Posts tagged consider when lettings
First-time buyers outnumbering buy-to-let purchasers by three to one – iConn Property Management, Canterbury0
Rosalind Renshaw from Property Industry Eye reveals the turn around with the sales market;
There were 311,700 mortgages issued to first-time buyers last year. While the figure was the same as 2014, the amount borrowed – £46.7bn – was the highest since 2007.
Home movers took out 365,800 loans for house purchase, down fractionally (0.2%) on 2014. Again, though, the amount, at £72.1bn, was the highest since 2007.
Buy-to-let lending rose by both volume (up by 28%) and by value (up 39%), and that too was at its highest since 2007.
Despite the rise in buy-to-let lending, last year first-time buyers outnumbered buy-to-let purchasers with mortgages by three to one.
Only 41% of buy-to-let mortgages were for house purchase, a total of £15.6bn. The bulk of buy-to-let lending was in the form of re-mortgaging – something which buy-to-let borrowers constantly do as they seek out better deals.
John Heron, managing director of Paragon Mortgages, said: “A common accusation levelled at buy-to-let landlords is that they have an unfair advantage over home-buyers.
“The data would suggest this is not the case, with buy-to-let purchases making up only 11.6% of all purchases.
“First-time buyers accounted for three times as many transactions as buy-to-let purchasers.”
Separately, the Office for National Statistics has said that average house prices ended last year at £301,000 in England, £175,000 in Wales, £193,000 in Scotland and £148,000 in Northern Ireland.
The highest average house price in England was in London at £536,000, and the lowest was in the north-east at £155,000.
The ONS puts annual house price inflation last year at 7.3% in England, 1.0% in Wales, -0.2% in Scotland and 1.5% in Northern Ireland.
Here Rightmove advise on the dos and don’ts of being a landlord:
Managing a residential lettings property means covering all the bases – a combination of common sense, practical organisation and using a letting agent who signs up to the standards of a professional body such as ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents).
Alongside this there are a range of basic do’s and don’ts; ARLA President, Peter Savage, highlights these below.
Notify your mortgage and insurance providers
Speak to your lender about your mortgage terms. Letting a property requires a different form of mortgage to owner-occupation and the same applies to insurance so discuss the change with your provider as buildings and contents may not be covered. It is also worth taking out insurance to protect against a tenant defaulting on rent.
Sign up to Deposit Protection
It has been a legal requirement for Assured Shorthold Tenancy deposits to be protected by a government backed scheme since 2007. For more information, visit our page Deposit Protection or go to the Communities and Local Government website.
The pros and cons of furnishings
A furnished property can be let at a higher monthly rental however if the furnishings are second-hand or ‘leftover’ it can deter prospective tenants. You also need to consider whether everything meets Furniture and Furnishing Regulations.
Pipework, appliances and flues must be maintained in safe condition. Gas appliances should be serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If these are not available it is recommended that they are serviced annually unless advised otherwise by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
There are also regulations governing the installation of electrical equipmentin rental properties – ensure that these are being followed and that any equipment in the property is regularly tested, as you will need to prove your property is safe.
Enlisting a managing agent to oversee the property can help you to overcome all of these hurdles, especially if you are moving away from the area. At the very least work with a lettings agent to find your tenant as this helps to make the process smoother and can ensure that your tenants have undergone checks. Select the agent carefully, always use a professional agent (such as ARLA members) to ensure client money protection thereby securing both your money – and that of your tenants’ – and access to a redress scheme should it be required.
Finally, when making decisions about letting out your home, try to remember that you are handing it over and hopefully creating an income stream. It may have been your home or that of someone else in the family but you now need to allow someone else to make their home in it me for someone else and, hopefully, an income stream for you. The chances are that accidental damage or wear-and-tearwillhappen, and tenantswillcomplain – so try and keep a clear, detached head when dealing with those kinds of issues, and don’t take it personally.
For all of you students securing your accommodation for the next academic year, check out this useful article from Rightmove, which details helpful tips regarding council tax, bills and other relevant paperwork:
Student Council Tax Exemption
If you live in University halls or live in a shared house where all the occupants are full-time students, you will be exempt from paying council tax.
The definition of a full time student would be someone enrolled in an educational programme lasting at least one year and which you are expected to attend for at least 24 weeks out of the year and study for at least 21 hours per week during term. Or, you are under 20 and your course leads to a qualification up to A Level standard (or equivalent), lasts more than three months and comprises more than 12 hours of study per week.
There are some other categories of students who may also be eligible. You can always check with the National Union of Students for advice by calling 0871 2218 221.
If you live with someone who does not fulfill these criteria, you may still be eligible for a discounted council tax rate so check with your local council.
The bills you have to pay when renting student accommodation vary enormously depending on the landlord or agent.
Traditionally, as a household, you will be responsible for TV license, gas, water, electricity, phone and internet. However, to entice you as a tenant, sometimes some of these are included in the rent.
Students should always check if something is included, if is it capped (i.e. if you use a certain amount of electricity, are you likely to suddenly get a huge bill?) and also if the rate that is “included” is unrealistically high (i.e. you would never use that much gas and so the landlord will end up in profit).
The best way to check is to ask the previous tenants if you can see their bills so you can make a comparison between the average rent for the street and how much these “included bills” are costing.
How to pay
If you do have to pay bills as a household, there are companies who can look after this for you by taking a certain amount of money each month from each tenant and then splitting it amongst the bills equally. They will usually charge a fee for this but it can solve issues that you may have otherwise such as arguing over water usage or someone always covering someone else’s share. Your letting agent can usually recommend someone.
Otherwise, you will need someone to take charge of paying bills and ensuring that there is enough to cover them monthly.
What else can you expect?
- You should be given an inventory to check for the contents of the property, and their condition. If not, then make sure you do one yourself and take photos of any damage so you are not liable when you move out
- A recent Gas Safety Certificate
- An EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) for the property
- A Fire Safety Certificate if you have a furnished property
- Current gas/electricity meter readings. If not, take your own readings as soon as you move in
- You will need to sort out your own contents insurance – make sure it sufficiently covers all your belongings including laptops and musical instruments. (Also, read the small print – you won’t be covered if you leave doors and windows unlocked!)
- You will need to arrange to collect the keys on the day of the tenancy agreement start date (you may be able to leave belongings in the property over the summer months by prior agreement and usually at a reduced rent)
- Moving Day! Picking your room and moving in your belongings is the exciting bit – make sure you bring cleaning products (boring but necessary), extension leads and toilet rolls! Everything else can be sorted out later in the day but without these necessities, you won’t get very far
Rightmove reveal a few handy tips in order to prevent losing your deposit at the end of your tenancy:
As a young professional, moving into your first rented property is an exciting time; exploring your new local area, buying a variety of brightly coloured decorative items for your various rooms and ‘investing’ in homely goods (slow cookers, smoothie makers etc.). You’ve made it! You have your own home!
Sadly though, the sting comes at the end of your tenancy, when it comes to getting back your deposit…
Many landlords and letting agents have had problems with tenants in the past so those contracts you signed, without scrutinising, at the start of your tenancy can sometimes come back to bite you at the end. So here’ some things to think about before you jump in, to ensure you glide happily into your next home:
Before you move in
At the start of your tenancy, go around your property with the landlord or letting agent and go through each point on the inventory, with particular attention to damages. Only sign the inventory when you are happy that everything is included. If they claim they will repair something which is broken, as it is not on the inventory, then follow the conversation up with an email so you have a paper trail. It is also worth recording the meter reading.
Take photographs of all rooms before you unpack (to show the condition in which you received the property) and of any particular issues or broken objects on check-in, preferably with a camera which displays the date, to prove when it was taken.
During your tenancy
At any point during your tenancy, if anything is broken or damaged which you cannot repair, such as damp or electrical faults, tell your landlord or letting agent as soon as possible. If you talk to them via phone, follow it up with an email so that, again, you have a paper trail. And, again, take photographs of any damages.
On check-out, get out your contract and inventoryand read it thoroughly before you begin. If it states in your contract that you should professionally clean the property, do so and retain the receipt – as if the landlord disputes the standard then you have evidence. Adhere to any other conditions, such as defrosting the kitchen’s white goods, if it is in your contract.
You should leave the property in the same condition as you moved in, but your contract will state, and it is legally projected, that ‘fair wear and tear’ is completely expected and acceptable. Things which don’t class as ‘wear and tear’ and which you should sort out are, for example, damp around the grouting of sash windows, limescale around the bathroom and general dirt and grime. This should have been maintained by you throughout the tenancy and is therefore not acceptable to leave behind.
Before you leave, and preferably when you have moved out your belongings, take photographs of all of the rooms, as you did when you moved in. Also, take pictures of any problems or damages, which you will have, hopefully, discussed already with the landlord or letting agent. Remove all rubbish and belongings from the property, even if you don’t wish to take them on with you, and check your meter reading again.
It is definitely worth requesting to go over the check-out inventory with the landlord or letting agent. If they allow that, you can look at any issues together and any reductions from your deposit won’t be a surprise.
If, after following this advice, you do have any problems with retrieving your deposit, you can log an issue with the tenancy deposit scheme with which yours is registered, who will give you advice, guidance and, if it comes to it, mediate a fair communication between yourself, the landlord and the letting agent with all of the evidence you have – so the paper trail and photos you have will be handy – to decide what portion you will get back.
Moving house is a busy enough time, so taking a little time before, during and at the end of your tenancy to protect your deposit is well worth it to save you the hassle and bad taste left afterwards.
Don’t get stung! Get back your deposit and enjoy your new home.
iConn ensure all deposits are protected with an appropriate scheme. If you have any questions regarding the above, or cannot locate your inventory and wish to have a copy emailed out to you in preparation for your check out, please do not hesitate to contact the office on 01227 765008.
Rightmove have printed this relevant article taken from The Muney Advice Service, reminding Landlords to complete their tax return before the end of the month:
There’s more to being a landlord than collecting rental payments and deposits. Paying your tax is one job you really need to be on top of – and the clock is ticking.
You must complete the online tax return by 31 January (if you’ve not paid in another way by 31 October 2014) having registered for self-assessment by 5 October.
All landlords need to keep HMRC in the loop
You must inform HMRC as soon as you start renting out a property, even if you’ve not yet made any income from it. Once you have earned £2,500 in rental income, you may be liable to pay tax on it. Landlords whose properties generate more than this amount in rent each year must complete a Self-Assessment Tax Return.
How you can reduce or avoid a tax bill
The amount of tax you pay depends on the type of property you are renting out and your personal circumstances. The tax obligations are different for each of the three categories – residential properties, furnished holiday lets and commercial property.
As a buy-to-let landlord you – or your company – pay tax on any profit you make from renting your property to residential tenants. This means you don’t pay income tax on what are known as allowable expenses – and there are plenty of these to get your teeth into. For example, you can claim back letting agents and accountant’s fees. Maintenance and repairs are also covered, as are buildings and contents insurance premiums.
Keep a record of your property-related outgoings
There are plenty of elements to renting out property that you need to keep a record of, including Council Tax bills, any utility bills you pay on the rented property and other direct costs like advertising and phone calls to tenants. Even so, it’s probably best to seek professional advice when calculating tax obligations and allowance expenses. The HMRC Self-Assessment helpline can be reached on 0300 200 3310 if required.
What you can’t claim for
You can’t claim for capital expenses such as buying the place or renovating it, but can lodge a claim for wear and tear. Be aware through that excessive claims will be scrutinised, so don’t think the tax office will automatically claim for the cost of a new bathroom suite or a plush kitchen. HMRC allows you to claim up to 10 per cent of the net rent as a wear and tear allowance if you provide a furnished flat or house, but make sure you have the receipts to hand.
Cheap rentals and HMRC
Even if you don’t earn £2,500 a year from your tenants – after considering all the costs you can claim to reduce tax – you still need to keep HMRC in the picture. They will be able to help ensure you tick all the right boxes as a landlord. You can also visit the Money Advice Service’s guide on your responsibilities as a buy to let landlord for more information.
Source: Rightmove, on behalf of Money Advice Service http://www.rightmove.co.uk/news/articles/buy-to-let-landlord-dont-forget-your-january-tax-return
Samantha Hooper, Lettings Negotiator at iConn Property Management writes;
Autumn season has arrived and we have been experiencing a lot of rain over the last few days! At this time of year, our tenants start drying clothes inside their homes, which later down the line can result in damp / condensation build up in the property. Here’s a few tips on how to avoid this common problem!
Open bedroom windows when you go to bed at night; a 10mm gap will do. If it really is too cold to do this, wipe the condensation off the windows first thing in the morning, but please do not put the cloth you used on the radiator to dry as this will create more condensation.
Ensure full use of extractor or ventilation fans. Where these are not provided, open a window after bathing or showering to give the steam and damp air a chance to escape. Wipe windows, walls and mirrors to remove condensation (a microfiber cloth is the most efficient means of doing this), and dry the shower tray or bath. Keep the door closed while the bathroom is in use to prevent the steam escaping to other parts of the house.
When cooking, cover pans. Use exactor or ventilation fans where provided. If you do not have an automatic kettle, take care to ensure it is not left boiling. These precautions will help to reduce steam and therefore moisture in the air. Keep the door closed while the kitchen is in use to prevent the steam escaping to other parts of the house.
Where there are chimneys, do not block them up. If a wall appears to be damp, do not put furniture right up against it; allow some circulation of air.
Make sure that any ventilation bricks or openings in the building are not obstructed.
Keep glass as clear of condensation as you can. Wipe away any moisture that has formed using a soft cloth. Leave open any ”trickle” vents in double glazed units. Get into the habit of opening windows to keep moisture content in the air down and to air the property when you can.
Avoid drying clothes on radiators. Tumble dryers should be vented to the outside, unless fitted with a condenser.
Provide a reasonable level of heating (no less than 10°C in an unused area, or 16C if in use); cold rooms are susceptible to condensation. Remember, the best way to heat a room and avoid condensation is to maintain a low level of warmth throughout the day rather than to turn the heating off while you are out and put it on at a high level when you return home.
Portable gas and paraffin heaters can create a significant amount of damp and condensation within properties. Please do not use these types of heaters unless you have permission from your landlord or property manager.
Mildew may be removed from clothes by using a dry cleaning process.
Remove and kill mould by wiping the affected area(s) with a fungicide which carries a Health and Safety Executive approval number, precisely following the manufactures instructions. Alternatively a mild bleach solution will have the desired effect, but do test on a small area first.
Do not disturb mould by vacuuming or brushing as this can give rise to respiratory complaints.
Iris O’Connell, Managing Director at iConn Property Management writes;
A huge congratulations to our Accounts Coordinator, Samantha Douglas who tied the knot to Shaun Burgess this month! We hope you had a fantastic day, and we wish you lots of happy years together!
Iris O’Connell, Managing Director at iConn Property Management writes;
We are pleased to announce that our Property Manager Tanya MacLeod has recently passed all four units of the NFOPP Level 3 Qualification for the Technical Award in Residential Letting & Property Management, and our Lettings Negotiator, Sam Macdonald is also on her way and passed the first unit towards her qualification last week! Well done to both of you!
Tanya MacLeod, Property Manager at iConn Property Management writes:
This article from the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) is a very interesting and informative read.
With millions of Britons planning to holiday in the UK this year the Gas Safety Register are again urging the public to stay safe from the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from charcoal and gas barbecues, as well as potential risks from camping equipment and gas appliances in holiday accommodation.
The Gas Safety Register have produced leaflets, posters, web banners and article copy to advise people how to stay safe while on holiday, attending a music festival, sporting event or any one of the hundreds of things the Great British public get up to in their leisure time.
BBQ’s have been linked to several campsite deaths caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous substance which is created when fossil fuels such as gas and solid fuels like charcoal and wood fail to combust fully due to a lack of oxygen. You can’t see it, taste it or smell it but it can kill quickly with no warning.
If you’re planning on using a BBQ, whether it’s a disposable one, gas or charcoal make sure you keep yourself safe and don’t put yourself at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Follow these top tips for BBQ safety:
- Never take a smouldering or lit BBQ into a tent, caravan or cabin. Even if you have finished cooking your BBQ should remain outside as it will still give off fumes for some hours after use.
- Never use a BBQ inside to keep you warm
- Never leave a lit BBQ unattended or while sleeping
- Place your cooking area well away from your tent. Always ensure there is an adequate supply of fresh air in the area where the BBQ is being used.
- Only use appliances in accordance with the operating instructions
- Remember the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning – headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, collapse and loss of consciousness. If concerned, seek medical advice.
If you’re using gas camping equipment follow these extra tips to help you stay safe:
- Check that the appliance is in good order, undamaged and that hoses are properly attached and undamaged. If in doubt get the hoses replaced or don’t use it
- Make sure the gas taps are turned off before changing the gas cylinder and do it in the open air
- Don’t over-tighten joints
- When you have finished cooking, turn off the gas cylinder before you turn off the BBQ controls – this means any gas in the hose and pipeline will be used up
- Read the manufacturer’s instructions about how to check for gas escapes from hoses or pipework, e.g. brushing leak detection solution around all joints and looking for bubbles.
- Never take a gas stove, light or heater into a tent, caravan or cabin unless it is a permanent fixture, installed and maintained correctly.
Take care this summer and don’t put yourself or your family at risk.
For more information or advice please visit www.GasSafeRegister.co.uk/bbq or call 0800 408 5500.
Amy Chilvers, Lettings Negotiator at iConn Property Management writes;
Well done to our Lettings Negotiator, Sam Macdonald who did her bit for charity this month and ran the Race For Life in aid of raising money for an amazing cause, Cancer Research UK. If you would like to make a donation, please feel free to donate online and show your support!
Tanya MacLeod, Property Manager at iConn Property Management writes;
Canterbury City Council have introduced some changes to the collection of waste in Canterbury recently.
The Canterbury City Councils website states;
Changes to your waste collection service
In the summer we will be making some changes to the waste collection service. We will be picking up your food waste every week and collecting glass every two weeks. To complement the new service we will be giving you some new bins and boxes.
Once we’ve delivered your bins, your first collection will take place on your next scheduled recycling day. That week, put out your blue lidded bin (glass, tins, cartons and plastics) with your red insert box (paper and card) inside along with your food waste caddy. If you have a garden bin, put that out too.
Here is some useful information taken from the Canterbury City Council’s website which may help you with the new system;
What goes in my bins?
Black household waste bin
Your black wheeled bin is for household and food waste, and items which cannot be recycled.
You can recycle the following items in your clear sacks:
- Cans, aerosols with nozzles removed and aluminium foil.
- Paper, magazines, newspapers, catalogues and phone directories.
- Wrapping paper (remove Sellotape).
- Cardboard food boxes and egg cartons (flattened).
- Toilet or kitchen roll inner cardboard.
- Plastic drinks bottles, shampoo bottles, and washing up liquid bottles.
If the wrong materials are found in the sack, it will not be collected.
Please remember to flatten boxes, wash and squash plastic bottles and remove lids, empty and rinse food containers, put materials loose in your clear recycling sack and tie securely. Secured bundles of cardboard and newspapers will be collected if placed beside recycling sacks.
Green lidded bin
You can place the following items in your green bin:
- Grass cuttings, hedge clippings, dead plants and weeds.
- Cut flower and shrub prunings.
- Bark, leaves and small twigs.
- Branches (Up to 4cm thick).
We will not empty bins which contain the following:
- Stone, concrete, timber or builder’s waste.
- Glass, plastic, metal, paper or cardboard.
- Plant pots, soil or turf.
- Household rubbish and food waste.
You can also find more information regarding this matter on their website, https://www.canterbury.gov.uk/bins-recycling/
Tanya Macleod, Property Manager at iConn Property Management writes;
In April, two members of staff attended their annual First Aid Training Course and I’m pleased to announce that they both passed with flying colours! Congratulations to Iris O’Connell, Managing Director and Sam Douglas, Accounts Coordinator! We are in safe hands for another year!!
Sam Macdonald, Lettings Negotiator at iConn Property Management writes;
Here’s some great advice from The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) regarding buy to let properties:
Think of buying to let as a medium to long term investment.
Seek advice from an ARLA letting agent on local market demands.
Get your sums right. Will the rent cover borrowings and costs, after allowing for void periods?
Decorate, fit out and furnish to high quality standards, especially kitchens and bathrooms, to attract the best tenants and let quickly every time.
Use an ARLA member as your letting agent. They have Client Money Protection, hold Professional Indemnity Insurance to required standards, have staff trained to ARLA’s competency standards and are kept up to date with the latest legal and regulatory requirements.
Let personal taste cloud your judgement. Be sure the property you choose meets market requirements
Purchase anything with potential maintenance problems like a lot of woodwork or large gardens. It will add nothing to the rental value and cost a lot to keep up.
Think that the running of an investment property to let can be left to friends or relatives in your absence. Tenants require a full management service.
Use off-the-shelf tenancy agreements from HMSO or law stationers, or forget to issue the right notices or fail to have a proper inventory and condition report made before a tenant moves in. Leave all documentation to a professional agent.
Furnish with second hand furniture or cast-off soft furnishings. These will probably contravene the Furniture and Furnishing Regulations.
If you require any further information regarding renting your property, please feel free to contact us on 01227 765008.
Sam Macdonald, Lettings Negotiator of iConn Property Management writes;
Information to landlords – iConn have noticed a rapid change to the student market this year which has been an accumulation of increased University accommodation, high University fees and a considerable reduction in UK and International students applying for places; which in turn has produced an unexpected high level of properties left on the market.
Normally at this time of the year most of our student properties have been Let for the next academic year.
We have been in discussions with other local agents whom are experiencing the exact same scenario and are looking at ways to attract those students that are still looking for accommodation.
What we are proposing to do is to reduce our administration fees for the students; making it more affordable for them at the start of the application process. A further option is to adjust the rental figure in order to become more competitive.
There will of course still be students that have not secured a property as of yet and those students that will come through the clearing process later in the year once their course has been confirmed.
We do not want to alarm you at this stage; however the purpose of this letter is to forewarn you of the situation and to agree a plan of action now in order to secure a tenancy going forward.
We would normally advise our Landlords to increase their rental income but with the high level of stock still on the market, an alternative solution must be found in order to secure you revenue for the next academic year.
If you would like any further information regarding this, please feel free to contact our office on 01227 765008.
Sam Douglas, Accounts co-ordinator for iConn Property Management writes;
I came accross an article from LetRisks which I think may be an interesting an useful read.
Important safety alert
In a recent claim a landlord suffered over £100,000 worth of damage to his property and loss of rent following a fire from a faulty fridge freezer. This case highlights the number of potentially dangerous brand new appliances in rented property and the action that letting agents can take to protect their landlords and tenants.
Over the past few years there have been hundreds of fires involving white goods, particularly fridge/freezers, tumble dryers and dishwashers, with more than a dozen blazes deemed “serious”. According to recent press articles, almost half a million potentially dangerous dishwashers are still being used in households because their owners cannot be traced. As an example, a batch of faulty Bosch dishwashers, made over a seven-year period, are at risk of catching fire. Just one in four has been traced.
Although manufacturers issue product recalls, via national advertising, letters and phone calls to consumers there are difficulties in tracing the purchasers, particularly if tenants have moved address or landlords have appointed an agent.
The Electrical Safety Council (ESC) found that the average success rate of recalls is just 10-20%. With 266 electrical product recalls in the last six years and manufacturers often producing hundreds of thousands of units, there are likely to be millions of dangerous products threatening safety every day. Following a survey, they claim that 2 million adults have purposefully ignored a product recall notice, a third won’t return an item if it seems too inconvenient and a fifth would not go without a luxury product such as a television or hair straighteners.
LetRisks has put together a checklist to help you protect landlords and tenants:
- Register your contact details with the manufacturer for any new appliances when purchased. This is not just for marketing purposes – it may save a life.
- Property management staff and inventory clerks should record the make and model numbers of each of the landlords appliances and check them against the Product Recall information websites (see below).
- Ensure that appliances are checked regularly: The law surrounding Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) simply requires you to ensure that their electrical equipment is maintained in order to prevent danger. New equipment should be “supplied in a safe condition”. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides guidance on how to maintain equipment including the use of PAT.
- Remind tenants to check that any electrical appliances are safe and refer them to the Product Recall information websites. It is a condition of most tenancy agreements that the tenant must not bring on to the premises anything that might be a fire hazard.
- Retain forwarding addresses for tenants and arrange for mail to be forwarded, if possible. It may include product recall information.
- Use the Product Recall information websites (see below)
- Electrical Safety Council (ESC): www.esc.org.uk/recall. You will need to enter a model number, brand name or description of a particular item. If the product has been recalled, the website will advise on next steps.
- RecallUK is the primary product recall site that lists all UK product recalls, for all product types, announced in the last few weeks: www.recalluk.com/default.aspx
- White Goods Help – Archives for Safety Warnings & Appliance Recalls: www.whitegoodshelp.co.uk/category/safety-warnings-recalls-houshold-appliances
- Arrange appropriate insurances, for both the structure of the building (that includes fixtures and fittings), and contents. Make sure that the insurance is suitable for let property and includes Property Owners Liability. Even if you are letting an unfurnished flat, we recommend that you arrange cover for limited contents (covering carpets, curtains and white goods) which will also come with cover for liability to the public and injury to tenants.
Iris O’Connell, Managing Director for iConn Property Management writes:
Within the industry we are used to regulations being changed and updated but none so much as the requirements of the EPC (energy performance certificate).
I have detailed the amendments below for your information and future reference.
Changes to the EPC rules
Changes to the rules from 9th January 2013, include
- Agents must ensure that an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) has been commissioned before they can market a property for rent.
- From 9th January 2013, when a building or building unit is offered for sale or rent, the energy rating must be stated in “commercial media” (includes adverts and the internet) where one is available.
- There is no longer a requirement to attach the front page of the EPC to any written materials.
- The EPC must be ‘made available’ in copy form to prospective tenants at the earliest opportunity and at the latest, before entering into a contract. When the letting is finalised, the EPC must be given free of charge to the tenant.
Vicky Owen, Office Manager for iConn Property Management writes:
As most of Canterbury was covered with snow this week, which caused some disruption in Canterbury but also some great snowmen! its a good time to think on the winter repairs that may need attending to. Our referencing company LetRisks send us a monthly newsletter in line with trends they recieve on claims, they have really interesting article on inspecting flat roofs which is worth a read: Click on the link below for the full article:
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.
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.
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
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.
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.