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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

 

 

 

 

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.