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This two-minute read takes a look at the ICO and what Havering landlords need to do.
The ICO is the Information Commissioner’s Office and covers the whole of the UK. The ICO website explains that they are ‘The UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.’
It’s the law
It doesn’t matter how many properties you have, how many tenants, nor how many people you work with or have working for you. It is the whole business that must be registered. As a landlord, you are considered to be a business, even if you’re a sole trader.
Not just for agents
Some landlords think that their letting agent has to be registered and therefore, they themselves are exempt. This is not the case. Anyone who handles personal data and stores it electronically must register. This could be as little as a name or phone number for the tenant that was texted or emailed to you.
What are the costs?
The ICO fee will be between £40 and £2,900 per annum. The fee is paid annually. It is worked out depending on the size of the business and turnover. There is a self-assessment you can carry out on the website. Have a look at it here. This will show you what amount you will have to pay.
What’s the risk?
Tenants could raise complaints about you to the ICO if they believe you’re misusing their data. The ICO might then investigate. If you had a complaint about the tenant, like unpaid rent, the tenants could use your non-registration against you. If you don’t register with the ICO and get caught, the fines can range from £400 to £4,350.
How to do it
It’s a simple 15-minute process to get registered. It’s not something an agent can do on your behalf. Visit this webpage to get started.
You’ll need to give the ICO:
- The name and address of the business that needs to be registered
- Turnover and staff numbers
- Business details
- Credit/debit card details
The fee will be due again in 12 months’ time. It could be easier to give the ICO direct debit details.
If you are a landlord and would like further advice about this or any other lettings issue, please don’t hesitate to get in touch for a free, no-obligation chat on 01708 981229.
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This three-minute read guides Havering landlords to declaring their rental income in the best way possible.
If you rent out a property and receive a rental income from that, you must declare it. You have to pay tax on any profit. It doesn’t change your employment status to ‘self-employed’ though, as it’s considered an investment.
Of course, HMRC can be more complicated than a day at Hogwarts. The best advice will be to seek professional advice from an accountant but we’ve picked out some key points to start you off.
HMRC unimaginatively call this ‘record keeping’. Be disciplined and keep receipts, bank statements, invoices, rent books, even mileage logs, so you (or your accountant) can easily make the deductions against your tax bill. This means you get to keep more of the profit away from ‘the tax man’ in a legal and ethical way, of course.
There are a range of other allowable expenses. They are deductible only if they’re exclusively for renting out a property and if you pay for them yourself. This could include:
- Water, council tax, electricity, and gas
- Services of, for example, cleaners or gardeners
- Accountancy fees
- Ground rents
- Service charges
Maintenance and repairs
The definition from the gov.uk website is: ‘A repair restores an asset to its original condition, sometimes by replacing parts of it’.
If the property requires new guttering after a storm, this would be considered a repair and therefore, a deductible expense.
However, if you wanted to improve the guttering for another reason, like changing the colour, this would not be allowable.
Improvements are not an allowable expense, like replacing a laminate kitchen work surface for granite. The exception to this is updating things to their ‘nearest modern equivalent’. This could be things like changing single-glazing to modern, double-glazed windows.
If you replace an item with an upgrade, then you can claim the cost as if you had replaced like-for-like. Take the work surface example: a 2m length of laminate would be £150. The same size granite work surface could be £600. You could claim the £150, not the £600.
Domestic item replacement
Furnishings like carpets and curtains are likely to be able to be deducted, as long as you’re replacing like-for-like. Beds and free-standing wardrobes, or other items that can be considered ‘movable furniture’ are also deductible. Appliances, such as TVs or fridge/freezers, and even smaller items, like cutlery and crockery can be offset against your income.
If you’re letting a property that you have a mortgage on, you can’t deduct the full amount of the mortgage payment. You can only offset the interest element of the mortgage repayment against the income. Similarly, if you use your car for a purpose related to the rental property, you can only deduct the vehicle running costs for that particular purpose. This includes mileage rate deductions.
For rental opportunities in Havering, get in touch with us on 01708 981229. Our lettings specialists can help you consider the market and the best options out there for you.
COPYRIGHT ACCORD ESTATES LTD 2021
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In this three-minute read, we look at what a new survey about mould in UK homes reveals about the tenant/landlord relationship.
Let's unpack what local landlords can learn from the findings of the memorably titled Mouldy Nation Report.
Firstly, before you ask, yes there really is a document called the Mouldy Nation Report (we're not making it up).
Uswitch, an energy and finance comparison website, produced the report after surveying 2,000 people from across the UK about mould in their homes. It found that:
- 62% of people have an issue with mould in their home.
- Of those with a mould problem, 64% were renting (private, student, or social).
- 40% of people wouldn't clean mould themselves if they were in a rented home.
- 64% of people believe it is the landlord's sole responsibility to rectify a mould problem.
Interestingly (or infuriatingly), those who reported mould in their home, also fessed up to contributing to the problem by:
- Drying clothes indoors (40%).
- Leaving the kitchen or bathroom door open when cooking or showering (22%).
- Putting furniture directly against walls (21%).
- Keeping the shower curtain folded when wet (11%).
- Leaving spillages instead of cleaning them up (6%).
For the record, it's the landlord's responsibility to repair a problem that is causing mould (leaks, broken damp proof courses, inadequate insulation). The landlord must also remove mould that is affecting a tenant's health and safety.
But it takes two to tango, and it is the tenant's responsibility to:
- Adequately ventilate the property within reasonable means.
- Keep the property clean.
Two broader issues jump out at us here. They are:
- As a landlord, you must keep your property in good condition. If there is a structural issue causing the mould, deal with it. Also, make sure extraction fans and the heating are working, so your tenant has no excuse to claim it's your fault.
- Landlords are not nannies or babysitters; they shouldn't have to explain basic hygiene to a tenant who thinks it's okay to ignore spillages and leave wet shower curtains curled up. You must invest the time at the beginning of a tenancy to find the right tenant, someone who will keep up their end of the bargain by keeping your property clean and tidy.
The team at Accord Sales & Lettings are experienced at tenant selection. As well as running credit checks, we go through references with a fine-tooth comb, because life's too short to be giving cleanliness lectures or straightening other people's shower curtains.
From the team at Accord, thanks for reading. If you'd like to learn more about our tenant selection and property management services, get in touch.
COPYRIGHT ACCORD ESTATES LTD 2021
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In this three-minute read, we share five top tips if you’re thinking about renting out your property for the first time.
Deciding to become a landlord is a big step.
It can be both exciting and daunting.
Here at Accord Sales & Lettings, we’ve got some tips on what you need to think about when renting out a property so you can make your first venture a smooth one.
Do some market research
To work out how much rent you could be expecting, have a look at similar properties in Havering. If you’re not sure how much you should be asking for, arrange a valuation with us. We can also help you make sure your property is aimed at the right tenants.
Make sure your property is ready for your tenants
It’s vital to ensure that your property is tenant-ready. A well-maintained home is more attractive to any new occupants and a few improvements could make all the difference. Ensure that outstanding repairs are complete before any viewings take place.
Consider whether to offer your property on a furnished or unfurnished basis. The option you choose will depend on the type of tenant you want to attract. If you decide to furnish your property, choose neutral colours and simple styles to allow your tenants to put their own stamp on their new home.
Understand your responsibilities
Being a landlord can take up a lot of your time. It’s your responsibility to take care of any major issues which may arise and these can occur at any time of the day or night. Some, like a gas leak, may require your immediate attention. Your tenants will also look to you to carry out repairs, and maintenance unless you appoint a letting agent to manage your property. Speak to us to find out how we can help.
Make sure you comply with the law
When it comes to being a landlord, there’s a jungle of laws and regulations that you need to navigate through. All tenancies begin with a right to rent check and you must make sure that you’ve taken the correct steps to register and protect your tenant’s deposit.
Ensure that the property has working smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and an up-to-date gas safety check – which should be carried out on an annual basis. Your property must also have an Energy Performance Certificate before you can offer it for rent. We ensure all the properties we rent out and manage are fully compliant with all the relevant legal requirements.
Use a letting agent
You may decide that you want to manage your property yourself.
However, the right letting agent can make your first experience as a landlord stress-free, act as a buffer between you and your tenants, and provide expertise and support if things don’t go according to plan.
Here at Accord, we’re with you every step of the way. Get in touch with your questions and one of our experts will be happy to help.
COPYRIGHT ACCORD ESTATES LTD 2021
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In this two-minute read, we look at the reasons why people struggle to sell their homes and what can be done about it.
Monday was officially the most depressing day of the year, as if we needed reminding.
Scientists claim it’s the perfect storm for a downer.
Money is tight, resolutions have fallen by the wayside, and the weather is rubbish. Add to that the lockdown and you have a recipe for doom and gloom.
And if you have a home that won’t sell, you can feel down in the dumps.
But at Accord Sales & Lettings, we believe it shouldn’t be that way.
So, we’ve come up with four ways you can beat the home selling blues.
Is the price right?
The right price is vital to securing a sale. Buyers have budgets, so if your home is just over their limit, they won’t find it if they are searching online. Mortgage lenders are also put off by an overvaluation. Check what similar homes in Havering have sold for and get a new valuation from another agent, but be mindful of any contractual obligations you may have with your selling agent.
Are your photos up to scratch?
Nowadays, online searches are the most popular way people look for properties, which means photos are crucial. An excellent agency takes the time to get these super important parts of the marketing puzzle in place and looking good. Bad photos cause buyers to scroll past your property.
Try the mystery shopper approach
A good agent will let you know what prospective buyers think of your home and the interest it is generating. If this isn’t happening, get a friend or family member to pose as a mystery buyer, with a budget in your property’s price range, and phone the agent to see if they mention your home. If they do, great, if they don’t, it’s a cause for concern.
Are your chances being clogged up by clutter?
Choosing a new home is a big step. Buyers want to visualise what your property will look like after they have moved in, complete with their choice of décor and their belongings. Make it easier for them to do this by making your home look and feel more spacious.
Rooms should be clutter-free and well lit – small touches can make a big difference, and first impressions count.
We hope that’s helped. Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about banishing the property selling blues.
*You can still sell your home at this time. Accord Sales & Lettings strictly adheres to the government’s Covid-19 restrictions.
Copyright 2021 Accord Estates Ltd