What do we do about house bills?
Often students will ask us how much their bills will be, it is very hard to say as obviously your bills are based on your usage….so if you have the lights on a lot, a telly in each room, heating on constant and nice hot baths everyday your bills are going to be higher then the house that are more conscientious of their usage.
Our advice would be to all sit down when you arrive and work out a budget to all put in a pot each month. You will need to consider your gas, electric, water rates and TV license payments then any additional extras you would all like…telephone, internet, Sky TV, regular window cleaner or gardener?! Work out how much this will cost you on a monthly basis and then divide it by the number of housemates. Then as the bills come in you can review and adjust your costings accordingly. It’s a good idea to pay the same amount for your gas and electric each month as although you may not use the heating in the summer months your winter bills will be higher so it will even out over the year instead of being caught with a large bill at the end of winter. If you do want to pay more on a pay as you go basis then remember to always take meter readings as the bills comes in. Companies will often estimate your usage and so if you haven’t been there they may be charging you for more usage, if you call them with your actual meter readings they will adjust the bill and you will only ever pay for what you have actually used.
When your tenancy starts either your landlord or iConn will take meter readings for your gas and electric meters. If we complete your inventory we will notify the utility companies of your details and the bills will begin to arrive at the property in your name. If your landlord completes your inventory, either they will notify the companies or they will provide you with the details of who to call to complete this yourself.
Remember that you are responsible for bills from when your tenancy starts so just because you pay half rent over the summer months does not mean that bills will not accumulate over the summer months. Obviously your gas and electric bills will be minimal if you are not in occupation but other utilities like the water companies have a standard charge for the year and so there bill will still be payable.
If you are all students in your household you will be exempt from Council Tax. We will notify the council of your details but they will write to you separately when you arrive to confirm your details.
The Television Licence Fee is the responsibility of the tenant. You can arrange payment of a new license or transfer an old one by telephoning 0300 555 0281 or online at
Some properties have Sky Dishes installed; however they will not be activated. If your property does not have a Sky Dish and you wish to have one installed, you must get permission from the landlord first by contacting us. Once permission is granted, you are responsible for any installation costs, ongoing bills and any contract you have with sky. You can contact Sky on 08705 800 874 or apply online www.sky.com
Most properties have telephone lines / internet connection already installed but they may not be activated when you arrive as the current tenants may take their line with them. Due to data protection we are not allowed to organise the connection of the phone line for you. Telephone lines are installed by BT and you can arrange connection/activation with them by calling 0800 800 150 or online at www.bt.com/Choices . This also applies to internet/Broadband connections. There are many different providers some include, BT Internet, AOL, Tiscalli and Freeserve.
Sam Douglas, Accounts Co-Ordinator for iConn Property Management writes:
We have an Emergency out of hours service set up to cover our office when we are closed over a weekend or a bank holiday.
During this period faults should be reported as follows:
Plumbing / Gas Heating / Electrics / Appliance Breakdown
CHP Electrical 07809728721
Locks / Keys to
APT Howfield 01227 458999
Please note that if you have a British Gas CELSIA / Homecare contract in place you should call them in the first instance as usual.
Alternatively if your message is not urgent then please leave a message on our answerphone on 01227 765008 and we will respond to your message our return.
Iris O’Connell, Managing Director for iConn Property Management writes:
We are pleased to welcome the new member of our team….. Elvis!!
He’s all shook up in his new heartbreak hotel fish tank but I’m sure he will settle in soon.
Feel free to pop in to say hello!
Vicky Cranthorne, Office Manager for iConn Property Management writes:
For new students for 2012:
Hope you are all enjoying your summer; Just so you are all aware what is required from you in order to collect keys for your student property in September, I have included a tick list for you to use to check, below.
Obviously, if you have already collected your keys you can just ignore this message.
Key collection is available from the 1st September 2011 from our office 26a Castle Street, Canterbury, Kent CT1 2PU.
Our office hours on a Saturday are 9am – 1pm. If you are going to arrive later please contact me, in advance, and we will see if we can arrange something for you.
- If your property keys are issued by your landlord you will be emailed separately to confirm this but you must still attend the office before going to the property to collect your welcome packs
- If your tenancy is starting after the 1st September your keys will be available from the date on your tenancy agreement.
If any of you have any questions or queries please contact me.
Each tenant must have a signed guarantor agreement in place.
NO KEYS RELEASED TO ANY TENANT
RENT AND ADMIN FEES
There must be no arrears on ANY tenants account.
This includes Summer rent, Admin fees and September rent.
NO KEYS RELEASED TO ANY TENANT
Can be signed in the office on key collection
NO KEY RELEASED FOR INDIVIDUAL TENANT
STANDING ORDER FORM
Complete in office on key collection.
Those without one already in place will be asked to pay their September rent or prove payment. (see above note for Rent and Admin)
NO KEY RELEASED FOR INDIVIDUAL TENANT
Photocopy will be taken on key collection.
NO KEY RELEASED FOR INDIVIDUAL TENANT
Vicky Cranthorne, Office Manager at iConn Property Management, Canterbury writes:
When reading the paper this week I noticed an advertisement to remind residents in our area to re-tune their TVs as changes are being made to the transmitter on the 27th June 2012.
Thought this information may be useful to some of you too:
Full details are on the website: http://www.digitaluk.co.uk/how_do_i_switch/connections__and__retuning/retuning_instructions
Sam MacDonald, Lettings Negotiator for iConn Property Management writes:
Those taking houses with us for next year please read these 3 points to make sure there is nothing that you have missed that could lead to problems with your tenancy:
- All monies and paperwork should be completed now. This means your rental payment for summer half rent or full rent if occupying and your administration fee should be paid. Your standing order form should be completed, your guarantor agreement received, your tenancy agreement signed and photo ID been copied on file. Those who are abroad or away from Canterbury can sign their tenancy agreement and produce ID when they collect keys as long as all other obligations have been met.
- If you require storage for July or August you should have registered in writing to the office. If you haven’t we can not guarantee access. Renewal tenants staying on at the same property do not need to complete this.
- If you are paying full rent from July then you should have confirmed what date you will be collecting the keys for occupation. Renewal tenants staying on at the same property do not need to complete this.
If you and your housemates have done all of the above then your tenancy is secure and you need not worry.
If you or people in your group have not – you will be receiving notification shortly that you tenancy is unsecure. If this is you – please act now.
Sam Douglas, Accounts Co-Ordinator for iConn Property Management writes:
For student tenants who are finishing their current contracts:
1. All keys must be returned to the office by 30th June 2012. You must provide a forwarding address, a valid email address and a contact number in order for your deposit to be released. Any keys not returned by this date will incur a daily rental charge up until the 6th July 2012 when the locks will be changed and the cost applied to the deposit.
2. Your check out report will be emailed to your nominated email by the latest Tuesday 24th July 2012. You must have access to reply as we can not proceed with the refund until we have received written confirmation from you in the form of a response to our email.
3. Please ensure you have complied with the Before you leave instructions sent over on the 8th May. These instructions can be found on the website: http://www.iconnproperties.co.uk/student_information.php
Contrary to popular belief we really would like for you to have NO deposit dilapidations; the company does not benefit at all from any deposit monies deducted and actually all it does is create a lot of work for us. Please try your best to ensure the houses are returned in an acceptable order. Please refer to your inventories and photos provided on check in.
Unless you live alone or have your own tenancy agreement – you are on a joint and several contract – this means you are all as liable as each other to ensure the property is returned in an acceptable order.
Warning: Please speak and arrange things between you as a group as once the check out is complete you can not change anything. We can not be involved with the debates between tenants of who did what and who did not!. The deposit will be treated as a whole amount not individually so please work as a group.
Renewing Tenants staying on in same house:
1. Unless you have paid full rent to occupy July & August you must return your key.
2. You do not need to provide deposit return details as your deposit is held over to your next tenancy
3. You do not need to prepare the house for check out so the departure advice is not related to you.
Vicky Cranthorne, Office Manager from iConn Property Management writes:
Our friends from Propertyads have provided us with their top tips for Landlords – Hope you find them useful.
Top tips for landlords considering buy-to-let properties
Buy-to-let properties can be an excellent way to supplement your income or your pension, and a little research and a bit of clever property market know-how can help you make the most out of your buy-to-let property. So if you’re considering adding a little extra to your pocket each month, here are our top tips for potential landlords looking at getting into buy-to-let properties.
1. Investigate the best area for good investment Before you buy a property, you have to think about what kind of tenant you want, and where you want to buy. Your rental property doesn’t even need to be in the same city! For example, buy-to-let properties in Sheffield and Canterbury, student cities, are a great investment. Each year new students arrive to study, and each year they need additional accommodation. Investing in a student area is an excellent idea when you’re looking for almost-guaranteed income. Much like student rental properties, investing in a business-oriented city near a financial district such as Canary Wharf in London will be a costly venture, but will also help you to secure a tenant relatively easily.
2. Decorate for demand to cater to your tenants Decorate and furnish your home according to your ideal tenant’s requirements. If you’ve bought a buy-to-let property in Canterbury, for example, make sure that each bedroom is furnished with a bed and a desk to allow multiple students to rent out the rooms. A large living room and plenty of storage space in the kitchen are also preferential, so make sure you don’t clutter it up with unnecessary décor.
3. Plan for empty flats As a landlord with a buy-to-let property, it’s important that you make financial provision for empty flats. If you’re unable to find a tenant you will still need to make mortgage repayments. Make sure you have access to funds if you need to do this. Another option would be to sign with a rental agency that guarantees rentals for your flats so that you’re always covered, or take out an insurance policy that insures you against non-payment of rent during a rental agreement.
4. Write in increases to your tenancy agreements and set up a direct debit Make sure that you write in annual increase agreements in your tenancy contracts to make the most out of your rental property. Setting up a direct debit agreement will guarantee the rental income on a particular day (instead of collecting funds on different days each month when the tenant remembers to pay)
5. Protect your property with insurance Landlord’s insurance can help you protect yourself against unpaid rental, theft by tenants, or damage to a property due to tenant negligence or weather damage. A good insurance policy is a good investment when you’re in the landlord market to make money out of your buy-to-let property – especially if it is situated in a different city to your own residence
If you are looking to grow your portfolio or first time invest into the property market in the Canterbury area please contact us for free independent advice.
We have worked with iConn for a number of years during which they have let our properties in the Canterbury area. We are enjoying excellent service form the agent and the team members with speedy responses to our queries, prompt appointments and viewings and an efficient execution of referencing and contract provision. The staff are always friendly and polite which makes it a pleasure to do business on this basis.
The service I have had from iConn has been excellent.
What I rate most highly about iConn is their punctual correspondence, their ability to take the initiative in my interest, and their help with difficult problems. Monthly statements from iConn have never been late and are always well explained, particularly when there are delays in payments from tenants or additional costs due to work on the flat.
Sometimes they need to act quickly, and as I live in London, they have acted very effectively with only a quick nod from me, saving me considerable time.
A year ago, I had a difficult tenant who refused to pay rent. iConn was enormously helpful in leading me through the legal process that recovered my money. They also provide me with very helpful information regarding my tax statements, and always respond promptly.
I have had the pleasure of working with the whole team at iConn, who work together in a very efficient manner, and would recommend them strongly to anyone seeking an efficient and friendly letting agency.
My wife and I invested some money into two properties for rent almost two years ago. We had heard stories about bad tenants and the problems that could bring and so we were a little anxious. Not having any previous experience as landlords we approached iConn Property Management and we were very much assured by their professionalism.
iConn explained what was required but basically did all the work for us, including finding the right tenants, drawing up contracts and making sure we had the right insurance and safety certificates. The company regularly carry out inspections of our properties and keep us informed. In short, my wife and I can relax knowing that our properties are in good hands. We would certainly recommend iConn Property Management to anyone who has property to rent.
My experience of iConn has been very good. In comparison to the other two Agencies that I use the service provided by iConn is the best. I am able to rely on the income arriving in my bank account on time and the statement arriving in the post. I have also been alerted immediately to any maintenance needs and given good support in terms of getting quotations and then overseeing the work. I am happy to commend iConn.
I have used iConn as my letting agent for over ten years and during that time I have been delighted with the level of service I have received. Over those years I have been consistently impressed with the professionalism and expertise shown by all iConn staff. I take the view that iConn has a very clear philosophy which includes providing a service second to none. I would recommend iConn to anyone with property to rent without reservation.
We came to iConn from an agent that was always asking us to reduce rent and offering incentives to the tenants; because of this attitude we always felt that the agent was working for the tenant rather that us. We were pleasantly surprised with the complete reversal in the attitude to us with iConn. They are most professional in their attitude, but always there to help and give us advice, and nothing is too much trouble. They keep us up to date with emails and phone calls; the money side of the company is always professional and correct, which was not so our previous agents. We have never had a year when our houses are not let. Thanks to iConn we can relax and definitely get our ‘moneys worth’.
I moved to iConn after many years with another letting agent and was immediately impressed by their professionalism and set up. The team are friendly, engaging and helpful. When on the very odd occasion I have had to rise an issue or concern regarding my tenancy, it is soon resolved in an effective and efficient manner. Their communication is good and overall service is excellent. It is a world apart from the service I had received from my previous agent. Overall I am extremely content with their service, professionalism and overall letting package. I am clear they are well ahead of their competitors and have recommended them to family and other landlords as a very satisfied customer and landlord!
iConn and their predecessors have marketed our property for six years. They have always given us sound advice and Vicky Cranthorne in particular has always gone “the extra mile” to help. The new e-mail Bulletin has regular updates on matters of interest to landlords and tenants as well as more light-hearted items, which make it palatable.
We have been using iConn Property Management Ltd for the past three years. We have always found the staff incredibly helpful with all enquiries we’ve had.
They provide a very professional and friendly service. If ever we have a problem or issue it is always resolved in a matter of hours where other agencies in the past have taken much longer even to acknowledge the issue. Having built up a rapport with the staff, it makes it easier for all when looking for a new property as the team already know our likes and dislikes.
We have always received a quality service from iConn. They care about you, your situation and how you want to live, they don’t just forget about you when you sign the contract. We would recommend them to anyone looking for a Property Management / Lettings company
From the start I have been impressed with the efficiency of iConn. Tenants were found within a couple of days for our property and all matters relating to it have been dealt with efficiently and well. I would have no hesitation in using iConn again in the future.
We have used iConn Property Management since September 2007 and have been very grateful for their continued support and reliable service. We have been successful in always having our property let throughout this period. iConn have been nothing but professional in ensuring that our flat is always occupied; from advertising, organising tenant viewings, and finally agreeing contracts, iConn have also proved very helpful in organising routine maintenance and upkeep on the flat. iConn have taken the trouble out of renting our property. With a husband in the Royal Navy, two small children and living more than 100 miles away from the property their service has proved invaluable. I would have no hesitation in recommending iConn to others.
I was unhappy with their services of another agent and came across iConn. I spoke with Iris O’Connell and was very impressed with her professionalism and experience and took the decision to instruct iConn as the new Agent for the property.
In comparison to a similar level of service received elsewhere, I can honestly say that I am very confident that iConn work hard to ensure that my flat is occupied and well maintained and always seem happy to go that little bit further. I am secure in the knowledge that my flat is in “safe hands” which affords me the luxury of having a rental property that I don’t really have to worry about. They keep me regularly updated on both my flat and industry requirements/standards and endeavour to go further by providing handy hints and tips via newsletters etc. Any items that are required are fully investigated and I do feel that they try to get the best deal for me when it comes to any maintenance costs. Their fully managed service provides exactly that: a very high standard in managed service requiring very little input from me.
I couldn’t be happier with the service I receive and furthermore, the level of service has not waned or declined at all and remains at the same high standard as when I first instructed them.
I would give them the highest possible rating based on the fact that 1) I receive an impeccable service 2) I have had no reason for complaint 3) my flat is kept in good condition by tenants 4) I receive a good deal of relevant communication in a timely fashion 5) my flat is regularly occupied despite quite a high turnover of tenants 6) a pretty seamless service between rental and maintenance departments 7) they don’t have a call centre.. if I need to speak to someone about my flat I just call iConn and speak with someone that actually knows the property and finally 8) they answer their phones quickly and if the individual I need to speak to isn’t available I know that someone else can help or that the person required will get back to me in a timely fashion.
iConn definitely receive my seal of approval (and I can be a fussy customer!)
I have been using iConn in it’s various stages of development for the last fifteen years as a rental agency for my house in Canterbury. The company has been extremely professional in finding suitable tenants every year, maintaining the house in good condition and relaying problems, suggestions and legal matters promptly to me by mail and E-mail to my addresses abroad. This year my family will be returning to take up permanent residence at our Canterbury home, and I can heartily recommend the company to anyone who wishes to either rent out or rent an abode in the Canterbury area.
iConn has been my letting agent for the last 7 years and undertakes a full management service for me. I have been impressed with the efficient manner in which they have undertaken this role and the professional way they handle issues. As a ‘distant’ landlord, I rely on effective communication, timely resolution of issues whilst keeping me fully informed of developments. In each of these aspects I rate them highly. During the tenure of my agreement with iConn thus far, the accounting aspect has been first rate with rental income invariably paid on time and any missing sums urgently pursued. I very much value the relationship and look forward to it continuing for many more years.
We have 2 properties which have been let by iConn since around 2005. I only have positive words to say about iConn, the staff that we have contact with (namely Vicky) is always helpful, friendly and efficient. Any problems have been dealt with professionally and swiftly and therefore we have the utmost confidence in them. I also know that they are helpful to our tenants. We have the pick of lettings agents here in Canterbury, but as we receive such an excellent service, I have no reason to move my business elsewhere – a completely satisfied customer on all counts!
The service level of iConn in terms of professional communication on all matters from tenancy agreement, proactive property inspections, quotations for works required etc. and looking after the landlords interest as if the property is their own is better than I have experienced from any other letting agent. With iConn’s managed services package I’m confident our properties are in good hands and therefore have not had to visit our properties that are managed by them for the last 8 years.
I have a small portfolio of buy to lets and over the years I have dealt with many estate/lettings agents. The reason I have had experience of several lettings agencies is that I have invariably found that although they have initially been keen to make a good impression, their management of my properties has deteriorated over time. This has resulted in me switching agents, and so the cycle would be repeated …..until I discovered iConn.
Iris O’Connell leads a dedicated team who have managed my properties as if they were their own. They have offered sound, impartial and professional advice and competitive fees. They provide a Rolls Royce Service and I have had no hesitation in recommending them to other landlords. They most certainly deserve to win the Lettings Agency of the Year Award. Whether they win or not, they will always be Number 1 Letting Agent for me. I commend them to you.
We have been associated with iConn for four years and have found the company to be very efficient and professional. Any queries we have had have always been promptly and clearly answered. On visiting your office one is met by a warm and business-like atmosphere. It is good to know that, if one asks iConn staff to sort a problem it will be diplomatically dealt with. All communications from the company can be relied upon with confidence.
Although we are new clients of iConn Property Management we have been impressed by their knowledge of legislation governing the rental market.
Having been badly let down by our previous agent we immediately felt that iConn offered a professional and more importantly a ‘caring’ service. The advice and assistance (given free) in resolving our previous difficulties was first class and enabled a smooth transition in the takeover of our property. The staff are well versed in customer relations and provide a competent efficient and friendly service. In comparison to the services other agencies provide iConn are market leaders. We look forward to enjoying a long and happy business relationship with them
iConn Property Management have always provided a top quality service, I have let my property through them for over four years and I hope there will be many more years to come. They maintain an honest approach and always keep my informed as to the progress of letting my property. Over the four years there has never been a void period and this is down to hard working fully trained staff and quality marketing. I will certainly not be using any other agent and would recommend iConn to any Landlord.
iConn have at all times been most professional and helpful. I have had other properties which have been handled by well known agents and none has reached the high standard of service that I have had from iConn.