Posts tagged lettings advice
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 at iConn Property Management writes;
After a long winter, tenants should definitely make the most of the sunshine while its here! There is nothing better than the fresh smell of your clothes that have come straight from your washing line! ‘Sun drying’ can also help you save money and energy!
5 reasons why you should dry your washing outside:
- Your clothes and bedding will smell fresh a daisy.
- Sunlight is a natural sanitizing and bleaching agent, therefore will get rid of insects, bacteria, and other germs.
- You will save money on your electricity bill as you don’t need to use a dryer.
- Drying on the line is kinder to your clothes, they last longer and the elastic in your socks is less likely to disappear!
- Drying your clothes on a radiator in the house can cause damp and mould to your property.
This was our first experience of using iConn Ltd to rent out our home and it was a seemless and problem-free experience. The personnel were knowledgeable, professional and responsive to our numerous questions! Most importantly, they were proactive and arranged good quality viewings which resulted in several offers within a week of taking on the property. I would not hesitate to recommend that other prospective landlords use iConn and am delighted that we chose them to work with.
Vicky Owen, Office Manager for iConn Property Management writes:
I recently came across an article online regarding the recent census and the meaning behind the findings, I think it is a really useful tool for Landlords to understand for their current or furture investments:
The 2011 census highlighted that the cost for private tenants in renting unfurnished properties (including the cost of rent together with fuel and power) has increased by 60% in the last 10 years, whereas their gross incomes have only increased by 31% in the same period.
The pressure to pay rent and meet all other outgoings has intensified and Shelter reported earlier in January that 1.4 million people in Britain are falling behind with their rent or mortgage payments.
According to a recent YouGov survey the number of people struggling to pay their rent or mortgage each month has increased by 44% over the past year, to 7.8 million people.
Their research also revealed that over the past year:
- Almost a million people used a payday loan to help pay their rent or mortgage.
- 2.8 million people used an unauthorised overdraft to help pay their rent or mortgage and of those 10% did so every month.
These uncomfortable statistics highlight the need for letting agents and landlords to carry out thorough checks on applicants when letting a property, including:
- Obtain a credit check – Individuals with good credit histories are generally good tenants.
- Obtain landlords and employment references.
- If you have any doubts on the applicants ability to afford the rent, ask them to provide further proof, for example copies of payslips or a minimum of 6 months bank statements.
- Arrange insurance cover for legal expenses and rent protection should the tenant default on the rent. LetRisks offers a wide choice of innovative solutions for protecting landlords against unpaid Rent to suit a variety of landlord pockets. Legal Expenses of up to £50,000 to obtain possession comes as standard with all policies and we can help recover unpaid rents.
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:
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.]
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Vicky Cranthorne M.A.R.L.A, Office Manager for iConn Property Management writes:
All student tenants for July 2012 to June 2013 can view a copy of the tenancy agreement which will be used for their tenancy by following the link below:
Access Codes are provided on tenants emails sent 26.03.12 but if you need them again please call our office.
Sam Douglas, Accounts Co-Ordinator for iConn Property Management writes:
The Localism Act comes into force on April 6th 2012 and makes an important change to the timescale for protecting deposits.
The timescale for registering deposits and serving Prescribed Information has increased from 14 to 30 days – but the 30 days is an absolute deadline.
Our prescribed information will be updated in our current tenancy agreements and terms of business and this change will only really affect tenancies created after the 6th April but current clients may wish to take note of these changes for any future tenancies.
Iris O’Connell, Managing Director for iConn Property Management Canterbury writes:
Join the growing iConn Property Management group on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or Link in to the team for the latest information on legislation, new properties on the market, offers and competitions and advice for all:
STUDENTS APPLYING FOR TENANCIES WITH ICONN FOR JULY 2012- JUNE 2013 HAVE THE CHANCE TO WIN A FREE ADMINISTRATION FEE BY JOINING THE FACEBOOK PAGE.
Vicky Cranthorne, Office Manager for iConn Property Management writes:
ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents) provides this useful article for potential Landlords looking to invest in property…
- 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 are bonded, 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.
Vicky Cranthorne M.A.R.L.A, Office Manager for iConn Property Management writes:
Most landlords and tenants are aware of the change in legislation in April 2007 which requires landlords to hold their tenants deposits within a secured scheme. At iConn we use the Tenancy Deposit Scheme – (TDS).
Our tenants and landlords may find this website useful as it provides the guidelines and processes involved when using the TDS.
http://www.thedisputeservice.co.uk/landlords-faqs.html - For landlords
http://www.thedisputeservice.co.uk/tenants-faqs.html - For Tenants.
Sam Macdonald, Lettings Negotiator for iConn Property Management writes:
Tenants and Landlords often get confused by the notice clause in their A.S.T (Assured Shorthold Tenancy) Tenancy Agreements when it comes to needing to give notice.
Commonly the confusion comes when deciding how much notice should be given and how to give notice.
Here are the basics:
If your tenancy is in a fixed term contract:
This means that your contract is still within its initial fixed period, dated on the contract ie. 1st January 2011 – 31st December 2012. Whilst within a fixed term you are unable to give notice. Instead you will need to wait until the contract expires. The Agent or Landlord must serve a Section 21 noticeto end the contract, otherwise the contract will roll over and then both parties will be subject to the Statutory Periodic notice terms (See below). The notice must be served two months before the end of the tenancyand in most cases they are accompanied will an offer to renew the contract if possession is not required from the landlord.
If it is the tenants intention to leave they need to confirm this to the agent or landlord when they receive the section 21 notice.
This also applies to tenancy agreements which have been renewed using a fixed term addendum as a new fixed contract has been agreed to be extended by certain dates and so the landlord and tenant are liable for the term again, until it expires.
If your tenancy is Statutory Periodic:
This is when your fixed term has expired and you are now on a rolling contract.
In this case you are able to provide notice and the standard notice lengths are one month notice from the tenant to vacate the property or two months notice from the landlord for possession of the property. The notice from the tenant must be provided in writing to either the agent or landlord. The notice from the landlord must also be in writing and should be accompanied with a section 21(4)(a) notice. The notice from both parties must be in line with the rental date. So, for example, if you pay your rent on the 5th of the month your notice will be in force from the 5th of the month, even if you provide a written letter before this date it will not come into effect until you pay your last months rent.
Full and further information regarding to notice periods under the Housing Act 1988 are available from this website: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/50/contents
Having been referred by a friend, we had no hesitation in signing up for our property to be managed by iConn Property Management.
From the outset they showed their knowledge & experience of the market and communicated this clearly to us. Their advice was sound and they followed up talk with plenty of action. They found consecutive tenants immediately and since then it has been plain sailing and trouble free lettings.
Thank you to all the team for your efforts thus far
I have been very happy with the professional service provided by iConn. The staff have always been courteous and prompt and communication has been excellent. I expect to continue to use them to manage my properties for the foreseeable future
iConn has received some great advice from our friends at Roombuddies.com with some tips for tenants looking to share a property:
Safely Seeking Flatshares
When looking for a new flatshare opportunity, it is important that you exercise good judgement and stay safe at all times. This isn’t paranoia; it’s just being sensible. No; not everyone is out to get you, but one or two might be and they’re the ones you need to watch out for. Statistically speaking, you are very unlikely to be hurt by someone that you are seeking a flatshare or house share with. Of course, the same can be said about being struck by lightning, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to walk around holding a golf club over your head during a thunderstorm (unless you are either a hard-core golfer and/or a total nutter). Being sensible and keeping your eye-out for potentially dodgy situations will help you avoid trouble as much as possible.
Always remember the old cliché, “if it looks too good to be true, then it probably is” (it’s a cliché for a reason after all). Flats that are priced considerably lower than other similar properties in the same area will undoubtedly come with a catch. Always practice caution when an advertiser tells you that you won’t be able to view a property until you have either signed something or parted with cash and try to keep away from deals that involve paying/receiving money through a money transfer system (such as Western Union). When an advert is written in concise English, you should expect a similar standard in the rest of your correspondence (if the correspondent’s language use is broken or inconsistent then suspect foul play).
You need to view property before you agree to take it on and certainly before you hand over any cash. Property should always be of a safe and reasonably inhabitable standard. Any flatshare or house share opportunities that are not up to spec should be avoided and not taken on because of promises that they will be put right before you move in (wait until they are put right before agreeing to anything/giving a deposit). If there is to be a tenancy agreement (and you are advised to ask for one, though a landlord is not legally obliged to provide one to you) you should be given a copy and time to read it before you sign.
You will also want to ask what deposit protection scheme your landlord will use before you give them a deposit (deposit protection is required by law), though this does not guarantee your money will be returned in full when your tenancy is over (but it will give you more power to dispute any unfair deductions). Though these financial safeguards are important, they are not as important as making sure you are physically safe. You will want to check that the locks in a potential flatshare or house share are suitable for your purposes. If you are looking at getting a http://www.roombuddies.com/ then make sure the room has its own separate lock.
When you are actually attending a viewing, you need to take steps to ensure your safety then too. Ask the advertiser for a landline number (rather than a mobile) and call them on it to confirm they are where they say they are. Make a note of the address you will be viewing (and don’t agree to meet anywhere other than this address) giving it and the name of the person you are meeting to someone you trust (so they know where to look if you go missing). Arrange a time to call or meet your friend after the viewing so that they can react quicker if you don’t turn up and (preferably) take another friend with you when you attend the viewing.
My properties have been managed by iConn for almost ten years. During that time they have invariably found good tenants and always kept both my properties fully tenanted. They are thoroughly professional and experienced and have always advised me superbly as to what the best action to take is. They are a strong team of talented individuals who provide an excellent service. i have many friends who rent through other agents and their experiences confirm to me that iConn is a great choice.