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Four New Year’s Resolutions Landlords Will Love

In this two-minute read, we look at four New Year’s resolutions landlords 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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Shhh… Get Rid of Unwanted Christmas Gifts Without Anyone Finding Out

In this two-minute read, we give you our best ideas for unloading your unwanted socks/smellies/toys/slippers (delete as appropriate).

Now we’ve all eaten our weight in turkey, pulled some crackers, and snoozed in front of the TV, it’s time for the great post-Christmas tidy-up.

The first place to start (once all that wrapping paper has been cleared away) is with your unwanted presents. Don’t just shove them under the bed or at the back of a cupboard. Get savvy, get rid, and get a little richer.

Donate them to a good cause

The guilt-free option for getting rid of something you know you’re never going to use. Charity shops benefit from new and unopened items, and you can feel happy in the knowledge your unwanted pressie is doing some good in the world.

Regift them to someone

You may feel a bit cheeky doing this, but in the grand scheme of things you’re actually doing your bit to help save the planet, avoid waste, and bag yourself some pennies.

Swap shop

Get online and swap your presents. Sites such as Preloved or Swapz let you find items of a similar value and arrange a swap. No money, no clutter – win-win. Alternatively, if you fancy hosting a little get-together, organise a post-holiday swap party where everyone brings an unwanted gift and swaps it for another guest’s present.

Sell online

There are so many online selling sites to choose from, your granny will never know you sold her gift of embroidered handkerchiefs, we promise. Obviously, there’s eBay, but check out other sites such as Facebook Marketplace, Amazon Marketplace, or Gumtree.

Return them

Now this is easy if you’ve got a gift receipt, but there’s hope even if you don’t. Most retailers have a returns policy that allows an exchange or will offer a credit note but there’s no law that forces a retailer to accept non-faulty items. Remember, in most cases you’ve only got 28 days to return something in store.

Things that can’t be returned include perishable items such as food, personalised items, or DVDs/CDs where the seal has been broken.

Give them away

It might not be a good idea to stand outside your house offering strangers a pair of brand-new flannel pyjamas, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. Make use of sites such as Freecycle, Freegle, and Trash Nothing to offload your unwanted gifts.

Whatever you decide to do with those extra presents, we at Nest in Essex hope you’ve had a great festive period. 

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Living with Your Parents? You’re Not Alone

In this three-minute read, we explore the growing trend of multigenerational living.

Remember when you were younger and you couldn’t wait to move out of your parents’ house, rent your own place and live independently? Well, times are a-changin’, and being an adult with your own bills, mortgage payments, and countless other expenses has lost its charm for many.

In fact, more and more people are going back to their roots, moving in with their parents, in-laws, or other family members to cut down costs and maximise space.

For many cultures, multigenerational living is the norm. It’s not uncommon for three or even four generations to live in one household, but this was a rarity in most UK households, until now. The Office for National Statistics has found that since 2001, households containing three generations is on the up.

Older adults are moving back in with their parents, elderly grandparents are moving in with their kids and grandkids, and many 20 – 30 somethings have no choice but to stay put in their childhood homes due to lack of funds. During the pandemic, many families decided to move in together to prevent isolation, provide support, and just be together.

These days, the traditional granny annexe won’t always do, as savvy grandparents want more space. Designs for granny flats (or student studios) are more self-contained, ensuring people have their own private space and retain a sense of independence.

As more downsizers move in with extended family, research from CBRE predicts that multigenerational living is set to increase over the next 20 years.

Typical ways families are joining together include:

  • Merging finances and buying bigger properties
  • Moving out of cities to take advantage of more space in rural areas
  • Extending properties to build an annexe
  • Adapting properties to create separate entrances and facilities

With the growing trend of multigenerational living, and more than 1.8 million households currently adopting this lifestyle, housebuilders are also getting in on it. New developments are popping up with ready-made granny flats or studios for multigenerational family set-ups.

Factors to investigate when considering merging households include matters such as council tax, planning permission, wills, and inheritance issues.

If you’re planning on creating a new multigenerational household, talk to us at Nest in Essex to see what’s currently available locally.

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Stop Your Rental Property from Being Used for Illegal Activity

This two-minute read looks at how landlords can keep their property safe from criminals and dodgy dealers.

Every landlord has lost sleep worrying about what goes on in their rental property when they’re not around.

There’s always a flicker of fear that a tenant – no matter how trustworthy they seem – might turn out to be a nightmare and cause damage to the property.

But carpet stains and chipped paint could be the least of a landlord’s worries in the scheme of things.

If criminals use your property for illegal activity, you could wind up with an expensive repair bill and a starring role in a court case. (And if the property is designated a crime scene, it could be off-limits for weeks while police investigate.)

While most tenants are law-abiding citizens, with criminals employing ever more sophisticated tactics, it’s worth being on your guard.

Rental properties are sometimes used for:

  • Drug production. Over the past 20 years, there’s been a steady increase in the use of domestic properties for cannabis farms or meth labs.
  • Drug dealing.
  • People trafficking.
  • Gambling dens or the sale of illicit cigarettes and alcohol.

What to do if you’re suspicious

Don’t bury your head in the sand. If the authorities can prove you were aware of the illegal activity taking place at your property but took no action, there could be severe repercussions.

Contact the relevant authority and keep a note of what you’ve seen or heard (but don’t play detective, leave that to the experts).

Look out for

  • Tenants with long, convoluted stories as to why they can’t show you the appropriate ID.
  • Tenants who install their own deadbolts, CCTV or alarms, and are dead against you arranging a planned property inspection.
  • Blacked-out windows and unusual smells. Meth labs can smell like cat’s wee, while cannabis farms have a distinctive, sweet odour.
  • Changes to the wiring (cannabis farmers often rejig it to bypass the electricity meter).

Proactive steps

  • Have a rigorous tenant screening process.
  • Run a mile from tenants offering to pay several months’ rent in advance in cash.
  • Carry out regular inspections.
  • Do things by the book. Criminals are looking for landlords who are lax or absent.
  • Build good relations with the neighbours. They could be the first to notify you if something fishy is going on.
  • Trust your instincts.

If this all feels like a tall order, you could get an experienced letting agent to manage your property.
 
That way, you can sleep easy knowing that your investment is safe.
 
From all of us here at Nest in Essex, don’t have nightmares and thanks for reading.

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What Will the Homes of 2022 and Beyond Look Like?

In this two-minute read, we look at how new trends could change our homes next year and in the future.

If the past couple of years have taught us anything, it’s that no one really knows what’s going to happen in the future.

But we’ve dusted down our crystal ball (with the help of some Google searches) to discover the trends forecasted to shape the way our homes look, function, and feel.

Below are five trends that style and design experts are predicting will become a hit in our homes next year.

  1. Natural colours – We’ll all be going back to our roots – well, kind of. White, ivory, taupe, and grey will be must-have colours, along with the bounce-back of beige. Shades of green are being widely tipped as next year’s number one colour.
  2. Flexible spaces – As the pandemic highlighted, rooms in our homes now need to be multi-purpose. Home offices are still on the rise, and with a bit of careful planning, that space in the corner of your living room could be turned into a study/work/play area. This could spell the end for the man cave as it will be under pressure to become a family den.
  3. Good for the planet – As climate and sustainability feature more highly in people’s thinking, our thoughts are predicted to apply this mindset to our homes. Long-lasting materials such as stone, glass, onyx, marble, granite, and light wood will become more popular as furniture and features of home decoration. Indoor plants are also forecasted to experience a boom.
  4. Built to last – Has fast fashion hit its peak? Because fast furnishings seem doomed to being consigned to the past. Instead, interior design experts are predicting we will start buying better-made, longer-lasting furniture. It’s a bit like choosing a good estate agent to sell your home, it may cost more, but you won’t regret it in the long run.
  5. Going to extremes – In keeping with the theme of cutting down consumption, some experts are confident that extreme minimalism will become increasingly popular. The focus will be on functionality – if you haven’t used an item for a while, it’s time to lose it and create more space in your home.

Whatever happens in 2022, we’re confident that the home moving market will continue to see a lot of activity and price growth.

How your home looks and feels helps you enjoy its full potential, and that’s something that’ll never go out of fashion.

If you have a property question you need an expert answer to, contact us today.

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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 Nest In Essex.

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Common Reasons Some Properties Can’t Be Mortgaged

In this two-minute read, we look at reasons why a property may be classified as unmortgageable.

Selling a property can be tricky at the best of times, but when a property is deemed unmortgageable things can get complicated.

‘Unmortgageable’ means lenders won’t allow a potential buyer to borrow the money they need to buy a property. For many sellers, this can be a knockout blow and can significantly reduce their options.  

Here are five common reasons why lenders won’t finance a purchase.

  1. The property is uninhabitable

This applies to derelict properties, buildings that have been abandoned, that pose safety risks or are considered not weatherproof. In addition, properties without a kitchen or bathroom may also be classed as unmortgageable. 

As a buyer, you may have big plans to restore a dilapidated property, but a lender may take a different view. If this is the case, always seek financial advice to learn how else you could finance the purchase.

  • Structural problems

If a property resembles the Leaning Tower of Pisa, chances are it’s got a bad case of subsidence – another big no-no for lenders. Other structural issues affecting whether or not a property is mortgageable include severe damp, dry or wet rot.

  • Short lease

If you spot a flat on the market for well below market value, it may have a short lease (under 70 years). A short lease knocks thousands off the value of a property as a buyer may struggle to get a mortgage (if they can get one at all). They’d also have to pay for a lease extension. This is costly (and can take ages) and there are often restrictions around how long you can own a property before applying for a longer lease.

  • Proximity to commercial or industrial sites

Lots of people live above shops so obviously these properties aren’t unmortgageable, but they aren’t always given regular residential mortgages. Particularly if they are above shops such as dry cleaners or restaurants (where there’s a high risk of fire/smoke damage). Similarly, if you buy near a factory or industrial site, a lender may be more reluctant to provide a mortgage as it may be difficult to sell on.

  • Doesn’t comply with building regulations

Sometimes extensions or building work is carried out without the necessary approval, or doesn’t meet strict building regulations. This can hamper a sale as a lender will need to see the necessary permissions/certificates to provide a mortgage.

Speak to us at Nest in Essex to find out how we can help you sell an unmortgageable property.

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Two Important Questions to Ask Before You Sign with an Estate Agent

Two Important Questions to Ask Before You Sign with an Estate Agent

In this three-minute read, we look at how to gauge if an agent is giving you an honest property valuation.

The first question a seller always asks an estate agent is: “How much can you sell my property for?”. The second is: “What is your fee?”.

This focus on price and fees makes perfect sense; understandably every seller wants to get the best possible property deal.

But before you jump in and choose an agent based solely on these two things, ask two more questions to determine if an agent is telling you the truth or a load of porkies.

Before you sign a contract, ask:

  • If there is a tie-in clause in the contract? If so, how long is it?
  • If you can terminate the agreement if you’re unhappy with the service?

Unfortunately, many sellers skip these questions, and it’s not until things go awry that they realise they’re locked into an unfavourable deal.

Tie-in periods

Some agents don’t do tie-ins at all, while others will ask that you commit to allowing them a minimum period, usually a few weeks, to market the property.

Other agents go so far as to lock you in for 24 weeks (with a 28-day notice period on top of that).

It’s up to you to decide what length of tie-in is reasonable – but make sure you understand from the outset what you’re getting into.

Overvaluing a property

It’s also worth questioning why an agent wants a 24-week tie-in. If they genuinely believe in their pricing strategy, why do they need nearly half a year to shift the property?

Unless, of course, they’ve deliberately overvalued your home to secure your custom. They know that eventually you’ll have to drop the price, but they don’t care – they’ve got you cornered.

The whole thing is a ploy to get your business. It wastes time and can jeopardise your next purchase, especially if you’re in a chain.

Bad service

Also, be wary of long notice periods. Some contracts not only commit you to an extended tie-in but require that you serve notice if you want to terminate.

So, you get to the end of a long tie-in, and think ‘hallelujah, I’m ditching these cowboys’ only to discover you’re still locked in.

Often, the longer the tie-in and notice period, the worse the service because the agent knows you can’t go elsewhere.

Top tips

  • Always do your research before choosing an agent.
  • Never sign a contract you haven’t read.
  • Remember, you can negotiate tie-in periods. They’re not set in stone, even if an agent tells you otherwise.
  • Go with a local agent with a reputation for excellent service and delivering on their promises.

From all of us here at Nest in Essex, thanks for reading.