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Apr
10

Letting a Property – The Benefits

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While there are some renters who view letting a property as a failure, there are others who see the benefits that are to be gained from renting a house or apartment as opposed to purchasing one.

Some of the benefits of renting include the ability to save money while renting for the purpose of purchasing a home, few maintenance requirements and the inclusion of amenities which the renter would not likely be able to afford if they were to purchase a home instead of renting. Although there are some negative aspects to renting an apartment, this article will focus exclusively on the benefits of renting a property.

The Ability to Save Money

Being able to save up a great deal of money for the purpose of making a down payment on a dream home is just one of the many great advantages to letting a property. Many existing homeowners were only able to achieve homeownership by adopting this same principle.

Although renting is often perceived as throwing good money away because it does not result in equity, the ability to save money while renting is unrivalled, especially in tougher economic times where prices are arguably still over inflated. Renting a flat/apartment is usually cheaper than the monthly mortgage on a home.

A first home is one that you would want to put your own stamp on. For this reason having the ability to save money to facilitate a deposit plus renovation/decoration works upon purchase is very useful. Therefore the value of letting a property cannot be denied. Depending on how long the renter stays in rented property, they may save hundreds or even thousands of pounds during the course of the rental agreement.

No Maintenance Properties

Another advantage to letting a property is there is typically little or no maintenance required by the tenant. This is especially true in an flat/apartment situation. The renter may be responsible for small items such as changing light bulbs but more extensive repairs such as leaks in plumbing or clogs in drains are typically handled by the maintenance staff of the rental property.

Communal areas such as gardens and coridoors are covered by a maintenance charge usually payable by the owner of the property. The exception is usually when a tenant rents a house as opposed to an apartment. In these cases the tenant may still not be responsible for small repairs but might be required to maintain external areas such as gardens etc.

Additional Amenities

Another advantage to apartment living is often the amenities offered to residents. Such amenities might include usage of the pool, an exercise room, meeting spaces, launderettes etc. In most cases these amenities are offered free of charge to residents and their guests. Many people looking to purchase a home would not likely be able to acquire one with amenities such as these.

These items are often considered luxurious and are not available in the majority of homes which are on the market at any particular time. In fact searching for homes which specifically have these features may severely limit the number of search results and may result in no search results at all when these features are searched in conjunction with a typical price range. However, those who rent can enjoy access to these amenities. They may pay more in rent than those in a comparable apartment complex without these amenities but they are also still likely saving a considerable amount of money each month as long as they are budgeting wisely and have chosen a rental property within their price range.

Lettinglinks.com is a social networking site that connects landlords with tenants. If you are interested in letting a 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 landlords and their properties NOW!

Nov
16

Viewing Properties Checklist

So you’ve narrowed down your search for that perfect rental unit and you’ve made the appointments to view the properties. Now you want to put together a checklist so that you don’t forget anything – and the following should help.

–      Are there bills included in the rental unit? Most likely not if it’s a self-contained property, but you won’t know unless you ask

–      Will the property be cleaned prior to move in? Will this include the cooker, the toilet, and windows? Is it possible to get the carpets shampooed?

–      How secure is the property? Does the alarm system work and are there locks on the doors and windows?

–      When looking around take note of the things you may need and if the property comes furnished you might be able to negotiate the additional pieces into the agreement.

–      Are all of your appliance needs met? Does the property have a cooker, fridge/freezer, dishwasher, washing machine and dryer?

–      If there’s a shower check to see what the water pressure is like – you wouldn’t want to get a surprise once you move in.

–      Take a good look around and make notes of any repairs that need to be made and check to be sure the landlord intends on having them repaired prior to your arrival.

–      Be aware of any outside noises such as traffic, train lines, shops or pubs. You might want to check it out at different times of the day in order to be sure you can live with it and get the sleep you require.

–      Check out the parking situation. If there isn’t a designated spot for you and you need to park on the street, it for residents only and will you be able to get a permit?

–      What is the Council tax band and how much was the current year’s cost?

–      If there’s a garden, do you have access and is it private or do you have to share it with other tenants? Are you responsible for maintaining the garden?

–      What is the source of heat, gas or electric? If there’s gas in the unit the landlord should be able to provide a gas safety certificate.

–      How much do you need to come up with to cover the security deposit and which deposit scheme does the landlord use.

These items should help in reminding you which questions you need to ask which will in turn assist you in your decision if there is more than one property that you think you’re interested in. Comparing ‘apples to apples’ is always the best plan of action so having a Viewing Properties Checklist would be a good idea.

Nov
15

Getting Repairs Done While Renting

 

Tenants renting unfit properties leaking pipe

A water leak can cause rife between landlord and tenant -- landlords are responsible.

Both landlords and tenants have responsibilities which are usually set out in the Tenancy Agreement. Tenants have the right to live in an accommodation that is in good repair and landlords have the right to have their accommodations taken care of by their tenants.

There are several things you can do in order to get repairs done while living in a rental unit. The most obvious and least likely to be problematic would be to ask your landlord and for your landlord to agree to the repair. Unfortunately not all requests are met with positive responses from their landlords which usually means that you’ll have to go to different lengths in order to get the repairs done.

Of course the local authorities will undoubtedly step in if the property is in such disrepair as to cause a health hazard, such as a leaky roof or bug infested property, or if the condition is such that it is causing a ‘nuisance’ to other tenants or properties in the area. There are several authorities that can be contacted if it’s suspected that an unsafe or unhealthy situation exists, for example the Environmental Health Department. These agencies would demand that repairs be made by the landlord within a specific time frame, which would ensure that it was not left unattended.

Then there’s the “Right to Repair” scheme which is available in England, Wales and Scotland. Under this scheme if you are a local authority tenant you can ask your landlord for a different contractor if the repairs are not carried out under the prescribed time line. You can use this scheme if you have any emergency repairs that would cost up to £250, for which you could claim a compensation of £50.

Also in England and Wales there could be a possibility of getting Help with Home Improvements. The local authorities would be able to give you more information as to whom and how to qualify for such repairs. Although the law prohibits any form of discrimination, each local authority will have its own rules. For instance one might have a rule that says you can only get a grant or loan for the repairs if your savings is under a certain limit. Of course because you are renting, you will need to have your landlords approval for any repair or improvement before the local authority will even look at your application. If it is a reasonable request, or if you are disabled and the improvement would improve your way of life, your landlord will most likely be told he must comply and have the repair or improvement taken care of at his expense.

As was stated the first action that should be taken should be to negotiate with your landlord. If you try this and your landlord refuses, you could contact your Local Government Ombudsman. This should be considered only as a last resort as it can take a great deal of time for the Ombudsman to investigate your complaint and to have the local authority advised of the outcome.

Make sure that when making a request of your landlord that you are being reasonable in your expectations. Most landlords will consider these requests as beneficial to keeping their properties in good condition and will have most repairs and improvements done in a timely fashion.

 

Nov
11
Nov
5

How To Rent a Property – The Tenant’s Guide

 

How To Rent a PropertyThe rental business is fast and finding the right letting agent or landlord is very important to assist in the process and sometimes using a property portal like Lettinglinks.com can help a great deal. Letting Links is trying to make the process of connecting tenants, landlords and/or agents smooth and painless.

Once you’ve made a connection with an agent, make sure they know exactly what it is you’re looking for in a property, including your budget, location and length of the term. Make sure he is aware of how serious you are so that he’s bound to put you at the top of the list when appropriate properties become available. It’s also very helpful if you can give specific feedback to the agent after each viewing so he’ll know when he’s on the right track and when he’s off base.

Letting agents will generally ask for an administration fee of between £25 and £150, as well as a deposit of around £50 to £200. This deposit will be used towards your first month’s rent unless you pull out of the deal in which case you would likely lose it all. For this reason you should ensure you have a reputable letting agent so you can be comfortable with handing over your money. You should also ask the age of the property and if it’s looking a little on the tired side, find out how long it’s been on the market – you may just be able to make a deal.

So now you’ve found the property you want to live in – now comes the signing of the tenancy agreement. This is a legally binding document and should be treated with respect and serious consideration. It will have a lot of information such as: party’s names, the address of the property, the term, how much rent is expected and when and what percentage of an increase can be expected, the responsibilities of both parties, information about the inventory, the deposit scheme and the notice period that either you or the landlord must give in order to end the tenancy.

Of course your new potential landlord will want to make sure you are a suitable tenant which means you will likely need to provide references such as previous landlords, bank reference, employment and possibly a credit check.

Generally you will be asked to pay a deposit which could be anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks’ worth of rent in order to safe guard your landlord should there be damage done to his property while you are living there. Since there are several discrepancies when it comes to what is wear and tear or what is damage, you need to have an accurate list of inventory and the condition of the property prior to signing an agreement. In April 2007 the Tenancy Deposit Protection was introduced to apply to all properties being let in England and Wales. This protection will help if there are any disputes between landlords and tenants. Also each deposit is to be held in one of three approved Tenancy Deposit Schemes.

The inventory that was mentioned is one of the most important documents that you will receive at the beginning of the tenancy. It takes careful notice of the condition of each room, the interior and exterior of the property and anything that is included in the rental such as a fridge, cookery, air conditioner or furniture if applicable. The difference between the inventor taken at the beginning of the tenancy and the end of the tenancy will determine how much of your deposit you will get back.

The most important form of course is the Tenancy Agreement and the most common is the Assured Shorthold Tenancies Agreement. The agreement outlines the responsibilities of the landlord and the tenant, but the most important aspect is the right of the landlord to repossess the property at the end of the tenancy. If all parties are happy the term does not have to be short, however if the term is more than 3 years a solicitor must draw up a deed.

Although it is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure the safety of the property and any appliances that are included, it is your responsibility to make sure that the landlord has secured the proper certificates so that your safety is never in question.

As we stated at the beginning finding the right landlord and/or letting agent is the key to a successful rental and we hope you can find that connection by looking into Letting Links. Don’t let the process give you too much pressure – just be diligent and careful so you can feel comfortable with your choices.

Lettinglinks.com is a social networking site that connects landlords with tenants. If you are interested in letting a 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 landlords and their properties 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.

Oct
4

Rental Properties: Understanding the Basics

There will likely be many questions that will cross your mind prior to renting a property, but this is just a basic list of a few of the more common questions.

1.Will I need to pay fees to the agent?

You won’t need to pay an introductory fee for just registering with an agent however there will be fees for such administrative tasks as referencing and if you sign on from inventories and preparing the tenancy agreement. Letting Links is an alternative to traditional agents as it’s a completely free service for both landlords and tenants.

2. What is a holding deposit and do I get it back?

A holding deposit is usually a small amount that is requested in order to show your interest in the property. If the landlord does not go ahead with the tenancy it will be returned to you. If for some reason you decide not to go ahead and sign, all or a portion will be kept to cover administrative costs incurred. After referencing it will be put towards either the first month’s rent or security deposit.

3. What sum of money will I require at the beginning of the tenancy?

Generally you will need to have enough for first month’s rent as well as a month to six weeks’ worth of rent to be held as a security deposit towards damage. Assuming there are no damages at the end of tenancy you will receive this amount back at the end.

4. What information will I need to supply to Letting Agent?

You will be required to supply the names and addresses of your referees, as well as previous landlords and possibly your employer, so
that they will be able to verify your ability to pay for your rent. If self-employed it may be necessary to supply the contact information for your accountant.

5. As a Tenant what are my responsibilities?

All of your responsibilities should be written in the tenancy agreement. Make sure you take the time to read it very carefully and if you are unsure of something, ask your agent to explain. Do not sign anything until you feel comfortable you understand fully.

6. What is a Tenancy Agreement?

This is the legal document that outlines your responsibilities as tenant, your rights and what you can expect from your landlord, how much rent you are expected to pay, and the term of tenancy. This contract is between you and the landlord will most likely be an Assured Shorthold Tenancy under the Housing Act 1988.

7. How long can I expect to wait for referencing before I can move in?

Each agent is different however it can take between five and ten working days by the time they contact references, make sure funds clear for the first month’s rent and deposit, and inventories arranged.

8. What is the normal tenancy term?

Most agents like to sign an agreement for six months. They rarely sign for periods over a year. After this period you can take out an extension or renew your tenancy agreement.

9. What if I want to leave earlier or stay for a longer period?

Getting a longer period is usually as easy as signing a new agreement. If you think you might want to leave earlier however, you should have a break clause included in the original agreement or you will be
responsible for the entire term of the original tenancy agreement.

10. What other bills would I be responsible for?

You will need to take care of the utilities (gas, water, electricity), the Council Tax on the property, and of course telephone and T.V.

11. How do I get my Deposit back?

At the end of tenancy the landlord will usually do a “checkout” with you, where they check for missing items or damage. If the property is in satisfactory condition you will receive your deposit shortly after leaving the tenancy. Just remember you are not allowed to use the deposit as your last month’s rent.

Oct
4

Tenant Insurance: Friend or Faux?

As a tenant, it is your responsibility to obtain contents insurance that will adequately cover you for your possessions. Most landlords and letting agents will request proof that such insurance has been put in place prior to signing the tenancy agreement. If you are unsure as to where you might get contents insurance and are dealing with an agent, he will most likely be able to lead you in the right direction. If the agent is authorised by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) or is directly regulated by an FSA broker, then he would be eligible to sell you such insurance.

Since you don’t own the building you do not need building insurance, just contents only.

You might also look at getting Specialist Tenant’s Content Insurance which would protect your deposit should there be any damages to your landlord’s inventory. Accidents do happen to the best of us and who wouldn’t want to protect themselves in this unlikely event?

Contents Insurance generally covers the following:

Accidental damage: this would include damage to electronic equipment such as TV’s, stereos, DVD’s and even LCD and Plasma

New for Old Replacement: if items are damaged or stolen you would receive a new replacement for the old one that’s been damaged or stolen

Replacing Locks and/or keys: would cover the cost for new keys if lost, replacing locks, safes or alarm systems

Coverage for Cards and Cash: generally you’d be covered for £500 in cash and £500 for credit or debit cards

On top of this coverage you can make sure that the contents insurance not only covers your possessions but also covers your landlord’s contents. This would include light fixtures, furnishings if applicable, carpets or appliances. If an accident does occur, it would be nice to know that the repair of the landlord’s contents can be paid for instead of it coming out of your deposit at the end of the tenancy. Don’t forget, your landlord expects to get his property back in the same condition it was in when you rented it! Even if it’s just a stain on a carpet.

Don’t let a little accident cost you more by losing your deposit. Protect everything that belongs in your rental property and you will be able to sleep easy at night knowing you won’t have to worry about a thing.

Oct
4

Deposit Loans — No Deposit? No Problem!

There are several reasons why someone would need to take out a deposit loan, and since it is necessary to have a deposit in order to rent a house, the need has become greater than ever. So if you can’t raise the cash yourself, you’ll need to look at your options and decide what is best for your specific needs.

Not all companies offer the same products and you will have to do some homework if you want to get the best rate and an appropriate pay back term. Some of the things you should be looking at;

Do you want a short term or long term loan?
If you only require the amount of the deposit for a short time, for instance if
you will be receiving a deposit returned to you from a previous landlord, then
you can shop for a short term solution.

If however your budget is stretched fairly tight and you’re looking to pay back a small portion monthly in order to manage your finances on a monthly basis, then look at paying back over a longer period of time.

Now, how much of a loan should you take out? First you need to figure out what the deposit will be and will you require money for the move itself. Since you want to get the entire loan from one source, so you won’t be burdened with too many monthly payments, finding out the usual amount of deposits being requested in your area is vital.

Are the agents asking for £500, £750, £1000 or more for deposits?

Okay, so now you’ve decided how much you need and how quickly you’d like to pay it back. The next item you should be checking into is the APR (which stands for Annual Percentage Rate). Shop around for the best rate as this is the interest rate you’ll be paying on the money you borrow and is an extremely important consideration.

Obviously you’re looking for the lowest APR so that the amount you pay back is the least amount possible. For instance if you borrow £1000 at 10% APR, you will be paying £100 over a 12 month period for a total payback of £1100. Be cautious when looking at the rates because some rates will appear higher if a short term loan is being listed for a 12 month term even if the loan is only for 1 month.

The loan market is always very competitive and there are many companies all vying for your business. As with any portion of the rental process, each decision is what you feel is best for you and what you feel most comfortable with once the decision has been made. Shop around and you should find a perfect match for your needs.

Oct
3

Property Rentals: What Is Included In a Fully Furnished Agreement?

The difference between a fully furnished and an unfurnished property can vary greatly throughout the country, so it the tenants responsibility to discuss your expectation with the landlord.

In some areas a fully furnished property might consist of all furniture, fixtures, cooker, fridge, freezer, washer, as well as crockery, cutlery, glasses, pots and pans. It may also be expected to include items that are used on a daily basis, such as a vacuum cleaner, washing machine, dryer, an iron etc.

An unfurnished property might only come with the carpets, light fixtures and possibly built in appliances such as a cooker and/or fridge.

So you can well imagine the many variations in between these two that could occur, which is why you must communicate your expectations prior to signing a tenancy agreement. If there’s something in particular that you would like to have included in the property agreement, just ask the landlord prior to signing if it would be possible.

If the landlord thinks it could be the difference between you taking the unit and not, chances are he’ll likely agree to include the item(s). As they say, “nothing ventured, nothing gained” – if you don’t ask you’ll never know.

There are no laws or rules that state what “fully furnished” or “unfurnished” means so don’t assume anything – it’s your responsibility to find out.

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