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As the clocks change and the evenings get darker, we are reminded that the winter weather is just around the corner. During the winter months, we start to feel the cold more and spend more time inside our homes. This is when your tenants start to notice the damp and condensation issues that may be lurking in their properties.
Condensation is perhaps the most common form of dampness that can appear in your rented property and can cause wallpaper to peel, damp patches to appear on walls and a build-up of moisture on your windows.
Many tenants tend to ignore the early signs of condensation and never mention it to their landlord until the problem has exacerbated, causing mould to spread across your walls, windows, and ceilings. Despite the problem lingering for months beforehand the tenant will expect you to solve the problem in a timely manner.
The reason condensation appears in your property is due to a lack of adequate ventilation and heating. As we spend more time indoors and make our property more energy efficient the build up of moisture and humidity levels increase. In fact, four people living in a 3 bedroom property would create 112 pints of moisture a week from just breathing, cooking, showering and boiling the kettle.
Its fair to say, the winter season can be an expensive time if your tenants are not instructed to spot the signs of condensation and take precautions.
Renting for the first time can seem a little daunting, but here at Webster & Darby, we like to make sure this process is straight forward, and stress free for our clients. Here we have a created a guide that will help you find your first rental..
Before you start:
· How long do you want the tenancy for?
An Assured Shorthold Tenancy can be any term from twelve months to seven years, most contracts will be one year with a six-month break, but we can be flexible and work alongside what suits you and the landlord best.
· What can you afford?
You will need to work out what you can afford, take into consideration that its highly likely you will have all the bills to pay on top of your rent, as well as your usual outgoings. Our tenants will need to be able to earn 2.5 times the monthly rent each month. You could also provide us with a guarantor, who will need to earn 3 times the monthly rent each month. You will also need to consider fees that will need to be paid before moving into a property. At Webster & Darby we charge tenants an administration fee of a week’s rent plus vat, we ask for the first month’s rent, as well as deposit which is five to six weeks depending on the landlord’s instructions.
· What area are you considering moving too? There are many things you will need to consider when you are looking at potential areas such as; can you afford a place there, what are the transport links like, how local are the amenities, how good are the schools in the area? Obviously, you will need to find an area that highly benefits you, even if it means sacrificing a few elements in your search.
· What sort of property are you looking for? Now that you have figured out your budget and what area you would like to move too, you will need to think about what you really want in your first rental home, look at your lifestyle and start from there, for example, do you own a car? Would you require off street parking/garage, or would on street parking be okay? Create criteria of what exactly you are looking for, not every property will have exactly what you want, so you may need to sacrifice a few things for example off street parking or a private garden, as they might not be possible within your budget.
· Things to look out for on a viewing:
· Check how well maintained the property is, it is usually the tenant’s responsibility to look after the property, but things such as the roof, gutters and windows are down to the landlord or the agent if they are managing the property.
· How much storage space is within the property.
· How well the property is insulated, ask the agent for a copy of the EPC to look at the energy rating.
· Check the taps, bath, shower and flush the toilet to make sure all is working okay, the landlord or managing agent should be aware of any issues, and would arrange for a contractor to come out and resolve it.
· The closest transport links and local amenities – how far away are you from the local train station or bus stop.
· Look for smoke alarms – this is a legal requirement.
· Things to ask during viewings:
· If the property comes furnished, or part furnished, ask what furniture will remain in the property as some may belong to the current tenant.
· The length of tenancy the landlord is looking for. · Who is responsible for bills such as; electricity, gas, water and council tax, some landlords may include some bills in the rent. · Who will be the main point of contact during the tenancy?
· The fees that you will be charged if you were to offer on the property.
· Is there any charges if you were to renew the contract at the end of the tenancy? At Webster & Darby, we charge our tenants £150 including vat to renew their contract.
· What notice period will need to be given when you want to leave the property.
· How much notice will you be given if the landlord wants to terminate the contract.
· How will your deposit be protected?
· Ask if the landlord will be open to a pet being at the property, or if children are allowed.
· What is the offering procedure?
When you have found the perfect place:
Now that you have found the perfect rental home, you will need to make an offer on the property, most agents will ask you to pay a holding deposit. At Webster & Darby, we ask for £500.00. Along with the payment, you will be asked the price you are offering, your move date, and if you have any further requirements. We will make a confirmation of offer with the breakdown of costs and supply you with a copy. With this information, we will take it to the landlord and propose your offer. If the landlord accepts, we will then carry out referencing. The £500.00 will be deducted off your total balance that you need to pay before you move in. If the landlord does not accept your offer, the £500.00 will be refunded straight back to you.
As for referencing, it’s a very straight forward process. We use a third-party company, so we supply them with your details and information about the property. They will then contact you to get more information to carry out credit checks, employment reference as well as a landlord reference if necessary. If you fail referencing, there can be ways around this like getting a guarantor.
Once referencing has completed, we will create an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement for you. Within in this, you will find all your rights and responsibilities for your tenancy as well as the landlords. You will need to pay the remaining balance that is on your confirmation of offer.
Before you move into the property or on the day you move in, you will be supplied with your copy of the AST, Energy Performance Certificate, Gas Safety Certificate, and the contact details for your landlord or managing agent.
During your Tenancy:
· When you first move in to the property:
· Check your meter readings.
· Contact the current suppliers for all bills you will need to pay for, you can change supplier if you want too.
· Check your inventory report, you will have 10 days from when you have received it to see if there’s anything that needs to be added to it.
· The remainder of your tenancy:
· Pay your rent on time.
· Look after the property like it’s your own home.
· Be considerate to your neighbours.
· Do not sub-let, contact the landlord or managing agent if someone is leaving the property, and you
need a replacement.
· Regularly test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
· Report any need for repairs.
· If a new tenant is replaced during a tenancy, there will be a charge of £205 plus vat to cover referencing and to cover the changes on the tenancy, and to agree terms with all parties.
If you are looking for a property to rent, or will be in the future, please feel free to pop into our office in Raynes Park, or give us a call on 0208 5434 301.
Do you want to sell your property for as low as £499+vat??!!
Webster & Darby are offering a flat fee to anyone looking to put their property onto the market before Christmas. With a dramatic increase of people searching for properties over the festive period, it would be crazy not to take advantage of this/our offer!
Your property will gain maximum expose on all the major property portals including RightMove, Zoopla and Prime Location.
To find out more information and full details of this great offer, give us a call on 0208 543 4301 or email us at email@example.com
So many landlords still insist on doing their own inventories or not having one at all, which never fails to amaze me. The inventory is one of the most important documents in the tenancy files for protecting the landlord’s property and interest. Unfortunately though by creating the inventory themselves, this actually takes away some of the weight of the document as the landlord is unlikely to be impartial, as opposed to if it was outsourced. So from an adjudication stance, if an inventory can be outsourced although more expensive, it is more likely to be taken as written and to be up to the current required standard offering the landlord much higher protection.
Many landlords feel that an inventory is purely for expensive properties or fully furnished properties, but in most properties the most expensive damage that can be caused will actually be to the fabric of the building NOT the furniture.
A well put together inventory, should also note essential items to help with the management of the property on going as well as an essential document for any third party property managers, like the location of the stop valve, the keys issues and where required for, the name and model number of the boiler, fires and appliances, instructions manuals, smoke alarms, furniture label presence (if applicable), the presentation of the garden and the metre readings (which in itself can save the landlords thousands)
1. Clarify responsibility for items: Make sure all tenants are aware of who is responsible for the overall upkeep of the property and the items held within it. It could be that this is shared evenly between tenants or held by one individual tenant. In cases where there is high turnover of tenants, it is important that this is clarified between the agent, occupants and landlord.
2. Document items within the property: It is important to record, in detail, the state of the property prior to your tenants moving in to cover yourself and ensure that you can claim for any damages to fittings and furnishings. The most comprehensive way of doing this is to order items according to room type so both you and the tenant can build up an accurate inventory and schedule of condition in known locations throughout the property.
3. Be concise in your descriptions: The aim of the inventory is to be easily accessible so that items can be sourced quickly on the list. Making an adequate description of each item and its condition is advisable, avoiding vague language, keeping it brief and factual.
4. Take photo evidence: Taking images of the property before moving in can help to clarify responsibility if challenged by the tenant. These should be shared and agreed with the tenant and kept on file throughout the tenancy.
Webster & Darby are finalists for the second year in concession for the ‘Merton Best Business Awards’!
We recently received the letter from the organisers of the Merton Best Business Awards with the great news that we have made it through to be one of the finalists. Going through 12 judges and a record breaking amount of entries we were thrilled to be invited to the gala awards ceremony in October at the All England Tennis Club. We are up against some tough competition of course but all fingers are crossed in the office that we come out on top on the big night!
It was another great evening at the ‘2014 Merton Best Business Awards’ this month, held at the All England Lawn Tennis Club which we all thoroughly enjoyed. We were shortlisted as a finalist for Raynes Park’s Best Business with a selection of other great companies to fight it out for the top spot.
The room was buzzing with anticipation as drinks flowed and everyone mingled, checking out the competition. After we had all enjoyed the lovely three course meal we had been presented with, it was time to get down to the results.
Unfortunately we did not win our category this year however, we were honoured to be shortlisted as a finalist and I’m sure we will be back next year to try and hopefully go one better! We would like to thank everyone who has supported us over the last few years to get us this far and we will carry on striving to be the best!
As temperatures start to drop, landlords need to consider what effects the cold snaps and rain will have on their properties and tenants, including what can be done to help prepare for this.
Having a yearly inspection routine during autumn and a checklist of common issues that can be expected during winter is one of the proactive steps we recommend to landlords. Pay close attention to the condition of roofing to avoid any leaks. Blocked gutters can also be dangerous – they can overflow and. If left untreated, could lead to water seeping into brickwork and causing damp, so make sure you clear the gutters before winter. Insulation is also very important! Adequately insulated property will make your home warmer and can even lower the energy bills. Finally things like broken tiles are also worth replacing, as this will protect against serve windy weather.
What you should look for:
• Are all pipes and tanks in the loft adequately insulated? Its worth checking that insulation has not been moved or dislodged by tenants
• Are all overflow pipes correctly connected and not blocked?
• Are gutters and downpipes clean and free from cracks or splits?
• Are drain gratings clear of leaves and debris?
• Is any external pipework lagged, including outside taps which should either be turned off internally if possible and drained down, or fitted with an insulated jacket?
• Are there any cracked or missing roof tiles – its worth getting these replaced now.
• Is your property unoccupied? If so have you complied with any special terms and conditions that may apply such as regular inspections or draining down of services?
What your tenants can do to help:
• Are your tenants planning to be away? If so, ensure that they leave the heating on low or set timers.
• Whether at home or not, doors between heated and unheated parts of the property should be left open to allow warm air to move around the property. In really cold spells this could include leaving the loft hatch open to allow warm air to circulate reducing the risk of frozen pipes in the loft.
• Do they know where the stopcock or isolation valves are located in case they have to turn off the water to any part of the property?
• Can your tenant contact you in an emergency? If not, you might consider providing them with the number of a reputable contractor who could respond quickly and undertake emergency repairs to prevent further damage.
If damage is discovered at the property steps to take are:
• With burst pipes you should use towels or blankets to try to stem leaks while you turn off the water at the stopcock or mains.
• Turning on taps to drain the water from the system faster.
• Turn off the source for hot water and central heating.
• Arrange for emergency repairs to be undertaken as quickly as possible in order to prevent further damage or inconvenience for your tenants. Whether you are insured or not you should arrange and pay for emergency repairs and retain your paid invoices as you may be able to reclaim the cost later.
• Contact your insurers as quickly as possible to report your claim.
Even with adequate preparations and precautions taken in the lead up to winter, unexpected weather still has the potential to cause severe damage to your properties. A comprehensive landlord insurance policy will help you with peace of mind should the worst happen.