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UK landlords are societies new favourite target for criticism

UK landlords are societies new favourite target for criticism

Everyone Appears To Be Taking A Pop At Landlords

I don’t think I am becoming paranoid but have you noticed that public attitude towards landlords has changed over the last couple of years?
I know opinion can be like the property cycle and generally rolls around, but have you spotted a few subtle and not so subtle digs being aimed at our profession?

Targeting the private rental sector and the landlords who provide tenants with much needed housing used to be the reserve of newspapers such as the Daily Mail, but now the derision is much more widespread.

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Recent Survey Discovers UK Landlords And Tenants are happy!

Recent Survey Discovers UK Landlords And Tenants are happy!

Four Out Of Five Tenants Happy
With Their Landlords

The majority of tenants living in private rental sector (PRS) rented properties have nothing but good things to say about their landlords, according to a survey conducted by Saga Home Insurance.

In a poll of UK tenants conducted by the insurance company, 77% of tenants who responded rated their landlord as either ‘good’ or ‘excellent’.

Fewer than 8% of tenants, (1 in 10) described the quality of service they received from their landlords as ‘poor’, which the insurance firm claimed to be contrary to popular stereotypes.

The survey surmised that UK landlords are largely a morally sound, ethical group of business people!

However, 56% of the tenants polled by Saga still identified room for improvement in their tenant-landlord relationships. With:

  • 23% of tenants complaining about hard-to-reach landlords
  • 21% of tenants had reservations about the quality of tradesmen used for repairs.

The insurance firm also spoke to landlords themselves about their relationships with tenants, and the biggest obstacles to a cordial co-existence with their tenants were:

  • Late rent payments cited by 37% of landlords,
  • Damage to rental property – 32%
  • Failure to provide notice when vacating rental property – 20%.

Finally, the insurance company also discovered that at least 10% of landlords, an alarming one in ten,  had not paid tenants’ deposits into one of the three the Deposit Protection Schemes currently in operation, which as well as being illegal, can result in problems when tenant eviction becomes necessary.

Saga’s head of home insurance, Sue Green, commented on the survey results, saying “In the age of housing shortages and escalating rents, landlords have been getting some bad headlines, but the research shows the extent to which this portrayal is unfair. The vast majority of landlords are conscientious and ethical, although tenants do believe more can be done which is why we have released a guide with practical tips to help them improve their ethical credentials.”

Insurance Statistics Prove Students Are The Best Tenants

Insurance Statistics Prove Students Are The Best Tenants

Insurance Statistics Prove Students Are The Best Tenants

A survey carried out by the National Landlords Association (NLA) in 2013 found that students are some of the best tenant types housed in the PRS as they are less likely to miss rent and student properties tend to offer better returns.

Now, fresh research by Total Landlord Insurance in 2014 also shows that students are the most reliable tenants in the private rented sector (PRS) as only 9.6% of insurance claims come from student properties, the second lowest of any tenant group, so there may be something to the claims after all, who would have thought?

The average insurance claim made by the landlord of a student property was £2,090.18 (GBP) in 2013, compared to £6,072.97 (GBP) for a typical residential property housing tenants claiming state benefits. 

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Flooding Spells Trouble For PRS Landlords

Flooding Spells Trouble For PRS Landlords

Post Flood Checks for PRS Landlords
Of Properties Affected By Flooding

The recent flooding observed in the South of England this winter have seen a large number of landlords and home owners properties damaged by flood water with around 6,500 properties damaged by flood water since December 2013.

This has meant that both landlords and tenants have had to put in a great deal of time and effort to put things right, with landlords spending a substantial amount of time contacting their landlord insurance providers to inform them of the situation and trying to arrange repairs.

However, there are some landlords who remain unsure of where to start when it comes to flood damage, so we take a look at what landlords can do if property has been affected by flooding:

  • Wear waterproof clothing, boots and a face mask
  • Get a qualified person to switch off electricity at mains – don’t touch sources of electricity while standing in water
  • Remove water using pump and generator – position generator outside as it produces carbon monoxide fumes which can kill
  • Only pump out water when flood levels outside house start to be lower than inside – this reduces the risk of structural damage
  • Houses can be cleaned and disinfected using ordinary household products
  • If drying property naturally, keep doors and windows open, if using dehumidifiers, close external doors and windows

Severe Flood Damage

Unfortunately, if you own property in the South of England there is a good chance they have been severely affected by flooding, especially if they are located near the Somerset levels or by the River Severn or River Thames.

The Environment Agency (EA) issued 16 severe flood warnings (meaning severe flooding with a danger to life) and 76 flood warnings (meaning immediate action should be taken) in January 2014 for the South West and South East of England.

If your rental properties have been affected by severe flooding then there is the likelihood that the tenants will have already been evacuated.

UK PRS landlords may find that they have to foot the bill to re-house tenants while their property is unfit to live in, and even after the flood waters have receded and it could still take months for damage to be repaired.

It is important for landlords to keep in constant contact with their landlord insurance provider and their tenants in order to make sure the restoration process runs as smoothly as possible.

Traditional brick or concrete walls will generally dry out well so long as they are clear for ventilation.

Wall cavities need to be inspected by an expert to ensure walls are secure and any damaged wall-cavity insulation will also need to be removed.

Internal walls, damaged plaster, plasterboard and wallpaper will have to go. Holes might also need to be drilled through plasterboards or dry linings to drain trapped water and aid ventilation, and timber partitions may rot if not dried properly and property owners are advised not to redecorate for at least three months after walls have dried and repairs have been done.

Modern wiring can withstand a short period of flooding, but if a property has been flooded for more than a few hours, it will probably need rewiring – downstairs at least. An electrician will also need to give junction boxes, socket outlets, light switches and ceiling connections a thorough check to ensure there is no water trapped inside them.

Moderate Flood Damage

Properties have been affected across the whole of the UK, even though properties worst affected by flooding are mainly in the South West and South East of England. Many of these properties are still habitable, however there are a number of other issues that landlords have to deal with.

Flooding can destroy the fabric and structure of property if left and it’s hard to be sure how solid a property’s foundations are after flooding, as some problems may take years to materialise.

There can be subsidence – which causes foundations to “sink”, and heave – which forces foundations upwards. Subsidence occurs when the ground under a building “shrinks” through lack of water, whereas heave occurs when the ground expands because of excess water. There is also the possibility of sinkholes and signs to watch out for are cracks and general movement in the building, but both can often remain undetected for some time.

Other indicators of structural damage include buckling of walls, bulging or dislodged sections of property and new cracks above windows or doors

Tenants will often get in contact immediately if they feel that their property is affected by flood water, and landlords should try to get as much information as possible about the amount of damaged caused.

Small amounts of water in rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms are less disastrous than in carpeted areas such as bedrooms or living rooms, and if it is safe to do so you can advise your tenants on how to contain flood water.

Landlords should keep in regular contact with tenants in the worst hit areas to monitor the situation and make preparations to re-home them if necessary.

Minimal Flood Damage

Rental properties built on high ground, away from lakes and rivers, will probably be unaffected by flooding. However, with the high winds and increased rainfall over the past few months there is still a danger of damage, so landlords need to make sure that basic checks are carried out to assess the damage when they are able to.

Roof tiles, chimney stacks, gutters soffits, and window frames can be adversely affected by strong winds and continuous heavy rainfall. If left in unchecked these minor issues can become major problems in the future.

Tenants may have noticed small leaks in garages and lofts during heavy rainfall, which should be treated as warning signs.

Unfortunately, nearly every landlord across the UK right now needs to have some sort of plan in place in case their properties are affected by flooding; otherwise they could find themselves in a difficult situation.

The Environment Agency website is updated on a regular basis with information concerning flood warnings and what to do in an emergency.

The new “Flood Re” proposals intended to replace the current statutes of the Water Bill will leave landlords high and dry as insurance companies withdraw insurance for rental properties in areas prone to flooding.

Tenants Fear Eviction For Reporting Outstanding Repairs

Tenants Fear Eviction For Reporting Outstanding Repairs

PRS Tenants Living In Fear Of
Retaliatory Evictions

A new survey has revealed that some tenants in private rented sector properties are living in fear of eviction because they had dared to complain to the landlord about outstanding repairs.

A third of tenants have been evicted or threatened with eviction after complaining to their landlord, according to new research carried out by online tenant community The Tenants’ Voice.

  • 61% of tenants said they were wary about complaining to their landlords
  • 71% of tenants have paid for repairs themselves rather than ask their landlords.

The survey suggests that a growing number of PRS tenants are facing retaliatory evictions because they voiced concerns over repairs. Desperate, cash strapped landlords have avoided taking out adequate Landlord Insurance policies to protect their rental properties and instead served section 21 notices to bring about the end of a periodic tenancy, rather than undertake the repairs that the tenants have requested, hoping that any new tenant won’t complain as much.

The UK tenant survey found that many tenants worry about asking their landlords to carry out repairs in fear of reprisals.

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Green Deal Is A Joke

Green Deal Is A Joke

Bad Business Practices, Long Term Debts, Unqualified assessors – Green Deal getting bad press

The Government heralded the launch of the “Green Deal” in January this year as a groundbreaking flagship initiative that would help struggling families cut energy bills, however, it appears that the general public are 99.9% against the idea.

The intention of the Government was to encourage millions of UK home owners to take out “Green Deal” loans in order to pay for money saving improvements to properties, such as; loft insulation, double glazing, boilers and other energy efficient measures with the aim of cutting a typical family’s energy costs by as much as £50 a month.

The loan would be repaid over an agreed timescale of up to 25 years, but the debt is attached to the property rather than the current owner, which means the debt could be passed on to any new buyer. As a result, property vendors could face demands from prospective buyers to clear any outstanding debt, which could also see them facing a charge or early repayment penalty of up to £6,000 (GBP).

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Beware Of Serious Maintenance Issues When Purchasing Investment Properties

Beware Of Serious Maintenance Issues When Purchasing Investment Properties

25% of properties for sale in the UK
have serious maintenance issues

New research by Halifax home insurance has revealed that home owners are far from proficient at keeping their property well maintained.

The research found that whilst 28% of home owners claim to be DIY enthusiasts, almost a third of people surveyed said they only had basic skills and knowledge to carry out basic cosmetic improvements, such as painting and decorating, grouting tiles or assembling furniture rather than tackling bigger property maintenance issues such as cleaning gutters and repairing fixtures and fittings or repairing cracks in plaster.

lacking the confidence to undertake even straightforward maintenance which could prevent problems such as damp in the longer term,

The research found that property owners in Aberdeen had the best maintained properties in Scotland, while Peterborough was the top region in England, and Newport came out top in Wales.

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Protect Your Rental Property From Opportunistic Thieves

Protect Your Rental Property From Opportunistic Thieves

Help tenants protect your rental property
whilst they are on holiday

The last 2 weeks in August are usually one of the busiest times of the year for people taking holidays, and tenants in rented accommodation are no exception.

However, it is also a very popular period for opportunistic thieves too, according to price comparison website, Gocompare.com, who reckon that 1 in 5 homes in the UK have been subject to vandalism or theft from gardens whilst the occupants were away on holiday and the average value of possessions either damaged or stolen equates to just over £300 (GBP), however, in 16% of UK insurance claims, damage or theft losses totalled over £500 (GBP).

There are a couple of things that you, as the landlord can do to ensure the continued security of your rental property, such as

  • Make sure your Landlord Insurance is valid and up to date
  • Install security lighting
  • Use thorny or prickly plants at boundary edges, such as Roses or Pyrancantha for defensive planting
  • Repair any broken fences or boundary gaps to deter opportunist thieves.

If you know that your tenants are going away on holiday, there are a few simple tips you can help them with that can stop them avoid becoming victims of opportunistic thieves

  • Ask tenants to ensure they have Tenants Contents Insurance in place
  • Make sure all doors and windows are locked and secure
  • Where practical, put lights on automatic timers to make it appear that someone is home.
  • Ask neighbours to keep an eye and an ear on the property, better still ask a neighbour that the tenant trusts to go in and open and close curtains and switch on random lights at different times of the evening.
  • If the property is alarmed, put it on and inform the neighbours, but make sure they have the landlords contact details in case it goes off.
  • Lock sheds and entrances to the garden.
  • Pack away any garden tools or equipment and make sure they are well out of sight
  • Secure expensive plants with wire pegs dug into the ground around the root ball
  • Use a security pen to mark valuable items, like plant pots, garden furniture, ornaments or garden play items such as trampolines, with the postcode of the property.

According to the research carried out by GoCompare, the top five items stolen or damaged from gardens were:

  • Bicycles (20%)
  • Garden sculptures or ornaments (16%)
  • Trees or shrubs (15%)
  • Garden furniture (12%)
  • Lawn mowers (8%)

To emphasise the point about needing landlord insurance, below are some statistics compiled about 2012 burglary hotspots, by postcode.

Burglary Hotspots in 2012
Burglary Hotspots in 2012

Don’t become another statistic, act now
and get the best price for your Landlord Insurance

Rental Property Seen As Safe Investment

Rental Property Seen As Safe Investment

Landlords Increasing Rental
Property Portfolios

There has been a rise in the number of landlords expanding their rental property portfolios over the last three months, according to fresh research by the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).

ARLA questioned its members to find out if landlords are currently increasing their investment in rental properties in the private rental sector (PRS) and they discovered that the number of landlords buying properties has risen from 30% to 39% over the last three months.

ARLA have taken the responses from their members to indicate greater confidence in the UK private rented sector and that rental property is still perceived as a safe investment amidst ongoing global and national financial instability by landlords with existing rental property portfolios.

ARLA research also revealed that fewer landlords are quitting the UK private rental sector and selling their rental properties too, with numbers incrementally down on the previous quarter, from 15% to 14%.

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Landlords and Property Owners Urged To Be On Flood Alert

Landlords and Property Owners Urged To Be On Flood Alert

Dont Be Complacent About Flood Risks

There has been a great deal of increased flooding across many parts of the UK in recent years and this has lead to an ongoing stand-off between the current coalition Government and the Association Of British Insurers (ABI) regarding flood insurance.

Private rental sector (PRS) landlords and private residential homeowners need to be more alert to the flood risks posed by rivers and an over-stressed sewerage system, and they should have adequate buildings and contents insurance in place to protect their property assets and personal possessions from flood damage.

However, a significant cause of property flooding appears to have been ignored…

Sewer flooding occurs when a main sewage system’s capacity is inadequate and strained due to flash flooding, collapsing drains or as a result of blockages caused by the inappropriate disposal of everyday waste, most notably toiletries and kitchen waste. As a result, surcharging sewers can occur at manholes or even within properties, through the unpleasant scenario of back flowing toilets.

Mark Taylor, Environmental Consultant at risk management consultancy, Argyll Environmental said: “Sewer flooding doesn’t typically attract the media attention evident in press coverage of washed out homes across the country earlier this year but its impact can be equally devastating to property owners.”

Typical damage caused by overwhelmed sewers include land and properties being flooded with water contaminated with raw sewage, an issue that alongside being horrific to clean up poses significant health concerns.

While many insurance companies will typically cover the cost of any flood damage and the clean-up, there are also preventative measures that can be taken by all property owners to reduce the risk of internal flooding.

Landlords and private residential home owners living in older properties in areas with antiquated sewer systems which combine both foul and storm water should consider taking preventative action.

To alleviate the risk of sewer flooding to properties, non-return valves can be fitted to sewage pipes. These are relatively inexpensive and easy to fit.

Non-return valves eliminate the backflow that cause up to 50% of all flood damage and also prevent other unwanted visitors such as rats from entering property from the sewers.

Equally, effective are watertight UPVC doors. Alongside reducing the risk of water and waste entering the property through external flooding, these are easy to clean and maintain, reducing the scale of damage if a flood occurs.

It is the responsibility of landlords, home owners, property investors and developers to find out who exactly is responsible for maintaining the sewage and drainage systems surrounding their properties and that adequate insurance is in place for sewers that are located within a property’s boundary.

Don’t Run the risk – Check Your Insurance Now!

 

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