Ask Lorraine – My Tamworth tenant has two dogs in the property, help!

Ask Lorraine – We have always stipulated that none of our tenants are allowed to keep pets in our properties. We are  not being unreasonable, my husband  has a pet allergy and suffers very badly with chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing whenever he comes in contact with them. We have always explained the reason for our no pets policy.

My husband called round to our latest tenants as they were  having an issue with the garage door. Imagine his response when he found the tenants had gone against our wishes and had two dogs in the property.

We now feel that we have lost all trust in our tenants and would like to know what are options are.

Thanks

B.W & S.W

Lorraines Answer – Landlords usually have a clause prohibiting pet ownership for  many reasons i.e potential damage to the property, noise, fleas, or even problems for future tenants if they have pet allergies.

Do you have a clause in your tenancy agreement prohibiting pet ownership at the property? If not then I would recommend that you include a clause for any future tenancies.

If you do have such a clause then the good news – you can give your tenants notice under section 8 clause 12 of the Housing Act 1988. This section covers a breach of the tenancy agreement.

No dogs or cats allowed
No dogs or cats allowed

Write to your tenants and ask them to remove the pets, ensure you refer to the clause in the tenancy agreement. I say write to your tenants as you should always document any correspondence with your tenants, if you have to take them to court you are able to supply any evidence requested by the courts.

If the pets are not removed, you will need to take the next step to seek possession of the property.  You can find form 3 plus lots of information on Eviction under section 8 clause 12 here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/as…

Should you not wish to get involved yourselves in the possession paperwork, then a solicitor or letting agent would be able to help.

Until next week.

http://www.hallandthompson.co.uk

 

 

Investing in Retirement Homes in Tamworth – Pros and Cons of

With banks offering minimal returns on your savings, are there savvier ways to invest your money?

For those approaching retirement age, have you considered  investing in a retirement home for your retirement income.

Lots of social activities

Lots of social activities

Benefits of investing in retirement homes

Retirement homes or villages tend to be situated in chocolate box villages or towns which are popular with an older folk, such as Devon.  Here residents can enjoy a slower pace of life with their picturesque surroundings.

More and more people are discovering the benefits of downsizing, after all that big rambling house is no longer required and it’s  too much to maintain.

You may not feel ready to move into a retirement village  yourself, however you may welcome the additional income. So, even if you decide moving into a retirement home is not for you, now or in the future, the rental yield would be most welcome.

Recent research shows that half of all people over the age of 75 live alone, and one in ten of those aged 65 or over say they feel lonely. Half of all older people consider the TV to be their only form of company.

Loneliness can have a impact on one’s health – research has shown that lonely people are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those who interact with other people.

Retirement homes regularly hold bingo evenings, coffee mornings, day trips to local excursions, they have Wellness Spa & Gym centres, a restaurant and a library. This gives residents the opportunity to socialise with each other as much or as little as they wish, folk are never lonely in a retirement home.

With the UK’s ageing population, there will always be a demand for residential homes/villages. For those of us who are not quite ready to sell up the family home and move into a retirement village, good rental returns are guaranteed. Leases can be flexible  so that they can be passed on to other family members should anything happen to the investor.

The cons of investing in retirement homes

As care homes are limited to the over 55s, there is a smaller pool of potential residents, however with the UK currently having a large elderly population, occupancy levels should be  relatively good.

Charges will be payable as there will be management  company overseeing the daily running of the care home, so this will reduce the rental yield. However, if the property is purely an investment opportunity it could be a completely hands off investment.

So whether you consider a retirement home for yourself or as an investment, why not look into the facts and figures.

As always any thoughts are always welcome, lorraine@hallandthompson.co.uk

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How to be a good Tamworth Landlord

How to be a good Landlord!

Putting processes in place can help to make property management a lot easier, here are some tricks of the trade:

 Communicating with tenants:

  • Writing is always better than phone
  • Do whatever is easiest for them –  text, Facebook or even   WhatsApp
  • You don’t have to give out your phone number, as long as you are contactable  – You can Skype
  • Set out ground rules at the start of the tenancy about when you’re contactable, and stick to them! Once you deviate from this your tenants will always expect you to answer them, whatever the time of day.

 

 

 

 

Chasing up rent :-

  • Ideally use standing order or direct debit – you’ll know it’s set up properly
  • Diarise rent date and contact the tenant on the same day if the rent doesn’t materialise
  • Have a process –  e.g. text day 1, text day 2, call day 3, final warning day 4
  • Don’t fall for those sob stories, you are running a business!

Dealing with emergencies :-

  • What is an “Emergency” you need to set ground rules
  • Instruct tenants about what to do in an emergency.  You may not always be the best person to call first.
  • Perhaps consider landlord emergency cover

Dealing with routine maintenance :-

  • Build up trades contacts and ensure you treat them well
  • Save a visit by seeing if it’s something the tenant can easily fix  e.g. washing machine filter or  unblock the  sink
  • Communicate clearly about damp and condensation – explain the difference, send yearly leaflets “how to guide”
  • Use routine inspections to look for early signs of repairs that will need doing.
  • Ensure you also check for early signs of repair works on the external of the property

Inspections :-

  • Quick check of each room
  • Check smoke alarms
  • Visually inspect electrics
  • Look for condensation
  • Look for early signs of repairs that will be needed

Be proactive and stop issues from happening in the first place, remember the saying “work smart, not hard”.

Until next time

http://www.hallandthompson.co.uk

 

 

Japanese Knotweed – The Scourge Of Tamworth Landlords

Japanese knotweed, the invasive plant brought over to Britain in the 19th Century is a perennially herbaceous plant. It can grow up to 20cm a day in the summer and has been known to  develop a stubborn root system that can establish itself over 2 metres deep into the ground.

japanese knotweed picture
japanese knotweed picture

Introduced to the UK as an ornamental plant in the Victorian era, it was widely used to hide unsightly railway line features, causing the weed to spread rapidly throughout the rest of the country.

It is a known fact that Knotweed  threatens millions of pounds worth of property transactions in the UK.

While knotweed is a problem for homeowners to treat, it poses considerable challenges for estate agents as well, they  stand to lose out from  sales falling through.

Japanese knotweed
Japanese knotweed

So, what do you need to know about knotweed, and how should you approach the issue?

Japanses Knotweed grows rapidly and is able to grow through cracks in concrete and can undermine the structural integrity of a building.

Recent research conducted by the Crop Protection Association  revealed that: –

  • One in ten people lost money on a property following an infestation of knotweed.
  • One in seven people  saw a property deal fall through because of the presence of knotweed.
  • One in five saw the value of their house drop because of the presence of the weed.

Any attempts by sellers not to declare knotweed can cause problems for estate agents if a prospective buyer spots the plant.  Agents are also obligated to inform a prospective buyer of the presence, as this may affect their decision to buy the property.

One of the biggest knotweed problems confronting agents is it being wrongly diagnosed as Japanese knotweed when in fact it could easily be Himalayan Balsam, Bind Weed or Russian Vine.

The Crop Protection Association  revealed that: –

  • Less than a third of people felt confident that they’d be able to recognise knotweed.
  • One in six people said they had a good understanding of the plant.
  • Over one in four people stated that they knew nothing at all about knotweed.

If knotweed is found to be present, homeowners should be reassured that it does not necessarily have to affect a sale. If a proper remediation strategy is in place with warranties and insurance, the legal guarantees can demonstrate to solicitors that the knotweed issue is under full control.

For more information about Japanese knotweed, visit: http://www.japaneseknotweedcontrol.com

Don’t Forget you can keep up to date with all our articles on the Tamworth property Market on our other media sites:-

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Until next time, Happy house hunting

 

5 Reasons Why Tamworth High Street Estate Agents are Better Than Internet Estate Agents

There doesn’t seem to be a week going by that a new online call centre based estate agency opens offering unbelievable services at quarter of the price, implying their service is just as good as the so called ‘expensive’ high street agents.

1/ Online Agents are not No Sale No Fee. On the face it.. a similar service for a quarter of the price sounds fantastic! Who doesn’t want to spend less on agent fees when trying to sell their Tamworth home? Yes, the fee is lower, but you will have to pay it upfront (or defer it for up to 10 months but still have to pay) whether your property sells or not.

2/ Online Agents Hidden Extras. The eye-catching low fees for these call-centre online agents are, on the outside, attractive but when you dig a little deeper you find that the low fee is not all it appears to be. Add-ons can include extra for paying accompanied viewings, floor plans, listing on Rightmove or being forced to use their call centre solicitors at the other end of the Country.

3/ Experienced Estate Agents. Call centre online agents are what they say they are on the tin – online, and the majority if not all of your negotiations and communications will be with the folks in the agent’s national call centre. Do you want the sale of your largest asset handled by someone sitting in a call centre 200 miles away from the property as they attempt to sell, without that all vital local market knowledge? I have to ask, how can these online agents know about your home, school catchment areas etc., and the locality in Tamworth?

4/ Local Knowledge of Tamworth. If you’re selling your home in Tamworth it pays to choose an agent with local knowledge of the Tamworth market. Every Tamworth High Street agent is aware of the Tamworth market trends and most importantly sensible pricing structures for the area.

5/ Getting the Best Price for Your Home. The High Street agent fee is a huge incentive for them to get it right for you – first time. At Hall and Thompson Estate Agents, we meet all of our clients to discuss a realistic market price for their Tamworth property.

We never offer to market properties for more than their true market value – a ploy some online call centre based estate agents do in an attempt to win your property – but this guarantees that when your property does go onto the market for the first time (the most important time), it gets little or no interest as buyers know their prices and can’t be fooled.

Our fee ensures that you receive the very best service from us – it is totally in our best interest to find the most suitable buyer for your home and get them to pay the best price for it.

What are your plans? Are you getting your house ‘sale ready?’ 🏡 Do you need your house valuing? Give us a call here at Hall and Thompson and let us see how we can help you. 01827 425195 or 07531484956

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Tamworth Property Market – Which Houses are Actually Selling?

Beast from the East, Russia, Facebook, Brexit, Trump, House prices up, House prices down … the Press is full of column inches on Brit’s favourite subjects of politics, scandal, weather and not forgetting (and I appreciate the irony of this!) the property market. As an agent belonging a national group of letting and estate agents, talking to my fellow property professionals from around the UK, the one thing that is immediately apparent is the UK does not have one property market. It is a hodgepodge patchwork (almost like a fly’s eye) of lots of small property markets all performing in different ways.

… And that made me think … is there just one Tamworth Property Market or many?

I like to keep an eye on the property market in Tamworth on a daily basis because it enables me to give the best advice and opinion on what (or not) to buy in Tamworth, be that a buy-to-let property for a Tamworth landlord or an owner occupier house for a home owner.  So, I thought, how could I scientifically split the Tamworth housing market into segments, so I could see which part of the market was performing the best and the worst.

I decided the best way was to split the Tamworth property market into four equal size price bands (into terms of households for sale). Each price band would have around 25% of the property in Tamworth, from the lowest in value (the Lowest Quartile or 25%) all the way through to the highest 25% in terms of value, the Upper Quartile.  Looking at the market, I have calculated that these are the price bands in Tamworth are as follows:

  • Lowest Quartile (lowest 25% in terms of value) … Up to £150,000
  • Lower/Middle Quartile (25% to 50% Quartile in terms of value) … £150,000 to £190,000
  • Middle/Upper Quartile (50% to 75% Quartile in terms of value) … £190,000 to £250,000
  • Upper Quartile (highest 25% in terms of value) … £250,000 Upwards

So, having split the Tamworth Property Market approximately into four equal sizes, the results in terms what price band has sold (subject to contract or stc) the most is quite enlightening –

Tamworth  Available Sold STC % Sold
Up to £150,000 69 107 60.8%
£150,000 to £190,000 79 112 58.6%
£190,000 to £250,000 102 95 48.2%
£250,000 Upwards 180 79 30.5%

Although the results are close, the best performing price range in Tamworth is the lower market. As I would expect, the upper quartile (the top 25%) is finding things toughest. Interestingly for Tamworth landlords, with the lower market and the middle market selling well, it looks like there are plenty of Tamworth landlords buying properties to add to their buy to let portfolios. Even though the number of first time buyers did increase in 2017, it was from a low base and the vast majority of 20 something’s cannot buy, so need a roof over their head (hence the need to rent somewhere).

It is a fact that British (and Tamworth’s) housing markets have ridden the storms of Oil crisis in the 1970’s, the 1980’s depression, Black Monday in the 1990’s, and latterly the Credit Crunch together with the various house price crashes of 1973, 1987 and 2008. No matter what happens to us Brexit or anything else … unless the Government starts to build hundreds of thousands extra houses each year, demand will always outstrip supply … so maybe a time for Tamworth landlord investors to bag a bargain?

Want to know where those Tamworth buy to let bargains are?  Follow my Tamworth Property Blog or drop me an email because irrespective of which agent you use, myself or any of the other excellent agents in Tamworth, many local landlords ask me my thoughts, opinion and advice on what (and not) to buy locally … and I wouldn’t want you to miss out on those thoughts … would you?

If you want to learn about the Tamworth Property Market , one source for information is the Tamworth Property Blog authored by yours truly at https://www.tamworthpropertyblog.co.uk

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Ask Lorraine – My Tamworth HMO and damage.

Ask Lorraine – We have been landlords of 2 apartments for 6 years now and have always had fantastic tenants. My husband talked me into adding to our portfolio and we are now running  a HMO. Wow, what a whole new ball game!

The HMO is our former much loved family home, we always had top of the range fixtures and fittings and it was  possibly much nicer than other HMO’s.

Shared House
Shared house

 

 

 

 

Our problem is that my husband seems to be at the property every week sorting issues out. Last night a tenant texted to say that the corner of the marble worksurface in the kitchen is badly chipped. Infact he states that he found a rather large piece of marble on the kitchen floor which he’s left on the hall table, should we need the piece to repair the worksurface.

We cannot understand how this could possibly have happened, surely this is not down to wear and tear?The problem is that it will be very difficult to prove who actually damaged the worksurface and to charge them.

Best Wishes Lily

Lorraine’s Answer – Hello Lily

You have my every sympathy, renting out your own former home is always a recipe for disaster.  No matter how careful the tenants are, they will they be harder on it than you ever were.

One piece of advice – make it nice for them but don’t go to the same expense as you would your own home. Tenants may not deliberately damage your things but as they haven’t had to pay for them the they won’t normally have the same feelings towards them.

The problem with HMO’s is that you cannot prove which resident damaged anything in the communal areas, so basically the landlord has to carry out the repairs and swallow any costs.

You’ve probably already found that running costs of a HMO are much higher than that of a normal AST type tenancy. If you are carrying out weekly repairs it may be in your best interests if you do your sums and decide if running a HMO is still good for you. After all you are running a business!

With the added costs, come the legislation on HMO’s, these  are a minefiled for even seasoned Landlords, maybe a headache too far?

Whatever you decide, I hope you enjoy your property journey.

Until next week

Thinking of Selling your property now or in the near future? Maybe you’re a landlord with property to Rent?

Contact us NOW for a FREE Valuation and find out what Hall and Thompson Estate Agents can do for you….01827 425195

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23% More Tamworth Home Owners Wanting to Move Than 12 Months Ago

As I have mentioned a number times in my local property market blog, with not enough new-build properties being built in Tamworth and the surrounding area to keep up with demand for homes to live in (be that tenants or homebuyers), it’s good to know more Tamworth home sellers are putting their properties on to the market than a year ago.

At the start of 2007 there were 899 properties for sale in Tamworth but by March 2008, when the credit crunch was really beginning to bite, that number had risen to 1,645 properties on the market at a time when demand was at an all-time low, thus creating an imbalance in the local property market.

Basic economics dictates that if there is too much supply of something and demand is poor (which it was in the Credit Crunch years of 2008/9) … prices will drop. In fact, house prices dropped between 15% and 20% depending on the type of Tamworth property between the end of 2007 and Spring 2009.

However, over the last five years, we have seen a steady decrease in supply of properties coming onto the market for sale and steady demand, meaning Tamworth property prices have remained robust.  A stable housing market is one of the foundations of a successful British economy, as it’s all about getting the healthy balance of buyer demand with a good supply of properties. Nevertheless, if you had asked me a couple of years ago, I would have said we were beginning to see there was in fact NOT enough properties coming on to the market for sale … meaning in certain sectors of the Tamworth property market, house prices were overheating because of this lack of supply.

So, it is pleasing to note, looking at the recent numbers …

There are 23% more properties for sale in Tamworth today than a year ago

There were 323 properties for sale 12 months ago, and today that stands at 398. Definitely a step in the right direction to a more stable property market.

Even better news, since the Chancellor announced the stamp duty rule changes for first time buyers (FTB), my fellow agents in Tamworth say that the number of FTB’s registering on the majority of agent’s books has increased year on year. That has still to follow through into more FTB’s buying their first home, however, with the heightened levels of confidence being demonstrated by both Tamworth house sellers and potential house buyers, I do foresee the Tamworth Property Market will show steady yet sustained improvement during the first half of 2018.

What does this mean for Tamworth landlords or those considering dipping their toe into the buy to let market for the first time? Landlords will need to keep improving their properties to ensure they get the best tenants. It is true that demand amongst FTB’s is increasing, albeit from a low base. Even with the new landlord tax rules, buy to let in Tamworth still looks a good investment, providing Tamworth landlords with a good income at a time of low interest rates and a roller coaster stock market.

If you are thinking of investing in bricks and mortar in Tamworth, it is important to do things correctly as making money won’t be as easy as it has been over the last twenty years.  With a greater number of properties on the market .. comes greater choice. Don’t buy the first thing you see, buy with your head as well as your heart … and don’t forget the first rule of Buy To Let Investment …..

I will tell you that 1st rule in a couple of weeks!

If you want to learn about the Tamworth Property Market , one source for information is the Tamworth Property Blog authored by yours truly at https://www.tamworthpropertyblog.co.uk

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