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Should You Be Friends with Your South Devon Tenants?

Should You Be Friends with Your South Devon Tenants?

As a landlord, it’s important to build a good relationship with tenants. You want them to feel comfortable in their new home and to care for it, pay rent on time and generally have a successful tenancy period. But what makes a good relationship?

Unless you’re renting a property out to friends or family, it’s likely you won’t have met your tenants before. So, while it’s important to introduce yourself and maintain a good line of communication, there is a danger of becoming too friendly with them.

And once you’ve crossed that boundary, it could cause a lot of problems (and awkwardness).

In this quick read, we look at the do’s and don’ts of maintaining a professional relationship with tenants.

Introduce yourself

If you used an agent to find the tenants but intend to self-manage when the tenancy starts, it’s always a good idea to contact the tenants and let them know that you’re their landlord. Whether you want to do this face to face or via a call, it’s important they know how to get in touch with you.

This is also a good time to let them know your working hours and how to contact you in the event of an emergency.


If you have more than one tenant living in a property, it may be useful to set up a group for messages or emails. A WhatsApp group is a good way of communicating; however, it may also leave you open to receiving non-urgent messages over the weekend or late at night.

Make it clear when you will be available to respond to queries. Also, make sure you respect their timings. If you have a non-urgent request, contact them during working hours instead of evenings or weekends.

Social media

Should you befriend your tenants on social media? While there are no rules against it, it may seem intrusive if you were to add them onto your social accounts, as if you’re trying to keep an eye on them. Similarly, if a tenant adds you, you might want to think twice before you accept their request. You’re not friends, you’re in a business relationship.

When entering a contract with a tenant, you’re in a legally binding agreement. There could be future disputes between you and them regarding issues with the property or rent payments. By adding them on social media, you’re crossing a line between personal and professional, so it’s important to stay mindful of this.

Use your agent

Letting agents are trained and experienced in dealing with tenants, issues that arise with payments, deposits and disputes. They can help maintain a professional distance from your tenant, so it’s a good idea to work with them. Speak to your agent about what they can and can’t help with. They’re also a great source of knowledge if you need assistance with a tenant.

Looking to rent out a property? Contact our team at Chamberlains today.

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The Best Value Camping Gadgets

The Best Value Camping Gadgets

If you’re planning a camping trip this summer, here are some useful gadgets that won’t break the bank.

For some people, camping is about channelling their inner Bear Grylls and facing the elements with little more than a flimsy tarp, a few pouches of dehydrated beans and a stiff upper lip.

For others, it’s all about ‘stuff’, preferably high-tech and usually expensive. Think shiny portable pizza ovens, palatial bell tents or an ultra-light travel guitar for cheeky campfire renditions of Kumbaya.

And then there are those seeking something in between. A chance to enjoy a low-cost break in a beautiful, natural landscape but with a few mod cons thrown in to make life easier.

For those in-between campers, here are a few good value gadgets to take on your next outdoor adventure.

Matador pocket blanket – This water-resistant blanket folds up to about the size of your hand, so it fits easily into your backpack. It’s great to sit on if you’re having a picnic lunch or wrap around your shoulders if you get chilly.

Travel clothesline – Available from any good camping store, a travel clothesline helps you address one of the biggest camping challenges – how to get wet stuff dry. The minute the sun comes out, string the clothesline up and hang out those wet towels and waterproofs. 

CGear sand-free mat – This nifty mat is made from a special dual weave that doesn’t accumulate sand or dirt. The idea is that small particles like sand fall through it, rather than sticking to the surface. So you won’t be shaking sand off it for weeks after being at the beach.

Portable battery – One of the attractions of camping is that you can tune out from the news and social media. But realistically, you’ll probably want your phone charged in case you need to make emergency calls or use sat nav. In just 30 minutes, the sturdy RUGD Power Brick battery will have your phone charged up to 50%.

Solar-powered fairy lights – Not only do they make your tent look pretty, but these lights also provide useful illumination if you nip out of your tent at night and need to find your way back.

Do you have a favourite camping destination? Comment below!

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Buying a Probate Property: What Buyers Need to Know

Buying a Probate Property: What Buyers Need to Know

Picture this: After a long and exhausting property search you finally find the home that’s just right for you. But then the estate agent mentions that it’s a ‘probate property’ and you’re left scratching your head.

While it’s a term that you’ve heard before, you’re not entirely sure what it means and if it could scupper your homebuying plans.

Well, let us explain.

What is probate?

When a person dies, the assets that they owned in their sole name can’t immediately be sold off or distributed. It’s a case of waiting until the government has granted ‘probate’.

Usually, it’s the executors of the will that apply for probate (if there’s no will there’s a slightly different procedure).

Once probate has been granted (and inheritance tax and debts have been paid) the executors can distribute assets according to the deceased’s wishes.

What does it mean for a buyer?

It’s common for executors to market a property before probate is granted. So if you find yourself viewing a property where probate is pending, it’s all above board.

The executors are acting in the expectation that by the time both parties are ready to exchange contracts, probate will have come through.

You can’t complete a property transaction until probate has been granted, but you can get much of the paperwork sorted in the meantime.

You might have to be patient

There’s quite a lot of paperwork to be done, and documentation to find, before the executor can file for probate. And once the actual application has been lodged, it can take between six to 12 weeks to be granted (it’s tricky to be precise because there have been processing delays recently).

Ask the right questions

To get a realistic idea of timescale, it’s useful to find out how advanced the executors are in the process (discuss this with the estate agent). If the application has been lodged, then there’s a good chance things are ticking along nicely. If the application hasn’t gone in, you may be in for a longer wait.

Be sensitive

If by some chance a relative of the deceased is present when you view the property, be sensitive. It may be that you’re viewing their childhood home or a property that has a lot of emotional significance to them. If you have questions, direct them to the estate agent.

Benefits of probate properties

Renovation opportunity

If you’re looking for a doer-upper, a probate property might suit your needs. It may have been some time since any renovation work was carried out so you can put your own stamp on the home.

No onward chain

You’ve obviously heard about people getting caught up in complicated chains because they’re buying off someone who is buying off someone else and so on. With a probate property there is no onward chain so you might have more flexibility regarding matters like completion dates.

If you’re looking to buy a new home, contact us here at Chamberlains today.


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How to Get a Tenancy Off to a Good Start

How to Get a Tenancy Off to a Good Start

If you’re a landlord about to settle a new tenant into a property, there’s one phrase that should be your guiding mantra: “Start as you mean to go on”.

Because what you do in the early stages of a tenancy will help define what unfolds over the next weeks, months and possibly years.

Get things right, and you’ll build the foundations of a long and successful tenant-landlord relationship (the kind that all landlords dream of).

Get it wrong, and you could be in for a bumpy ride that absorbs much of your time and energy and leaves you stressed and out of pocket.

No pressure then.

So once the paperwork is signed off, how can you lay the groundwork for success? Here are six tips to help get your tenancy off to a good start.

  • Prepare the property Before you hand over the keys, carry out any outstanding repairs, ensure the property is sparkling clean and read the meters. If a tenant thinks you don’t care about the state of the property, what message does that send to them?
  • Meet and greet Welcome your new tenant and run through the basics. Discuss bin collections, how the appliances work and where they can find the fuse box and stopcock (in case a switch trips or pipe bursts). This is your chance to set the tone and build a good rapport, so don’t rush it.
  • Information pack– Your tenant will have a lot on their plate on moving-in day and may not take in everything you discuss. Leave them with a pack detailing all the practical information they need so if they have a query, it’s all there in writing for them. 
  • Contact information One of the most common reasons tenants and landlords fall out is communication. To avoid any confusion, make it clear from the outset who your tenant should contact in an emergency and how to reach out if they have a non-urgent query.
  • Be responsive Questions might arise as your tenant settles in, so if they get in touch, don’t keep them waiting.
  • Use a letting agent– Many landlords recognise how much work it takes to manage a tenancy and opt to get a professional to do it for them. A good letting agent will have established systems in place to nurture a tenancy from check-in to check-out. They can also respond to all urgent and non-urgent queries so you can focus on your professional and personal commitments. 

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


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Refill and Recycle: How You Can Reduce Waste in South Devon

Refill and Recycle: How You Can Reduce Waste in South Devon

Recycling is part of our everyday lives: at home, in the workplace, at school, in cafés and restaurants. We’re all more aware than ever of the importance of recycling, but how about stepping up a gear and really trying to reduce our use of plastic?

Ask yourself this, and answer honestly. Do you do enough to protect the environment?

Well, 16 June is the perfect opportunity as it’s World Refill Day – a global campaign to prevent plastic pollution and help people live with less waste. So, how can you get involved? According to the brains behind this environmental campaign, it’s all about making small changes to your daily routine to become more green and less wasteful.

This quick read explores ways to reduce your personal plastic use and wastage.

Water bottles

It’s so easy to pick up a bottle of water when you’re on the go and feeling thirsty, but what about the waste? Water and fizzy drink bottles are the top offenders when it comes to single-use plastic, yet they’re so simple to replace. Start carrying a refillable bottle to save using throwaway plastic bottles and to save money whilst you’re at it.

Tip: Before recycling your plastic bottles, put them to use. You can create bird feeders, plant watering systems, a mini greenhouse, bottle-top jewellery and much more. Check out some great ways to reuse bottles here.

Hot drink cups

Just like water bottles, takeaway coffee cups are a huge source of waste and rarely get recycled. A massive 500 billion takeaway cups are used around the world every year, with only 1% being recycled. A reusable coffee cup is the simple solution – try keeping one in your bag so it’s always to hand when you’ve got a caffeine craving.

Food packaging

What’s the point of buying bananas in a plastic bag? The same goes for other fruit and vegetables. Opt for loose items instead of adding to your personal waste by buying ones wrapped in plastic. Alternatively, sign up for a veggie box that’s delivered to your door and offers a range of green goodies.


Refills are the way forward for a more sustainable lifestyle. Choose refill products instead of brand-new plastic packaging when you’ve run out of your favourite shower gel or go the old-fashioned way and choose soap bars. Lots of popular brands now offer shampoo and conditioner bars as well.

Kitchen cupboards

Jam jars, pots for herbs and spices, Tupperware… all of these are refillable, so why not take the step to refill instead of buying brand new? It’s easy enough to do and if you buy in bulk, it’s a great way to make sure you never run out of those essential items. In many cases, buying refill packs works out cheaper than buying new bottles, so it’s a win for the environment and your bank balance.

Many big-name supermarket chains are also rolling out zero-waste refill stations, where you can fill your own containers with products such as pasta, coffee and rice.

If we all take small steps to reduce waste, we can make a huge collective difference. 

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Why Some Plants Are a Disaster for South Devon Sellers

Why Some Plants Are a Disaster for South Devon Sellers

Post pandemic, having outside space has taken on a whole new level of importance and can add significant value to a property. But what happens when your garden oasis threatens the chance of selling your home?

Some lush green plants might look nice but could signal trouble for a house sale.

In this quick read, we look at the plants that may impact your selling price.

  1. Japanese Knotweed 

The number one culprit for knocking value off homes is Japanese Knotweed, which can grow up to 10cm in a day and is illegal to plant. The powerful root system can weaken the foundations of a property, damage drainage systems and uproot paving slabs. It’s been labelled an ‘invasive’ plant and can knock as much as 15% off house prices because of the utter chaos it can cause.

In the past, properties with Japanese Knotweed have struggled to get mortgages, and buyers often require a special survey to assess potential for damage. You’ll need a specialist to remove it.

  1. Giant Hogweed 

Although this plant is quite attractive, it can cause serious skin irritation and requires expert removal. Bizarrely, it’s part of the carrot family but is so dangerous it can cause burns to the skin. Once removed, it’s classed as controlled waste and needs to go to landfill.

Understandably, gardens with Giant Hogweed will also affect how much your property sells for and ethically, you should let potential buyers know if you’ve spotted it in your garden.

  1. Bamboo

Just like Japanese Knotweed, bamboo plants can grow incredibly quickly and wreak havoc on a property’s foundations and brickwork. Whilst not illegal to plant, the roots can spread to neighbouring properties, and if it starts causing damage, you could be liable for costs. Whilst it may not affect your house price, it could cause future problems for buyers depending on the type of bamboo and its root system.

  1. Large Trees (Oak, Poplar and Willow)

If you’ve got one in your back garden or close to your home, be warned it could impact your house price. Roots of large trees can spread out up to 40m, wriggling their way under building structures and paving stones, and causing general damage. It’s best to consult an expert tree surgeon if you’ve got a large tree in your back garden or speak to the Local Authority if you have one out front.

Other plants that could hamper your house sale include:

  • Ivy: whilst nice to look at, it can get into cracks, lift roof tiles and damage pipework.
  • Himalayan Balsam: don’t be fooled by the beautiful purple flowers; this is illegal to plant. It grows so fast it can quickly kill off other plants and cause a nuisance.
  • Leylandii trees: typically grown as a hedge, apart from annoying neighbours and blocking light, the fast-spreading roots can cause damage.

When selling a property, people always tend to deal with interior issues before going to market. But it’s a good idea to also assess the front and back gardens for any concerns that could arise. That way, you won’t be caught off guard as a potential sale progresses.

If you’re looking to sell your home, contact us at Chamberlains today.


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How to Create Gorgeous Window Boxes

How to Create Gorgeous Window Boxes

You don’t need to be an expert gardener or have lots of space to create cheery window boxes that are the envy of all your neighbours.

All it takes to create a spectacular display that gives your home instant kerb appeal is a windowsill big enough to accommodate a planter box and a little bit of imagination.

Choosing your plants

Your window box can be as simple or complex as you like depending on your personal taste and gardening know-how. (Check out Pinterest if you’re looking for inspiration.

Some people choose one type of flower or plant, while others opt for three or four varieties in varying colours and textures to create a more elaborate display.

One key thing to consider is how much sun your window ledge gets throughout the day and to plant species that will thrive in these conditions.

Sun-loving plants include petunias, salvias and lavender, while shade-loving varieties include ferns, cyclamens and orchids.

Good enough to eat

If flowers aren’t your thing, plant chillis, tomatoes or strawberries instead or create a mini herb garden by planting parsley, mint, basil and thyme.


Window boxes can dry out quickly, so water regularly. If you’re unsure if your plants are thirsty, dip your finger in the compost. If it feels dry, give them a soak. 

Types of planters

You can get window boxes made from wood, terracotta, metal or plastic. If you opt for a wooden window box, improve its longevity by giving it a coat of moisture-protecting sealant and placing a plastic liner inside before adding potting soil.

Also, check your window box has holes in the bottom, as these will allow excess water to drain away; this will minimise the chance of your plants developing root rot. 

General upkeep

Keep your plants well-fed by adding liquid fertiliser every week or so. (Note: some fertilisers smell worse than others, so have a sniff before you buy.)

When the blooms on your plants start to wilt, cut them off; this is called deadheading and will encourage more flowers to grow.

And, if you spot any pests, act quickly; once insects get into a confined space such as a window box, they can run riot.

Are you a keen gardener? We’d love to see snaps of your garden in bloom. Please share them with us on social media at