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In October 2015, the Section 21 rules changed - do you have all the facts?

Section 21 Leg Book cover copyNew legislation affecting the Section 21 rules means that as of October 1st 2015 it is almost impossible to evict problem tenants or gain necessary possession if you haven’t followed the new guidelines.

So if you’ve heard that there might be new regulations coming in, but you’re not sure what it means for you, we’ve put together a free downloadable guide to the essentials that you need to know now. The new regulations will:

  • Reinforce legislation on provision of EPCs to new tenants
  • Increase the burden of proof on landlords regarding provision of Gas Safety certificates
  • Introduce requirements to make new tenants aware of their rights and best practices
  • Introduce standardised government issue forms for the service of a Section 21 notice
  • Make it harder to evict tenants who have reported a maintenance issue
  • Affect all new tenancies from October 1st 2015

With these additions to the already dizzying array of regulations covering landlord responsibilities, it’s no wonder that many private landlords are choosing The Better Letter to provide expert advice and property management services.

So don’t fall foul of the new legislation.

Download our guide now and become a Better Letter.

Want more from The Better Letter?

Landlords >> for top tips, industry news and property information to help you manage your existing buy to let(s) and build your portfolio follow our Better Letter LinkedIn Company Page

Tenants >> Like our Facebook Page to be informed of new rentals, tenants news and views plus help with any tenancy queries.

Partner Opportunity >> If you are interested in becoming a Better Letter then head over to our website's Partner Opportunity page which will give you all the information you need.

Many Landlords are still not aware of new legal responsibilties

smoke alarm regs shortOn October 1st 2015, new regulations were approved and immediately enforced, obliging all private sector landlords to have smoke alarms installed in their properties (and carbon monoxide alarms where appropriate).

Many landlords simply unaware, with 71% still not having organised a carbon monoxide alarm for their property after the introduction of the new rules.

So as the installation of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms has now moved from good practice to legal requirement, do you have all the information you need?

  • Do you know if your property may be exempt?
  • Do you know what counts as a ‘solid fuel appliance’ and why it’s important?
  • Do you know how much you will be fined if you don’t meet the legal requirements as of October 1st 2015?

For the answers to these, and all the other questions you didn’t yet know you needed to be asking, see our Better Letter’s Guide to the New Alarm Laws for Landlords: What You Need to Know.

Want more from The Better Letter?

Landlords >> for top tips, industry news and property information to help you manage your existing buy to let(s) and build your portfolio follow our Better Letter LinkedIn Company Page

Tenants >> Like our Facebook Page to be informed of new rentals, tenants news and views plus help with any tenancy queries.

Partner Opportunity >> If you are interested in becoming a Better Letter then head over to our website's Partner Opportunity page which will give you all the information you need.

If you’re looking to build a property portfolio, the best person to talk to is your local letting agent.

Building Property PortfolioA specialist Letting Agent – unlike, say, an Estate Agent – isn’t trying to sell you a property, so they won’t try to gloss over any downsides of the one you’re looking at. Like you, their income will rely on you buying the best property for the local market.

And Letting Agents know the local letting market inside out. They know which properties will rent easily and for how much.

Here are just a few things that Lettings Agents know:

  1. They will know if you’re preferred area to buy has a healthy rentals market, or if it might be worth looking further afield. They can advise you on the likely rental return, so you can calculate your projected yield.
  2. They’ll know which types of tenants make up the target market for your area - students; young professionals; families; retirees; or relocators – and what type of property each of these demographics will go for.
  3. They’ll be able to assess what makes the area attractive – is it good transport links and healthy nightlife? Or proximity to good schools and leafy parks?
  4. They’ll know which areas are up and coming, and which have planned local developments (ie, retail and business parks) which will increase employment and housing demand in the area.
  5. They’ll also be able to point out the downside of any properties you might be considering – if planning permission has just been granted for a Young Offenders’ Institute on the other side of the road, or if it’s downwind from the local sewage farm.

When you’re making one of the biggest investments of your life, it pays to be prepared and benefit from the experience of someone who’s been in the letting market for years.
At The Better Letter, we’re happy to work with Landlords who are building their portfolios, and we can support them whether they need a full property management service, online services to enable them to manage their own properties, or anything in between.

Want more from The Better Letter?

Landlords >> for top tips, industry news and property information to help you manage your existing buy to let(s) and build your portfolio follow our Better Letter Linkedin Company Page

Tenants >> Like our Facebook Page to be informed of new rentals, tenants news and views plus help with any tenancy queries.

Partner Opportunity >> If you are interested in becoming a Better Letter then head over to our website's Partner Opportunity page which will give you all the information you need.

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs): are they a good investment, or more trouble than they’re worth?

HMOsWhile buy-to-let empires have been built on HMOs, you need to be sure that this type of property investment is for you.

Here’s three questions you should ask yourself if you’re considering investing in HMOs.

1. Are you investing for capital growth, or regular income?

For those willing to put in both the upfront and the ongoing costs and effort (see Question 2), HMOs have the potential for very high yields. The monthly income from an HMO can be up to three times what it would be if you rented it as a single house to a family!

So if you’re looking for a higher monthly income, HMOs might be for you.

If you’re looking to increase the value of the property for eventual sale, then keep in mind that the extra wear and tear that comes with multiple tenants can hold down the value of the property itself.

2. Are you prepared for the upfront costs and regulations?

Becoming an HMO landlord is a whole different kettle of fish to owning a standard property. It will start with talking to your mortgage lender about a specialist mortgage – they may not allow you to purchase an HMO, or intended HMO, with a standard buy to let mortgage.

Then you may need to apply for planning permission if the house was not previously an HMO. Some councils, like Oxfordshire, will only allow a certain number of properties in an area to operate as HMOs and will require planning permission and licensing for a conversion.

Even if your property is already an HMO, it will require a licence. The licence entails inspections, fees and will need to be renewed every twelve months.

Complying with the inspections will mean installing fire safety precautions such as fire doors, extinguishers and alarms.

If you find this daunting, being an HMO landlord may not be for you.

3. Is being a landlord your first or your second income?

Being an HMO landlord is more for the serious landlord who’s prepared to invest serious time and money for the best return. It’s not for the half-hearted (or the fainthearted!), but if this sounds like your kind of challenge, the rewards are substantial.

At The Better Letter, we’re ideally placed to give you advice on building an HMO portfolio. We can support you whether you want to manage your own properties, or take advantage of our fully-managed service.

Want more from The Better Letter?

Landlords >> for top tips, industry news and property information to help you manage your existing buy to let(s) and build your portfolio follow our Better Letter Linkedin Company Page

Tenants >> Like our Facebook Page to be informed of new rentals, tenants news and views plus help with any tenancy queries.

Partner Opportunity >> If you are interested in becoming a Better Letter then head over to our website's Partner Opportunity page which will give you all the information you need.

If tenants can make their house a home, they are likely to stay longer. So what’s the best way to encourage this?

Make Your Rental a HomeEvery landlord knows that the best kind of tenants are those who will settle in for the long term and treat your property as well as if it were their own.

Firstly, and most importantly, let your tenants know they can make changes within reason and if they run it by you first. Obviously you don’t want them installing mirrored ceilings, painting the living room dark purple, or ripping out original fixtures.

But once you’ve established some ground rules, here are 5 tips you can pass on to your tenants to help them settle into their new home:

  1. Lightshades, rugs, throw cushions and curtains – all of these items can be easily changed with no painting or hammering required (just make sure the tenants know to carefully store the originals, or to return them to you to store – you’ll need them next time you’re showing the property). But make it clear to your tenants that they can’t change actual light fittings – under UK law, only a qualified electrician can do this and any DIY could invalidate your most recent electrical safety check. It could also invalidate your and your tenants’ insurance!
  2. Pots plants can bring life, colour and beauty to the property, inside and out. Even a small balcony or patio can be personalised with colourful pots full of flowers that the tenant can take with them should they wish to move on.
  3. Repainting. If tenants are proposing to repaint in a light colour and either they are prepared to return it to the original colour before vacating, or you get a fresh coat applied between every tenancy anyway, then there can be no harm in agreeing to this.
  4. Wallpaper. Now don’t call the men in white coats just yet. If your property has smooth walls in good condition, then removable wallpaper or decals can be an attractive option and the property can easily be returned to its original condition on vacation. Another option is wallpaper applied to a moveable wooden panel, or framed to provide a focus point for a room. Which brings me to…
  5. No-Hole picture hanging strips: If you’re reluctant to give tenants permission to hang pictures (or framed wallpaper) the traditional way, removable picture hanging strips are a good compromise.

Of course, with the best of intentions things can go wrong – cheap decals that stain the wallpaper, using permanent hanging strips, spilled tins of paint – so always with all changes make it clear that tenants should be prepared to make good on any mistakes.

Want more from The Better Letter?

Landlords >> for top tips, industry news and property information to help you manage your existing buy to let(s) and build your portfolio follow our Better Letter Linkedin Company Page

Tenants >> Like our Facebook Page to be informed of new rentals, tenants news and views plus help with any tenancy queries.

Partner Opportunity >> If you are interested in becoming a Better Letter then head over to our website's Partner Opportunity page which will give you all the information you need.

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