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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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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.

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

Private Rental Sector Void Periods and Rent Arrears 

Showing Improvement

Rent Guarantee Insurance Helps Landlords Avoid Rent Arrears

Rent Guarantee Insurance Helps Landlords Avoid Rent Arrears

UK private rented sector landlords are reaping the rewards of the development of specialist products and services designed to ease the burden for landlords and the UK lettings industry.

According to data from the National Landlords Association (NLA), private rented sector void periods have fallen to their lowest level in over 12 months, with only 33% of landlords experiencing vacant periods in the last three months. The figures are down 13% when taken year on year.

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Landlords Risk Losing Insurance Claims

Landlords Risk Losing Insurance Claims

UK Buy to let landlords have been warned not to try and make false economies by attempting to make savings on their annual insurance premiums.

The warning has come from Michael Portman, managing director of tenancy referencing and insurance firm Let Risks. He says that in the current financial climate, landlords are trying to keep their premiums low to make savings.

The result, he says, is that there has been a large rise in the number of private rental sector (PRS) properties that are “significantly under-insured”.

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Tax Year Deadline is 31st January 2013

Tax Return Deadline Looms For LandlordsDespite all the awareness campaigns and TV advertising, Her Majesties Revenue & Customs (HMRC) repeatedly attempt to tell us that completing a self assessment tax return doesn’t have to be taxing!

However, as anyone who has ever completed a self assessment tax return will tell you, the evaluation of personal income for the tax year and the amount of time needed to complete a self-assessment form, either on paper or online can be very considerable.

When managing a single property or declaring a growing rental property portfolio, it can be hard work to set aside the time needed to tick all the right boxes.

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Landlords Lose Out Due To Unexpected Costs

Landlords Lose Out Due To Unexpected Costs

If You Fail To Plan Then You Are Planning To Fail

A recent survey by a national lettings agency has highlighted financial losses incurred by UK landlords due to failing to adequately plan for unexpected costs.

 Landlords pay on average around £1500 (GBP) per year of their rental income covering tenant rent arrears, maintenance, repair bills and void periods; a figure that equates to over £2 Billion (GBP) per year nationally, according to the survey by Northwood.

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Landlords Suffering Financially Due To Unexpected Costs

A recent survey by a national lettings agency has highlighted financial losses incurred by landlords due to failing to plan for unexpected costs.

Landlords Lose Out Due To Unexpected Costs

Landlords Lose Out Due To Unexpected Costs

Landlords pay an average of £1500 (GBP) per year out of their rental income on covering tenant rent arrears, maintenance and repair bills and void periods; a figure that equates to over £2 Billion (GBP) per year nationally, according to the survey by Northwood.

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Things That Go Bump In The Night

Tales from beyond the tenancy....

A Halloween tale from Legal 4 Landlords

In a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) in Gravesend, on a dark stormy Halloween evening, the residents gathered in the communal lounge drinking and discussing ghost stories…

One young male tenant claimed that an old man who used to own the large house they lived in was buried a few months earlier in the graveyard down the street, he claimed that the old landlord had been buried alive and that if you listened carefully it was possible to hear him still scratching at the lid of his coffin, he also claimed that the old man was a notorious serial killer who was responsible for the disappearance of dozens of unsuspecting HMO tenants and his victims were still being discovered.

The evening wore on and after several more drinks and a great deal of teasing, a young female tenant agreed to go down to the graveyard to find out if the stories about the old landlord were true. No-one else dared to accompany her, so she decided to go alone and she said she would drive a stake into the ground next to the grave to prove that she had in fact been there.

The young woman put on her waterproof jacket, picked up a torch and took a large stake from off one of the tall shrubs in the back garden and set off into the night followed by laughs and jeers from the other HMO tenants.

The following morning it became clear that their housemate had not returned, at first they thought that she was playing a joke back on them they dismissed it and carried on with their daily routines. At around 5pm when the young woman had still not returned they began to feel guilty for teasing her, the rest of the tenants decided to head down to the graveyard to see if their friend had really been there.

As they neared the grave they were horrified to find their friend at the old landlord’s grave, she was lay face down at the graveside…dead!

She had accidentally staked the bottom of her waterproof coat to the ground and when she tried to run from the grave, she couldn’t… she had died of fright!

Don't get spooked by lack of insurance

Don’t get spooked by lack of insurance

 

 

It may be Halloween but spooky goings on don’t just happen on a single night of the year and landlords are reminded to ensure that they have adequate landlord insurance on their rental properties 

 

 …and tenants are reminded to make sure they have proper life insurance.

 

Read more posts by Legal 4 Landlords here

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