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Summer Security Tips for Tenants and Landlords

Summer Security Tips for Tenants and Landlords

It’s not just birds, bees and butterflies that come out in force in summer – unfortunately, burglars step up their activity, too.

With many people going away on holiday (leaving homes empty) and others opening their windows and doors when temperatures rise, burglary rates spike in summer.

So, how can tenants and landlords stay one step ahead of the crooks and avoid the financial and psychological cost of a break-in? The answer is to be vigilant and work together.

Tips for tenants 

  • Always check that you’ve locked all windows and doors before leaving home.
  • If the property has an alarm, use it.
  • Don’t leave expensive items such as laptops on show near windows where passers-by can see them.
  • Keep the front of the property tidy. Messy bins and piles of junk mail send the message that no one’s home.
  • If you’re going away for more than 14 days, you may need to notify your landlord (check the details of your contract).
  • Before you go away, set a few lights on timer switches so the property looks lived in.
  • Keep sheds, garages and back gates locked. Often, burglars travel empty-handed to avoid suspicion and use tools they find in sheds and garages to break in.
  • Take out contents insurance.

Tips for landlords

  • It’s your legal responsibility to provide a safe and secure property, so make sure all doors and windows lock. This includes locks on sheds and garages.
  • Consider installing security measures such as deadbolts, door chains, peepholes, motion sensor lights, video camera doorbells and alarms.
  • Keep trees well-pruned so they don’t provide cover for burglars.
  • Check your comprehensive landlord insurance is up to date. Schedule in your diary when it’s due for renewal.
  • Consider spreading gravel/pebbles at the front of your house and installing a gate. Anything that makes a noise when you enter a property can put burglars off.

And if the worst happens

In the unfortunate event of a burglary, the tenant should call the police and then the landlord or letting agent.

The landlord should act swiftly to secure the property and repair any damage.

When dealing with the aftermath of a burglary, always refer to the contract you’ve signed.

Generally*, the landlord is responsible for repairing damage to the building, such as broken windows or doors, and replacing items included in the property agreement (unless it can be shown the tenant was negligent).

The tenant should claim for the loss of personal items on their insurance. 

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



The contents of this article should be used as a general guide and do not constitute legal advice.


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Guide to Garden Maintenance at Rental Properties

Guide to Garden Maintenance at Rental Properties

Garden maintenance can be a thorny issue between tenants and landlords, so here’s a useful guide to help avoid confusion.

Now that spring is here, there are lots of tasks to be done in the garden, such as watering, weeding and mowing.

But if the garden is part of a rental property, who is responsible for doing them?

That’s a question that has vexed many tenants and landlords over the years (garden maintenance is the cause of about a quarter of all deposit disputes*).

So, here’s an outline of responsibilities for maintaining outdoor areas at a rental property.

But first… a disclaimer

This article provides a general overview of common issues; it does not constitute legal advice. If you’re in any doubt about what’s expected of you, always refer to your tenancy agreement.

Tenant responsibilities

It’s up to the tenant to keep the garden in a good condition and ensure that at the end of the tenancy, it’s in the same state as it was at the start. This means:

  • Removing rubbish.
  • Doing simple tasks like weeding and sweeping up leaves.
  • Watering (if there are healthy plants when you move in, they should still be alive when you move out).
  • Ensuring shrubs and lawns don’t get overgrown.
  • Repairing any damage that you’ve caused during the tenancy. For example, if you break an item of garden furniture, you need to fix it.

Other key points

  • If you’re green-fingered and want to make changes to the garden, discuss this with your landlord first.
  • A landlord is not obligated to provide gardening equipment; however, they may supply items like brooms or trowels to help you with maintenance.
  • If you’re uncertain about what state the garden was in when you moved in, look back at your check-in report for a detailed description. 

Landlord responsibilities

The landlord is responsible for big jobs that require specialist training, such as:

  • Lopping branches off tall trees.
  • Replacing damaged fences.
  • Fixing a shed roof.
  • Repairing walls or fences.
  • Pest and insect control (unless it’s clear that the tenant has caused the problem). So, if there’s a serious issue with bees or wasps, the landlord is responsible for ensuring the health and safety of the tenant.

Other points

  • Consider minimising possible causes of friction by planting low-maintenance, drought-resistant plants and removing structures such as greenhouses.
  • Look at outdoor areas when you carry out periodic inspections so if there are any issues, you can raise them early.

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


* The Dispute Service.


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Renters’ Reform Bill: What Landlords Need to Know

renters reform

After a four-year wait and lots of speculation, a wide-ranging plan to overhaul the rental sector was finally presented to Parliament this week.

The Renters’ Reform Bill includes changes to eviction laws, the creation of a Private Rental Ombudsman to resolve disputes and measures to speed up the existing court process.

The bill will now be scrutinised by MPs and members of the House of Lords, so is subject to change.

But here’s a brief rundown of the proposals as they stand and what they mean for landlords.

If, after reading it, you’d like to have a more detailed conversation about the implications for your rental portfolio, contact us here at Chamberlains.


The change that has grabbed the most headlines relates to the rules on evictions. In a nutshell, Section 21 and ‘no-fault’ evictions will be axed and Section 8 strengthened.

This means landlords will have to give a reason for evicting a tenant. Under the beefed-up Section 8 rules, there are 17 official grounds for possession.

These include if:

  • The landlord wants the property back to live in or make available to a family member.
  • The landlord wants to sell.
  • The landlord wishes to redevelop the property (this must be at least six months after the start of a tenancy).
  • The tenant has breached their tenancy agreement.
  • The tenant has been in serious rent arrears.
  • The tenant’s conduct has caused a deterioration of the property.
  • The tenancy was granted due to a false statement.

Why landlords don’t need to panic

Understandably, there has been anxiety in the industry about the abolition of Section 21. However, you will still be able to repossess your property should you wish to sell up or redevelop, but you’ll have to go about it in a slightly different way.

Also, note that the bill reduces the notice period for landlords evicting irresponsible tenants and makes it easier to evict tenants where missed rental payments are an issue.


Tenants can request to have a pet at the property and landlords cannot unreasonably refuse.

However, tenants must confirm in writing that they have pet damage insurance.

Resolution dispute

A new Private Rental Ombudsman will be introduced so that landlords and tenants can resolve disputes without having to go down the slow and expensive court route.

For evictions that do end up in the courts, the bill pledges to make more use of digital platforms to cut down delays.


Landlords can raise rents once a year and must give two months’ notice.

End to blanket bans

A landlord cannot have a blanket ban on renting to people with children or those on benefits.


The Government says it hopes the bill will become law before the next general election. And even when it does, there will be at least six months’ notice before any new regulations come into force.


While the bill does represent change, if you’re a responsible landlord who already takes your duties seriously, it could mean less of a shift than you might think.

The fundamentals of being a good landlord, such as rigorous tenant selection processes, open lines of communication to avoid disputes and maintaining the property to a high standard, still apply.

But we recommend all landlords get up to speed with the new rules and, in particular, the strengthened Section 8 conditions.

Remember, we’re here to help.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with us here at Chamberlains.





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How Landlords Can Beat Condensation and Mould


How can landlords and tenants combat condensation and mould? Read on to find out.

Condensation and mould

The two are often bundled together because if you’ve got condensation, there’s a good chance it won’t be long before you’re battling mould.

Condensation can be caused by warm air hitting cold surfaces or by lots of humidity in the air. The air cools and droplets form, creating a damp environment – and a perfect breeding ground for mould.

Mould grows in black, green or brown spots. It’s most commonly found in bathrooms and kitchens but can thrive in any damp or humid location.


Both landlords and tenants have roles to play in preventing and tackling mould.

The landlord must ensure there are no structural or maintenance issues that could cause mould and remove mould impacting a tenant’s health and safety.

Tenants should keep the property clean and adequately ventilated and report signs of mould to the landlord.

If the cause of mould isn’t structural, it could be down to tenant behaviour (more on this further down).

It’s important to look for constructive solutions to resolve the issue rather than getting involved in a finger-pointing exercise.

Steps a landlord can take

A dry home with lots of fresh air is the best weapon against mould. To achieve this, you should:

  • Ensure the property is well-ventilated.
  • Check the heating is working well.
  • Insulate the property.
  • Look for signs of mould during regular inspections and ensure extractor fans are working.
  • Promptly repair issues such as leaky plumbing and guttering, missing roof tiles and damage to the damp-proof course.
  • Regularly clear out gutters and drains.
  • Act quickly if mould appears. Remove it and apply anti-mould paint.
  • Discuss the issue with tenants to raise awareness.

How tenants can help

Ask tenants to:

  • Avoid hanging clothes to dry indoors with the windows closed.
  • Leave a gap between furniture and walls of at least 10cm so the air can circulate.
  • Open windows regularly.
  • Use the extractor fan when cooking and showering.
  • Wipe down wet surfaces such as shower screens and curtains.
  • Close the kitchen door when cooking to stop moist air moving to other parts of the property.
  • Report signs of mould and any necessary repairs to the landlord or letting agent.

For more advice about managing your rental property, contact us today.




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Five Priorities South Devon Landlords Need to Know


As a landlord in 2023, it’s fair to say there are a lot of challenges on the horizon. From changes to rental rules, tax upheaval, mortgage mayhem… it’s all going on.

But the first thing to remember is your tenants and their experience of your property. It’s all too easy to move new people into your vacant rental and forget about them until a problem arises. So why not try and make the tenancy run as smoothly as possible from the outset?

In this three-minute read, we look at five priorities a landlord should consider.

  • Create a property welcome pack

It costs virtually nothing apart from time and a little bit of patience, but so many landlords don’t bother to provide the basic information a tenant needs to improve their tenancy period.

A welcome pack could contain the following:

  • Landlord and agent contact details
  • Where to find instruction manuals
  • Location of electric/gas meters
  • How to work the thermostat
  • Tenant’s responsibilities
  • What to do in the event of an emergency

You may have the information already, but putting it in one place positions you as a mindful and helpful landlord. Type it out, laminate it and make sure it’s in a place where the tenant can find it. Once done, it will also benefit future tenants.

  • Improve energy efficiency

For most landlords, getting a vacant property let is the main priority. But why not use short vacant periods to start some energy efficiency improvements? Get the boiler serviced, make sure all the lightbulbs are energy-saving ones and check the condition of floor/loft insulation.

  • Get informed

There are numerous legal reforms happening which will affect private rentals – tax changes, eviction notice reforms, pet-friendly tenancies and so on. Make sure you’re up to date and know what’s going on so it doesn’t come as a surprise later. Being informed and prepared should be a priority for all landlords.

  • Mortgage check

When does your mortgage deal end? Are you on a fixed or variable buy-to-let deal? It’s essential you know the answers to these questions so you can prepare yourself for getting a new deal when the time comes. Get in touch with a mortgage broker if you’re nearing the end of a mortgage deal so you can see what’s available.

  • Communicate

Whether it’s with your tenant or your managing agent, clear communication should be a priority for all landlords. While you don’t have to engage in weekly chats with your tenants, checking in with them periodically is a great way to keep on top of things such as repairs and maintenance and to avoid any unexpected issues or call-outs out of hours.

A short text or email to ask how it’s all going is non-intrusive yet shows willingness to set things right if needed.

Are you looking to let a vacant property? Get in touch with our team at Chamberlains.



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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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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.

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Eight Reasons Why You Should Refurbish Your Rental Property


“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That’s the view some landlords take on the question of renovating a buy-to-let.

They do the absolute minimum in terms of maintenance and repairs and only manage to meet their legal obligations by the skin of their teeth.

The décor is shabby and tenant turnover is high, but hey, they’re saving every possible penny, so they feel rather pleased with themselves.

So, is this the best way to get the most out of your property investment?

We’d argue that instead of running your buy-to-let down to its bare bones, often the smarter option is to be proactive and refurbish or extend.

We’re not talking about budget-busting Grand Designs-style projects. And, of course, it’s important to take the age and condition of a property into consideration before you make changes.

But carefully costed refurb works that appeal to your target demographic will pay for themselves in the long run.

Here’s why.

  • You’ll attract better tenants. In this visual age, tenants have high expectations. A property that is fresh and modern will stand out in online marketing and in-person viewings.
  • Shorter void periods. Tenants will quickly snap up a property that looks great.
  • Fewer tenant disputes. Tenants are more likely to treat your property respectfully if it’s well-appointed. If you don’t care what it looks like, why should they?
  • Better returns. Renovating a down-at-heel property will allow you to market it to a broader demographic, including professionals.
  • Add value to your property. If refurbishments are carried out to a high standard, you’ll reap the financial benefits when you come to sell.
  • Longer tenancies. Tenants will stay for longer in a property they enjoy living in and that isn’t riddled with problems.
  • Lower repair costs. Ageing kitchens and bathrooms can require lots of repairs. Replacing them before they become money pits can save you time and hassle in the long run.
  • Energy efficiency. Replacing single-glazed windows, installing insulation or adding solar panels will improve the energy rating of your property, which is good for the planet and your tenants’ energy bills.

For expert advice on adding value to your rental property, contact us here at Chamberlains today.


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Turn Your South Devon Rental Property into Somewhere You Love


Whether your rental property is a blank space you just sleep in, or it’s a new family property, it’s important to make it feel like home. So, how can you fall in love with your rental without breaching tenancy rules?

You could be a long-term renter or maybe a flat-sharer, but one thing is for sure, making the space your own will immediately change the way it looks and feels.

In this quick read, we look at ways to love your rental without falling foul of any tenancy agreement rules and stipulations.

Check what’s allowed

Before you decide to do anything, make sure you know what you can and can’t do. Whilst your deposit is protected by law, you could lose it by changing the décor without permission. The same goes for drilling holes into the walls.

As a tenant, you don’t automatically have the right to make any alterations to décor, but if you’re keen to change things, have a chat with your landlord to see if they’re open to suggestions. Remember, a landlord is responsible for repairs and maintenance, not for redecorating.

Landlords know that good tenants are hard to find, so if you’re willing to invest in a property to improve the way it looks, they may take a favourable view.

  • Furnished or unfurnished?

If you’ve moved into an unfurnished property, then installing your own things will automatically make a house or flat feel more like your home. It might just be a bed or wardrobe, but at least it’s yours.

Have a think about what’s important to you before you start looking for a rental. Do you want your own bits and bobs, or are you happy to make do with what’s provided.

  • Go green

Plants are a great way to make a space seem homely, and they won’t breach your tenancy agreement. If you’re green-fingered, go crazy with house plants around the property to brighten things up. If you can’t keep a cactus alive, then there are plenty of inexpensive plastic plants available that look great and never lose their leaves.

  • Photos and art

Framed photos of you and your loved ones (or whatever you like) immediately add a personal touch. If you’re thinking about hanging frames or pictures on the wall, look for options that don’t leave a mark once removed. Think about creative ways to display art, like easels or (if it’s large enough) propped up against a wall.

  • Cosy additions

Just because a sofa comes with cushions on top of it doesn’t mean you have to use them. Pack them away for safekeeping and add your own colourful pillows/cushions to chairs and sofas to surround yourself with things you love. Blankets and throws are also a great way to personalise boring pieces of furniture.

If you’re looking for a new rental property, give Chamberlains a call today.