Why Landlords Should Never Skip Doing an Inventory 

 
A thorough inventory can save a landlord time and money and prevent messy end-of-tenancy disputes. So why do so many landlords rush this essential stage – or skip it altogether? 
 
In this quick read, we look at why an inventory is important and what you need to include in it. 
 
Picture this 
Your tenant of the past 12 months is leaving. You go to check them out and find a massive stain on the carpet, the sofa cover has been torn and there are lots of marks on the walls. 
 
Uh oh. 
 
You’re in a stand-off. The tenant denies causing the damage, but you know it wasn’t there when they moved in. However, unless you’ve documented the condition of the carpet, sofa and walls in an inventory before the tenant moved in, get ready to start paying out. 
 
What is an inventory?
It’s a detailed report about the property, fittings and furnishings. It details things like cleanliness, contents and the condition of the premises prior to a tenant moving in. It’s often supplemented with pictures (and videos) and provided to both parties at the start of a tenancy agreement. 
 
Also known as a schedule of condition, a thorough inventory should rate different aspects of the property from ‘poor’ to ‘excellent’. 
 
Why is it so important? 
While it’s not a legal requirement, it is essential. Yet many landlords fail to do it. Or they simply go through the motions and record only the bare basics.
 
Unfortunately, disputes between tenants and landlords are common. Especially at the end of a tenancy. 
 
And with deposits now held in tenancy deposit schemes, a landlord can’t just withhold part or all the deposit in the event of any damage. Instead, the dispute must be officially resolved, and an inventory is essential to help reach a solution. 
 
When should an inventory be compiled? 
Before the tenant moves themselves or any of their possessions into the property. 
 
Who should do an inventory?
The inventory is the landlord’s responsibility. You can do it yourself, ask your agent or organise a professional inventory company to perform it. You should keep a copy of the inventory and provide one to the tenant. Both parties should sign and date the inventory so that you’re in agreement. 
 
At the end of the tenancy, the inventory should be revisited so the condition of the property and any contents can be checked. 
 
It can also be a useful reference for landlord inspections during the tenancy period. 
 
Is an inventory necessary for an unfurnished property? 
Yes. An inventory is always necessary. 
 
From light switches to kitchen cupboards, garden fences to plug sockets – an inventory details the minutiae of a rental property and the condition of every aspect. 
 
If you’re searching for new tenants, get in touch with our lettings team at Gibbins Richards Lettings and Management Ltd.
 

What Are a Tenant’s Responsibilities? 


Moving into a new home can be exciting, but renting a property comes with responsibilities. To avoid disputes – or paying for things that don’t fall within your remit – it’s helpful to know your obligations as a tenant. 
 
Read on for a general guide to a tenant’s responsibilities (but please note that for specific detail, refer to your rental agreement). 
 
It’s a two-way street 
The most important thing to remember about the tenant/landlord relationship is that both parties have an important role to play. The landlord has a duty to ensure that the property they’re letting is safe and habitable, and the tenant should treat the property respectfully.
 
Your rental agreement 
As with most relationships, things work best when everyone understands what’s expected of them. And that’s why your rental agreement is so important – it’s a legal contract that spells out the responsibilities of the landlord and the tenant. It should cover everything from rent and repairs to how to end a tenancy. 
 
Always read, and make sure you understand the terms of a rental agreement before you sign on the dotted line.
 
While your contract will cover most eventualities, here are some common causes of confusion regarding tenant/landlord responsibilities. 
 
Repairs and maintenance 
Generally, landlords are responsible for the property’s structure (walls, chimneys and the roof), sanitation (toilets, sinks and pipework), boiler and electrical wiring.
 
Landlords are also responsible for the furniture and electrical appliances that are in the property when the tenant moves in.
 
Any items or goods brought into the property by the tenant are the tenant’s responsibility.
 
Damage 
If a tenant (or their guest) causes damage to the property, then the tenant is obliged to handle the repairs. So if, for example, you invite a friend around and they spill red wine on the carpet, it’s your job as the tenant to get rid of the stain.
 
Reporting issues 
While the landlord has to take care of structural and external features, it’s a tenant’s responsibility to report problems. It’s best to do this when you first notice an issue so that it’s resolved promptly.
 
Access 
If you’ve reported an issue to your landlord, a tradesperson will need access to the property to do the repairs. This work should be conducted at a reasonable time, and you should be given 24 hours’ notice before they arrive. A tenant can refuse access on ‘reasonable grounds’. But to get the problem resolved as soon as possible, it’s best to be accommodating.
 
Gardens 
Landlords are typically responsible for fences, guttering and lopping trees. The tenant is obliged to carry out tasks such as weeding, watering and disposing of waste.

Cleanliness 
Cleanliness can be a thorny issue – half of all end-of-tenancy disputes are about cleaning*. Before moving out, a tenant should ensure the property is cleaned to the same standard as it was at the start of the tenancy (although allowances are made for general wear and tear). 
 
Talk to your landlord – or their agent 
While it’s essential to adhere to the terms of your rental agreement, if you have a question, raise it with your landlord or their agent. Sometimes disputes are caused by simple misunderstandings that can be sorted by having a quick chat.
 
To find out about rental properties in the local area, get in touch with us here at Gibbins Richards Lettings and Management LTD.
 
*Tenancy Deposit Scheme

Is Being a Landlord an Easy Money Maker? 

 

Many people think that being a landlord is easy. Rent out a property, move some people in, sit back and rake in the cash… if only it was that simple. 
 
Any experienced landlord knows that owning rental property is hard, and it can be a 24/7 job in the event of any issues. Preparing a property for rent is just the first hurdle; ensuring your tenants are safe and the property is maintained are ongoing requirements. 
 
In this quick read, we bust some common myths about landlords and their obligations. 
 
Landlords don’t care about safety 
Wrong! It’s at the top of the list. Tenants deserve to live in homes that are safe, and a landlord has legal (and moral) duties to ensure this. 
 
Gas safety is hugely important, and landlords throughout the UK must ensure that any gas appliances within the property are safe to use. Tenants should be provided with a Gas Safety Certificate as soon as a tenancy starts. 
 
Fire and carbon monoxide safety is also a legal priority for all landlords, and rental properties must be fitted with smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. 
 
Landlords pocket deposits 
Historically, deposits have always been a point of contention between tenants and landlords. But these days, there are strict laws regarding tenant deposits (and landlords can wind up seriously out of pocket if they flout them). Landlords must lodge all deposits with a government-approved deposit scheme. This ensures that a deposit will be returned if the terms of the tenancy are met, if no damage is caused (beyond fair wear and tear) and if all rent and bills are paid. 
 
Landlords disappear once tenants move in 
This is a big one, especially for tenants who experience problems after they have moved into a property. That’s why it’s always important to find a rental property through an experienced letting agent. 
 
A good landlord will ensure the property is well maintained – after all, it is their source of income. Landlords should maintain any furniture or appliances that are in the property when a tenant moves in. An inventory should be carried out at the start and end of a tenancy to ensure that both parties have information about the general condition of the property and such items. The same applies to repairs if something stops working during a tenancy. 
 
If you’re a tenant looking for a rental or a landlord looking for a new agent, please contact us.

 

It pays to sit down once a year and review how your buy-to-let is performing and flag up any potential issues looming on the horizon. 
 
We’re all familiar with an MOT, an annual check-up to ensure your car is safe and good to go for the year ahead. Well, let’s apply the same concept to a buy-to-let investment. 
 
Even if your current tenancy is ticking along nicely, a property MOT can be a helpful exercise to ensure that you:
 
Are up to date with government regulations and maintenance
Have the right rental strategy
Are not spending more than you need to on your mortgage and repairs.
 
So, let’s go!
 
Do the maths 
 
Go through your records and calculate your return on investment and rental yield (there are online calculators to help you do this). See if you can identify any possible savings (consider everything from landlord insurance, mortgage deal, accountancy fees, etc.). Even if these gains are small, they all add up.
 
Repairs and maintenance 
 
Often tenants are reluctant to raise minor concerns for fear they’ll look petty or get the blame, so don’t wait for them to call you. Be proactive and get on top of any leaks, mould or drainage problems. Ensure you’re up to date with mandatory gas and electrical safety checks.
 
Energy efficiency 
 
We all know energy prices are soaring. Ensure your property is well insulated and draught-proof. Don’t wait until the winter to get this job done. And think longer term, as new energy property rules are on the horizon. 
 
Décor review 
 
Times change, but has your property? If your property looks tired and dated, you could be missing a trick. In some areas, the pandemic brought about a huge demographic shift that is being reflected in the rental market. Consider a cosmetic makeover or garden spruce-up so that you can target groups such as professionals, relocators or young families.
 
Property management 
 
A property MOT isn’t just about money; it’s about time, too. If you self-manage, analyse the true cost of this task on your quality of life. If you’re finding the admin and legal requirements increasingly onerous, get a letting agent to take the burden off you. An agent’s expertise and market know-how may also save you money in the long run.
 
If you already have a letting agent, consider the quality of service you’re getting. Are your calls answered promptly? Is your agent meticulous when it comes to maintenance deadlines and routine checks? If you’re not happy, it’s time to shop around. 
 
To learn more about the property management services we offer here at Gibbins Richards Lettings and Management Ltd, get in touch. 

 

In our post-pandemic world, working from home (WFH) has become the new norm for many people. But as a landlord, you need to make sure your tenants are working in a way that doesn’t impact you negatively. 
 
 
Most of us think of WFH as sitting in front of a laptop or doing Zoom meetings wearing a shirt and tie with pyjama bottoms. However, there’s been a boom of small businesses cropping up, many of them based in flats and houses all over the country. 
 
 
In this two-minute read, we look at some questions to consider if you’re a landlord with tenants WFH. 
 
 
Could tenants WFH affect your tenancy agreement?
 
Broadly, the answer to this question is ‘no’. However, there’s a difference between working from home for a job and running a business from a rented property. The latter used to be frowned upon as it could be seen as a ‘business tenancy’ rather than a residential one. However, changes to the law back in 2015 gave permission for certain ‘home businesses’ that could ‘reasonably’ be run from home. 
 
Currently, the most common tenancy type is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) which stipulates that a property should only be used as a residence. This stops tenants from using the property as a business address, so you need to let your renters know that this is the case. 
 
 
Should you ask tenants if they plan to work from your property?
 
There’s no reason why not. It’s always best to know what’s going on in your rental accommodation. You could get your letting agent to ask prospective tenants their intentions so you can make an informed decision. 
 
Should you always allow tenants to WFH⁉️
 
Most landlords would argue that their rent won’t be paid if their tenant doesn’t work, so the simple answer to this is ‘yes’. WFH for a couple of days a week shouldn’t pose a problem for most properties. 
 
Difficulties arise when the form of work could cause damage to your property, or impact upon other residents. For example, if your tenant is a mechanic and plans to fix cars in the front garden, this could be a point of contention for neighbours. Similarly, if they’re running an internet sales business and using your property to store goods, you’ll want to make sure they don’t damage the interior.
 
 
Red flags to watch out for:
 
Is your tenant using the property more for commercial purposes than residential? 
Are neighbours being affected by noise, traffic or anything else caused by the tenant’s business? 
Are customers attending the premises? 
 
 
If you come across any of the above, you should seek further advice or speak to your tenants. 
 
To find out more about the do’s and don’ts of tenants WFH, speak to our team at Gibbins Richards Lettings and Management Ltd today.
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