Browsing all articles in Landlords
Apr
10

Rental Properties For Investment Purposes

There are lots of different ways that you can make money without having to put hours and hours into something every day. That doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have to work on your project, but there are some that can be done up and then left to run on their own, at least for a little while. One way to do this is to invest in rental properties and become a landlord, though things do seem to pop up all of the time.

If you decide to commit to buying rental properties that you can overhaul and let out, you can realise a regular flow of rental income each month with little hassle after your initial period of renovation works.

Buying rental properties can be tricky, but you can usually find the right thing if you look around. Initially it is a good idea to just buy one if this is your first time. However, if you are confident in your buying strategy and can handle the works, then aside from finance, there isn’t a limit on how many you purchase at once. For the best investment, you want to find something in a decent neighbourhood that might need some work. You will get a ‘market happy’ price by adopting these strategies when buying rental properties, but you can put a little work and money into it and turn it into a perfect investment.

That means you can command a higher rent and get a return on your investment.

When buying good rental properties initial research is essential. Think of it as your road map to success – without it you will be literally ‘driving blind’. You can’t always tell what a neighbourhood is like just by driving through during the day. To make the best decisions about an area, try visiting at different times of the day. How do these times affect your property directly? Does the feel to the area change at night? Issues may arise that you hadn’t considered that could be detrimental to the rentability of your potential investment.

If you are looking into buying rental properties, and you notice a great house at a very low price, you have to wonder why that is. There could be a high crime rate in the area of interest, even though the look and feel of it would suggest otherwise, or even a very troublesome neighbour that has left the house unsold.

If you are new to buying rental properties, you should also know that you should always have someone look over the house for you no matter what you think of it. There could be problems with the foundation or other key areas that mean the house will be more of an investment than you first thought. Though estate agents are generally very honest about what is really wrong with a house,and its sale history you should always get your own person i.e.
a qualified Surveyor/ Structural Engineer to look over anything you are considering when you are buying rental properties.

Lettinglinks.com is a social networking site that connects landlords with tenants. If you are looking to rent out your property then visit the main site and create your account in seconds. The site is 100% FREE to use.
Gain access to thousands of UK registered tenants NOW!

Dec
4

How Landlords Can Avoid Gumtree’s Advertising Fees

No one is sure what happened or why, but earlier this year it was announced that Gumtree, the classified website owned by eBay was going to be charging for their once free service. Gumtree was a place that landlords could post free adverts for vacant rental properties and find tenants quickly and easily. It was a very effective site – and free!

 

The way Gumtree used to work was that landlords could post as many adverts for free. So if a landlord had several properties, he/she could post as many as necessary without it costing a fortune. They would list their properties from newest to oldest. If a landlord wanted his listing to be visible at the top of search results, he’d have to “bump” his listing frequently in order to be put back at the top.

 

“Bumping” used to be a simple case of logging in and resubmitting your advert. This would automatically push your ad to the top because it would tell Gumtree that the property was still available. The ‘bump’ feature was absolutely necessary, especially in high volume areas such as London, where there were hundreds of vacant properties added daily. It wouldn’t take long before your advert would sink to the bottom and within a couple of hours be completely out of sight. Without being able to ‘bump’ the advert it would become completely useless.

 

The old pricing structure was wonderful, which is why Gumtree received so much praise from many landlords through the blogs.

 

But as is the case with many free listing sites, the word ‘free’ only remains for so long before the powers that be deem it necessary to charge the very people that make the site ‘valuable’ to use their service, you!

 

The result…Gumtree now charges £9.95 per ad (you get your first 2 ads free) and for unlimited ads they charge a fee of £42 per month. In addition Gumtree also has used this opportunity to revoke the free ‘bump’ feature! This is now chargeable at £2 per day outside of London and £7.14 per day in London, which would amount to £49.98 per week if you decided to do it every day; which you will probably need to do if you want your advert to be read at all!

 

Now having said all of this, one might start to wonder ‘how does Gumtree monitor and figure out how to limit Landlords to 2 free adverts per year?’ Since landlords didn’t have to register in order to post an advert it didn’t seem technically possible to restrict the free usage so a little research was in order. From the research carried out it would seem that the way Gumtree keeps track of usage is through email addresses.

 

Anyone with multiple email addresses (and if you don’t they’re certainly easy to obtain) could get many adverts posted for free. It’s also possible to use this system to avoid the costs of ‘bumping’, since all you would need to do is delete the ad, and re-enter under a new email – for FREE.

 

So now we have shared that golden nugget of information with you, our loyal readers, before you run off and begin posting free property adverts on Gumtree once more, we would like to ask you to consider this…

 

Aside from its mass traffic generation ability, historically, Gumtree’s unique selling point to landlords was to provide a service by which they could market their properties to a huge audience at no cost. A fantastic, no-brainer service if it’s free, but now it isn’t one should question what they are actually getting for their money.

 

Ok, we have shown you a way to make the service essentially free for you to use again, but is Gumtree really providing a good service for the average Landlord?

 

There are several reasons to consider but one that stands out like a sore thumb is Gumtree’s primitive search feature. It is hard to search for properties of interest at the best of times on the site, but with all the extra work involved in keeping the service free, is it really worth it?

 

There are other options that will be cheaper and easier with less time consumption that would be well worth looking into. User-friendly portal Letting Links is free to use and is growing in popularity everyday. With the sites unique ability to match tenants with properties and vice versa based on their requirements, could there be a simpler, more effective way to rent your property out?

 

If you rely on finding quality tenants online then Letting Links is just the ticket you’re looking for! Check us out to find out how we can save you money and get you in touch with the right tenants.

Nov
30

Nightmare Rental Property – This Could Be You!

Getting to Know Prospective Tenants Before Letting Your Property

As this video illustrates, the penalties for failing to get to know your tenant applicants prior to letting your property can be severe.

 

Letting Links has been created to make the letting process transparent. Of course it is important to obtain references and credit checks for potential tenants. But we feel that this is sometimes not enough and that with all the paid checks in the world you can still end up with bad tenants.

To help reduce the risk of acquiring bad tenants Letting Links provides landlords with a unique feedback and ratings system that is visible on all tenants profiles. Feedback and ratings are created by the tenants connections such as previous landlords to help build a better picture as to who you are dealing with.

Need more? Well, to make this process even simpler, we have provided every member of the site with a free audio/visual chat interactive system attached to their profile. Chat face to face with people from the comfort of your own home before you invite them to view your property.

 

Don’t get caught with a tenant that you don’t really know. Use all the tools at your disposal to make the best decisions possible. They are FREE after all!

Nov
27

Using a Rental Agent? Which Service Should I Go For?

Is this your first time letting out a property? Maybe you’re planning on using an Agent but you really aren’t sure what service you should be using. They generally fall under 3 different types of service categories.

Introduction Only or Let Only

As you can imagine from the name, this is the basic service that will market your property for you and be available for potential tenants to view the unit. The Agent would then take references, for which the prospective tenant would most likely be charged for this service. Once a suitable tenant was found, you would probably pay extra to your agent to have the tenancy agreement written up and signed. As soon as the tenant moves in the agents service is complete and the responsibility for collecting rent and taking care of the property falls back to you – the Landlord.

Rent Collection

Most agents will market this service as an add-on to the Let Only model, but is again a basic service that has its limitations. The agent will collect the rent on your behalf by setting up a standing order with the tenant’s bank account to have the monthly rent transferred into a rental account which would then be transferred to you. This is not a rent Guarantee. The agent will most likely have a few standard letters that would go out to remind the tenant that the rent is due, should they go into arrears, and he might even make a few calls on your behalf. If however the matter becomes a court situation in order to collect back rent, this would become your responsibility. If you want to save the 2 – 3% that the agent would charge, it would be just as easy for you to set up the standing order yourself.

Full Management

This is the hardest decision to make; do you want to manage the property yourself or hire an agent to do this for you. There are several things you should consider before making this decision.

If for example you do not live locally, it would be quite impossible for you to be there quickly should there be an emergency, or to do check ins and outs, or for periodic inspections.

How knowledgeable are you about repairs and maintenance? You need to have a basic understanding to be able to figure out what was wrong, and either how to fix it or who you should call. And without the basics, it becomes more likely that you could be taken advantage of by some unscrupulous tradesman. This is where an agent would have the advantage, especially if they have several properties they are managing. They would hopefully have a good team of tradespeople they could call on, and if they are giving them steady work, the tradespeople have a tendency of putting letting agents in priority sequences.

And the most important question you need to answer is: do you have the time it takes to manage the property yourself? Problems have a way of occurring at the worst possible time and could interfere with your other commitments, such as family. Your tenant doesn’t care what he’s interrupting; all he knows is that he has a problem and wants it fixed – now!

If after reading this you’ve decided that managing the property yourself is just not worth it, try to negotiate with the letting agent about their management fee. Most agents like the benefits of managing the properties such as receiving repeat let only fees so they are more likely to be flexible when charging a management fee. Let Only fees are usually paid up front whereas the management fee would be received monthly.

In order to find the right letting agent for you, why not let ‘Letting Links’ help you find what you are looking for? We can even match you up with some potential tenants, so check out our services.

Nov
13

Landlord Law – Lesser known Regulations you should be aware of!

As you may already know, the two most important and vital regulations that a landlord needs be in compliance with are The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulation 1988 – as amended 1993.

However there are several lesser known regulations, laws and acts that as a landlord you must have up-to-date information in order to be compliant. The following are a few of those regulations:

The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 was introduced in order for the electrical equipment that is to be supplied by the landlord to be in good working order and safe to use. Although there is no mandatory equipment testing requirement, unlike the Gas Safety regulation, the responsibility of the landlord is no different. The best practice for landlords is to include the testing of all electronic appliances and electrics (wires, plugs and sockets) at the beginning of each tenancy, and annually thereafter, to ensure everything is in working order. If you are in the habit of having these items checked regularly you would not have any trouble proving due diligence in the event of a fire or any other problem or mishap.

As part of this regulation there is also the Plugs and Sockets (Safety) Regulation 1994 that states any plug, socket or adaptor that the landlord is supplying within a residential letting must comply with the appropriate current standard and that the plugs are prewired and insulated enough so that there would be no shock when removing plugs from the socket.

There are several other subsections of this regulation, so you would be wise to check out the entire document.

The other document you would be advised to have on hand for reference is the Landlord and Tenant Act. Unfortunately it’s an ever changing and expanding document that can be difficult to keep up with. The following are but a few examples that might be of interest to you:

Section 47, Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 is regarding the need for landlords to have an address in England or Wales, even if they reside outside of England or Wales. There must be an address in England or Wales for the rent to be sent as well as any notifications, this address could be that of an office rather than their home.

Section 11, Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 requires landlords to keep both the interior and exterior of the property, including drains, ducts, gutters and pipes, in good working order. They must also keep the installations for supplying water, gas, electricity, sanitation, space heating and water heating in good repair and working order. This would also imply that the landlord has the right to view all of the above in order to assess the conditions of his property, provided they give a 24 hour written notice to the tenant.

The Protection from Eviction Act 1977, states that neither the landlord nor the agent has a right to reclaim possession of a property if the tenant refuses to leave without first obtaining a court order. It would be considered a criminal offense to harass, change the locks, cut off services or remove the tenant’s possessions.  

The Sex Discrimination Act 1975; the Disability Discrimination Act 1995; the Race Relations Act 1976. All of these Acts make it illegal to discriminate an application for tenancy on the grounds of sex, marital status, disability or race (including colour, nationality, creed, ethnicity or national origin).

So as you can see there is definitely more to becoming a landlord than just finding a tenant for a property you want to let. As many of these regulations, laws and acts carry the possibility of penalties and sometimes even imprisonment; you can see just how important it is to be aware, up-to-date and diligent about the condition of your property in order to protect your possessions.

 

 

Nov
11
Nov
8

Landlord Law – Essential Legislation Landlords Need To be Aware Of

Landlords are required to remain current as to their understanding and compliance with the many laws, regulations and acts that have been developed for the letting industry. It is an ever changing world and the laws that we live by therefore are constantly changing as well.

The following is just a sampling of such regulations that landlords and letting agents would be wise to study and ensure their properties are in compliance.

The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1988 puts the responsibility of ensuring all gas appliances and fixtures, such as pipes and flues are maintained in good condition directly on the landlords of residential properties. Most importantly is to makes sure that the escape of Carbon Monoxide poison, which is odourless, silent and deadly, is avoided at all costs.

The regulation states that all properties need to have a valid Gas Safety Record at all times. This would also include pipework that has been capped and appliances removed. A CORGI registered engineer must inspect all gas appliances prior to the tenant moving into the property, who will issue the Gas Safety Record for which a copy must be given to the tenant. After the initial check an annual Gas Safety Check must be performed and again a copy goes to the tenant within 28 days of the check. The landlord is expected to keep a copy of the Gas Safety Check for a period of two years.

Both landlords and letting agents are liable for the compliance of this regulation and should be aware that non-compliance is a serious criminal offense and could carry with it monetary penalties and/or imprisonment. If a death were to occur due to a breach in the safety regulations, the charge could be manslaughter and both landlord and agent would be equally liable.

Another regulation that has become just as important is the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulation 1988 – as amended 1993, which states that the following furniture and furnishings that are supplied by the landlord must meet fire safety regulations.

These items include: Beds, headboards and mattresses; sofas, sofa-beds and futons; nursery furniture; garden furniture that is suitable to be used indoors; furniture used in new caravans; window seat, seat pads, scatter cushions and bean bags; padded stools and chests (ottomans); put-u-up beds and garden loungers/seats; and loose and stretch covers for furniture.

Most furniture that has been manufactured after 1989 will likely comply and will have a label showing their compliance. The items that are not covered by this regulation are: sleeping bags, bed clothes (including duvets) and pillowcases; loose covers for mattresses, curtains and carpets; furniture or furnishing manufactured prior to 1950, as the material used prior to this period was not flammable.

The consequences for non-compliance of this regulation are also a criminal offense and could lead to a fine of £5000 and/or 6 months in prison. The charge of manslaughter would also be imposed should a death occur due to negligence on the part of the landlord and/or letting agent.

There are several other regulations that landlords must adhere to, however these two are the most important and hold the strictest penalties for non-compliance. Landlords are required to be up-to-date on all of the literature that goes along with the regulations and laws for letting properties.

Nov
3

Letting a House – A Landlord’s Guide

Letting a House

So you’ve decided to enter into the world of property letting? Before you rush off to advertise for that first tenant there are several things you should consider and do prior to that step. As with anything worthwhile it’s worth doing well, so you’ll want to remember that first impressions are everything. Take a close look at your property and see if there’s anything you could do to make your property more appealing, both internally and externally.

Haul away some garbage or tidy up the gardens, maybe throw a little paint on some unsightly walls so that the property looks its best. The same principles apply to letting a property as it does to someone who is trying to sell a property, so you’ll need to maintain this condition throughout the letting process.

There are also several safety standards you’ll most definitely need to follow and make sure that you comply with before letting the property. Some of these safety standards are; Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988, as amended 1993 and Smoke Detectors Act 1991 Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994.

As the landlord you are expected to be able to produce certificates for all of these to show compliance, where applicable. You should also look into obtaining a Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) for any electrical appliance that you plan on including in your rental unit. If you happen to have furniture that was made prior to 1988, you should seriously consider replacing it as the furniture will not meet the necessary standards. You should include any item that has upholstery or material such as beds, mattresses, cushions, headboards or sofa beds.

The following are items that are exempt from this legislation:

Sleeping bags, duvets, blankets, carpets and curtains and any furniture made before 1950.

There are severe consequences – from heavy fines to prison sentences – for non-compliance if an accident were to happen, so it is in your best interest to be aware of the standards and how to check that your possessions are up to par.

This goes hand in hand with making sure you are also in compliance with the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) that has been required since October 2008. Energy efficiency is not only required by law these days but as our earth is in need of our help, it is the duty of each citizen to do our best to improve the carbon emissions and the way in which we leave our foot prints behind.

Landlords should contact their local authorities if the property you are about to let is within the House in Multiple  Occupation (HMO) leasing, as there are specific standards for this type of housing that you will need to comply with.

Other items you will need to make sure you have are; an agreed inventory which will be included in the tenancy agreement; permission from your lender (if you have a mortgage); advise your insurance company what items you intend to include in your insurance policy and what items will be the responsibility of the tenant.

Ever since April 6 2007, landlords who accept a deposit on the property must ensure that the deposit is held by an authorised deposit scheme. This protects the deposit and helps deal with disputes quickly. As landlord you must inform the tenant within 14 days of receiving the deposit which scheme you are using and giving the tenant all of the pertinent information.

At this point you’ll want to decide whether to manage the property yourself or hire a letting agent to manage the day to day operations of the building, including finding the right tenant(s), handling the viewings and paperwork, and assist in working out the appropriate rent to charge for your specific location. Having an agent certainly lessens the worry and allows you to pursue other interests. The letting agent will also handle the marketing of your property since he will likely be experienced in this area. You will need to sign an agreement with this agent so make sure you read your contract carefully and don’t go into a lengthy term. Here at Letting Links we can help find that suitable letting agent or for that matter, an appropriate tenant.

And lastly, here are a few items that you should consider as your checklist: Get permission from your lending source; if you plan on making structural changes to the property, get approval from the council’s planning office; get in touch with the Environmental Health Department (if you have a HMO); get all of your safety certificates in order and include having the wiring checked out by a licensed electrician; inform Council Tax department and utility suppliers that you plan on letting the property.

Although it sounds extensive, it will prove to be worthwhile in the end. Now that all of the hard work has been done you can sit back and enjoy the experience of being a landlord. And welcome to the world of property letting! Contact us at Letting Links if you need any assistance along your journey!

Lettinglinks.com is a social networking site that connects landlords with tenants. If you are looking to rent out your property then visit the main site and create your account in seconds. The site is 100% FREE to use. Gain access to thousands of UK registered tenants NOW!

 

 

Nov
3

The Evolution of Property Portals

Over the past several years the Property Portals market has been changing and evolving in the attempts to please all parties involved in the letting business. The market gets flooded with many players but several only last a short period of time, mainly because they’re unable to keep their promises which leave only the major players in the game.

The biggest contributor to the evolution is the internet and the web companies that have made their voices known. Keeping up with the ever changing trends is never an easy process so the successful businesses are required to be pro-active instead of re-active. It’s vital to introduce new products and unique ideas that will benefit letting agents, landlords and tenants alike. The old adage of “if you’re not moving forward, or just standing still, then you might as well be moving backwards”, has never been more relevant than it is to the property portals market.

If you can’t attract new customers on a consistent basis you’re never going to stay in business for very long. The best idea so far has been for the property portals to have a limited number of letting agents on board – hopefully you’ll find fast reactive agents that will keep your business ahead of the rest of the field. With over 11,000 registered letting agents, all of whom are paying large sums of money for registration, it’s not surprising that some of the less than dynamic agents start to struggle, their income decreases and they’re left with a large business loss.

The main idea behind the property portals is to first drive site traffic which will then provide the searching users with the information they’re looking for, which will then provide leads for the letting agent. If all of this occurs in a proper manner, everyone will be happy and the letting agents business will continue its growth. Letting Links is such a property portals that are here to help connect prospective tenants with letting agents and landlords.

By listening to the letting agents and to the tenants in order to address any additional questions, concerns or problems, the web business or property portal will continue to evolve and thrive into very successful online businesses.

Sep
30

How To Compile a Property Rental Inventory

A detailed letting inventory is an extremely important document that will benefit both Landlord and Tenant; however it is more likely to be an aid to the landlord. Taking an inventory of property both at the beginning and the end of a tenancy would show the exact condition of the property rental should there ever be a dispute between the tenant and landlord. Although having an accurate and detailed property inventory is vital, it does not have to be burdensome.

Take a walk through your rental property and/or rental properties, and write down a detailed description of everything you come across, both interior and exterior, from fixtures, flooring, appliances, furniture (if applicable), the walls, windows and everything in between.  Once you’ve put together a complete comprehensive list, this list will act as your Property Inventory checklist that can be used with each tenant and at each rental property.

Now you have a tool that will enable you to report a before and after snapshot for each tenancy agreement.

At the beginning of the tenancy agreement you’ll do a walk through with your tenant taking precise notes of each item and condition of all letting inventory on your checklist.  Let the tenant make notes and point out obvious marks or flaws on the doorways, scrapes on the walls or missing fixtures.  This document, compared to the one you’ll also make as the tenant exits the tenancy will be helpful should there be a dispute at the end of tenancy.

At the conclusion of the tenancy agreement is when you as Landlord will want to take notes of any damage, missing items and obvious misuse of the unit.   The property rental Inventory will serve as a comparison for the general overall cleanliness, state of repair and condition of the rental property prior to and at the end of tenancy agreement.  You will also be able to use this tool for making note of utility meter readings (if applicable) should you require payment for used utilities.

For long term rental agreements you might also want to include an interim report.  As with any item, there’s a wear and tear element that must be considered and should not be construed as negligent.  All things will eventually wear out, break down or just generally need to be updated.  If you look at all aspects of the condition of the building, and the way in which your tenant has kept up with the normal every day maintenance, you will no doubt get a true feel for what has been misused and what has just come to the end of its usefulness.

Keeping your property inventory accurate and up to date will save you a great deal of time and headaches in the long run.

Both parties will have to agree with the reports and once everyone is in agreement, the document should be signed.  As this signed property rental inventory has now become a legal document, it can be used when deciding if a security deposit is eligible for return or could be entered as evidence in a court proceeding if it ever became necessary.

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