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

 

 

Why Tenancy Agreements are Important to Tamworth Landlords

Yes, It is possible to create a tenancy without actually signing a tenancy agreement but who is crazy enough to do that?

Well you would be surprised –  Recently I  have been contacted twice by landlords who allowed tenants to move into their properties without having a tenancy agreement in place.

One of the landlords I am afraid to say does not want me to mention his case in my blog, apparently he is the butt of his friends jokes over his little issue. I have given him my advice and the rest is now up to him!Spit Handshake

The other landlord contacted me when his tenants failed to pay the deposit and rent. He allowed this “lovely” couple to take the keys and move in with the promise of paying the monies owed when they got paid, two days later.

When monies were not forthcoming and the landlord chased, he was told, this “lovely” couple were going to pay their rent in arrears and they knew nothing about any agreement to pay a deposit.

So we now have a frustrated landlord asking  “Can they pay their rent in arrears and what about the deposit?

Yes, they can, unfortunatley.

Under common law, rent is payable in arrears unless there is a tenancy agreement in place and the agreement states rent is payable in advance.

With regards to the deposit, the landlord has no recourse, where is the proof.

By using a properly drafted tenancy agreement Landlords go a long way to protecting their position. It is unwise to add and remove clauses without legal advice  as they can be classed as unfair terms .

For example a clause will normally be unfair if it takes away a right which a tenant would normally have in law.

If you want to prohibit something a tenant would normally be able to do, such as re-decorate the property, your clause must contain wording providing for the tenant to request permission to do whatever they are wanting to do and must state that “the permission will not be unreasonably refused”.

Countless landlords have invalidated their pets clauses by removing this wording on the basis that “no pets allowed in this property under any circumstances”.

A tenant can request permission for something but it does not mean that you have got to agree to it. It may be reasonable to refuse your permissionm, that is your right as a Landlord. But if you deny tenants the chance to request permission – this will invalidate the clause, meaning that there is nothing to stop them keeping whatever pets they like.

Tenancy agreements need to be fair and written in plain English, they can include clauses to protect the landlord’s position. i.e. –

Notifying tenants that you will provide their details to utilities if they default on payment. You should also note down that you may also use tracing agents if they leave owing you money.

Everyone living in the property, including all children are named in the tenancy agreement and there should be a clause saying that no one else is allowed to live in the property.

Remember doing business on spit and a hand shake is no longer good practice 🙁

until next week.

Landlords, would you like a second opinion on a potential Buy-to-Let property or do you have nagging concerns – please feel free to contact us on 01827 425195 or 07531484956.We are here to help you on your property journey.

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Tamworth Landlords Legislation for 2018 – Day 3

The news is currently full of government legislation for renting out residential properties and raising standards.

Day 3  – Energy Performance Certificates 

From 1st April 2018 there are minimum energy level regulations (MEES), any building which is to be rented on a new tenancy or a renewal, must have a minimum energy rating of “E”.

Energy performance certificate
EPC

Furthermore from 1 April 2020, the minimum level “E” applies to all tenancies, including existing.

There are a number of exemptions available and if one of those exemptions apply, the property must be registered on the National PRS Exemptions Register.

All residential properties require an EPC certificate if they are being sold or let, if you need one completed, please get in touch.

Hall and Thompson are still conducting viewings and letting properties. Please phone 01827 425195 if you are looking for a property. Almost fully booked for today but still have availability for tomorrow.

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My thoughts on the future of the Tamworth Buy-To-Let Market

 I was recently reading a report by the Home website which suggested that hordes of landlords are selling their buy-to-let investments due to increasing burdens on them in the buy-to-let market. Their findings suggest the number of new properties that came onto the market nationally (for sale) jumped by 11% across the UK as a result.

Those increasing burdens include new tax rules coming in over the next 3 to 4 years and the announcement that all self-managing landlords (i.e. landlords that don’t use a letting agent to look after their buy-to-let property) will soon need to register with a compulsory redress scheme to resolve tenant arguments and disputes; as Westminster wants to heighten standards in the Private Rented Sector.

Interestingly I was chatting with a self-managed landlord from Bonehill, when I was out socially over the festive period, who didn’t realise the other recent legislations that have hit the Private Rented sector, including the ‘Right to Rent’ regulations which came in to operation last year. Landlords have to certify their tenants have the legal right to live in the UK. This includes checking and taking copies of their tenant’s passport or visa before the tenancy is signed. Of course, if you use a letting agent to manage your property, they will usually sort this for you (as they will with the redress scheme when that is implemented).

If you are a self-managed landlord though, the consequences are severe because if you let a property to a tenant who is living in the UK illegally, you will be fined up to £3,000. That same Bonehill landlord met me for coffee at Druckers  in the New Year, and I checked all his paperwork and ensured he was on the right side of the law going forward – and I offer the same to any landlord in the Tamworth area if you want me to cast my eye over your buy to let matters (and at no cost)

But what of all these extra properties being dumped onto the market in Tamworth? When I looked at the records the number of properties on the market in Tamworth now, as opposed to a year ago, the numbers tell an interesting story …

 

1st Jan 2017 1st Jan 2018
Detached 110 162 47%
Semi 90 105 17%
Terraced 43 35 -19%
Flat 33 45 36%
Plots +
Other
7 10 43%
Total 283 357 26%

Overall, Tamworth doesn’t match the national trend, with the number of properties on the market actually rising by 26% in the last year.  It was particularly interesting to see the number of detached increase by 47%, yet the number of terraced on the market drop by 19%.

However, speaking with my team and other property professionals in the town, the majority of that movement in the number of properties and the types of properties on the market isn’t down to landlords dumping their properties on the market. The whole property market has changed in the last 12 months, with the majority of the change in the number and type of properties for sale due to the owner-occupier market, not landlords (a subject I will write about soon in my Tamworth Property Market blog later this Spring?). You see, for the last ten years, each month there has always been a small number of Tamworth landlords who have been releasing their monies from their Tamworth buy to let properties – as is the nature of all investments!

Nationally, the number of rental properties coming on to the market to rent fell by 16% in Q4 2017 compared to Q4 2016 .. but that isn’t because there are 16% less rental properties to rent – it’s because tenants are staying in their rental properties longer meaning less are coming on the market to be RE-LET.

Nevertheless, some Tamworth landlords will want to release the equity held in their Tamworth buy to let properties in 2018. All I suggest is that you speak with your letting agent first, as putting a rental property on the open market often spooks the tenants to hand in their notice days after you put it on the market (because they don’t like the uncertainty and also believe they will become homeless!). This means you have an empty property, costing you money with no rent coming in.  However, some letting agents who specialise in portfolio management have select lists of landlords that will buy with sitting tenants in. If you have a portfolio in the Tamworth area and are considering selling some or all of them – drop me a line as I might have a portfolio landlord for you (with the peace of mind that you won’t have any rental voids).

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 tenant is in substantial rent arrears

Do I still go to court
Do I still go to court

Ask Lorraine – I am in court in 3 weeks time over substantial rent arrears, if the tenants pay me before the court date do I still take them to court under Ground 11,  irregularity of payments or should I cancel the proceedings?

Thankyou V. T.

 

 

Lorraine’s Answer –  There are no refunds once you have paid the court fee, therefore, if your tenants did pay your outstanding rent, I would suggest you still continue with your court action.

scales of justice
scales of justice

We always put grounds 8, 10 and 11 –  you have all bases covered then,  just in case they do pay before the hearing.

If the tenants have paid, you probably won’t be awarded a possession order outright, most likely you will receive  a suspended order to see how they behave in the short term.

Usually when substantial arrears are owed, tenants do not pay up and it’s rare for them to turn up at court. Why not have your day in court, it’s a learning experience.

Until next week.

I’m regularly finding Buy to Let deals and posting these on the Tamworth Property Blog at https://www.tamworthpropertyblog.co.uk  Sign up for instant updates.

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Ask Lorraine – I have a new lodger but I’m not a landlord, do I need to carry out any checks?

Ask Lorraine – Dear Lorraine

I own my house in Tamworth and have no mortgage so I am quite fortunate. I’ve recently taken in a lodger, a lovely foreign lady who came complete with a little dog. My lodger moved in 2 months ago and pays her rent weekly and on time, neither the dog or my lodger are any trouble.

Last week I went to my monthly ladies club  and several of us were discussing the pros and cons of me taking in a lodger.  Anyway the latest news in the press concerning government changes and policies to renting was mentioned, I later left the ladies club a little perplexed. I do have a lodger but I’m not a landlord, surely I don’t need to carry out checks do I? I’m not out to make this a business, it was more the company I was aiming for.

Chris

Landlady
Landlady

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lorraine’s answer 

Hello Chris,

From 1 February 2016, all private landlords in England have to make right to rent checks. This means checking that tenants have the right to be in the UK.

What this means for landlords

You need to make right to rent checks if you:

  • Are a private landlord.
  • Have taken a lodger.
  • Are sub-letting a property.
  • Are an agent appointed by a landlord to make right to rent checks.

Some landlords won’t need to make the checks.

Full details can be found on the government website  ….https://www.gov.uk/government/news/right-to-rent-checks-what-they-mean-for-you

I would recommend you reading the guidelines and taking appropriate action as the penalties are very costly.

Until next week

You may wish to check out some of our other links :-

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Ask Lorraine – My Tamworth tenants want a new AST!

Ask Lorraine –

Good morning,

ask lorraine new ast
ask Lorraine – new AST

Some advice please, on a rather delicate matter.

My wife and I own a 3  bed terraced property  in Tamworth, we have had the same tenants in the property since purchasing it some 5 years ago. They have been good tenants and we are more like friends than landlord and tenant. We have the odd month when rent is up to a week late, however it’s always been received in the end and with little prodding on my part.

Both the husband and wife work for the same company, they have just informed my wife that the company is closing down with the loss of all jobs.

Our tenants have asked if we would  give them a new tenancy agreement so that they are able to claim housing benefit.

I have agreed to give them a new 1 year tenancy agreement.

dilemma
dilemma

My dilemma is this, at the moment the tenants are a few days late with this months rent, what happens if they are not able to pay and the council are not forthcoming. Will we be able to evict or will we have to wait until the new tenancy agreement expires in a years time?

George

Lorraine’s Answer

Hi George,

The tenants do not require a new AST (tenancy agreement)  in order to claim Housing Benefit, the council will accept the original AST or a copy of the original AST.

In the first instance I would suggest checking what the tenants Housing Benefit entitlements are, you can check the LHA rate on the LHA Direct website.

If you have not already given a new tenancy agreement (AST) I would not do so, you could be making it more difficult to evict the tenants and their rights will become much stronger.  There is so much prescribed information to give with a new tenancy agreement and so many regulations that you must comply with i.e a copy of the EPC, protecting the deposit correctly  and giving them the prescribed information. What about the government’s “How to Rent” booklet, the list goes on!

Should the need arise and you find yourselves in a situation where you need to evict, without the correct paperwork having been given at the start of the tenancy, you will find yourself in serious trouble and will have great difficulty evicting.

As always,  I would recommend meeting with the tenants and explain that a new AST is not required. Support them however you can, without it being at your detriment.

You have already mentioned that the rent is payable monthly, once there are over two months arrears you can take action to evict under the  s8 Housing Act, should you wish!

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/50/schedule/2

You may wish to seek legal advice if you do ever decide to go down the route of evicting under the  s8 Housing Act. The professionals can do this on your behalf.

I hope things do work out for you and your tenants.

until next week

Ask Lorraine – Our Tamworth tenants have moved out leaving belongings

🙋  Landlord’s Question: 

“Good Evening Lorraine

Our tenants appear to have moved out without paying last months rent. We are being advised by neighbours that they have moved to Spain. They left behind items i.e washing machine, dishwasher, 3 piece suite, a very nice patio set, garden shed and quite a lot of rubbish.

We need to relet this property as soon as possible as we are paying a mortgage on it so our priority is getting rid of the items they have left behind.

Unfortunately we didn’t take a deposit and know we are unlikely to recoup the owing rent or for damage to the living room carpet.

What is our position regarding disposing of the goods left behind?

We have no contact address for them, emails and phone calls are not being responded too and my wife has attempted  to connect with them on facebook.

Steve”

Tenants have moved out and left belongings
Tenants have moved out and left belongings

🙋 Lorraines Answer

Steve, you appear to have got off  relatively light.  In lots of eviction cases the tenants remove everything they own from the property including items that do not belong to them and go as far as trashing the property.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, next time take a deposit 1.5 – 2.0 x the monthly rent.

As a landlord you do have a legal obligation to take care of the goods and to make reasonable attempts to trace the tenants in order to return the goods. See Tortes  Law (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 which makes provision for abandoned goods under S12.

Under S12 of the Torts Act, if the  tenant (known as bailor) breaks an arrangement to take delivery of the goods, or the landlord (bailee) is unable to trace the former tenant, then the landlord is permitted to sell the goods, provided he gives notice.

The landlord (bailee) can sell the goods at auction and deduct any auction charges incurred, storage costs can also be deducted. Full clear and concise records should be kept ensuring that the tenant cannot come back at a later date asking for recompense for the cost of the goods.

Any monies made from the sale of the goods can be used to offset rent arrears and damages as long as your tenancy agreement has these stipulations noted.

Before disposing of any goods, even when the tenants cannot be traced there is a prescribed form of notice, which must be followed.

1. In writing by registered post or recorded deliver.

2. Full names and the address of the tenants,  full details of the goods held and the address where they are being held.

3. Mention that the goods are ready for collection or to be delivered to the tenant (bailor).

4.  The place of sale and the date on or after which they will be sold, as well as any costs which will be deducted from the sale proceeds.

The notice  must be attached to the property so that it can seen, perhaps on the front door and downstairs windows. 

Unless noted in your tenancy agreement, there is no set notice period, 14 days is the norm,  however the notice should give the tenant (bailor) a reasonable time to take delivery of the goods.

Even if the tenant can’t be traced following guidelines above will ensure that you don’t fall foul of the law.

Until next week.

If you are a landlord or thinking of becoming one for the first time and you want to read more articles like this about the Tamworth Property Market, together with regular postings on what I consider the best buy to let deals in Tamworth (out of the many of properties on the market, irrespective of which agent is selling it) then feel free to get in touch!

Email me on Lorraine@hallandthompson.co.uk or call on 07531484956.

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Ask Lorraine – My Tamworth tenants are stealing electricity

🙋  Landlords Question: 

I’m hoping you can offer some advice as  I found out that one of my tenants was stealing electricity and I don’t know what to do about it.

The rent has always been paid on time, both tenants work full time and  last year I seem to remember them taking two foreign holidays. They have lived in the property two years with no issues until recently when the tenant complained the cooker was not working.

On examination  from  a well trusted contractor  it came to light about the rewiring. I haven’t let the tenant know that I am aware of what’s been going on.

We have made the utility company aware and they are looking into the situation.  Since the Grenfell Tower incident  I’m worried about the dangerous rewiring and the fact that a tenant of mine was so brazen in doing this.

Am I liable for any of the stolen electricity.?

Zoe

Electricity Theft
Electricity Theft

 

Lorraine’s Answer:

Hi Zoe, Its very common for tenants to bypass, or substitute meters. Prepay meters are the most popular to bypass.

I’m assuming that all bills are in the tenants names, if so, any stolen electricity you will not be liable for, so that’s some good news.

Many offenders see stealing utility supplies as a victimless crime, in much the same way as shoplifters do – it’s a big company so what’s the harm, they can afford it, or look at the profit they make! Do the offenders not realise they have an impact on honest consumers receiving higher bills, let alone the dangers of what they are doing.

My advice if you have not done so already,  check that the other utilities have not been tampered with. Serve notice on the tenants and find new tenants who will not put themselves or your property at risk.

Good Luck.

 

 

Ask Lorraine – Can I force my Tamworth Landlord to replace a window

🙋  Tenants Question: 

We rent a 3 bed terraced house in Tamworth from a private landlord. the house was  built in the 1960’s and we have been living there 2 years.  Last year the landlord had cavity wall insulation carried out and he replaced the kitchen. Since Christmas  I have  been asking the landlord to replace a single  glazed window in the kitchen as the rest of the house is double glazed, he is refusing, how can I put pressure on him to do this?

Can I force landlord to upgrade window?

 

Lorraine’s Answer:

I presume that you inspected the house before you agreed to rent and were happy with what you saw?

The landlord is obviously spending money on the property and upgrading it, some  landlords don’t even see fit to upgrade their properties so I think you have a decent one there. Trying to  put pressure on your  landlord may only cause bad feeling and that will not help your cause. It may be that the window is  on his/her radar to renew, after all he must have spent a fair amount last year and being a  landlord is a business, not a charity.

Under general repairing  obligations, as a general rule, a landlord doesn’t have to improve the property from what was granted initially.  If your financial position allows, would replacing the window yourself be something that both you and the landlord would agree too.

I do think that you should ask to meet the landlord for a friendly chat and clear the air before a small thing like a single glazed window becomes so much more.

Until next week.