Property Matters

Harcourts property management Southampton

Renting your property: how to get it right

Property Management – Enjoying the benefits and avoiding the headaches

It should be straightforward and uncomplicated to rent out a property.

There is clearly a shortage of housing and this situation is only going to get worse and yet being a landlord can mean that you have to be an expert in what is often very unclear legislation.

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Relax and let your Letting Agent take the Strain

Landlords, are you confident enough to manage your property yourself? Unless you have a lot of experience, spare time to attend training courses and have the right access to legal and practical information you could be risking fines and even imprisonment if you get it wrong. In order to protect their investment, all landlords need to be aware of their statutory obligations together with the rights of the tenants living in their property.

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Christmas Property Care List

Once again the Christmas and New Year break is fast approaching and most people cannot understand where the year has gone. There is a last minute rush to get everything organised and in the rush, some important tasks can be forgotten.

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HARCOURTS TIPS FOR A WORRY FREE WINTER

It is impossible to accurately predict the weather, but you can always predict that at this time of year your property needs a little more care and attention than usual. However, there are some routine items which if carried out in good time could help to minimize problems, whether the weather is just wet and windy or freezing.

1. Firstly, always check your rainwater goods are maintained. Clear out guttering and repair leaking joints or replace guttering if necessary. Also check down pipes are running freely and gulleys are clear.

2. Ensure that your central heating boiler or other form of heating has been serviced and is working correctly and efficiently. No one wants a nasty surprise in the middle of a cold spell. Plumbers and Gas Engineers are extra busy at this time of year, so that even minor works can take longer than usual to fix.

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Ten Questions to ask your Letting Agent

Many landlords are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with all the new legal requirements and regulations which now seem to change on a monthly basis. If you are thinking of using a letting agent who claims to be a specialist in this field, then here are ten important questions which we think you should ask them.

1. Do you have Client Money Protection? This is the most important question as otherwise an agency which goes out of business may also disappear with your rental funds. It would also be worthwhile enquiring if they have Professional Indemnity Cover and how long they have been established.

2. Are you up to date on tenancy law? Enquire what training their staff undertake and if the agent invests in Continuing Professional Development to make sure their knowledge and skills are kept up to date.

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Legislation for Lettings – Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

There has always been confusion over smoke alarms in tenanted properties and finally we have been provided with some clear guidelines on this point.

Up until 1st October it had been necessary to provide wired-in smoke alarms where properties were re-wired or had electrical works carried out. This had also been a requirement in Houses in Multiple Occupation or Student Accommodation.

Now all tenanted properties in England will need to be fitted with a working smoke alarm on each floor.

This will mean a rush of activity to ensure that these life-saving devices are fitted as quickly as possible, but there is no doubt that the legislation is long overdue and all landlords will be able to see the benefits of protecting their properties.

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Landlords with Student Lettings

At both our offices in Southampton and Bournemouth, we are finding that the market for student lettings is a mixed one, with some areas still having a high demand for private accommodation and others already adequately catered for by new council or college built student blocks. Many landlords are therefore now finding their properties, which they had successfully let for many years, standing vacant.

Despite higher tuition fees the number of new students taking up University or College places has risen again this year. However, those landlords having trouble filling their properties are now considering their option of returning to the residential lettings market.

The income is often seen as being less lucrative, but the security of tenure is greater as families and professional tenants tend to remain in properties for longer. This, in turn, results in less maintenance and repair costs.

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New Legionella Regulations for Lettings

Expert letting service in Southampton

As anyone dealing in tenanted property will be aware, we have all been inundated with new legislation over the past few years.

We are able to deal with all the changes in law which are about to come into effect, such as the additional checks for Residence Status (Immigration Act 2014) for all tenancy applicants and The Deregulation Bill with simple amendments to our current procedures.

However, the new regulation causing the most upheaval and additional work in our own office is the Health & Safety Executive’s new guidelines on the control of legionella bacteria in water systems. This can cause Legionnaires’ disease which is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia.

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Spring Cleaning for Homes and Gardens

Property Services in Southampton

This is the time of year when many people look to make changes to their properties, either small ones like buying a few new plants for the summer or life-changing moving home decisions.

Whatever your long term plans are it is always a good time to see how you can improve things and have a good tidy-up after the winter, both internally and externally. This does not necessarily involve high cost but can often make a real difference.

Kerb appeal is always important. Potential buyers or tenants usually make up their mind immediately they see a house as to whether they like it or not and you cannot always rely on the interior to change their minds, no matter how good it is.

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property services in Southampton

Is condensation a problem in your property?

Property Specialists in Southampton

We receive more complaints about condensation from tenants than any other issue and the cause is often found to be related to the occupant’s ‘lifestyle’ than any fault with the property itself.

Modern lives mean that people are out at work all day and very reluctant to leave windows open or heating on, particularly in rooms they do not use. Before they go to work and upon their return they have showers, boil water and cook meals, all leading to a build-up of moist air which has nowhere to go. Then, just to make things worse they often have no external clothes drying facilities, so damp washing is left over or around radiators.

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New Year Resolutions on Property Maintenance

Property Experts in Southampton

By the second week of January I am sure most New Year resolutions have already been broken. It seems silly not to have just one small drink with friends you didn’t get a chance to meet up with over the holiday period and once you have eaten that bar of chocolate in the cupboard it won’t be a temptation any more.

There is always a reasonable excuse for not pursuing that very realistic idea you had for the New Year regarding personal matters, but many people make resolutions regarding moving house, or carrying out improvement work or to find an agent because the worry and strain of dealing with their investment property is getting too much.

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Property services in Southampton

Harcourts' tips for winter property care

...and legal update on service charges for block managment

The weather forecasters are predicting yet another wet winter and this is really bad news for many homeowners where properties are still not completely dried out following last year’s heavy rainfall.

The number of insurance claims caused by torrential rain and strong gale force winds was unprecedented and in our own office even exceeded the hurricane storm of 1987. To make matters worse even if you did find a roofer able to carry out repairs, the essential scaffolding was in such short supply that it took months to arrange works to start.

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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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