avoid deduction disputes during check out.
An Unbiased Outlook is Key
One question that arose in the podcast was whether landlords should create their own inventory reports.
While it’s completely fair for a landlord to perform their own survey, they run the risk of using emotional language which can be interpreted in different ways.
This is where an independent inventory service can resolve issues. No Letting Go inventory reports include a glossary of terms to determine the condition and cleanliness of items in the property. For example, rather than a landlord using the word ‘immaculate’ to describe a piece of furniture which could come across as biased or open to interpretation, instead ‘professionally clean’ is a clearly explained term in the NLG glossary.
Another benefit of using a professional, unbiased property inventory service is that in the case of a dispute over deposit returns, judicators can clearly understand the benchmarks.
Are Pre-Check Out Meetings A Good Idea?
As an active landlord himself, Richard highlighted the benefit of arranging pre-check out meetings with tenants to go over what is expected of them during the moving out process.
This all sounds well and good, but the question is, who will pay for it? Landlords and tenants may be reluctant to fork out this extra cost, but it could save money further down the line.
Alternatively, providing tenants with an end of tenancy letter detailing all the tasks that need to be completed before moving out is a great way to prevent confusion over where responsibilities lie. This can include the date and time of the key handover and what needs to be cleaned.
End of Tenancy Property Cleaning
As the head of dispute resolution at My Deposit, Suzie Hershman has a lot of experience dealing with the common issues affecting landlords and tenants during the checkout process.
According to Suzie, cleaning comes top of the list when it comes to end of tenancy disputes.
The resolution is simple. Start with an inventory report which plainly states the condition of the property and how it is expected to be maintained. For example, if the property has a garden, the inventory needs to clearly state that the grass needs to be cut or the paving de-weeded and power washed before leaving the property.
Other issues that can arise include whose responsibility it is for window cleaning and whether professional carpet cleaning needs to be undertaken.
The main rule of thumb for tenants, is that the property needs to be returned in the original state as at the start of the tenancy. This may involve hiring an end of tenancy cleaning service (make sure you keep the receipt as evidence) or giving the property a thorough clean yourself. Either way, ensure you leave on the last day of your tenancy confident everything looks the same as it did when you moved in!
Fair wear and tear can be a bit of a grey area when it comes to cleaning. Suzie recommends that landlords should think of the items in their property as having a lifespan. A carpet or decor has an average lifespan of 5 years, which needs to be taken into consideration during the checkout report.
Managing the Landlord-Tenant Relationship
Al attributed this to poor inventories which leave too much room for interpretation and miscommunication, which is more common when landlords create their own.
Another common reason for strained relationships is when tenants are in arrears at the end of the tenancy agreement. To minimise conflict, Al recommends that tenants are as open and communicative with their landlord about their financial difficulties to help landlords remain understanding until the issue can be resolved.
However, when landlords view their role purely from an investment perspective and ignore the human side of the relationship, this is when disputes are likely to arise. The lesson? Landlords who are more understanding and willing to negotiate are likely to have better relationships with their tenants, resulting in a smoother parting.
How Will the Letting Agency Fee Ban Effect End of Tenancy?
There has been much discussion over what changes the letting agency fee ban will bring to the industry. However, for now, Lisa doesn’t see much change to the way check out reports will be processed.
Currently, landlords usually pay for the inventory, and for either check-in or check-out services while the tenant pays for the other. This means there is only one cost that needs to be recuperated by landlords.
According to Lisa, most landlords and tenants can see the advantages of having these services managed by independent professionals.
Unbiased End of Tenancy Services from No Letting Go
To ensure the end of a tenancy goes as smoothly as possible and you retain a positive relationship throughout, using an independent property service can help resolve issues and disputes before they arise.
No Letting Go provides all the documentation needed at the start and end of a tenancy to determine how much money is deducted from the deposit. Using the latest technology, No Letting Go can advise against fair wear and tear and create reports to ensure you are fully compliant with regulations.
To see the full list of services on offer, head to the No Letting Go services page.
Achieving a high rental yield is one of the main goals for successful landlords. In order to cover the costs of mortgage repayments, repairs and maintenance, an adequate rental yield is essential to stay afloat.
Although you may feel constrained by property location or property prices, there are ways to maximise profits and cut outgoings.
From making simple renovations, to targeting specific tenants, here’s some straightforward advice on how to increase rental yield on your rental property.
What Does Rental Yield Mean?
As a landlord, you’ll be more than familiar with the importance of rental yields. For anyone new to the game or thinking of taking the plunge into property investment, here’s a simple definition.
Rental yield is the annual return on investment you make as a landlord on a buy-to-let property. It’s the remaining amount of money left over after rent, divided by the value of the property and is expressed as a percentage.
How to Work Out Rental Yield on Rental Property
To work out the rental yield of your property, first deduct all annual expenses and outgoings from the annual rental income, then divide this number by the purchase price of the property. Next, times this number by 100 to find the percentage yield.
Alternatively, find a free rental yield calculator online to do the hard work for you.
What is a Good Rental Yield?
In order to comfortably cover outgoings, a rental yield of 8% or more is deemed good.
However, the average rental yield differs vastly depending on location. For example, cities like Liverpool and Nottingham enjoy higher rental yields of up to 12%, while London is more challenging and tends to stay around 4 – 5%.
Decide on a Tenant Profile
Having an ideal tenant profile in mind makes it easier to tailor your property to the needs and desires of tenants. By offering an attractive property to specific renters, you’ll be able to charge premium prices and stand out from the crowd.
For example, if you are renting to young professionals, it’s worth choosing properties in areas with good transport links and furnishing the property with convenient mod-cons.
Whereas families are more interested in space, excellent local schools and extra bedrooms.
It’s impossible to please everyone. Maximise rental yields by catering to a specific tenant group and provide them with what they really want.
Location, Location, Location
As always, location is key when it comes to improving rental return.
Picking an up-and-coming area is a good idea, as property purchase prices are lower and there is potential for increased rental income as the area expands. Somewhere with good transport links, access to great schools and a growing number of bars and shops is a safe bet.
Go Green for Tenants
With sustainable living becoming increasingly popular, improving insulation and making green changes to your rental property could strengthen the appeal to certain tenants.
Improving the energy efficiency rating of your property not only saves you money on energy bills,but is also a big deciding factor for potential tenants.
Think About Facilities
Equipping your property with high quality, time-saving facilities such as dishwashers, driers and high-speed Wi-Fi will attract more tenants and place your rental property ahead of the competition.
Think about what your ideal tenant profile wants out of a rental property and go from there.
Can You Add Another Bedroom or Bathroom?
Adding a second, third or fourth bedroom to your rental property is a guaranteed way of boosting rental yield.
If a property has a large living space that isn’t entirely necessary, turning it into a bedroom could drastically improve cash flow! Just take care to comply with bedroom regulations, especially if you plan to turn it into an HMO property.
A second bathroom is another way of adding value. Although this requires a little more upheaval, the results can be well worth it, especially in larger properties.
Keep Things Fresh
If larger scale renovation is out of your budget, simple, affordable updates such as new tiling in the bathroom or a fresh lick of paint can work wonders in attracting the best tenants.
The more you can do to make your property attractive to potential tenants, the more rent you can responsibly command.
Maximise Space for Maximum Yields
Another way to add value and appeal to renters is to maximise every inch of space in your property.
This doesn’t have to mean adding extra bedrooms. It can be something as simple as providing inbuilt cupboards and clever storage spaces. This is especially important if you’re targeting growing families.
Consider Allowing Pets
Flexibility is a trait highly valued by prospective tenants. From allowing minor aesthetic alterations to saying yes to pets, remaining open to tenants helps grow your yield in the long run.
Rental properties which allow pets tend to be few and far between which means they are able to command more rent- another easy way to increase your rental yield!
Avoid Vacant Periods
Naturally, extended vacant periods will have a negative impact on your rental yield.
Asking current tenants what their plans are well in advance of the end of a tenancy is one way you can avoid this. Early preparation means you can start advertising for new occupants quickly.
In the case of an extended void period, it may be worth lowering the rent requirements to encourage tenants and minimise losses.
Make Regular Rent Reviews
It’s important to keep up with the rest of the property market. Keeping a finger on the pulse and raising or lowering rent as needed is essential for maintaining and increasing rental yield.
Factors such as a new school in the area can dramatically increase rent prices, so don’t miss out on opportunities to cash in on your property investments.
Assess Your Outgoings
Taking a regular look at all of your outgoings is an important part of managing your finances. You may find that a few simple changes could be surprisingly profitable.
Mortgage rates, for example, are always changing, and it’s possible to find good deals on property insurance on comparison websites.
Keep your eyes peeled for deals to cut costs and improve rental yield.
Keep Up to Date with Regulations
Part of being a responsible landlord includes keeping up to date with current health and safety regulations. Good maintenance of your rental property results in long-term tenancies and increased interest from renters.
Save Time and Money with A Professional Property Service
Instead of spending your time as a property manager, answering queries and sorting out viewings and check ins, allocating tasks to property professionals can help streamline your business, saving you time and money.
No Letting Go provide comprehensive property reports and essential services such as inventory management to help landlords protect their investment and increase yields.
For more information on how No Letting Go could help, visit our services page here.
Landlords and inventories… Should they mix?
Anyone who has anything to do with the world of renting, be that landlords, letting agents or tenants, will understand the importance of inventories.
But, the question is, should people carry out inventories themselves? If so, what’s some advice they shouldn’t forget? What can still go wrong?
Let’s take a closer look at professional vs DIY inventories.
The Ins & Outs of Inventories
It’s easy to see why so many letting agents offer an inventory service, and why so many landlords carry them out themselves.
Inventories are beneficial for all parties. They help solve, or even prevent, disputes at the end of a tenancy, and provide peace of mind for everyone concerned.
Furthermore, they help protect the property from damage, determine fair wear and tear, and ensure tenants get their deposits back by ensuring no unjust deductions are made.
A good inventory will also reduce the risk of harassment during the tenancy, from either side, as everything will have been recorded previously.
Therefore, it’s essential these inventories are carried out correctly.
Is Going Professional an Unnecessary Expense?
But, is hiring a professional to do the inventory a waste of money?
Some believe that simply having an inventory in place is sufficient. Taking a few photos of the rooms, and any furnishings, should be enough to prevent disputes arising.
Why spend money on something you could do yourself? Also if landlords or letting agents sit down with their tenants to go through the inventory together, surely this eradicates the risk of disputes?
Plus, all tenancy agreements will state the condition the property is expected to be maintained in. Therefore, paying for professional inventory services can seem like an unnecessary expense.
What Issues Can Arise with DIY Inventories?
But, despite the initial upfront costs, a professional, independent inventory can end up saving landlords and letting agents more money in the long run.
So, what issues can arise when people do inventories themselves?
The Devil’s in the Detail
If an inventory lacks sufficient detail, what’s the point?
Many letting agents and landlords appear to think that photos are all that’s needed. However, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ doesn’t necessarily apply to the property industry, as you can only tell so much from one photo.
In certain lights, and from certain angles, a room or space can look completely different in a picture.
Also, with DIY inventories, important aspects can be accidentally omitted, as those carrying them out simply don’t consider them. For example, floor tiles. These can be cracked or damaged in some way, but without an inventory, this will be difficult to prove.
So, while an inventory is in place to prevent a dispute, it may end up causing one if not done correctly.
Finding the Time
With all the many different jobs and priorities letting agents and landlords have, inventories often fall to the bottom of the to-do list.
As a result, it’s easy for certain things to slip through the net, and some details are accidentally omitted, causing problems for everyone concerned.
Lack of ‘Know-How’
How many people can confidently claim they understand all the ins and outs of inventories?
For most letting agents, inventories aren’t their speciality. They’re something the business offers, without having fully developed skills or expertise in the area.
Meanwhile, many landlords aren’t necessarily experts in the property industry, particularly where inventories are concerned.
This can lead to inventories taking longer than they should, and lacking in certain parts. If the information isn’t there, it means specific points can’t be discussed at the end of the tenancy.
With an inventory company, these risks are eradicated.
Room for Disagreement
Not everyone’s definition of ‘clean’ or ‘damaged’ are the same. This not only allows room for disagreement, but also for one party to be exploited.
A landlord or letting agent may record something in the inventory from their own point of view. This may seem unfair to the tenant, and without pictures as evidence, a deposit deduction may be unjust.
On the other hand, simply going through the inventory with your tenant at the start of the tenancy might be putting too much faith in their honesty. Tenancy references are undeniably useful, but can’t show you someone’s true character! Some tenants may try to use a lacking inventory as an exploitative measure.
Tips for DIY Inventories
Despite the risk of certain problems arising, many letting agents and landlords continue to carry out their own inventories.
So, what are some handy hints no landlord or agent should forget?
The More Words the Better
Photos should be used as evidence to back-up points made in the inventory, not form the core of it.
Many fall down the trap of having too many photographs and not enough words. This leaves a question mark around the true condition of the property.
Writing everything down, in as much detail as possible, makes for the best inventories. Words will provide the details needed, and a photo can be used to support any claims made.
Inventories should provide clarity.
Therefore, everything needs to be written down and recorded as clearly as possible. This ensures landlords, letting agents and tenants alike are better covered.
An inventory shouldn’t create disputes, but prevent them! When it comes to your property, you can never be too thorough.
Details As Well As Facts
Don’t simply list the key features!
If a floor is carpeted, also take down notes on the condition of the carpet. With inventory reports, facts aren’t sufficient without details to back them up!
The Benefits of Hiring an Inventory Expert
But, inevitably, hiring a third party has indisputable benefits, such as:
Help Getting Signatures
Getting signatures is a vital part of any inventory.
An independent third party has a duty of care to both landlords and tenants, stamping out any risk of a conflict of interests.
If one party, for example the tenant, doesn’t want to be present during the signing, an inventory expert can sign for them.
The key here is that a third party will be unbiased. This only has benefits for everyone involved.
Expertise in the Area
Why not hire the best in the field to do the job?
Getting help from a third party allows letting agents to do their job, excelling in their areas of expertise, while ensuring the inventory is being carried out to the highest possible standard.
Landlords can rest easier at night in the knowledge that the risk of disagreements or deposit disputes at the end of the tenancy has been dramatically reduced.
Solve Disputes Before They Occur
Inventories should be in place so that landlords and letting agents can take a proactive, rather than reactive, approach if any issues arise.
A professionally compiled inventory will determine any disputes at the beginning of the tenancy. At the end, it’s too late!
Preventing disputes is much more desirable than solving them after they’ve occured.
When it comes to your property, why take the risk?
Provide a Safety Net
For landlords, tenants and letting agents, a professional inventory is like a comfort blanket. They carry a lot more weight than DIY versions, simply because of the third party expert. Think of them as an independent adjudicator!
All parties concerned can rest assured in the knowledge an unbiased professional has carried out the inventory.
In many aspects of our lives, we choose a professional service. Why not apply the same principle to inventories?
No Letting Go specialise in providing comprehensive, unbiased, detailed inventories. We’ll take out the hassle of carrying them out for you, by ensuring every inventory is done by an expert, to the highest standard. This will not only help mediate disputes, but prevent them altogether, ensuring every tenancy is a happy one! Find out more about our inventory services here.
Being a landlord is tough, busy and time consuming work. Thankfully though, there’s plenty of new technology out there that can make life easier for the average UK landlord. It can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to choosing the best mobile apps. And how can you be sure these apps will make your profession any easier? What are the best apps for landlords?
From local landlord inventory services to helpful communication software (and everything in between) the market is huge. So here’s our pick of the best apps worth trying. Think we’ve missed something off the list? Get in touch on Twitter and tell us your thoughts.
The Landlord App
The name really says it all. The Landlord App basically offers a comprehensive selection of features to help landlords operate and manage their businesses more effectively. From finding new tenants to scheduling utility bill payments, it can even help with chasing payments owed as well as much more. Coming highly recommended by the vast majority of landlord inventory services in the UK, this is app is worth a try.
By landlords, for landlords. DIY Landlord allows the user to keep track of all their current rented properties. Offering key financial information like cash flow and rental payments, the app’s main dashboard will become a sight for sore eyes. If you’ve got a large property portfolio, this app will save you significant time, stress and worry.
Ideal for keeping track of your most important documents, Scanbot allows the user to create high quality JPEG or PDF copies of documents in a matter of seconds. From contracts to receipts to invoices and so on. Simply use your smartphone’s camera to instantly scan and record your documents. Copies are saved in excess of 200dpi for outstanding quality and the app does a great job of reducing motion blur.
Forget the filing cabinet of paperwork, the Mobile Landlord app covers everything. Create a profile for up to five properties and keep all relevant information in one place. From tenancy details and expenditure to key trade contacts, this app covers it all. You can even set key reminders like updating the Gas Safety Certificate.
The Rightmove app takes everything the market-leading online estate agency offers and slips it into your pocket. It’s one of the best and most important apps you’ll find for keeping an eye on local markets and assessing property values/rent averages. Advice on property research and staying on the pulse of the property market could even help you negotiate a house price. It can also be a fantastic app to use if you plan on using Rightmove to advertise your property.
Let’s face it, tenancy agreements are some of the more tedious parts of the job. With the Tenancy Agreement app, you can create a professional tenancy agreement on your smartphone in a timely and hassle free manner.
Home Decorating Ideas
Interior design can be a confusing world! Especially for the uninitiated. If you’re a landlord crying out for inspiration, the Home Decorating Ideas app is on hand to help. Get free tips on interior design and save any snaps that take your fancy.
RenTracker Property Management
When you’re a landlord letting to various tenants, it can be difficult to keep track of all rent due dates and financial deadlines. RenTracker Property Management is here to help. This app tracks your finances including rent payments, expenses and taxes. It also gives you the opportunity to export your financial reports.
Ask A Lawyer
Got an important legal question to ask but don’t have the money or means to arrange a consultation. Ask a Lawyer is the answer. The app allows landlords to ask those burning questions about their business and receive expert answers and advice from qualified, experienced legal professionals. Best of all, it’s completely free!
Landlordy markets itself as the ultimate mobile companion for the DIY landlord, and it’s not hard to see why. With the ability to help you track rent payments, manage expenses and even prepare rent invoices you really should downloaded and use this app. It even gives you the option of exporting and sharing the data with your accountant, so that your finances are always up to date.
It sounds so simple but it’s often overlooked. Keep up-to-date with tenants with WhatsApp. If your property is a HMO, create a house group chat including all tenants. This will help resolve any internal issues and can even boost tenant moral (happy tenants are likely to stay in your property longer).
Advertise your rental property to UK tenants for free on the LetsHelpYou app. With a smooth UX, this app allows you to upload images and key details of your property at speed.
Landlord Property Buddy
Ditch the complicated excel spreadsheets, Landlord Property Buddy has got your back. This app offers a full range of property management services and comes highly recommended. Offering assistance with income/expenditure, transaction reporting, reminders, document safekeeping as well as invoices and tenant details. This app helps manage the full landlord experience to make your life a little easier.
Fixflo is one of the best apps of its kind. It serves as a convenient and reliable method for reporting and recording minor to moderate maintenance issues. The tenant is able to describe the problem, take a picture of it with their device and send it straight to the landlord’s device. It can also be used to report things like graffiti and vandalism, dumped rubbish, abandoned vehicles and more.
Kaptur Inventory Pro
Designed by property inventory experts for busy professionals in the property sector, Kaptur is the very latest property information collecting tablet technology. This offers the most efficient way to collect, prepare, report and manage information. Find out more about how Kaptur Inventory Pro can help you here.
If you’re a landlord suffering with the headache of rental inventories, find out how No Letting Go can help.
The Property Redress Scheme (PRS) is holding its first Agent Educational Workshop at The Strand Palace Hotel in London on Wednesday 16 March. The morning workshop will give agents a chance to get advice and guidance on essential industry topics.
Speakers include Paul Shamplina from Landlord Action, member of the PRS Advisory Council and known for the Channel 5 programme “Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords”. He will cover what an agent can do to retain a landlord when a tenancy goes wrong.
The workshop also gives delegates a chance to benefit from the experience of Sean Hooker, Head of Redress at the PRS and a guest on BBC Breakfast as an adviser on property matters. Sean will talk about effective complaint handling covering how you deal with a complaint can have a massive impact on how quickly and successfully it is resolved.
Inventories are also an important part of any successful letting business. Our CEO & Co-Founder – Nick Lyons – gives tips on best practice to offer the highest quality letting inventory services available and demonstrates Kaptur – the latest property information collecting tablet technology.
Finally, Suzy Hershman, Head of Dispute Resolution at mydeposits, will offer a detailed insight in how to provide quality evidence for disputes relating to tenancy deposit protection schemes. From 1st April mydeposits will offer free custodial tenancy deposit protection in addition to its popular insurance-based tenancy deposit protection that counts over 3000 letting agent members.
For agents, this event is an unmissable opportunity to get expert advice and network with key industry players. For Members of the PRS the cost is only £40, while non-members fee is £60. There is limited availability of spaces but PRS Members can bring a friend at the Member price. Refreshments including lunch are provided and all delegates will receive a certificate of attendance. Buy your tickets here.
The buy-to-let market continues to be one of the hottest investment markets in the UK. People are purchasing properties and building portfolios in anticipation of providing the kind of retirement they would never get from a pension. But as with any other investment, becoming a landlord also means added responsibility. There are mortgages to pay, tenants to deal with, and a myriad of maintenance and upkeep issues. If you don’t know what you’re doing, being a landlord could become a nightmare.
Here are five common mistakes landlords make along with ways to avoid them:
1. Failing to Properly Screen Potential Tenants
Tenants are the lifeblood of any property portfolio. The last thing a landlord needs are tenants who do not pay their rent or who abuse property with very little discretion. A good way to end up with these kinds of tenants is to fail to screen potential candidates correctly. Screening is an absolute must.
One of the best ways to do this is to use a letting agent. Letting agents are experts at tenant screening, and they have access to certain tools that make it easier to discover questionable rental histories and other potential problems. Using a letting agent is well worth the money spent.
2. Failing to Have a Property Inventory in Place
There are companies that provide national property inventory checks for landlords at very reasonable prices. Yet some landlords fail to take advantage of this. By failing to have a property inventory in place, those landlords are taking a big risk in assuming that tenants will take good care of the property throughout their tenancy.
The solution to this mistake is very simple: work with a local or national inventory company to do a complete inventory of your property. Furthermore, utilise a check-in and check-out at both ends of the lease. There are plenty of companies offering landlord’s inventory UK-wide at excellent prices; utilise them.
3. Failing to Keep Tenants Happy
The successful landlord is a landlord able to secure and maintain long-term leases. The longer tenants can be kept in the property, the more financially secure the property becomes. On the other hand, constantly turning over unhappy tenants increases the landlord’s risk of void periods in which the mortgage still has to be paid despite no rental payments coming in. Not keeping tenants happy is a big mistake.
Landlords can avoid this mistake by doing whatever they can to make the tenant experience unforgettably pleasant. For example, you do not have to charge market value rents just because you can. If you can offer a lower rent and still cover your expenses and make a profit, you will have a happy tenant who is less likely to look around for something cheaper near the end of the tenancy.
4. Choosing Properties in the Wrong Location
Residential property is a lot like commercial property in the sense that location is crucial. The most desirable renters tend to want homes in neighbourhoods that are safe and have access to common amenities like public transportation, entertainment options, good schools, and additional opportunities for the family. Choosing properties in bad locations can turn what a landlord hoped to be a great investment into a financial disaster.
The best way to avoid this mistake is to do plenty of research before you purchase. Landlords can work with a specialist property company who deals only in buy-to-let investments; such companies are usually very good at determining which neighbourhoods are desirable and which are not.
5. Failing to Save Money
Owning rental property is essentially a business. And as with any business, there are certain capital expenses that are unavoidable. Landlords who fail to save money for such capital expenses can easily find themselves in financial trouble when things go wrong. If things get too bad, they could jeopardise the business.
Landlords should establish a savings account into which they routinely deposit a portion of every rental payment they receive. The money should not be touched for anything other than making capital improvements or emergency expenses. When money is taken out of the account, it needs to be replaced as quickly as possible.
Being a landlord is a very good way to establish a stable and comfortable income. But it is not without responsibilities. The most successful landlords know what it takes to run a property business and make every effort to avoid the most common mistakes.