London rents to shoot up faster than house prices amid continued Brexit uncertainty

Landlords and letting agents calling upon London property services like our own here at Yellow Oak Inventories LTD have reason to feel heartened by forecasts of steadily climbing rental values in the capital in the years ahead.

Indeed, it is thought that such rises will even surpass the growth of house prices over the coming half-decade, on a backdrop of recovering wages for working people.

Renting remains popular, which is serving to push up rental values

Property specialists Savills have said that they expect rents in London to go up by 15.9% by 2023, compared to a mere 4.5% increase in house prices over the same period. Even in the UK as a whole, rents are only forecast to heighten by 11.5% during this time.

Such expected rises have been attributed to a variety of factors, including the uncertainty that still prevails around the UK’s impending departure from the European Union (EU), as well as the eye-watering deposits needed to buy a property, cautious lending and burdensome stamp duty costs.

Barriers like these mean that many people who would have otherwise desired to purchase a home will instead continue to rent. However, it has also been predicted that once the Brexit deadline passes in March, salaries will grow by 16% over a five-year period, during which employers will tentatively invest in their staff – this, too, helping to push up rents.

Could now be the time to invest in a London buy-to-let property?

These predictions come in the wake of a 4.4% increase in London rents over the 12 months leading up to November 2018, as revealed by the latest HomeLet Rental Index. It brought the average monthly rent in the capital to £1,597 a month, some 110% higher than the typical level across the rest of the UK.

Such factors, together, may help to convince you that now is a good time to invest in London rental property – but if you do, you shouldn’t forget to call upon the most appropriate London property services, too. Yellow Oak Inventories LTD is an independent and professional provider of such vital services as inventories, check in, check out and mid-term reviews.

Call the Yellow Oak Inventories LTD team today, on 020 3713 4933 or 07825 444487, or email info@yellowoak.co.uk to learn more about how our acclaimed London property services could serve your needs as a landlord, letting agent, relocation agent or tenant.

 

Significant rise in buy-to-let income for London landlords over the past tax year

Is London still the lucrative arena for rental property investment that it once was? Several new reports have given encouraging answers to that question.

One such report revealed that buy-to-let income for London-based landlords reached £7 billion during the last tax year. Estate agent Ludlow Thompson said that this amounted to some 20% of the total for all landlords living in the UK.

What else did we learn from Ludlow Thompson’s findings?

The company said the £7 billion that private landlords residing in the capital generated in total revenue from their investments in residential property in the year to 5th April 2018 represented a 6.4% increase on the previous year’s figure.

The UK as a whole saw 4.8% growth over the same time period on average, reaching £34.8 billion in 2017/18, compared to the £33.4 billion recorded a year earlier.

Even with the industry having become subject to greater regulation in recent times, buy-to-let has preserved its reputation as a profitable and comparatively low-risk investment opportunity. It has been observed that property tends to bring more consistent returns over a longer period than such alternative asset classes as stocks, shares, cash ISAs and government bonds.

Ludlow Thompson also noted that London’s private landlords made an average of around £20,000 in property income in the past year, as opposed to about £14,000 for landlords across the UK.

Furthermore, 16 of the UK’s top 20 private landlord hotspots – as ascertained on the basis of the average amount of annual property income per capita – were in London. Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster, the City of London, Camden, Barnet, Hackney and Epping Forest were the areas that saw landlords based in them enjoy the highest levels of average property income.

But there’s more great news set to come in 2019

As for what the near future holds, another prominent lettings agency in the capital – Chestertons – has said that London’s recent rental increases are likely to continue into the New Year, not least because of the declining supply of homes available to prospective tenants.

Chestertons’ head of residential lettings, Richard Davies, has forecast a 2.5% increase in rents in London during 2019, and 11.5% total rental growth by 2022.

Such developments should give you plenty of reason to be heartened when you are looking for a company that can provide a professional and independent property inspection in London – as we can do here at Yellow Oak Inventories LTD. So why not give us a call about any of our services today on 020 3713 4933 or 07825 444487, or email info@yellowoak.co.uk?

Tips for increasing your London property’s rental value

If you have recently found that your rental property portfolio isn’t bringing the kind of returns it used to, it’s important to look beyond mere unfavourable market forces. Indeed, much of the problem may actually be to do with the properties you look after.

So, how can you boost the attractiveness and value of your London property portfolio for tenants?

Target the property to specialised markets

Certain categories of tenant might be inclined to pay more than other categories. For example, in a student hotspot, you may be able to open up fresh opportunities in an otherwise saturated market by targeting your property at overseas students, who tend to be wealthier than native students.

Thoroughly paint and clean the property

Gone are the days when many tenants would deem renting property just a temporary, ‘make-do’ option while they waited to seal the purchase of a home. It is now standard for a tenant to remain in the same property for about two years.

They therefore often want to feel as though their rented home is truly theirs – and no self-respecting tenant is happy to live in a dirty property with peeling paint. For this reason, you should consider giving your property a thorough aesthetic overhaul if its current appearance warrants it.

Replace any tired and dated kitchen or bathroom

Naturally, if you make your property’s kitchen or bathroom more up-to-date, you might be able to justify a higher rental value as a result. Another potential plus point is that the tenant is likely to be encouraged to remain in the property for longer.

This could help you to cut down on those dreaded ‘void’ periods when you are waiting for a new tenant to arrive after the last one has left.

Investigate the possibility of extending

This strategy would require you to obtain necessary planning permission and get it past building control. However, giving your property an extension could reap dividends.

A property extension could enable you to increase the number of rooms that you let out to separate tenants, or even just add an extra bedroom to boost the property’s market competitiveness.

However, when you do see an uptick in interest from potential tenants, you should also prepare for the important responsibility of getting them checked in. Our highly professional and independent clerks can carry out an inventory check in at this stage on your behalf, with this service also further helping to keep your property in optimum condition over time.

To learn more about our inventory check in expertise, simply call 020 3713 4933 or 07825 444487 or email info@yellowoak.co.uk now.

Are you among the landlords increasingly using social media to screen potential tenants?

You might imagine that here at Yellow Oak Inventories LTD, we would be quite eager to regularly highlight the value that the right rental inventory in central London can have for landlords. Even the most thorough tenant screening and referencing, after all, can’t guarantee that you will take on a tenant who will keep your property in optimum condition.

The difficulty, in fact, of ensuring this has perhaps been further demonstrated by the recent news that landlords are turning more and more to social media as a means of vetting prospective tenants for their properties.

Property owners looking for new and effective vetting procedures

A recent study by Foundation Home Loans found a heightening tendency among landlords to use social media to learn more about the people seeking to rent their properties. 11% said that they now checked Facebook and other social networks to screen would-be tenants before agreeing to let a home to them.

With prospective renters’ profiles on such social media sites as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram often containing a wealth of information in relation to their lifestyle, career history, relationship status, friends and whether they like pets, it’s not surprising that social media is becoming more frequently used as a screening tool by landlords.

However, it is far from the only tenant vetting method that landlords continue to rely on. According to the research, almost a third (29%) of landlords even go as far as interviewing prospective tenants as part of the screening process, to aid them in deciding whether they are suitable for the given property.

Furthermore, such more traditional means of screening tenants as personal, employer and previous landlord references are still routinely used by landlords, too.

Could the right rental inventory in central London give you peace of mind?

While we would certainly not wish to understate the importance of thorough screening for any landlord seeking to pick out the right tenant for their property, it’s also vital not to forget the inventory, which is a visual and written report making clear the condition of a property.

When you are in need of the most reputable and unbiased party to conduct a rental inventory in central London, the Yellow Oak Inventories LTD team can be of assistance, providing detailed reports to a fast turnaround.

Simply call us now, on 020 3713 4933 or 07825 444487, or send us an email to take full advantage of our highly professional, independent and efficient service.

 

 

Will London’s currently ‘flat’ rents be on the rise again over the next 12 months?

It’s fair to say that many of the property investors and letting agents in the British capital that have reason to request an inventory, mid-term review or new-build report in London from time to time won’t have found the most recent figures about the local rental market to be pleasurable reading.

The London buy-to-let market has been widely reported as sluggish, with better yields to be enjoyed at present in other parts of the UK – but is there hope of a turnaround in this anytime soon?

One letting agent in the capital, Benham and Reeves, has suggested so. In fact, it has said that the third quarter of 2018 was the busiest such period in its history, with tenant demand for London rental property significantly up.

What are the reasons for the agency’s optimism?  

Benham and Reeves stated in its latest lettings report that agreement had been reached on more than 1,000 tenancies across its 16 London branches during the three months. This represented a 22.1% rise from the transaction volumes seen during the equivalent period of 2017.

Furthermore, the agency registered an average of 22 applications for each available property during the third quarter, as opposed to 16 a year earlier.

Such figures mean that while London rent prices are mostly, as the letting agent admits, “flat”, it “sees this trend changing in the next 12 months” – an indication that sustained high demand for rental accommodation in the city will start to push up values.

Furthermore, the agent said that “from small units to large, from new build apartments to period, basement properties, demand has been high across the board, and at every price point.”

Hope that London rental yields could once again be on the up

It isn’t only Benham and Reeves that is confident of an improving picture for London landlords and investors, as Doug Shephard of the property search site Home.co.uk has suggested that yields could already be increasing again in the capital.

He explained: “During London’s recent property boom, house prices soared ahead of rents. Investment fever drove prices up more than 50% in just five years. Meanwhile, rents rose only 10% over the same time period, causing yields to collapse.”

Trust no one else to provide the most suitable new-build report in London

Whatever your reasons for needing an inventory, new-build report or any of our other services here at Yellow Oak Inventories LTD, you can expect the most professional, responsive and independent service, tailored to your needs.

Enquire to our team now, by calling 020 3713 4933 or 07825 444487, to learn more about the comprehensiveness and affordability of our services for London landlords, tenants, housing associations, relocation agents and letting agents.

 

London’s residential rental yields are on the up, according to new analysis

The British capital may not have received the most favourable headlines in recent times as far as its buy-to-let market is concerned, but it seems that there’s still plenty of reason for cheer for many of those requesting a home inventory or check out report in London from a company like ours.

Indeed, according to a study from letting agents Chestertons, there has actually been an increase in rental yields in many parts of London over the past year – and the chances are strong of continued rises.

What did the study find?

While rental values in some of London’s prime central locations are still feeling downward pressure, considerable upticks have been recorded in other areas of the capital.

It is Chiswick that tops the research’s rankings as the pocket of London that has seen the most significant growth in its gross rental yields during the last year. Its recorded increase from 3.3% to 4.3%, in fact, equates to an almost 30% change.

However, Tower Bridge and Covent Garden have also been characterised by notable increases in their yields, by 17% and 15% respectively. Annual growth for both Canary Wharf and Wandsworth, meanwhile, is 12%.

Now could be the time for investors to look again at London

More modest rises were racked up in such other areas of the capital as Islington, Notting Hill, Fulham, St John’s Wood, Greenwich and Battersea. This is a firm indication that more than a few of those benefitting from a check out report in London provided by Yellow Oak Inventories LTD are continuing to enjoy worthwhile returns from their property portfolios in the city.

It means that while the average annual rent for a Battersea four-bedroom flat was £37,200 in 2017, this has since gone up to £40,320, which is a 14% year-on-year improvement and gives the landlord a healthy 5% rental yield.

Chestertons head of lettings Richard Davies commented: “There is a real shortage of rental properties in the capital at the moment and there are fewer and fewer coming onto the market as many landlords have started to react to recent tax changes by restructuring or selling their buy-to-let portfolios.”

He said that this was contributing to severe shortages in many London localities, which in turn, was pushing up rental values.

He continued: “There are several reasons why now is a good time for landlords to invest again. Rents achieved in many areas have increased beyond asking price and gross yields have improved and importantly, tenant demand remains resilient.”

We can make the greatest peace of mind possible

Would you like to be provided with an inventory, check in or check out report in London by a reputable company with an excellent track record of serving letting agents, relocation agents, housing associations, landlords and tenants?

In that case, it might just be the time to get in touch with Yellow Oak Inventories LTD, which will help you to make the most of your London property portfolio. Simply call 020 3713 4933 or email info@yellowoak.co.uk today to book your appointment for any of our acclaimed services.

 

 

 

What are the most frequent justifications for landlords deducting money from tenants’ deposits?

Requesting a property inventory report is a frequently essential measure for landlords that wish to give themselves the utmost peace of mind about the condition of their buy-to-let properties. Thankfully, in most cases, a comparison of the state of a property prior to and after a tenancy shows a positive outcome, although this is sadly not always so.

This has been made clear by new data released by the Deposit Protection Service (DPS), one of the three government-approved agencies through which UK landlords are able to store tenant deposits under an assured shorthold tenancy. The figures show the main reasons why landlords opt to take money from the deposits that they return to their tenants.

So, what the most common causes of a docked deposit?

Topping the list of reasons cited by landlords for deposit deductions was the cost of cleaning, as mentioned by 63% of landlords that had entered the DPS’ Dispute Resolution Service during the last 12 months. An additional 53% claimed the deduction of money was necessary to pay for damage that their tenants had caused.

Redecoration was another frequent reason for a landlord taking money out of their tenant’s deposit, as given by 37% of landlords, while rent arrears accounted for 23% and gardening costs, 16%. A further 16% of landlords appealed for a deposit reduction so that they could replace missing items, while 4% said they were docking money to pay outstanding bills.

Tenant disputes thankfully remain uncommon

While the above statistics may seem scary ones for many landlords and tenants with reason to request such a service as a property inventory report, the good news is that it isn’t very often that a tenancy ends in dispute between the two parties. Indeed, 98% of tenancies in the UK come to a close without the landlord having to ask for a deposit deduction.

According to DPS managing director Julian Foster, “many of the problems that lead to deductions can be avoided when both tenant and landlord are aware of their responsibilities and stay in regular communication throughout the tenancy.”

We can put together a detailed and reassuring property inventory report

By maintaining clear communication from the outset, landlords and tenants can be left in no doubt about their respective responsibilities, which can help greatly to avoid conflict further down the line.

Another important step is to have a comprehensive property inventory report undertaken, so that the property’s condition can be documented at the beginning and end of the tenancy. We would be delighted to provide this service for you here at Yellow Oak Inventories LTD, thereby helping to give you greater protection in relation to the property, whether you are the landlord or tenant.

 

As many as 4.8 million Britons could become buy-to-let landlords in 2018

While the buy-to-let sector has undoubtedly had its ups and downs over the past few years, it seems the fundamental attractiveness of becoming a landlord has barely waned, at least according to the findings of new research from Sainsbury’s Bank Mortgages.

The lender discovered that nearly a tenth (9%) of the UK adult population had thought about purchasing a buy-to-let mortgage this year. It all of those individuals acted on their interest, it could mean up to 4.8 million people across the country becoming landlords in 2018.

What is leading many people to think about entering the sector?

As one might expect, the survey respondents cited various motivations for potentially taking out a buy-to-let mortgage. More than a third of those who said they were considering this path – 35% – said it had been prompted by a change in income, while three in 10 (29%) remained encouraged by the current opportunities to get involved in the buy-to-let market.

A quarter (25%) said it was receiving an inheritance that caused them to think about investing in a buy-to-let mortgage, which raises the spectre of many people having found themselves ‘accidental landlords’. Despite this, the study also found that about two-thirds – 64% – of UK adults were unable to define what a consumer buy-to-let mortgage was.

The respondents’ cited property preferences was another intriguing aspect of the poll findings. Over half, or 51% of those contemplating becoming a landlord said they had thought of buying a house, and of these, 46% had considered acquiring a new build instead of older property stock. Meanwhile, 46% of potential landlords had considered purchasing a flat, with 44% of this group open to investing in new build flats.

If you do purchase rental property this year, don’t forget the all-important inventory

As exciting as the above news is about a potentially rich influx of new investors in the buy-to-let sector, it is also vital for such prospective buyers to take every necessary precaution – including ensuring they have a property inventory carried out by a trustworthy and unbiased party.

Yellow Oak Inventories LTD is proud to be able to undertake the highest standard of property inventory in London for new and experienced landlords alike. Give us a call today on 020 3713 4933 or 07825 444487, or email info@yellowoak.co.uk, to learn more about our detailed inventory reports that could be instrumental in making your early life as a landlord easier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agency warns that London rental property owners must work harder to protect their investments

The importance of a thorough London property inventory may have become even greater, due to prospective tenants now having a greater amount of choice than was the case until relatively recently.

This is at least the warning issued by several key observers of the capital’s buy-to-let sector, including one leading letting agency that has said owners of rental property are having to work harder to protect their investments.

As reported by the website Letting Agent Today, the agency has described the current buy-to-let market in the capital as neutral. This is due to the number of tenants having gone up, but those tenants also having so many properties from which to choose, that rental values in such areas of the capital as Zone 2 and 3 have been left flat.

A finely balanced situation for both landlords and tenants

The agency stated that across most postcodes in London, an even spread was observed between 2% drops and 2% rises, partly because of various new schemes being rolled out that are suitable for buy-to-let investors. Nor is this stable situation one that the agency imagines changing any time soon.

“Tenants are looking for value for money, especially as corporate budgets haven’t increased and they know that in a tenants’ market, they can drive a hard bargain”, the agency observed. “Many landlords are taking the business decision to renew contracts with existing tenants with no rental increases in order to keep good tenants and avoid any possible void periods.”

This latter analysis is backed up by the agency having seen 17% of its landlords renewing their existing tenants while not increasing their rent.

Enhanced stock levels making life easier for tenants

The agency did also notice, however, surprising rental decreases in popular areas ranging from Golders Green, Hampstead and Barnet in NW11 to South Kensington and Knightsbridge in SW7 and Marylebone and Westminster in W1H. Barnes and Richmond upon Thames in SW13, Hammersmith and Fulham in W6 and South Lambeth, Vauxhall, Battersea, Clapham and Stockwell in SW8 saw similar declines in rent values.

Lettings director at the agency, Marc von Grundherr, explained that “the drops are all in desirable areas that continue to be very popular. What we are seeing is more stock coming to the market thanks to large developments and that is giving tenants more choice on places to rent and more power to negotiate lower rents.”

He urged landlords in not only these areas, but also other parts of London to pay close attention to the maintenance and presentation of their properties to increase their competitiveness at a time when tenants frequently have many options for a new rental home in the capital.

Such diligence towards the condition of your property – assisted by such measures as the right London property inventory by a reputable independent company like Yellow Oak Inventories LTD – could go a long way to keeping your investment occupied with good tenants.

So, to learn more about the inventory, inspection, check in and check out services that we can provide, why not call our team today on 020 3713 4933, or send us an email?

 

London buy-to-let market sees major resurgence in second quarter

There has been much talk recently about how London landlords are apparently being deterred from investing in the capital – or are even deciding to end their involvement in the city altogether – due to continued high property prices and stamp duty costs. But is this the reality?

The picture doesn’t seem quite as simple as that, if one new set of figures is to be believed. Indeed, in the second quarter of 2018, London may have actually resumed its status as the most popular area of the UK for buy-to-let investment, as shown by a new analysis undertaken by Commercial Trust.

What do the figures say?

The specialist mortgage firm said that 15.34% of its applications for buy-to-let mortgages during the April to June period were for properties in London, placing the South East in the shade, with 13.76%. The North West also fared well, however, recording an 11.11% share.

Nonetheless, London’s performance is especially notable, not least because the capital also saw 8.97% more buy-to-let completions in the second quarter than in the first three months of 2018. This made the second quarter the first quarter in which London enjoyed the largest share in the broker’s completions – at 15.79% – since the third quarter of last year.

The company was also able to report on a significant jump in its overall business during the April to June period, racking up 32.17% greater volume than was seen in 2017’s corresponding quarter.

The one inventory company in London that you need to know

Commercial Trust chief executive Andrew Turner was encouraged by the news of London’s revival in the national buy-to-let sector, declaring that while “the London market has slowed of late, I hope our findings may reflect a sign of recovery in investment in the city.”

However, you are likely to be much more confident to make such an investment if you also feel that you have the right inventory company in London by your side. Yellow Oak Inventories LTD can be that company, providing you with the inventory, check in, check out and inspection services that will give you the utmost peace of mind as to the condition of your investment.

Enquire now, by calling 020 3713 4933 or emailing info@yellowoak.co.uk, to learn more about our know-how and experience as an inventory company in London that could empower you to put both faith and money into the capital’s resurgent property market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How can London landlords swiftly find tenants for their properties?

So, you have contacted a company like Yellow Oak Inventories LTD to undertake the most professional check out inventory in London, so that you can be sure of your property having been left in the best possible condition by the departing tenant compared to when they arrived. The detailed report arrives, and it’s good news – but you have one problem.

That problem is: you don’t yet have anyone to replace your outgoing tenant. This is a major worry for many of our landlord clients, as even a relatively short ‘void period’ – the space of time for which your buy-to-let property has no paying tenants – can be damaging in such a notoriously expensive part of the country as London.

So, what are our top tips for quickly getting a new tenant into your London buy-to-let property, without having to desperately reach for an unsuitable candidate who could cause problems later?

Invest in the areas of London where void periods are shortest

Of course, this won’t help you greatly if you are looking to fill a London property that you already own. Nonetheless, it’s intriguing to see the patterns thrown up by recently released data – reported by Which? – showing the average number of days on the market for rental dwellings in different parts of the capital.

The figures indicate that if you are concerned about void periods as a London buy-to-let investor, south-east London might be the most advantageous area to target, given the average of just 29 days between listing and letting for its properties. However, EC4Y in Westminster is the specific postcode where landlords find tenants quickest, with an average of just 20 days on the market recorded for properties there.

What else can you do to make your property a tenant magnet?

A key factor in luring more tenants in the direction of your vacant property is getting the asking price right. Balance is crucial here – whatever you charge will need to be sufficient to cover your mortgage obligations, but should also not be appreciably higher than what other landlords in the area are charging for similar properties. The level of competition that you face for tenants in the locality will also be a crucial factor in determining a price.

On the subject of competition, however, you also need to consider whether a seemingly ‘comparable’ property to yours truly is comparable. You may offer a two-bedroom flat much like others in the area, for instance, except that these properties give your residents somewhere to park, while yours doesn’t. Such a situation may necessitate you dropping your price.

It’s also vital to cater to what the tenants who will take an interest in your property are likely to specifically want and need. Young families may consider a bath essential, for example, whereas couples without children may regard it as unnecessary. Such insight can be used to ensure you make the changes to your investment that will actually boost its value.

For peace of mind with your inventories, check ins and check outs, choose us

Ensuring that your buy-to-let property in the capital is kept in the finest condition will likely be a key source of stress for you as a landlord. That’s why, when you are seeking the right firm to carry out a mid-term inspection, check in or check out inventory in London, Yellow Oak Inventories LTD can be your complete and dependable partner.

Contact our team now, by calling 020 3713 4933 or 07825 444487 or emailing info@yellowoak.co.uk, to find out more about our full range of services.

 

 

Are you protecting young tenants?

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As a landlord in the PRS you’ll understand more than anyone the growing need for rented accommodation for the younger generation, namely students. CEO of the flat sharing website ‘Weroom’ has recently stated that ‘deposit disputes are becoming an inevitable part of the rental experience’, especially for students and young renters. Unsurprising new research has also revealed that property maintenance and damages are the most common causes for disputes between landlords and their student tenants. Weroom.com also found that out of the 330 – 18 to 24 year olds that they surveyed:

  • only 40% were aware of their rights as tenants,
  • 40% experienced cleaning related property disputes,
  • 33% admitted that they had ‘given in’ to landlords and agencies to avoid confrontation.

Do you house young tenants?

With so many students and budding renters looking for their next home in the PRS, it is critical that you make them aware of their rights from the start. Student housing can be a very lucrative market, what with university life becoming more of a once in a lifetime opportunity in the UK than ever before. Not forgetting the increasing amount of young families out there looking for their next home in the PRS too. As a landlord your main objective is to keep your tenants happy, meaning that they will stay for as long as possible with you.

By law you must:

  • Provide your tenants with a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), an annual Gas Safety Certificate and a copy of the government’s new ‘How to Rent’ guide at the start of their tenancy. If you fail to then you (or your agent) will be unable to evict them further down the line. You should also provide them with a copy of their tenancy agreement, to include: the date it began, the amount of rent due, when it’s to be paid, how and when the rent can be changed and the length of any fixed term.
  • Any deposits that have been paid to you on or after April 2007 must be protected in one of the 3 government-approved deposit protection schemes; Deposit Protection Scheme (DPS), MyDeposits or the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS). If a court finds that you’ve failed to adequately protect their deposit, then you will be ordered to repay it directly to your tenant or pay it into an official TDP scheme’s bank account within 14 days. The court can also decide whether they order you to pay you up to 3 times the deposit amount!
  • You, or agents acting on your behalf, must now install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms in all relevant rooms of your buy-to-let properties. They must be fully functioning at the start of the tenancy, but it remains your tenant’s responsibility to test and maintain each alarm throughout the tenancy period, e.g. changing the batteries.
  • You must provide each tenant with a name and an address in England or Wales that they can write to you.
  • Unless it is a valid emergency, you or your letting agent must give your tenant at least 24 hours’ notice (in writing) before you have the right to enter their home.
  • As a landlord you have a duty of care to maintain the property; keeping your tenants happy and free from any danger. Other than very minor requests (changing fuses, light bulbs, etc), you are responsible for the majority of the repairs. So make sure that you encourage your tenants to report any issues to you as soon as they arise; so as to minimise any potential damage.
  • You must serve the correct notices (e.g. Section 21) and obtain a possession order from the court to legally evict your tenants from the property.

 

  • You must make sure that there are working smoke alarms on every floor of your property in communal areas.

Deposit disputes should not be an ‘inevitable part’ of the rental experience in this day and age, we hope you agree? At Yellow Oak Inventories we believe that the 3 key elements to unlocking and improving the private rented sector right across the UK are: knowledge, professionalism and communication between landlords, agents and their tenants – especially younger tenants. This is why a simple inventory is a vital step in order to properly protect your investment – and that’s why we’d love to hear from you today:

Tel: 020 3713 4933 / Email: info@yellowoak.co.uk / Contact Form.

Smoke and carbon monoxide alarm inventory UPDATE

Smoke and carbon monoxide alarm inventory UPDATE

Another month, another new law for landlords it would seem! As of the beginning of October 2015 landlords in England are now required by law to install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors? Properly installed and maintained smoke alarms play a pivotal role in reducing fire, death and injuries in privately rented accommodation. And the same goes for carbon monoxide alarms. With almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulting from properties that don’t have a working alarm, the chance of dying is cut in half with a working alarm.

Although I have noticed consistent news coverage on the subject, the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks are still worried that there is still confusion over who and when such smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms should be checked, as well as who does it; the landlord, agent or independent third party?

The standing legal position is that landlords in England, or agents acting on their behalf, are required to install smoke detectors on every floor of their property where a tenant is residing or partially living. Carbon Monoxide alarms must also be fitted in any room of rented accommodation where there is a solid fuel-burning appliance, e.g. gas cooker, open fire, wood burner, etc. Both must be tested at the beginning of each new tenancy, and those that don’t comply risk a fine of up to £5,000.

However the checking requirement does not apply to renewed or statutory periodic tenancies.

Patricia Barber, chair of the AIIC, announced: “As part of an inventory compilation or check in procedure at the beginning of the tenancy, an AIIC independent inventory clerk will be able to check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms for power where possible and report back any problems found.”

“This then paves the way for landlords or their property managers to carry out subsequent checks during mid-term visits.” She added: “While the majority of landlords and agents may already have some sort of procedure in place, hopefully this news will help to put some property professionals’ minds at ease, saving time and money.”

This is a life and death situation after all, as in essence you have the safety and wellbeing of your tenants firmly in your hands. One tragic story of a family dying in a house fire is one too many for us at Yellow Oak Inventories, so it’s wonderful to see the lettings industry in England embracing this long-awaited law. That being said, everyone must remain vigilant as the only test that will be carried out by our Inventory clerks and many others is a simple sound test which indicates that the battery is still working. It is still ultimately the responsibility of the landlord and agent to make sure the alarms are working properly.

Other than fire alarms, there are other possible issues that can create unrest with the landlord/tenant relationship. So how else can you do to protect yourself and your tenants against potential disputes further down the line?

  • Take your time!

Many little mistakes that have escalated beyond control have often began as a tiny, overlooked issue.

  • Communicate!

The AIIC have recently been quoted as stating that a formal tenancy deposit dispute can be diffused by something as basic as simple conversation. At Yellow Oak Inventories we wholeheartedly agree, as its basic common sense that if a tenant contacts their letting agent or landlord to discuss a disagreement, there is a much reduced chance of it heightening to them lodging a formal complaint with one of the 3 deposit protection schemes.

  • Better to be safe than sorry!

If you’re unsure about something that could be life threating, then seek help and advice!

As a landlord, at Yellow Oak Inventories we believe that your tenants’ safety should be of the utmost importance. Be sure to choose a reputable property Inventory clerk that will tested your alarms for power (if reachable), visually inspect it and report back to you if there are any issues.

Still need help? Then please contact your local inventory clerk; http://yellowoak.co.uk/contact-us/

Ensure your check out report is successful with Yellow Oak Inventories

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 12.33.17 The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) have recently suggested that if more tenants were to attend the check out at the end of their tenancies, there would be less deposit disputes all round. This plea comes in response via data released by the Deposit Protection Service (DPS), which suggests that 48% of tenants are failing to attend their check out reports. At Yellow Oak Inventories we whole-heartedly agree with this sentiment.

This is because:

  1. It’s a perfect opportunity for issues to be brought to the tenants attention.
  2. By discussing the condition tenants and landlords/agents can resolve problems in a much quicker fashion; preventing longer, drawn-out disputes further down the line.
  3. The tenant is fully aware of what will be in the check out report, so there will be no surprises when they receive it.

So how else can you ensure that your check out report goes smoothly?

  • Use a professional and independent inventory clerk, as they will understand what is best recorded when tenants arrive and how best to assess and demonstrate any changes at the end of the tenancy.
  • Provide reports from the check-in and mid-term as a reference point, for both inspection and discussion.
  • Ensure that tenants can make the check-out report appointment, by writing to them with sufficient notice. Clearly explain how important the process is and why they should attend, and be sure to explain such actions as taking photos during the visit, etc.
  • Take digital photos as these have a date stamp attached, which adds extra credence to your report.

Please read the related Yellow Oak Inventory Blog Post: Words or Video – Which is better? …

  • Be absolutely thorough and take your time, otherwise you may overlook an important issue; potentially making life for all parties involved more difficult.
  • However unlikely it may seem, if you feel that your safety could be jeopardised in anyway bring along a witness.
  • TAKE NOTE! – By this we mean make as many notes as possible, including any admissions from your tenant and/or any agreements that you reach.
  • Complete your properties check-out report before any repair work is done. This is because many landlords/agents unfortunately rush to overcome problems in preparation for their next tenant, which can prevent opportunities to record such repairs; increasing the possibility for dispute.

 

Check outs are one of the most important stages of any tenancy agreement. So if you need any help or advice with your inventory, please get in touch with one of our friendly team today – 020 3713 4933, info@yellowoak.co.uk or via Facebook or Twitter.

What’s your problem? It’s just a mid-term inspection…

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It’s not often you walk into your buy to let, only to be greeted by a 50-stone pig!! Just last week this happened to an unsuspecting landlord, who was handling a routine inspection of his property. Pretty funny to those of us who have (luckily) never found ourselves in such a ludicrous position, but not so funny for this landlord who now has (a reported) £7,500 worth of damage to take care of!

The landlord told the Daily Mirror: “I was absolutely stunned when I saw it, it was a complete shock. “I was just renting out my dad’s house after he moved and this was my first tenant, an RAF serviceman based at Brize Norton.
His partner was there when I examined the house, she said something about it being unwell and they brought it into the house. I said to the woman, there’s a pig in the house and she replied: ‘What’s your problem? It’s just a pig’.”

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This story highlights the absolute importance of conducting an inventory inspection accompanied by a series of thorough mid-term inspections, throughout all of your tenancies. It may seem more hassle than it’s worth, but imagine having the hassle of not only having to clear up this mess, but also have to pay for the repairs, new floor covering, re-turfing the garden and repairing of the patio!

DID YOU KNOW that an estimated 400,000 landlords in the UK have had their property damaged by tenants in the last 12 months?

So other than using an accredited and experienced inventory company to carry out your regular inspections, what else can you do to avoid similar shocking property damage being done to your property?…

  1. Insure Against the Unexpected

Property damage will be exceptionally costly if the level of damage exceeds the value of the tenancy deposit. So make sure you have the correct buy-to-let insurance in place, as at Yellow Oak Inventories it’s still quite shocking as to how many landlords end up finding out the hard way that their basic home insurance policy will not provide the essential cover they desperately need.

  1. Vet Tenants Properly

The unfortunate landlord at the heart of this sorry story said that he rented out his property to an RAF serviceman, but believed the pig was moved in by the man’s partner. The question is: did he reference check both tenants thoroughly, beforehand? Who knows; this may have happened in a previous property that they lived in, and their last landlord would be able to warn you about this simply through a quick phone call.

Please find our Three Point Anti-Bad Tenant Checklist HERE, which includes a full breakdown of each referencing procedure.

  1. Make Tenants Aware

It’s all very well spotting damages whilst doing regular inspections, but what if you could prevent them from happening in the first place? Thankfully, stories like these are a rarity and the majority of residential property damage is (more often than not) accidental or through a tenants sheer negligence. So from the beginning make them aware of ways that they can keep the property in good condition, e.g. regular carpet cleaning, airing the bathroom after a shower, routine changing of the smoke detector batteries, that they won’t receive their full deposit at the end of the tenancy if there is damage, etc.

Be proud of your next inventory report; use Yellow Oak Inventories in London today! Contact us on: 020 3713 4933, by email: info@yellowoak.co.uk or via Facebook or Twitter.

Words or Video – Which is better when conducting an inventory?

Words or Video - Which is better when conductingThere is an ongoing debate between landlords, agents and inventory clerks to whether words or video are better, when conducting an inventory.

Did you know that adjudicators actually prefer words to video in dispute cases?

Why?!

Well firstly, statements issued by both the TDS and MyDeposits make it very clear that written evidence (in the form of a detailed inventory and check out report) is still paramount to allow adjudicators to give a fair judgement.

The majority of us love new technology, as it’s a great time saver for many tasks. BUT sometimes it’s not always the answer and this is the case with property inventories. This is because a video relies on the adjudicator having the correct equipment to view it. They will also need patience to sift through potentially hours of footage to find the part that covers the dispute. A good video will also need to be supported by a detailed narrative throughout the recording, to explain to the adjudicator what exactly they’re looking at and what for.

Digital recorders make dictating and transcribing an inventory a much faster and easier process too.

In the last couple of years letting agents have actually been warned by the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks about replacing essential written inventory descriptions for digital evidence, as it leaves their landlord clients vulnerable to potential disputes further down the line. At Yellow Oak Inventories we completely agree with the associations’ statement that photographs and video can provide a good illustration, but are not at all helpful without a detailed written inventory firmly in place.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’, however this is certainly not the case with a residential inventory report. Photographs alone, even with the date and time of day clearly shown, will provide no context whatsoever if they’re not accompanied by a written inventory.

This is where the help of a fully qualified, trained and experienced independent inventory clerk comes into play. As a landlord it shouldn’t be about getting the cheapest deal around, but about finding the best deal that’s going to protect you in the future should a dispute arise.

So in conclusion, at Yellow Oak Inventories we believe that words are far substantial when you are carrying out an inventory, but will be made stronger accompanied by good photographs and a well narrated video.

Please get in touch with one of our friendly team today – either by phone: 020 3713 4933, by email: info@yellowoak.co.uk or via Facebook or Twitter.

Scam Awareness Month | Landlords, Letting Agents and Tenants; Be Prepared!

Dont-be-rushe_225Did you know that this month is ‘Scam Awareness Month?’

Scam Awareness Month is all about creating a network of confident, alert, consumers who are ready, willing and able to spot scams. So efforts throughout July are important as they will help spread the message that scams can be tackled if we all take a bit of time to spot the signs and share what we’ve learnt with our peers and others within the industry.

As we are all aware, the property industry is almost completely unregulated and therefore very appealing to scammers. So at Yellow Oak Inventories we have compiled the 5 most common property scams and how best to avoid them:

  1. Land Registry Fraud.

Through this awful scam, the crooks manage to transfer the ownership of your home to a completely different person. They do this by finding a property, often via the Land Registry’s own data, and then contacting the LR asking to change the ownership details of that property. Letters will then be sent out to confirm the change, and this is where the scammers will attempt to intercept that correspondence in some way. If they are successful in changing the ownership details of the property, they can then take out a new mortgage on it or sell it and disappear into the sunset with their ill-gotten gains.

Landlords can protect themselves from this scam by keeping their details with the LR up-to-date through their website; www.landregistry.gov.uk/propertyfraud.

  1. Phony NLA Members.

This scam involves fake landlords advertising imaginary rental properties on free listings sites, such as Gumtree. This scam is extra sneaky as these scammers have used the National Landlords Association (NLA) logo, and even in some cases mocked up NLA stationary to reel in more unsuspecting tenants.

Never pay up front for a home you haven’t even viewed, and confirm that your landlord is indeed a member of the NLA by visiting www.goodlandlord.org.uk.

  1. Lettings verification.

This involves a fake Rightmove verification service being created, where an interested tenant is provided with emails and a web page designed to look like they have come directly from Rightmove. They will claim that they have been ‘approved’ as a vendor, however Rightmove does not offer a verification process or ever request or accept money directly from tenants.

Those that think they may have been affected by this scam should report it to Action Fraud immediately, as well as reporting it directly to Rightmove: security@rightmove.co.uk.

  1. Property Investment Courses

As property TV programs increase, it would appear that fraudulent property seminars do too. In exchange for your money, they’ll offer you tips on how to “get rich quick” from the property industry and will then offer you the chance to purchase some property at an amazing discount.

As with all of these scams; if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. So don’t end up out of pocket by thousands of pounds, and steer clear of any “get rich quick” scheme.

  1. Rental Scams

These involve receiving an email from an “Ambassador” or “Noble person” who is trying to rent out his property. There are many variations of this scam, but they can easily be avoided simply by blocking the senders email address and immediately reporting it to Action Fraud. And always be wary if anyone is asking for money, a loan or offering suspiciously high and/or unrealistic rates of return.

Scams: ‘Don’t be rushed, don’t be hushed…’

We can’t image the pain caused to those victims of scams, which is why at Yellow Oak Inventories we wanted to make you aware of the most common scam’s around at the moment. Like in all industries there are good and bad businesses and it often take a small free to ruin the reputation of many. All the companies and landlords we work with provide a highly professional service and proud that our inventory is part of their service.

Inventory Tips for Tenants

Inventory Tips for TenantsSo at Yellow Oak Inventories we’ve covered why it’s important for a landlord and a letting agent to have a thorough and detailed inventory in place, but why is it important for a tenant? And (as a tenant) what should you  be looking out for?

Well at Yellow Oak Inventories we are here to protect all parties involved in the lettings process, therefore we  have constructed the following inventory tips for tenants to provide extra peace of mind for those of you that are  on the move.

Inventory Tips for Tenants:

  1. Go through the inventory report with your methodically and slowly.
  • Is everything in the property included on the inventory report?
  • Is there anything listed on the inventory that you can’t find within the property?
  1. If your landlord/letting agent doesn’t provide you with an inventory, you can make one yourself. However we would encourage you to instruct an independent inventory clerk, as they are an unbiased third party who will further aid you if there is any form of dispute at the end of the tenancy between you and your landlord.
    Contact us here for further help and advice.
  2. If you haven’t been supplied with an inventory, then ask your landlord/agent for a copy, as a rent paying tenant you are entitled to this.
  3. If the property includes a garden/outside space/drive-way parking space/etc make sure it is included on the inventory report too.
  4. Make notes on the inventory of any damage to the property and get agreement from your landlord/letting agent.
  5. Make sure you use all appliances early in the tenancy to determine if they are working correctly.
  6. Take your own photos of the property when you first move in, especially of any existing damage.
  7. Keep your copy of the inventory in a safe place.
  8. Keep good records, in case of a tenancy deposit dispute further down the line.
    – This should include records of anything you’ve damaged or replaced – e.g. photos / estimates/emails.
    – Also keep records of repair work carried out by your landlord – e.g. letters / receipts.
  9. Make sure you are present at the check-out inspection.

Other than your tenancy agreement you should consider your inventory report the second most important part of your tenancy, as this document will be key in deciding how much of your deposit is returned to you at the end of your agreement.

Need any more advice on your inventory report? Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us, either by phone: 020 3713 4933, by email: info@yellowoak.co.uk or via Facebook or Twitter.

 

Buying property with sitting tenants

Buying property with sitting tenantsDid you know that the proportion of properties bought by landlords with a sitting tenant has increased four-fold since 2008?

Following statistics, recently released by agency group Countrywide, after analysing over 65,000 rental properties they revealed that last year some 11% of all rental properties that were bought by an investor came with a sitting tenant in the mix. London has come up on top, where the proportion of landlord purchases with a sitting tenant is highest; with over a quarter of all purchases by landlords in 2014 up from 12% on 2008.

At Yellow Oak Inventories we believe that this is great news for renters, as it shows that if a landlord decides to sell his property that it won’t affect a tenant’s living conditions or tenancy. The main benefit of buying with a sitting tenant is that by keeping the existing tenants there will be no void and you can start receiving rent from day one. But with more landlords looking to buy from other landlords who already have a tenant in place, are there any pitfalls to this trend that you should be wary of?

With this in mind we have devised the following tips for those of you who are thinking of buying a property with sitting tenants included:

  • Copy of Inventory

Included within all of the property paperwork, make sure there is a correct copy of the inventory report from when the sitting tenant moved in. What with a quarter of sitting tenants signing contracts of 2 years or longer, a copy of the inventory report is extremely important to protect against any claims or disputes at the end of the tenancy.

Don’t forget to ask whether there are any copies of mid-term reviews/inspections too, for extra protection as well as insight into how your new tenant has been treating the property over the term of their tenancy with the previous owner.

  • Referencing

As the new landlord you have a right to reference check the sitting tenants, but you are not entitled to charge them for this. Be sure to check whether they have the right to reside in the UK also, to comply with the upcoming immigration right to rent legislation that will soon cover the whole of the UK, following the conclusion of the West Midlands pilot scheme (which is currently still underway).

Inventories and Right to Rent Legislation – Click to read on.

  • Deposit protection

Make sure you have proof that this has been carried out correctly by the previous landlord, including serving the paperwork to the tenant. It wouldn’t hurt to have written confirmation that this has been carried out too directly from the tenant, as an extra safety net.

  • Rent Guarantee Insurance

Because you haven’t hand-picked this tenant from the start you have no idea whether they are a good tenant or not, so obtaining rent guarantee insurance would be a good idea to consider.

Still not sure whether you should take on a new buy-to-let property with a sitting tenant? Then please get in contact with us today for further advice – either by phone: 020 3713 4933, by email: info@yellowoak.co.uk or via Facebook or Twitter.

Our Top 5 Sources of Lettings Information

Our Top 5 Sources of Lettings InformationAt Yellowoak Inventories we always strive to keep you in the loop and fully informed on all the latest legislation changes, which are relevant to you as a landlord in England or Wales. However, we also acknowledge that there are some great websites out there who also provide great content; therefore we wanted to take this opportunity to introduce you to our  Top 5 Sources of Lettings Information.

  1. Property Tribes – propertytribes.com – ‘None of us is smart as all of us.’

Property Tribes is the UK’s busiest landlord and investor community, where you can access discussion forums and share your property issues, ideas, strategies and much more all in one place. It’s free to sign up to and use once you’ve read and agreed to the site rules.

For example, here is a post on Yellowoak Inventories in their forum: *Property inventories and mid-term property inspections with Yellow Oak Inventories. As you can see, this began life as a helpful tips video and then turned into an interesting discussion thread about the importance of avoiding cutting corners when carrying out your inventory.

  1. SAFEagentsafeagents.co.uk‘The Mark of Trust.’

This year marked the 4th annual SAFEagent awareness week, where over 3,000 professional letting agents united together to generate awareness on how vital it is to choose a lettings and management agent who is part of a Client Money Protection (CMP) Scheme.

We fully understand the importance for our clients being made aware that we are trained to the highest possible standard, conforming to a strict code of conduct and this is why we are full certified members of the APIP and AIIC. (Association of Independent Inventory Clerks & Association of Professional Inventory Providers.) Therefore we welcome any official form of ‘endorsement’ in the lettings industry, which is how SAFEAgent provides landlords and tenants with peace of mind that the money they’ve paid in deposits and rent to their agent is fully protected. So those letting agents who display the SAFEagent logo show that they’re part of an approved CMP scheme, which ensures that they are protecting their clients monies correctly.

  1. Landlord Law – landlordlaw.co.uk‘Legal help, services & support for PRS landlords.’

Landlord Law enters its 14th year online this year, written and run by landlord and tenant lawyer Tessa Shepperson. They also run training courses and do their utmost to educate landlords on what can be quite complicated housing laws and rules to get your head around.

  1. Property Industry Eye – propertyindustryeye.com‘Where News Comes First.’

Property Industry Eye is dedicated to the publication of independent, unbiased, factual and accurate news reporting of matters of interest to those working in the UK property market and beyond. As well as news topics, they also provide a public forum discussion to debate topics of the day and a vehicle for service provides to reach their markets.

  1. The mainstream lettings portals; Rightmove, Zoopla and OntheMarket.com

Accessing a combination of these blogs will provide you with no end of insight, information and food for thought on the latest lettings issues, offers and advice from a whole host of trustworthy experts from the UK lettings industry.

All of these websites primarily seek to educate landlords and others within the lettings industry, and we personally applaud them and hope that they carry on doing so!