Category Archives: Landlords

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3 simple steps to improve the quality of property leads

If you’re looking to sell your home or you’re searching for rental leads, an important marketing approach nowadays is to display property on property portals. However, how can you ensure that this practice will lead to high quality leads? Here are Redstones top tips:

  1. 1.       Be selective

Be selective when focusing on property management lead generation. By advertising on the wrong portals, low quality leads can be the result. At Redstones, we use only the leading property portals, which have been proven to generate high quality leads. Online advertising is invaluable but that doesn’t mean advertising everywhere.

  1. 2.       Focus on photography

Whether you are trying to sell your property yourself or looking for rental leads through lettings agents, we’ve seen some images that are far from professional! Despite the quality of smartphones nowadays, using the camera function of your phone is not recommended. If you really want to present your property at its best and attract the right interest, professional photography involving the use of a wide angle lens is essential. It’s important to remember that buying a home is aspirational for most people and quality photography should reflect this to attract buyers. See our great example of photography being used at its best to truly ‘sell’ a property.

  1. 3.       Excellent descriptions

As part of an effective marketing approach, excellent, well-written descriptions are required that accurately describe the property. It’s always useful to use dimensions and include all advantageous features of the property. This may seem to be an obvious point but at Redstones, the use of poor quality descriptions amongst even professional estate and letting agencies never ceases to amaze us.

Ultimately, property management lead generation is about adopting a truly professional approach to marketing efforts, in order to gain high quality leads. This is a real area of expertise for Redstones.

Discover more about our other recommended approaches.

Redstones Lettings

Changes for the property management sector in 2016

Professionals working in the property management sector have always had constant changes, challenges or ‘obstacles’ to face in terms of business operations.

For example, in lettings, our team at Redstones need to keep abreast of all forthcoming legislation that will impact tenants and landlords, as well as buyers and sellers.

New legislation that came into force in October 2015 made it compulsory for all landlords to fit smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors into their rented properties and failure to comply can lead to a penalty charge of up to £5000.

Lettings agents are also required to be more vigilant about the risk of money laundering and in February 2016, the Right to Rent scheme went nationwide. Rent to Rent gives landlords the responsibility of checking the identification of everyone who is over 18 and expected to occupy their property, although this responsibility is transferred to agents such as Redstones, who have a thorough understanding of exactly how the checks must be conducted. All Right to Rent checks last for a minimum of 12 months and there are different checks required for tenants, depending on whether they have permanent or time limited rights to rent.

The property management sector in 2016 promises even more change, with schemes such as Help to Buy and Help to Buy ISAs and the recent increase in stamp duty on second homes to 3%.

At Redstones, we are accustomed to moving with the times, changing our processes and introducing simple systems that help our staff and clients manage change in the property management sector. Crucially, we also play a vital role in communicating the changes that occur and ensuring that our clients understand the impact on them.

We offer a valuable service that takes the hassle out of lettings, covering digital inventories, arranging annual gas safety certificates, managing inspections, credit control and much more, including staying on top of the legislative changes introduced in 2016 and beyond.

Find out more about property management services at Redstones.

Redstones Lettings

Maximising rental yield as a landlord

Landlords are naturally interested in turning buy-to-let investing into a profitable endeavour. So, in spite of higher Stamp Duty being introduced for second homes, how can you ensure that you become a successful landlord?

One key measure that will help you determine your success is rental yield. Essentially, rental yield is where you calculate the return on your investment or profit levels. To calculate rental yield, you need to calculate the upfront cost of buying the property and the cost of mortgage payments paid over 12 months, if you don’t own the property outright.

Calculate the rent you collect from tenants over 12 months and subtract your annual mortgage payments from the annual rent collected to work out a gross rental income. Then deduct all costs, including insurance, repairs and void periods from this figure to calculate a net rental income. A net rental yield is simply a percentage figure. Take net rental income and divide it by the initial investment figure, before multiplying by 100.

Calculating rental yield is a way of determining the quality of your investment. Capital growth over time and a strong rental yield (over 6% is considered as very good) represents a great investment.

Want to maximise your rental yield even further? Try our tips:

Increase or decrease rent – Increasing rental amounts is possible if your rent is set below the market rate and decreasing the rent can help you avoid void periods, if this is a concern.

Utilise tax reliefs – Although rental income is taxable, you can offset several costs such as letting agent fees, buildings and contents insurance, council tax, utility bills and maintenance costs. Not all tax reliefs will remain available for long however. From April 2016, the 10% wear and tear allowance will be scrapped.

Welcome pets – Not all rented homes allow pets, so tenants may be willing to pay more if your property welcomes them.

Modernise the property A decent kitchen and bathroom attracts a better calibre of tenant and means you can charge more rent.

Decrease overheads – Look at ways to cut costs, from remortgaging to finding cheaper tradesmen for property maintenance.

Discover more about how Redstone help landlords attract tenants and achieve the best price for their properties.

Redstones Property Management

The importance of maintaining your home

If you’ve just moved into a new home, whether you have bought it or you’re renting, congratulations! But as you get settled in, don’t forget the importance of maintaining the home. If you’re a landlord, maintenance will be crucial to you too.

By completing a few easy, inexpensive and regular checks, you can assure that your home stays comfortable all year round. Vitally, regular checks help to prevent larger maintenance costs from incurring. Winter is often the time that issues can occur, so being vigilant of maintenance in spring or summer is a great practice to get into.

A key tip is to keep windows clean. If you have wooden window frames, check them for rot too or ask your window cleaner to. Ask for recommendations to reputable window cleaners from Redstones or look out for adverts in local shops, online or a local newspaper.

Boiler repairs can be costly, so ensure that yours is serviced annually. Also, legally, all rented homes must have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms installed but they are a must if you’re buying too. Always test these alarms regularly and replace them if necessary, as they can literally save lives!

Examine any areas of your home that are unused, such as a loft, basement or spare room and address any problems urgently, such as damp or mildew.

Of course, it’s essential to check externally too. Check for leaks, loose tiles or broken guttering, preferably before winter sets in. Often, leaves can block gutters and lead to damp patches internally. Moss and split tiles are other issues to check for. Fix any cracked pipes and drains immediately, as they can lead to problems with damp and also look unsightly.

Getting into the routine of making a few regular checks, such as these, each year will prevent problems and minimise maintenance and repair costs. Maintenance will also ensure that the pleasant feeling of moving into a new home remains throughout the years!

redstones right to rent

Right to Rent introduced nationwide

Originally trialled in the West Midlands, since 1st February 2016, the Right to Rent scheme has gone nationwide.

Rent to Rent gives landlords the responsibility of checking the identification of everyone who is over 18 and expected to occupy their property. Although the landlord is responsible for these checks, the responsibility can be transferred to their agent as part of a written agreement. Checks apply to occupiers who sub-let and residents with lodgers, as well as landlords.

All Right to Rent checks last for a minimum of 12 months and there are different checks required for tenants, depending on whether they have permanent or time limited rights to rent.

Managing Director of Redstones, Manjit Virdi explains, “We are working closely with our landlords, so they understand the implications of this scheme. As amendments to the Immigration Act are currently under consideration, this may result in changes to Right to Rent, which we will be pro-active in implementing.”

Checks must be conducted correctly, as fines are in place as part of the scheme. These fines can escalate to £3,000 per illegal occupier.

Manjit continues, “Our staff are fully trained on the correct manner of conducting Right to Rent checks and are always on hand to advise landlords and tenants.”

The correct process involves keeping a clear copy of each identification document and retaining the copy securely. A record must be kept of the date on which the check was made and all copies need to be retained securely for at least one year after the tenancy agreement comes to an end. More information is available via the Residential Landlords Association.

Right to Rent is just one element of the thorough tenant screening process conducted at Redstones. Get in touch with us to find out more.

Redstones Buyers

How to find the perfect tenant

Every landlord’s dream is to find the perfect tenant, who pays on time and maintains the property. If you’re currently in the process of looking for new tenants, here how to ensure you find the best!

Advertise effectively

Ensure that your buy to let property is highly exposed. A reputable lettings agent such as Redstones uses all the latest marketing techniques, such as social media and our ‘Switch Agents’ programme to capture high quality tenants.

Check credit scores

Once you have identified a potential tenant, a credit score is vital to ensure the tenant’s background won’t cause an issue for you. Checking credit scores is a simple method of ensuring your rent will be paid on time. They help you to assess financial stability and proof of regular income.

References

References are essential, as they provide some guarantee of the character of your tenants. References can be from employers or previous landlords and should include at least two references.

Meet your tenants more than once

You always gain a better sense of people the more you meet them! If you are keen on some prospective tenants and have offered them a second viewing, give them plenty of time to walk around and ask questions. Be organised and always make time for viewings, as they are essential to the process of finding a good tenant.

Pick your location carefully

Think carefully about where your buy-to-let property is based. Ideally, good tenants want to be around local amenities such as shops, road links and decent schools.

Maintain your property
Try to visit your property regularly and ensure all maintenance is up to date. If your property is in good condition, it will continue to attract good tenants and will always look smart if last minute viewings are arranged.

Keep expectations high
If your property has been vacant for some time and you’ve not been satisfied with the people who have viewed it, it’s tempting to lower your expectations. However, continuing the search for the best possible tenants will pay off in the long-term.

If you keep these valuable tips in mind, you will soon be rewarded by attracting the perfect tenant.

Redstones Red Cup

How new landlords can grow their property portfolio

If you’re thinking of becoming a landlord or have just become one, you’ve made a great choice! There are many fantastic aspects of being a landlord. Obviously, the first aspect that springs to mind is the financial benefits. Clearly, an investment property or property portfolio will generate more than your income alone. Therefore, invest wisely and if possible, seek to grow your property portfolio.

Often, the expansion of a property portfolio is made possible by refinancing a property that has risen in value to release equity to fund other property purchases; enabling a property portfolio to grow.

Landlords can make money from yield, which is the difference between the rent and outgoings such as a mortgage and capital growth, which is the amount that the value of the property has increased by. Preferably, a landlord should benefit from both. It’s important to try and calculate your return in advance to make the right investment. Properties in some areas may offer large yields but little or no capital growth. In contrast, some areas are much more likely to offer capital growth, such as London.

Our advice is that a location that offers both yield and capital growth is valuable in growing your portfolio. For example, look at where professionals may want to live, such as those areas with good transport links.

When you are purchasing a buy to let property, a professional lettings agent such as Redstones will advise you on how to succeed as a landlord, offering you valuable local knowledge on the areas you are targeting. Due diligence is the key. You will want to check rental amounts in advance and we can help with that.

Managing a property portfolio is not as difficult as you may think either. We help landlords manage their portfolios to reduce their level of involvement, so they can focus on other priorities. As the legal obligations of landlords increase, growing numbers of landlords are taking advantage of our property management services for their peace of mind. They can also take advantage of our Platinum Total Care Package, which guarantees that rents will be paid on time, everytime, even when the tenant fails to pay.

Ultimately, Redstones fully support professional landlords in their business ambitions, because we recognise that growing a property portfolio does equate to running a successful business. Make the right property investments and you are sure to benefit from the inevitable rises of both rents and property values.

Here are the many ways in which we support our landlords through property management, helping them to grow their portfolio without all the hassle of managing it.

Redstones Buyers

Ensuring all tenants have the Right to Rent

As part of the Immigration Act 2014, the government trialed their Right to Rent initiative in Birmingham, Walsall, Wolverhampton and Dudley last year. Following the success of the trial, Right to Rent is being rolled out across England from 1st February 2016.

Accustomed to the principles of the scheme, Redstones appreciate the vital role of tenant screening in the entire letting process.

Essentially, all letting agents must see and make copies of acceptable ID before a tenancy begins. This new legislation therefore doesn’t represent a major change to business operations at Redstones. Already working to high professional standards, we understand the importance of knowing exactly who we are letting our properties to and our staff are fully familiar with how to conduct Right to Rent checks.

The scheme was previously criticised for discriminating against those who do have a right to rent but many not have a current driving licence or passport. To address this issue, an acceptable list of identification is being modified.

Interestingly, in the West Midlands based trial area, seven landlords have been issued with civil penalties; a relatively small number.

However, now that the scheme is being extended nationally, more fines are likely to be issued and they will escalate to £3,000 per illegal occupier.

Please note that Right to Rent legislation applies to occupiers who sub-let and residents with lodgers, as well as landlords.

Are you a landlord looking for the right tenants for your property? Here are the many reasons why you should use Redstones.

Redstones Lettings

Landlord update: new Government proposals underway

There are a number of developments at the Government level that are likely to impact private sector landlords. These include:

Tax Relief
The level of tax relief available for landlords is changing, as announced in the recent budget. It’s proposed that buy-to-let mortgage tax relief should be capped at the basic tax rate of 20%.

This is causing much debate, as some people feel it would drive rents up and price landlords out of the market. Opinion is split as to the fairness of this proposal. Some people feel that landlords should consider renting their property as a business, in which case they should be taxed. Others state that homeowners cannot claim tax relief on their mortgage payments – so should landlords be able to?

Wear and Tear Consultation
Tax relief changes have been proposed for the wear and tear of furniture and fittings. Restricted to fully furnished properties, landlords can currently claim a wear and tear allowance of 10% of rent received, regardless of the costs.

This had meant that some landlords were gaining relief despite making no expenditure, whilst landlords who spent above the 10% level are limited in terms of the relief they can claim.

New proposals will allow all landlords to claim a deduction for the cost of replacing furniture and furnishings, as well as appliances and kitchenware.

Please note that the tax relief available will be for replacing existing furniture and not for furnishing property in the first instance.

Right to Rent
Right to Rent, where it is the responsibility of landlords and lettings agents to perform checks that ensure a tenant has the right to be in the country was recently trialled in the West Midlands. Although the results of the trial haven’t been released, the Government plans to expand the scheme throughout the UK.

What do you think about these recent proposals? Get in touch via social media and let us know.

Smoke Alarms

How we’re keeping tenants safer

New legislation that came into force on 1st October 2015 has made it compulsory for all landlords to fit smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors into their rented properties.

The new rules mean a smoke alarm must be installed on each floor of a property used as living accommodation. A carbon monoxide detector should be fitted into any room with a solid fuel appliance, such as an open fuel fire, wood burning stove or kitchen equipment such as a solid fuel Aga.

In addition, landlords are required to check that all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order when a new tenancy begins and these checks should be conducted periodically.

Failure to comply with these new rules could lead to a penalty charge of up to £5000.

Exclusions to the new law include Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), hostels, care homes, hospitals, hospices and student halls of residence.

These new rules align private rented properties with existing building regulations for new homes, which require the installation of smoke alarms. The legislation is part of the government’s efforts to improve safety standards in the private rented sector.

With a person being at least 4 times more likely to die in a fire if there is no working smoke alarm installed, Redstones have embraced the enhanced tenant safety this new law will help to ensure.

In fact, going above minimum safety measures, we are advising all landlords with properties that use gas to install a carbon monoxide detector, as well as smoke alarms if they haven’t installed them already.

We have pro-actively contacted each of our landlords and have assisted them in installing smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. As a result, our landlords ensured the right safety measures for their tenants well in advance of the 1st October deadline.

If you’re a landlord and require assistance to understand how the legislation will affect you, don’t hesitate to contact Redstones today.