News

Be Careful What You Agree To!

I’ve just had a conversation with a Self-Managing Landlord for whom we find tenants.  Recently, his tenant, a dear elderly lady, asked whether her son could have permission to put up some decorative plates in the living room for her.  She wants to stay long term which fits in with the Landlord’s plans perfectly

He has just been to the property on a routine management visit and established that there are 42 plates on the wall in the living room!

Always a good idea to establish exactly what your tenants are asking permission for and be careful what you agree to!

 

3 Ways to avoid a Deposit dispute at the end of your Tenancy

Deposit claims & disputes are, without doubt, one of the BIGGEST headaches for Landlords. One of those headaches that really does keep you awake at night!

Damages and cleanliness are the two main reasons why a claim arises on a deposit. 

HERE’S 3 WAYS TO AVOID A DISPUTE AT THE END OF YOUR TENANCY:-

– Have a Professional Inventory prepared

New Tenancy, new Inventory, every time.  It’ll save you time, money and worry and it’s the EASIEST and MOST EFFECTIVE way to avoid disputes. When your tenant has signed the document on check-in, keep it in a safe place and provide them with a copy

2 – Regular management visits

How do you know that the property is being looked after if you don’t ever visit? How do you know whether your tenants have redecorated, have acquited a pet or even moved other people in? To prevent any nasty shocks or surprises on check out, visit your property every 3 months or so to MAKE SURE that all is in order

3 – Before & After!

To make a successful claim, the Deposit Scheme will ask for “before” and “after” photographs to support the case together with a copy of the Tenancy Agreement and Inventory, both at check in and check out.  Having all the information at your fingertips makes it easy to put your case together and provides clarity for your claim

If you need any advice on any aspect of deposit disputes, give Sue or Rob a call on 01395 222365

UPDATE FOR LANDLORDS – Here’s what you need to know

With so many recent changes in the World of Lettings, here’s what you need to know about the important changes that may well affect YOU

SECTION 24 – WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR LANDLORDS?

There’s been lots of talk about mortgage interest relief and the changes that are going to be phased in over the next 4 years in relation to Section 24, introduced in April this year.   Some Landlords will see a big rise in their tax bill PLUS a big hit to profits. Those in the higher tax rate bracket of 40% will be hit hardest

Section 24 means that you will no longer be able to claim mortgage interest or any other property finance, as tax deductible. Essentially, buy to let finance costs will no longer be accounted for when working out your taxable profits

Will Section 24 actually affect me?

If you have any kind of loan or mortgage interest on your buy to let property, then yes. If it is a large proportion of your costs, you will now start to pay tax on those costs – as well as your profit.

Don’t assume that these changes will not apply to you. I strongly advise that you assess your buy to let finances or contact a Tax Specialist for advice on Section 24. They’ll be able to tell you how much higher your tax bill will be and advise on ways to minimize it where possible.

You might want to think about transferring ownership to your spouse or partner if they are in a lower tax threshold or setting up a Limited Company to own your rental property

Mortgage arrangement fees and broker fees are no longer tax deductible and the Wear & Tear allowance was scrapped in April last year. If you furnish a property, you may now only offset replacement furniture on a like for like basis.

So, Section 24 is to be phased in during April of each forthcoming year until 2021

Phase 1 – Higher rate tax relief can still be claimed on the first 75% of your mortgage interest costs. The remaining 25% will have the basic rate of tax relief applied

Phase 2 – April 2018 – The amount of higher rate tax relief will drop to 50% of your mortgage interest costs, the remaining 50% will have the basic rate of tax relief applied

Phase 3 – April 2019 – Higher rate tax relief will drop again to 25%, the remaining 75% basic rate of tax relief will apply

Phase 4 – April 2020 – You will only be able to claim tax relief at the basic rate level of 20%

EPC RATINGS

From next year, a Landlord can no longer let a property with an EPC rating less than E. If your property has a rating of below E, then you must look at ways of how to increase the rating so that you meet this new piece of legislation. If your property remains below an E rating, you’re running the risk of a fine, AND your property cannot be occupied by Tenants

If you’ve not got your EPC to hand, you can download it by visiting www.epcregister.com and entering your postcode

By talking to an Energy Assessor, you can learn about ways to bring your EPC rating up to the legal requirement

By 2025 the minimum rating will change again to D and by 2030, the minimum rate for letting a property will be C

ELECTRICS

Annual Electrical Periodic Inspections are set to become a legal requirement in the very near future for every rental property. Periodic Inspections have always been highly recommended – every Landlord has a duty of care to make sure that the electrics are safe but this will soon become mandatory. Records will need to be logged and a copy provided to the Tenant – as we do for Gas Safety Certificates

So, What’s the Good News?

A recent prediction by the Chairman of ARLA, Sally Lawson – by 2050, 50% of property in the UK will be rented.

Its still extremely difficult for the younger generation to get on that first rung of the property ladder. Attitudes have changed massively towards the dream of owning a property. Let’s face it, it will take the early 20’s a good number of years to save for a deposit and they don’t want to live with parents until they’re 30! The only option they have is to rent

High demand and short supply remains in the rental sector and we are regularly seeing multiple applications for one property. As always, rents are on the increase. Well presented properties in the right location will continue to achieve premium rents and long term tenancies

And the Winner is ……………….

 

We attended the Exmouth Chamber of Commerce Business Awards on Friday Night at Ocean – a fantastic seafront location with the most stunning views. Why did we go? 2 reasons – we were nominated for the Professional Services Award 2017, shortlisted down to the final 3. We also sponsored the Best Small Business Award too

We’re so proud to tell you that we won! To win for the second year running is a fantastic achievement and it’s really special to receive such recognition in Exmouth Town and be nominated for the Professional Services

The four businesses that we sponsored were

Victoria James Estate Agents, The Cake Lady, I NOVA eyelash studio, Accounting on Us

The winner was Helen Buck, Accounting on Us.  Congratulations to Helen and Well done to all Finalists

Renting Minefield!

Extremely informative evening at Flybe Academy – The Renting Minefield – a “no brainer” for Self Managing Landlords.  Bucketfuls of really useful nuggets of knowledge and the low down on the latest legislation.  Organised by Exeter City Council and ARLA.  We’ll keep you posted on the date for the next Event – and guess what ….. it’s FREE for Landlords!

The Landlord’s Guide to Filling Up Your Pockets

The Landlord’s Guide to Filling Up Your Pockets

Whatever line you’re in, it’s getting more and more difficult to hang on to what you earn. With the ever changing landscape for Landlords, it’s no wonder that people are nervous about what the future might bring, especially with the big tax changes that are hitting Landlords and the restrictions on reliefs and allowances

One thing’s for sure – it PAYS to be ahead of the game, stay on top and make sure that your investment is performs at its best. Consistently

When was the last time that you had a complete review of your Investment?

When I say “complete review”, there’s several topics here that I’m talking about

Why not take the time to review the performance of your rental property and look at ways how to keep a hold of your income?

To start with, here are three key areas for you to focus on:-

1 Check your Mortgage Deal

If you’ve not reviewed your existing mortgage lately, you might be paying over the odds. Switching your mortgage product and moving to a new lender could save you a sizeable sum. You might even consider renegotiating a deal with your existing lender. Check when your fixed or discounted rate is coming to an end.  Nothing beats doing the numbers and the savings can be significant!

2 Book a Tax Review

There are BIG tax changes hitting Landlords and it’s highly recommended you talk to a tax expert to see what this means for you. Almost a third of Landlords are unaware of the changes but 70% will be affected!  Almost half a million landlords are now forced into the higher tax bracket by paying tax on turnover, rather than profit. With the tax landscape changing for Landlords, restrictions on Mortgage Interest Relief, Wear & Tear Allowance and Higher Rate Stamp Duty Land Tax, a Tax Expert can show you exactly what you need to do to stay on top of your game

3 Review your Energy Performance Certificate

Yes, there’s more changes ahead with regard to energy efficiency in the rental sector. By 2018, it will be illegal to offer a property to let unless the EPC rating meets an E rating or above. If your rental property has a rating of F or G, you need to consider ways in which you can improve the specification. Talk to an Energy Assessor and ask advice on which steps you can take to meet the required rating. It is proposed that by 2020, the minimum rating of E will apply to existing tenancies. Of course, some exemptions will apply to listed buildings or for properties where the cost of works would devalue the property.   Suggestions have also been made to increase the minimum rating to D in 2025 and then again to C by 2030.

You can download the Energy Performance Certificate for your property at www.epcregister.com by entering the post code

 

Some More Ways to Hang On To Your Hard Earned Cash!

I think it’s true to say that we’d all rather not spend time reading small print but when you’re renting a property to a tenant, this is the MOST important aspect – it’s the attention to detail that’s going to save you time & money – before, during and after the Tenancy has ended

 

The Importance of an Inventory

By having a signed Inventory in your possession from day 1, you’ll avoid loss of time and money in the event of a claim or dispute at the end of the Tenancy. Your Inventory is your evidence – it’s a true and fair statement of contents and condition of how the property was handed over to the tenant. The more information on your Inventory, the better.

As with a Tenancy Agreement, it’s an excellent idea to have an Inventory professionally prepared – I guarantee it will be worth every penny if things go pear shaped!

Talking of Tenancy Agreements…

When was the last time you reviewed the rent? You may only increase the rent every twelve months but often time rolls by and before you know it, two years have passed by and the rental value has moved on and you’ve lost income

If you’ve a tenancy that’s been running for some time and you’ve put in place a rent increase, it’s well worth renewing the Tenancy to reflect the new rental amount whilst also looking at the term of the Tenancy. Think about the term you are offering, your future plans and the financial security you’re seeking

Management Visits

When was the last time you or your Agent made a visit to the property?

You might be thinking that you don’t need to – the rent comes in on time, your tenants never bother you.

Think again. Ever thought that maybe your tenants don’t want you to visit? How will you know the condition of the property if you or your Agent don’t make regular visits? Have they gained a pet? They may even by sub-letting. Without regular visits, you won’t know what’s really going on

 

Remember, regular visits can also prevent deposit disputes. A dispute at the end of a Tenancy can be extremely time consuming, upsetting and stressful. If you can pick up a problem mid Tenancy, it’s far easier to rectify than trying to deal with something that’s had time to escalate

Protect what you’ve got coming in

You might want to think about Rent & Legal Cover if you’ve not got it in place. Peace of mind which will keep your money coming in if your Tenant doesn’t pay the rent

Tenancy Health Check

At Stocks, we offer a FREE Tenancy Health Check – all you need to do is gather your paperwork together and book a call with me at a time that suits you – easy!

Call me on 01395 222365 to discuss ways to have more money in your pocket!

 

 

 

The Lowdown on Electrical Periodic Inspections (and Why YOU Need Them)

Safety in the home is a MUST, and as a Landlord, you must ensure that your tenant(s) – or anyone entering or using your property, are not put at risk, by making sure that the electrical installation remains in a safe and serviceable condition. A Periodic Inspection checks the state of an existing electrical inspection against BS7671, the UK Standard for the safety of electrical installations.

 

So with this in mind, it’s important to look at how periodic inspections can guarantee the safety of your home electrics.

 

Electrical installations, like most things, have a lifespan. Usage and age are just two factors that can contribute to deterioration. Periodic inspections highlight these issues so that you can ensure your home is safe. By inspecting and testing your electrical inspections periodically, you’re ensuring they’re in full working order. They’re great for peace of mind. After an inspection, you’ll know what work needs to be carried out on your property to get the electrics back to tip-top condition.

 

What’s involved in a periodic inspection?

 

  • Discovering if there are any fire hazards or potential shock risks
  • Looking for lack of bonding or earthing
  • Inspecting to see if equipment/electrical circuits are overloaded
  • Finding out it if there’s any substandard electrical work
  • Tests on fixed/wiring electrical equipment are also carried out to ensure everything is safe.

 

How often do I need a periodic inspection?

 

  • If you own your home you need to make sure your electrics are inspected (and tested) every ten years
  • Caravans need to have an inspection every three years
  • If you rent your home, a periodic inspection needs to be carried out every five years
  • Swimming pools need to be checked out yearly

 

Also, before you buy, sell or rent your home, an inspection is required. So there’s no excuse! What cost would you put on the safety of your family?

 

What will I be given after my inspection?

 

You’ll get an EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report.) This will report on all the potential dangers that have been found in your home. For example, it will cover deterioration, non-compliances and damage. You’ll know exactly what work needs to be carried out on your home to make sure it’s the haven you want it to be!

 

Who should complete your inspection?

 

It’s important that a periodic inspection is done by an ‘electrically competent person’. However, we’d suggest you employ a ‘registered’ electrician. Asking to see an electrician’s credentials is a good move, and here at Stocks, we’re always happy to show our Contractor’s qualifications!

 

What happens if my home doesn’t pass the periodic inspection?

 

If potential electrical dangers are found in your home, the inspection findings will be deemed unsatisfactory. You’ll be informed if this is the case, and you’ll need to get the work done ASAP to ensure your home.

 

is a safe place. It’s worth getting two or three quotes to consider from a NIC EIC Registered Electrician.

 

Call us on 01395 222365 if you’d like more information.

LANDLORDS – 3 Things You Need to Know about EPC’s

The Latest on EPC Ratings & The Changes Ahead – Here’s what you need to know :-

 

Since legislation came into force, there has always been a lot of discussion regarding the reasons behind the requirement for Energy Performance Certificates.

 

1. Serve Your Tenants with an EPC

 

The De-Regulation Act October 2015 enforces that we must formally serve a copy of the EPC to each and every tenant PRIOR to the beginning of a Tenancy. The consequence of non compliance results in any Notice for Possession being void throughout the term.

 

2. Tenant’s Rights

 

As from April 2016, a tenant is entitled to ask the Landlord to carry out the measures recommended on the certificate and the landlord has a legal obligation to do so.

 

3. Minimum Rating

 

By 2018, it will be illegal to offer a property to let (or for sale) unless we have raised the EPC rating to E or above wherever possible according to the Energy Assessor’s recommendations on the EPC.

 

If your rental property has a rating of F or G, you need to look at ways in which you can improve the specification to meet the required rating.

 

It is proposed that by 2020, the minimum rating of E will apply to existing tenancies. Of course, some exemptions will apply i.e. listed buildings & bedsits or in the event where the cost of works would devalue the property by at least 5%, would be classed as exempt.

 

In addition to the above, suggestions have been made to increase the minimum rating to a D in 2025 and then again to C by 2030.

Are you battling with condensation?

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s 12 Top Tips to help you combat condensation in the home :-

 

 

If you have a washing machine or tumble dryer in your property, ensure that it is vented correctly. From just one load of washing two litres of water is emitted into the air.

 

If possible, dry clothes outdoors to prevent excess moisture escaping into your property. If you live in a flat this might not be possible so always open your doors or windows if you really need to dry clothes indoors rooms.

 

When boiling a kettle, taking a shower or cooking, ensure that your kitchen and bathroom doors are kept closed to prevent steam going into colder rooms which will cause condensation.

 

Cover your pans with a lid when cooking to reduce moisture. Also ensure that you have opened a window or you are using an extractor fan if you have one fitted. Don’t turn off the extractor fan or close the window as soon as you finish cooking – leave it open for 15-20 minutes afterwards to clear the air.

 

Similar to when cooking in the kitchen, when you are taking a shower or a bath ensure that you turn on an extractor fan or open a window to get rid of the steam that is created when running warm water in a cold environment. This will help reduce the amount of condensation that appears on your bathroom windows but won’t eliminate the problem.

 

Both pets and plants produce moisture. Make sure you cover fish tanks and if you are suffering from excess condensation look to move your plants outdoors.

 

If you don’t have an extractor fan in your bathroom or kitchen then make sure that your tenants wipe down the surfaces in the bathroom and kitchen when they have been cooking or taking a shower. Excess moisture will quickly turn to mould which is difficult to completely remove.

 

Do not overfill bedroom wardrobes and kitchen cupboards. Overfilled cupboards are a breeding ground for mould as the air is not able to circulate freely inside.

 

For the same reason as above, make sure that any furniture is at least 50mm away from the surrounding walls so that air can move around the property. Also try to put wardrobes against internal walls in bedrooms; this will be less cold than external walls.

 

Ensure an adequate amount of heating is available in your property to improve the internal temperature of surfaces and reduce the likelihood of condensation.

 

If you use a room on a regular basis, such as a living room, open a window slightly to improve the ventilation in the room. Breathing is a major cause of condensation so this will help to improve the ventilation in your property.

 

Double glazing, loft insulation and draft proofing will help to reduce the amount of heat that is lost from a property. Installing insulation will also help to keep the temperature of the surfaces inside the property high.