Inventory importance

Are you taking inventories correctly?

I would like to stress the importance of an inventory.

I have been told by a landlord once ‘I don’t need an inventory because my property is unfurnished’.

I hope that no one agrees with that statement.

I would say ‘would you mind if your tenants took all the internal doors or painted your master bedroom walls, gloss black…… When they leave? Is that okay with you?’

The tenants have not damaged anything, but it would still cost to put these things right, and that should not be at a landlords expense.

I would go as far as to say if you are taking a damage deposit but not going to preparing an inventory, you are wasting your time. I am being honest.

The only thing you would be able to do with the deposit would be to attempt to claim any rent arrears.

Because you have no evidence of anything, damages, or any missing items.

So if you are taking a deposit, please prepare an inventory.

In 2007 it became law the deposit had to be registered, so now if any damages cannot be agreed between the landlord and tenant, and we mustn’t forget the damage deposit is the tenant’s money, it has to be sent to an adjudicator to agree any deductions. An adjudicator will:

• Have never seen your property
• never met you
• doesn’t know you are a good landlord
• doesn’t know you provide great property
• They don’t know the tenant either

So they will only make a judgement on what evidence is put in front of them and that will be the inventory and the checkout. If just one of these documents is missing, you will lose any charges you are more than likely wanting to make.

As law states at all times it is the tenants money, are you as the landlord must prove if you are entitled to a claim of any of his money.

Inventories must be very detailed. If you have a handle on a shower door, write this down and not just ‘shower door’. If you have bulbs in a property that are working, again write these down. Everything has been detailed in description of the item.

We can start with the top of the room the ceiling, the light fittings, coving, walls, windows, curtains, curtains tracks, skirting’s, doorframes and doors. Sockets and carpets, even thresholds. Don’t forget cleanliness.

I once was given a double sided piece of a4 paper for a fully furnished three bedroom property!

You have to be factual

Photographs. We didn’t need them many years ago, but now it is so important, just as important as the detailed document itself. Now with smart phones and tablets it is so easy to add photographs. Don’t forget photographs for checkouts as well.

The checkout report is equally as important. You need evidence at the beginning and the end.

I can’t really argue with a photo. If they is a large stain on the carpet, and you can’t argue with that.

The other important thing is to ensure your tenants sign inventory or at the very least sign to say they have received it and what they need to do with it. Giving a timescale to make any amendments. Without this, the document becomes invalid.

Betterment. Have you heard of this?

I landlord is not allowed to be in a better position than when they were at the start of the tenancy.

Four example if a carpet has an average lifespan of 10 years and the tenant had lived at the property for five years. If the carpet was down 2 years prior to that, it has had seven years of its life span.

The tenant has put 20 hair straight burn marks all over your carpet. You cannot charge a tenant for a whole new carpet. But you can charge the difference for those three years that the carpet has left.

So for example if the carpet cost £100 you can charge of £30.

You have to proportion the amount you are claiming from the tenant’s damage deposit. Be fair and don’t put yourself in a position of betterment.

Regarding how much deposit we can take.

We have another piece of legislation coming in call the ‘tenant fee ban’.

This comes in on the 1st of June 2019 and the limit you can take, will be changing. At the moment being an unlimited amount to, which has been confirmed will be five weeks rent. This will be capped as a maximum.

Advertisements

Let’s talk electrics

Electrical Regulation are set to change in the next couple of years.

The Existing Regulations:

At the moment, landlords are expected to keep electrical installations in good repair and proper working order.

A landlord may be liable for the injury of a tenant or resident caused by defective wiring.

The New Regulations

This regulation already applies to Licensed HMO (House of Multiple Occupation) properties.
Mandatory five-year electrical installation checks on private rented housing will be introduced in a phased approach.
Implementation date has not yet been clarified,
Letting agents and landlords will be given 6 months to familiarise with the new legislation before it comes into force.
A transition period will apply for two years.
In YEAR ONE, all NEW private tenancies will be affected
AND in YEAR TWO, ALL existing tenancies will come within scope.

HMO licensing

Does your HMO (House of Multiple Occupation) need a license? October 2018

We have new licensing rules. These came in October 2018.

The main changes are.

• What is classed as a HMO
• And, minimum room sizes

But first let’s clarify what is a HMO.

HMO is where a property is rented to 3 or more individuals, who are not related. (Making up two or more households)

Therefore let’s say. You rent to 3 nurses… this is HMO.

Or you rent to a girlfriend and boyfriend and they then move a friend in. This actually happens quite frequently…… this is also a HMO

Here in Exeter we had the introduction of Article 4. And if you are renting a HMO in the Article 4 area, you didn’t necessarily need a license (until it is a particular size) but you would need planning.

If you think you fall into this category, review the situation and get advice.

Back to the amendments to the HMO licensing rules.

I licensable HMO used to be classed as a five or more non-related occupants on three or more floors.

Now the story element has been removed. So for anyone who has five or more occupants in the property….. You now own a LICENSABLE HMO

Currently a license costs £760.

You are expected to know this and they have given no grace period for this.

On average, nationwide they are expecting to have an additional 174,000 properties. Lots of money for councils all over the country

These new licensing rules are going to affect a lot of properties.

If you have a HMO that falls into this category. You should have submitted a license by the 1st of October last year. If you haven’t you should do so now. Better late than never

One other key thing is Minimum room sizes in bedrooms and communal spaces. These have now been changed.

The minimum room size of bedroom size is 6.51sqm.

You would need to take into consideration if you have a room in a loft space the floor space would be different if you have some areas that have a restricted height space of below 1.5m, some of these areas will be excluded

The communal room sizes have also changed however this will depend on how many adults are occupying the property.

It is understand that you cannot evict a tenant quickly, therefore if you are renting a room that doesn’t comply you will be expected, within 18 months to end that tenancy or make the room compliant.

If you have a HMO, you should have given a copy of the license to each tenant at the beginning of the tenancy. If you haven’t got proof that you did, you will find it difficult to give your tenants notice. New Section 21 are to be used as from October 2018.

Also remember the licenses are not transferable. So if you sell your property or if you buy one, the license is not transferable.

The Importance of a Proper Inventory

 

Don’t get caught out without a proper inventory!

 

 

I have been working with a landlord for quite some years, mainly helping him with finding him tenants, he is a landlord who wants to look after the property himself and has felt confident that he can manage the property well.  He is a hands on landlord, always responsive to his tenants needs so therefore has got himself a good name, the tenants would recommend him and often give positive feedback.

 

However this year it came to my attention, after seeing sight of his so-called inventory, that he would never be able to make any deductions from a tenant if they caused any damage when they vacate. He has always been lenient when his tenants vacate however if he was to have a particular bad tenant one year, he would come unstuck.

 

His inventory consisted of a piece of A4 paper torn out from a note book, with a simple list of the furniture. No mention of the property itself.  He looked at the inventory as list of the items, no mention of the fixtures, the walls, carpets, radiators or even the kitchen and bathroom!

 

I put to him, how do you prove that the stain on the carpet wasn’t there when they moved in or the wall WAS white and not grey as it is now.  Or even if the property was very dirty and you wanted to get a cleaner in.

 

Don’t get me wrong, he does take the odd deduction from tenants’ damage deposits but tenants have always agreed and no reference to the inventory was ever made.  If it was argued, this would the point.

 

Tenants are now so much more aware of legislation and the right and wrong way of doing things.

 

We laughed together after the event and talked about worst case scenario.  He agreed that just because he did not have an issue in the first place, does not mean he won’t in the future.

 

He is now looking at all of his procedures, his way of doing things, which, to be honest, when you are a long standing landlord like he is, it was ok once upon a time, but things have changed in the industry so much.

 

You don’t have to use an expensive inventory clerk, but you do need to get it right, an extensive list, correct description and condition.  More importantly now …. Photos to back it up.

 

Don’t go make the same mistake and get yourself caught out like my landlord nearly did.

FIVE of the most common deposit deductions in student accommodation

FIVE of the most common deposit deductions in student accommodation

As a managing agent for student accommodation we notice the same issues year on year that cause deductions from the student deposits. Below I have described 5 of the most common;

  • Use of blu tack & adhesives

 

    1. At Star Lettings it is written into the tenancy agreement that blu tack is not to be used on any walls/woodwork due to the impact it has on the paintwork. We stimulate that pins are allowed in moderation as an alternative. Damage caused by adhesives will likely incur redecoration costs.
  • Condensation mould

 

    1. In an HMO multiple people tend to shower and cook one after the other creating high levels of condensation. If the house is then not adequately ventilated or heated, the hot air will sit on the coldest walls, condensate and overtime become mouldy. Should the mould not be swiftly removed then this can have a lasting impact on decoration leading to the possibility of charges at the end of tenancy.
  • Carpet stains

 

    1. This normally affects areas of high traffic such as the hall, stairs and living room. Whilst within reason wear and tear is allowed for, any excessive staining will likely require the services of a professional carpet cleaner.
  • Unclean kitchen appliances

 

    1. Namely ovens, microwaves, tumble dryer filters & washing machine powder drawers. These are expected to be left in the same condition they were found in and as stated in the inventory.
  • General waste & possessions

 

  1. The end of tenancy date rarely coincides with bin collection day and therefore we strongly recommend advanced plans are made for the disposal of household waste, recycling and unwanted personal possessions. If any of these are left behind in the property or the black and green bins then charges will be incurred for their collection and disposal. It is worth checking with the University for any extra end of term bin collections.

At Star Students we try our hardest to work with our tenants through the course of the tenancy to advise on any areas of concern during management visits and pre-move out meetings. We hope this has a positive effect and increases the likelihood of a full deposit return.

 

How Can I Increase My Rent?

By increasing the rent you may risk your tenants giving notice and moving elsewhere.

You may lose money by potentially leaving your property empty for some time while searching for new tenants then you otherwise would gain by increasing the rent.

Contracts

Check your contract, are you in a fixed term or a rolling contract? With a fixed term contract it will be hard to increase the rent unless the contract stipulates anything different. Normally you can only increase the rent at the end of a fixed term contract. If you are on a rolling contract or periodic it is easier to make a rent increase. You would have to give at least one months notice and you can normally only increase the rent once annually. Ensure you give your tenant the correct official document of the proposed rent increase. A section 13 would be required unless you are drawing up a new contract by mutual agreement.

If you want any more advice on rent increases or other landlords knees please check out our further blogs and videos

Student parties and noise Issues

 

If you are a student then you are bound to be partying in between exams and revision and so here is some advice on have a great time but stay friends with the neighbours. Who knows you may need them to put your bins out for you at Christmas or Easter when you are away!

 

Please let your neighbours know in advance of the party and decide on a mutual time to finish and stick to it. Invite them around for a drink so that they can feel a little included if they want to be.

 

Let the neighbours have several contact numbers so that they can ring or text if it is all getting a bit much. If neighbours feel like they could stop the noise at any point they will feel a bit more in control. There is nothing worse than having to get out of bed at 3am to knock on the neighbour’s door and still not be heard.

 

Neighbours have a lot of power over noise pollution so be aware that if complaints are made and it goes as far as the City Councils Environmental Health Department, this department has the legal right to confiscate sound equipment if the noise levels are too high.

 

Noise complaints are dealt with very seriously by the University and this is classed as anti-social behavior.

 

If the parties and noise persists then letting agents may get involved and if the advice and warnings are ignored then Landlords, parents and guarantors can be involved as the next step to sorting the issue out.  The last thing you need is to be at risk of being evicted from your house part way through the academic year.

 

Having said all of that you are at University to learn how to be independent young adults, make your own choices and besides getting your degree to also have a good time so enjoy but keep the bass levels down!