Are you protecting young tenants?

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As a landlord in the PRS you’ll understand more than anyone the growing need for rented accommodation for the younger generation, namely students. CEO of the flat sharing website ‘Weroom’ has recently stated that ‘deposit disputes are becoming an inevitable part of the rental experience’, especially for students and young renters. Unsurprising new research has also revealed that property maintenance and damages are the most common causes for disputes between landlords and their student tenants. Weroom.com also found that out of the 330 – 18 to 24 year olds that they surveyed:

  • only 40% were aware of their rights as tenants,
  • 40% experienced cleaning related property disputes,
  • 33% admitted that they had ‘given in’ to landlords and agencies to avoid confrontation.

Do you house young tenants?

With so many students and budding renters looking for their next home in the PRS, it is critical that you make them aware of their rights from the start. Student housing can be a very lucrative market, what with university life becoming more of a once in a lifetime opportunity in the UK than ever before. Not forgetting the increasing amount of young families out there looking for their next home in the PRS too. As a landlord your main objective is to keep your tenants happy, meaning that they will stay for as long as possible with you.

By law you must:

  • Provide your tenants with a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), an annual Gas Safety Certificate and a copy of the government’s new ‘How to Rent’ guide at the start of their tenancy. If you fail to then you (or your agent) will be unable to evict them further down the line. You should also provide them with a copy of their tenancy agreement, to include: the date it began, the amount of rent due, when it’s to be paid, how and when the rent can be changed and the length of any fixed term.
  • Any deposits that have been paid to you on or after April 2007 must be protected in one of the 3 government-approved deposit protection schemes; Deposit Protection Scheme (DPS), MyDeposits or the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS). If a court finds that you’ve failed to adequately protect their deposit, then you will be ordered to repay it directly to your tenant or pay it into an official TDP scheme’s bank account within 14 days. The court can also decide whether they order you to pay you up to 3 times the deposit amount!
  • You, or agents acting on your behalf, must now install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms in all relevant rooms of your buy-to-let properties. They must be fully functioning at the start of the tenancy, but it remains your tenant’s responsibility to test and maintain each alarm throughout the tenancy period, e.g. changing the batteries.
  • You must provide each tenant with a name and an address in England or Wales that they can write to you.
  • Unless it is a valid emergency, you or your letting agent must give your tenant at least 24 hours’ notice (in writing) before you have the right to enter their home.
  • As a landlord you have a duty of care to maintain the property; keeping your tenants happy and free from any danger. Other than very minor requests (changing fuses, light bulbs, etc), you are responsible for the majority of the repairs. So make sure that you encourage your tenants to report any issues to you as soon as they arise; so as to minimise any potential damage.
  • You must serve the correct notices (e.g. Section 21) and obtain a possession order from the court to legally evict your tenants from the property.

 

  • You must make sure that there are working smoke alarms on every floor of your property in communal areas.

Deposit disputes should not be an ‘inevitable part’ of the rental experience in this day and age, we hope you agree? At Yellow Oak Inventories we believe that the 3 key elements to unlocking and improving the private rented sector right across the UK are: knowledge, professionalism and communication between landlords, agents and their tenants – especially younger tenants. This is why a simple inventory is a vital step in order to properly protect your investment – and that’s why we’d love to hear from you today:

Tel: 020 3713 4933 / Email: info@yellowoak.co.uk / Contact Form.

Smoke and carbon monoxide alarm inventory UPDATE

Smoke and carbon monoxide alarm inventory UPDATE

Another month, another new law for landlords it would seem! As of the beginning of October 2015 landlords in England are now required by law to install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors? Properly installed and maintained smoke alarms play a pivotal role in reducing fire, death and injuries in privately rented accommodation. And the same goes for carbon monoxide alarms. With almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulting from properties that don’t have a working alarm, the chance of dying is cut in half with a working alarm.

Although I have noticed consistent news coverage on the subject, the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks are still worried that there is still confusion over who and when such smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms should be checked, as well as who does it; the landlord, agent or independent third party?

The standing legal position is that landlords in England, or agents acting on their behalf, are required to install smoke detectors on every floor of their property where a tenant is residing or partially living. Carbon Monoxide alarms must also be fitted in any room of rented accommodation where there is a solid fuel-burning appliance, e.g. gas cooker, open fire, wood burner, etc. Both must be tested at the beginning of each new tenancy, and those that don’t comply risk a fine of up to £5,000.

However the checking requirement does not apply to renewed or statutory periodic tenancies.

Patricia Barber, chair of the AIIC, announced: “As part of an inventory compilation or check in procedure at the beginning of the tenancy, an AIIC independent inventory clerk will be able to check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms for power where possible and report back any problems found.”

“This then paves the way for landlords or their property managers to carry out subsequent checks during mid-term visits.” She added: “While the majority of landlords and agents may already have some sort of procedure in place, hopefully this news will help to put some property professionals’ minds at ease, saving time and money.”

This is a life and death situation after all, as in essence you have the safety and wellbeing of your tenants firmly in your hands. One tragic story of a family dying in a house fire is one too many for us at Yellow Oak Inventories, so it’s wonderful to see the lettings industry in England embracing this long-awaited law. That being said, everyone must remain vigilant as the only test that will be carried out by our Inventory clerks and many others is a simple sound test which indicates that the battery is still working. It is still ultimately the responsibility of the landlord and agent to make sure the alarms are working properly.

Other than fire alarms, there are other possible issues that can create unrest with the landlord/tenant relationship. So how else can you do to protect yourself and your tenants against potential disputes further down the line?

  • Take your time!

Many little mistakes that have escalated beyond control have often began as a tiny, overlooked issue.

  • Communicate!

The AIIC have recently been quoted as stating that a formal tenancy deposit dispute can be diffused by something as basic as simple conversation. At Yellow Oak Inventories we wholeheartedly agree, as its basic common sense that if a tenant contacts their letting agent or landlord to discuss a disagreement, there is a much reduced chance of it heightening to them lodging a formal complaint with one of the 3 deposit protection schemes.

  • Better to be safe than sorry!

If you’re unsure about something that could be life threating, then seek help and advice!

As a landlord, at Yellow Oak Inventories we believe that your tenants’ safety should be of the utmost importance. Be sure to choose a reputable property Inventory clerk that will tested your alarms for power (if reachable), visually inspect it and report back to you if there are any issues.

Still need help? Then please contact your local inventory clerk; http://yellowoak.co.uk/contact-us/

Ensure your check out report is successful with Yellow Oak Inventories

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 12.33.17 The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) have recently suggested that if more tenants were to attend the check out at the end of their tenancies, there would be less deposit disputes all round. This plea comes in response via data released by the Deposit Protection Service (DPS), which suggests that 48% of tenants are failing to attend their check out reports. At Yellow Oak Inventories we whole-heartedly agree with this sentiment.

This is because:

  1. It’s a perfect opportunity for issues to be brought to the tenants attention.
  2. By discussing the condition tenants and landlords/agents can resolve problems in a much quicker fashion; preventing longer, drawn-out disputes further down the line.
  3. The tenant is fully aware of what will be in the check out report, so there will be no surprises when they receive it.

So how else can you ensure that your check out report goes smoothly?

  • Use a professional and independent inventory clerk, as they will understand what is best recorded when tenants arrive and how best to assess and demonstrate any changes at the end of the tenancy.
  • Provide reports from the check-in and mid-term as a reference point, for both inspection and discussion.
  • Ensure that tenants can make the check-out report appointment, by writing to them with sufficient notice. Clearly explain how important the process is and why they should attend, and be sure to explain such actions as taking photos during the visit, etc.
  • Take digital photos as these have a date stamp attached, which adds extra credence to your report.

Please read the related Yellow Oak Inventory Blog Post: Words or Video – Which is better? …

  • Be absolutely thorough and take your time, otherwise you may overlook an important issue; potentially making life for all parties involved more difficult.
  • However unlikely it may seem, if you feel that your safety could be jeopardised in anyway bring along a witness.
  • TAKE NOTE! – By this we mean make as many notes as possible, including any admissions from your tenant and/or any agreements that you reach.
  • Complete your properties check-out report before any repair work is done. This is because many landlords/agents unfortunately rush to overcome problems in preparation for their next tenant, which can prevent opportunities to record such repairs; increasing the possibility for dispute.

 

Check outs are one of the most important stages of any tenancy agreement. So if you need any help or advice with your inventory, please get in touch with one of our friendly team today – 020 3713 4933, info@yellowoak.co.uk or via Facebook or Twitter.

What’s your problem? It’s just a mid-term inspection…

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It’s not often you walk into your buy to let, only to be greeted by a 50-stone pig!! Just last week this happened to an unsuspecting landlord, who was handling a routine inspection of his property. Pretty funny to those of us who have (luckily) never found ourselves in such a ludicrous position, but not so funny for this landlord who now has (a reported) £7,500 worth of damage to take care of!

The landlord told the Daily Mirror: “I was absolutely stunned when I saw it, it was a complete shock. “I was just renting out my dad’s house after he moved and this was my first tenant, an RAF serviceman based at Brize Norton.
His partner was there when I examined the house, she said something about it being unwell and they brought it into the house. I said to the woman, there’s a pig in the house and she replied: ‘What’s your problem? It’s just a pig’.”

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This story highlights the absolute importance of conducting an inventory inspection accompanied by a series of thorough mid-term inspections, throughout all of your tenancies. It may seem more hassle than it’s worth, but imagine having the hassle of not only having to clear up this mess, but also have to pay for the repairs, new floor covering, re-turfing the garden and repairing of the patio!

DID YOU KNOW that an estimated 400,000 landlords in the UK have had their property damaged by tenants in the last 12 months?

So other than using an accredited and experienced inventory company to carry out your regular inspections, what else can you do to avoid similar shocking property damage being done to your property?…

  1. Insure Against the Unexpected

Property damage will be exceptionally costly if the level of damage exceeds the value of the tenancy deposit. So make sure you have the correct buy-to-let insurance in place, as at Yellow Oak Inventories it’s still quite shocking as to how many landlords end up finding out the hard way that their basic home insurance policy will not provide the essential cover they desperately need.

  1. Vet Tenants Properly

The unfortunate landlord at the heart of this sorry story said that he rented out his property to an RAF serviceman, but believed the pig was moved in by the man’s partner. The question is: did he reference check both tenants thoroughly, beforehand? Who knows; this may have happened in a previous property that they lived in, and their last landlord would be able to warn you about this simply through a quick phone call.

Please find our Three Point Anti-Bad Tenant Checklist HERE, which includes a full breakdown of each referencing procedure.

  1. Make Tenants Aware

It’s all very well spotting damages whilst doing regular inspections, but what if you could prevent them from happening in the first place? Thankfully, stories like these are a rarity and the majority of residential property damage is (more often than not) accidental or through a tenants sheer negligence. So from the beginning make them aware of ways that they can keep the property in good condition, e.g. regular carpet cleaning, airing the bathroom after a shower, routine changing of the smoke detector batteries, that they won’t receive their full deposit at the end of the tenancy if there is damage, etc.

Be proud of your next inventory report; use Yellow Oak Inventories in London today! Contact us on: 020 3713 4933, by email: info@yellowoak.co.uk or via Facebook or Twitter.

Words or Video – Which is better when conducting an inventory?

Words or Video - Which is better when conductingThere is an ongoing debate between landlords, agents and inventory clerks to whether words or video are better, when conducting an inventory.

Did you know that adjudicators actually prefer words to video in dispute cases?

Why?!

Well firstly, statements issued by both the TDS and MyDeposits make it very clear that written evidence (in the form of a detailed inventory and check out report) is still paramount to allow adjudicators to give a fair judgement.

The majority of us love new technology, as it’s a great time saver for many tasks. BUT sometimes it’s not always the answer and this is the case with property inventories. This is because a video relies on the adjudicator having the correct equipment to view it. They will also need patience to sift through potentially hours of footage to find the part that covers the dispute. A good video will also need to be supported by a detailed narrative throughout the recording, to explain to the adjudicator what exactly they’re looking at and what for.

Digital recorders make dictating and transcribing an inventory a much faster and easier process too.

In the last couple of years letting agents have actually been warned by the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks about replacing essential written inventory descriptions for digital evidence, as it leaves their landlord clients vulnerable to potential disputes further down the line. At Yellow Oak Inventories we completely agree with the associations’ statement that photographs and video can provide a good illustration, but are not at all helpful without a detailed written inventory firmly in place.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’, however this is certainly not the case with a residential inventory report. Photographs alone, even with the date and time of day clearly shown, will provide no context whatsoever if they’re not accompanied by a written inventory.

This is where the help of a fully qualified, trained and experienced independent inventory clerk comes into play. As a landlord it shouldn’t be about getting the cheapest deal around, but about finding the best deal that’s going to protect you in the future should a dispute arise.

So in conclusion, at Yellow Oak Inventories we believe that words are far substantial when you are carrying out an inventory, but will be made stronger accompanied by good photographs and a well narrated video.

Please get in touch with one of our friendly team today – either by phone: 020 3713 4933, by email: info@yellowoak.co.uk or via Facebook or Twitter.

Scam Awareness Month | Landlords, Letting Agents and Tenants; Be Prepared!

Dont-be-rushe_225Did you know that this month is ‘Scam Awareness Month?’

Scam Awareness Month is all about creating a network of confident, alert, consumers who are ready, willing and able to spot scams. So efforts throughout July are important as they will help spread the message that scams can be tackled if we all take a bit of time to spot the signs and share what we’ve learnt with our peers and others within the industry.

As we are all aware, the property industry is almost completely unregulated and therefore very appealing to scammers. So at Yellow Oak Inventories we have compiled the 5 most common property scams and how best to avoid them:

  1. Land Registry Fraud.

Through this awful scam, the crooks manage to transfer the ownership of your home to a completely different person. They do this by finding a property, often via the Land Registry’s own data, and then contacting the LR asking to change the ownership details of that property. Letters will then be sent out to confirm the change, and this is where the scammers will attempt to intercept that correspondence in some way. If they are successful in changing the ownership details of the property, they can then take out a new mortgage on it or sell it and disappear into the sunset with their ill-gotten gains.

Landlords can protect themselves from this scam by keeping their details with the LR up-to-date through their website; www.landregistry.gov.uk/propertyfraud.

  1. Phony NLA Members.

This scam involves fake landlords advertising imaginary rental properties on free listings sites, such as Gumtree. This scam is extra sneaky as these scammers have used the National Landlords Association (NLA) logo, and even in some cases mocked up NLA stationary to reel in more unsuspecting tenants.

Never pay up front for a home you haven’t even viewed, and confirm that your landlord is indeed a member of the NLA by visiting www.goodlandlord.org.uk.

  1. Lettings verification.

This involves a fake Rightmove verification service being created, where an interested tenant is provided with emails and a web page designed to look like they have come directly from Rightmove. They will claim that they have been ‘approved’ as a vendor, however Rightmove does not offer a verification process or ever request or accept money directly from tenants.

Those that think they may have been affected by this scam should report it to Action Fraud immediately, as well as reporting it directly to Rightmove: security@rightmove.co.uk.

  1. Property Investment Courses

As property TV programs increase, it would appear that fraudulent property seminars do too. In exchange for your money, they’ll offer you tips on how to “get rich quick” from the property industry and will then offer you the chance to purchase some property at an amazing discount.

As with all of these scams; if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. So don’t end up out of pocket by thousands of pounds, and steer clear of any “get rich quick” scheme.

  1. Rental Scams

These involve receiving an email from an “Ambassador” or “Noble person” who is trying to rent out his property. There are many variations of this scam, but they can easily be avoided simply by blocking the senders email address and immediately reporting it to Action Fraud. And always be wary if anyone is asking for money, a loan or offering suspiciously high and/or unrealistic rates of return.

Scams: ‘Don’t be rushed, don’t be hushed…’

We can’t image the pain caused to those victims of scams, which is why at Yellow Oak Inventories we wanted to make you aware of the most common scam’s around at the moment. Like in all industries there are good and bad businesses and it often take a small free to ruin the reputation of many. All the companies and landlords we work with provide a highly professional service and proud that our inventory is part of their service.

Inventory Tips for Tenants

Inventory Tips for TenantsSo at Yellow Oak Inventories we’ve covered why it’s important for a landlord and a letting agent to have a thorough and detailed inventory in place, but why is it important for a tenant? And (as a tenant) what should you  be looking out for?

Well at Yellow Oak Inventories we are here to protect all parties involved in the lettings process, therefore we  have constructed the following inventory tips for tenants to provide extra peace of mind for those of you that are  on the move.

Inventory Tips for Tenants:

  1. Go through the inventory report with your methodically and slowly.
  • Is everything in the property included on the inventory report?
  • Is there anything listed on the inventory that you can’t find within the property?
  1. If your landlord/letting agent doesn’t provide you with an inventory, you can make one yourself. However we would encourage you to instruct an independent inventory clerk, as they are an unbiased third party who will further aid you if there is any form of dispute at the end of the tenancy between you and your landlord.
    Contact us here for further help and advice.
  2. If you haven’t been supplied with an inventory, then ask your landlord/agent for a copy, as a rent paying tenant you are entitled to this.
  3. If the property includes a garden/outside space/drive-way parking space/etc make sure it is included on the inventory report too.
  4. Make notes on the inventory of any damage to the property and get agreement from your landlord/letting agent.
  5. Make sure you use all appliances early in the tenancy to determine if they are working correctly.
  6. Take your own photos of the property when you first move in, especially of any existing damage.
  7. Keep your copy of the inventory in a safe place.
  8. Keep good records, in case of a tenancy deposit dispute further down the line.
    – This should include records of anything you’ve damaged or replaced – e.g. photos / estimates/emails.
    – Also keep records of repair work carried out by your landlord – e.g. letters / receipts.
  9. Make sure you are present at the check-out inspection.

Other than your tenancy agreement you should consider your inventory report the second most important part of your tenancy, as this document will be key in deciding how much of your deposit is returned to you at the end of your agreement.

Need any more advice on your inventory report? Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us, either by phone: 020 3713 4933, by email: info@yellowoak.co.uk or via Facebook or Twitter.

 

Our Top 5 Sources of Lettings Information

Our Top 5 Sources of Lettings InformationAt Yellowoak Inventories we always strive to keep you in the loop and fully informed on all the latest legislation changes, which are relevant to you as a landlord in England or Wales. However, we also acknowledge that there are some great websites out there who also provide great content; therefore we wanted to take this opportunity to introduce you to our  Top 5 Sources of Lettings Information.

  1. Property Tribes – propertytribes.com – ‘None of us is smart as all of us.’

Property Tribes is the UK’s busiest landlord and investor community, where you can access discussion forums and share your property issues, ideas, strategies and much more all in one place. It’s free to sign up to and use once you’ve read and agreed to the site rules.

For example, here is a post on Yellowoak Inventories in their forum: *Property inventories and mid-term property inspections with Yellow Oak Inventories. As you can see, this began life as a helpful tips video and then turned into an interesting discussion thread about the importance of avoiding cutting corners when carrying out your inventory.

  1. SAFEagentsafeagents.co.uk‘The Mark of Trust.’

This year marked the 4th annual SAFEagent awareness week, where over 3,000 professional letting agents united together to generate awareness on how vital it is to choose a lettings and management agent who is part of a Client Money Protection (CMP) Scheme.

We fully understand the importance for our clients being made aware that we are trained to the highest possible standard, conforming to a strict code of conduct and this is why we are full certified members of the APIP and AIIC. (Association of Independent Inventory Clerks & Association of Professional Inventory Providers.) Therefore we welcome any official form of ‘endorsement’ in the lettings industry, which is how SAFEAgent provides landlords and tenants with peace of mind that the money they’ve paid in deposits and rent to their agent is fully protected. So those letting agents who display the SAFEagent logo show that they’re part of an approved CMP scheme, which ensures that they are protecting their clients monies correctly.

  1. Landlord Law – landlordlaw.co.uk‘Legal help, services & support for PRS landlords.’

Landlord Law enters its 14th year online this year, written and run by landlord and tenant lawyer Tessa Shepperson. They also run training courses and do their utmost to educate landlords on what can be quite complicated housing laws and rules to get your head around.

  1. Property Industry Eye – propertyindustryeye.com‘Where News Comes First.’

Property Industry Eye is dedicated to the publication of independent, unbiased, factual and accurate news reporting of matters of interest to those working in the UK property market and beyond. As well as news topics, they also provide a public forum discussion to debate topics of the day and a vehicle for service provides to reach their markets.

  1. The mainstream lettings portals; Rightmove, Zoopla and OntheMarket.com

Accessing a combination of these blogs will provide you with no end of insight, information and food for thought on the latest lettings issues, offers and advice from a whole host of trustworthy experts from the UK lettings industry.

All of these websites primarily seek to educate landlords and others within the lettings industry, and we personally applaud them and hope that they carry on doing so!

Yellow Oak Inventories supporting SAFEagent awareness week

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This week marks the 4th annual SAFEagent awareness week, and with over 3,000 professional letting agents uniting together this will be the biggest awareness drive SAFEagent have ever experienced. So throughout the coming week SAFEagent members, and others within the industry, will be promoting the importance of choosing a lettings and management agent who’s part of a Client Money Protection (CMP) Scheme.

What is a CMP Scheme?

CMP schemes are a ‘safety-net’ that provide compensation to landlords and tenants, should their agent misappropriate their rent, deposit or other funds.

As mentioned in our previous blog, as of last Wednesday letting agents now have a statutory duty to fully publicise the fees they charge to both their landlord and tenant clients; so SAFEagent Awareness Week coincides with this latest rule change very nicely.

Why do you support this scheme?

Well, it’s very simple really! At Yellow Oak we believe that it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry, and the SAFEagent scheme adds further protection for landlords and tenants monies. This is because, as a sad fact of life, there are a minority of unscrupulous landlords and letting agents out there who drag the industry into disrepute. So those who manage property and are ‘Fully Endorsed’ by SAFEAgent provide their tenants with the peace of mind that the money they’ve paid in deposits and rent is fully protected. Furthermore, it proves that they are flying the flag for professional standards within the private rented sector.

SAFEagent explained in 2 minutes:

Supporters of SAFEagent include the likes of: Endsleigh, HomeLet, The Property Ombudsman Scheme (TPOS), The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), British Property Federation (BPF), Citizens Advice Bureau and Shelter.

  1. Midgley, Chair of the SAFEagent Steering Group, has also stated that many consumers are still completely unaware that if their agent was to abscond with any funds that are rightfully theirs; there would be no chance of getting them back without a CMP in place. He went on to say that he fully welcomes last week’s newest legislation change but would like to see inclusion in a CMP scheme become mandatory for all UK letting agents. – What do you think about this idea?

At Yellow Oak Inventories we will be supporting this very worthy industry cause throughout the week, as we truly care about consumer protection in the PRS (as members of the Property Redress Scheme ourselves) and want to support raising standards and awareness in any way we can.

The easiest way to show your support is through social media, and SAFEAgent have even made some ready-made status updates that you just need to copy and paste! Find them here.

10 questions Letting Agents should ask their inventory provider

As of the 27th10 questions Letting Agents should ask their inventory provider May 2015, letting agents now have a statutory duty to fully publicise the fees they charge to their landlord and tenant clients.

Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, it’s designed to promote more transparency within the sector, as well as tackling rogue letting agents head-on. This means that agents must now clearly display a list of their fees at each of their offices as well as on their website. Official guidelines issued by the DCLG (Department for Communities and Local Government) and Advertising Standard Authority state that:

“All fees, charges or penalties (however expressed) which are payable to the agent by a landlord or tenant in respect of letting agency work and property management work carried out by the agent in connection with an assured tenancy. This includes fees, charges or penalties in connection with an assured tenancy of a property or a property that is, has been or is proposed to be let under an assured tenancy.”

Announced last year, the government said: “The move ensures a fair deal for landlords and tenants, closing off the opportunity for a small minority of rogue agents to impose unreasonable, hidden charges.”

And those agents that fail to comply with the new rules will face a fine of up to £5,000, which is definitely great news for landlords and tenants. But how will this affect letting agents?

Well we believe that letting agents right across Britain will now be hunting for a much more cost-effective inventory service to what they’re currently using. Because not only are all lettings fees now going to be under deep scrutiny but they will now be battling against other agents in their area (even more so) to offer the cheapest fees around to attract the most clients; landlords and tenants alike.

Furthermore, a comprehensive inventory report shows to your landlord clients that you are dedicated to protecting their property from potential damage, as well as protecting your tenants deposit by providing a transparent and unbiased service.

So as a Letting Agent, what should I be looking for in my next inventory company?

  • Are they certified members of APIP or the AIIC?
  • Are they fully insured?
  • How much experience do they have?
  • Are they members of a Property Redress Scheme?
  • Do they have reviews or testimonials from previous letting agent clients?
  • How detailed are their reports? Can they offer an example report?
  • Do they offer mid-term reviews/inspections?
  • Do they have a good knowledge of your particular area?
  • Do they have extended working hours and days?
  • How do their prices compare to other inventory companies in your area?

At Yellow Oak Inventories we can offer everything mentioned above and more! And we fully understand that as a letting agent you want to provide the best possible service at the most attractive price. So this is why you must always use an independent Inventory Clerk for all inventories, check-ins, mid-terms and check-outs, so as to remain transparent and professional to all of your clients.
Here are 10 advantages of using an independent Inventory Clerk.

Inventories VS Pests

Inventories vs PestsWe’ve covered the issues of pets in rented property and how they can seriously damage your property, even disrupting neighbouring tenant’s right of enjoyment in their home.

But what about pests?

As a landlord you have a legal duty of care to uphold, by firstly ensuring that your property is fit for your tenants to live in from the beginning of their tenancy. This includes being confident that there are no traces of pests or vermin, as these could be extremely detrimental to their health as well as infringing on their right to quiet enjoyment. The 10 most commonly found pests in UK households being mice, rats, wasps, ants, moths, cockroaches, mosquitoes, spiders, flies and fleas.

A thorough inventory check-in report will flag up any pests or vermin from the outset and prevent future problems in the first place.

Other than thoughtless actions by tenants creating a pest problem, such as not clearing away food debris or rubbish, they can also be caused by disrepair to the property; e.g. holes in the walls and floors allowing mice to enter the premises. So if there is a problem with pests or vermin when moving in, as the landlord or letting agent it is you who is responsible for dealing with it.

A mid-term inventory report and inspection will help alert you to any pest problems that your tenant has failed to notice as well as preventing any potential vermin problems.

Carpet and clothes moths have become more common in rented accommodation in recent years and can be tricky to get rid of. I remember a recent story from a landlord about a tenant coming and telling him that she had moths. They hadn’t been there before the tenancy had begun but the tenant said they were in the carpet and were gradually eating it away! The tenant wanted to know what the landlord was going to do about it, but they hadn’t been there before the tenant took up residence and the inventory report proved this. Amongst pest control firms these have been dubbed “posh pests”, as they don’t carry diseases and love to live in wool and cashmere items.

Students in particular have recently come under fire for causing pest problems because of poor hygiene amongst some of them, with research by the Association of Independent Inventory clerks (AIIC) suggesting that pest issues are particularly acute in student accommodation. AICC chair, Pat Barber, talks about a case where mice were discovered during a property inspection: “The tenants complained of mice faeces in cupboards and on the kitchen floor. Unsurprisingly the kitchen was in a really dirty condition with grease, crumbs and other debris everywhere. The tenants were advised to clean up their act.”

A check-out inventory report will fully protect you from pest infestations that are the fault of the tenant.

Being alerted about pests in your property by your tenant shouldn’t be ignored either. If you fail to act they can go above your head and complain to the council’s environmental health department, which could result in a fine or even prison if it poses such a health hazard to the tenants and their neighbours.

Furthermore, if your property keeps falling foul to pesky pests adding an express term into the tenancy agreement, which details exactly who’s responsible for dealing with pests and/or vermin, may be an idea for the future.

When asked “who is responsible” for dealing with an infestation this can become a very grey area, without a concrete inventory in place. Don’t let your tenant take advantage of you, simply get a thorough inventory done by a qualified, professional and independent inventory clerk for total peace of mind. Need more information? Please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us, either by phone: 020 3713 4933, by email: info@yellowoak.co.uk or via Facebook or Twitter.

Protecting your property from tenants from hell is as easy as 1-2-3!

THE FORESTIn reality most of your tenants will be good, pay their rent on time, leave your property in an good condition and treat it as their own.

But with recent concerns over low levels of PRS deposits being registered with tenancy deposit schemes coupled with the amount of ‘Generation Renters’ steadily rising, the minority of bad tenants will also inevitably grow; giving even more reason to be extra vigilant in how you select your next tenants and carry out your ongoing tenancy management skills.  How do you protect your property from tenants from hell?

Vanessa Warwick, co-founder of the property advice forum PropertyTribes.com has a great saying: “The best way to never experience a bad tenant is never to let one into your property in the first place“.

You can use the following check list to protect yourself and your existing tenants from anti-social neighbours.

Yellow Oak Inventories Three Point Anti-Bad Tenant Checklist:

  1. Your 1st pre-tenancy port of call should always be to detailed and methodical tenant referencing procedures;

Credit Check

Employer

Previous Landlord

Previous Letting Agent

Personal References (non-related, professionals e.g. University Lecturer)

Guarantor Reference (if applicable) 

Visited tenants’ current home
Digital quick tip: Don’t forget to ask for email addresses as well as phone numbers for references.

A quick google search on your potential new tenant can also be worthwhile. 

  1. Using an impartial, professional and officially approved property inventory clerk from start to finish, as well as mid-term reviews and regular property inspections, can protect against such common housing hazards as:
    – Drug Dens
    – Overcrowding
    – Damp
    – Mould
    – Subletting
  2. Knowledge is Power
    Keeping up-to-date on local and national legislation, relevant to UK landlords and letting agents, will provide a fool proof safety net for the future protection of your investment and well-being. So consider joining or contacting a nationally recognised organisation, e.g. The National Landlords Association (NLA) @nationalandlord, The Residential Landlord Association (RLA) @RLA_News, NALScheme @NALScheme, SAFEagent @Safeagent or The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) @arla_uk, or a local association, accreditation, PiN or group; e.g. The London Landlord Accreditation Scheme @LLAS_UKLAP.
    Tap into an ocean of knowledge, such as:
    – Deposit Protection
    – Deregulation Bill
    – Eviction Legislation and Advice
    – Universal Credit
    – Licensing

An extreme example of a bad tenant reminds us of a story we heard about back in 2013. An enraged French tenant who had been refused their deposit back caused $2,500 worth of damage when he took a sledgehammer to his apartment in revenge! If you don’t believe us, here’s the video!

As experienced landlords ourselves we have had our fair share of bad tenants and now know many fool proof ways to weed them out. So for more tips on avoiding nightmare tenants please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us, either by phone: 020 3713 4933, by email: info@yellowoak.co.uk or via Facebook or Twitter.

Inventories and Right to Rent Legislation

Inventories and Right to RentSo far at Yellow Oak Inventories we’ve covered the obvious topics relating to the importance of a comprehensive, independent inventory – e.g. accepting pets, hoarding, student lets, tenancy deposit disputes, longer tenancies and redecoration to name a few.

But are you aware of one of the newest pieces of legislation to hit private renting landlords; Right to Rent Immigration Checks,and how a full inventory can become a key part of the Right to Reside Compliance process?

Well firstly, let’s explain the Right to Rent Immigration Checks legislation.

In addition to the referencing process, all landlords will soon be required by law to check the immigration status of their tenants or risk financial penalties for failing to do so. Launched on 1 December 2014 in Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton it’s currently being trialled across the West Midlands but is soon to be rolled out right across the UK later on this year.

Including letting agents and homeowners who let rooms, Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire said:

“We are building an immigration system that is fair to British citizens and legitimate migrants and tough on those who abuse the system or flout the law.

The right to rent checks will be quick and simple, but will make it more difficult for immigration offenders to stay in the country when they have no right to be here.

They will also act as a new line of attack against unscrupulous landlords who exploit people by renting out overcrowded and unsafe accommodation.”

Therefore it is imperative that you seek evidence from your prospective tenant now, of proof of their identity and citizenship, before a tenancy can go ahead. However, in a limited amount of cases where tenants cannot provide their documents due to an ongoing Home Office application, landlords can request a check directly from the Home Office. This can take up to two working days but should not be missed, as you need to be absolutely sure that your potential tenant has the right to be in the country, in accordance with UK law.

A detailed inventory report can also play a vital role in your new Right to Rent Check procedure, via the following steps:

  • Keep an accurate record of the tenancy; from start, middle to finish.
  • Regular mid-term inspections will provide peace of mind that there are no illegal residents living in your property and putting you at risk of hefty fines.
  • Attach a photo of your tenant to the inventory report.
  • Attach your tenants’ passport copy to their inventory report.

As we say at Yellow Oak Inventories, Evidence is Everything, especially alongside this approaching legislation; just waiting for an ignorant landlord to slip up.

So please make sure that all of your checks are up to date and that as much as possible has been fully documented, or expect to face dire consequences!

What are your personal views on these latest changes for UK landlords?

Accepting pets; know the risks!

Accepting petsknow the risks!The majority of landlords, letting agents and managing agents are very wary when it comes to letting their property to tenants with pets – with tenancy and building agreements containing clauses prohibiting pets as standard. We’ve heard our fair share of horror stories from landlord clients over the years, who have come to us for a thorough inventory to prevent such issues happening in the future.

It’s important to know the risks when considering taking on tenants with pets, your property is your investment and potentially your pension nest-egg or children’s inheritance, so you need to protect it against any eventually as meticulously as possible. The pet may not necessarily be the biggest problem, the way the owners looks after them and maintain the property is crucial.

This is where good tenant referencing techniques and an intensive inventory report come into play.

Be prepared from the start
It can be quite telling when a prospective tenant enquires about your property and leaves asking about pets until the very last minute, or (in an increasing number of instances) leaves it until after the viewing has taken place to reveal they have pets! If they’re passionate about their pet then that should shine through, and then followed up with exhaustive tenant referencing procedures.

An example:

A managing agent client told us about taking a letter around to a tenant, only to hear a dog inside the apartment. He then went to inform the landlady only to be met at his office by the tenants neighbour. They were very angry as they didn’t have a pet but had suddenly gotten fleas in their adjacent apartment, confirming that their neighbour had a dog. Before the problem could be addressed the fleas had spread to the other two apartments in the property; ending in the whole building having to be fumigated, with one tenant even leaving; all due to the landlords negligence.
This shows that not only can your property become severely damaged, running into the hundreds of thousands of pounds through unauthorised pets, but can affect your other tenancies too.

This situation could have easily been avoided by a detailed and professional Check-in, Mid-term and Check-out inventory report.

But with 40% of the UK’s housing stock currently privately rented, have you ever thought that you could be deterring great tenants from letting your property, by point blank refusing those with pets?

It’s interesting to note that according to the latest UK Pet Food Manufacturers Association’s (PFMA) Pet Population report that 13million (46% of) households have pets. The top ten pets for 2014 were:

  1. Fish kept in tanks: 20 – 25 million (9% of households)
  2. Fish kept in ponds: 20 million (5% of households)
  3. Dogs: 9 million (24% of households)
  4. Cats: 8 million (17% of households)
  5. Rabbits: 1 million (2.4% of households)
  6. Domestic fowl: 1 million (0.8% of households)
  7. Caged birds: 1 million (1.4% of households)
  8. Guinea Pigs: Half a million (1.1% of households)
  9. Hamsters: 400,000 (1.4% of households)
  10. Lizards: 400,000 (0.7% of households)

Furthermore, according to a survey by the Dogs Trust, 54% of pet owners were never able to find a suitable property that accepted pets, with 8% sadly having to rehome their pet because of this widespread ‘pet prejudice.’

As animal lovers ourselves we know that there are many great tenants out there who are more than capable to properly look after your rental property with a pet in tow. Therefore we believe that with a full inventory in place, coupled with regular inspections by both inventory clerk and landlord/agent and great referencing procedures, you can successfully home a family with pets.

It stands to reason that tenants with pets are more likely to pay a higher rent for your property, as they have less choice, and are also more likely to stay for longer; meaning fewer voids too.

Quick Tip: If you are considering accepting pets on your next tenancy, visiting the applicant tenants current property before signing anything would be advised in these particular circumstances, to gauge how they look after the property and their pets.

  • Do you accept pets?
  • Do you ask for ‘pet references’?
  • Do you have a ‘pet horror story’?

Essentially it’s your choice whether you take pets or not, but whatever you decide we hope that you enlist the support of a fully regulated independent inventory clerk to ensure that your investment is risk free. Get in touch with us today, on 020 3713 4933 or by email: info@yellowoak.co.uk.

Animal hoarding – The importance of mid-term inspections

Animal HordingA horrific story animal hoarding in the news recently definitely brings home the importance of quarterly/mid-term inspections, which I’d like to share with you all.

The shocking discovery was made by a Wisconsin landlord, who had heard barking coming from his rented property; only to open the door and almost be trampled by more than 30 dogs!

Employed as a cleaner, the tenant had only lived there since December 2014 but in 4 short months had accumulated 36 dead dogs, 29 dead cats and 85 starving dogs in the rural rented abode!  Given free reign of the house, animal faeces and urine covered the entirety of the property – with dogs found in closets, crates, duct work and some poor puppies were even found in the stove!

Taking almost 5 hours to round up the living animals, the tenant could now face up to three years in prison for ‘felony aggravated animal cruelty’ plus other charges.

Apart from an obvious lack of tenant referencing (as this tenant is apparently notorious for leaving property in an awful state) this could have all been avoided if a simple quarterly/mid-term inspection had taken place.

Without a firm damage estimate yet, the distraught landlord anticipates at least having to cut out and replace the flooring throughout the house. But we would hazard a guess that the costs will run into many thousands of dollars.

So a quarterly/mid-term inspection at the three month mark might seem a little unnecessary but considering this lettings nightmare it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry!

At Yellow Oak Inventories we are true believers that Evidence Is Everything when it comes to your buy-to-let investment. Therefore a quarterly/mid-term inspection, alongside a check-in and check-out report, will ensure that your tenant is looking after your property as well as fully supporting any future deposit dispute claims.

Prevention is better than cure and the condition of your property is of paramount importance. You want it to be both protected and respected; so a quarterly/mid-term inspection coupled with an inventory is a no brainer really, isn’t it?

At Yellow Oak Inventories we offer cost effective prices, for the utmost quality and detailed inventory reports and interim inspections around; from as little as £50 per quarterly/mid-term inspection reports! (excluding VAT).
Covering London, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northampton and East Oxfordshire areas, please take a look at our full price list HERE.

 

  • Do you have any property damage horror stories? If so, please share them with us!

 

 

The top 3 reasons for losing a tenancy deposit dispute

reasons for losing a tenancy depositDid you know that over the last 7 years just 18.9% of private landlords have been awarded 100% of a disputed deposit, compared to 20.8% of tenants who were awarded the full deposit …?

The latest Annual Review via the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) also reveals:

  • During 2012-2013, 60.3% of deposits were shared between the tenant and their landlord.
  • There were 487 more disputes adjudicated compared to the previous annual review.
  • There was a notable increase in the number of applications made by tenants, as opposed to agents and landlords; 55% initiated by tenants, 33% by Agents and 12% by landlords.
  • Over the last 4 years there has been an increase of around 26% in the average value of disputes referred to the TDS for adjudication – the current average value is around £820.

Apart from the obvious lack of evidence that landlords are still failing to comply when addressing residential deposit disputes, here are the 3 top reasons for losing a tenancy deposit dispute:

  1. Cleaning – 56%
    Since the start of the scheme cleaning has consistently been the most common dispute in cases brought forward to the TDS.
  2. Damage – 43%
    Without sufficient evidence a landlord or letting agent has no chance of winning their claim against property damages. For example:
    A landlord client asked us to carry out a Check-Out Inventory for them, however their Check-In Inventory had been carried out one month into the tenancy. So how they gave the tenants the property was not reflected in the inventory, as they had already lived there for a month. The tenants had two dogs and had only been in the property for 6 months, but the lack of respect and the amount of damage incurred was just incredible; animal waste on the floor, mould everywhere, rotting furniture – all for the sake of lack of organisation.
    This could have easily been avoided if a check-in Inventory had been done before the tenancy began.
  3. Redecoration – 30%
    The TDS has case studies on disputes involving decoration, which you may find useful,

Unbelievably the death of a goldfish was a cause for one tenant/landlord deposit dispute!! But this just proves that Evidence is Everything when it comes to letting your property, and without it you’re simply giving your tenant an unfair advantage.

We believe many of these failed claims could have been fully awarded to the landlord if they had only used a professional inventory clerk to carry out their Check-In, Mid-Term and Check-out reports.

We would also go as far as to say that landlords in London (plus surrounding areas) are even more exposed and prone to deposit disputes; what with the high volume of tenants, who are moving around more frequently than any other area of the country.

Stop making yourself and your property vulnerable; simply enlist the help of a fully regulated, independent inventory Clerk today and start enjoying your investment!
Related topics that may be of interest:

Our Top 10 tips for avoiding disputes

Tenancy deposits

Will longer tenancies cause more tenant disputes? ​​

Will Longer TenanciesAs we edge closer to a General Election there are many interesting (as well as controversial) housing ideas being thrown around, as the UK’s political parties try to attract the attention of the ever-increasing amount of generation renters.

In particular, the Labour Party have claimed that they will provide “a better deal for renters” by introducing standard three-year tenancies, if they were to get into power on May 7th.

With over eight million households in the UK now renting from a private landlord, this proposal aims to give tenants greater protection against rogue landlords within the sector; primarily protecting against retaliatory eviction and giving families “security and peace of mind” by preventing the uprooting of children from their school and their friends.

However, research from The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) shows us that less than 20% of tenants actually rent a home for more than five years, and over a third of tenants stay in rented accommodation for less than a year.

At Yellow Oak Inventories we completely understand the need for tenants to feel secure in their home, and that longer tenancies could benefit many PRS landlords. However we do worry that longer tenancies will mean more tenant deposit disputes. As it stands to reason that the longer a tenant resides within a property, the more likely it is that the property will be subjected to damages and more complex wear and tear issues.
Even more worryingly, it could deter new landlords from entering the buy to let market altogether.

So if standard three year tenancies were introduced, the need for a thorough independent inventory and mid-term inspections would increase dramatically; in order to avoid unnecessary stress and costs further down the line.

Wear – What is the definition of wear and tear? Click for full information.

This could also become a major issue, what with the tax concession allowing landlords of unfurnished properties to claim for the replacement of white goods, carpets and curtains being withdrawn by HMRC, back in April 2013.

Other than finding an independent, impartial and professional inventory provider, here are some other key points that will help prevent damage and excessive wear and tear in your property:

  • Take a deposit
  • Keep the properties maintenance and decoration up-to-date
    g. expect to re-paint walls and ceilings every 3-5 years.
  • Regular inspections
  • For furnished rentals expect to renew items approximately every 3 years
    g. furniture, kitchen wear, etc.
  • Certain items should be treated as ‘expendable’ if they are missing or damaged at the end of a long tenancy
    g. mattress protectors, kitchen utensils, toilet brushes, etc.

How do you feel about standard three year tenancies?

Were you aware of the tax concession for unfurnished properties being removed?

Whatever your views are on these issues pleases share them with us!

 

 

 

 

10 Advantages of using an independent Inventory Clerk

10 Advantages of using an independent Inventory ClerkAre you are considering entering the lettings industry? Have you just entered it for the first time or have had bad experiences in the past through carrying out your own inventory?

Whichever situation you’re in one of your first considerations should be to find a decent independent Inventory Clerk, to carry out all of your new tenant check-ins, mid-term reviews and end of tenancy check-outs.

‘WHY do I need to appoint an independent Inventory Clerk? …’

Here are 10 key reasons to take into account:

  • Protection
    By enlisting the support of a fully qualified independent Inventory Clerk there can be no question of bias, which will ensure that you and your tenants interests and wellbeing is fully protected.
    It will also show your tenant that you are professional, transparent and have their best interests at heart.
  • Trained
    Full members of the AIIC (Association of Independent Inventory Clerks) and APIP (Association of Professional Inventory Providers) provide assurance that your inventory clerk is trained to the highest standard possible. Members of these leading organisations must adhere to a strict code of conduct and professionalism, which also protects against any possible problems or disputes that you (hopefully don’t) encounter with your Inventory company.
  • Informed
    Being part of an official organisation will also keep your inventory clerk up-to-date on current legislation and any changes to the law in relation to the Inventory and buy to let sector in general.
    This provides an ideal safety-net for both landlord and tenant, preventing any confusion or misunderstandings in the future.
  • Knowledgeable
    As experts in their field, they will be able to provide continuous support and advice whenever you need it.
    For example, the definition of fair wear and tear can be a difficult issue to decipher as there is no precise statute on what it actually is. But an experienced independent Inventory Clerk will know this common problem inside-out and back-to-front, so this won’t even become an issue with the right company.
  • High Quality
    A visual and written report on the condition of your property should include detailed information and observations on all contents, fittings and fixtures at the beginning, middle and end of the tenancy. Supplemented by high quality digital photographs of every room, any specific damage and the level of cleanliness will ensure an in-depth record of your property at the time of each inspection.
  • Save Time
    As a landlord your time is precious! So by using an independent inventory clerk you can avoid wasting time with disagreements or disputes when the tenancy ends; giving you more time to concentrate on other important property issues.
  • Peace of Mind
    Putting the condition of your property in the safe hands of an experienced Clerk will give you peace of mind that any potential issues will be noted and help getting resolved quickly and fairly.
  • Avoid the void
    You want to avoid a rental void at all costs; as no tenant means no rent! Therefore an experienced Clerk will provide a quick turnaround, so that you can get a new tenant in situ as soon as possible.
  • Keep on top of maintenance issues
    A thorough inventory coupled with a mid-term inspection and snagging report (for new builds) will assist in discovering any existing or potential maintenance issues that a tenant may not have noticed or reported. It will also help to determine whether your tenant is complying with their contractual agreement and treating your property with respect.
  • Region Specialists
    A good Inventory Clerk will also have regionalised expertise so they will have further insight into any specific legislation that may affect a certain area, as well as any common environmental issues that affect the area too. For example: an area that is prone to damp.

 

The Yellow Oak Inventories team completely understand your needs, offering everything listed above and more; fully protecting your investment as well as the important relationship that you have with your tenants.

Please contact us today and discover how we can make life as a landlord 100% easier.

Silver Landlords – Take the ‘belt and braces’ approach to protect your pension pot

SILVER LANDLORDSAs the UK Government attempts to make people take more responsibility for their future finances via pension reform this year, it’s widely predicted that many on the brink of retirement will look toward the buy-to-let sector; dawning a new era of ‘silver landlords’ from April 2015.

Are you thinking of accessing some or all of your pension pot this year and investing it into buy to let?

But don’t really know much about how the pension system works or where to start as a first time landlord …?

What with private renting taking over social housing for the first time in 25 years, buy-to-let investment has gone from strength to strength over the last two decades and is now a tried and tested way to maximise  returns on your savings.

How will the new system work?

The pension system is being completely overhauled, so no matter how much you decide to take out from a defined contribution pension after retirement, withdrawals from your pension will be treated as income. So instead of being taxed 55% for full withdrawal as it has been in the past, for those aged 55 or over, from April 2015 the amount of tax you will pay on what you withdraw will depend on the amount of other income you have made in that year.

Key points include:

– 25% of all pension pots will remain completely tax-free.

– ‘Defined contribution’ pensions and ‘defined benefit’ pensions can both benefit from the new system.

– Instead of paying the 55% rate of tax when passing on their pension, those who die under the age of 75 will be able to pass on their unused contribution pension as a lump sum to a person of their choice tax free.

– Those with unspent defined contribution pensions who die over the age of 75 can pass this on to a person of their choice, who will be able to take it as a lump sum. This will be taxed at 45% or as income and pay their normal rate of income tax.

So as a nation of renters and an estimated 18 million people potentially able to withdraw their entire pension and invest it into property from April, it stands to reason that you would also wish to fully protect your assets – so where should you start?

Take the Yellow Oak Inventories “Belt and Braces” approach.

Access free, independent and impartial guidance

To be confident that you’re putting your pension savings to the best use possible, impartial guidance is imperative to make an informed and clear decision. The government website suggests using the internet, over the phone, or face to face at a Citizens Advice Bureau. Pension providers also have a duty to explain this to their customers who are approaching retirement age.

Mortgages

Look for a mortgage provider who has made improvements to their policies, that reflect more choice for pensioners.

For example: In July 2014 specialist lender Precise Mortgages upped the maximum age from 75 to 85 that a buy-to-let borrower could be at the end of their term.

Enlist a good letting agent

You are basically putting your life savings into this investment, so you want to be sure that it’s secure. Self-management can be extremely complicated and time consuming; not something many over 55 year olds will really want the hassle with. So by enlisting the help of a good letting agent this will provide you with peace of mind that your investment and lifesavings are being properly looked after, as well as dealing with complicated and tiresome issues.

Research at least 3 agents before deciding on the one for you and make sure that they’re a member of at least one of the following professional bodies: ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents) NALS (National Approved Letting Scheme) UKALA SAFEAgent PLUS part of 1 of the 3 government backed tenancy deposit schemes; MyDeposits / The DPS / The TDS.

Accurate Referencing and Rent Guarantee Insurance

If you decide to go it alone without a letting or managing agent, apart from keeping up to date with all new and existing PRS legislation.

If you’re a new silver landlord you need to understand the importance of thoroughly referencing potential tenants and rent guarantee insurance.

There is no completely foolproof way of making sure your tenant won’t fall into rent arrears, so coupling accurate references with a good rent guarantee product will create a valuable safety net for all involved.

Independent Inventory

Not only will a thorough and independent inventory protect the condition of your property (plus any furnishings included in the tenancy) but it will help you to avoid disputes in the future too. Be sure that your inventory company is fully regulated, insured, trustworthy, experienced and impartial before enlisting their services.

In essence you are putting your entire life savings into property, so you need to be confident and happy that it’s in safe hands for the foreseeable future.

Discover why Yellow Oak Inventories is a great accompaniment to anyone interested in entering the UK rental market, by calling us today on 020 3713 4933.

 

Wear – What is the definition of wear and tear ?

Wear - What is the definition of wear and tear _So you’ve spent hours / months / maybe even years getting your property fit for rental, but now you’re worrying about wear and tear; ‘how do I decipher what is reasonable and what isn’t?’

The law currently defines fair wear and tear as “reasonable use of the premises by the tenant and the ordinary operation of natural forces”, however there is no precise statute on what ‘reasonable wear and tear’ actually is.

This is why you should always enlist the help of an experienced and knowledgeable inventory clerk to determine this.

Your tenant has a contractual duty of care to leave the property at the end of a tenancy in the same condition recorded at the start. But, no landlord can expect to have old replaced with new at a tenant’s expense – as this would be classed as ‘betterment’.

Betterment and Apportionment
To avoid betterment, the allocation or apportionment of any costs, charges or compensation for damage must take into account all the factors relating to

(a) Fair wear and tear,
(b) The most appropriate remedy and,
(c) That the landlord should not end up either financially or materially in a better position than they were at the beginning of the tenancy or as they would expect to be at the end of the tenancy having considered (a) and exercised (b).

So for example; a landlord cannot request that the tenant pays for repairs or replacement of a carpet that they’ve simply walked across throughout the tenancy.  However, if the carpet had been freshly cleaned and was free from stains/marks at the start of the tenancy, but was covered with cigarette burns at the end check-out then you would be entitled to deduct a reasonable amount from your tenants deposit for the replacement of the flooring.

As a compliant and pro-active landlord you have a duty of care to find the most reasonable and practical remedy for all – therefore, if an issue regarding wear and tear can be rectified simply by:

– replacement,
– repair
– and/or cleaning

then these 3 methods should be considered first before going down the compensation route, which can become complicated, stressful and costly.

This is why instruction of a competent and professional inventory clerk is paramount, as they will be able to accurately comment on fair wear and tear in your particular situation.

There are a number of factors that we take into consideration when assessing fair wear and tear, which include:
– Condition of the property at the start and end of tenancy
– Mid-term inspection
– Length of the tenancy
– Age of the property
– Number of tenants living in the property throughout the tenancy
– Pets

Does the furnished lettings wear & tear allowance apply?

The 2011/2012 Wear and Tear Allowance is 10% of the “relevant rental amount” and is available to those who let out residential property as ‘furnished.’ (This does not apply to holiday lets or partially furnished properties.)

The “relevant rental amount” is:

– The receipts from furnished residential lettings recognised in arriving at the profits for the period LESS
– Any expenses that would normally be borne by the tenant.
It covers things like beds, sofas, fridges, freezers, curtains, carpets, crockery, etc and shouldn’t be confused with fixtures that are integral to the building, e.g. baths, basins, toilets, immersion heaters, etc…

We have a vast knowledge and wealth of experience in dealing with fair wear and tear issues in residential accommodation, including furnished property matters.

Prevention of unreasonable wear and tear AKA damage

– Thorough Inventory.
Enlist the help of a fully regulated, insured, experienced and impartial independent inventory clerk who can provide a detailed, full colour report– on check-in, check-out and mid-term.

– Rental Deposit.
Landlords cannot keep a tenants deposit due to general wear and tear, but they can use it to pay for any damages incurred by the tenant throughout the tenancy.

– Periodic Inspections.
Regular property inspections by the landlord will provide peace of mind that the tenant is keeping the property in good repair and will flag up any existing issues and/or potential future complications regarding wear and tear.

We thoroughly understand your needs and expectations as a landlord to make your job quicker and easier, as well as always ensuring we are available to answer any questions or queries you may have.

Please contact us today and discover how we can help you get the most out of your business.