9 of PropertyPropertyProperty.co.uk’s tips for renting a property

The lettings sector of the UK property market has grown dramatically over the past decade and the growth is predicted to continue.

According to the Office of National Statistics, 36% of households in England and Wales were rented rather than owner-occupied in 2011.

 

Being a tenant is widely accepted as a viable alternative to home ownership, particularly among those who may not yet be willing or able to consider buying a permanent home.

 

Renting a property should be an enjoyable experience and for those who are new to the process this renting guide from propertypropertyproperty.co.uk will explain what to look out for with these nine renting property tips.

1. Preparing your finances

Decide how much you can reasonably afford to pay in rent each month. Consider your general costs of living and the fact that you will be paying Council Tax as well as fuel bills, contents insurance, TV licence and broadband. In addition, you will need to budget at least six weeks’ rent as the amount to be put down as security deposit for the length of the tenancy.

2. Finding a suitable property to rent

Search propertypropertyproperty.co.uk for properties in areas that you want to live in. You’ll be able to filter the results by the amount of rent and the accommodation so that you can create a shortlist of potentials to go and look at. Remember that the rental market is usually fast-moving and that good properties in popular areas don’t stay on the market for very long. If you see something that may suit your needs, get your skates on and quickly go and see it. Get in touch with local letting agents (you’ll find many of them on Propertypropertyproperty.co.uk) and register to receive alerts when new places come available. Many letting agents belong to industry bodies such as the ARLA Property mark (formally the Association of Residential Lettings Agents) or the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS). This can provide some peace of mind to tenants that they will be dealt with in a professional manner.

3. Asking questions

When you find a property that you would like to rent, you will most probably have read about it online or in an agent’s printed details. You will have seen only basic information, so if there is anything that is unclear or not stated don’t be afraid to ask questions. For example, check who is responsible for maintaining the garden, and whether there are any restrictions concerning pets or smoking in the premises. If you clear such questions at the earliest stage you won’t waste money applying to rent an unsuitable property. Don’t hesitate to ask the letting agent for a list of all the charges that you may incur throughout the process of applying to rent the property.

4. The tenancy agreement

Assuming you pass the checks and referencing process, the agent will draw up an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement (see the Propertypropertyproperty.co.uk “Jargon buster”) for signing by you and the landlord. Read the agreement very carefully before signing and if you are unsure of anything don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. The tenancy agreement is a legal document and binds you and the landlord to the terms within it. Make sure they are in accordance with your understanding.

5. The deposit

You will be required to pay a security deposit that will be held by the agent on behalf of the landlord for the duration of the tenancy. Its purpose is to provide the landlord with compensation if you damage the property or its contents. Fair wear and tear is excluded from these dilapidations (see the Propertypropertyproperty.co.uk “Jargon buster”). All deposits in assured shorthold tenancies must be registered with one of the government-approved tenancy deposit schemes that guarantees no-one can run off with the money. The deposit scheme will also provide a dispute resolution service if, at the end of the tenancy, you cannot agree the amount charged by the landlord or their agent for the dilapidations.

TDS has launched a Code of Recommended Practice. This Code of Practice sets out the recommended requirements which letting agents and landlords should meet as members of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.

6. Inventories

Even if the property is being let unfurnished, it is really important to have a properly prepared and comprehensively detailed inventory, which is carefully reviewed and signed by tenant and landlord. It will list any existing faults in the property such as areas of damaged decoration, marks on carpets or chips in bath enamel. This ensures that when the dilapidations are assessed at the end of the tenancy you will not be charged for those that were in the property when you took it over. A good inventory will include photographs of such faults.

7. Paying the rent

You will probably be paying the monthly rent by standing order to the landlord or their agent. Always ensure that rent is paid on time and in full. Non-payment of rent is a serious matter that can end up in court. If there is any problem with the property, do not withhold payment of the rent. Such an action is guaranteed to make resolution all the more difficult and puts you in breach of the terms of the tenancy agreement. It can also show up in future referencing checks and might cause problems if you come to rent another property.

8. At the end of the tenancy

When the tenancy period is nearing its end, you can ask if the landlord will agree to renew the tenancy (the amount of the rent may change and there may be some administration charges to pay) or you can leave the property. Arrange to move out by the agreed time on the agreed day. Make sure the property is clean and tidy and in at least the same condition as when you moved in. On the moving day, the inventory should be checked at the property by the landlord or their agent, with you in attendance, and it should be signed off by you as correct before you vacate.

 

Take a note of the meter readings for gas and electricity and apply for final billing. Don’t forget to arrange with Royal Mail to redirect mail to your new address (ensure the redirection is specifically for mail in your name).

9. Repaying your deposit

Shortly after you move out, you will receive an account from the landlord or their agent detailing the charges for dilapidations, if any, that you agreed when the inventory was reviewed during the check-out. Providing you agree the amounts, the balance of your deposit should be returned without delay.

N.B. Scotland has specific rules governing rental property. For example, landlords must register with the local council. Properties must be kept in good condition, to what is known as the “Repairing Standard”, and a tenant can apply to a Private Rented Housing Panel if a landlord fails to carry out essential repairs. The PRHP will also deal with rent disputes. In Scotland, agents are not allowed to charge administration fees to tenants.

 


How to get to the front of the buyers’ queue

Many of the best houses and flats are sold before they even reach the market. Even if it is on the market, you need to ensure you are more attractive to sellers than other buyers. Follow these top tips so other people don’t keep getting there before you

Develop a good relationship with estate agents

 The more you get them on your side, the more they will help you:

  • They may give you forewarning of great properties that are about to come onto the market
  • Some properties are only marketed quietly to buyers the agents trust. This can happen when sellers are divorcing and the sale of the home is a sensitive issue, or a property developer wants to discreetly liquidate stock
  • Top end properties are often sold off market. They don’t want the curious snooping around

Leaflet the area you want to live in

If you know exactly which area or street(s) you want to live in, and there aren’t many properties on sale, then consider leafleting it

  • Put notes through people’s letterboxes telling them about yourself and asking if they intend to sell. Many people spend years thinking about selling, and you might prompt them to take the plunge
  • The seller may not want to put their house on the open market in order to avoid estate agency fees. Direct sales incur no such costs

Ask friends and family

Turn them into your army of property scouts – most people like the thrill of the chase

  • Tell everybody you know that you are looking to buy and ask them to keep their eyes peeled and their ears open for any suitable properties
  • Often you will hear through word of mouth that a suitable property is, or will soon be, for sale

Approach absentee landlords

 Absentee landlords, particularly of empty properties, often simply haven’t got around to selling, and so you can make the decision easier for them

  • If you find an empty rental flat or house that you like the look of, put in an offer – especially if it has been empty for a long time
  • The further away the landlord lives, the more likely you are to get a good deal

Knock on doors

If you have really narrowed down the area you want to buy in, consider just asking door to door:

  • It may be awkward, but you could strike gold. It is far more diplomatic to say you are looking to move into the area, and asking if they know any properties that are likely to come onto the market soon
  • Go on a weekend, when more people are at home
  • Prepare for rejection
  • Take along cards/notes with your contact details on

Prepare your finances before hand 

When a hot property comes on the market, the sellers are far more likely to go for a buyer who is in good financial shape:

  • Cash buyers, or those with mortgages in principle, will often be preferred to those who still have to scramble to get the money together. They will be seen as less risky
  • Admitting you haven’t even talked to anyone about a mortgage will not instil confidence you are serious

 

Questions to ask the estate agent when buying a property

Buying a home is a often referenced to a game of poker, with very high stakes, and huge incentives to bluff and avoid inconvenient facts. However estate agents are legally bound to tell the truth, so you need to make sure you ask the right questions to find out what the real situation is. It could make the difference between buying a dream home and buying a dud – and save you a fortune

  1. 1.     Why is the owner selling?

The estate agent doesn’t have to answer, but if you’re lucky they might hint at the circumstances. You might find out the owner is desperate to sell, perhaps because work is taking them overseas, and so would accept a lower price

  1. 2.     Is there anything that you would want to know about the house if you were buying?

The big fear if you are buying is that you are missing out some big negative factor that others know about. Is the local train station is about to close, a nearby sewerage plant opening up, or the next door neighbours the family from hell? People have been known to move into the homes of convicted mass-murderers without knowing – but you can bet they wish they had known. If you have any doubts about a house, ask next door neighbours or local shop keepers what they think.

  1. 3.     Exactly what is included in the sale?

Is the garden shed or greenhouse included? Are the fixtures and fittings? Exactly where does the boundary lie? Make sure you see all of what you are getting. It is not unknown for most of the contents to be included in the sale

  1. 4.     How long has the property been on the market?

If the house has been on the market a long time (more than three months), ask the agent why they think it isn’t selling. Are there problems that other people have realised that you haven’t? Is it just overpriced? A long time on the market might mean that the seller would accept a lower price

  1. 5.     How long have the owners lived there?

If they are moving out after a short period, it is important to find out why. Do they have noisy neighbours?

  1. 6.     Has the property repeatedly changed hands?

You should be alert to serious problems if the property has frequently changed hands. Find out why previous owners moved out. Perhaps even try to contact them to ask why they did

  1. 7.     How did the agent decide on an asking price?

A good agent will provide you with their justifications for the asking price, which you can then judge. Or, if you get lucky the agent might tell you that they think the seller is overvaluing the house. You should in any case visit other homes for sale nearby so you get a good idea what properties in the area sell for.

  1. 8.     What is the minimum price the seller will accept?

It sounds silly, but asking if their bottom line is actually negotiable can save you thousands. Estate agents will often give you an indication – it is in their interest to make a sale, even at a lower price, because if they don’t sell, they don’t get paid

  1. 9.     What offers have they had so far?

The agent will most likely tell you if there have been other offers, but not how much they were. But again, they have a big incentive to get a price agreed, so might drop some pretty heavy hints in whispered tones. If you can find out about the other offers, it obviously makes it easier to know what you should offer.

  1. 10.  When do the sellers have to move out?

Have the sellers already found another home? If they have, they may be keen to sell as fast as possible. Otherwise, if you have to wait until they find somewhere else, it adds to the uncertainty, with all the risks associated with being in a chain

  1. 11.  Can you speak directly to the sellers?

Agents generally hate this – it is their job to negotiate – but they can’t stop you speaking to the sellers, which can be the best thing you do. Most sellers are like you – not industry professionals – and this means they often give answers that agents would find shockingly honest. Unlike the agent, they can’t pretend ignorance if you ask why they are moving. It can also give you a much better feel for the house – ask them the best and worst points.

  1. 12.  Have any major works been conducted?

If so, are you able to have a look at the relevant planning and building control consents? In most cases you can search online for planning applications (granted and refused) on the local planning authority website. It would be awful if you bought your dream home only to find out you would have to knock half of it down

  1. 13.  How much is the Council Tax? And how much are utility bills in the area?

Try and get exact amounts. Talk to the seller if you have to. While these may seem like small considerations in comparison to the amount you will spend on the house, they are reoccurring expenses that will add to the pressure of owning your home

  1. 14.  Can they explain the Energy Performance Certificate?

The rating on the Energy Performance Certificate, which says how energy efficient the property is, will be influenced by a number of things. Is there loft insulation? Is there wall cavity insulation? When were they all put in? Is the boiler covered with lagging? How many outside walls are there?

  1. 15.  How old is the property?

Not only is this good to know, but the upkeep of older houses is often more expensive. So it’s better to be more prepared for those upcoming expenses.

  1. 16.  What can they tell you about the local neighbourhood?

What are the schools like? What is the crime rate like? How good are transport links? Where is the nearest petrol station? While it is a good idea to see what the estate agent has to say, make sure you do some independent research as well.

Selling Your Home? 5 Tips To Make Your House Look Amazing In Photos

This week on propertypropertyproperty.co.uk/blog we have collaborated with Josie from the shoproomideas.com blog to provide you with 5 key tips that can help you to present your home in a better manner for photos.

Attracting the right home buyer is easier and faster when you have great photos that will have buyers drooling and running to your doorstep! Improve your home’s chance of a sale with these 5 tips to consider before you start staging your pre-sale photoshoot.

Take Down The Curtains

Trust me when I say this – we sold our last home $150,000 over asking price using this trick. We staged our home by actually removing the curtains completely out of our home. Why? It opens up the space to make it look wider, and the ceilings look much higher than they are. Not only that, it accentuates beautiful windows and invites natural light inside. If you have a beautiful yard, pool, or great views, then this trick will work for you. Buyers will have a great view of the outdoors from the moment they enter through the front door. Trust me, this works!

Research The Quality of An Agent’s Listings

Before you get on board with a real estate agent, make sure you thoroughly research the quality of their previous listings. Have a look at the photos they have listed of any homes they sold. If the photos look good, don’t be afraid to ask the agent these questions:

  • Do you have a professional photographer to take photos of my home?
  • Will the agent bring in additional lighting for the photoshoot?
  • What equipment do you use? A cell phone, professional camera, a tablet?

Clean Windows and Baseboards

Making your windows shiny and clean with giving buyers a great impression that your home is was well cared for. Use a store-bought glass cleaner and paper towel to get down and dirty from the inside and outside as well. To remove tough grime, soap scum, or hard water minerals from your glass, use a vinegar and water solution with a wet towel for best results.

Pro tip: Pay attention to your baseboards! Buyer will notice dirty, unkept baseboards while they walk through your home. Make sure you vacuum up the dust and wipe them down with a damp, sponge or cloth to remove dirt. Make sure they’re looking bright, white, and clean to give the illusion your home is well kept.

The Obvious – Remove Clutter and Toiletries

This is the simple trick of all professionals. Buyers want to envision themselves living in your home, so remove traces of any personal items, clutter, trinkets, and family photos off kitchen counters and shelves. You can store it away in boxes until the house is sold, later on. Buyers love seeing the amount of space a home has to offer, so removing clutter will show off the maximum your property has to propose.

Shine Up Those Wooden Floors

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If your home boasts hardwood floors, you already have an advantage in the market as this is a really strong selling point. Make sure you dust them off and use a floor cleaner that is safe for hardwood. Double check to make sure the cleaner will leave the floors shiny. Buyers are attracted to shiny floors that look new and strongly maintained.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget to buff your floors with a microfibre cloth while they’re drying. Failing to buff floors dry can result in streaks and unsightly residue marks. Some homeowners even swear by dry diapers to buff their floors to the perfect shine!

Check out the original article with the accompanying images on Josie’s blog now! http://bit.ly/2FdfGNd

5 COOL THINGS FOR YOUR CHILDREN TO ENJOY IN THEIR NEW HOME

Parents, do your children complain that your home isn’t cool enough or that little Johnny’s room isn’t as nice as little Maxwell’s is his class. Well, we’ve got some tips for you on how you can make your home look super-duper cool for your kids.

TIP #1: Chalkboard walls

You either find it fascinating or annoying and that is; chalkboards. As a kid, you may remember drawing all over the walls of the house, even though there was paper somewhere in the house. I definitely did.

To prevent that but also encourage your children’s creative abilities, invest in some chalkboard paint. Whether you want to paint a panel, a strip or be adventurous and paint a whole wall; go for it. Make sure you actually have some chalk though and a chalk eraser, to clean it up after.

TIP #2: DIY cinema system

Have you tried having an at home cinema day, where you’ve put in some animated DVD’s for the kids, but the issue is the screen isn’t big enough? But the layout is cool, just the screen causing problems. Well for that final touch we recommend that you consider buying some ‘Projection Screen’ (preferably 100” inch 16:9 and portable), have it pinned up or stuck to your wall and get you a projector next. Then project your films on a BIGGER screen! Get some popcorn too, while you’re at it.

TIP #3: Dedicated space

Whether it’s an entire playroom, a small corner, or a reading nook. We believe that your child needs a space where they can have some chill me-time. But decorate it and make it look a bit fancy for them.

TIP #4: Cool scenery wallpaper

Have you ever been to the jungle? I haven’t, but you could take your kids there. And I don’t mean a real jungle; I mean that you could customise your little one’s room with some scenic wallpaper ranging from an animated jungle, a little princess castle, a tropical island or whatever takes their fancy. These are a really good way to drastically change the appearance of the kid’s room.

TIP #5: Cool storage systems

As a youth, cleaning wasn’t one of my biggest hobbies and I’m sure it isn’t your children’s either. Unless times have changed drastically. But in order to slowly nurture your kids into the art of home maintenance and also teach them good household skills, create a cool storage system where cleaning actually looks exciting. Having some hanging storage bins are quite good, as your children could practice basketball and represent our country in the Olympics.

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Also if you have any tips that you could recommend to us, share them in the comments and we’ll be highlighting them in our upcoming articles in the ‘Family’ series.

 

5 THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN A FAMILY HOME

When hunting for a nice property as parents there are things you’ll be keen on looking for in your new home. So are obvious, such as schools, gardens and the area. But here are some of our top 5 alternative things to especially look for in family homes.

TIP #1: If no gardens, look for parks

Ideally, for a family home, you’ll be looking for a place with a good size garden so that your children have the option of playing outside of the house. But as there is a demand/increase in flats/apartments, families are just about missing out on gardens. So if you are one of those families, we recommend that you look into a property that is easily accessible to the local park, so that your children still are able to play outdoors.

TIP #2: Family friendly facilities and recreation centres

The rising use of technology means that this generation of children already have their recreation sorted on mobile devices. However, if you’re looking to discourage the over the use of technology as recreation for your children, then look for the possibilities of having recreation centres, family friendly cafes and facilities that are local to your forth-coming family home.

TIP #3: Well insulated homes

In order to decrease the number of runny noses and ticklish coughs, we recommend that families look for properties that are well insulated or have a good central heating system in the home, as this will help keep the warmth in during those colder miserable days that we tend to have in the UK.

TIP #4: A good kitchen

When we were looking for our family home, one thing my parents especially my mum looked for was a good kitchen and that always stuck with me. A sizeable kitchen with a well-tiled wall was on the top of her list, as families tend to do more cooking throughout the weeks that the walls become accustomed to the steam, heat and smells. So we recommend looking for a kitchen with well-insulated walls, a breathable space and also a good/replaceable air vent.

TIP 5: Good structure/sizing

Regardless of the type of property, we suggest a good sized space that will allow for children to freely express themselves throughout the home. This will decrease the number of inconveniences and also avoid that claustrophobic feeling of having furniture/storage space crowding up the place.

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Also if you have any tips that you could recommend to us, share them in the comments and we’ll be highlighting them in our upcoming articles in the ‘Family’ series.