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Inventories

Most landlords will ask tenants to sign an inventory at the beginning of a tenancy to record the condition of the property and furnishings, and this will be checked against condition at the end of the term. Sometimes a professional inventory company will be used, but the landlord may prefer to use a pro forma inventory form.

If no formal inventory process is used by the landlord, tenants might like to consider preparing their own inventory when they move in so they have a record of the state of the property themselves. Shelter publishes a pro forma that could be used. It is also handy to take photographs (with the date captured if possible); remember to check and photograph ‘hidden’ areas, such as inside a fridge, washing machine detergent drawer or meter cupboard, because these can often be dirty.

When you are getting ready to leave a tenanted property, it is a sensible precaution to check the start of tenancy report against the current state of the property so you can put right anything that is your responsibility, clean the property, touch up paintwork, replacement any missing crockery or linen, and generally return the property to the same position it was in when you moved in.

It is always a good idea to be present at the date of the check out to ensure you can discuss any issues that are flagged up at the time.

If the landlord has arranged for the property to be professionally cleaned before the tenancy starts, they will expect the same level of cleaning at the end of the tenancy. It is a simple matter to find a professional cleaning company online and it's not that expensive.

All of this is designed to avoid disputes at the end of the tenancy and to make sure that the tenant gets back as much of the security deposit as possible.

Remember to leave all keys behind. It can be an expensive oversight if the landlord has to change the locks and passes the cost on to the tenant.

And finally, don’t leave it looking like this ...

 

4 May 2016, I Am The Agent


Is your tenant sub-letting?

Got the perfect tenant?

We all know the definition of the perfect tenant ... one who keeps to himself, makes no noise, asks for no maintenance work and pays the rent on the dot. The perfect tenant?

If that’s your tenant, then ninety-nine times out of a hundred you’ve got yourself a gem, so hang on to him! But occasionally, the reason you don’t hear a peep is because your ‘tenant’ is not in fact ‘your tenant’ and wants to keep a low profile!

There are some scam artists who pose as potential tenants, agree to take on your place, get through referencing fine, but all with the intention of sub-letting the property to someone else, usually at a massively inflated rent. They probably had someone lined up to take it on before you even let to them, and it’s possible that the person living in the place doesn’t have the right to reside in the UK so this is one of the few ways they can get a home here.

Of course your tenancy agreement should stipulate that sub-letting is not allowed, but in practice scammers are not going to take any notice of that.

How to spot whether your potential ‘tenant’ is actually taking on your place to sub-let it

  • The tenant might offer to pay additional months’ rent in advance without prompting. This might mean he is trying to avoid referencing, but could also indicate subletting is in his mind. He might already have pocketed the money from his own sub-tenant.
  • Think about whether the property is suitable for the tenant’s requirements. Is it too large? Sometimes reception rooms are converted into extra bedrooms so that more cash can be raked in through the sub-letting.

... and after you have let?

  • Keep an eye on the property if you can. You could arrange visits from time to time, to check on maintenance issues but also to see that nothing untoward is going on. Of course as landlord you will need to give notice before visiting and you can’t just march in without warning.
  • If you have friendly neighbours, ask them to let you know about any odd comings and goings.
  • Take a peek to see the name of the person to whom post is addressed at the property.
  • Before signing up with the tenant, think about including a six month break clause in the tenancy agreement so you can terminate it before a full year if you are not happy with the way things are going.

And don’t forget, you will always need to check your tenant’s ID and obtain proof that they have the right to reside in the UK. You’ll see details about what you need to do about the right to rent in our January blog.

Referencing

Don't forget that I Am the Agent, the UK's largest online estate agency, can help you with referencing tenants. We've covered this in our blog on 22 April. It will at least help to establish your tenant's bona fides!

RLA survey

The Residential Landlords Association is carrying out a survey of landlords’ experiences of this problem to gauge the extent of the problem of sub-letting and hope to use the information they obtain to campaign on behalf of landlords in the private rented sector.

 

29 April 2016, I Am The Agent


Are you a tenant thinking of finding a new pad?

Here are some tips to help you find your perfect place.

Avoiding scams

Never, ever, part with any money until you have inspected the flat for yourself, and have seen the landlord’s proof of ID and ownership. (It is easy to get hold of the landlord’s proof of ownership from the Land Registry website for a nominal fee.) A genuine landlord will ask to see your ID, after all, so shouldn’t have a problem with returning the compliment!

Some scammers advertise properties online which are not theirs, then tell excited prospective tenants that they are not currently in the UK and cannot show the property, but if the tenant wants to send them a deposit (often via a fake AirBNB transfer) they will hold the property for the tenant until they return to the UK. In practice, of course, they disappear into the sunset with the poor tenant’s deposit.

Can you afford it?

You need to be realistic. It might be your dream home, but can you really afford it once you have added on all the bills, council tax, broadband etc. Don’t forget that you will need to find about six weeks’ security deposit upfront, as well as the first month’s rent. On a monthly rent of £850, you might need to find £2,206 before you move in.

Shelter UK, the housing and homeless charity, has set up a useful rent calculator which can help with this. Although you’ll see that Shelter’s calculator factors in agency fees; of course here at I Am the Agent, the UK’s leading online estate agent, we never charge agency fees on our online lettings.[1]

What’s included?

Always check what’s included.

Some landlords will expect all bills to be paid separately by the tenant on top of the rent; some will include bills in the rent. Check what yours plans to do. You will need to think about arrangements for separate meter readings if you are paying them yourself.

Most landlords will leave behind white goods, so check they are in working order before you move in or ask for broken appliances to be replaced beforehand. If it’s unfurnished, check that your furniture will fit in. You don’t want to find that you can’t get your sofa through the front door on move-in day.

How long for?

Most tenancy agreements last for twelve months but some landlords like to have a six month break clause. Check whether your potential landlord is going to ask for a break clause, so that you can decide whether you want to take the risk of having to move again after six months.

Will you get on with the landlord?

You may have to deal with the landlord from time to time if there are maintenance or other problems. Do you like the landlord and would you be comfortable dealing with him on a business footing? Could you manage a landlord who likes to ‘drop in to see how you are’ on a regular basis?

Safety

Landlords have a legal obligation to check gas safety at their property every twelve months. Make sure you ask to see the current gas safety certificate before you move in.

EPC

Landlords also have a legal obligation to have an energy performance certificate (this lasts for ten years). The certificate will be a good indicator of whether the heating bills will be high, so it is worth asking to see it before deciding whether to take a property. (A copy can be obtained free from the EPC register online.)

Inventory

Some landlords will arrange for a professional inventory to be carried out when you move in. Both parties need to confirm they agree with it before it is finalised, so with luck this should help avoid disputes about the condition of the place at the end of the term.

If the landlord doesn’t fix up a professional inventory, consider taking photos yourself (with the date included on them) when you move in to record the condition of the property.

Check the cleanliness when you move in. If the home has been professionally cleaned before you move in, the landlord will most likely expect you to pay for a professional clean when you move out.

It’s also an idea to record (those photos again!) the state of appliances when you move in, such as the detergent tray on the washing machine or the inside of the fridge, so that it is clear how you took it on.

Deposit protection

Landlords must pay the tenant’s deposit into a government approved deposit protection scheme within four weeks of you handing it over, and must also provide evidence that this has been done. The tenancy agreement you sign has to state which scheme is being used.

And finally, don’t forget our Tuesday's Tenant Tips! We will be live here on Tuesdays between 2.00 pm and 3.00 pm. Share with us and our online users little snippets of knowledge, tips and ideas. We will answer queries you may have, live online, so join us next Tuesday. Mind you, we hope we have covered a lot of them in this blog!

 

[1] Except in the case of in-branch, managed lettings.

27 April 2016, I Am The Agent


Tenant referencing

Everyone knows how important it is to carry out reference checks on tenants before they move in. So it’s astonishing to find that some landlords still don’t carry out the most basic background checks on a tenant they may have met only once before.

At I Am the Agent, the UK’s largest online estate agency, we offer landlords a four-point credit referencing check. This is a comprehensive referencing service which covers:

  • Credit score and history
  • Affordability
  • Income reference (written and verbal)
  • Previous landlord reference (written and verbal)

So landlords can immediately establish from the report that the tenant can actually afford the rent with plenty of cash left over each month for other bills and living expenses. They will also be able to see straight away that the tenant does indeed work where they say they do and that their previous landlords really loved them.

And don’t forget, if the affordability is a bit of an issue, the landlord can always ask for a guarantor as cover in case the tenant can’t pay, perhaps because of loss of job. Obviously, we would recommend that the guarantor is checked out too!

This should go some way to giving peace of mind that the tenant won’t skip the rent and so avoid the heartache, time, cost and trouble of having to evict a non-paying tenant.

The beauty of the referencing service is that it can all be done online; once the landlord and tenant have agreed the rent and term of the tenancy, just pass the details over to us and we will get this all done online. Landlords can choose whether they ask the tenants to pay for the referencing too.

 

22 April 2016, I Am The Agent


Tuesday's Tenant Tips!

I will be trying to help our ever growing tenant community with tips on renting properties. Little snippets of knowledge, tips and ideas. We are also here to answer queries you may have and will be live on line to assist with any queries between 2-3pm on Tuesday. Ok let’s get started!

If you are renting a property with an owner, online estate agent or one with a big shiny shop, we advise never to send monies without seeing the property, yourself! Photos paint a completely different story, I mean look at the below property advertised with a drive and landscaped gardens!

See you next Tuesday.

Kris

19 April 2016, I Am The Agent


Limited Offer Exclusive to Greenwich property owners!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 T &C's: Valid until the end of May 2016 and only applies to property within a 5km radius of SE10 and Greenwich. 

SEASONAL Discount.jpg (341.33 kb)

14 April 2016, I Am The Agent


How Brexit might affect homeowners

 

I Am the Agent the UK’s leading online estate agent is very pleased to have the opportunity to share the views of Paula Higgins, the founder and Chief Executive of the Home Owners Alliance, on the vexing question of what Brexit might mean for Britain’s homeowners. Paula says:

‘The UK has over 17million homeowners with a further 5million aspiring to own their own home. How will a Brexit affect us as homeowners?

 

Paula Higgins, founder and Chief Executive of the HomeOwners Alliance (HOA) has the following thoughts on the impact of a Brexit on Britain’s homeowners:

 

1.      Interest rates: Most economists expect if we do vote for Brexit, it will lead to the pound Sterling falling in value. That will make imports (such as German-made fridges and washing machines) more expensive, and lead to increased pressure on the Bank of England to put up interest rates. Therefore, a vote for Brexit is likely to mean that the cost of your mortgage will rise faster than it otherwise would. This, in turn, would have a dampening effect on house prices.

 

2.      Housing demand: it is claimed that if we vote to leave the EU, then the UK could do more to reduce immigration to these shores. That would reduce demand for housing, and so house prices are likely to rise less fast (or even potentially fall) – making it easier for first time homebuyers to get on the housing ladder.

 

3.      Builders: on the other hand, our building sites are dependent on Eastern Europeans, so a clamp down on immigration following a Brexit could lead to a shortage of plumbers and electricians. This could put up the cost of building houses and doing-up homes.

 

4.      House-building: the EU has regulations on where we can build houses, which were mentioned by Justice Secretary Michael Gove as one reason to leave the EU. So if we have Brexit, it could be easier to reduce some restrictions on planning and housebuilding, helping us increase the number of houses that are built.  That in turn reduces pressure on house prices, making it easier for first time buyers. But may not be good news for our wildlife or green spaces.

 

5.      House prices: at the HOA we think that leaving the EU would lead to downward pressure on house prices – they might not actually fall, but they would rise more slowly than they otherwise would. One survey showed that most people thought a Brexit would lead to a rise in house prices – but it is difficult to see why that would happen.

 

6.      Energy Performance Certificates: it is an EU requirement to have these when selling or buying a home. Leave the EU, and EPC’s could well follow, very slightly reducing the cost of moving. This is likely to be followed by the ditching of the EU target for Zero Carbon Homes by 2020, another one that is not massively loved by the government.

 

7.      Recycling: Most of our recycling laws are derived from the EU, so potentially, if we left the EU, the government could make it easier for us just to throw more stuff into landfill. But that would cause an eco-outrage, so we think such a change is unlikely (and in our humble opinion, unwelcome).

 

8.      VAT on building and energy bills: the EU sets the broad bands of VAT that member states must apply, and countries must get approval to change the rate. So theoretically, if we left the EU, the government won’t need to ask to reduce VAT on extensions to the same level it is on new build – that is 5%. The HOA has been pushing for reduction of VAT on building work to align it with new build, but the government hasn’t budged. So it seems unlikely that leaving the EU will make any difference in practice.

 

In conclusion

There are quite a few reasons to think there could be downward pressure on house prices, upward pressure on mortgage costs, slightly lower moving costs, and more expensive extensions. So if you are mortgage free, trading up, with no plans to do building work, you could be better off. But if you have a big mortgage, are trading down and want to refurbish your new house, you could be worse off.

 

Like all economic predictions, this all comes with a blood-pressure raising big dose of salt. Most people thought that the City of London would be finished if we didn’t join the Euro, but it went from strength to strength. No one knows for certain what will happen if we leave the EU – no country has done this before – which is why there is such a debate about it.’

 

Share your views and opinions on what Brexit means to you and we will be happy to publish and raise questions with Paula directly.

 

 

#brexit  #property #onlineestateagent #homeownersalliance #paulhiggins

21 March 2016, I Am The Agent


The April Stamp Duty Increase – How will it affect you?

Being hailed as the “final nail in the coffin of small landlords,” the upcoming increase in stamp duty will dramatically change the way that property management, online estate agencies and home buying will operate in the UK in coming years. November 25th’s Spending Review and Autumn Statement added 3 percentage points to the stamp duty that is to be paid by home purchasers who own existing property, and this change is set to begin in April of 2016.

While the figure “3 percentage points” may not sound like a dramatic change, do not be deceived by this seemingly small number. In fact, this increase will see those purchasing a second (or tenth) property paying nearly three times the amount of stamp duty on their new property. For instance, someone buying a £350,000 buy to let property will currently pay £7,500 in stamp duty taxes.  As of April that amount will skyrocket to £18,000 pounds – a 250% increase.

This massive increase will certainly hinder the ability of many prospective landlords to go out and buy a second or third property. That said, firms that own more than fifteen properties will not be subject to this nasty tax increase, a move that many argue unfairly pits small time landlords against massive corporations. This will surely give the huge property giants yet another advantage when it comes to snapping up the available valuable homes across the country.

What should you be doing before April?

As April approaches and the increase in stamp duty tax looms, it is now the time for potential homebuyers looking to own a second, third or tenth ‘buy to let’ rental property to act quickly. Right now is the best time to buy – if you wait, you will be hit with this massive increase and potentially lose your chances of ever owning a rental property and also lose all of the financial benefits that come along with this.

One of the first steps you need to take to find reliable and accurate advice - begin your search by perusing the internet for the cheapest online estate agency that has excellent reviews and trustworthy agents. The UK's largest online estate agency is always a good place to start –they will be able to point you in the right direction and help you begin viewing the available properties on the market.

Financial experts and online estate agents all agree – if you want to own an investment property, now is the time to act. Waiting even a few more months may put you at a deep disadvantage when it comes to achieving your financial goals – you don’t want to get caught up in the last minute melee as landlords from across the UK rush to snap up all available homes. Contact a trusted online estate agent today – don’t lose out.

 

To find out more about selling your property online via I Am The Agent please call 0333 4441 007 or email info@iamtheagent.com . If you are looking to find your dream home before April 2016, get searching here

8 February 2016, I Am The Agent


Checking tenants’ right to rent - New rules from 1 February 2016. BE READY!

New rules come into force after 1 February 2016 in relation to checking tenants’ right to rent residential property in the UK. (Landlords in Birmingham and surrounding areas have had to follow these rules since December 2014.) We wanted to ensure our landlords were ready. Using an online estate agent saves you thousands but you must ensure that all the boxes are checked, so here we go the less fun bit: 

The fine for renting to tenants who are not entitled to rent in the UK is an eye-watering £3,000, so it is certainly worth ensuring you have completed all checks before entering into any tenancy.
 
The checks must be made within 28 days of the start of a new tenancy in respect of all tenants aged 18 and over, whether or not they are named in the tenancy agreement, and in relation to all types of tenancy agreement (including oral agreements).
Landlords will have to:
 
  • See original documents provided by the tenants confirming they are allowed to live in the UK. The acceptable documents are listed here. The tenant must be present when the documents are provided, so it won’t be possible to rely on copy documents sent by email. (If the letting is to an overseas tenant, landlords must see the original documents before the tenant can move in.
 
  • Check that the documents belong to the tenant and that they are genuine. Also, check that dates and photographs in related documents correspond.

  • Check that the right to stay has not expired.

  • If the permission to stay is time-limited, checks should be made to ensure appropriate extensions are obtained. (A fine   can also be levied if permission to stay runs out during a tenancy.) If the tenant’s right to rent legally in the UK             expires during the tenancy the landlord is obliged to report this to the Home Office and can be fined if the report           is not made.

  • Obtain any corroborating documents that confirm the tenant’s identity.

  • Keep copies of the documents in a form that can’t be altered (eg, a photocopy) with the date noted. Copies should be   maintained for at least a year after the tenancy has expired.

  • One small relief: in the event that a tenant sub-lets without the landlord’s knowledge, it is the responsibility of the tenant to make these checks, with the commensurate penalties if they do not do so!

  • Landlords will also need to keep an eye on data protection law, to ensure they are not breaching any of its requirements in relation to an individual’s identity documents.

  • Landlords of managed properties are entitled to ask their managing agents to deal with all these checks, and this requirement should be stated in writing in the management contract.
 
For more information, there is some helpful Government guidance here.
 
22 January 2016, I Am The Agent


The 3 Million Reasons That Christmas Is The Best Time To Market Your Property online

If you’re thinking of selling your property in 2016, you may just want to think about getting your property on the market before Christmas to take advantage of the millions of people who search for property as soon as the last Christmas cracker has been pulled.

Last year Rightmove had over a million visitors on Christmas Day – perhaps in part due to more people using mobile devices for their house-hunting (imagine the number of people multi-screening while watching the Queen’s speech).

It’s from Boxing Day onwards when things really start to get exciting, with millions of people coming to Rightmove to find their next home over the Christmas holiday period.

Once the New Year rolls around the traffic numbers make the case for making sure your property marketing is prepared before the start of 2016 -nearly 3 million people visited Rightmove on the first working day last January, starting a trend which saw sellers who choose a Rightmove agent benefiting from record-breaking traffic levels with over 110m visits for the month of January.

If you’re thinking of selling your property

Remember that it takes some time for your online estate agent or you to prepare the marketing of your property, including getting photos taken, floorplans prepared and Energy Performance Certificates (EPC’s) commissioned. Start now and you’ll be ahead of the game, leaving your to focus on those New Year’s resolutions when January rolls around! For only £299inc VAT to sell your property online and receive a free ‘for sale’ board.

To find out more on getting your property online and visible on all property portals click here.

 

  *finding and information courtesy of Rightmove.co.uk

22 December 2015, I Am The Agent