November 16, 2016
As the climate changes through late autumn and into the winter, occupants increase their use of heating, while rain increases dampness both inside and outside of properties. Inevitably, this increases condensation which can cause mould problems. The first reaction, for many tenants, is to call their landlord and complain about mould growth. This common difficulty in rented and owned homes, is a problem, as assured shorthold tenancy agreements may not suggest who is responsible to clear the damage; the landlord or the tenant. Obviously, prevention is better than eradicating the problem after it has occurred.
How Is Condensation Caused?
Moist, warm air, that is created in kitchens and bathrooms, and heating systems, passes through to the colder parts of your building. Whether condensation can build, wallpaper may appear discoloured, particularly in areas behind cupboards, where the airflow is limited. The discolouration may be a patch of mould. It will continue to grow if unchecked and may be found on furnishings, carpets, inside wardrobes and quite regularly, in basements.
The risk to humans is high because mould spores travel through the air and can cause damage to an individual’s health. Excessive mould fungi can lead to allergies, asthma, infections and sinusitis. They create irritants and allergens and dangerous toxins.
Who Is Responsible?
Where this is a defect within the rental property, the landlord becomes the responsible person. Although the initial problem may be caused by a problem within the building, the main source of mould growth is caused by the occupants and the way they live within the property, with the initial condensation.
Landlords, agents and renters must be made aware of any potential problems where condensation can lead to the growth of mould. They can take the necessary action to reduce the risks and help further by organising regular inspections of the building to assess for any mould or condensation damage.
Where a property is efficiently maintained, tenants can be advised the way the condensation can be reduced throughout the building. Landlords will suggest that tenants ensure that all rooms are consistently aired to reduce the condensation and any further damage to the property.
What Can Tenants Do?
To keep themselves in good health, tenants can consistently keep windowsills and windows dry, as well as other wet surfaces. Where interior temperatures remain at a consistent level, not too hot when it is cold outside, mould growth is less likely to occur.
Tenants should dry their clothes outside or if a room must be used, then the bathroom is a good choice, keeping the window open for ventilation and the door closed to prevent mixing hot, cold and damp air throughout the property. Using an efficient extractor fan improves the reduction of condensation in the air.
Tumble dryers that are ventilated to the outside are useful, while kitchens can be ventilated by keeping windows open or using extractor fans. It is a good idea for bathrooms and kitchens to be ventilated for around 20 minutes after they have been used.
Some tenants may benefit by installing a dehumidifier taking excessive moisture out of the air, which reduces condensation.
November 16, 2016
Pressure groups are requesting that the government eliminate the eviction notice element, known as section 21, within assured shorthold tenancies. This section allows landlords to evict perfect tenants, by presenting as little as just two months’ notice. The rules also offer no right to appeal and no assistance to fight the notice.
Tenants Are Not Protected
The pressure groups suggest that tenants are not protected satisfactorily, because landlords may simply choose to sell the property when house prices increase sufficiently. They are not considering the level of protection that good tenants require and that needs to change.
They’re asking the government to protect tenants against these short-term evictions and to offer individuals the chance of a greater permanency in their home. They propose that landlords offer more long-term home opportunities, rather than allowing investors to sell properties at short notice, when the property market conditions suit the landlord.
Statistics indicate that section 21 evictions have risen considerably in the past few years, with increases matching house price rises.
They feel that the downside to the short notice period allowed under the current rules is that when house prices are reducing, landlords wish to keep tenants who are paying rent consistently and are therefore, unlikely to sell the property. Conversely as house prices increase, landlords will look to evict their tenants so they can sell the property to gain more profits.
Data Proves the Point
The Office of National Statistics has data that shows that from early in 2008, both house prices and evictions fell. As house prices increased towards the middle of 2009, the number of evictions intensified, with both elements rising towards the end of 2009.
Statistics show that evictions related to a short notice period, via section 21, increased to 16,441 in 2015. The comparison indicates that the last time house prices were reduced significantly was in 2009, when eviction cases numbered 4,963.
As a broad average across the local authorities, when house prices increase by around 10%, evictions are seen to climb by around 60%.
The pressure groups are convinced that their research shows that section 21 evictions, connected to assured shorthold tenancies, have risen considerably in recent years and are matched by house price increases.
They will continue to fight the government’s current rules surrounding section 21 evictions until a fair version of the rules are updated. This must include a high level of safety protection for tenants who continue to pay perfectly, every month and look after the property perfectly, for the landlord.
October 19, 2016
Hammersmith Magistrates Court fined a landlord £4000 with £1500 costs for failing to deliver the correct fire protection for their tenants. This was after pleading guilty to all three charges, for offences under the Housing Act of 2004.
A fire had been found quickly, starting from a candle left alight. The fire services extinguished the fire and fortunately, there were no injuries to any of the occupants.
The investigation found that the property, let to 4 tenants, did not have the appropriate fire doors for the living room, bedrooms or the kitchen. The lack of fire doors meant that the tenants did not have a protected means of evacuation which meant the flames could quickly fill the escape route across the top floor landing.
With no wire-in detection system for fire, the tenants had no method of being warned. There were three battery-operated smoke alarms, but these had not been maintained sufficiently, allowing the batteries to run out of power and taken out by the tenants to stop the bleeping noise which should warn individuals to replace the batteries.
This case involved a professional landlord with multiple properties, operating his business for 30 years, with the rental income as his entire source of income.
Despite being highly regarded by tenants and the court receiving references from other happy tenants, the court proved that landlords must always be aware of their responsibilities towards individuals living in a tenanted property. Fortunately, no one was injured and this example shows why the correct fire procedures and equipment must be installed and maintained regularly. This also confirms that landlords breaking the law will be prosecuted after a successful investigation.
October 19, 2016
An agent surveyed tenants to find that 96% were subletting their property for short periods only, mostly to help out a friend or member of their family. Not surprisingly, 82% were subletting to help them pay the rent.
There is good news for tenants as 52% suggest that they will ask for their landlord’s permission when they’re planning to sublet their property soon. Nevertheless, over three quarters of tenants believe they shouldn’t need to ask their landlord’s approval before subletting a property.
Ever increasing numbers of landlords need to resort to the law courts to repossess their properties, because tenants are using apps like Airbnb to offer a short-term sublet, which is difficult to prove and track by the landlord.
Experts suggest that landlords need to carry out more regular checks on their properties to see whether additional occupants are breaking the sublet clause of the tenancy agreement. Of course, warning signs like quicker wear and tear and too much rubbish around the property can suggest that extra individuals are living in the landlord’s property and tenants will go to extreme ends to disguise these facts. With more people in the property, condensation and mould can be increased.
Regular checks by landlords may provide indications that additional tenants are in their property. This might be seen as additional pillows and sleeping bags around the property or more suitcases and rucksacks than you would expect. A trip to the bathroom might show an additional number of toothbrushes, compared to the amount of residents. Vigilant and consistent landlords can help reduce the number of illegal sublets.
Landlords will argue that it will cost them more over the longer term because redecoration, damage and repairs will be required because more people than expected have been using it.
Subletting is a fraudulent activity, which may be found with better checks and references on tenants before they move in. References are not only to check who the people are and decide whether the rent is affordable, but it also brings up past dealings with landlords and hopefully, any previous subletting attempts.
While government, through legislation, is planning to make it simpler for tenants to sublet rooms, the consultation period has not yet begun.
October 7, 2016
Just over one quarter of renting tenants will relocate, where possible, to another town or city, so they can buy a property. The same recent study found that a further 29% of tenants would consider this option. Conversely, around 44% of tenants insisted that they would stay in the same town or city and have no plans to move elsewhere, even where that’s their best option to purchase their own home.
London tenants, who are most used to high rents and expensive properties should they wish to own, are the most likely to contemplate moving so they can buy a property with almost 90% open to this idea. Just under 15% of individuals in the East Midlands would be keen to move elsewhere to buy their own home.
The reasons behind these options and considerations are related to the fact that almost 50% of tenants cannot find the deposit required while just over 20% will be unable to secure a mortgage to buy a home.
The good news for tenants and landlords in the survey suggests that there are less overcrowded properties in the marketplace and more energy-efficient homes to rent which means more properties fall within the ‘decent homes’ standard.
With the ever-increasing cost of owning a property and the figures staying consistently beyond the means of many, the option of completely moving to a different area so that people can buy a home looks more attractive. This is particularly true of London and the south-east because people can gain so much better value elsewhere.
Landlords may not need to be worried completely about these issues because moving to another area of the country isn’t easy when people consider moving away from close family and friends. Changing job may not always simple and getting a mortgage is more difficult when you have recently changed jobs.
All this information from the study shows that tenants and landlords continue to play an important role in the mix of housing available across the UK.
March 25, 2015
Announcing our brand new website
We are pleased to announce the launch of our brand new website. Things are always moving forward in the world of Estate Agency which is why we wanted to keep at the forefront of new innovations and technology.
Not only does our website look good on a PC or Mac, but it also changes it’s layout to fit on your mobile phone or tablet to look just as good.
We feel we have created a visually appealing website which we hope will appeal to customers old and new as it combines easy to use search navigation and a wealth of information about our services.
If you have any questions, feel free to call us on 020 8555 99 33.
We hope you enjoy our new site!