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Deposit Deductions: What South Devon Landlords Should Know


The end of a tenancy agreement can be stressful for landlords. You need to make sure the property isn’t vacant for long and there may be a need for repairs and maintenance. Then there’s the deposit release process and decisions about whether you need to make any deductions.

Landlords have a bad rap when it comes to deposits. Many tenants think they have made unfair deductions or that their landlord is wrong to keep anything back.

Thankfully, services such as the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) and Deposit Protection Service (DPS) have reduced the controversy around returning deposits. There’s a formal dispute resolution process that both landlords and tenants can apply to if there are disagreements. However, as a landlord, it’s still worth knowing what you can and can’t make deductions for.

In this three-minute read, we look at the dos and don’ts of deposit deductions.

Reasonable deposit deductions

Your property should be returned to you in the condition that it was found in (excluding fair wear and tear), and your expectations should have been set out in your original tenancy agreement. For example, if the property was handed over after being professionally cleaned, it is reasonable that it’s cleaned to the same standard on the way out.

Reasonable deductions can also be made for the following:

  • Unpaid rent or bills
  • Damage caused by tenants
  • Missing items (in the case of furnished properties)
  • Gardening

Fair wear and tear

An area that causes trouble when it comes to returning deposits is the concept of ‘fair wear and tear’. This is anything that could be caused by everyday living. For example, scuff marks on the walls can occur quite easily and would fall into the category of ‘fair wear and tear’. However, a dent in the wall or broken window could be seen as beyond the usual level of wear and tear and therefore be deductible.

It’s also important to be fair. So, if one kitchen cupboard has been broken, it wouldn’t be fair to try and reduce the deposit by the cost of replacing an entire kitchen. Additionally, the level of wear and tear differs depending on the number of tenants in a property and the length of time they’ve been there. You might experience more damage after a family with young children move out rather than a couple.

How to avoid deposit disputes

The best way to avoid deposit disputes is to pay for a thorough inventory before a tenant moves in and after they leave. Using a third party to assess a property and take photographs offers a fair and balanced approach to any potential deposit disputes that may arise. An inventory will be vital evidence should a deposit matter be taken to arbitration.

What to do if you’re unsure

Your letting agent can be a great source of help if you’re unsure whether to make a deposit deduction. They have the experience of viewing and assessing hundreds of rental properties and will be able to ascertain whether an issue is classed as damage or fair wear and tear.

Our lettings team are here to help if you’re looking for new tenants. Call us today on 01626 365055 to start the tenant-finding process.

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How to Turbo Charge Your Productivity


If you’re feeling sluggish after a few weeks back at work post-Christmas, here are some tips to boost your productivity and give you more of that most precious commodity – time. 

Did you finish up in 2022 feeling knackered and overwhelmed by your never-ending to-do list? If so, you’re not alone.

According to a study in the journal Nature, most people say they feel persistently “time-poor – like they have too many things to do and not enough time to do them”.

And this problem isn’t just frustrating – it can be exhausting and lead to poorer mental and physical health.

The good news is that you can improve your productivity by making a few small changes. This will allow you to get more done and free you up to spend more time with family, pursue a hobby or chill out on the sofa.

We’ve compiled a few tips to help you make the most of your time.

Don’t multitask

Scientists argue that jumping between tasks is more tiring and mistake-inducing than doing one thing at a time. Always focus on the most important tasks on your to-do list, and don’t get distracted by secondary jobs that can wait another day.

Allocate your time carefully 

Prepare a timetable detailing how much time you’ll spend on each must-do task – and stick to it! Don’t keep checking emails and WhatsApp messages as you go; you’ll get blown off course. Instead, allocate time in the mornings and afternoons to respond to messages.

Eliminate distractions

Distractions are sometimes called Time Thieves because they steal valuable minutes and hours from your day. Social media is an obvious culprit, but also be wary of lengthy meetings (when a simple email would cover it) and saying ‘yes’ to too many other people to the detriment of your own needs.

Break big projects down 

If a project feels overwhelmingly large, break it down into several manageable smaller tasks and work your way through them. 

Take breaks 

If you’re struggling to focus, take a break – sitting at a keyboard or staring out a window won’t get the job done. Go for a walk or hit the gym to get your endorphins going and fire up your creativity.

Be kind to yourself 

Reward yourself when you complete a task, as this will send a message to your brain that hard work reaps results. It doesn’t have to be a big gesture – a cup of tea, a tasty treat or a screen break will suffice.



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How to Choose the Right Buyer for Your Home


Accept an offer from a fast-talker or a faffer, and your hopes for a speedy property deal could be scuppered. Here’s how to choose the right buyer.

When it comes to property transactions, we often focus on the long list of questions buyers want answers to.

What’s the local area like? Where are the nearest good schools? And what about the boiler, electrics, water pressure, broadband and energy ratings?

A good agent will be able to deftly answer all these queries without pausing for breath. But a great agent will also have a long list of questions for potential buyers.

This is because a successful sale is about more than accepting a good offer for your property – it’s about getting a deal over the line. And to do that, sellers need to make an informed decision about the best buyer to make this happen.

Given that about 30% of sales fall through (our level is far less, thankfully!), and completion rates average between four and six months, you want to steer clear of ditherers and time-wasters.

While no deal comes with an ironclad guarantee, ask the following questions before accepting an offer:

– How is the buyer funding the purchase?

– If they’re selling their current property, is it on the market?

– If it’s not on the market, when will they list it?

– If their current home is on the market, when was it listed? (If the property hasn’t budged for a long time, there could be a problem with it.)

– If your buyer has accepted an offer for their own property, does this sale involve a property chain?

– Does the buyer have a mortgage deal arranged? When will the offer expire?

– Are there time constraints associated with moving, such as a school place application deadline or job offer?

– Do they have a solicitor in place?

– If someone says they’re a ‘cash buyer’, do they understand what this means? (Some buyers mistakenly assume it means selling a home and using the cash to buy another property. A true cash buyer already has the money in the bank, meaning they’re not in a chain.)

Once you have this information, and assuming you have more than one offer, you can weigh up your options.

You’re looking for an offer that is financially sound but also has a good chance of completing in a timeframe that aligns with your situation.

It may be that the highest offer also has the highest chance of falling through, while an offer that’s a few thousand pounds less is not as risky.

We’re experts at assessing potential buyers. Contact us today on 01626 365055 to see how we can help you choose the perfect buyer for your property sale.



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What to Do If Your Tenants Fall Out


Joint tenancies can be a great way for friends and couples to share costs and a steady source of income for landlords – but they’re not without their challenges.Friends can fall out, couples can split up, and rows about who used all the loo roll or spilt red wine on the carpet can escalate into toxic disputes.

Sadly, the current cost of living crisis, which is causing much anxiety among renters, may further complicate things.  According to a recent survey*, three in five people living in shared accommodation say rising energy bills are a source of tension among flatmates and more than half of those surveyed also expressed concern about flatmates leaving the heating on, not switching lights off and taking long baths.

So that landlords don’t find themselves caught in the middle of tenant disagreements or drawn into end-of-tenancy disputes, it’s essential to manage joint tenancies carefully. Here are some top tips.

  • Make sure all tenants attend the viewing. Never accept a tenant you’ve not met based on someone else’s word.
  • Ensure tenants understand they are liable for all rent and damages (this will be covered in the contract). Some people mistakenly assume that if, for example, they’re one of two people named in the agreement, they’re only liable for half the costs – not true! If one tenant falls into arrears or causes damage, the landlord can ask any or all the other tenants to pay up.
  • The same applies to end-of-tenancy deductions; these are taken from the overall deposit.
  • Always encourage tenants to resolve their own disagreements. You’re not Oprah Winfrey or Judge Judy, so resist any attempts from tenants to get you to play counsellor or act as ‘referee’.
  • Always communicate with all tenants. Never assume that one tenant will pass information on to other tenants. It’s not their job to do this ­– it’s yours.
  • If there’s a dispute over damages or an issue with arrears, contact all tenants to explain the situation and remind them they’re all liable. Sometimes the other tenants in the property can play a helpful role in resolving the situation.
  • Always remain empathetic and professional.

For more advice about managing tenants or our property management services, contact us today on 01626 365055.

*Comparethemarket, November 2022



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Got the January Blues? Boost Your Mood for Free

blue monday

We’re three weeks into January. Have you stuck to those New Year’s resolutions? Are your jeans still feeling a bit snug after overindulging on Christmas treats? Feeling a bit bleurgh about everything? Monday is… Blue Monday, officially the gloomiest day of the year.

There are numerous reasons why the third Monday of January has been dubbed the saddest day of the year: it’s cold, it’s dark, payday is still a fair way off, and all that Christmas merriment is a distant memory.


But instead of weeping into your lukewarm tea, it’s time to take action and make yourself feel better.


In this quick read, we look at ways to boost your mood and bat away those January blues (and yes, some do involve exercise).

Write a letter

Remember when you used to receive actual letters? Not just bills or junk mail, but actual handwritten, thought-out letters? There’s something so special about it.

So, grab a pen, sit somewhere comfy and write a good old-fashioned letter. It could be to a friend or relative, it could even be to yourself. But losing yourself in a letter is a great way to stave off those January blues for a short while at least.

Pick up the phone

(WARNING: you’re going to have to make a call, not just text or WhatsApp someone.) Speaking to a friend or family member when you’re feeling a bit down is a great tonic. Catch up on their news, celebrate their wins, share any titbits about yourself – you’ll make their day and yours, too.

Go outside

If the last time you went for a walk just for the sake of going for a walk was back in the pandemic, then it’s time to tie up your laces, put on your puffer jacket and get outdoors. Whether you go for a scenic walk, a gentle jog or just a stroll down to the high street – getting outdoors can make a huge difference to your mood.

Work out for free

You don’t need to join a gym to get your blood pumping. You don’t even need to stream a workout video on YouTube (although it’s got millions to choose from). Just put on some music and have a dance party for one. You might feel like an idiot but having a little dance around the dining room can do wonders for your blue mood.

Go to Finland

If all the other suggestions don’t work, then pack up your bags and plan a trip to Finland, ranked 2022’s happiest country in the world. In fact, it’s been voted the happiest country for five years, so they obviously know something we don’t.

We’re always here for you, so if you’re feeling a bit blue on Monday, feel free to pop in and say hi!

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How to Find a Good Contractor for Your Rental


If you’re a seasoned landlord, chances are you’ve experienced at least one out-of-hours call from a panicked tenant about a leaky toilet or boiler breakdown. Why is it these things never seem to happen at a reasonable hour?

Repairs and maintenance of your rental portfolio can be costly and stressful, so having trustworthy contractors is invaluable. You need someone who you know will get the job done and (hopefully) won’t charge you exorbitant fees to do so.

For newer landlords, finding a good contractor should be at the top of your to-do list.

In this quick read, we look at some questions to ask yourself (and your contractor) to ensure they’re right for the job.

Are they local?

You may or may not live near your rental property, but it’s important that your contractor does (or can get there quickly), especially in the event of an emergency. Whether it’s a one-person business or multiple workers, you need to know how far they are from the property to make sure they get there in good time (hopefully preventing you from receiving multiple irate calls from your tenants).

Are they accredited?

What does the contractor do? Is it a bit of everything? Or is it a specialist trade such as a plumber or electrician? Either way, if they’re doing works on your rental property, you’ll need to check their accreditations. For example, are they on the Gas Safe Register, Electrical Safety Register, Considerate Constructors and so on. It’s easy to check online to find out if someone is accredited and able to do the work you need them to.

Do they come recommended?

Word-of-mouth recommendations are really helpful, and you can also find out how good their work is from websites such as Which? Trusted Traders or Checkatrade (these are also a good way to find contractors). Look to see if they’ve got a website or social media page, too. Past customers (especially unhappy ones) will be likely to leave reviews.

Do they have an on-call service?

Once you’ve established a relationship with a tradesperson, find out if they’d be happy to work outside of normal office hours. And if they do, what’s the charge? Make sure you know what to expect, as in urgent situations you could be paying a far higher rate than normal.

What did your tenants think of them?

If you’re using someone for the first time, ask your tenants what they thought. After all, they’re the ones who are getting a first-hand experience of the service. If they had a negative encounter, is it worth using them again?

At Chamberlains, we offer a full property management service and have a team of reliable contractors. Contact us on 01626 365055 to find out more.

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Make Your January Dog Walks More Fun

national walk your dog month

Whether you’ve got a pooch who wears fancy jumpers, a big blonde Labrador or a tiny handbag-sized companion, this month is all about them. If you didn’t know before, now you do: January is National Walk Your Dog Month.

All you doggy people are probably a bit baffled, as being responsible pet owners you walk your four-legged companions daily – but what with the cold, dark days ahead, it could be tempting to delay your dog walk or cut it short.

Walk Your Dog Month started in the USA, with the aim of preventing behavioural problems and obesity. Now, it has reached our rainy shores, and it’s all about getting you and your dog out and about.

In this quick read, we look at the importance of dog walks and how to make them more fun.

Does your dog need more exercise?

Just like us, dogs need regular exercise, the time and length of which depends on their size, breed and age. So, if you’re a pet owner who only takes your dog for a quick bathroom break or a brisk walk around the block, you could be adding to their weight-gain problems. Add an extra 10 to 20 minutes to your regular dog walk to ensure they’re getting an extra workout.

Also, if you notice that your dog is chewing on more shoes than normal (or getting into the bins, gnashing on a chair leg etc.) their behaviour could be a sign of needing more physical activity. Sadly, some dogs may become more withdrawn if they don’t get the right amount of physical stimulation, and no one wants a depressed dog.

Make walks more fun

When it comes to dog walks, it’s easy to stick to the same route each day, but that’s not much fun for anyone. Explore somewhere new, whether it’s a park, a street of fancy houses or a big open field, the change in routine will liven up that cold daily walk.

Other ways to brighten up your walk include taking a friend, buying your dog a new fetch toy or doggy jumper to wrestle them into.

Tip: As it’s a special awareness month, why not make your walks worthwhile? Start a fundraiser for your favourite pet charity, so every walk you do in January raises money for something worthwhile.

Challenge yourself

Walking is the easiest form of exercise for you and your dog. Track your footsteps with a watch or your phone, gradually increase the time you spend walking and you’ll hit 10,000 steps easily.

At Chamberlains, we love a good walk. How do you make your dog walks fun? Comment below.

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How Do Agents Value Your Teignbridge Property?


If you’re planning to sell your property, the first question that you’ll inevitably ask is how much it’s worth. Your home may be invaluable to you and your loved ones, but it’s also got a market value.

But how is a property valued? Is there a magic formula? How does an agent decide its worth? And why might your property be valued less than the house two doors down?

In this quick read, we look at different factors that affect the value of your property.

The important thing to remember is that estate agents live and breathe house prices. You might think they’ve plucked a number out of thin air (especially if you don’t agree with their figure) but there’s a lot they consider before pricing your home.

Facts and figures

Before valuing a property, it’s important to consider what other sales have achieved in the surrounding area (that’s sold prices, not listing prices). Agents will look at similar properties to yours and what they have sold for. To avoid overvaluing your home, they will also take into account similar properties that haven’t sold at all or have sold for considerably less than they were priced at.

Another factor in valuing a home is the price per square foot. This amount varies from area to area. Unsurprisingly, city locations such as Central London boast the highest price per square foot, while many rural areas can come in at considerably less.

The property

When valuing a property, an agent will look at its general condition. Does it need lots of repairs? Has it been renovated recently? Is there potential to extend? In addition, things like the heating system and boiler, electrics and plumbing will play a part in determining the overall value.

The way the property is presented will also influence the selling price because a cluttered, messy home is harder to market (regardless of the décor) making it more difficult to attract potential buyers. (That’s why an agent will always advise sellers to have a clear-out before pictures are taken.)

Since the pandemic, the outside area of a property has had a huge impact on its value. Gardens now play a much bigger role in the sale of a home and factors such as size, whether it’s overlooked, if it’s steep and/or potential for improvement could affect the overall value of a property.

Other factors that an agent will consider when valuing a property include:

  • Number of bedrooms
  • Size and layout of the property
  • Potential to extend
  • On or off-street parking
  • Location and proximity to schools and amenities
  • Type of road (e.g. a cul-de-sac location or busy high street).

The seller

A good agent will know and understand a seller’s position before valuing a property. There’s a difference between sellers who need to sell ASAP and those that can wait a while for the right offer to come along. So, if a seller needs a quick sale, it might be worth valuing the property at a slightly lower price to attract more viewings.

If you’re looking to sell your property, contact Chamberlains – we’ll value your property accurately and get you on the move.







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What to Tell Your Tenants on Moving-In Day


What Your Tenants Need to Know on Moving-In Day

Want to get your new tenancy off to a good start and safeguard against future disputes? Then here are some important things you should tell your tenants on moving-in day.

Let’s face it, finding good tenants and getting all the relevant paperwork ready for a new tenancy is hard work.

As well as arranging viewings and reference checks, landlords have to finalise the contract, compile an inventory and take meter readings.

By the time all this is done, most landlords are itching to get the moving-in formalities over with quickly and leave their tenants to unpack.

But while it may be tempting to hand over the keys and leg it faster than Usain Bolt, it’s best to take a different approach.

We suggest you take the opportunity to talk through a few practical issues with your new tenants. This informal, in-person chat will build trust and reduce the chances of conflict later on. It will also mean that tenants don’t have to chase you up with niggling, minor queries.

Here are five things you should discuss with your tenants on the day they move in.

Rules on rubbish 

Avoid the ugly sight and smell of overflowing bins outside your rental property by explaining the rules on rubbish disposal. Outline when the bins are collected and what items should be recycled or put into food waste.

Light bulb reminder

If the lighting in your property relies on dimmer switches, remind your tenant that only dimmable light bulbs should be used (this should be specified on the packaging). Using standard bulbs with dimmer lights is a potential fire hazard.

Fuse box explainer

It’s useful for tenants to know where the fuse box is so that if a fuse trips, they can reset it (if it’s safe to do so).

Show tenants where the stopcock is

If a pipe bursts or a tap breaks, you’ll want your tenants to act quickly. Show them where the stopcock is located so that if there is an emergency, they can turn off the internal water supply to prevent flooding.

Appliance information

Run through how to operate the boiler and any other appliances where it might not be straightforward. Leave copies of appliance manuals with tenants so they can refer to them if needed.

For more information about our property management services, contact us here at Chamberlains.