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Electrical Safety Inspections: Everything Landlords Need to Know

When you are a landlord, you should remember that people actually live in your property! It’s more than just bricks and mortar and an investment. It’s ultimately someone’s home.

There lies within property ownership a responsibility to tenants to make sure that they are safe. Indeed, it’s an obligation, and it’s a legal responsibility too.

For years, landlords have had to carry out regular gas safety checks, but new rules now mean that landlords must carry out electrical safety checks too.

Here, we set out what they’re all about.

What’s Changed?

The Government, which says it acknowledges many landlords are responsible owners, said it wants to make sure people are safe when they live in rented accommodation.

So, new guidelines were drafted, and those new rules came into force in June 2020 as the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020.

At the time, the Government said: “This is a major step towards levelling up the private rented sector, making sure it will offer high-quality, safe and secure housing.”

This is good thinking, and a welcome move, particularly when you consider that gas safety checks have been carried out for years now.

What do the new Rules Mean?

Landlords must now comply with the new regulations. They must have “the electrical installations in their properties inspected and tested by a person who is qualified and competent, at least every five years”.

A copy of the electrical safety report must be provided to tenants, and also to a local authority (like the council) if requested.

Basically, electrical testing has got to be done by professionals with the correct knowledge and skill.

Does this Apply to all of a Landlord’s Properties?

The new regulations must be adhered to, but there are two dates to be mindful of. The rules apply to new tenancies from July 1, 2020. This means for new tenancies that commenced after July 1, a safety report should already have been carried out. However, landlords have until April 1, 2021, for existing tenancies.

Can Anyone do an Inspection?

No. As the guidelines say, the inspection must be carried out by a competent person who is registered to do so. You can find a list of professionals here www.electricalcompetentperson.co.uk

What do the Inspections Cover?

Inspections are not about fridges of kettles or other small appliances or white goods. What they about are the fixed electrical things like plug sockets and lights, and also showers if they are electric and permanently fixed.

Tests will see if everything is safe or if there is a risk of fire or an electric shock. It’s pretty easy to see why an inspection needs to be done – and that is to protect life and property. Depending on what an inspection finds, action may or may not be required. Landlords must then carry out the work within a specified time, and there must be written evidence of this.

What Happens if Electrics Remain Unsafe?

Responsible landlords will want to get any electrical issues fixed and will take action to make good anything highlighted in the inspection report immediately. In the guidelines, if work is not carried out, local councils have the authority to serve a remedial notice on a landlord who must then get the job done. If they don’t, and the council is confident that landlord duties have been breached, it can inform the landlord that it intends to impose a fixed penalty – and this could be up to £30,000.

It makes good business sense to ensure properties are inspected, and it’s a legal duty now too, so we recommend that landlords get started and make sure their properties have been inspected.

Chances are, you’ll have been working with people you trust, but you must ensure they are competent. If you are unsure, use the website www.electricalcompetentperson.co.uk to check if a tradesperson you know is registered.

If you are a landlord and have any queries at all, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Get in touch with us here at Warren Powell-Richards and we’ll run through the details with you.

 

How to Move Home Stress Free

According to a recent survey, 60%* of Brits have put off looking for a new home purely because of the pressures involved with the moving process.

Furthermore, 34% said that they had suffered severe anxiety as a result of their last move and 65% experienced sleeping problems.

However, it doesn’t have to be such a terrible ordeal.

Moving home should, and can, be an exciting time. A chance to start afresh, seek out new opportunities and make your new property your own.

Research removal companies

You are going to be moving all your worldly possessions from your old home to your new one, so you need to make sure that they are in safe hands. Therefore, it is vital that you spend time researching removal companies in advance to ensure you find a reputable and trustworthy company.

If possible, ask family and friends for recommendations as well as reading a variety of online reviews from previous customers. It is a good idea to choose two or three removal firms to provide you with quotations before the big day so that you achieve a competitive price and know your moving needs will be adequately catered for.

Have a thorough clear out

Now is the ideal time to get rid of any unwanted belongings, such as furniture that won’t fit or be required in your new home, any clutter that has been piling up in the back of your cupboards, and basically any items that are surplus to your needs. Don’t forget about the garden, the loft (if you have one) and any outdoor storage areas.

Make a packing plan

You may think that you can get your packing completed in a matter of days, but sadly, this exciting, yet arduous task always takes longer than you think it will! Especially if you want to pack effectively so that the unpacking process in your new home can be carried out quickly.

It is a good idea to use colour labelling on your moving boxes, for example, blue for the bathroom, yellow for the kitchen and so on. Work your way systematically through each room, including the garden, and complete the packing for that room or area before moving onto the next.

Take care of all moving admin

You will have enough to deal with on the big day without having to worry about locating paperwork, or carrying out vital administrative tasks that could have been taken care of weeks earlier.

Before moving to a new house you should:

  • Redirect your post – you can sign up to Royal Mail’s redirection service if you need more time to contact all your providers.
  • Transfer school records. If you have children that will be attending a new school, you should ensure their school records are sent over before you move.
  • Ensure you are insured for moving. Check to see if your belongings insurance covers a house move and if not, ask your removal company if they can provide further cover.
  • Inform your utility companies about your move, including your home insurance providers. You should also take the gas, electricity and water meter readings before you leave your property.
  • Confirm your moving day. This may seem an obvious task, but you will be surprised by how many people forget to do this.
  • You also need to ensure that you have details regarding the collection of keys to your new property from your estate agent.
Source a survival kit

If you want to have a smooth and stress-free journey from your old home to your new one, then you will need a moving day survival kit. This should include supplies that you will need throughout the day, so you do not need to go rummaging through your packed boxes.

Items you may want to include are:

  • Important documents such as information relating to your new home, contact details of your removal company, and any relevant insurance documents
  • Mobile phone chargers
  • Bottles of water and snacks
  • Games or devices to keep the kids occupied
  • Pet feeding bowls, food, toys and lead
  • Tea, coffee and a kettle
  • Loo roll!

It is also recommended that you pack a basic overnight bag so that you will have access to clean clothes, toiletries, medications, and snacks for the next morning.

Your survival kit will ensure you are organised on moving day and ready to start unpacking boxes in your new home stress free!

 

New Year…New Agent?

We’ve noticed a trend recently. You love your home, but you’ve also realised that you need somewhere new. Perhaps somewhere larger, somewhere with a bigger garden, somewhere closer to the countryside, or even somewhere a little smaller.

Yes, it appears you’ve got a dose of ‘ready to move’, and what better time than the New Year – a time often linked with new beginnings and fresh starts.

So, how do you find the best estate agent?

What questions should you ask?

As property experts in the area, we at Warren Powell-Richards thought we’d give you our seven tips so that you can choose the best estate agent for you.

Phone a Friend

Ask for recommendations. Friends and family can point you in the right direction and equally they can steer you away from the agents to avoid! Ask them if they’ve had a great experience with a particular estate agent, and enquire about how communicative, knowledgeable and friendly the agent was. Did the agent get the job done – and achieve the asking price or above?

Tip: Social media is your friend! If you’re a member of a Facebook community group in a particular area, post your questions in that group. And while you’re there check out local estate agents’ profiles to discover more about their local area knowledge and understand how they interact with the local community.

Read Reviews

Check out estate agents reviews online. Facebook reviews, Google reviews and reviews on Feefo can all give you an insight into other customers experiences. Have a read through to get a good idea as to whether or not an agent is worth shortlisting.

Tip: Always have an open mind when reading reviews, because while most will be genuine, some negative ones (and some positive ones) may not be.

Check the Agents Website

If you have a couple of shortlisted estate agents, check out their websites. Compare and contrast the services they offer and the fees they charge. Research where they market their properties and check out their social media feeds.

Tip: If you’re comparing and contrasting, you need to ensure you know what you want your chosen estate agent to do for you. Write a wish list of your requirements.

Check Fees and T&Cs

When it comes to estate agents, each will offer a slightly different service, and each will have a different way of operating. You have high street offices, internet-based offices, and hybrid agencies that blend traditional with the internet. Each has its advantages and disadvantages depending on your individual requirements, but always check the small print and look at the overall service.

Tip: Do some research and decide whether you want a sole agency agreement, or if you would like multiple agents to market your property. It’s important to read the contractual obligations if you choose the latter.

Review your Agent’s Performance

Remember, your estate agent will be working for you, to get your house marketed and sold. But it’s actually a two-way thing and you will need to do what you can to help them do their job too. Your agent should be prepared to communicate with you if they think things should change, like a review of the price for example. And you should feel confident enough to ask about performance and see results or otherwise.

Tip: Have a clear understanding of your expectations and what you will want to review. Is it the number of people shown your property, or is it the number of hits on property websites? Is it about proactive calls made to prospective buyers, or is it to get an offer within a certain timeframe?

Same Difference

When you are narrowing down your shortlist, have a look at the properties that the agent sells.

  • Are they similar to your house?
  • Do they have any experience selling homes similar to your property?
  • Can they talk with good knowledge about the local area?
  • How accurate are their valuations?

All of these are a must because you need to know that your agent knows what they are doing and can convey that to a prospective buyer.

Tip: If you want to know how much similar properties have sold for have a look online so that you are fully informed.

Trust your Gut Instinct

There’s a lot to be said for getting a feel for whether you have picked the right agent to market your property. Something may simply click into place when you’re having a conversation, or you may know immediately that the agent is for you. Trust your instinct as it may well be right.

Tip: While we say trust your instinct, make sure you also carry out the checks and reviews as well!

 

How Do I Pick the Best Lettings Agent?

If you’re a new or inexperienced landlord, or you simply don’t have the time to manage your property, then it may be time to consider hiring a lettings agent to manage the property for you.

But how can you ensure you’ve found the right one for you? Our handy tips will help you to pick the best lettings agent.

● Ask for recommendations

If you have family or friends who rent out their properties nearby, or you know any other landlords in the area then ask them who they use, and whether they would recommend them.

Word of mouth is often the most effective form of marketing, and there may even be a referral bonus for both parties.

● Check they are regulated

This is absolutely essential if you’re going to pick the right lettings agent for your property. As with most industries there are a few cowboys out there looking to make a quick bit of cash, with minimal experience in their field.

As a minimum you’ll want to choose a lettings agent that’s registered with the Property Ombudsman, but it’s a good idea to find one that’s a member of the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS), or the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).

● Compare fees

You don’t have to pick the first lettings agent you find, so contact a few agents and find out their fee structures.

Remember, it’s not always a good idea to just go with the cheapest to save money. Check with each of the agents what’s covered in their fees, as you might not be comparing like for like and could find yourself getting stung with hidden charges. It’s important you feel comfortable with your chosen lettings agent too and are happy with their level of knowledge, service and expertise.

● Check for reviews

Websites such as All Agents have reviews from both landlords and tenants, so you can get a good idea of the merits of each agent from both sides.

Just because other landlords might be happy with the service, it doesn’t mean the tenants are. And a lettings agent with lots of unhappy tenants could discourage them from using that agency again, regardless of how much they like your property.

● Decide which services you need

Some lettings agents may be better than others depending on what services you require. For example, are you looking for a lettings agent that just finds a tenant and sets up the initial contract, leaving you to manage the property once they’re in situ?

Or are you looking for a lettings agent that takes care of full property management on your behalf, including complaints and maintenance issues?

Deciding what level of service you want can be a key factor in choosing the right agent, especially if you don’t live close to the property.

● Check which money protection scheme they are In

All lettings’ agents are legally required to hold tenants’ deposits in a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme.

They are also required to be a member of a client money protection scheme (CMP). They’ll need to have a certificate confirming this, which is displayed prominently in their offices and on their website. If it’s not visible then ask to see it, and if they don’t have one then it’s a huge red flag.

● Ask about their marketing strategies

Find out which property sites they advertise on and do some research yourself. A quick search on the big three – Zoopla, Rightmove and On The Market –  will help you to get an idea of how well they market their properties, and how successful they are at renting them out efficiently.

Is the lettings agent active on social media?

Do they have a blog or news page?

How active are they in the local community?

All of these things will have a bearing on their reputation.

Look for things like photos and descriptions. Have the photos been taken professionally? Are the descriptions well written and error free? You want to employ the most professional agent you can find, so one that takes blurred pictures and makes sloppy spelling errors isn’t likely to be the best one you can find!

● Find a lettings agent you can build a relationship with

The relationship between the lettings agent and you, as their client is a very important one, that will hopefully be for the long-term.

Therefore, it’s worth getting a feel for them to find out if they’re a company you’ll want to do business with in the long-term. There’s no point choosing an agency you don’t trust and can’t get hold of just because they’re the cheapest option.

Find out when their opening hours are.

Can you get hold of them on a weekend for example?

How often do they carry out inspections and which tradespeople do they use?

Think about all the potential issues that could arise and make sure you’re happy with the answers.

And finally, check what the notice period is, just in case you do decide to leave them and go with another agency in future.

Looking for a reliable lettings agent with a great reputation? Warren Powell-Richards are your local lettings and property management  experts. Call us on to chat with a member of our friendly and experienced team.

 

Buying a new home is a commitment, and it’s not one that you should ever take lightly. It’s also not something you should go into blind. Having a deposit saved up, looking at your budget, knowing what you need from the property ahead of time – all of these things will help immensely when buying a house.

Knowing the difference between a freehold and a leasehold is also important as it can impact which properties you will be looking at as a whole. Knowing if you’re happy to look at leasehold properties or if you only want to view freehold properties can streamline your hunt for a new home immensely.

So, first, let’s look at Freehold:

What is a Freehold?

A freehold means you buy not only the house but also the land it sits on. You own it and are responsible for the upkeep and in charge of all the decisions. If you want to extend, change, or renovate the property the only obstacle is the relevant planning and building permissions.

Share of Freehold

You might also come across a concept known as Share of Freehold which means you are a leaseholder that is a director of the Leasehold company. This is mostly the case when purchasing a flat, as you do not own the whole property, only a portion of it. You will then enter into a ‘Share of Freehold’ agreement with the other flat owners.

What are the Benefits of a Freehold?

When you own a Freehold, you own it outright. You have control over the property and land and don’t need to worry about your Leasehold tenancy ending.

Now let’s look at Leasehold:

What is a Leasehold?

As the name suggests, you own the property for a certain tenure of years, but you do not own the land itself. This means you have to pay a ground rent, which, in most cases, is a small amount, though it can be increased at any time. New legislation is in progress to reduce Leasehold ground rents though, and in the future this could either be zero or a very small, fixed-rate sum.

When the lease expires, the ownership of the property reverts to the freeholder. Leasehold agreements are commonly 99 years or 125 years, with some extending 500 or even 999 years.

If you like the look of a Leasehold property, it is important to know how long is left on the lease as this will affect you when it comes to securing a mortgage. Lenders generally won’t loan you money if there is less than fifty years left on the lease after the mortgage lending period, and so it is recommended not to buy a Leasehold property that has less than 80 years left. If the Leasehold you are looking at does have less than 80 years, you can see about options for renegotiating with the freehold owner to extend the Leasehold to its full amount or even longer.

What are the Benefits of a Leasehold?

You don’t have to repair the outside, right of way access, or maintenance of the property itself. You are only responsible for the interior of your property. During the Leasehold, you can sell on your home as usual.

What are the Downsides of a Leasehold?

You will need to adhere to the rules set out by your Freeholder, which includes ground rent and the service charge collected to handle the upkeep of the building and common areas.

When the Leasehold tenancy ends, your entire property reverts back to the freeholder, so even if you technically own the building during the Leasehold, you don’t once the tenancy ends. This makes it very difficult to sell on and recoup your investment cost once the tenancy nears 80 years or less, whereas with a freehold you can sell for market value or even rent the property out.

There is an increasing trend for Leasehold properties – particularly in shared ownership schemes, so it’s important to ensure you know whether the property you are interested in is freehold or leasehold before you buy!

If you are considering buying a property for sale marketed through Warren Powell-Richards, our friendly, knowledgeable team can advise you!

 

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