Archives January 2021

When Do You Need A Property Inventory?

It’s easy to assume that you need a property inventory when you are letting out a property. Although this is crucial, and it’s certainly where Looksy Inventories spends the vast majority of its time, that’s not the only reason for having an inventory carried out. Read on to find out more.

Before Letting A Property

As we’ve said, the most common reason for hiring a property inventory clerk in Sevenoaks to carry out said inventory is because you have a property that you intend to let out. Ideally, you will already have found a tenant, and the inventory will take place no more than a week (and usually two or three days) before they are due to move in. The longer the time between the property inventory in Sevenoaks and the new tenant’s moving day, the more chance there is that something can change, especially if you’re making upgrades like new carpets or you’re repairing any issues that need to be dealt with in advance.

The inventory will then be passed to the tenant to check through to make sure they are happy with what has been included, and to suggest any amendments that might need to be made (inventory clerks are only human, after all, although we are very proud to say that amendments are a rare thing when it comes to Looksy’s property inventory reports).

property inventory

After Letting A Property

Technically, this Sevenoaks property inventory is actually a check-out. It’s a home inspection that will compare the original inventory with the state of the property and make a note of the differences. Of course, normal wear and tear is something that should be expected, especially if the tenant has lived there for a number of years. However, big areas of damage and anything that is significantly different – good or bad – from the initial inventory should be mentioned in the report.

Once anything that needs to be made good has been, and once the property is ready to be rented out again, the full inventory can take place.

After A Death

A property inventory in Sevenoaks isn’t just about tenants and landlords; there are other reasons to have one done by an expert. One of these reasons is if you feel you want to protect the property and possessions of a deceased person while the will is being executed. A full inventory of everything within the property, and the state of the property in general, can be a useful tool should you need it.

Although it’s not a pleasant thought, sometimes items of great value (financial or sentimental) can go missing after a death, especially if a variety of different people have keys to the property. Knowing that there is a full list of all these items, confirmed by a professional Sevenoaks inventory clerk, is a great way to keep them safe. It will also help if there are any disputes regarding the will.

After A Separation Or Divorce

This is, we’ll be honest, not something we’ve been asked to do as yet, but our services are here as expert Sevenoaks inventory clerks if required in this upsetting situation. The inventory report will be a record of all the items that the couple owned jointly, ensuring that the assets can be split fairly once the separation or divorce becomes permanent.

property inventory after divorce

Contact Looksy Inventories For Property Inventory In Sevenoaks

Based in Sevenoaks but covering all the surrounding towns and villages – and further afield if required – Looksy Inventories is your expert property inventory service for the area. We can carry out inventories for any reason you need one, and our reports are clear, concise, and understandable. Contact us today for more information and to find out how we can help you.

COVID-19 And Lettings: How To Increase Your Rental Value

COVID-19 has changed everything, and that includes the rental market. COVID-19 and lettings are, it turns out, not entirely compatible. With restrictions on evictions firmly in place, landlords – and their tenants – may well be reassessing how things are going to go once lockdown is ended and vaccinations are more widespread.

Landlords in particular may well want to know how they can increase the rental value of a property they know is going to be empty soon. Increase the income from one property by enough, and you will start to make up for any shortfall you might have suffered during the pandemic. Here are some ways it can be done.

covid-19 and lettings
Photo by Kevin Grieve on Unsplash

Outside Space

Lockdown has meant that we’ve all been indoors a lot more than usual, although in properties that have nice outdoor spaces that will have been at least bearable. With no end in sight to lockdown, as well as the fact that many people are now aware of how important their gardens actually are, you need to make the most of the outside space your property has.

Spend a little money and put in a large patio, replace the lawn, maybe even add some sliding doors to the back of the house so everything can be opened up.

Outdoors is something that might not have been crucial before, but it certainly is now once you look at the impact of COVID-19 and lettings.

Room For Home Working

Maybe everything will go back to ‘normal’ once COVID-19 is no longer such a threat. For the most part, that’s a good thing. However, the home working revolution has definitely begun, and it’s unlikely that this is going to change. Now that employers and business owners have realised that they can save money by not having any office space to pay for, and now that employees know that their job is perfectly doable from home, why would it go back to the way it was?

That means, of course, that renters are going to be searching for a home in which they can work. When there’s a spare bedroom, an actual study, a dining room they’re not going to use, perhaps even a conservatory, they’ll be happy. But if your property doesn’t have any of these things, you’ll need to try to make space. Can you split any rooms into two to create a study? Can you add an outside room or any kind of extension? You’ll be able to rent the place out for more, so you should be able to make your money back.   

covid-19 and lettings
Photo by James McDonald on Unsplash

Allow Pets

If you don’t allow pets in your property, you’re missing out on some fabulous tenants, and you’re limiting your market. To get the place rented, you might have to reduce your asking price or accept an offer.

If you allow pets, you’re effectively doubling your tenant pool and you can ask for more money because of it, despite the issues that have come about because of COVID-19 and lettings.

During lockdown, many people have decided that they need a little company, and a dog or cat – or whatever – has come into their lives. Now they’re looking for somewhere they and their pet can live, so be a little more flexible, and you’ll make a lot more money.

Rogue Landlord: Property Let Out in Dangerous Condition

Most properties are in good condition and are safe to live in, but sometimes things go very wrong…

Read more here:

A landlord who failed to improve his rental property, leaving his tenants in dangerous conditions, has been fined.

rogue landlord

Haroon Karim from Nottingham has pleaded guilty to two offences under the Housing Act 2004, failing to comply with Housing of Multiple Occupancy licence conditions and failing to comply with an Improvement Notice. 

Nottingham council officers visited the landlord’s property in the city and a number of category 1 and 2 hazards were found. 

This included dangerous stairs, structural collapse, excessive cold, damp, mould, fire hazards, issues with food safety and sanitation and drainage

Karim was then served an Improvement Notice, which he failed to comply with, exposing the tenants of this property to these hazards for an unacceptable level of time.

In addition, there was a breach of the HMO licence conditions in that the landlord had failed to provide adequate amenities within the kitchen that were suitable for the number of tenants living in the property. This included failing to provide a microwave oven or an additional cooker; failing to provide an adequate number of electrical sockets and failing to provide sufficient amenities for food preparation and washing up by not providing an additional sink or dishwasher.

During sentencing, Nottingham Magistrates Court ordered Karim to pay a fine and legal costs totalling £1001.42.

A spokeswoman for the local authority says: “We will only take legal action as a last resort if a landlord doesn’t work with us to improve their property. Most landlords are good landlords, but there are some, like Mr Karim, who give others a bad name. I would urge tenants to contact us if they have issues with their home, that aren’t being sorted.”

The Check Out Process: What Is A Check Out and Do You Need One?

If the current tenant’s agreement is about to end and they are going to move out of your rental property, it’s a good idea to give them some useful information about what’s going to happen during the check out process. After all, this will save both you and them from worrying, make things much smoother, and it will help you to decide whether or not to hire a professional for the pre-check out.

check out process

What Is The Check Out Process?

The check out process is a simple one, but not something that all landlords are happy to conduct themselves. Lettings agents are busy and can’t always be on hand to conduct the process either, and this is where inventory professionals will come into their own; the check out (and pre-check out) is all part of the service.

The check out process technically begins with the notice to leave, which will either come from the tenant or the landlord, depending on the situation. At this time, the pre-check out service can be implemented.

Next, the tenants will need to return the property to its original condition. Remember, a landlord should never expert any betterment (although it is sometimes the case that this has happened – a great bonus) but they should receive their property back in at least the condition they let it in. Again, another reason to have a full inventory report carried out; that original condition will be clearly stated and matched against what the property looks like when the tenants leave.

On the day the tenants move out, the check out itself should take place, and a check out report completed for the landlord. The tenant will also be able to see the report and will be able to either accept it or challenge it. The deposit return can be negotiated and then released.

The Pre-Check Out Process

We’ve mentioned the pre-check out process a number of times now, and although it’s not something that every landlord requests, and it’s not something that every tenant is going to demand, it can be useful in terms of ensuring everyone is aware of their duties at the end of a tenancy. Plus it gives the tenants the time needed to put the property back the way it is meant to be, if that is something that needs to be done.

The pre-check out visit is conducted by an inventory clerk who can look at each room and make a report as to whether any action needs to be taken. The original inventory is crucial at this time, otherwise the clerk is not going to know what the property was like initially, and won’t be able to say one way or another whether anything has or hasn’t been changed.

check out process

What Are The Benefits for Tenants?

The tenant will absolutely benefit from a pre-check out. They will be given all the information they need, written down and explained, regarding the tasks they need to carry out before the day they move out. In other words, they will be told exactly what they need to do in order to have their deposit returned to them with no quibbles.

The tenants do have a number of responsibilities when they come to check out. These will depend in part on what is written in the tenancy agreement, but usually include:

  • Cutting the grass
  • Disposing of rubbish
  • Conducting a thorough clean
  • Defrosting the freezer
  • Removing all personal items
  • Repair any damage (over and above normal wear and tear)
  • Replace any items that were removed during the tenancy

Knowing this information in advance will make it more likely that the work is done.

Benefits for Landlords and Letting Agents

The pre-check out isn’t just useful to give tenants the heads up on what they need to accomplish before the day they move out; it’s also useful for landlords and letting agents. It makes the check out process a much quicker, smoother one. It also means there is going to be less maintenance required before the next tenant moves in, saving time and money and keeping the new tenant happy because there are no delays. Plus it helps to keep communication channels open between all parties, with the inventory clerk as the mediator/facilitator.

What Next?

If you need an inventory report, check in, check out (or pre-check out) or interim report, please get in touch with us at Looksy Inventories. A friendly, family run business with a positive, professional attitude, we can make sure everyone in the process is happy.

Tips For Buying Your First Rental Property

Buying your first rental property so that you can be a landlord is something that works for a wide variety of people. It’s a neat way to make an additional income, and it’s even better if you have a portfolio of properties

It sounds like a dream.

rental property
Photo by Peter Fogden on Unsplash

But of course, if it was that easy everyone would be doing it, and there are plenty of challenges to consider and obstacles you’ll need to overcome to do it successfully.

The very first hurdle to get over is finding the right property to rent out. Just because you would live in it, or it’s in a popular location, or the house next door rents out for a nice amount of money, that doesn’t mean the property you have your eye on will work out. Here are some useful tips for buying your first rental property so you have an idea of what to look out for.

Research The Location Of Your Rental Property

Location, location, location, as they say, and as Channel 4 likes to remind us on a daily basis (you’ve got to love a bit of Phil and Kirsty), and it’s true. Location is the single most important factor you’ll need to consider (after budget, of course, but that goes without saying) when you’re buying a rental property.

However, the surface isn’t enough; you’ll need to scratch well below it and find out as much as possible about not just the town or village, but the road itself. Don’t think that, just because you won’t personally be living in the property, any additional building works that are slated to start, or any neighbour disputes, or any problems with the local schools, and so on, are not your issue. They very much are because savvy tenants are going to be doing this research and finding something untoward is going to put them off signing on the dotted line. They don’t want the hassle, and neither do you.

You Will Need Landlord Insurance

Once you’ve found the right house for the right price in the right location and you’re marketing it at the right rental money, you’re still not home and dry; you need to get landlord insurance.

rental property
Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Most of the time, thankfully, the tenants you have in your property will take care of it; it’s their home, after all, even if it is your house. But sometimes, they just won’t. They’ll make mess, they’ll cause damage, and they’ll stop paying rent. Landlord insurance will cover all of this and more, ensuring that even the most difficult of tenants are only going to be a headache, not a blinding migraine.

It Will Cost More Than You Think

If you think that the monthly mortgage payments are the only cost you’ll need to consider, think again. We’ve already mentioned landlords’ insurance, but there are still more potential costs that a rental property might incur, and it’s vital you have money put aside to cover them.

As a landlord, you are responsible for the maintenance of the property, and if something needs to be done – a plumber is required, there’s a problem with the roof, a fence blows down, and countless other things – you need to be able to pay for it. Your tenant isn’t going to be impressed if they have to fork out themselves.

The Advantages of Using A Local Company For Inventories

Looksy Inventories is based in Sevenoaks, and we work within the Sevenoaks District carrying out property inventories for landlords and letting agents. Being so familiar with the area (we live here as well as work here) means that we are aware of all the peculiarities (those country lanes, oil heating, even listed buildings), as well as being completely familiar with the geography of the town and its surrounding villages too. But why else is it a good idea to use a local company for your inventory needs? Read on to find out.  

Improve The Local Economy

Using a big chain or a company based in a different area means that the money you pay them for their services doesn’t stay in the local area. In some cases, it doesn’t even stay in the country.

When using a local business such as Looksy, you can be sure that every penny you pay stays local. At Looksy we shop local, we support our community, and we feel this is even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic. The more you support us, the more we can support others, and the more they can support you. This local usage cycle is a great one to be a part of.

A Face Behind The Business

At Looksy, we’ve never shied away from the fact that we’re a small team. It’s just us, Dean and Lisamarie, husband and wife, building up a business to be proud of. So when you phone, email, get in touch on social media, or when you come into contact with us face to face, it’s us you’ll see. You’ll never be put through to a nameless call centre operator, and you’ll be able to create a great working relationship with us because we never pretend to be something we’re not.

Great Customer Service

If you’ve ever had a problem with a chain retailer before, you’ll know it can be frustrating to let them know about it. Even if you don’t have an issue but you want to ask a question, or you’re curious about how they work, or you need to get in touch with them for any other reason, you’ll often have to wait days (perhaps longer) for a response to an email, and if there is a phone number you can call, you’ll be shoved around from department to department until you give up or the call is disconnected.

With a local company – and certainly with Looksy Inventories – that’s not what happens. If you send an email, we’ll reply pretty quickly (usually within a few minutes on an admin day, and a few hours when we’re out on site), and if you call, we’ll answer (you’ll speak to either Lisamarie or Dean, that’s a promise, but do bear with us – as you know, some areas around Sevenoaks don’t have much reception…).

Contact Looksy Today

If you’re a landlord or a letting agent and you’re looking for a reliable, experienced, fully trained and, importantly, local inventory company, contact Looksy today. We’re here for you.

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