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
- 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;
Naturally, being in debt can negatively affect a tenant’s credit score as it suggests that they struggle to manage their money and are not financially stable. If this issue is uncovered by a credit check, you may think twice about entering into a tenancy agreement.
Being Declared Bankrupt
This should set major alarm bells ringing for landlords as it suggests the tenant has had difficulty managing repayments in the past.
County Court Judgements
A County Court Judgment (CCJ) is when a tenant is forced to repay a debt by the courts. If this shows up, it’s not a great first impression.
Late Credit Card Or Loan Repayments
If a tenant has struggled to pay credit card repayments in time, this doesn’t bode well for rent payments.
There are also a number of issues that can affect credit scores that don’t necessarily mean a tenant will struggle with their finances;
Not Having A Credit History
One reason for a poor credit rating that is particularly common among younger tenants and students is not having a credit history at all. If the tenant has never taken out a credit card or loan and has never paid bills from their bank account, they won’t have a credit trail to check, resulting in a low score.
This is a likely occurrence if you rent to students or young adults who have just left home and doesn’t necessarily mean that the tenant will be bad at managing their money.
Only Making The Minimum Credit Card Repayments
Credit scores can be affected if the tenant only makes the minimum repayment on their credit card each month. The assumption is that they are struggling to keep up with all their outgoings, however this isn’t always the case.
Not Being On the Electoral Roll
Not updating addresses and personal information can affect credit score, as can not being on the electoral roll. This step is easily forgotten when moving house and doesn’t prove the tenant will be unreliable.
No Proof Of Address
If a tenant hasn’t been responsible for paying bills at their previous residence or were not named on the tenancy agreement, it can be difficult for the referencing agency to determine proof of address.
How Important Is Good Credit?
As we explored above, good credit isn’t the be all and end all when it comes to finding a good tenant. Equally as important is whether they fit your target tenant profile.
If you’ve been struggling to rent out your property or think the tenant will make a good fit, there are ways to get around bad credit.
How To Rent to Tenants With Bad Credit
Poor credit rating alone doesn’t mean you should give up on a tenant if they tick all the other boxes. Here are some ways to minimise risk;
The first thing to do when a potential tenant’s credit check comes back as poor, is to find out why. If it was down to late or missed payments it may be best to steer clear, however if it’s something as simple as a lack of credit history then it needn’t stop you from going ahead with the tenancy.
Ask To See Previous Rent Payments
Seeing proof of regular, timely rent payments for a previous rental arrangement will help to ease your concerns about their responsibility as a tenant.
Charge a Larger Deposit
If a tenant has a low credit score, it’s likely they will be prepared to pay a slightly larger security deposit to make up for it. This will give you extra leverage when it comes to recovering costs at the end of the tenancy.
Ask For A Guarantor
One of the best ways to protect yourself if a tenant has poor credit is to ask for a guarantor. A guarantor will be able to cover any costs if the tenant is unable to pay, giving you extra protection.
The guarantor will need to sign the tenancy agreement along with the tenant and have secure financial status.
Ask For A Previous Landlord Reference
One sure way to find out if a tenant is reliable is to ask their previous landlord.
Here are some questions to ask;
- Did the tenant pay rent on time each month?
- Did the tenant look after the rental property?
- How often did the tenant raise issues with the landlord or letting agent?
- Were any complaints received from neighbours regarding the tenant?
- What condition did they leave the property at the end of the tenancy?
- Would you feel happy renting to the tenant again?
Ask For Rent Upfront
While this may be a lot to ask and not always in scope, a tenant with a high risk credit score may be prepared to pay rent upfront. Paying the first six months of rent upfront will ease any initial worries and give the tenant time to prove their reliability.
Receive Payments By Direct Debit
Asking for rent payments via direct debit is common practice these days and is especially important if you’re concerned about a tenant’s financial responsibility.
Shorten The Tenancy
If you’re worried about the reliability of a tenant, setting a shorter, probationary rental period in which the tenant has time to prove their responsibility could be a good idea. If you experience late payments or other issues, you can terminate the tenancy early.
Talk To The Tenant
You can tell a lot from a frank, face-to-face conversation. If your potential tenant willingly discloses their credit issues and can provide a reasonable explanation for the low score, you will be much better placed to make an informed decision.
How To Organise A Tenant Reference Check
Although credit checks aren’t the only way to choose the right tenant, it is important to perform tenant referencing so you aren’t caught out further down the line.
As a busy landlord, you may want to delegate this task to a professional tenant referencing company. Placing this responsibility in the experienced hands of a recommended referencing company will minimise any risks and help the process go smoothly.
Protect Your Property With No Letting Go
In addition to choosing a reliable tenant, a comprehensive inventory is one of the best ways to protect your rental property.
At No Letting Go, we offer unbiased property inventory reports to help safeguard your property against damage and recover essential costs at the end of a tenancy. All the way through from Schedule of Condition, to check in and property visits, our property clerks are there to simplify the rental process and save you time.
Interested in hearing more? Head to our website to discover the full range of property management services we offer.
Budgets can be tough to manage for landlord and letting agents alike. Sometimes, property maintenance costs can eat into your finances dramatically.
From what’s involved to how to save, we offer insights and guidance on how to best manage budgets when undergoing maintenance on your property portfolio.
What Is Included In Maintenance Costs?
Before we go into budget management, we need to be clear on what maintenance costs are involved in renting a residential property.
Here’s a list of all the things to consider when it comes to maintenance;
As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to fix any repairs needed resulting from normal wear and tear. This can include;
- Repairing or replacing white goods and appliances
- Fixing boiler issues
- Repairing any electrical faults
Refurbishment & Decoration
Keeping your property looking fresh for new tenants is an important part of being a good landlord and attracting the right target tenants. It’s recommended that carpets are replaced every 5-7 years, and properties are fully redecorated every 3 years.
However, if your property is looking particularly lived in after a tenancy or you come across some questionable stains, you might need to redecorate more often.
Here’s what else is included in refurbishment and decoration;
- Painting throughout
- Replacing carpets or flooring
- Replacing curtains
- Replacing old, tired furniture items every 10-15 years
- Replacing kitchen and bathroom fittings every 10-15 years
It’s not just the inside that needs attention. Staying on top of the exterior of your property can help ward off future structural issues and save money in the long run.
Here’s what it could include;
- Replacing missing roof tiles
- Clearing guttering
- Garden fence maintenance
- Window cleaning and repair
Thorough cleaning is essential between tenancies, and you may also need to arrange for cleaning to be done during a tenancy. If the windows need cleaning for example, or if the property has suffered water damage.
Particularly important during void periods, regular property inspections are an important part of maintenance for buy to let properties.
Inspections protect your property from theft, vandalism or damage from unnoticed leaks, preventing the need for extensive future repairs. We offer a professional vacant property inspection service to give you peace of mind that your investment is protected.
Gas Safety Certificates & Safety Checks
UK landlords have a legal requirement to arrange regular safety checks, including;
- An annual gas safety inspection from a Gas Safe registered engineer
- Electrical safety checks
- PAT tests for white goods
- Energy Performance Certificate
- Ensure smoke detectors are present and working
This cost is usually overlooked by most landlords, but the time you put into the maintenance of your portfolio really adds up. Particularly if you are balancing your duties as a landlord with another paid job, extra time spent on maintenance may mean losing out on wages.
If this is the case, it may be worth investing in a full management service from a property management company so you can swap a management fee for more time for other ventures.
How Much Does It Cost To Maintain A Rental Property?
Maintenance costs will vary depending on several factors;
- Size of the property
- Age of the property- older homes require more upkeep
- Location of the property- service charges vary dependant on area
- Type and number of tenants
For example, if you rent to students or large families, you may have to fork out more for accidental damage repair costs.
Landlord Maintenance Costs: How to Save Money
Now we’ve discussed what’s involved, it’s time to look at ways to save.
Choose Your Target Tenant Wisely
While finding tenants may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to maintenance, the tenant you choose could have an effect on your maintenance costs.
For example, as mentioned above, renting to students can result in more accidental damage as there tends to be more people living in one property, and tenants have a reputation for partying! Similarly, renting to tenants with pets is likely to involve more refurbishment at the end of the tenancy.
Deciding on your target tenant from the get-go is an important part of the process.
Act Fast When It Comes to Repairs
The quicker you act on repairs and maintenance tasks, the more popular you’ll be with tenants and the less likely they are to develop into serious issues. Usually, dealing with problems as soon as they arise means you can save money in the long run as you have time to think about the best possible solution.
Paying for maintenance costs early will also help you to manage your monthly budgets and keep on top of your spend.
Buy Quality Furnishings
Opting for the cheapest furnishings available isn’t always wise. The cost of replacing flimsy furniture every year is likely to add up to more than investing in quality in the first place. This is particularly true for mattresses, sofas and dining tables. Our blog on furnishing your rental property will help you with some handy tips.
Keep It Simple
When it comes to decorating your properties, more is less. You don’t need to go overboard to provide a comfortable home for tenants. Simple, modern furniture without too many frills will appeal to most and will be kinder on the budget.
Tip: Avoid painting everything white as it will require more upkeep. Neutral, mid-tones are much more forgiving.
Don’t Skimp on Landlord Insurance
Landlord insurance is essential when renting a property. Finding the right deal can help you save when things go wrong. Quality contents or accidental damage insurance will protect you in the case of weather damage or accidental spills.
Make sure you shop around for the best deals.
Check Council Tax Exceptions
If one of your rental properties is vacant for a period, or you are performing refurbishment that renders your property inhabitable, you may be eligible for Council Tax redemption. This will leave you with some extra cash to spend on essential repairs and decoration.
Landlord’s Energy Saving Allowance
By increasing the energy-saving potential of your property, you could save money that can be injected back into the maintenance budget.
By reinforcing insulation in your rental property, you could save a significant amount in tax.
Know When To Ask For Help
While rolling up your sleeves and getting stuck in can save on service fees, it’s not always the best option.
Botched DIY can end up costing more than the original problem, and when it comes to electrical or plumbing issues, professional is always best.
Get More Than One Quote
When you need to pick up the phone to a plumber or tradesperson, make sure you do your research.
Particularly important when it comes to bigger jobs, getting several quotes will help you find the most competitive price.
Invest In A Comprehensive Inventory Service
Compiling a comprehensive written and photographic list of all of the items and furnishings and their condition within your property is one of the best ways to recuperate maintenance costs at the end of a tenancy.
If there is any damage beyond normal wear and tear, it will be much easier to deduct the appropriate costs from the deposit.
A professional property inventory service provides an impartial account of your property and is delivered using high quality photography in a handy, easily accessible digital report.
Landlord Maintenance Responsibilities: Help From No Letting Go
The costs of being a landlord are wide ranging. From agent fees to mortgage interest, balancing your rental income with outgoing costs can be tough.
That’s why sometimes it pays to get some help. Whether it’s repairs and maintenance reports or inventory services, our teams of experienced clerks could help streamline your business so you can take control of your budget.
Browse our full list of property management services to find out how we can help.
It can be tricky to make your property stand out from the crowd in the saturated property sector. So, how can you take advantage of the latest in digital photography software to ensure your property is snapped up by the best tenants?
That’s where 360° property photography comes in. Our virtual photography service could be the difference between blending in and beating the competition.
If you’re looking to attract more viewings and get ahead of the curve with the latest in PropTech, find out what this service could offer.
What is 360° Degree Photography?
360° degree photography provides interactive, panoramic images that place the viewer in the footsteps of the photographer. This type of panoramic photography allows you to ‘look’ up, down and to the left and right of the image for a full 360° view.
Panoramic photos are transformed via 360 degree photography software to recreate a room or space. (You may have seen this being used in google street view on google maps)
What is a 360° Virtual Tour?
A 360° virtual tour replicates a standard property tour or house viewing through virtual reality, allowing the user to ‘visit’ properties from anywhere in the world. Users are able to explore each room of the property from the comfort of their living rooms via a connected device.
The Benefits of Virtual 360° Photography Tours
With most property searches starting online, it makes sense to present your property in its best light. From saving time to gaining trust, here’s what 360° technology could do for your business;
Exceptional Property Marketing
First impressions count and 360° photos could give your property the edge. High quality images make you and your business look professional, and the more detailed images available of your property, the more popular it will be with prospective tenants.
Bring your property to life and highlight its best features with a full, virtual tour and help potential tenants picture themselves living in your property by exploring each room in detail.
Gain Tenant Trust
There isn’t really anywhere to hide when it comes to virtual photography tours. By providing a realistic picture of your property and putting every part of the building on display, you will gain trust from tenants. Essential for starting the tenant relationship off on the right foot.
Remote Property Viewings
A virtual tour can be accessed from anywhere- all you need is a digital device.
Save time and resources by allowing prospective tenants to experience an immersive online property viewing from home. This benefits tenants and property professionals alike, as tenants won’t waste time visiting unsuitable properties and lettings agents will have a narrower, targeted tenant pool to focus on.
This service could also benefit landlords who live abroad or a long distance away from the properties in their portfolio, allowing them to inspect their investment from anywhere in the world.
With a 24 hour turn around, our 360° virtual photography service can be delivered quickly, so you can stay ahead in the dynamic lettings industry.
Our Property Reporting Software
Our property reporting software, Kaptur, enables virtual tours to be embedded into any compliance report.
Kaptur has been developed specifically for busy property professionals looking to streamline their workload. From custom reporting to location mapping- Kaptur represents the latest in PropTech.
How Can 360° Virtual Tour Photography Be Used?
We’ve partnered with Eye Spy 360 to offer a nationwide service helping landlords, estate agents and property professionals market and manage their property portfolios.
Here’s an example of when virtual tours could be utilised;
- Residential sales and lettings marketing
- Insurance inspections
- Block and property management inspections
- Derelict building inspections
- Property research projects
- Inventory and schedule of condition of large properties
- Commercial sales and leasing
- Build to Rent projects
Whatever the type of property, a 360° virtual tour could be of service.
Property Photography and Floor Plans
In addition to standard property photography as part of your visual inventory report, we also offer floor plan services to add to your marketing literature and reporting.
All of the No Letting Go surveyors are highly trained according to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) guidelines, ensuring a professional service with accurate results.
360° Property Photography Prices
Interested in finding out more? Get in touch to book a survey or find out how we can incorporate a 360° virtual property tour into a regular No Letting Go report.
To discover how else we could help, browse our full list of property management services.
If you’re weighing up the pros and cons of providing a furnished or partly furnished property for prospective tenants, you’ve come to the right place.
Letting a furnished property has plenty of benefits, including quality tenants and longer tenancies. However, furnishing your property can get expensive and cause issues down the line if not done properly.
Here, we discuss how to furnish a rental property with tips and tricks on making the most of your portfolio.
What’s the Difference Between Fully Furnished and Partly Furnished?
Let’s clear this up before we get started.
Usually, a furnished property will come with essential electrical appliances, white goods and basic furniture. In short, everything a tenant needs to move in straight away.
A partly furnished property will only include white goods, lighting and essentials such as curtains and kitchen cabinets. It may also include some other furniture items at the discretion of the landlord or letting agent.
An unfurnished property will come with only the very basics- light fittings, carpets and essential appliances such as an oven.
Should you Furnish Your Rental Property?
Furnished or unfurnished? It’s a tricky question. While renting unfurnished properties may seem like the easy option, providing a furnished property comes with attractive benefits;
You Can Charge Higher Rent
A well-furnished property may affect the amount of rent you can charge.
With a lack of quality, furnished properties on the rental market, tenants searching for a ready-made home are prepared to pay a little more for the convenience.
Good quality furnishings that make your property look welcoming will attract tenants and help your property stand out.
Attract the Right Tenants
A well-furnished property will attract a wider pool of renters, allowing you to pick and choose to find the right tenant for you– whatever that might look like.
Secure Longer Tenancies
A home that feels well cared for and inviting will encourage tenants to stay longer term.
Who is Your Target Tenant?
The tenant group you’re targeting should be the biggest consideration when deciding whether to furnish your property. Well established families or older professionals are likely to have their own furniture they want to bring with them.
Whereas students or young professionals may be looking for convenience and a place they can move in straight away.
What Does a Landlord Have to Provide in a Furnished Flat?
When providing tenants with a furnished home, there are certain items they will expect to be included;
What to Include
A furnished property should include;
- White goods (oven, washing machine, fridge freezer etc.)
- Dining table and chairs
- Sofas and chairs
- Wardrobes, chest of drawers and cupboards
- Light fittings
What Not to Include
However, there are a few items landlords are not expected to provide;
- Bed linen, duvets and pillows
- Cleaning supplies
Furnishing a Buy to Let Property: Top Tips
To make things easier for yourself at the end of the tenancy agreement, we have some tips and advice on how to furnish your rental property;
Choose Easy to Clean Furniture
Wear and tear is inevitable, but to keep your property in good condition, easy to clean appliances will encourage your tenants to keep things well maintained.
When it comes to personal taste, we’re all different. Let your tenants choose the little details so they can feel at home. Similarly- neutral colours work best.
Choose Easy to Replace Items
This way, if things get broken, they can be replaced with a ‘like for like’ item without too much bother.
Replace Furnishings as Needed
Old, stained carpets will do nothing for your properties appeal. The Tenancy Deposit Scheme recommends replacing most items of furniture after 7 years.
Provide Basic Tools
Providing basic tools will encourage tenants to take care of minor issues themselves, taking one more thing off your plate.
Follow Safety Regulations
As a responsible landlord, you need to follow fire safety laws when it comes to soft furnishings.
Choosing the Right Furnishings
Let’s take a closer look at some of the types of furniture to include in your rental property, room by room.
Living Room Furniture
Basics to include:
- Sofa(s) or armchairs
- Coffee table
Best Sofas for Rental Properties
Here’s a few of our top picks of the best sofas to buy for your rental property:
This modern 2-seater sofa in a neutral grey will work well in slick apartments for young professionals and is pretty easy on the budget too!
A sofa bed is a big plus among tenants, and this one is great value for money. This simple, classic style will work well in most interiors and families will love the extra storage space.
If you’re trying to attract professionals willing to pay high prices for the right home, a quality sofa is essential. This one comes from an esteemed brand and the elegant style will have mass appeal.
Kitchen/Dining Room Furniture
Basics to include:
- Kitchen cabinets
- Essential appliances (oven, washing machine, fridge freezer, toaster, kettle etc.)
- Table and chairs
Best Dining Tables for Rental Properties
A dining table is the hub of any home and getting the right one is important.
This handy piece of furniture features built in storage and a fold-out table design. Perfect when letting properties with small kitchens.
The simple, modern design of this table will fit neatly into any interior, and the extendable section can accommodate extra guests. It’s also budget-friendly!
Basics to include:
- Chest of drawers
- Bedside table
Best Mattress for Rental Properties
A mattress is perhaps the most important piece of furniture for your rental property. A considerate investment, you need it to be durable and long lasting. Here’s our top picks;
This mattress from the Memory Foam Warehouse makes quality memory foam affordable. Starting at under £100, you’re unlikely to find anything cheaper.
Buying a mattress for your rental property is only half the battle. The next job is delivery. Opting for a bed in a box mattress means the mattress can be delivered straight to the property in a convenient sized box.
Once you’ve invested in a mattress, it makes sense to protect it. A mattress topper can prolong the life of a mattress and guard against stains to keep it looking fresh at the end of the tenancy. This memory foam mattress topper is a cheap but comfortable option.
Protecting Your Furnished Rental Property: Inventory Management
Once you’ve gone to the effort of furnishing your rental property, you need to ensure it’s protected.
The easiest way to do this is by investing in a comprehensive inventory report delivered by unbiased professionals. A property inventory helps guard your property and its contents against damage by providing full details of its condition at the start and end of a tenancy.
At No Letting Go, we provide landlords and property professionals with comprehensive services and reports to protect their investment and streamline processes. Browse our full list of inventory management services to find out how we can help.
The Equalities and Human Rights Commission have recently revealed that 93% out of 8.5 million rental homes in the UK are not fit for disabled access, leaving at least 365,000 disabled people in unsuitable accommodation.
There is a pressing need for more accessible rental properties across the UK and the government is cracking down on landlords who do not make the necessary changes. However, this does mean that there is a large number of disabled tenants looking for appropriate housing.
From entry ramps to chair lifts, there are many ways to adapt a property for disabled access. Adapting a home and renting to disabled tenants could even open your property up to a wider range of potential renters.
Here, we look at ways to adapt your rental property so you can welcome a new target tenant group to your portfolio.
UK Rights for Disabled Tenants
Before you start thinking about adapting your property, it’s important to be aware of disabled people’s rights in the UK.
The Equality Act 2010 set out ways to protect people in society, including the rental sector.
According to the Act, a person has a disability if;
- The person has a physical or mental impairment, and
- This impairment has a substantial, long-term effect on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities.
Now, let’s look at your responsibilities as a property professional.
Laws for Private Landlords and Letting Agents
It is against the law for a landlord to discriminate against a disabled tenant. For example, as a landlord, letting or estate agent it is illegal to;
- Refuse to rent to a disabled person because of their disability
- Refuse to allow a guide dog or assistance dog under the no pets rule
- Charge higher rent or deposit to disabled tenants
- Refuse access to additional facilities that are available to other tenants (e.g. laundry room or parking space)
- Evict a tenant due to disability or illness
- Give tenants a less secure tenancy agreement
If a tenant feels they are being discriminated against, they could talk to Citizens advice or the EHRC and you could experience serious repercussions.
Landlord Responsibilities when Renting to Disabled Tenants
When renting to a disabled tenant, you are responsible for providing necessary, reasonable adaptations to make your property accessible and suitable to their individual needs. This can include additional services or equipment known as ‘auxiliary aids’.
Auxiliary aids can include;
- Wheelchair ramps
- Written documents and signs in Braille
- Accessible door handles
- Accessible taps
- Special furnishings (e.g. raised toilet seat)
Refusing these changes could mean you’re breaking the law.
How to Adapt Your Property for Disabled Tenants
When renting to a disabled tenant, it’s likely you will need to make some changes to your property in order to make it accessible. These changes very much depend on the individual needs and requirements of the tenant.
Here are some of the ways you may be required to alter your rental property;
Installing Access Ramps
If your tenant uses a wheelchair or mobility scooter and your property has steps up to the entrance or between rooms, you may need to install access ramps at entrances.
Installing Chair Lifts and Railings
For multi-story homes, chair lifts and railings may be required for less able tenants. Railings may also be needed in bathrooms.
Fitting Accessible Kitchen and Bathroom Facilities
Wheelchair users may need lower kitchen and bathroom facilities which are accessible at chair height. Bathrooms may require a wet room and accessible toilets.
Doors and entrance ways may need to be widened to allow for safe wheelchair access. (Usually 750mm)
Raised Plugs and Features
Features such as plugs and light fixtures will need to be accessible to your tenant(s).
Ground Floor Level Access
Some disabled tenants will require ground floor level access. You will need to provide a bathroom, bedroom and kitchen at ground level.
Your tenant may need access to a parking space which is easily accessible from the property.
Written Signs and Documents in Braille
Visually impaired tenants may require all tenancy documents and signs throughout the home to be provided in Braille. This includes features such as fire safety notices. Tenants with learning disabilities may ask for documents provided in alternative formats.
Covering the Costs of Adapting a Property
You may be thinking about the cost of these changes and how you’re going to cover them.
It’s true that some of these adaptations involve significant work, costing around £20,000 to adapt a standard property.
However, there are ways to help cover the costs;
Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG)
Landlords and tenant alike can apply for a disabled facilities grant which provides funds for adaptations. This grant is supplied by the local council and is subject to an eligibility test where an occupational therapist will assess the property and the adaptations needed before making a decision.
The amount you receive depends on the changes needed, but sums of up to £25,000 can be granted.
To apply, contact your local council.
Remember, if you fail to make the necessary changes, it could cost you a whole lot more in legal costs if the case goes to court!
A Helping Hand from No Letting Go
While this information may appear daunting at first, No Letting Go are on hand to help;
- For example, our 360 Virtual Tour and Photography service allows potential tenants to view your property from any location- solving accessibility issues for many disabled tenants.
- Providing a safe, comfortable and accessible home is particularly important when renting to disabled tenants. All of our property services are designed to streamline your workload and ensure your property is fully compliant with current health, safety and legal regulations.
- Once you’ve made these adaptations to your rental property, it’s important to protect your investment. Our professional inventory service helps to safeguard your property by providing evidence of the condition of your property at the start and end of the tenancy.
Discover the rest of our property management services to find out how we could help.
Some believe tenants with criminal convictions are less likely to pay rent, and more likely to cause damage.
However, is it really that simple?
Should you let to tenants with a criminal record? Let’s take a closer look to help you weigh up the different factors.
Why Do Some Landlords Have Their Reservations?
First things first, let’s explore why some landlords have reservations about letting to certain tenants.
All private landlords are looking to safeguard their investment. This means making sure a tenant:
- Can pay rent on time
- Has the right to rent in the UK
- Is unlikely to cause damage to their rental property beyond fair wear and tear
For this reason, many run tenant reference checks to ensure someone doesn’t have a criminal history.
However, someone with a criminal past may not necessarily be a bad tenant. This also works vice versa.
How to Find Out If a Tenant Has a Criminal Past
Asking a tenant for a basic disclosure certificate will show their criminal record. Also, certain reference checks can give you the information you’re looking for.
What to Consider When Running Criminal Record Checks
If you run a background check and discover a prospective tenant has a criminal record, there are some key factors to consider:
What Crime Was Committed?
Some crimes are far more serious than others. You should consider the severity of the offence before deciding whether to rule out a potential tenant or not.
You should also weigh up whether this crime would impact them as a tenant. If someone was caught growing cannabis in your property, for example, this is grounds to serve them with a Section 8 eviction notice.
How Many Crimes Were Committed?
Was the crime a one-off offence or multiple? This should give an indication into whether they’re a reformed character or not. An isolated incident is very different to a long rap sheet.
How Long Ago Was the Crime?
Time is also a significant factor that you should weigh up. How long ago was their crime committed?
Arrests vs. Criminal Convictions
If considering a potential tenant, you need to ensure you only look at convictions – not arrests. Being arrested for something does not make someone guilty of that crime.
Is Anyone Else at Risk?
If you’re letting a HMO, you need to make sure your other tenants won’t be at risk. This involves looking at the nature of the crime; violent offences are very different to others.
Can They Still Pay Rent?
As a landlord, your primary concern will often be to ensure your investment is secure.
Has this criminal conviction prevented them from holding down long-term employment? If so, this may impact their ability to keep up with rental payments.
This is why thorough credit checking is essential.
Is Your Rental Property at Risk?
Does the prospective tenant have a history of arson, or vandalism? This may make you think twice about whether to let to them.
Regular landlord inspections can help you ensure your property is being looked after as agreed.
Tips for Letting to a Tenant With a Criminal Record
If you’ve decided to proceed, here are some tips:
Tenants with unspent criminal convictions can cause havoc for landlords, as they can make their insurance invalid.
You’re not legally required to check if your tenant has a conviction. However, many insurance providers insist you inform them if anyone with a conviction is living in the property.
Some insurance providers may refuse the tenant altogether, while others may increase your premium.
Run Thorough Checks
When it comes to a tenant with previous convictions, being thorough is key.
Don’t take any information at face value, always gather the facts for yourself. If anything seems unclear or vague, ensure you get to the bottom of it.
Meet the Tenant More Than Once
Form your own opinion of the tenant! Remember, you’re letting to a person, so building a relationship is highly important.
Meet them multiple times if possible, and decide for yourself whether you’d like to let to them.
To Let or Not to Let?
While many landlords have their reservations, there are some undeniable positives to letting to tenants with a criminal history:
- May encourage a longer-term tenancy, particularly if they’ve struggled to find somewhere to rent previously
- Builds trust with your tenant, helping to create a positive relationship
- Encourages the tenant to stay loyal, reducing the risk of void periods
You need to weigh up what’s right for you, considering all the factors mentioned above.
Need Help Safeguarding Your Property?
Regardless of who you let to, you need to ensure your property is being looked after properly.
From check in to check out, our property inventory services can help. We’ll make sure you’re compliant with safety regulations. We’ll also reduce the risk of disputes and ensure the terms of the tenancy agreement are being met! Hassle-free renting has benefits for everyone – so we’ll help you get there.
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.
No Letting Go is expanding. With over 65 branches spread across the UK, we are always striving to be the first stop for the nation’s property reporting needs.
Our professional property inventory services are now reaching further afield, with two new offices recently opening in Hertford and Basingstoke. Let us introduce you to the newest members of the No Letting Go team.
No Letting Go Hertford
The new branch of No Letting Go in Hertford, Hertfordshire is being headed up by Moira Hendrick. Moira is an experienced property reporting specialist with a great local knowledge of the property market in the surrounding area. Coming from a background of customer service, administration and management, Moira is well practiced in providing an excellent service for her clients.
When searching for a property franchise opportunity, Moira came across the No Letting Go scheme. According to Moira; “No Letting Go stood out because of reputation, low start up costs and support”. She is looking forward to building her business with the help of her experienced clerk, Danny.
The Herford team pride themselves on going the extra mile for customers, accommodating last minute bookings whenever they can. They welcome any property agent or landlord to get in touch.
07950 007 004
No Letting Go Basingstoke
The new No Letting Go Basingstoke office in Hampshire is run by married couple Rob and Margaret Rymill. While the pair have followed very different career paths, their knowledge of the local area has put them in a fantastic position to lead this branch. Rob has a background in the electronics industry in sales and marketing, while Margaret has spent her career teaching 3-6 year olds in a range of settings.
Both Rob and Margaret hope to spend the next 12 months developing their knowledge of the industry to establish No Letting Go as a centre for property management in the Basingstoke area.
07957 187 268 / 07538 111 718
What is a Property Franchise?
Franchising is the process of buying a ready-made start-up, allowing franchisees to launch their own businesses with the added support and security of a well-known company behind them. A franchise with No Letting Go offers training, branding and the expert knowledge to get your business off on the right foot.
Our Property Management Services
No Letting Go provide a range of professional, unbiased services to help property professionals, lettings agents and landlords manage their investments.
From Legionella risk assessments and CO reports to right to rent checks and vacant property inspections – No Letting Go are here to guarantee no stone is left unturned.
We specialise in property inventory management for which we provide a comprehensive written and photographic report of all items within a property. Using the latest technology to ensure landlords and their representatives recover all costs against tenant deposits, No Letting Go provides a trusted service.
To find out how No Letting Go could help, browse our list of property management services today.
There’s been lots of talk over the last few years around the possibility of abolishing letting agent management fees. Now, it seems, it’s come to fruition. On the 12th February, the Tenant Fees Act 2019 was passed and became law.
While good news for tenants, for lettings agents and landlords, this change requires careful planning. Whichever side of the fence you’re on, it’s helpful to have all of the facts.
That’s why we’ve rounded up all the information about the new letting agent fees ban and what it means for landlords, letting agents, property professionals and tenants.
What are Letting Agent Fees For?
Up until now, letting agents have been legally permitted to charge fees for admin, tenant reference checks and other costs.
The responsibilities of letting agents include sourcing tenants, collecting rent, and acting as a means of communication between tenants and landlords.
Typical letting agent fees for tenants should be around £200 to £300 per tenancy, however some groups argue that this figure has been greatly increased by some rogue agencies. For tenants paying higher costs, this ban comes as welcome relief. However, lettings agents who charge reasonable and necessary fees may think otherwise.
The Government Proposal
The effort to get letting agent fees abolished was driven by the government’s aim to make renting more stable for tenants. With 4.5 million households in England now renting, this market is growing rapidly.
While they accepted that many letting agents provide a legitimate and valuable service, the issue of varying admin fees from agency to agency needed to be addressed.
According to the government, banning agency fees will result in greater transparency for tenants, make moving more affordable and allow landlords to ‘shop around’ to find the best letting agent.
The Tenant Fees Act 2019
The proposal to ban letting fees has been in process for a number of years.
The ball started rolling in April 2017, when the government opened up a dialogue to work on the details of the ban. The aims of the ban were to make renting ‘fairer and easier’ for tenants by making costs more transparent and to improve competition in the rental market. This consultation received responses from tenants (50%), lettings agents (32%), landlords (10%) and other stakeholders (8%).
The Tenant Fees Bill draft was then announced in June during the Queen’s speech at the opening of parliament.
In May 2018, housing secretary James Brokenshire MP introduced the bill to parliament, which then passed through the House of Commons in September.
January of this year saw the ban being passed in parliament which was then cemented as law on the 12th of February as the Tenant Fees Act 2019.
What is the Tenant Fee Ban?
The act sets out the new rules and standards for the ban on letting fees;
- Security deposits cannot be more than the cost of five weeks of rent payments. (Unless rent exceeds £500,000 when it’s capped at six weeks)
- The ban includes capping holding deposits to one weeks rent and making them refundable to the tenant
- The fee to change a tenancy will be capped at £50
- If a landlord or letting agent breaches the requirements, a fine of £5000 is payable in the first instance. If a similar offence has been committed within the last five years, it could be deemed a criminal offence. Prosecution or fines of up to £30,000 could be issued
- The ban will be enforced by Trading Standards who will help tenants recover funds that were unlawfully charged
- Landlords will be unable to seize possession of property via Section 21 until they have repaid any unlawful charges
- Letting agent fee transparency should be extended to property sites such as Zoopla and Rightmove
What Can Landlords and Letting Agents Charge Under the New Act?
Under the new act, property agents will only be permitted to charge for the following;
- Early termination of a tenancy at the tenant’s request. This means the costs to the landlord or letting agent to find tenants will be covered
- Council tax, utilities and communication services
- Payment of damages in the case of breached agreements
- Late rent payment
- Replacing keys etc.
Can Letting Agents Still Charge Fees?
Currently, yes. The ban only comes into play on the 1st June 2019. Until the letting agent fees ban date, this practice is still legal.
However, if you’re a landlord or letting agent you might want to start thinking about this change and what plans to put in place.
The Impact of the Ban on Landlords and Agents
One issue that is being raised regarding the ban is the possible impact on landlords. Some are arguing that the ban will result in charges being passed on from letting agents to landlords.
This, they argue, is counterproductive as it means landlords may be forced to raise monthly rent collections in order to make up costs.
The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) for example, are against the ban and believe that instead of an outright abolishment, fees should be ‘open, transparent and reasonable’. In response to the Government ban, ARLA recommend that upfront fees should be banned, but letting agents should be allowed to spread these costs across the tenancy.
They believe that a blanket ban would ‘put additional pressures on landlords, with fewer tenant checks and a lower quality of service’ and that ‘spreading the cost of these services will allow letting agents to retain current service levels to tenants’.
The Impact on Inventory Management
One suggested outcome of the ban is that letting agents will start to take inventory services ‘in-house’. A guide has been created by TDS, Propertymark and the Association of Independant Inventory Clerks (AIIC) to provide information on avoiding disputes regarding poorly executed inventories and deposit deductions.
Speaking on the report, the AIIC encouraged unbiased, comprehensive reports to protect all parties involved. Similarly, Propertymark highlighted the importance of a thorough inventory and the need for an ‘evidence-based approach’ to protect investments for both landlords and tenants.
Be Prepared with No Letting Go
Whichever stance you take, it‘s best to prepare for the changes early.
If you’re a landlord or letting agent looking to get ahead and prepare for the changes, No Letting Go can help.
We offer reliable, professional property management services to help you stay on top of your responsibilities and protect your investment. From property inventory reports to appraisals and tenant checks, No Letting Go helps protect your property for the long term.
Browse our full range of services here to see how we can help.