Ask the Expert

Property advice Southampton

Harcourts Property News for Landlords and Investors

Lettings in Southampton

The lettings market seems to be calming down a bit now that the summer rush for student lettings has passed and tenants are settling down for the winter.

However, there is still a very good demand for properties to let in Southampton, particularly for houses, as there does still appear to be quite a shortage of suitable family homes in this area.

Families are looking for good quality housing which is clean, in good repair and has modern kitchens, bathrooms and affordable heating. A garage and garden are also preferred, although not all tenants make good gardeners and the landlord should be prepared that even if the house is returned in good order at the end of the tenancy, the garden may be overgrown unless regular inspections are made.

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property services Southampton

Putting Your House In Order

Property Services in Southampton

As we all gradually start coming to terms with the end of summer we may be lucky enough to enjoy a few weeks when the weather is still pleasant and we can relax a little, before commencing preparations for Christmas and the onset of winter.

Now is the time to ensure that your property is fully wind and watertight, with no loose slates, tiles or other items. The drains, gulleys and gutters should be cleared once the leaves have fallen and you may just have time to paint any areas of woodwork which need protecting. Any unexplained damp patches should be fully investigated as any prolonged rain will only worsen the problem.

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letting agents in Southampton

IS YOUR LETTING AGENT FULLY TRAINED?

Experienced Letting Agents in Hampshire

Is your Letting Agent a member of ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents) or a similar regulating body?

This is more important than you may think as membership is not automatic for any Agent and you must follow strict procedures and guidelines, carry out and take part in regular training sessions and ensure that your accounting practices are thorough and secure.

This week ARLA and the NAEA organised an excellent local conference, where we were able to speak to experts in such diverse subjects as Japanese Knotweed, Virgin Media connections and Landlord Insurance. All of which were of great interest and are all relevant to the day to day work we carry out. The range of topics in which any competent Lettings or Property Manager must have a good basic understanding, or be thoroughly competent at, appears to grow daily.

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Emergency Property Repairs Cover for Investment La

Emergency Property Repairs Cover for Investment Landlords

Property services in Southampton

At Harcourts we provide many services for our clients. These can range from finding tenants, and collecting rents, to making insurance claims on behalf of the landlord. We are used to fully managing properties and this also includes inspecting properties regularly, organising all building repairs and general maintenance, repairing or replacing white goods as necessary, together with carpets and curtains etc.

We can cover any property related issue and often help our clients out on items which do not actually concern the property we manage for them.

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The Property Market

Property Agents in Southampton

The market is particularly buoyant at the moment with prices rising very quickly. Many people feel they have been holding on to their property in the hope that values would eventually improve. However, unless interest rates also improve, it would still be difficult to match the return given by a rental property.

Rents are increasing and there is a real scarcity of available properties so if they are in fair order they will usually let quickly. Therefore, unless you need to sell, make the most of your investment by keeping the property well maintained and then void periods can be kept to a minimum.

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"Doing up your Home"

Quality Lettings in Southampton

I’m sure you all watch the various programmes on ‘doing up your home’ whether it is for your own use, to sell or to rent out. I am constantly amazed how they manage to build a new extension, plaster and decorate rooms, fit kitchens and bathrooms and even treat dry rot or subsidence issues in only two days!

Hopefully most people realise they should be a little more realistic with the time frame and it would also be useful if the programmes actually include costs, although some do and these usually point out how you should always allow a little more than you first estimate as hidden problems can arise.

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landlord services in Southampton

Property Management for Landlords

Property Management Service in Southampton

Landlords are you confident enough to manage your property yourself? Unless you have a lot of experience, spare time and the right access to legal and practical information you can actually save money by using a reputable Managing Agent.

Managing a property may look easy and many opt to do it themselves, which is fine until something goes wrong.

Any landlord will need to be aware of his statutory obligations. A non- compliant landlord could receive a large fine or possible imprisonment. Landlords also need to know the rights of a tenant living in his property.

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property matters in southampton

Tenant and Landlord Charges...

2013 brought many changes to legislation and these have affected the management of all properties, whether individual houses or blocks of flats. However, not all rulings are fully understood or complied with.

For Agents, one of the main changes last year affected the use of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs). From 9th January 2013 the energy rating had to be included in all advertisements and if space allowed the graph should be shown. Earlier advice was that the entire report should be displayed, so this made things a lot easier for agents and landlords when advertising a property. It is a legal requirement that an EPC is in place for all properties before they are advertised or marketed as being “to let” or for sale.

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flat lettings in southampton

Landlords and Tenants...

Although most landlords prefer the peace of mind that using a professional firm to manage their properties provides, some prefer to manage properties themselves but use Letting Agents for finding and referencing tenants. At Harcourts this is becoming an increasing aspect of our Letting Department’s work.

We would always recommend using an Agent to provide the letting paperwork, as once a tenant is found and has moved into their new property, there are still regulations and obligations to be acknowledged and understood by both the landlord and the tenant.

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renting in southampton

New to renting?

Experienced Letting Agents in Southampton

At Harcourts, although we specialise in Renovations, Block and Property Management, Lettings is a major side of our business. We manage hundreds of properties in and around Southampton from studio apartments to flats and houses.

If you are new to renting, then the whole process can be quite daunting, but providing you are prepared and know what is required then a good agent can help you through it.

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letting in southampton

Making the most of your property...

With low interest rates looking set to continue for some time, investing in property is still a viable and for many people, an attractive proposition. Whatever the reason for the investment, everyone needs to protect and maximise their income. A badly thought out and rushed renovation job in order to let quickly may only cause more expense and result in long void periods later on. There are some basic essential requirements to comply with modern regulations and tenant legislation.

It is essential that gas and electrical installations are checked and upgraded if necessary to comply with modern regulations. Any gas appliance must be covered by a current Landlord’s Gas Safety Inspection Certificate and these are renewed annually.

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Maintain and Improve the value of your property

I am very pleased to introduce myself and Harcourts as your new provider of Ask The Expert advice for YourSouthampton.co.uk.

Having lived in Southampton all my life and worked here in property management since 1971, I will do my best to answer any questions you may have, whether they are specific to this area, or general queries on any property based issue.

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