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In this three-minute read, we look at why a landlord needs a professional mindset, and what can go wrong if emotions cloud your judgment.
There’s a line in the classic film The Godfather that neatly sums up what landlords need to know about letting properties.
“It’s nothing personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business,” drawls a brooding Michael Corleone as he plots a daring and ruthless double hit.
Now, here at Accord, we’re law-abiding citizens, so we’re certainly not suggesting you become a cold-blooded Mafia boss or fraternise with Sicilian mobsters.
But we do recommend that Havering landlords take a business-like approach when they let a property.
One of the biggest mistakes a landlord can make is to allow their personal feelings to impede their decision making; this often happens when:
A landlord has a strong emotional attachment to a property (perhaps they used to live in it, or inherited it from a loved one). When a tenant moves in, the landlord views every minor scrape to the woodwork or carpet stain as a personal affront. Landlords need to accept that some wear and tear is inevitable.
A landlord has carried out DIY work at the property to their own taste instead of keeping things neutral, making it less appealing to tenants. They may also see no need for electrical and gas safety inspections because they’ve “had a look over it themselves”. Fact: gas and electrical inspections are legal requirements.
The landlord knew the tenant before they moved in, so the professional boundaries are blurred. Things often go awry because the landlord hasn’t conducted a reference check (because a friend or family member has vouched for the tenant). Even worse, some landlords don’t make their tenants sign a contract; it’s all done on a wink and a handshake.
The tenant/landlord relationship grows too cosy over time. As a result, the landlord is lax about inspections or hasn’t raised the rent for years because the tenant is a “friend”.
The tenant/landlord relationship becomes so toxic that the landlord loses perspective. (As they say in The Godfather: “Never hate your enemies. It affects your judgment.”) Determined to settle a score with a nightmare tenant, the landlord cuts corners on inspections or evictions – a decision that later proves costly. Sometimes the most financially astute course of action is to compromise (even if it is through gritted teeth).
Being a landlord isn’t just about managing a property; it’s about working with people. Whether it’s dealing with a tenant who has lost their job and can’t pay their rent, or managing a messy dispute between a tenant and neighbour, you need to remain calm, clear-headed, and professional.
Landlords don’t have to be unsympathetic or insensitive but do need to balance their duty of care with their financial responsibilities.
One way to manage these difficult situations is to draw on the expertise of us, we will be able to:
Come up with workable solutions to all manner of problems (as experienced agents we have seen all sorts over the years).
Ensure landlords stay on the right side of the law.
Talk to people from all walks of life and clearly articulate a tenant’s legal obligations.
Step back from complex scenarios and take a broader view.
Here at Accord Sales & Lettings, we can take the stress, emotion, and guesswork out of managing a property. Please get in touch if you’d like us to help you.
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In this three-minute read, we look at the long-term forecasts for the housing market and what they mean if you’re thinking about moving in Havering.
After one of the most unusual years on record for the housing industry, the latest market predictions from a major property chain make for interesting reading.
Think back to March, when the housing industry screeched to a halt for more than seven weeks during what is typically a busy time of year for property sales.
Then jump ahead to May and June when the UK’s market re-opened – and demand rocketed. A month later, the Stamp Duty holiday was announced, leading to feverish activity from June to August.
After so much fluctuation, it’s understandable that people mulling over whether to sell up or stay put might ask: ‘what’s next?’
According to a report from Hamptons International, the outlook over the next four years is for steady growth.
It forecasts house prices in the UK to rise by 2% this year and by 8% over the next four years.
HMRC is also forecasting improvement, predicting a steady rise in completions, year on year over the next four years, in line with economic recovery.
Many industry insiders have been surprised by the resilience the market has shown in 2020 (let’s face it, it’s been one helluva year). Looking ahead, Hamptons notes that growth is expected to rebound to 8.7% in 2021 (assuming there is an EU trade deal).
Incomes are also expected to rise, by a smidgeon this year (just 0.2%, but every bit counts, right?) and 2.7% in 2022.
What Does All This Mean for Those Contemplating Moving?
For those weighing up their options, but who aren’t ready to make a move just yet, these market forecasts, along with the fact interest rates are low, will most likely prove reassuring.
Even if people are not in a position to take advantage of the Stamp Duty holiday (which ends on March 31), if their priorities or circumstances change, there will still be plenty of good reasons to act.
Consider too that most of us move for lifestyle reasons. Families grow, people retire, relationships blossom (or end) and employment opportunities change.
Major life events don’t necessarily mirror property trends. For most of us, moving is a big decision and we don’t do it on a whim. We weigh up the pros and cons and ponder our next move in our own time.
A Positive Outlook
This has, so far, been a year of famine and feast for the property industry, of low activity followed by hyperactivity. But remember, most years aren’t quite so dramatic.
The most recent forecasts should give potential-movers in Havering the confidence to make decisions on their own terms for the mid to long term.
If you’ve got any questions about the property market or would like to get advice specific to your situation, get in touch with us here at Accord Sales & Lettings. We’re here to help.
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In this three-minute read, we look at how landlords can manage tenants who are noisy, aggressive or destructive.
Let’s start with the good news: the vast majority of tenants pay their rent on time and cause their landlords very little, if any, grief.
Now for the not so good news: a small percentage of tenants wreak havoc. They infuriate the neighbours, damage property and behave in a violent and aggressive way.
From a legal perspective, it’s difficult to hold a landlord responsible for the behaviour of a tenant (we’re all responsible for our own actions, right?). However, a landlord can be liable if it can be shown that they encouraged anti-social behaviour or did nothing to stop it.
Steps to Deal with Nuisance Tenants
1 Reference checks
The first step is to do all you can to avoid nuisance tenants in the first place. Check all references rigorously. Sometimes landlords take shortcuts because they want to let the property quickly or because “a friend of a friend” has vouched for a prospective tenant. Do all the relevant checks every time, even if Bob from the pub “swears” his nephew is a “real diamond”.
Take a detailed inventory of the property and photograph the condition of every room. This will serve as a useful record if you wind up in a dispute over damage to the property.
3 Read the fine print
Tenancy agreements should contain clauses relating to sub-letting, noise, pets and anti-social behaviour – all potential areas of conflict. If you need to evict a nuisance tenant later on, you may need to rely on these in court.
4 Regular inspections
Inspections allow you to spot problems early. They also send a clear message that you are on the case. Tenants are more likely to take liberties with absentee landlords.
5 Talk – and listen
If a neighbour complains about the behaviour of your tenant, you need to get the tenant’s side of the story. Stay calm and don’t jump to conclusions. It’s not unheard of for neighbours to make false complaints or to nit-pick. Try and pin your tenant and the neighbour down on details. Usually if a story is untrue it quickly unravels when you press for times and dates.
6 Strike a balance
Things get tricky if both parties accuse each other of lying. If this is the case, you’ll need to rely on your own judgement.
If you suspect your tenant is trying it on, ask the neighbours to keep a diary of anti-social behaviour.
Conversely, if the neighbour reminds you of nosy Mrs Mangel from Neighbours, ask your tenant to keep a diary of conversations and events.
7 Keep a paper trail
Follow up all conversations and meetings with emails, and keep details of any communications with neighbours, the council or police.
If the issue cannot be resolved, you could opt for mediation or push for eviction. If you pursue the latter and you’ve followed the steps listed here, you will have a useful body of evidence to help you to make your case in court.
Dealing with nuisance tenants takes the patience of a saint, the negotiating talent of a top diplomat and sharp-eyed detective skills. But if you’re not the embodiment of Mother Teresa, Kofi Annan and Hercule Poirot, don’t worry. We can take the stress and burden of managing a property off your shoulders.
Here at Accord we have the skills, experience and expertise to expertly manage any difficult situations.
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In this three-minute read, we look at the dos and don’ts of photography when it comes to marketing a property.
When selling or letting a property, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of getting the imagery right.
As most buyers and renters spend hours scrolling through property portals before arranging viewings, first impressions are crucial.
So why then do so many people get it wrong? Such is the volume of bad estate agency photos out there, that there are entire websites dedicated to mocking dodgy property pics (check out Terrible Estate Agency Photos).
To avoid becoming an object of ridicule, here is a list of what NOT to include in your marketing photos.
- Grandpa, grandma or any other family member. Property photos that include people always look a bit creepy. It’s never okay, even if the person is sitting in the background or giving a friendly wave.
- Boarded up windows and doors. If windows and doors are badly damaged or boarded up, replace them – or at the very least don’t photograph them.
- Doll collections. Whenever we see lots of dolls in a room (and yes, we have seen this in property photos) we immediately think of Chucky from Child’s Play (he still gives us nightmares). Dolls, along with mannequins and skeletons, belong on horror film sets only.
- Bathrooms covered in mould. Always give your home a good scrub before it goes on the market. People don’t want to view a property that comes with a health warning.
- Outdoor items left indoors. Lawn mowers, quad bikes and trampolines all belong outside. If for some reason you keep them inside, understand that this is not normal. Remove them from the premises before taking marketing photographs.
- Animals. All creatures great and small should be left out of property photos. They only serve as a distraction and make people wonder if the house smells.
- Badly photoshopped images. Don’t be tempted to digitally add a dining table or a sofa to a photo of an unfurnished room. It never looks convincing; the furniture always looks like it is levitating ever so slightly off the floor. Other no-nos include adding sunsets or wildlife to images of the back garden.
- Mirror images. When taking pictures of a room that has a mirror, a photographer can inadvertently capture their own reflection. This is too Alfred Hitchcock for our liking. Photographers should always position themselves carefully to avoid making a cameo appearance in the photo.
- Intimate portraits of your lover/husband/wife. So, you’ve been to life drawing classes and are rather proud of that racy charcoal sketch you did of your beloved. We love your creativity but please keep such personal items out of sight.
- Broken furniture piled high. People will be put off by the thought of having to fork out for a skip (or two) to remove your junk.
These are the most extreme examples of property photo fails, but the principle stands for all property marketing imagery. Make sure every room is clutter-free and clean and plan the shots.
Ideally get a professional to take the photographs for you. They’ll understand how to make the best use of light and to make rooms look spacious and airy.
Here at Accord we get the picture. We’re experts at showing homes at their best and always use professional property photos.
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In this two-minute read, we look at why movers in Havering need to act now if they want to save thousands of pounds in cash.
The legendary American author Mark Twain famously said this about procrastination: ‘Never put off till tomorrow which may be done the day after tomorrow.’
And while it might be a useful mantra when doing something mundane like mowing the lawn or some home DIY, it doesn’t apply to the housing market in Havering right now.
The national lockdown and subsequent localised ones are causing delays in the home moving process.
If you are thinking of moving and cashing in and making the most of the Stamp Duty holiday which could see you save up to £15,000, you’ll need to get going soon, very soon.
The Sunday Times recently published an article that said October 12 was the deadline for people to put their homes up for sale if they wanted to complete the transaction before the tax holiday ends on March 31.
It also reported that there were longer than usual delays when getting mortgage valuations, property surveys, local authority searches and having conveyancing work carried out.
These are all essential components of most property transactions.
The newspaper said these Covid-19 related delays had caused a ‘Backlog Britain’.
Its sentiments were echoed by the property law website – Today’s Conveyancer – which said: “Pre-Covid-19 the time it took (from the marketing of the property) to find a buyer was, on average, 79 days, and the total time from listing to moving into a property was 187.
If that average holds, then by consulting your calendars you’ll know that September 25 is 187 days before March 31 next year when the property purchasing tax holiday is due to end.”
Either way, if it is October 12 or September 25, the key thing to do is to act now if you want to beat the backlog and move while the financial incentives are in place.
Today’s Conveyancer also published some tips, including those below, to help you speed up the process if you are thinking of selling or buying a new home.
- The seller should instruct their conveyancer on listing the property for sale.
- Ask their conveyancer to review the property information forms and title and to identify any issues which might impact a sale.
- The buyer should obtain a mortgage decision in principle ahead of putting an offer forward.
- The buyer should instruct a conveyancer prior to making an offer.
The full article is well worth a read and can be found via this link: https://tinyurl.com/y59k254r
So, it’s crystal clear, if you want to move before the March 31 deadline you need to act now to give yourself the best chance.
We’d love to be able to help you achieve this and make the most of the busy market we’re experiencing in Havering.
Give us a call on 01708 748956 to find out how we can help you beat the delays and get moving.