Landlords – How to Minimise Void Periods

How to Minimise Void Periods

It’s inevitable that every Landlord will face at some time a void period.

Some Landlords choose to budget for a void period – similarly to budgeting for repairs and maintenance.

But let’s talk about how to avoid being in that position in the first place

Your property should be in the BEST condition possible, inside and out. It may be that at the time of marketing, there’s some competition out there and tenants can afford to be choosy. Make your property stand out from the crowd

Find the RIGHT long term tenants to match your criteria and once they’ve moved in and are settled, consider offering them a longer term Tenancy. This will give them peace of mind and security.

Then choose to follow on with another fixed term rather than letting the Tenancy fall into a Periodic Tenancy

When you have the right people, look after them well, treat them with respect. After all, the longer they stay, the better it is for you

If a tenant does give notice, why not ask them the reason? It could well be something that could be resolved which leads into a longer tenancy

If you DO get a void period and are struggling to find the right tenants, don’t be tempted to make a decision you might regret, just because they can move in next week! Stick to your criteria and take the time to dig deep with referencing

Stay realistic with the rent – better to have a long term tenancy with a rent just below market value than a rent that’s top end but without Tenants or a high turnover. Give careful consideration to rent increases too. If you’ve tenants who are looking after your property well and the rent is always paid on time and in full, why upset them with a hefty increase?

Everyone loves a deal – a discount on a first month’s rent or some other kind of help or incentive to get them started will not only be attractive but it’ll get the tenancy off to a really good start and hopefully contribute towards a long happy Tenancy!

If you enjoyed reading this blog, you might also enjoy reading about the Single Most Frequently Asked Question by Landlords

Be different from all the rest

Ever walked into a shop, take a glance around, and walked straight back out again? Been left feeling uninspired, even a little disappointed?
That’s exactly what some prospective tenants do when they view what I call “Beige” properties
Even if the price is right, the property is in a popular area and it sits on the sunny side of the street, walk inside and you’ll see beige carpets, magnolia walls, bare light bulbs and vacant windows. Stroll into the kitchen and you will probably see light beech cabinets and charcoal worktops. Hop on up the stairs to bland bedrooms and a clinically white bathroom with white square tiles
Hear me when I say there’s nothing to dislike, but there’s not much to like either!
Easy to maintain, a neutral blank canvas? Yes
Attractive to prospective Tenants?  Not always

There are hundreds of beige properties for rent and they ALL look and feel the same. I think it’s true to say that some prefer a blank canvas but when you’ve seen five or six in a row and you’re running out of time, finding the right property can start to become a difficult task!
Why not give the property a perky personality, charming character and a seasonal splash of colour?
Don’t offer the same as everyone else.  Be different and  “Stand out from the Crowd!”
Wouldn’t it be great to have the property that everyone wants to rent?





9 Ways to combat Black Mould


Ever had black mould appear in your house?  In the window recesses, on the ceilings, behind furniture – worst of all, in your wardrobe and God forbid, on handbags and shoes!


Condensation is the most common form of dampness.  It’s down to a lack of adequate ventilation. Nothing more, nothing less.


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.
  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, apply white vinegar to kill spores


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


If you were interested in this article, you may be interested in this article below :-

The Single Most Frequently Asked Question by Landlords!


How DO You find the Perfect Property Investment?

How would you feel if you bought the perfect property in the perfect location which then gave you the perfect return in £’s?  Imagine then going on to find the perfect tenants who kept the property immaculate and paid every month in full and on time.  This is every Landlord’s dream, right?

But is it REALLY achievable? 

Invest some time in getting expert advice and the answer is YES

Quite often, sourcing your investment property can prove challenging.   There’s so much to consider! From choosing a popular area and knowing what will rent easily to renovating, refurbishment and redecorating, there’s A LOT to consider!  What type of property will attract the right type of tenant? How important is parking, a garden or some outside space? How much do you need to spend to get it up to a let-able standard?  Then there’s the legal requirements to consider, the Landlord’s obligations that you need to meet to stay compliant

What about the return on your Investment?  What do you need to borrow, how much rent will it achieve and how does this fit in with your finances and your long term plan?

To know you’re buying the right property in the right area and attracting the right type of tenant is crucial if you want results. 

If you need help and guidance on ANY of these questions, book onto a Landlord’s Workshop on the second Friday of every month with Sue Stocks.   Sue can help you get to where you want to be.  You’ll leave with ALL of your answers and a clear plan of what to do next, along with some valuable nuggets of knowledge!  

Why talk to Sue?

  • East Devon’s Leading Expert in Residential Lettings
  • Multi award winning Owner of Stocks Letting Agency in Exmouth
  • 25 years experience
  • Public Speaker, hosting Landlord Seminars

To book YOUR place at the Landlord’s Workshop, call 01395 222365.  Workshops are held on the second Friday of each month

A Fishy Little Tale!

Everyone knows that pets aren’t always welcome in rental properties.  You see, some Landlords worry that pets will cause damage in the property, ruin the garden or upset the neighbours.


But when a tenant comes along with a fish tank – it’s a sure bet that fish can’t do any harm, right?


My friend decided to rent a furnished property.  It was just him and his fish tank that he’d had for years – just a few tropical fish in a heated tank, nothing special


So, he moved in and was very happy for some time.  The property was immaculate, he looked after it well and so when his Landlord made a claim on his deposit at the end of the Tenancy, he was really surprised


The fish tank had sat on his Landlord’s unit for some months but what my friend didn’t realise was that the moisture from the tank had caused staining to the wooden surface which would have to be sanded down and varnished.


This particular unit was of sentimental value to the Landlord, it once belonged to his Mother


So folks, two morals to this fishy little tale –

Landlords – don’t leave anything of value in your rental property

Tenants – be careful what you sit your fish on!

The Single Most Frequently Asked Question by Landlords!

I have lots of conversations with Landlords every week and one of the questions that we talk about A LOT is “What if my property gets trashed?”

“Trashed” is a word that I’ve heard a lot in the Lettings Industry when Landlords talk about check out

If there’s regular visits to the property, then you would know on your first visit whether the tenants are looking after the property. You’d certainly pick up on any damages, right? If you have a detailed professionally prepared Inventory, signed by the Tenant on check in, supported with photographs, you have your evidence, right?

But what about if you never went to visit? How would you KNOW whether your property is being looked after? How would you KNOW whether your tenants have adopted some pets or even whether the people in the property match the people on the tenancy? So I’m talking about sub-letting here – it can and does happen

I was talking to a Landlord yesterday with a portfolio of properties who hadn’t been to one of his flats for 18 months. He’s been a Landlord for 20 years and happy to manage his properties himself.  With 20 years experience he knows what he’s doing

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, in the beginning, there was no problem at all. The rent came in like clockwork, the tenants never bothered him with repairs – no news is good news, right?

Or so he thought …..

When he tried to contact the tenants to let them know he wanted to sell the property, he couldn’t get a response. The tenants refused to answer calls, emails, letters and he was at a loss as to what to do next

His only option was to serve a Section 21 Notice for Possession

So he went through the whole eviction process and finally got his property back last week

Guess what he found?

Several beds in a two bedroom flat, a kitchen damaged beyond repair, carpets ruined, broken furniture, the list is endless

So, my question to you is this ……

Do you think he could have seen this coming if he’d have made time for his 3 monthly visits? Do you think he could have saved himself a few grand on repairs?

If you don’t have the time or desire to visit your property, just let us know – we’ll do it for you and provide you with a full report and photographs, giving you peace of mind that your property isn’t going to be trashed when you get it back!


Why I dig deep when referencing Tenants

I don’t need to reference the Tenants, It’s someone I know” is a sentence I’ve heard many times when talking to Landlords

It’s a friend of a friend” “It’s my brother’s mate, they won’t let me down”

Ok, so this person may be vaguely known to you but have you thought about whether they can afford the rent every month? Do you have any proof of income? What does their credit history look like? Would their current Landlord re-let to them? What’s their background? Is their job a permanent, temporary or zero hour contract? What does their existing landlord think about them? Have they looked after the property that they’re currently renting?

I know that I want an answer to every single one of those questions before any decision is made.  Think of it as putting together a jigsaw and piecing information together, you’re building a picture of the people that you’re going to allow to live in your property

Most people wouldn’t lend one of their belongings to someone they vaguely know and yet still, some Landlords will hand over keys, almost on a hand shake!

It’s really smart to invest a lot of time in referencing and find out as much as you can. You’ll almost certainly regret it if you don’t. Talk to their existing Landlord if they have one, ask to see proof of income, contact their employer to verify the information they’ve given to you. Maybe offer a second viewing to find out more. Credit checking is vitally important – how would you feel if you found out after your new tenant moved in that they have several County Court Judgements against them and a history of not paying up?

Whether you credit check and reference your tenants or not, you need to comply with the Immigration Act which involves checking whether your tenant has the “Right to Rent” in the UK and this applies to the over 18s and lodgers

Photographic ID,the original documents must be checked and copied BEFORE the Tenancy starts

And if you don’t?

It’s a criminal offence for non-compliance – up to 5 years imprisonment and an UNLIMITED fine

The Company that we use for credit checks, referencing and Right to Rent provide us with a comprehensive report, usually within 3 working days – impressive!

All of those questions answered in full, in one report – Now that’s what I call “Peace of Mind”

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. 


– 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


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%


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 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


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