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Councils Under Pressure to Clamp Down on Lax Landlords

Councils Under Pressure to Clamp Down on Lax Landlords

In this three-minute read, we look at the growing calls for tougher action against rogue landlords.

Landlords who struggle with all the rules and regulations associated with renting out a property – be warned.

Councils are coming under increasing pressure to throw the book at landlords who flout the law.

Even if you’ve gotten away with a ‘near enough is good enough’ approach so far, winging it isn’t a sustainable long-term strategy.

Calls for a get-tough approach

The demand for stricter enforcement is coming from two sides: tenants’ rights groups (as you might expect) and the private rental sector itself.

The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) and Propertymark, which represents property agents, argue that unscrupulous landlords tarnish the industry’s image and make tenants’ lives hell.

They have both recently called on councils to enforce the laws that relate to the private rental sector with greater zeal. (Propertymark is also pressing for councils to receive more cash for enforcement operations.)

But I’m not a rogue landlord

Now we get to the philosophical part. What is a rogue landlord? Is it a cigar-sucking Fagin-like character who fleeces the most vulnerable by renting out rat-infested, unsafe dumps?

Or is it a landlord who means well enough but doesn’t have the time or inclination to get it right all the time?

Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter. Every landlord who flouts the rules will have an excuse; maybe they’re time-poor, busy at work, or think some of the rules are silly, so don’t follow them.

None of these excuses will get you off the hook in court – especially if a tenant is injured or killed because you didn’t do the right safety checks or fell behind on maintenance.

Being a good landlord makes good business sense

Moral arguments aside, sticking to the rules makes good financial sense. Here’s why:

  • Tenants are more aware of their rights than ever and are willing to defend them. A lax attitude towards deposits, inventories, or paperwork could leave you exposed – and out of pocket – in a dispute.
  • If there’s a fire, flood, or accident at your property, your insurance could be ruled invalid if you didn’t follow the law.
  • Tenants are more likely to stay in a property if they know it’s safe and their concerns will be listened to. This will cut your tenant selection and reference checking costs.

Get a letting agent on the job

You don’t have to do it all yourself; an experienced letting agent can help you.

Cover your back by getting a professional who knows what they’re doing to take the burden off your shoulders.

For more information about our property management services, get in touch with us here at Chamberlains.


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Why Your Home Could Be Bad for Your Health

Why Your Home Could Be Bad for Your Health

In this two-minute read, we explore issues in your home that could be making you feel unwell and how to cure them.

For most of us, our home is a haven. But what if it is making you ill?

Mould and damp

Mould and damp are caused by excess moisture in the home – perhaps due to leaking pipes, roof damage, or condensation build-up. They can cause respiratory issues, nausea and vomiting, and general illness, so it’s important to stay ahead of any fungal growths or damp patches.

Quick tips to prevent mould are:

  • Air your bathroom when bathing to get rid of condensation
  • Keep your home well ventilated to avoid excess moisture
  • Where you notice mould, wipe it away with detergent or mould treatments (in more serious cases, call in the professionals to get rid of it)
  • Hang your wet laundry outside or by an open window to prevent moisture build-up.

Excess dust

No matter how clean your house is, dust and dust mites can be found within most properties. They are a common allergen and can cause asthma symptoms. Ongoing exposure may result in allergic rhinitis (runny nose, watery eyes).

Reduce dust and mites by:

  • Regularly vacuuming carpets and mopping floors
  • Dusting with a damp cloth
  • Change bedsheets weekly and wash in warm water
  • Vacuum upholstered furniture, such as sofas.

Carbon monoxide

It’s important to have a working carbon monoxide monitor in all properties, as this gas is a silent killer. Some causes include poorly installed and/or badly ventilated appliances, such as cookers and boilers, blocked flues or chimneys, paint fumes, and smoking indoors.

Early signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include an ongoing headache, dizziness, sickness, and shortness of breath.

Cleaning products

While a clean home is important, limit your use of cleaning products such as oven cleaners, bleach, and aerosols. All of these contain chemicals that can cause irritation to the eyes and throat resulting in headaches and breathing issues.

Lead paint

Lead paint was banned in the UK in 1992 but can still affect older properties. Once lead paint starts to crack or peel, its dust can cause serious problems, especially for children and pregnant women.

If you suspect your older property has got areas of lead paint, speak to a building professional about how to get rid of it.

The good news is what we’ve outlined above is very rare but if you’re concerned about any problems in your home, speak to us at Chamberlains.




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Two Important Questions to Ask Before You Sign with an Estate Agent

estate agents newton abbot

How South Devon Sellers Can Spot an Agent Who Means Business 

In this three-minute read, we look at how to gauge if an agent is giving you an honest property valuation.

The first question a seller always asks an estate agent is: “How much can you sell my property for?”. The second is: “What is your fee?”.

This focus on price and fees makes perfect sense; understandably every seller in South Devon wants to get the best possible property deal.

But before you jump in and choose an agent based solely on these two things, ask two more questions to determine if an agent is telling you the truth or a load of porkies.

Before you sign a contract, ask:

  • If there is a tie-in clause in the contract? If so, how long is it?
  • If you can terminate the agreement if you’re unhappy with the service?

Unfortunately, many sellers skip these questions, and it’s not until things go awry that they realise they’re locked into an unfavourable deal.

Tie-in periods

Some agents don’t do tie-ins at all (Chamberlains certainly doesn’t), while others will ask that you commit to allowing them a minimum period, usually a few weeks, to market the property.

Other agents go so far as to lock you in for 24 weeks (with a 28-day notice period on top of that).

It’s up to you to decide what length of tie-in is reasonable – but make sure you understand from the outset what you’re getting into.

Overvaluing a property

It’s also worth questioning why an agent wants a 24-week tie-in. If they genuinely believe in their pricing strategy, why do they need nearly half a year to shift the property?

Unless, of course, they’ve deliberately overvalued your home to secure your custom. They know that eventually you’ll have to drop the price, but they don’t care – they’ve got you cornered.

The whole thing is a ploy to get your business. It wastes time and can jeopardise your next purchase, especially if you’re in a chain.

Bad service

Also, be wary of long notice periods. Some contracts not only commit you to an extended tie-in but require that you serve notice if you want to terminate.

So, you get to the end of a long tie-in, and think ‘hallelujah, I’m ditching these cowboys’ only to discover you’re still locked in.

Often, the longer the tie-in and notice period, the worse the service because the agent knows you can’t go elsewhere.

Top tips
  • Always do your research before choosing an agent.
  • Never sign a contract you haven’t read.
  • Remember, you can negotiate tie-in periods. They’re not set in stone, even if an agent tells you otherwise.
  • Go with a local agent with a reputation for excellent service and delivering on their promises. Google Reviews are a great place to start!

From all of us here at Chamberlains, thanks for reading.


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Seven Ways to Find AND Keep Great Tenants in South Devon


How to Win at Playing Finders Keepers When It Comes to Great Tenants

In this three-minute read, we look at how landlords in South Devon can find and keep terrific tenants.

‘Finders keepers, losers weepers.’ It’s a timeless rhyme used every day in school playgrounds in South Devon and all over the UK.

It often applies to someone finding something that’s unowned or abandoned. But it also resonates with local landlords when it comes to having the second most important piece of the rental puzzle – great tenants.

Finding these excellent tenants is one thing. Keeping them is another. And some landlords lose these precious people because of basic, unnecessary errors. It’s enough to make a good landlord weep.

But put the tissues away because here are seven ways you can win at Rental Finders Keepers.

  • Use a good letting agent. Earlier in this article, we mentioned that tenants were the second most crucial piece of completing a rental puzzle. The first? Well, in our opinion, it’s an excellent letting agent. That’s not because we are one, by the way. It’s because, over the years, we’ve seen countless landlords go down the DIY route to managing their properties and getting themselves in a stressful and expensive muddle. Look for agents with experience, testimonials, industry qualifications, and a clear plan on how they’ll market, manage, and maintain your tenancies.
  • Know your target tenants. An experienced letting agent will be able to advise you on who your property will most appeal to. Is it a growing family, young professionals, or a retired couple? Knowing this will help with the next ultra-important step.
  • Marketing matters. Perhaps the biggest error DIY landlords make is not taking the marketing of the property seriously enough. You are ‘selling’ an expensive product after all. This is why photography, property descriptions, and online advertising should be handled by professionals who do it day in, day out. The better your property’s marketing, the better calibre of tenants it will attract – giving you more choice when it comes to the next step.
  • Setting the rent. By knowing your target tenant, marketing correctly, and listening to expert advice, you’ll be able to set your rent at the right amount. A correctly priced rental (not too cheap or expensive) will attract more interest and ultimately, more offers from quality tenants.
  • Be prepared for questions. Good tenants tend not to just turn up at a property and say: ‘It’s great, where do I sign?’. It’s a big decision for them, and they’ll have questions such as ‘What council tax band is the home in?’, ‘What are the parking arrangements?’, ‘Are utilities included in the monthly rent?’. Remember, when it comes to the best tenants, this is a two-way selection process as they are savvy enough to research the rental market, so you’ll also need to make a good impression on them.
  • Check them out. A tenant worth having will have no issue going through a referencing process. Here’s another area where a good letting agency reduces your risk of problems further down the line. Please don’t be shy about asking your letting agent for proof of the referencing process they’ve carried out, which should involve financial, employment, and past landlord checks. Skip this part at your peril.
  • Keeping them. So, once you’ve found a great tenant, how do you go about keeping them? Well, this is an entire article in itself, but it would be along these lines: Be a good landlord by maintaining the property properly, dealing with issues quickly, charging rent fairly, and acting professionally.

At Chamberlains, our job is to help landlords find and keep great tenants. To ask us anything about the South Devon rental market, contact us today.


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Seven Ways to Keep Your Pets Calm in South Devon During Fireworks Season

Seven Ways to Keep Your Pets Calm in South Devon During Fireworks Season

How to Keep Pets Calm This Fireworks Weekend

We share seven tips from national pet charities to keep pets from suffering stress this fireworks season in this two-minute read.

At Chamberlains, we love pets.

And we get to meet plenty of our clients’ furry friends during our daily work across South Devon.

According to a 2018 survey by builders, McCarthy Stone, pets made people a lot happier about their everyday lives.

45% of the people they polled said their pet is the main reason they exercise, and a whopping 31% said having a pet gives them a purpose in life.

So, now that fireworks season is back with a bang and a whoosh and frequent flashes, we thought we’d share seven simple steps you can take to help your beloved pets avoid anxiety this weekend.

Below are four tips from the world-renowned Battersea Dogs Home, followed by three more ideas from the CATS Protection charity.

  • Stay indoors. Don’t walk your dog in the evening during fireworks weekend.
  • Draw the curtains. Unexpected flashes can cause dogs anxiety as much as random bangs, so close the curtains.
  • Give your dog space. Confining your dog in one room during the evening can cause extra anxiety for them. Instead, let them wander indoors as much as they want.
  • Distract them with treats. Long-lasting chews and bones are a great way to keep their minds off what’s happening outside.
  • Stay calm. Instead of overly comforting an anxious cat, keep cool – your cat is more likely to feel relaxed if you are.
  • Create a safe space for your cat. A cardboard box lined with blankets is ideal. However, cats feel safer higher up – so place the box on a sturdy shelf if possible.
  • Play music. Cats and loud noises don’t necessarily mix. Try keeping a radio or TV on. This distraction can lessen outside noise and help if your cat gets scared from the sudden sounds of fireworks. Nina Simone’s Feline Good is a cat classic (sorry, we couldn’t resist).

More helpful information about keeping pets safe and sound can be accessed via and

Although this article features advice for dogs and cats, the basic care principles are the same for many of our beloved pets.

We hope you enjoy the fireworks this weekend and that your pets don’t even notice them.

Thanks for reading.


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How to Make Money from Your Clutter in South Devon

How to Make Money from Your Clutter in South Devon

Top Tips for Selling Your Clutter Online in South Devon

In this two-minute read, we give you our top tips for selling your unwanted items online. 

Let’s face it, as a nation, we like a lot of stuff. Whether we’re panic buying loo rolls or ordering fashion bargains online, sometimes all the ‘stuff’ can take up valuable space in our homes

With Chrimbo within touching distance, there’s no better time to declutter and make space for all those gifts. Plus, by selling things on, you’re not only making money but you’re doing your bit for the environment and sending less to landfill. Win-win!

Plus, if you are thinking of selling your home then decluttering it is one of the best pieces of advice we’d share with you.

Picture perfect

Not only should you take numerous pics of your item from different angles, but you also need to make sure the lighting is good and the background is clear. Give your potential buyer the best view of your item to make sure it sells. No one wants to see your messy floor or leopard print bedsheets so go with a solid colour background.

Be realistic

“This time next year Rodders, we’ll be millionaires.” Remember that golden line from everyone’s favourite wheeler dealer? Well, no matter how much you love Del Boy, selling clutter online probably won’t make you a million quid, it should however give you some extra pennies.

Set your prices sensibly: too high and you won’t get any interest, too low and it’s more effort than it’s worth. Also, beware of postage costs. Some things are so big you’ll be paying more in postage than the actual selling price. Try and get the buyer to pay for delivery, but remember, this may also put some people off.

Tell the truth

Don’t be tempted to exaggerate the quality of what you’re selling. If something is scratched or chipped, be honest. There’s nothing more annoying than dealing with returns. If they know exactly what they’re getting, there’ll be less chance of complaints. Include a picture of the fault and offer a detailed description of any issues.


Newsflash: eBay isn’t the only auction/selling site around. Yes, it’s easy to use, but it also takes a big percentage of your selling price so investigate other options. There are dedicated sites for fashion (Vinted and Depop), designer items, books and so on. In some cases, you can sell unwanted items such as CDs and DVDs to online retailers in exchange for vouchers.

Face to face

Got a Facebook account? Check out Facebook Marketplace. It’s free to use and you sell items through your profile. While most sales are agreed online they often take place face to face. Be prepared to ask for cash and always meet the buyer in a public place (safety first).

If you’re looking to sell your home after a successful declutter, give us a call at Chamberlains on 01626 365055 and let us help.

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How to Winter-Proof Your South Devon Rental Property

Rental property

How Landlords in South Devon Can Protect Their Properties from Winter Woes

In this two-minute read, we look at how landlords in South Devon can make sure their rental investments stand up to the challenges of winter weather.

With winter officially only a few weeks away, the time is now ideal for landlords to take steps to ensure their properties are prepared for whatever December to February serves up.

By putting a winter property maintenance plan in place, you’re setting yourself and your tenants up for a trouble-free winter period.

Begin with boilers – The best time to service a boiler is in September, ahead of it being plunged into constant action in the months that follow. The second-best time to service a boiler is right NOW. By keeping on top of boiler and heating maintenance, you’ll save a lot of money and avoid hassle in the long run.

Remember your radiators – Bleeding your radiators is a simple, yet effective way of ensuring they are working as well as they should be.

Look at lagging – Frozen pipes that burst are the stuff of nightmares for any serious landlord. So, take the time to ensure pipes are wrapped in lagging to reduce the risks of freezing and potentially bursting.

Go to guttering – Don’t wait until the weather turns before you clean out your gutters. Blockages can build up over time and slowly cause unseen damage.

Insulate everywhere – Insulating a loft is an excellent way of keeping the warmth in and the heating bills lower. But don’t forget that even insulating against draughts can be a small way of making a big difference to how warm a property feels.

Fix that fence – The stronger seasonal winds love claiming a poorly maintained fence as one of its victims. So, act now to ensure any weak spots in your fencing are ready to stand up to whatever the winter winds throw at it.

Check it out – If your property is vacant for any sustained period over the winter months, diarise weekly or fortnightly visits to it to keep an eye on things. If you can’t do this, then it’s the kind of thing a good, local letting agent can do for you.

Your rental property is an asset, and having happy tenants is a key part of making the most of it, so take the time and spend the money on creating a safe, comfortable home for them this winter.

And don’t worry if you’re not a Handy Andy or a DIY Diana. At Chamberlains, we have good working relationships with maintenance people who can do all the work for you. Please do get in touch to discuss any aspect of property rentals.