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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

In this three-minute read, we look at England’s new leasehold reform package.

What will the new leasehold reforms, announced last week, deliver for leasehold property owners in Havering? Here’s what we know so far.

Now, ‘leasehold reform’ may not be the sexiest of subject matters, but if you are one of the 4.3 million people in England who owns a leasehold property, don’t doze off as these changes could significantly impact you.

Background

England’s medieval leasehold laws are loathed by leaseholders who have dubbed them ‘fleecehold’ laws. Key gripes include:

  • The cost of lease renewal or freehold purchase. This can be tens of thousands of pounds, or even more. If negotiations with the freeholder break down, the leaseholder can go to a tribunal, but this takes time and can be expensive.
  • Escalating ground rents. In the worst cases, the ground rent on a leasehold house doubles every ten years, leaving the leaseholder with an ever-growing bill and making it impossible to sell the property.
  • Exorbitant service charges for maintaining communal areas and gardens at apartment blocks.
  • Freeholds being sold off to a cash-hungry third party.

Here’s a rundown of the proposed reforms.

No 1: Owners of leasehold homes or flats will be given the right to extend their lease by a maximum term of 990 years at zero ground rent. (Currently, leaseholders of houses can only extend for 50 years with a ground rent while leaseholders of flats can extend as often as they wish at a zero ‘peppercorn’ ground rent for 90 years.)

Benefit: In theory, the change would provide security and eliminate ground rent. However, it’s not yet clear how much it would cost to secure a 990-year lease so it’s impossible to do a cost versus benefit analysis.

No 2: Owners of leasehold flats in apartment blocks will be able to shift to a Commonhold Agreement model.

Benefit: Flat owners could take control of the upkeep of their building, ending rip-off maintenance charges. Getting all the relevant parties to agree to move to a Commonhold Agreement may be difficult though.

No 3: Introduction of an online calculator to simplify determining the cost of buying a freehold or lease extension.

Benefit: This would take some of the hassle out of the negotiation process but much depends on the formula used to calculate costs.

No 4: The abolition of ‘marriage value’.

Benefit: ‘Marriage value’ is a rather cumbersome rule that has probably caused a few divorces in its time. It means that if a lease falls below 80 years, the cost of renewing it shoots up.

When will these changes be introduced?

Legislation regarding change No 1 will be brought forward in the upcoming session of Parliament. The rest will take longer to realise. (If you’d like to be kept informed on the progress of these reforms, we’ll be monitoring the situation closely, so please get in touch with us here at Accord.)

To learn more about the leasehold changes and how they could affect the value of your property, get in touch with us here at Accord Sales & Lettings.

Copyright 2021 Accord Estates Ltd

In this two-minute read, we look at the benefits of building a good relationship with your tenant.

Type' landlords are' into Google, and the words that come up next are pretty unflattering.

According to the global digital giant, the most commonly searched phrases are 'landlords are parasites' and 'landlords are leeches'.

A few other choice terms – that we're too polite to use here – come up as well, but you get the drift.

There is a common public perception that all landlords are modern-day Fagins, renting out flea-ridden hovels at rip-off prices.

This raises two questions:

  1. Is this a fair and accurate description?
  2. Does it matter? Being a landlord is about providing rental accommodation, not winning a People's Choice Award.

You can probably guess our answer to Question 1. The suggestion that landlords are universally evil is blatantly untrue. There are some unscrupulous characters in the industry, but they are in the minority. There are many good landlords in Havering – we work with many of them every day – who take their responsibilities seriously. But since when did a tenancy running smoothly make the news?

So now we get to Question 2 – who cares if landlords are hopelessly misunderstood? Well, we certainly don't think the negative stereotype helps.

Some tenants adopt a bunker mentality that makes every conversation that little bit more difficult. It's much better if the lines of communication are open and positive. That way, if a problem does occur, the tenant is more likely to be patient while the landlord addresses it.

To build a positive relationship, it's essential that landlords:

  • Be on top of all routine maintenance. Being sluggish when it comes to keeping the property in good condition builds resentment.
  • Respond promptly to a tenant when they get in touch. Making them wait a few days because you're snowed under with other commitments is unprofessional.
  • Carry out regular inspections. Misunderstandings are less likely to happen if you stay in touch.

In our experience, ongoing dialogue can prevent messy legal disputes. And the last thing you want is for the relationship to break down and for all communication to take place via lawyers.

If you can't dedicate the necessary time to managing a good relationship with your tenant, a good letting agent can do it for you – and save you money in the long run.

To find out how the Accord team is helping Havering landlords manage their properties through the pandemic's challenges, get in touch.

Copyright 2021 Accord Estates Ltd

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