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Top Tips for Landlords: How to Prepare a Property for Viewing

Or, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

The rental property in Brighton and Hove remains buoyant. An almost impossible entry level for property purchases necessitates swift decisions to be made when a tenant finds their ideal new home. And, guess what, well maintained properties get snatched up quickly.

If you’re a landlord, you’ll want to minimise void periods. We’re assuming that you also want to attract the best tenants possible so it pays to present your property at its very best. A property that’s a bit tatty will tend to encourage churn as your tenants may not engage with the property as their long term home.

Ideally, you’ll be maintaining it on a regular basis but, to be fair, if you’ve owned the property long term you may have missed things. Here’s how to get it right:

Who Are You Renting To?

Cut your cloth accordingly. Think of your ideal tenant, then put yourself in his or her shoes. Students, for example, although their rents offer a robust yield, may not be concerned about good quality fixtures and fittings and may also be looking for a place to adapt to their own styles and tastes.

Professional couples may have fairly high expectations in terms of quality, with families seeking a garden, perhaps.

In any case, walk through your property and really see it from your future tenants’ eyes. This exercise will help you to respond to questions that they may have during their initial visit.

The Outside

Even if the interior is completely fabulous, if the outside of your property lets it down you’re not giving it a fair chance.

Make sure that all rubbish bins are tidy (and ideally out of site). Those pesky seagulls will be having a field day otherwise.

Are the window frames robust or have they seen better days? These can weather over time and will make your property look a bit shoddy.

Check that the walls and the path leading up to the property are in good repair.

The front garden may need some attention, perhaps. And the back garden of course. You don’t need to be Monty Don but some basic green-fingered magic may be called for and could make all the difference.

The Inside

Numerous safety standards for gas and furniture will need to be met, obviously. As a landlord you have strict health and safety obligations to meet your landslords safety responsibilities which we will address in a later blog.

The most obvious one at least from a tenant’s point of view? Clean Clean Clean! Carpets, walls, windows (dirty windows are off-putting), fixtures and fittings. Skirting boards can get damaged over time, and almost everything can start to look tired. Expert cleaning services may be required. Examine everything with your property expert’s eye.

Repairs. We know that you know they matter when it comes to making a first impression. Cracks in the walls, leaky taps, broken tiles, a non-working radiator. That sort of thing.

Declutter. Create space. You may need to move furniture into storage (if the property is furnished) but always remove non-essential items.

Re-decorating will make a huge difference, energising rooms and giving them back their sparkle. Replacing the carpet throughout (please not in landlord beige) could command a healthy rental income for your property, too.

Check for damp, always a no-no as it will damage the furniture, fixtures and fittings. Mould is just not a good look. And it smells, too. Talking of which...

Get rid of odours. Pets are lovely but they can leave a lingering smell on carpets. If you allow smoking within your property, it goes without saying that the smell of cigarette smoke will probably need to be removed from the carpets and/or curtains.

So, there you are. Some tips on getting your property ready for viewing. Don’t forget to share this blog if you’ve found it useful.

Spotlight on.. Brighton and Hove’s Outskirts

Is Brighton and Hove a really great place to live?

Of course it is. It’s vibrant, lively, cultured and has a great vibe - if that’s your sort of thing. You may relish setting up home in the centre of Brighton, or if you’re a potential landlord, a buy to let property in and around The Lanes will get snapped up lickety spit.

However, consider the alternative.

Properties on the outer edges of the City are a good investment, too. They appeal to families and “steady“ couples, therefore providing a reliable source of income on the assumption that tenants will remain in the property longer term. Here’s a handy guide to the higher profile outside areas of Brighton and Hove:

Patcham

Three miles to the north of Brighton and just a stone’s throw from The Downs, Patcham is the first residential area you encounter on your drive into the City via the A23. At its heart is a village centre with many listed buildings, so it sure is a pretty place - in parts, anyway.

It has a famous Mill (Patcham Mill, of course) and its church, All Saints, is the oldest one in the whole of Brighton and Hove. Transport is good - you can get the trusty 5 or 5a bus into town and the N5 runs all night. Patcham has a well known Indian restaurant, The Elizabethan Tandoori (as appealing as it sounds), which is not only picturesque, but also boasts a rather good curry.

Properties here are a good investment. Large houses attract the family market and can be easily developed.

Mouslecombe & Bevendean

Located along the long A270 Lewes Road as you come into Brighton, this large area houses many students, as it’s a short distance from the University.

The right to buy scheme in the 1980s passed many council properties in Mouslecombe into private ownership and although many houses are affordable, this area is, we guess, not the poshest of places to live, but may well be worth a punt if you’re looking to rent to students.

Bevendean is a small estate between Mouslecombe and Woodingdean and is easily identifiable by the style of its houses. It has a sort of rural solitude feel to it, we think. It was developed post-war and still has many of its original inhabitants or their families. Again, Bevendean was a popular right- to-buy area and a large proportion of previously council-owned homes are now in private ownership.

Brighton Marina

The Marina divides opinion. Remote, concrete jungle, or chic shopping, living and eating destination?

Designed and built from 1971 through 1979, the area is still undergoing development, with what looks like several hundred residential apartments currently under construction. Its ostensible function is as a harbour and of course, the well-heeled moor their boats and yachts here, giving it a jaunty seafaring type of vibe.

Distinctively set apart from Brighton in its own quasi-segregated area, it has a major supermarket and a rather pleasant Boardwalk overlooking the harbour, home to several restaurants and bars. Properties are at a premium price; a mix of town houses and flats, some are even sold with their own moorings.

Shoreham-by-Sea

Right over to the west now. Shoreham is, or was, an Old English fishing town that we’d put in the relatively undiscovered “up and coming“ bracket.

Not strictly part of Brighton and Hove, you’ll find many delightful aspects to Shoreham that you may not have thought of: it has a lively village atmosphere, regular farmers’ markets (always a sign of gentility), a rather striking working port, and is crossed by the River Adur, flanked by houseboats and riverside properties.

Houses for sale at the sought-after Shoreham Beach area are a good but expensive investment, highly likely to net some excellent tenants. Other properties are a good bet, too, for couples looking for their first home, for example.

Southwick

Five miles west of Brighton, Southwick is a good bet for those who have found property investment in Hove a little too expensive.

Bypassed by the A27 and easily reachable along the A259, this small town has a high rate of home ownership as well as good transport links.

West Blatchington

Ever wondered where all those no. 5 buses go? Well, they often go to West Blatchington, famous for its mill - in fact, you can’t miss this imposing building when you drive along the main traffic routes into and out of the area. Previously a tiny village with a population of less than 100, West Blatchington was developed as a housing estate around the time of World War Two.

Smaller than its bigger neighbour, Hangleton, it is an area of suburban peace and quiet, with a well- respected school (West Blatchington Mill primary school), good transport and a robust community spirit.

You can purchase a three bedroomed property for about £450,000 and you’re sure to attract reliable tenants as this area is often considered “genteel“.

Check in soon for more Spotlight On articles.

10 Ways To Be The Perfect Landlord

Unhappy tenants.

They’re much more likely to leave; happy ones - to stay.

Sorry to sound obvious, but an empty property earns you no money. Which scenario would you prefer?

Assuming that a low turnover of tenants avoids non profitable void periods, it makes sense to fulfil your legal duties as a landlord to the full. And perhaps, as the decent human being that you clearly are, to go a bit further. If you own more than one property, and you’re generally a good egg, your tenants will say nice things about you to others. Those others being potential future tenants.

There’s no getting away from the fact that being the perfect landlord requires time, money and effort.

However, we think Brighton and Hove needs excellent landlords so we’ve put together our ideal landlord profile in the form of a list. We love a list.

1. A fair tenancy agreement is a must.

There are a number of templates that you can download from the web, or, preferably, good letting agents will help you put one together. It should make clear what responsibilities for the property lie where. You may even want to customise it, depending on the type of property. Most forms of tenancy are automatically Assured Shorthold (AST) but there are other forms so seek advice if you’re not sure.

In any case, make sure that everything is crystal clear, including all appropriate financial details and so on.

2. Landlord Insurance.

Well worth considering as this will cover the extra elements or potential issues that renting your property may bring, such as non-payment of rent, damage by the tenant, liability for accidents in your property causing injury and so on.

You may find that you MUST have this if you have a buy to let mortgage.

3. The Deposit.

If you take a deposit under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, there is a legal requirement for it to be protected under one of three Government-stipulated tenancy deposit schemes. These are outlined here, if you need further information. Deposit protection schemes and landlords

These schemes benefit your tenants, ensuring that they will get their money back if they keep to their side of the bargain, ie not damaging the property and meeting all the terms of the tenancy agreement.

Be aware that you have to put the deposit into the scheme within 30 days of getting it.

4. Make an Inventory.

Fiddly and slightly annoying to do, but well worth your time (or you can outsource this) should any disagreements arise regarding damage.

Ensure that all marks, defects and blemishes are highlighted, for example peeling wallpaper or scuff marks. Of course, an inventory should be drawn up before the tenant moves in.

5. Safety and all that Stuff.

Vitally important and this is where you need to be sharp and on the ball. You will need to ensure that annual gas safety and five-yearly electrical safety inspections are carried out (in the case of a house with multiple occupation).

There’s more: An Energy Performance Certificate must be in place before occupancy; any fire alarms and heat sensors at the property will need regular checking, as well as proof that they have been checked.

There’s also something called Prescribed Information to tenants in England. It’s an up to date copy of “How to Rent: the checklist for renting in England” which, as of 1st October 2015 you, as a landlord are obliged to give to your tenants.

Worry not, a property letting agency will help you with all this.

6. Keep Open the Channels of Communication

You may wish to give your tenants your mobile number or email address.

We think that being available will greatly enhance your standing in your tenants’ eyes; also, you may wish to consider leaving them a How To guide on the day they move in, explaining when the bins are collected and how the oven works, for example.

Never ignore a tenant, or quite frankly, they will get cheesed off and leave.

7. Be a Good Client

Expanding on the previous point, a quick response to your property management company or lettings agency will always be appreciated. As will an open, honest approach to doing business.

Good lettings agents can get things done with a fast turnaround, but it sure does help things along if they can get confirmation from you on repairs etc when they’re waiting to get back to a tenant.

8. Fix Things Quickly

This one needs almost no explanation. Don’t be cheap either. Never refuse to re-paint or re- carpet a property when it actually needs doing, using only good quality materials. You’ll only have to do it when the tenant moves out, so why not fix things now?

9. What to do about Pets?

A tricky one this.

You may worry about the damage that a lively dog could inflict on your property whilst at the same time rejecting a perfectly good potential tenant.

You could perhaps advertise that pets would be “considered”, or perhaps build a higher deposit into the initial agreement.

10. Keep out of your Tenants’ Way

Never intrude on your tenants’ privacy in any way as of course, your property is their home.

Always give at least 24 hours’ notice of a visit, should you need to review the property.

So..lots of useful stuff.

Check in soon for our next blog and don’t forget to share this blogs with any new, potential or existing landlords who may find it useful.

Spotlight on..Hove

Have you ever considered moving to Hove or purchasing a buy to let property there? As Brighton’s more genteel neighbour, Hove attracts a wide variety of folks looking to make a new life by the sea. With its splendid Regency architecture and up and coming eateries and bars, Hove is fast becoming a positive choice rather than a second best “wish I could live in Brighton” option.

People tell us that one of the key reasons they live in Hove rather than Brighton is because (mostly) you can park and we agree. Brighton and parking is a bad mix, so those in the know chose Hove as, although you have to pay for a parking permit you’ll find that you don’t normally have to park your car a mile away from your house and trudge back after a busy day at work.

Here’s a few fascinating facts, as well as the lowdown on today’s Hove, 2015 style.

A Bit of History

Well, who knew? The census of 1801 records that Hove had just 101 residents and by the time George IV was crowned (played brilliantly by Hugh Laurie in Blackadder if you recall), the population had risen to the dizzy heights of 312.

Hove was mainly farmland and there was a LOT of smuggling, with contraband mainly being stashed away in the innocent looking St. Andrews Church along Church Road.

Construction on Hove’s fine Regency properties started, as the name suggests, following the coronation in 1821 and many of its original buildings remain in excellent condition today. Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries Hove saw a period of substantial expansion into a reasonably well to do residential area and its development continues today.

As well as TWO posh Waitrose supermarkets, the pedestrianised area in and around George Street is now positively chic. There are also numerous new (and very pleasant) bars, cafes and restaurants in which to while away a pleasant afternoon or evening.

And, there are shops a plenty: owner-run clothes boutiques, quirky gift and antique shops.

Properties to Buy/Rent

It’s hard to define a typical property in Hove, although the fine Regency properties are always popular for investors as they exude character and style. In the centre of Hove you’ll find beautifully preserved squares with impossibly neat rows of cream coloured frontages. Sought after properties tend to be first floor apartments, with high ceilings and attractive balconies which catch the sun in the evening after a warm day. Very civilised.

Further west and into the area around Portland Road and New Church Road, houses become larger (substantially larger, in fact) and make a great investment for those renting to well to do families. The roads become a lot wider and gardens increase substantially in size. Further yet into west Hove, we’re really talking about Portslade here but properties tend to be cheaper and easier to find.

If you like an area with character and style, why not check out Poets’ Corner, just down from the Old Shoreham Road and to the west of Hove station? This quirky area has many streets named after famous poets (of course) and boasts some well-maintained small family houses, as well some great pubs.

The Seven Dials area has a “villagey” atmosphere all its own and is great if you want to get into town quickly or to Brighton station without hassle. Oddly peaceful despite its existence around a busy roundabout - now thankfully much safer to drive around - there are some great places to eat here and several up and coming businesses who, we’re sure, would appreciate your custom.

The Montpellier district is quite frankly, posh. Straddling both Hove and Brighton, this area is highly sought after and is the destination of choice for many ex Londoners looking to embrace the City at its best. Near all the main amenities, these properties totally embrace the Brighton and Hove boho vibe, so snap one up when or if you can.


Top Ten Tips for Tenants

Greetings. We’ve launched a blog!

We’re going to publish regular articles which we hope you’ll find interesting and useful. The property rental market within Brighton, Hove and Sussex remains robust so contact Massey Property Services to find out more.

This blog focuses on TENANTS. If you’re looking for somewhere to live, there are some golden rules to follow to make your landlord happy, keep your letting agency in the pink and most importantly, ensure that your rental period, whatever its duration, is a happy and peaceful one.

Remember, it’s a property owner’s market out there. To a degree, landlords can cherry-pick the people to whom they rent. We want them to rent to YOU so here’s how to be the perfect tenant:

1. Be Reliable and Communicate Well

You are being judged from the get go.

Always turn up when we arrange a viewing for you, be prompt and give as good an impression of yourself as you can.

We’d also recommend that you respond promptly to emails and calls - it all adds up to a favourable outlook.

2. Get The Paperwork Ready

At Masseys, we vet our tenants robustly: yes, this does mean you.

We will need a reference from your previous or current landlord to make sure that they only have wonderful things to say about you, that you pay your rent promptly and that you’ve looked after the property well.

Make sure that you’ve got everything lined up as soon as we ask for it: references, bank statements (if appropriate), visa documentation and so on.
It speeds up the process and could get you into your new home much quicker.

3. Be Ready With your Deposit

You’ll need to transfer one month’s rent in advance plus a deposit, as well as a holding fee.

Our best tenants have this sum ready to put down on the property so make 100% that you’ve got this to hand.

Again, it speeds up the process. Talking of money....

4. Know About the Tenancy Deposit Scheme

Since 2007, all private landlords and letting agents are obliged to use a government approved tenancy deposit scheme to safeguard your money.

In a nutshell, this protects your deposit if you have an assured shorthold tenancy and is well worth knowing about.

You can read more about it here.

5. Budget Properly

Can you really afford the rent?
Obvious really, but you will need to budget not only for rent but for Council Tax (check your band), landline, broadband, water, gas and electricity.

It can all add up so make sure you’re not caught out.

6. Check the Inventory

Massey Property Services always provides an inventory; this protects both you and the landlord.
An inventory is a list of everything that’s included (furniture, appliances etc) and will also record its condition when you move in.

For example, that slight stain on the carpet that can’t be removed or a small chip in the bathroom wash basin.

Check this list carefully before you sign it and alert us to any discrepancies.

It’s important to do this as it protects your deposit when you move out.

7. Care and Consideration

You wouldn’t trash your own house, or that of your parents so always take pride in keeping your rented home clean, tidy and free of junk.

We’d rather you didn’t smoke inside the property.

As well as being a fire risk, cigarette smoke stains walls and ceilings

8. Deal Directly with Us

If you have any questions, problems or queries, always revert to the staff here at Masseys in the first place, rather than going directly to the landlord.

Nine times out of ten we’ll be able to sort out your problem super quickly.

Don’t forget that your landlord is paying us in effect to look after you in the property, so make the most of it.

9. Consider your Neighbours

Nobody likes a noisy or disruptive neighbour.

Anti-social behaviour, such as regular all-night parties, loud music, door banging/slamming etc all make for a stressful life, so don’t do it.

10. Keep to the Agreement

If the tenancy agreement stipulates that you have the carpet steam cleaned annually, or that the windows are cleaned twice a year, we’d strongly recommend that you make good on your promise!

As well as preserving the property, it makes it a much more pleasant place to live and will of course generate a good reference for you at the end of your tenancy.

So, that’s all for the time being.

We’ll be covering more aspects of tenancy and tenancy agreements in forthcoming blogs so watch this space. In the meantime, if you’re thinking of moving, we’re just the company for you.