Sam Macdonald, Lettings Negotiator at iConn Property Management writes:
Our new lettings list for July 2013 – June 2014 is now available, click on the image below to view in full
Early signs show a busy student market for this year so are not expecting these properties to be on the market for long.
Iris O’Connell, Managing Director of iConn Property Management writes:
iConn Property Management are pleased to announce the marriage of our colleague Vicky Cranthorne to Colin Alun Owen.
Some of our clients and tenants may have noticed the name change already! 😉
Thank you to the new Mr & Mrs Owen for sharing their magical day with us and we wish you much love and happiness for the future.
Vicky Owen, Office Manager at iConn Property Management writes:
Over the past few years the way we advertise and market properties to rent has evolved dramatically! Prospective tenants have replaced peering in the window fronts of local agents with anytime internet search sites giants like Rightmove, Primelocation and Findaproperty.
In a age where Internet is King – with nearly 98% of our sucessfully let properties coming from an internet enquiry, it is important for us to keep up with our prospective tenant habits.
We now take “Featured Property” slots on the three largest property portals – www.rightmove.com; www.primelocation.com; www.zoopla.com meaning that our clients properties are advertised at the top of the page, seperating them from the competition, highlighting them first and giving their properties a head start.
Now we see another change to the media market with the use of social media sites becoming more popular and opening companies out to interactive, on the spot feedback; the biggest being Facebook and Twitter… even the mighty property portals now provide links for people to “Like” or “Share” their properties on their page!
We have now signed up to PropertyPlace which is an app on these sites created to advertise properties which has over 10,000 monthly users showing the evolution of these social sites to a place of advertising potential.
Our social media sites are growing by the day, with our company Facebook page having nearly 350 likes, our Twitter account has over 600 followers coupled with our blog following and our LinkedIn sites and the new Google+ page – we are bringing our properties to a new market.
Although this highlights the benefits to our Clients as this new advertising potential unfolds, there is a huge benefit to the prospective tenants – social media is instant, with property portals taking up to 24 hours to update their new listings – social sites provide an exclusivity in a fast moving rental market. It provides interaction for the customer not only with the company that is advertising but also with their friends: liking a property or commenting on a post spreads their activity to all their friends who then comment with advice or provide feedback for that person.
The secret to this social media growth is connectivity, interesting and relevant posts and recommendations. Please take a moment to explore our sites and by providing recommendations or getting involved and interactive with us helps us to broaden our auidence which in turn benefits our clients and tenants.
Click on the links to join in:
You can link with our personal Linkedin Profiles here to:
Iris O’Connell, Managing Director of iConn Property Management writes:
I am writing to advise you of a Government initiative which takes effect from January 2013.
In order to detail and explain the initiative clearly, I have taken abstracts from literature from The Department of Energy & Climate Change for your information.
The Green Deal is a government initiative to improve energy efficiency in UK households; its aim is to encourage people to make their homes more energy efficient in a cost effective way. The scheme will be available to home owners and tenants (with the consent of their landlords) and has also been extended to businesses.
The scheme lets customers pay for some or all of the improvements over time through their electricity bill. A home assessment will be undertaken by a Green Deal assessor who will create a report recommending the best improvements to minimise the utility bills in your home. If you are interested, you will be able to choose a Green Deal provider who will offer you a quote for a Green Deal Plan and access to the finance. The financial package is not a loan; although interest is added to the final total. The debt is attached to your property rather than you or the tenant, so it will not be means tested, therefore credit checks will not be undertaken.
In order to have any improvements undertaken, the improvements must be eligible under the Green Deal and recommended for your house following your home assessment. These measures will be expected to be able to show real savings over the repayment period. This is the Golden Rule of the Green Deal which states that the expected savings made from the home improvement must be the same or greater than the total cost of implementing the improvement itself. This rule protects the property owner, ensuring that they are not paying back more money as a result of the Green Deal scheme than they are actually saving on their energy bills.
Once the home improvements have been undertaken, the Green Deal will be paid back in installments attached to the electricity bill. The repayments will be affordable to everyone as they will be based on the savings made by the household as a result of the new home improvements.
In order for the home improvements to be beneficial, the Golden Rule states that you should not be paying more money on your repayments than you are saving on your utility bill. For example, if you have had new insulation fitted, and this gives you a saving of £25.00 on your heating bill each month, then you will be expected to pay less than £25.00 on your repayments.
Additionally, the length of time for the repayments should not exceed the expected lifetime of the home improvements itself. For example, if solar panels were to be installed and they have an expected lifespan of 30 years, then the repayments should not last any longer than 30 years.
Your tenant needs your permission before taking out a Green Deal. If your tenant wishes to take out a Green Deal Plan, they will first need your agreement to both the improvements and the financial aspects of the plan, If you do not agree to all, some or any of the assessors recommendations; the tenant is not permitted to proceed.
Click on the link for the official brochure provided by The Department of Energy & Climate Change for a comprehesive guide:
If you require any further information, please feel free to contact me.
Iris O’Connell, Managing Director of iConn Property Management writes:
iConn works very closely with the Body Shop in Canterbury and supports their ethos.
They source raw ingredients from all around the world and their products are 100% vegetarian.
The Body Shop trades fairly and THEY NEVER TEST ON ANIMALS!! So….keep a beautiful face, body and mind and buy from the Body Shop.
Vicky Cranthorne M.A.R.L.A, Office Manager for iConn Property Management writes:
To help you get the best out of your property investment, iConn Property Management have come up with a few ideas to get you on the road to success.
Set a bit of money aside each month
in case of any works/repairs that arise. This way, you won’t miss the money so much, and if there are no repairs that need doing during the year, you can buy yourself an extra little something at the end of the year!
Improve neighbourhood relations
and hire a monthly gardener. This will keep the local residents happy and your property will always look nice and tidy.
Look into updating furniture
this will make your property more appealing when it comes to re-marketing.
By spending a little more time and money on your property now will help reduce maintenance problems in the future.
Get ahead in the student market
Most tenants find it hard to keep on top of bills with all the essays they have to write! Include broadband in the monthly rental and make it more appealing to students.
arrange for the roofs, gutters, drains to be checked regularly to avoid any major problems.
Get in the know
iConn Property Management are happy to advise you of any recent changes in laws and regulations, just give us a call and we will be happy to help!
Sam Douglas, for iConn Property Management writes:
These tips listed in our welcome packs may come in useful for some of our tenants:
Please clean your filter regularly on your washing machine, normally located on the front at the bottom of the machine. This is often the cause for the washing machine to stop working or stop draining properly. Also ensure you do not over fill the powder drawer.
Please clean the filter regularly as failure to do so is likely to cause the tumble dryer to overheat and stop working.
If any other electrical appliances fail to function correctly, please call the office and we will organise for the appliance to be repaired, replaced or removed.
Light Bulbs and Shades
It is the responsibility of the tenants to replace light bulbs when they have blown and to replace any damaged shades when they leave.
Pictures and posters.
We appreciate that tenants may wish to put pictures and posters up, however please be aware that using substances like blu tac may cause damage to the wall covering or paint work. You are responsible for any repairs required when you leave.
Windows and Curtains
Please ensure that all windows are closed when the property is unattended. You can be sure that insurance companies will not pay out if windows are left open and you have been broken into when you have left the property unsecure.
Heat sensors and smoke detectors.
They are not to be removed, disconnected or the batteries taken out. If the batteries fail, you are responsible for replacing them. Please note that disconnecting or removing the batteries long term will invalidate any insurance taken out by yourselves or the landlord.
Any issue with infestation i.e. wasp nests, bees nest, mice etc are the responsibility of the tenant. The issue should be reported directly to the environmental department at Canterbury City Council. Please do not encourage any unwanted pets by leaving rubbish inside or outside the property long term. It can be costly for a contractor to be called out to sort such issues and on top of that, there are obvious health implications to consider. You will be charged if we have to send out a contractor.
Guttering & Drains
All guttering and drain maintenance for the property is again the responsibility of the tenants as laid out in the tenancy agreement.
Drains block very easily, most common causes are food and oil being put down the kitchen sink and hair from showers and baths. Last year we had numerous reports of blocked drains; all reports were caused by tenants and in all cases the tenants had to pay the bill as they were responsible for causing the problem.
Tenants are reminded that there is to be NO SMOKING inside of the property
If iConn manages the property, your Landlord has instructed us to carry out periodic property inspections. The inspections are to ensure that the property is being looked after by yourself and for any maintenance repairs that may be required as part of your Landlord’s obligations. We will write to you in advance notifying you of any inspections that may be due, giving you the opportunity to be present whilst the inspection is being carried.
Sam Macdonald, Lettings Negotiator for iConn Property Management writes:
ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents) supplies lots of answers to common questions which tenants might need to know.
This link takes tenants direct to their website: https://www.arla.co.uk/information/tenants/rights-of-access/
Here is one of the questions I spotted earlier which I thought would be useful to know:
What About Rights Of Access To The Property, What Are The Rules?
A landlord, or his agent, or someone authorised to act on his behalf has a right to view the property to assess its condition and to carry out necessary repairs or maintenance at reasonable times of the day. The law says that a landlord or agent must give a tenant at least 24 hours prior notice in writing (except in an emergency) of such a visit. Naturally, if the tenant agrees, on specific or odd occasions to allow access without the 24 hours prior written notice, that is acceptable. [A clause in the tenancy agreement which tries to diminish or over-ride a tenant’s rights in this respect would be void and unenforceable.]
We are pleased to announce that iConn are sponsors of the ‘Kent Student Law Society’
They are one of the largest societies on the University of Kent’s Canterbury Campus and represent students who study Law.
iConn are pleased to announce they are the proud sponsers of the Herne Bay Harriers Under 11s football team!
The team are just starting a new session under the coaching management of Shaun Burgess and Ian O’Sullivan and have gone from the bottom of the league winning no games to finishing 4th last year. Training every Thursday at Herne Bay High School their 1st game for the season is away against Chartham Sports FC on Sunday 16th September at 2pm.
The team is Captained by Aaron Launghton and their goalkeeper Josh Tickner got picked to play for Crystal Palace after his trial.
We wish them all the best for the season!
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