Thursday, 20 January 2022

How to move tenants in

As a landlord and letting agent it is crucial to have processes in place to ensure you not only provide a consistently good service, but that all the legal stuff is taken care of. The move-in process I created can be a pretty mundane hour or so of paperwork checking, contract signing and multiple page initialling! But, it’s crucially important that all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed to ensure the tenancy gets off to the right start. Done properly, it will also mean a tenant is fully-equipped to enjoy their new home, whilst keeping it in good order for the landlord.

Here at CRJ Lettings we use a ‘move-in checklist’ to ensure nothing is missed; starting with the paperwork. The tenants sign the tenancy agreement (sent to them in advance so they can read it first), along with the security deposit certificate and prescribed information forms.

The tenants are then shown where the water stop tap, gas safety valve, fuse box and mains isolator switches are and what to do in case of an emergency. Showing tenants these is both crucial for their safety, as well as helping to minimise any damage to the property (for instance, in the case of a water leak). Meter readings are taken too and the tenants are shown any communal areas of the property, along with how the heating system and kitchen appliances work.

Just in case the tenants forget any of this important information though, they are provided with a house manual (prepared for our fully managed properties). This lists the location and operation of all the above, as well as setting out other general tips about good home management, along with all the contact details they’ll need throughout the tenancy. It also contains the property’s safety certificates and EPC, as well as the governments ‘How to Rent’ guide, as legally required (all of which are e-mailed to the tenants prior to the commencement of the tenancy).

The last bit of paperwork to go through is the inventory, which outlines the condition of the property and forms the basis of how it should be returned at the end of their tenancy. Fortunately, the tenants are given seven days to look through this beast of a document (typically 50+ pages) to report any errors or omissions.

Finally, the keys are distributed to the tenants and any other questions can be answered. It’s also a good opportunity to explain when they’ll next be contacted in regards to the receipt of rent and future check-ups.


The completed ‘move-in checklist’ also provides proof that all the legal requirements have been completed (including showing the tenants a working smoke alarm on each floor of the property and a carbon monoxide alarm, if required).

A thorough move-in process creates a good start to the relationship and helps to ensure the landlord is legally compliant, whilst the tenants are aware of everything they need to know about the property and tenancy. 

If you’d like a free copy of my ‘move-in checklist’ please contact me and I’ll be happy to send it to you via e-mail.


Monday, 10 January 2022

BUY-TO-LET DEAL OF THE WEEK: 3 bed house in Tangmere, £285,000, 4.6% yield



Summary:
3 bed house in Tangmere
Listed for sale on 23/12/21 @ £285,000
Rent = £1,100pcm
Yield = 4.6%
Last sold for £101,500 in 2001 (+181% in 21 years)

The property is on the market with PMS and full details can be found on Rightmove via the following link: www.rightmove.co.uk/properties/117950744






Thursday, 6 January 2022

What’s in store for Chichester’s landlords in 2022?


Last year saw a host of changes within the lettings industry; some were pre-planned, whilst some were invented in light of the ongoing pandemic. With Covid seemingly not letting up, landlords will need to be on their toes to adapt to the ever-changing landscape, but here are some of the things they may expect to face in 2022.


End to temporary Right to Rent checks - confirmed

Due to Covid, the process of undertaking Right to Rent checks was altered so that identification could be taken by e-mail or photograph, rather than having to be seen in person. These adjusted checks were extended to 5th April 2022, although there have been murmurs that this new method could be made permanent such has been its success.


Carbon monoxide alarms - confirmed

Currently carbon monoxide alarms need only be installed in privately rented properties that contain a solid-fuel burning device, such as an open fireplace. It has recently been confirmed that a carbon monoxide alarm will be required in any room used as living accommodation where a ‘fixed combustion appliance’ (other than a gas cooker) exists e.g. a boiler. This will apply to all rental properties, although a date for its implementation is yet to be announced.


Leasehold reform - confirmed

Another confirmed change without an implementation date; future leasehold properties will have their ground rent set at a peppercorn rate (which is effectively nil). This change won’t be retrospective, but it will include renewing the lease on an existing property. Leasehold houses also look set to be a thing of the past on new-build sites.



Landlords to join a redress scheme - highly likely

There have been persistent rumours of mandatory registration of private landlords being introduced. It is thought likely that all landlords will need to join a redress scheme as part of the forthcoming ‘Renters Reform Bill’.


Abolition of Section 21 - highly likely

The scrapping of so-called ‘no fault’ Section 21 notices has been a political hot potato for some time. It seems it will soon come to fruition
via the Renters Reform Bill, leading to a whole new type of tenancy being introduced and major reforms to the processes when evicting tenants.


Introduction of lifelong deposits - highly likely

The third prong of the Renters Reform Bill is thought to be the introduction of so-called lifelong deposits, making them transferable from one property to another. This will prevent the need for tenants to raise a new deposit each time they move, whilst their old deposit is held against their current home. The question is, how to bridge the gap if the current deposit is retained to cover rent arrears or damage at a tenant’s current property (which won’t be finalised until they likely already have the keys to their new home).


Interest rate increases - highly likely

Last year saw the first rise in interest rates since November 2017. Unless the effects of the pandemic worsen it is deemed likely that rising inflation will force the policymakers’ hands in increasing rates further. The financial markets expect base rates to be 0.75% by the end of the year, compared to their current 0.25%. 


No more ‘no pets allowed’ - likely

Last year saw the government update their ‘model tenancy agreement’. In it they set the default position as tenants being allowed to keep pets, which in turn caused a lot of mis-information in the press and social media that landlords could no longer not accept pets in their properties. This is not true; there is no legislation that says pets must be accepted and the government’s own tenancy agreement does not need to be used (and very often is not). However, it has been muted that new laws to this effect could be introduced in due course.


Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards - likely

Whilst changes are unlikely to take effect this year, the government is likely to at least publish their proposals. They have committed to raising the minimum energy efficiency rating in rented properties from its current E-rating to a C-rating by 2025 for new tenancies and by 2028 for all existing tenancies. This jump is not insignificant, with landlords set to face costs of up to £10,000 versus an estimated bill of £17,000 for the installation of external wall insulation and heat pumps; the likeliest ways to achieve the rating on older homes. In the meantime, the government has been leaning on banks to offer preferential mortgage rates to energy efficient homes (so called ‘green mortgages’).


Further impact from coronavirus & Brexit - who knows!!

Whilst no one knows what the future holds, we can at least prepare ourselves for what might happen. Those who are able to adapt to the frequently changing world of lettings should be well-placed to cater for the growing number of tenants, at a time when the number of landlords and available properties is decreasing.


Monday, 27 December 2021

BUY-TO-LET DEAL OF THE WEEK: 2 bed flat in Chichester, £220,000, 5.2% yield


Summary:
2 bed flat in Chichester
Listed for sale on 07/12/21 @ £220,000
Rent = £950pcm
Yield = 5.2%

The property is on the market with Cubitt and West and full details can be found on Rightmove via the following link: www.rightmove.co.uk/properties/109522535






Thursday, 23 December 2021

Chichester’s Monopoly board

It’s nearly Christmas, which means it’s time to dust off everyone’s favourite board game - Monopoly - and fight over who gets to be the banker (me, obviously). Whilst a new updated version of the game now uses credit cards to track your money, nothing beats the original; complete with (well-worn) paper money and the ability to buy Mayfair for £400. 

That £400 figure is based on the game being created in 1935 (although it was originally released in 1903 entitled ‘The Landlord’s Game’). So, as 2021 comes to an end, it serves as the prelude to my annual look at how Chichester’s modern-day Monopoly board would stack up.

With around 471 streets in Chichester (PO19 postcode district only), it would take a long time to make it around the full board, so I’ll pick out a few notable mentions.

Let’s start with Old Kent Road; the cheapest space on the board. In Chichester that spot would go to Lennox Road, with the average property on the street valued at £173,000. Located close to St. Richard’s Hospital, the street mainly consists of flats; many housing just a single person, the majority of which are renting (with a mixture of social and private tenants).
The Strand is halfway across the Monopoly board and today in Chichester this spot would be occupied by Sherborne Road. It is the main thoroughfare through Parklands, passing its park and parade of shops along with 130 homes; most of which are 1930’s-built semi-detached houses with driveway frontages. Their average value of £419,000 closely matches Chichester’s average property value as a whole (£416,000).
And what’s the Mayfair of Chichester? Well, the most expensive street in Chichester for the second-year running is West Street. The average property in this city centre street, with the Cathedral on its doorstep, will set you back £1,214,000. Quite a few of the buildings have been recently upgraded or converted, including a beautifully restored seven-bedroom Georgian home that sold for £2.525m in September 2020.
So, what type of Monopoly player are you? It’s always interesting to note the different styles of play, which seem to mimic landlords’ real-life dealings. Some like to accumulate the cheaper properties, receiving multiple rents, whilst others prefer to save up for the premium plots, every so often bringing in a king’s ransom.

If you’re thinking of getting into the ‘landlord’s game’ for real, be sure to follow my Chichester property market updates throughout 2022 by visiting www.bit.ly/chipropertynews.

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Monday, 13 December 2021

BUY-TO-LET DEAL OF THE WEEK:  3 bed house in Chichester, £300,000, 4.8% yield


Summary:
3 bed house in Chichester
Listed for sale on 25/10/21 @ £315,000
Now = £300,000
Rent = £1,200pcm
Yield = 4.8%
Last sold for £225,000 in 2007 (+33% in 14 years)

The property is on the market with White and Brooks and full details can be found on Rightmove via the following link:






Thursday, 9 December 2021

Preparing your property for Winter


The following tips can be applied all year round but they’re particularly relevant at this time of year as it gets colder, darker and wetter outside.


Familiarise yourself with your property

Ensure you know where the fuse box, gas safety valve and water stop valve are and how they operate, in case of an emergency (I provide a house guide to my tenants with this information and also show them when they move in).


Keep on top of basic maintenance

Check roofs and gutters for slipped or damaged tiles and for any leaks. Check overflows and pipework for any leaks as well as damp smells or flaking paint, which may indicate a hidden problem.

Bleed the radiators and check the pressure of the boiler to see if it needs topping up.


Avoid condensation

Build-up of condensation can be more prevalent in winter as more heating is used, clothes are dried inside and there is a tendency to want all the windows shut.

All this moisture in the property needs to go somewhere and will invariably attach itself to cold surfaces (exterior walls/window surrounds) and create unsightly condensation/mould patches.

Keep windows open throughout the property, particularly in bathrooms and kitchens and especially during and after showering/bathing and cooking. Use extractor fans where fitted and wipe down any wet surfaces after using the shower/bath.


Don’t turn the heating off completely

This is very important to prevent the freezing of the water system and expensive burst pipes. It’ll also help in the fight against condensation, which thrives on a changing temperature.

The easiest solution if you are planning to be away from the property is to leave the boiler on and set the thermostat to a low temperature e.g. 12 degrees.


Fire safety

Do not overload electrical sockets with appliances and Christmas lights as this can cause a fire hazard. Avoid using candles, particularly near Christmas trees, decorations and curtains.

Test all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure they are working correctly.


I believe prevention is better than cure, which is why I pre-arm my tenants with a 'winter maintenance guide' at the beginning of their tenancy and re-issue it as winter approaches. You can download this short guide, free of charge, from www.crjlettings.co.uk/winter-advice


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