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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.
- Hits: 48
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.
- Hits: 40
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.
- Hits: 49
In this three-minute read, we look at the ten most important things a landlord needs to succeed.
If you’re contemplating becoming a landlord, here’s a helpful checklist explaining what it takes to let a property.
You may wonder why a checklist is necessary. After all, how hard can it be? You buy a property, find a tenant, and boom, you’ve got the whole landlord game figured out. Wrong!
The private rental sector is subject to so many rules and regulations that even experienced landlords get caught out and make costly mistakes.
Here’s what you need to know.
1 Legal matters – There are at least 175 laws that apply to landlords in the UK, covering everything from evictions to electrical checks. You need to be on top of all of them. Claiming ignorance (or that the dog ate your tenancy agreement) won’t get you off the hook if you get caught out.
2 Record keeping – It’s vital to maintain a clear paper trail so that if you get into a dispute, you have evidence to support your case. If you’re the kind of person who files important paperwork down the back of the sofa, consider getting someone to do it for you.
3 Vigilance – No matter how nice your tenant seems to be, regular inspections are a must as they allow you to nip problems in the bud. Lax landlords run the risk of discovering that their property has been sub-let, trashed in a series of all-night parties or, holy smoke, turned into a cannabis farm.
4 Take out insurance – We’re not talking about standard home and contents insurance, but specific landlord insurance. (It’s usually a condition of buy-to-let mortgages.) Various policies are available, ranging from top-tier versions that cover almost every eventuality, to no-frills options.
5 People management – Dealing with people is a major part of being a landlord. Most tenants are reliable and honest, but some, unfortunately, can be infuriating. If a tenant falls into the latter category, you need to remain cool-headed when dealing with them. Good landlords make business decisions, not emotional ones.
6 Maintenance – Routine maintenance stops minor issues becoming major structural problems. It helps to have a network of reliable tradespeople who you can call on when you need work done.
7 Tenant selection – Invest time at the beginning of a tenancy to find the right tenant. Never rush the process when it comes to reference and credit checks.
8 Tax implications – The tax rules covering rental properties have been significantly reformed in recent years. It’s worth getting advice from an expert to ensure you understand what you need to pay and what you can claim back.
9 Understand the market – Successful landlords in Havering understand the lie of the land, so that when it comes to setting the rent, they are bang on the money. Getting the price right means your property won’t be sitting empty for long periods.
10 Back-up – Good landlords don’t blunder their way through – they have back-up in the form of a reputable letting agent. If you want support dealing with complicated legislation, handling problematic tenants and managing day-to-day admin and maintenance, get yourself a good letting agent. Remember, mistakes can be costly.
Here at Accord Sales & Lettings, we can help you to become a successful landlord and to see healthy returns on your property investment.
- Hits: 52
Ways to Make Your Havering Home More Efficient
In this three-minute read, we look at ways to make your home more energy efficient.
With 40% of UK carbon emissions coming from households, the road to a cleaner, greener planet starts at home.
First, the good news (yes, there is some)
In 1990, the average UK home generated 12.8 tonnes of CO2. (To get this figure, the Committee on Climate Change analysed data on heating, electricity, transport, aviation and waste.)
By 2014, this figure had dropped to 8.1 tonnes of CO2. The aim now is to get the average down to 4.5 tonnes of CO2 by 2030.
One way to reduce our emissions is to re-think how we heat and cool our homes. There are some tried and tested ways to do this, along with some new technologies that are now commercially available.
All these measures will reduce your carbon footprint, cut your energy bills and add value to your property, making it more marketable should you wish to sell it at a later date. Win, win, win.
It's not new, and it's not sexy (well not to us anyway), but insulation is one of the best ways to retain heat in your home.
A home loses a quarter of its heat through the roof, so if you haven't insulated your loft yet, get cracking.
Homes built after the 1920s are likely to have cavity walls – another source of heat loss. Insulating cavity walls is a job for a registered specialist. Do not try it yourself.
2 LED lights
Replace halogen lights with LEDs. Along with saving energy, LEDs last longer meaning you won't have to replace the bulbs as often.
Admit it, for years you thought your Nan's Dachshund draught excluder was a bit naff. Well, who's laughing now, eh?
Often as properties age, small gaps form around windows, letterboxes, loft hatches and fireplaces allowing warm air out and cold air in. There are lots of DIY products available to help you to plug these gaps.
4 Double and triple glazing
Double glazing cuts heat lost through windows by half (Source: Energy Saving Trust). If you want even more bang for your buck, opt for triple glazing.
5 Air source heat pump (ASHP)
An ASHP can heat your home and your water. It works by transferring heat in the air outside into your home (and works even in minus 30 temperatures).
ASHPs produce low levels of heat for long periods, unlike a conventional boiler system where you crank up the radiators for a brief spell until they're hot to touch. ASHPs work best with underfloor heating or larger radiators.
6 Solar panels
These convert the sun's energy into electricity for your home. Solar panels work best on south-facing roofs with a pitch angle of about 30 or 40 degrees and no overhanging trees.
7 Shutters or brise soleil
Ironically, some new builds are so well insulated that heat retention is the central issue. As temperatures continue to rise, some UK householders are installing Mediterranean-style shutters to keep their homes cool in summer.
Brise soleil – shade structures that deflect sun at the hottest part of the day – are also becoming more popular.
The Green Home Grants scheme helps cover some of the costs of making a home more energy efficient. Learn more here:
Here at Accord Sales & Lettings, we're happy to advise on the best ways to create a more energy efficient home that’ll start saving the planet and be kinder on your pocket.