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The sun is out, plants and flowers are blooming, and the temperature is rising, so there is no reason not to sit outside after a long day at work and relax at the weekend in your beautiful garden.
Spending time outdoors in the fresh, summer weather is one of the most wonderful and refreshing things you can do, especially when it’s in your own back garden. To make this time even better, it’s nice to be able to sit out on your patio or deck, where you can relax and enjoy a drink or even entertain friends.
Here are a few ways you can get your decking ready for summer and make your outdoor space more enjoyable:
It’s not just the inside of your house that needs a regular going over to keep it nice and clean, after a cold winter and rainy spring, your decking will need extra some love as well.
The easiest way to clean it is just by using water and soap, but if you have a pressure washer that will do the job too. Once it is clean, give it a good looking over and check for any splinters or exposed nails that could cause an injury. Once your deck is clean, it is best to reseal it to protect all your hard work.
Once you have cleaned your deck, check out the condition of the paintwork or varnish – bad weather such as rain and heavy winds can wear the paint away, or it can simply just become dull over time.
You can either give it a new lease of life with a coat of varnish, or you could change it up completely with a new colour. After a couple of coats of paint, it will look as good as new, and ready for the summer.
Although the days are longer in the summer months and the evenings can stay light until 9pm or 10pm, there will be a point when the darkness draws in. If you want to have friends over or have a BBQ in the evening, it’s good to have a back up plan for when the light begins to fade.
There are lots of different ways to light up your decking, including fairy lights, lanterns, and tiki torches, just make sure that whatever method you go for it is designed to be outside or is easy to bring in with you once your evening is over.
It’s important to have the right furniture on your decking if you want to use it for relaxing and entertaining. Make sure you have a sturdy table and some comfortable chairs that will allow you to sit out and enjoy your evening.
Pick some waterproof cushions so they don’t need bringing in each day, and decorate the end of the decking with some colourful plants and flowers. You could also get a BBQ or fire pit if you want to create the ultimate deck.
Believe it or not, the sun can get hot even in England sometimes. If you are going to be sat outside, it’s important to give yourself a bit of shade, so you don’t have to go back indoors when the sun starts shining.
The easiest way to create shade on your decking is by using a canopy or umbrella, but if you have a roofed patio, you could simply add some curtains - this will also help to keep any insects and bugs away.
Buy-to-let is becoming ever-more popular and the appeal of having a project to work on and earn good money off is desirable to many people. Buyers can purchase a relatively cheap, run down property and turn it into a house that can be rented by tenants and offer quite a bit of money.
Rental properties can be an exciting investment, but it’s not always easy being a landlord. Here are some things to keep in mind before taking the plunge into the world of buy-to-let:
The idea of investing in buy-to-let is that you make money. But you need to have money to make money. If you don’t have enough startup capital, then the chances are you could end up in a bad situation.
If you don’t have enough money to start with, then you may not get anywhere with your investment. If you have to take out a loan then you are in a more risky situation and will have to focus on paying that back before making any profit. Try and save up as much as you can before investing in buy-to-let.
Depending on the property that you invest in, you will attract a certain type of tenant. You need to decide what sort of tenants you want to attract when you rent the property out, and then make your purchase based on that.
If you are buying a terraced house in a popular university town, then you are most likely going to attract students. If you buy a small cottage in a countryside village, then you are most likely going to attract small families or elderly couples.
Don’t think that once you rent out your house you will get all the money. It’s not that simple, and there are any other finances to consider. Renting out a property is considered to be an income, so any profit made will be taxed.
You need to make sure your financial accounts are in order, and check that you are correctly insured. There are lots of sites online that will help you to compare different landlord insurance, so its best to take your time and get the best deal possible.
Unfortunately there are many dodgy landlords in the buy-to-let industry, so you need to make sure you are taking the situation responsibly and not planning on cutting any corners - it won’t be good for you or your tenants.
Do up your property properly and don’t rip people off - you need to treat tenants right to keep them happy. There is nothing more stressful than constantly having to look for new tenants, and being a good landlord will ensure your tenants will look after your house and be loyal to you.
Don’t think that once you have done up your property and rented it out that the work stops there. Being a landlord takes a lot of time and effort, and if it was really easy then everyone would jump on board and do it.
You will have to deal with lots of different people, including estate agents, tenants, builders, plumbers, and the taxman. This may over a period of time, but it could be all in one day, and you need to be prepared for that.
If you choose Ashfield Lettings to manage your property you can let us take care of the headaches of finding a good tenant, arranging agreements, general repairs and making sure your rent is paid to you exactly on the day you expect it. Call today for an informal chat and get some free, no obligation advice.
So many landlords still insist on doing their own inventories or not having one at all, which never fails to amaze me. The inventory is one of the most important documents in the tenancy files for protecting the landlord’s property and interest. Unfortunately though by creating the inventory themselves, this actually takes away some of the weight of the document as the landlord is unlikely to be impartial. So from an adjudication stance, if an inventory can be produced by a reputable agent, it is more likely to be taken as written and to be up to the required standard, offering the landlord a much higher level of protection.
Many landlords think that an inventory is purely for expensive properties or fully furnished properties, but in most properties the most expensive damage that can be caused will actually be to the fabric of the building, not the furniture.
One of the worst cases I have ever seen was when I went to see a new landlord about taking on his property, and the tenants had painted the entire lounge black. But not just the walls, it was the skirting’s, light switches, UPVC window frames, everything!! It wasn’t in emulsion either, they had gone the whole hog and used Gloss paint… It was awful!
The cost of rectification would run into several hundreds, if not four figures, but the landlord couldn’t even prove that the flat was not decorated that colour before the tenant moved in as he had not felt the need for an Inventory, I personally have never seen a landlord so distraught.
Another Landlord that I remember talking to informed me of a situation where his tenant had fallen into arrears, and he had been chasing him, then when he revisited the property after the keys were eventually returned, the boiler, radiators, all the copper piping had gone, again horrendously expensive and no inventory in place either.
A well put together inventory should also note essential items to help with the management of the property, such as the location of the water stop tap, the number of keys issued, make and model number of the boiler, any instructions manuals, smoke alarms, the presentation of the garden and the meter readings (which in itself can save the landlords hundreds!)
If you choose Ashfield Lettings, rest assured that we produce a high quality inventory and schedule of condition for every property, backed up by a set of digital photographs. We don’t feel that landlords should be charged any extra for inventories, so we include it as standard with all our service options.
From April 2018, landlords need to ensure all of their properties have an Energy Performance Certificate rating of band E or higher, as required by the Energy Act 2011. Failure to do so will prevent a landlord lawfully renting out property that fails to meet the requisite standard.
Furthermore, as of April 2016 tenants will have the right to ask landlords to make their homes easier and cheaper to keep warm if they do not meet the energy efficiency standard. Landlords won’t be able to refuse a reasonable request by a tenant to carry out relevant works, so may well find themselves facing energy efficiency improvements sooner than they first thought. The courts will be able to compel landlords to carry out the necessary works, or face financial penalties as a result of non-compliance.
While the changes might still seem like a long way off, landlords need to act now to get their properties in order – especially if they want to take advantage of some of the incentives available.
The Landlord’s Energy Saving Allowance enables landlords to reduce their tax bill by up to £1,500 a year for every property they rent out if they claim the cost of buying and installing a number of energy-saving products. These include cavity and loft insulation, solid wall insulation, draught-proofing, hot water system insulation and floor insulation. However, landlords only have until 5 April 2015 to make their claim.
Further financial help is available for landlords through the Green Deal, which is intended to help them make energy saving improvements – such as installing a new boiler – without having to pay for all the costs up front. Typically, the repayments form part of the electricity bill for the property. As it’s usually down to the tenants to pay the utility bills – and therefore absorb the costs of the Green Deal – the landlord has to seek their permission to make improvements under the scheme. What’s more, the landlord will also have to inform future tenants that improvements have been made to the house or flat via the Green Deal and that they are now responsible for the repayments.
Landlords may be feeling slightly hard done by with these so-called incentives; one isn’t going to be around for much longer, meaning some landlords could miss out on the existing tax break, and the other appears to put much of the emphasis onto the tenant – which could actually make improved properties less attractive to prospective tenants.
But regardless of whether or not the available financial support goes far enough, it’s undeniable that the UK as a whole needs to start thinking and acting greener – especially when it comes to housing. Not only does the country need to ensure it meets EU carbon reduction targets, but it also needs to help people live in a comfortable, warm environment, without paying over the odds for their energy bills.
With the general election looming, improving the energy efficiency of properties is sure to remain on the agenda – it’s an issue that isn’t going away and landlords need to face up to their responsibilities, sooner rather than later.