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Two Top Tax Tips for Teignbridge Landlords


This two-minute read includes some handy tax advice for landlords.

Our tax system is often criticised for being complicated and unwieldy, but by following two simple rules you can take the stress and hassle out of filing a return.

Rule Number 1: Do your homework

Raise your hand if you find the subject of tax dull? You’re not alone, many people cite tax as a conversation killer (right up there with religion and politics).

And because they find it boring, they don’t bother to learn much about it or keep abreast of rule changes.

The problem is when you’re a landlord, ignorance isn’t bliss – it costs you money. If you don’t understand the system, you can’t minimise your tax bill.

So do your homework and make sure that:

  • You understand exactly what you can claim as tax deductible expenses. Many landlords grasp the big picture stuff but overlook the smaller items that, when added together, can significantly reduce their bill.
  • You’ve investigated whether it’s worth setting up as a limited company. This option won’t be advantageous for everyone (it tends to be more beneficial if you own a lot of properties).
  • You’ve looked into the possible benefits of putting your property portfolio into joint ownership. This is worthwhile if, for example, you’re a high-rate taxpayer and your co-owner is on a low income.

Rule Number 2: Get organised

Once you understand the tax rules, be disciplined with your record-keeping.

This means keeping receipts for repairs, maintenance work, safety checks, and insurance. The same goes for service providers such as cleaners, gardeners, and letting agents, and things like phone calls, stamps, and travel to and from the property.

We would advise that you tally up your expenses every month, instead of throwing all your paperwork in a drawer and having a panic later. If you’re disorganised, you’re much more likely to lose important documents or forget to claim something.

Don’t be an ostrich

Don’t be like one of the 1,790,368 people who missed their 2021 filing deadline and had to pay an HMRC fine.

As a landlord, you can’t dodge your tax responsibilities, so don’t bury your head in the sand. Educate yourself and be proactive.

We always advise our landlords to contact an accountant who has experience in dealing with property tax matters.

Contact us to find out how we help local landlords make the most of their rental investments.




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Top Tips for Selling an Empty Property

empty property

This three-minute read looks at the issues around selling an empty home.

Most estate agents will tell you that to secure a good property sale, it’s best to market a home fully furnished. But to quote the Rolling Stones, ‘You can’t always get what you want’.

Whether it be due to a death in the family or a sudden change in circumstances, sellers sometimes find themselves with an empty property to market.

When this happens, what’s the best strategy?

Let’s think about visuals 

Empty homes tend to ‘stick’ because we humans are visual creatures. We find it easier to imagine ourselves living in a property that looks ‘lived in’. Photographs of empty rooms don’t ‘tell a story’.

Buyers also struggle to judge the size of a room without everyday items, such as beds or sofas, to provide visual perspective.

Bearing this in mind, if you’re selling an empty property, here’s what you should do. 

Create a blank canvas

Invest time into presenting the property as a blank canvas onto which a buyer can quickly stamp their own personal touch.

  • Remove junk from inside and outside and give everything a good clean. (Empty doesn’t have to mean grotty.)
  • Patch up the walls and paint them in a neutral colour.
  • Clean the carpets or, if they’re beyond saving, pull them up and tidy up the floorboards.
  • Cut back any overgrown bushes in the garden.

To stage or not to stage

Once you’ve got the bare bones of your home shipshape, consider whether to ‘stage’ the property.

You could go big and rent furniture and furnishings from a professional staging company. While this will require a financial outlay, if your property is in a high-value area, it’s a move that could make you money in the long run.

If this isn’t a realistic option, you could still bring in some furniture – borrowed or nabbed from your own home – to help buyers understand the layout. Think beds in the bedrooms, a table and chairs in the kitchen, and a sofa in the living room. It’s a kind of ‘staging lite’ approach that can give a property an extra push.

A final word about security

Whatever you decide to do, prioritise security ­– thieves and squatters target empty homes. Check the locks and make regular visits to the property to remove any tell-tale signs that it’s empty. Install lamps that operate on a timer, so that the lights go on at night.

For more advice on marketing your Teignbridge property, contact us here at Chamberlains.


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Investing in Property? Choose What Route Suits You


In this two-minute read, we look at the differences between landlords and property investors.

What’s the difference between a landlord and a property investor? Aren’t they the same thing? Does one rent out properties and the other sell them on? If these questions have got you scratching your head, read on.

Long term vs short term

Keeping it simple, a landlord makes a regular income from renting properties to tenants. They are responsible for maintenance and managing the property. It’s also likely that they hold onto the property for the long term.

A property investor is trickier to define. It might be someone who buys buildings they can add value to before selling on, or someone that invests in other people’s property ventures, not getting involved in the actual build or refurb.

Hands-on vs hands-off

A private landlord has got a lot to do. Once they’ve bought, financed, and refurbished their rental property, they enter the wonderful world of lettings. And while many landlords use our agency to find tenants and manage their property (the easiest decision in our humble opinion), many choose a more hands-on approach. So, they manage the property, taking care of tenant enquiries, emergencies, or repairs.

Being a landlord can be a full-time job, depending on the number of properties and tenants they may have.

A property investor takes more of a back-seat role. For example, they may be part of a joint venture or involved in an equity partner agreement. This is where they put up the capital and other parties do the work.

Property investors with access to a large amount of money may take more indirect routes to their investments such as property funds or trusts, buying shares in large development companies or property ISAs. In each instance, they commit their cash, rather than their time.

Regular income vs one-off payments

A private landlord looks for a good rental yield as a stable and relatively low-risk property investment. They receive monthly rental payments that should cover mortgage costs and could (hopefully) supplement their income. Over time, if they sell their rental property, they may also benefit from price appreciation. Nowadays, many private landlords regard property as an alternative to a traditional pension.

Property investors buying buildings to ‘flip’ or develop look for a one-time payoff once they’ve sold the property.

If you’re interested in becoming a landlord or making a property investment, please do get in touch. 

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How to Keep Your Houseplants Happy


This three-minute read looks at the benefits of cultivating houseplants and how to get started.

Houseplants add colour and freshness to work and living spaces – and deliver a host of health benefits.

As this week is Houseplant Week UK, let’s look at the do’s and don’ts of cultivating indoor plants.

Reasons to green your scene

  • If you take good care of your houseplants, they’ll look great all year round. Even in the depths of winter – when the trees are depressingly bare outside – you’ll be surrounded by greenery indoors.
  • Houseplants improve air quality because they absorb carbon dioxide and toxins and produce oxygen.
  • As humans, we have an in-built connection with the natural world. Being surrounded by plants can boost our mood and lower anxiety.

Getting started

Before you rush out and buy a host of plants that you’ve seen on Instagram, do some research so that you select species that will thrive in your home or office.

Some plants need more sun than others, so assess the light quality in your chosen space (light intensity meter apps are available to help you do this).

Other issues to consider include heating (avoid placing plants near radiators) and ventilation (plants like well-ventilated spaces).


If you have a cat or dog, choose non-toxic species. Charities such as Blue Cross, Cats Protection, and The Dogs Trust all have helpful lists of poisonous plants on their websites.

Easy to grow

If you’re not green-fingered, go for what some in the gardening world call ‘unkillables’. Look for snake plants, spider plants, monsteras, sansevieria, aspidistra, or Devil’s Ivy (pothos).

If you discover a passion for indoor gardening, you can graduate to more high-maintenance plants like orchids, weeping figs, and Venus flytraps.


Your plant should come with clear watering instructions. Bear in mind that over-watering is a common problem. Signs you’ve overdone it with the H2O include slow growth, soft, yellowing leaves and mouldy soil.

If you’re unsure if your plant needs a drink, dip your finger in the first few centimetres of the soil. If it feels dry, then go ahead and water.


Use plant pots that have a hole in the base so that excess water can drain away. Set the pot on a saucer to catch this water.


Dust can gather on leaves and block the light that plants need to thrive. Give dusty leaves a gentle dab with a wet cloth.

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


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Reasons to Be Cheerful for Home Sellers in South Devon

home sellers

In this two-minute read, we share how homeowners thinking of selling can avoid feeling down in the dumps on the year’s most depressing day.

Next Monday is, according to social scientists, the most depressing day on the calendar.

It even has a name. Such is the doom and gloom attached to it – Blue Monday.

It’s the perfect storm of wintry weather, festive spending credit card debts coming in, New Year’s resolutions falling by the wayside, and Christmas being a memory that’s fading fast.

We all feel down from time to time, and it’s important to share with people we trust how we’re feeling.

All our relationships here at Chamberlains are built on trust, and we like to think that’s why we know what gets home sellers feeling blue.

The good news is we have the answers to the five main things that get people involved in property transactions feeling down.

1 – Home won’t sell – A home that’s been on the market for a long time is a headache for the seller. It’s usually because the price is unrealistic or it is being poorly marketed.

2 – Apathetic agents – Choosing an estate agent to sell your home is a big call. And when you get it wrong, it can be the source of a lot of stress and anxiety. Look for local agents who know the local property market, are experienced, and have good Google reviews and testimonials.

3 – Slow solicitors – There’s no getting away from it, an inefficient conveyancing solicitor can hold up your sale and cause no end of frustration. Always go with recommendations from people you trust who have successfully used the solicitor themselves.

4 – Vanishing buyers – There’s very little in the property selling business as annoying as buyers who make an offer you accept only to vanish for whatever reason. The best way around this is to work with an agency that properly qualifies every offer to see if the person making it is in a position to actually proceed.

5 – Overvaluations – This goes back to point two and highlights the importance of choosing the right agency. A common tactic used by unscrupulous agents is to deliberately overvalue a property to get the chance to sell it. More often than not, a price reduction follows as the property won’t sell and attracts little interest. Ask for clear, comparable evidence to back up an agency’s valuation of your property.

If you have anything property-related weighing on your mind this Blue Monday or any day come to that, give us a call. We’re here to make selling a home a happier experience.


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How Landlords in South Devon Can Avoid the Monday Blues


We share how landlords can avoid feeling down on the year’s most depressing day in this two-minute read.

If you’re feeling a little flat, low, or down in the dumps next Monday, you won’t be alone.

The 17th of January is Blue Monday – according to some psychologists (and clever marketers), it’s the most depressing day on the calendar.

It’s a perfect storm of wintery weather taking its toll, the Christmas break becoming a distant memory, resolutions falling by the wayside, and credit card bills coming in.

All of this adds up to a formula for feeling, well, a little rubbish.

And our experience serving landlords in South Devon has taught us the four main things that get them feeling down.

The good news is we have the antidote to these that will bring the smiles back.

Here goes:

  • Void periods – When your property is empty, it costs you money and can make you miserable. Good marketing, looking after existing tenants, and setting reasonable rents for well-maintained homes reduces the risks of voids.
  • Troublesome tenants – This can cause landlords a lot of stress. But you can drastically lower the chances of a tenancy turning bad by doing things right from the start. Rigorous referencing and checks that weed out the good from the bad tenants are essential for a positive experience.
  • Rules, laws, and regulations – The rental property industry in the UK has more than 300 different and constantly changing rules that affect landlords. Falling foul of these rules is costly and stressful and causes nagging anxiety for some landlords trying to ‘blag it’. Use an experienced letting agent to manage your property and keep you on the right side of the law.
  • Property damage – All landlords should expect fair wear and tear to happen during a tenancy. But many get down in the dumps when their property ends up looking like the local tip. But it doesn’t have to be this way. The right tenants who are well treated reduce this reason to be anxious. As does having a good letting agent who carries out a thorough incoming and outgoing inventory as well as regular property inspections on your behalf.

For a happier, more successful rental property experience, call us today.


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Four New Year’s Resolutions Landlords Will Love


In this two-minute read, we look at four New Year’s resolutions landlords in South Devon can make to earn more money, have less hassle, and maximise their rental investments.

It’s 2022. A new year, new hopes, and a new focus on getting rid of old ways of doing things that are holding us back.

And landlords are not immune to wanting a fresh start. January always sees us have plenty of enquiries from landlords keen to improve the way they do things.

Below are four resolutions we can help landlords make, but more importantly, keep.

To make more money

This one is a balancing act. You want to be profitable without being mercenary. A popular way to improve your bottom line is to review your buy-to-let mortgage rates (when was the last time you did this?). You can also look at all your other costs, including insurance and maintenance plans and see if any savings can be made.

To have less stress

Being a landlord is a fantastic way to build a passive income and lay solid financial foundations for your future. But it can be stressful if certain things aren’t in place. You have plenty of responsibilities, and these can all add up over time. Working with an experienced letting agent can help you overcome any challenges and make your life easier.

To get better tenants

This goes hand in hand with our thoughts on having less stress. A bad tenancy is a nightmare. The good news is when you work with an experienced letting agency, the risks of these are massively reduced. Rigorous referencing and cross-checking of prospective tenants are perhaps the most crucial tasks that need to be done, professionally, if you’re to get a better standard of tenant.

To stay safe and legal

We’ve mentioned that mountain of rules and responsibilities all landlords face. Falling foul of these are costly, stressful, and in worst-case scenarios, can put you behind bars. Unfortunately, ignorance isn’t a defence when it comes to rental property law. By working with a letting agency that knows their stuff regarding the legal side of things, you are protecting yourself, your tenants, and your investment.

If improving the way your rental properties perform in 2022 is a resolution you’re making, get in contact with us today, and we’ll help you stick to it.




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Simple Ways to Save Money on Your Energy Bills

energy bills

This two-minute read looks at how to trim down your energy bills.

Householders were hit with budget-busting energy price hikes in 2021 – a trend that looks set to continue well into the new year.

Here are some ways to claw back some cash on your heating bills and help the environment at the same time.

Small steps

Individually these measures offer modest gains but put them together, and you’ll notice the benefits.

  • Use energy-efficient light bulbs.
  • Switch off appliances at the socket when you’re not using them.
  • Turn your boiler down by a few degrees.
  • Wash your clothes on a cold-water cycle or use a quick wash or eco mode. 
  • Use draught excluders (like the ones your granny used to have) to stop warm air from escaping under doors.
  • Clean your tumble dryer filter to ensure it’s working efficiently.

Big-ticket measures

To see real bang for your buck, invest in making your home more energy efficient. You’ll incur some costs upfront but reap long-term returns.

Smart thermostats

These clever gadgets give you more precision over how and when you heat your home.

While traditional boiler controls are blunt instruments (allowing you to turn all the radiators on or off), smart thermostats allow you to heat specific rooms (handy if you work from home and only need one room to be toasty).

Most are operated via an app, so you can adjust your heating when you’re out, which is great if you forget to turn it off before you leave home.


If your home isn’t insulated, what are you waiting for? Loft insulation is one of the most cost-effective ways to cut your fuel bills.

If your insulation is several decades old, consider upgrading it. Older-style loft insulation is often far thinner, and therefore less effective than modern-day insulation.

Install double-glazing

Ill-fitting single-pane windows let the heat escape – and cost you money. Double-glazing will cut your heating bills and add value to your home.

Upgrade your appliances

Consumer champions Which? say installing an energy-efficient dishwasher could save you £32 a year, while a new model fridge could save you £76 annually.

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Advice for Selling Up Due to a Divorce


This three-minute read looks at the property-related issues that arise after a relationship breaks down.

A survey of 2,000 Brits found that there’s only one thing more stressful than getting divorced – and that’s moving home.*

Spare a thought then for people who sell their home when their long-term relationship ends. They find themselves dealing with two of life’s most challenging moments at the same time.

Here are some property-related tips to help people navigate such a scenario.

Get good advice

Seek good, independent legal advice. Many factors can influence how assets are divided, such as the length of the relationship, each party’s income and responsibilities, and if children are involved.

Consider your options carefully 

Could you buy your ex’s share of the property (or vice versa)? Or would it be best to sell up altogether? If you and your former partner can’t agree, a court will decide for you (and you’ll have to abide by the decision).

Notify your lender

Discuss the situation with your lender; they’ll have seen this type of thing before and will be able to advise you. Remember, if you and your ex-partner have a joint mortgage, you’re both liable for any missed payments – even if one of you has moved into alternative accommodation.

Don’t short-change yourself

Beware of home-buying companies that swoop in and purchase properties at lightning speed from people in tricky situations. In return for a quick sale, these operators will hammer you on price. (You’ll kick yourself later for accepting a measly sum.) The more you make from the sale of your home, the more you’ll have to put towards starting the next chapter in your life.

Get an independent valuation

Whether you’re doing a deal with your ex or selling on the open market, always get an independent valuation from an experienced estate agent. Never rely on a figure given to you by a quick-buy company or your former partner.

Be realistic about future costs

If you plan to buy a new home post-divorce, you’ll need to budget for a removal firm, stamp duty, and legal fees (all good reasons to maximise the price you get for your home).


If possible (and we accept that in some circumstances, it’s just not), try to keep the lines of communication with your former partner open. If you can work together to present your home at its best, you can achieve the maximum price. 

Work with an experienced agent 

Choose an agent with a good track record. They’ll streamline the process as much as possible and minimise stress and disruption.

For confidential advice about selling your home, get in touch with us here at ChamberlainsWe’ve got a free guide to help, for download. 


*Survey conducted by Yopa in 2019.