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Is your garden summer-ready?


Whether you’ve got a huge garden or a modest balcony, making the most of your outside space matters. Especially as the weather warms up and you can spend more time enjoying the fresh air. So, what are the big garden trends of 2023?

In this quick read, we look at this year’s top garden trends and how you can make your space a design dream.

  • Choose resilient plants

With temperatures becoming hotter each year and rainfall less predictable, garden geeks recommend investing in drought-resistant plants that will cope with the strong sunshine and drier days. It means less waste and a gorgeous garden all year round.

While it’s difficult to predict how plants will get on from season to season, consider species like long-flowering salvias, which are widely available and insect-friendly. Crab apple trees are also a good choice if you’ve got a bigger space.

  • Get mulching

For those of us less experienced in gardening jargon, mulch is basically a loose covering that goes on top of soil (most commonly, bits of bark or pebbles). Mulching can help reduce the growth of weeds, keep moisture in and protect your plants.

This year, it’s all about organic mulch, a great sustainable option. It includes straw, hay, grass clippings and leaves. Whatever you choose, mulching is key to retaining plant life and is very 2023.

  • Create a garden for mental wellbeing

Time outside can be a great way to lift your mood and reduce stress, and this year, one garden trend is all about creating a space to enhance emotional and mental wellness. Plant seeds, move garden furniture around and create somewhere that you want to spend time in.

No matter how good (or bad) you are at gardening, just getting outdoors and changing how your space looks will give you a sense of achievement.

  • Garden furniture

You might not want to spend a fortune, but if you’ve got tatty plastic chairs and a three-legged table, consider investing in some new garden furniture. This year’s top trends include natural materials like wood and rattan that will soften the look of your outside space. Colours like brown, terracotta and even soft pastels are also on trend.

How will you make your garden fashionable this year? Will you follow gardening trends, or do you just like to get your hands dirty? 

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A Pet Lover’s Guide to Selling a Home

A Pet Lover’s Guide to Selling a Home

Don’t let your beloved family pet stop you from achieving top selling price for your property. Follow these tips to ensure buyers don’t get sniffy about making an offer on your home.

Given that 62% of British households have a pet*, you might assume buyers wouldn’t bat an eyelid at the prospect of viewing a property where a furry or feathered friend resides.

But many property hunters are put off when they visit a home where there are obvious signs and smells of pets.

The reasons for this aversion to animals can vary; a buyer may have an allergy, have had a bad experience in the past, or love their own animals, just not other people’s.

Whatever the rationale, as first impressions are so important when selling a property, it’s best to get rid of, or at least minimise, the signs of pet life in your home. Here’s how:

Prepare your property for sale

  • Give your home a deep clean to remove dirt, paw prints and animal hair; this will hopefully reduce pet odours, too. While your home is on the market, be super vigilant regarding cleanliness.
  • Repair any damage caused by your pets, such as chewed or scratched woodwork, mucky skirting boards or holes dug in the back garden.
  • Ensure all pet toys, bedding, litter trays, crates and food bowls are out of sight when the marketing photographs are taken.
  • If there are pet items that you can’t hide from view, at least ensure they’re neatly organised.
  • Devise a plan for managing viewings because, ideally, you don’t want your pets at home when buyers turn up. Arrange for your pets to stay with a friend or pet sitter or lodge at a kennel or cattery while open days and viewings occur.

On the day of a viewing

  • Transport your pet to wherever they’ll be staying for the day.
  • Minimise signs of pet life from display.
  • Light a few scented candles to mask any pet odours.
  • Check the back garden to make sure there are no droppings.

For more advice about presenting your home for sale, contact us here at Chamberlains

*Statista, 2022.





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Why are landlords increasing rent?


You can’t open a newspaper (or app) without seeing something about the UK rental market. Whether it’s the increase in demand for property, changes to rent rules or landlords selling up – rentals are getting a lot of attention.

And one matter that is causing a lot of controversy is the issue of rising rent. In a cost-of-living crisis, the increase in monthly rent is understandably worrisome for tenants, but are landlords really to blame?

Owning investment property is a business, and for many full-time landlords, it’s their sole source of income. The same applies to one-off or accidental landlords, and with the economy in flux, price changes are inevitable.

In this two-minute read, we explore three reasons rents are going up and why landlords aren’t just profiting off a volatile rental market.

  • Mortgage rates

As interest rates go up, the mortgage market goes the same way. And just as residential mortgages get more expensive, so do buy-to-let mortgages. Landlords are facing the same issues as residential owners – their monthly payments have increased.

While many people think that owning a rental is an easy way to rake in cash, it’s a business model that only creates profit if the rental income covers the mortgage payment and there’s money left over. If mortgage payments are going up, then rising rents may reflect a landlord’s increase in costs.

  • Changes to tax rules

Without getting into the nitty gritty of UK tax law, over the last few years, there have been lots of changes introduced which impact landlords. This includes the amount they can claim in expenses and how much tax they pay. These changes have not only caused many landlords to sell their rental properties but may have also forced rent increases to meet financial obligations.

  • Increased costs of repairs and maintenance

Landlords often pay for the upkeep of their properties through their rental income, and the following issues could be affecting the rent they charge:

  • A general increase in the cost of labour and materials, fixtures and furnishings.
  • With purpose-built flats, owners often have to pay service charges or ground rents to the freeholder, many of which have increased due to the rising energy costs. Communal heating, lighting and refuse collection will currently be more expensive.
  • In the next few years, all rental properties must meet an increased level of energy efficiency, so many landlords will have to undertake major works, which again, could impact rent.

If you’re a landlord looking to rent out a property or a tenant looking for a new home, contact Chamberlains. Our lettings team is ready to help.

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How South Devon Landlords Can Manage and Minimise Void Periods


Success as a landlord doesn’t just centre around what you do when your property is tenanted. How you manage your rental when it’s empty is also crucial.

All landlords have to contend with void periods – they’re an inevitable part of having a buy-to-let.

So, it’s wise to budget for the costs associated with void periods and take precautions to stop them dragging on.

That’s because when your property is empty, not only will you be missing out on rent, you’ll also have to cover the mortgage and utility bills (you’ll need to heat your property to some degree to prevent the pipes from freezing and condensation). And then there’s the thorny issue of council tax.

A few years ago, many local authorities gave landlords a one-month grace period on paying council tax on empty properties. But many cash-strapped councils have since scrapped this policy, while others only offer a partial discount.

Given that void periods can be costly, it’s imperative that landlords carefully manage them and keep them to a minimum. Here are tips on how to do both.

Managing void periods

– Set some cash aside to cover costs when your property is empty.

– Check the rules on council tax and vacant properties in your local area so you can budget.

– When your tenant serves notice, use this time wisely to carry out any improvement works.

– Include rent protection in your landlord insurance.

– Check your insurance cover; some policies become invalid if the property is empty for more than 30 days. If your property looks set to be vacant for a significant period, you may need to take out unoccupied property insurance.

How to prevent unnecessarily lengthy void periods

– Be aware that it might take longer to find good tenants if your property is vacant around the Christmas period, as it’s quiet and difficult to arrange viewings.

– Maintain your buy-to-let to a high standard all year round. Don’t put off maintenance or repair work.

– Be a responsive landlord. Happy tenants are likely to stay longer.

– If you’re time-poor, use a letting agent to manage the property and reduce tenant turnover.

Contact us here at Chamberlains to learn more about our property management services.


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It’s National Scrabble Day

National Scrabble Day

Scrabble isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. In fact, a lot of people can’t stand it. Then there’s the other half of the population who delight in using obscure two-letter words, hogging all the triple word score squares and whooping with joy when they make a seven-letter word.

Love it or hate it, Scrabble has been around for a long time, and 13 April is National Scrabble Day (yes, this is actually a real thing).

Read on for some Scrabble facts you never knew you needed to know.

Its origins

Scrabble was invented in 1938 by an architect called Alfred Mosher Butts. He originally called it Lexico. Ten years later, a friend and fellow inventor, James Brunot, bought the rights to the game and renamed it ‘Scrabble’. He started to manufacture it professionally, and a few years later, it was ordered by Macy’s – one of America’s biggest retailers.

What’s the highest-scoring word?

The highest-scoring word in Scrabble is ‘muzjiks’ and means Russian peasants. It’s 29 points for the word alone, with a 50-point bonus because it’s seven letters long (also known as a bingo). If the ‘z’ is placed on a double letter square (scoring 20), then you’re looking at a whopping 128 points for one word. (Instead of the three points you normally score for words like ‘run’, ‘fun’ and ‘sit’.)

The most important word  

Apparently, professional players think that ‘qi’ is the most important word you can know to be a Scrabble champion. It means ‘life force’ in Chinese and can also be plural. Stick it on a triple word score and you’re looking at 33 points.

Other little-known words that score well include ‘qat’, ‘xi’, ‘za’ and ‘xu’.


Professional Scrabble tournaments are a big deal, and this year’s world championships will be held in Las Vegas. With prizes worth thousands of dollars, you can understand why people are keen to take part. But some of the players don’t always play fair, and there have been a fair few cheating scandals revealed in the last few years. People have been caught with pockets full of blank tiles, sneakily trying to put tiles back into the letter bag and making up words that go unchallenged.

The fastest ever professional game was back in 1978 – the players took just seven minutes to use all the tiles!

Scrabble knockoff

While the board game is still a classic, many people get their daily fix of word-building from online versions. In fact, Words With Friends, which has been around since 2009, has recorded almost 10 million downloads and is very similar to the Hasbro classic.

Are you a Scrabble master? What’s your highest score?


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Can you make a house move less stressful?

Can you make a house move less stressful?

Just the thought of moving home can make you break out into a cold sweat. It’s a life experience that many people think of as one of the most stressful things you can do. So how can you minimise those feelings of panic?

April is Stress Awareness Month, and if you’ve got a move coming up, you’ll need to keep your wits about you to get it all done.

In this quick read, we look at ways to make selling your home a little bit less stressful and more manageable.

  • Start packing early

Whether you’ve found a property or you’re still looking, getting ahead of packing is always a good idea. Start with decluttering your space. Reducing the amount of stuff you take with you is the first step, and you could always make a few extra pounds by selling items you no longer need.

Pack the items you rarely use first. Clearly label boxes with what items have been packed away and where they belong. Work room by room to try and keep some order.

  • Find an agent you trust

It’s essential to work with an agent you trust. A good agent is invaluable and will help with a realistic valuation, marketing your property and proactively organising viewings.

Many agents can also organise open days, so you can get a whole load of viewings done at once without the need for frantic tidy-ups every few days.

Unfortunately, you might not find a property through the same agent, but it’s always worth talking to them about what they have available, so you can keep things more streamlined.

  • Appoint a solicitor and broker early

Getting a good solicitor on board before you actually need their services reduces the panic of having to find one at short notice. The same applies for a mortgage broker. Instead of looking for a mortgage yourself, use the services of a professional. They’ll have access to deals that you might miss or that aren’t widely advertised.

  • Make it easier for kids

If you’ve got little ones, you’ll know that change can be quite overwhelming for them. Make them part of the move by creating their own special moving box with all their favourite things in it. If you can visit the property you’re moving to with them, show them their new bedroom, ask them how they’d like it decorated or where they want to put their toys.

If you’re searching for a new home, Chamberlains can help. We’ve got the experience and know-how to reduce your worries about moving. Check out our free, downloadable sellers guides .

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Ways to Avoid Deposit Disputes When You Leave Your Rental

deposit dispute

It’s widely recognised that moving house is one of the most stressful (and annoying) life events you can experience.

If you’re nearing the end of a tenancy agreement, there are a few things you can do to ensure your check-out inspection goes well and (upon moving out) you get your tenancy deposit back in full.

In this quick read, we go through ways to make moving out easier for you and your landlord.

  • Report issues or breakages early

Let your landlord or managing agent know in advance of any damage that has occurred – whether it’s a broken appliance, damaged furniture or peeling wallpaper. If you give them a heads-up, it can be dealt with, and you can avoid blame.

  • Fix problems you’ve caused (if you can)

This applies to issues that can be sorted without needing building work or professional involvement, such as a stain on the carpet or a ripped shower curtain. If you have caused minor issues, get them fixed ahead of time, so you don’t need to worry come inspection time.

  • Clear out clutter

Once you’ve packed up all your essentials, there’s bound to be bits and pieces left over. Don’t be tempted to shove them in a cupboard and hide them away. It’s better to dispose of your personal debris than to leave it for someone else to find. Left-over rubbish could affect your deposit, and it’s good manners not to leave it behind.

  • Appliance cleaning

When you empty the fridge and freezer, give the shelves/drawers a quick wipe-down. The same applies to the hob and oven. The general cleanliness of the property will be noted in the inspection, so it’s good practice to leave everything as clean as possible. Similarly, give the drains in your bathroom sink, shower and kitchen a clean by removing any hair or blockages.

  • Check your tenancy agreement

If your property was professionally cleaned when you moved in, having it cleaned when you move out may be a condition of your contract, so you’ll need to organise an end-of-tenancy clean. A good inspector can tell the difference between a professional and domestic clean, and if it hasn’t been done, your landlord could deduct the cost from your deposit.

  • Outside areas

If your rental has outside space, you’ll need to give it a quick tidy, too. Make sure you’ve removed any rubbish, packed up your BBQ and any toys, and left it in the same condition as when you moved in. This includes getting rid of weeds.

If you’re looking for a new rental property, get in touch with the Chamberlains letting team today.