Posts tagged tenants advice
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!!
Iris O’Connell, Managing Director of iConn Property Management writes:
Tanya Macleod has worked for over six years in the Lettings and Property Management industry and specialises in Property Management.
She has previously worked for a well known large Agent in Canterbury and brings with her a wealth of knowledge.
Going forward, if you have any maintenance queries, please contact Tanya in the first instance firstname.lastname@example.org
Sam Macdonald, Lettings Negotiator for iConn Property Management writes;
REMINDER!! Student Tenancies for 2013-2014 – Your administration fees are due to be paid by the 1st May 2013… remember to budget for this in the next month
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.
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:
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.]
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
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.
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.
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.
I moved to iConn after many years with another letting agent and was immediately impressed by their professionalism and set up. The team are friendly, engaging and helpful. When on the very odd occasion I have had to rise an issue or concern regarding my tenancy, it is soon resolved in an effective and efficient manner. Their communication is good and overall service is excellent. It is a world apart from the service I had received from my previous agent. Overall I am extremely content with their service, professionalism and overall letting package. I am clear they are well ahead of their competitors and have recommended them to family and other landlords as a very satisfied customer and landlord!
iConn and their predecessors have marketed our property for six years. They have always given us sound advice and Vicky Cranthorne in particular has always gone “the extra mile” to help. The new e-mail Bulletin has regular updates on matters of interest to landlords and tenants as well as more light-hearted items, which make it palatable.
We have been using iConn Property Management Ltd for the past three years. We have always found the staff incredibly helpful with all enquiries we’ve had.
They provide a very professional and friendly service. If ever we have a problem or issue it is always resolved in a matter of hours where other agencies in the past have taken much longer even to acknowledge the issue. Having built up a rapport with the staff, it makes it easier for all when looking for a new property as the team already know our likes and dislikes.
We have always received a quality service from iConn. They care about you, your situation and how you want to live, they don’t just forget about you when you sign the contract. We would recommend them to anyone looking for a Property Management / Lettings company
From the start I have been impressed with the efficiency of iConn. Tenants were found within a couple of days for our property and all matters relating to it have been dealt with efficiently and well. I would have no hesitation in using iConn again in the future.
I was unhappy with their services of another agent and came across iConn. I spoke with Iris O’Connell and was very impressed with her professionalism and experience and took the decision to instruct iConn as the new Agent for the property.
In comparison to a similar level of service received elsewhere, I can honestly say that I am very confident that iConn work hard to ensure that my flat is occupied and well maintained and always seem happy to go that little bit further. I am secure in the knowledge that my flat is in “safe hands” which affords me the luxury of having a rental property that I don’t really have to worry about. They keep me regularly updated on both my flat and industry requirements/standards and endeavour to go further by providing handy hints and tips via newsletters etc. Any items that are required are fully investigated and I do feel that they try to get the best deal for me when it comes to any maintenance costs. Their fully managed service provides exactly that: a very high standard in managed service requiring very little input from me.
I couldn’t be happier with the service I receive and furthermore, the level of service has not waned or declined at all and remains at the same high standard as when I first instructed them.
I would give them the highest possible rating based on the fact that 1) I receive an impeccable service 2) I have had no reason for complaint 3) my flat is kept in good condition by tenants 4) I receive a good deal of relevant communication in a timely fashion 5) my flat is regularly occupied despite quite a high turnover of tenants 6) a pretty seamless service between rental and maintenance departments 7) they don’t have a call centre.. if I need to speak to someone about my flat I just call iConn and speak with someone that actually knows the property and finally 8) they answer their phones quickly and if the individual I need to speak to isn’t available I know that someone else can help or that the person required will get back to me in a timely fashion.
iConn definitely receive my seal of approval (and I can be a fussy customer!)
iConn has been my letting agent for the last 7 years and undertakes a full management service for me. I have been impressed with the efficient manner in which they have undertaken this role and the professional way they handle issues. As a ‘distant’ landlord, I rely on effective communication, timely resolution of issues whilst keeping me fully informed of developments. In each of these aspects I rate them highly. During the tenure of my agreement with iConn thus far, the accounting aspect has been first rate with rental income invariably paid on time and any missing sums urgently pursued. I very much value the relationship and look forward to it continuing for many more years.
We have 2 properties which have been let by iConn since around 2005. I only have positive words to say about iConn, the staff that we have contact with (namely Vicky) is always helpful, friendly and efficient. Any problems have been dealt with professionally and swiftly and therefore we have the utmost confidence in them. I also know that they are helpful to our tenants. We have the pick of lettings agents here in Canterbury, but as we receive such an excellent service, I have no reason to move my business elsewhere – a completely satisfied customer on all counts!