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What Are a Tenant’s Responsibilities?

tenant

Moving into a new home can be exciting, but renting a property comes with responsibilities. To avoid disputes – or paying for things that don’t fall within your remit – it’s helpful to know your obligations as a tenant.

Read on for a general guide to a tenant’s responsibilities (but please note that for specific detail, refer to your rental agreement).

It’s a two-way street

The most important thing to remember about the tenant/landlord relationship is that both parties have an important role to play. The landlord has a duty to ensure that the property they’re letting is safe and habitable, and the tenant should treat the property respectfully.

Your rental agreement

As with most relationships, things work best when everyone understands what’s expected of them. And that’s why your rental agreement is so important – it’s a legal contract that spells out the responsibilities of the landlord and the tenant. It should cover everything from rent and repairs to how to end a tenancy.

Always read, and make sure you understand the terms of a rental agreement before you sign on the dotted line.

While your contract will cover most eventualities, here are some common causes of confusion regarding tenant/landlord responsibilities.

Repairs and maintenance

Generally, landlords are responsible for the property’s structure (walls, chimneys and the roof), sanitation (toilets, sinks and pipework), boiler and electrical wiring.

Landlords are also responsible for the furniture and electrical appliances that are in the property when the tenant moves in.

Any items or goods brought into the property by the tenant are the tenant’s responsibility.

Damage

If a tenant (or their guest) causes damage to the property, then the tenant is obliged to handle the repairs. So if, for example, you invite a friend around and they spill red wine on the carpet, it’s your job as the tenant to get rid of the stain. 

Reporting issues

While the landlord has to take care of structural and external features, it’s a tenant’s responsibility to report problems. It’s best to do this when you first notice an issue so that it’s resolved promptly.

Access

If you’ve reported an issue to your landlord, a tradesperson will need access to the property to do the repairs. This work should be conducted at a reasonable time, and you should be given 24 hours’ notice before they arrive. A tenant can refuse access on ‘reasonable grounds’. But to get the problem resolved as soon as possible, it’s best to be accommodating.

Gardens

Landlords are typically responsible for fences, guttering and lopping trees. The tenant is obliged to carry out tasks such as weeding, watering and disposing of waste.

Cleanliness

Cleanliness can be a thorny issue – half of all end-of-tenancy disputes are about cleaning*. Before moving out, a tenant should ensure the property is cleaned to the same standard as it was at the start of the tenancy (although allowances are made for general wear and tear).  

Talk to your landlord – or their agent

While it’s essential to adhere to the terms of your rental agreement, if you have a question, raise it with your landlord or their agent. Sometimes disputes are caused by simple misunderstandings that can be sorted by having a quick chat. 

To find out about rental properties in the local area, get in touch with us here at Chamberlains.

 

*Tenancy Deposit Scheme

 

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Busting Landlord Myths in South Devon

landlords

Many people think that being a landlord is easy. Rent out a property, move some people in, sit back and rake in the cash… if only it was that simple.

Any experienced landlord knows that owning rental property is hard, and it can be a 24/7 job in the event of any issues. Preparing a property for rent is just the first hurdle; ensuring your tenants are safe and the property is maintained are ongoing requirements.

In this quick read, we bust some common myths about landlords and their obligations.

Landlords don’t care about safety

Wrong! It’s at the top of the list. Tenants deserve to live in homes that are safe, and a landlord has legal (and moral) duties to ensure this.

Gas safety is hugely important, and landlords throughout the UK must ensure that any gas appliances within the property are safe to use.

Tenants should be provided with a Gas Safety Certificate as soon as a tenancy starts.

Fire and carbon monoxide safety is also a legal priority for all landlords, and rental properties must be fitted with smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

Landlords pocket deposits

Historically, deposits have always been a point of contention between tenants and landlords. But these days, there are strict laws regarding tenant deposits (and landlords can wind up seriously out of pocket if they flout them). Landlords must lodge all deposits with a government-approved deposit scheme. This ensures that a deposit will be returned if the terms of the tenancy are met, if no damage is caused (beyond fair wear and tear) and if all rent and bills are paid.

Landlords disappear once tenants move in

This is a big one, especially for tenants who experience problems after they have moved into a property. That’s why it’s always important to find a rental property through an experienced letting agent.

A good landlord will ensure the property is well maintained – after all, it is their source of income. Landlords should maintain any furniture or appliances that are in the property when a tenant moves in. An inventory should be carried out at the start and end of a tenancy to ensure that both parties have information about the general condition of the property and such items. The same applies to repairs if something stops working during a tenancy.

If you’re a tenant looking for a rental or a landlord looking for a new agent, please contact us on 01626 365055.

 

 

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WFH and Landlords: What You Need to Know

landlords

In our post-pandemic world, working from home (WFH) has become the new norm for many people. But as a landlord, you need to make sure your tenants are working in a way that doesn’t impact you negatively.

Most of us think of WFH as sitting in front of a laptop or doing Zoom meetings wearing a shirt and tie with pyjama bottoms. However, there’s been a boom of small businesses cropping up, many of them based in flats and houses all over the country.

In this two-minute read, we look at some questions to consider if you’re a landlord with tenants WFH.

Could tenants WFH affect your tenancy agreement?

Broadly, the answer to this question is ‘no’. However, there’s a difference between working from home for a job and running a business from a rented property. The latter used to be frowned upon as it could be seen as a ‘business tenancy’ rather than a residential one. However, changes to the law back in 2015 gave permission for certain ‘home businesses’ that could ‘reasonably’ be run from home.

Currently, the most common tenancy type is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) which stipulates that a property should only be used as a residence. This stops tenants from using the property as a business address, so you need to let your renters know that this is the case.

Should you ask tenants if they plan to work from your property?

There’s no reason why not. It’s always best to know what’s going on in your rental accommodation. You could get your letting agent to ask prospective tenants their intentions so you can make an informed decision.

Should you always allow tenants to WFH?

Most landlords would argue that their rent won’t be paid if their tenant doesn’t work, so the simple answer to this is ‘yes’. WFH for a couple of days a week shouldn’t pose a problem for most properties.

Difficulties arise when the form of work could cause damage to your property, or impact upon other residents. For example, if your tenant is a mechanic and plans to fix cars in the front garden, this could be a point of contention for neighbours. Similarly, if they’re running an internet sales business and using your property to store goods, you’ll want to make sure they don’t damage the interior.

Red flags to watch out for:

  • Is your tenant using the property more for commercial purposes than residential?
  • Are neighbours being affected by noise, traffic or anything else caused by the tenant’s business?
  • Are customers attending the premises?

If you come across any of the above, you should seek further advice or speak to your tenants.

To find out more about the do’s and don’ts of tenants WFH, speak to our lettings team at Chamberlains!

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Four New Year’s Resolutions Landlords Will Love

landlords

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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Nightmare Before Christmas: A Cautionary Tale for Landlords

landlords

This two-minute tale takes inspiration from a classic Christmas poem.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

That was until Mum and Dad, joint owners of a rental property, received a panicked phone call from their tenant. 

What was the matter?

In a highly charged conversation, the tenant explained that a pipe had burst and was causing severe water damage.

The problem needs to be sorted – ASAP!

Dad, who had been hoping to settle his brain for a long winter’s nap, springs from his bed and hotfoots it over to the property.

Meanwhile, Mum desperately tries to find a plumber who can help (their usual one must be enjoying a few well-earned festive pints as he’s not answering his phone).

After several stressful hours, the leak is fixed, and the tenant is comfortable in a hotel.

Mum and Dad collapse into bed. They grab a few hours of sleep before their children excitedly shake them awake. It’s Christmas Day. But neither of them feels very merry.

It was just bad timing

The whole episode hangs heavy over Christmas Day. But is there anything else Mum and Dad could have done?

They keep their investment flat in good condition. The leak was just bad luck, wasn’t it?

What about a letting agent?

Oh yes. If Mum and Dad had used the services of a letting agent, things would have been different.

The panicked call from the tenant wouldn’t have come through to them at all. The mad search for a plumber and alternative digs for the tenant would have been the agent’s responsibility.

Mum and Dad would have slumbered all snug in their beds through the whole episode.

What happened next?

As they both have busy jobs, and family time is so important to them, Mum and Dad decide to use a letting agent.

That way, they can focus on what they do best professionally and leave the day-to-day realities of property management to an expert.

Best of all, they know that next Christmas – and at any special time of the year – they can completely relax. Now that’s a happily ever after we can raise a glass to.

From the team at Chamberlains, Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

 

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The Lowdown on Rent Guarantors

The Lowdown on Rent Guarantors

This three-minute read explains the role of rent guarantors.

When a landlord has a niggle of anxiety over whether a prospective tenant will pay their rent, there is a way they can help protect their investment.

A landlord can ask a tenant to provide a guarantor to ‘guarantee the tenancy’.

Guarantors are often family members or close friends – and a little bit like a human safety net.

If the tenant can’t (or won’t) pay what they owe the landlord, the guarantor has to stump up the cash – or face the landlord in court.

Extent of liability

As with so much in the lettings game, it all depends on the terms of the contract.

While some agreements only cover unpaid rent, others will also cover things like damage to the property.

An agreement should clearly state what is covered and outline the circumstances under which the contract will end.

This is important. If the guarantor has a change of heart mid-tenancy, they can’t simply walk away from their commitment. The agreement is legally binding.

When to use a guarantor

It comes down to the landlord’s discretion, but often a guarantor is used when a tenant:

  • Is new to renting.
  • Has gaps in their employment history or has recently started a new job.
  • Is a student.
  • Has a credit rating that is lacking in some way. That doesn’t necessarily mean the tenant has had financial problems; they may be young and have never had a credit card or other loans.

Important points

  • A landlord must check a guarantor’s credit and employment records closely (just as you would with a tenant). Guarantors are often required to own a property and have a gross annual income three times the rent of the rental property they are acting as a guarantor for.
  • Most landlords prefer the guarantor to be UK-based as it’s easier to run credit checks on them and take legal action if required.
  • Issues can occur when people agree to be the sole guarantor on a rent agreement without realising this makes them liable for all outstanding rent and damage costs. For example, a mother agrees to be a guarantor when her daughter moves in with her boyfriend. However, the couple split, the ex-boyfriend disappears, and Mum is livid that she has to cover his payments.
  • Landlords must ensure that a guarantor understands what they’re signing, or they could claim that they were misled or pressured into an agreement.

For more information on any aspect of renting out a property, contact us here at Chamberlains.

 

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Seven Ways to Find AND Keep Great Tenants in South Devon

tenants

How to Win at Playing Finders Keepers When It Comes to Great Tenants

In this three-minute read, we look at how landlords in South Devon can find and keep terrific tenants.

‘Finders keepers, losers weepers.’ It’s a timeless rhyme used every day in school playgrounds in South Devon and all over the UK.

It often applies to someone finding something that’s unowned or abandoned. But it also resonates with local landlords when it comes to having the second most important piece of the rental puzzle – great tenants.

Finding these excellent tenants is one thing. Keeping them is another. And some landlords lose these precious people because of basic, unnecessary errors. It’s enough to make a good landlord weep.

But put the tissues away because here are seven ways you can win at Rental Finders Keepers.

  • Use a good letting agent. Earlier in this article, we mentioned that tenants were the second most crucial piece of completing a rental puzzle. The first? Well, in our opinion, it’s an excellent letting agent. That’s not because we are one, by the way. It’s because, over the years, we’ve seen countless landlords go down the DIY route to managing their properties and getting themselves in a stressful and expensive muddle. Look for agents with experience, testimonials, industry qualifications, and a clear plan on how they’ll market, manage, and maintain your tenancies.
  • Know your target tenants. An experienced letting agent will be able to advise you on who your property will most appeal to. Is it a growing family, young professionals, or a retired couple? Knowing this will help with the next ultra-important step.
  • Marketing matters. Perhaps the biggest error DIY landlords make is not taking the marketing of the property seriously enough. You are ‘selling’ an expensive product after all. This is why photography, property descriptions, and online advertising should be handled by professionals who do it day in, day out. The better your property’s marketing, the better calibre of tenants it will attract – giving you more choice when it comes to the next step.
  • Setting the rent. By knowing your target tenant, marketing correctly, and listening to expert advice, you’ll be able to set your rent at the right amount. A correctly priced rental (not too cheap or expensive) will attract more interest and ultimately, more offers from quality tenants.
  • Be prepared for questions. Good tenants tend not to just turn up at a property and say: ‘It’s great, where do I sign?’. It’s a big decision for them, and they’ll have questions such as ‘What council tax band is the home in?’, ‘What are the parking arrangements?’, ‘Are utilities included in the monthly rent?’. Remember, when it comes to the best tenants, this is a two-way selection process as they are savvy enough to research the rental market, so you’ll also need to make a good impression on them.
  • Check them out. A tenant worth having will have no issue going through a referencing process. Here’s another area where a good letting agency reduces your risk of problems further down the line. Please don’t be shy about asking your letting agent for proof of the referencing process they’ve carried out, which should involve financial, employment, and past landlord checks. Skip this part at your peril.
  • Keeping them. So, once you’ve found a great tenant, how do you go about keeping them? Well, this is an entire article in itself, but it would be along these lines: Be a good landlord by maintaining the property properly, dealing with issues quickly, charging rent fairly, and acting professionally.

At Chamberlains, our job is to help landlords find and keep great tenants. To ask us anything about the South Devon rental market, contact us today.

 

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How to Winter-Proof Your South Devon Rental Property

Rental property

How Landlords in South Devon Can Protect Their Properties from Winter Woes

In this two-minute read, we look at how landlords in South Devon can make sure their rental investments stand up to the challenges of winter weather.

With winter officially only a few weeks away, the time is now ideal for landlords to take steps to ensure their properties are prepared for whatever December to February serves up.

By putting a winter property maintenance plan in place, you’re setting yourself and your tenants up for a trouble-free winter period.

Begin with boilers – The best time to service a boiler is in September, ahead of it being plunged into constant action in the months that follow. The second-best time to service a boiler is right NOW. By keeping on top of boiler and heating maintenance, you’ll save a lot of money and avoid hassle in the long run.

Remember your radiators – Bleeding your radiators is a simple, yet effective way of ensuring they are working as well as they should be.

Look at lagging – Frozen pipes that burst are the stuff of nightmares for any serious landlord. So, take the time to ensure pipes are wrapped in lagging to reduce the risks of freezing and potentially bursting.

Go to guttering – Don’t wait until the weather turns before you clean out your gutters. Blockages can build up over time and slowly cause unseen damage.

Insulate everywhere – Insulating a loft is an excellent way of keeping the warmth in and the heating bills lower. But don’t forget that even insulating against draughts can be a small way of making a big difference to how warm a property feels.

Fix that fence – The stronger seasonal winds love claiming a poorly maintained fence as one of its victims. So, act now to ensure any weak spots in your fencing are ready to stand up to whatever the winter winds throw at it.

Check it out – If your property is vacant for any sustained period over the winter months, diarise weekly or fortnightly visits to it to keep an eye on things. If you can’t do this, then it’s the kind of thing a good, local letting agent can do for you.

Your rental property is an asset, and having happy tenants is a key part of making the most of it, so take the time and spend the money on creating a safe, comfortable home for them this winter.

And don’t worry if you’re not a Handy Andy or a DIY Diana. At Chamberlains, we have good working relationships with maintenance people who can do all the work for you. Please do get in touch to discuss any aspect of property rentals. 

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The Reality Behind Rental Property False Economies

Lettings

Why South Devon Landlords Could Be Taking Expensive Shortcuts

In this two-minute read, we look at the false economies many landlords in South Devon are making regarding their rental properties.

Many of us realise doing a bit of DIY can save you money. But it comes with a caveat that you must know what you’re doing first.

For every successful bit of hallway decorating, there are dozens of tales of lopsided shelves, incorrectly fitted taps, and a whole host of other DIY disasters and fails.

And this risky approach doesn’t just apply to home DIY – we often see it when a landlord tries to do everything themselves.

Here are five of the most common mistakes landlords make when they think about the pennies but take their eyes off the pounds.

  • Marketing matters – There’s much more to marketing a rental than simply slapping it on Facebook or Gumtree and hoping for the best. It’s nigh on impossible to achieve a property’s optimum rent by using this approach.

 

  • Poorly referenced tenants – An excellent letting agent will carry out all the proper referencing needed to ensure you get a good, reliable tenant. Skipping this process and ‘going with your gut instinct’ can be hugely expensive further down the line if the tenancy turns troublesome.

 

  • Maintenance mistakes – The most significant error landlords make when it comes to maintenance is not having money set aside in their budget to keep their property in good condition. A general rule of thumb is to put away £100-150 per month towards maintenance and general upkeep.

 

  • Cheap is not cheerful – Many landlords make false economies by scrimping on things like flooring, windows, and taps and fittings, only to have to replace them more quickly than they would have if they invested a little more in the first place.

 

  • Temperamental tradespeople – The nightmare scenario for many landlords. A call comes in on a Sunday evening (usually when you’re on holiday) from a tenant telling you the boiler has packed up. DIY landlords often rely on their own trade contacts in this situation, which can be great but is often not. However, a good letting agency has access to a pool of tried and trusted tradespeople who fix things fast and professionally.

Of course, we understand that you want to get the best possible returns from your rental investment. But experience has taught us that using a letting agent to find tenants and manage your property is money well spent.

We’d be delighted to offer a free review of your rental property/properties and highlight where you can save money but also protect your assets.

Call us on 01626 365055 or email rentals@chamberlains.co.

 

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Landlords in South Devon Need to Heed These Rules and Regulations

Landlord

What Rules and Regulations Are South Devon Landlords Falling Foul of the Most?

In this three-minute read, we take a look at the most common rules and regulations that South Devon landlords need to remember.

Being a landlord is a tricky business. There are nearly 200 different pieces of legislation covering the how, why, and when of managing a rental property. Here are just four that landlords are often not getting quite right.

Deposit protection

In England, Scotland, and Wales, the deposit must be registered with a deposit protection scheme. The 2021 UK Landlord Survey found that 81% of landlords find registering their deposit difficult.

The deposit must be registered within 30 days of receiving cleared funds. The schemes are government-approved and the tenant must be informed where the money is deposited.

Energy performance certificates

Every rental property in the UK has to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). They are stored on an electronic register that is publicly available. However, they also have to be included in any advertising you do for your property.

Electrical safety regulations

In June 2020, strict rules about electrical testing for new tenancies in rental properties came into force. Inspections must be carried out by a qualified person on all fixed electrical installations.

Since 1 April of this year, it also came into force for existing tenancies. A professional with an industry-recognised apprenticeship or Level 3 Certificate in Installing, Testing and Ensuring Compliance of Electrical Installations in Dwellings must carry this out. Any issues have to be resolved and the tenant must receive a copy of the inspection report within 28 days.

Gas safety check regulations

If you have gas going in to your rental property, all appliances, pipework, and flues must be checked annually.

As for the electrical safety tests, ensure that you use a qualified engineer and don’t plump for the cheapest. The report must be given to the tenant within 28 days as well.

TOP TIP: As with any time you need to visit, or arrange a visit to the property, make sure you give the tenant at least 24 hours’ notice. Keep a record of having given notice. If the tenant refuses access, you’ve then got the evidence that you tried.

If you’re a landlord in South Devon and are not 100% sure on all the rules and regulations you need to abide by, get in touch with us at Chamberlains. A free, no-obligation chat will show you what you might need to tweak or if you’re on the right track.