Ever stayed awake at night worrying?

One Landlord I recently met had not slept in weeks


Four weeks ago, I had a visit from a very troubled Landlord.  He’d had a whopping twelve months of grief with one particular tenant that shared his property with three other tenants


I think it’s fair to say that when he came to my office, he was clearly at his wit’s end with this person.  So much so, he hadn’t slept well in weeks.  He  was feeling extremely stressed and upset by the situation and needed help and action.  Immediately


Now, if you’re a Landlord and you’ve needed a tenant to leave, you’ll know that getting possession of your property can be a complex and costly exercise and can drag on for weeks, even months


After a lengthy consultation, we established an action plan and the Landlord left the office with a clear vision of what would be happening next which gave him some comfort to know that we were getting the ball rolling that very day


Imagine how he felt when on the 10th October, I was able to confirm I had keys in my hand and the tenant had left, following the serving of a Section 8 Notice


Here’s a few words from this Landlord :-


I asked Rob and Sue for advice on how to help me to get a difficult tenant out of my rented property.  They provided excellent advice and supported me throughout the whole process including visits to the property.  All the paperwork provided was correct, very prompt, efficient and up to date. They both understood the law and tenants/landlords rights and responsibilities clearly.  Its a complex area and Rob and Sue understand the business.  I would not hesitate to recommend Stocks as a very professional service.  Mr K. Exmouth

What should I do about Black Mould?

I’ve got black mould appearing in my house, what can I do to stop it?


It’s that time of year again when condensation can start to cause problems.

If it’s left untreated, mould growth is harmful and can lead to serious health issues and breathing difficulties.


Did you know that 4 people living in a 3 bedroom property would create a whopping 112 pints of moisture a week from just breathing, cooking, showering and boiling the kettle?


So, how CAN you reduce the condensation in your property?


1.             Wet washing is a huge factor – dry clothes outdoors where possible, vent your tumble dryer properly making sure that the moisture is taken outside and if you really have to dry washing inside, keep the doors and windows open to keep a steady airflow

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

3.            Use saucepan lids when you’re cooking – simple but effective, and use the extractor fan – leave it running for 20 minutes after cooking to clear the air

4.            When taking a shower or bath, 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.  If you don’t have an extractor fan in your bathroom or kitchen then make sure that you wipe down the surfaces when you’re done.

5.            Do not overfill your bedroom wardrobes and kitchen cupboards. With lack of ventilation and trapped warm air, your overfilled cupboards are a breeding ground for mould as the air is not able to circulate freely inside.

6.            For the same reason as above, make sure that your 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 your bedroom which will be less cold than external walls.

7.            Ensuring an adequate amount of heating in your property will improve the internal temperature of surfaces in the house and reduce the likelihood of condensation. Try and keep the property at a steady temperature

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

9.            If you do have black mould forming – don’t leave it be, apply white vinegar to kill spores

Of course, there may well be a contributing structural problem causing water ingress which would need further investigation

Do I Need an HMO Licence?

We’re thinking of letting our house to two couples, does this make the property a “House in Multiple Occupancy?”

The answer is No, and here’s why :-

At the moment, a property housing five or more tenants from separate households only requires a Licence for a House in Multiple Occupancy if there are three or more floors

However, from 1st October, new licensing rules will be enforced which means that all properties housing five or more people from two or more separate households will be required to be licensed


How much does a Licence cost?


Charges vary between districts, some charge a fee of a few hundred pounds and others up to £1000


And if I don’t have a licence?


I’m afraid the fines are UNLIMITED if you are convicted of operating an HMO without a licence


What else do I need to do?


A Licensee is required to produce a Landlords Gas Safety Certificate, an Electrical Periodic Inspection Certificate and provide copies of Portable Appliance Test Certificates. Also required is evidence that electronic fire detection, alarm system and emergency lighting systems are checked by a competent person and smoke alarms are installed and serviced.


How big do the rooms need to be?


The new legislation also includes changes for minimum room space in an HMO. This is being introduced in a bid to stop rogue landlords overcrowding and improve health and safety. From 1st October, the minimum bedroom space will be 6.51 square metres for a single bedroom and 10.22 square metres for a double room with two adults. For children aged 10 or under, the room space must be 4.64 square metres or more

If you need some advice surrounding HMO Licensing, please give us a call on 01395 222365

Is referencing really that important? Someone I know wants to move into my property

It’s a friend of a friend” or “It’s my brother’s mate, they won’t let me down” I’ve heard these words a lot over the years

When someone comes along that you know, it can seem like a very attractive prospect to skip referencing, side step all those questions that you would normally want answers to and drop your guard, so to speak

Let’s really give this some more thought because for Landlords, it can be a MORE difficult decision whether or not to let to someone that you already know, especially when you consider some of the things that could potentially go wrong. Don’t forget that any issues that arise, you’ll be dealing with head on, unless you have a Managing Agent on board. What will you do if the rent is persistently late? How will you feel if there’s a difference of opinion on something and you end up having an argument? How will you tackle any breach of contract?

I recently found new tenants for a Landlord who had previously let to family members. When the tenants moved out, there were problems with damages, cleanliness and rent owing – now that’s a really hard situation to cope with because there’s emotion involved, possible irreparable damage to relationships, plus financial loss to the Landlord

In the first instance, before you decide if it’s right for you, you might want to ask yourself these questions :-

How about asking for some proof of income to know that affordability is taken care of? Is their job permanent or have they been given a zero hours contract, which is becoming more common lately. What do you know about any debts, poor credit history? Have they rented before? What does a reference from a previous landlord look like?

One thing’s for sure, getting it wrong can be costly and stressful. I know of some landlords that have even ended up selling their rental property after a bad experience

On the other hand, letting to someone you know or a relation can often be the perfect solution! If you’re in regular contact, there’s a good chance that any repairs will be reported without delay and the rent will come in like clockwork. There may also be a bonus of a trouble free long term let with continuity of rent and a long and happy tenancy!

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Landlord : I’m undecided whether to allow pets into my rental property. What happens if there’s any damage?


Landlord : I’m undecided whether to allow pets into my rental property. What happens if there’s any damage?

This is one of my “Frequently Asked Questions” when I’m talking to Landlords and something worth giving some time and careful consideration

Some landlords are MORE than happy to agree to having pets in their rental property but more often than not, there are those that aren’t. There could well be several reasons why some prefer to keep an “animal free zone”. Maybe they’ve had a bad experience and had a huge clean up bill, maybe they’ve had disgruntled neighbours over a yapping dog, some damage to the carpets and door frames or a whiffy odour to contend with. Or maybe, they’ve been left with a flea infestation to deal with before the next tenants move in – got you itching now haven’t I! I think it’s fair to say that these are all valid reasons for saying “No thank you” to pets

But if you’re a Landlord with a sizeable home to rent that’s perhaps in a town, near a school then you’ll attract a family and occasionally, some four legged friends!

But here’s the thing – most pet owners are responsible people. Their animals are clean, well looked after and let’s face it, some are spoilt divas who get their owners catering to their every whim! We are a Nation of animal lovers, spending hundreds of pounds every year on our pets – bedding, accessories, grooming, treats, even outfits!

Let’s face it, families with pets can make super long term tenants. For a Landlord, longer term tenants means continuity of rent, less void periods and less wear and tear moving furniture in and out every few months. We get numerous enquiries every single day from people with pets, struggling to find a suitable property to rent. Some are upset and frustrated for they have been searching for what seems like months without success.

There is no doubt in my mind that with a larger deposit in place, a guarantee of a steam clean and de-flea treatment on vacation, coupled with a detailed inventory supported with photographs, you are better equipped to accept pets

After all, being pet friendly may well be your purrfect opportunity to be pawsitively rewarded with a long and happy tenancy!

3 ways to avoid a Deposit Dispute

How can I avoid a deposit dispute?

Your Inventory is AS important as your Tenancy Agreement and is the document that all parties should refer to at the end of a Tenancy

Loaded with furniture or completely empty, an Inventory, supported with photographs is ESSENTIAL.  It gives all parties a true and clear record of the contents AND condition at the beginning of the Tenancy.

Imagine there are damages on check out.  In the absence of an Inventory or any evidence of the condition at check in, how could a dispute be resolved?

Here’s 3 ways to avoid a deposit dispute

  1.  Have an Inventory professionally prepared at the beginning of the Tenancy and signed by all parties


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.  Once the document is signed, keep it in a safe place – there’s no point going to all this trouble if your all important inventory can’t be found at the end of the Tenancy


  1. Regular Management Visits


This is the key to good management.  Knowing what’s going on throughout the Tenancy is important.  That way, there won’t be any nasty shocks or surprises on check out.  It’s simple, if you don’t go, how will you know how your Tenancy is running?


  1. Before and After


Any claim needs to be supported with “before and after” photographs to support the case.  At Stocks, we carefully record our findings on visits, all repairs are recorded on our specialised maintenance software and we’re able to produce a case study easily.  How?  Because all the information is at our fingertips!


If you have any burning questions, email us at You’ll have my personal reply within 24 hours

Only 4% of Landlords know this but it affects MOST and there’s only 2 weeks to go!

According to a specialist insurance firm, Just Landlords, Only 4% of Landlords are aware of the changes around the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) which will be introduced in a fortnight’s time

Around 30% of Landlords know what their Energy Performance Certificate rating is and less than 5% have ever taken steps to improve that rating

Did you know that there’s a whopping £4000 fine for those Landlords creating new tenancies after 1st April 2018 if the EPC rating is below an E!

Less than 4 out of 10 people are aware that by improving your EPC rating, you’ll save money

ACTION – Check your EPC Rating, visit, pop in your postcode and download the certificate. 

For more information, you can visit are specialists in all aspects of Landlord Insurance and

Need some more advice? Speak to Sue Stocks 01395 222365

Here comes the snow …. and the boiler breakdown. Here’s what you can do

We have had lots of phone calls regarding boilers not working due to their condensate pipe from the boiler being frozen – this is the white pipe that’s comes out at the bottom of your boiler. If you boil the kettle and carefully pour the hot water over the white pipe this should defrost any blockage and get you up running.