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Do you have a garden with your property? Help your tenants by making it low maintenance.

So you are a landlord who is looking to rent out your property. But, your property also has a garden. Providing a garden with your property can be a real plus for many tenants, however, some may worry about how much time they need to put in to keep the garden in tip-top condition. As a landlord, you want to make sure that the garden is kept well, so in the circumstance your tenants move out, there is less work that you need to do to get your property ready again for the rental market.

It has been recommended to take away the grass.

Garden lawns require a lot of attention, from weeding to keeping the grass even in dry, summer months when lawns can become dry and patchy. But, the grass needs to be replaced.

  • Why not replace the lawn with wide plant beds? To keep the garden looking tidy, pretty and yet simple all year round, plant some evergreen, perennials, bulbs and native border shrubs.
  • Have a look at creating gravel paths, at a recommendation of four to eight feet wide. Gravel paths will help to stop weeds growing and would help water drain faster to help prevent possible flooding in the garden. For a better look, why not add some pavers or flagstones?
  • Create some seating areas that are around the paths. Why not transform previously unused areas within the garden into gravelled land for benches or tables. Top tip! Use vinegar products or flame weeders to keep these areas free of weeds.

How can you take away the bore of weeding?

Allow your tenants to spend less time weeding, and more time enjoying the garden! Perennial plants are lovely to look at but need a fair bit of maintenance so have a look into replacing these with shrubs. Shrubs are a lot easier to plant through a weed-suppressing membrane, which would prevent weeds further. Having a shrub bed can also further minimise the time needed to maintain as shrub beds don’t require regular watering, unlike perennial beds. After planting the shrubs, just add a bark or gravel layer on top to finish off the look.

Have you thought about technology within the garden?

It might be a good idea to think about integrating technology in the garden. Sprinkler systems have the initial cost, of course, however, it would take away the need for your tenants to water various plants that you choose to have in the garden. The tenants can sit back and relax in the garden while the sprinklers are doing the most regular upkeep needed for the garden.

 

Landlords, allowing pets for your tenants could improve your tenant search.

 

Pets are the heart of the home. A pet cat for your tenants could make them feel happier and more likely to stay in your property for longer, which is good news for you as a landlord. It is common for landlords to have a blanket ‘no pets’ policy while renting out their home. But, with the increasing number of people renting a property, this means that landlords are missing out on this huge group of possible tenants that are responsible and would treat the property as a valued home, even with a pet. However, you want to make sure that your property is still being well looked after, here are some easy steps for keeping you, the landlord and your tenant happy while allowing pets in the property:

  1. The most obvious and easy one, ask your potential tenant about their pet.

Responsible pet owners would be more than happy to provide their potential landlord with some information about their pet. You could ask them for veterinary records so that you can make sure that the pet has been neutered, vaccinated and protected against fleas and other parasites. It is also important to ask the owner to provide information on the pet’s character. How does the pet likes to spend its time? How does the pet interact with other pets and people? Does the pet use a litter tray? Also, if the tenant has rented a property before, it would be helpful to you if you could ask them to provide a reference from a previous landlord for their pet. This way, you can see from their previous landlord if the pet had been destructive with their property and then you can make your decision to allow pets into your property tenant by tenant.

 

  1. Advertising your property.

When asking a lettings agent to advertise your property, or if you are advertising it yourself, advertise your property as “pets considered” and in the property, description add a clause detailing that you will allow pets at the landlord discretion. This puts you, as the landlord, in control of ensuring that your new tenant is a responsible pet owner. It also allows you, while saying that you will consider pets, to say no to any tenant with a pet that you think would be destructive to your property. But as said in the point above, it is always important to get more information about the pet to make a fair decision.

 

  1. In your tenancy agreement, add a clause for a responsible and reasonable pet.

This would require pets to be neutered, vaccinated and microchipped. It would also involve the owner needing to regularly treat the pet for fleas and worms to make sure that your property is safe from parasites. As well as put a limit on the number of animals allowed to be kept in the property, which is generally set at two. Many pet owners like to have more than one pet to keep the other one company when they are out. Making sure that the pet has company can also be useful to you as a landlord as it would minimise the risk of the pet getting bored and taking their boredom out on carpets and furnishings. 75% of private landlords who have had a tenant with a cat have not experienced any problems, especially when they have gone through these guidelines.

Letting Legislation

We’re almost mid-way through 2019 already, amid so much uncertainty regarding the whole Brexit saga. But don’t let that be a reason to overlook all the new letting legislation coming into effect this year. Tenants Fees Ban, Homes (Fit for Human Habitation) Act and Client Money Protection Scheme are all coming into play at some point this year.

Tenants Fee Ban

Coming into force as of 1st June 2019, aiming to ensure that tenants will be able to see what a property will cost them in the advertised rent without any hidden charges. It will also deposits for properties will be capped at a maximum of five weeks’ rent, six weeks’ for tenancy properties that cost more than £50,000 a year. Agents and landlords will also be banned from charging fees for anything other than the following:

  • Contract changes
  • Council and utilities tax
  • Changes to the tenancy
  • Issues where the tenant is at fault

This new legislation is going to impact landlords and agents, meaning they will no longer be able to pass on things such as inventories, credit checks and tenant referencing with new tenants. Causing problems as all of these processes are time-consuming and need considerable manpower to complete, thus generating a cost.

One word, four letters, damp!

Most of us during our lives will encounter damp in our abode, and let’s face it, no one wants to have to deal with it. We find ourselves either procrastinating about getting it assessed, or are panic-stricken that the walls are going to fall down! But who is responsible when it comes to rental properties, the tenant or the landlord?

So there are several types of damp that can cause headaches for tenants and landlords alike. These are condensation, rising damp and penetrating damp. Older proper properties are fairly prone to experience any of these problems. If a damp scenario arises it needs to be investigated by having a damp survey carried out, this will establish the cause of the problem and what needs to be done to eradicate it. Damp often has a habit of leading to more serious problems, such as black mould or sometimes even wet and dry rot which alarmingly can have devastating effects to the structure of the property.

Does it seem like the question regarding damp and where the responsibility lies still hasn’t been answered? Probably because it hasn’t…let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. The confusion when it comes to damp usually is due to people not knowing the differences. So, from a legal perspective, if the cause of the issue is due to rising or penetrating damp, then that is down to the landlord to get sorted…music to the ears for all tenants! However, there is always a however right? Condensation usually causes the biggest disputes when it comes to damp in rental properties. This is because it is very difficult to pinpoint who or what is the cause of the problem. It can often arise by the occupant’s lifestyle, examples being insufficient ventilation or not keeping the property at consistently warm temperatures.

Has this dealt with the damp debate? The Landlords and Tenants Act 1985 is the legislation that is referred to if necessary. PJJS Management Services, however, is a specialist letting agent in Maidstone, with over 40 years of residential letting experience. Their aim is to offer tenants bespoke, hands-on approach, ensuring tenants don’t have to worry about tedious topics such as the dreaded damp.

Leasehold system still alive and kicking despite government measures

The Government is having a crackdown on what they call “unfair and abusive practices within the leasehold system”.   Research has found that 31.9% of all properties sold in the UK in 2017 were leasehold showing an increase of more than 5% on 2016.

Leasehold properties benefit from Residents Associations who work together with a managing agent to make their estate a better, safer and happier place to live.

Having the right managing agent who works with the residents to ensure everything is running properly and any faults are dealt with promptly and effectively, as well as ensuring the estate is always clean and well maintained.

Times have changed and many buyers now appreciate not having to worry about maintaining their building or the surrounding area so that they can get on with their busy lives and leave the mundane though necessary tasks to the managing agent.

Should tenants have the right to keep pets?

The Labour party wants to give tenants a default right to keep pets in their rented home.

The 2015 Consumer Rights Act says Landlords can only refuse permission if it is reasonable to do so, these reasons being the animal’s size, impact on future rental demand and possible damage.

In an about turn in current regulations landlords would have to prove the pet will be a nuisance before keeping it can be refused. This would, therefore, stop landlords being able to advertise properties with a no pet policy.

Astonishingly, the plans also include giving low income earners help with vet bills!

Apparently, the Labour believes the five million households who are forced to rent shouldn’t be denied the joy of keeping a pet.

The Party is looking to consult with landlords to see if they can give tenants the default right to keep a pet in their home, and want to design policies for all not only those fortunate enough to buy their own home.

Fifty percent of the landlords questioned by the NLA, said they are reluctant to allow renters to keep pets due to a perceived added risk of damage to the property, and the increased costs of repair at the end of a tenancy.

The NLA does support schemes that encourage landlords to allow pet owners into their homes such as the Dogs Trust “Lets with Pets”.  If landlords refuse a tenant with pets they will have to justify their decision.

Properties without gardens would be an example of those that would not be suitable for keeping some animals as it would not be beneficial to the animal’s welfare and some leasehold property covenants preclude keeping pets in the building.

We will keep you informed on how the Labour Party progresses with this idea.

 

Mortgage Rates set to be repriced upwards

Now is the time to review any assets subject to mortgages or secured loans, as rates are at their lowest for a long time for single property owners or those who own a portfolio.

The Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee confirmed its forecasts for interest rate rise were now sooner than predicted in November last year, so industry experts are warning of significant upward interest rate changes for mortgage rates in the next two to three weeks.

It is predicted that the cost of funding to lenders will be affected by the swap rates as it filters through mortgage pricing.

Nationwide and Halifax have already repriced their mortgage rates.

Landlords need to make sure they are ready for the imminent changes.