Posts Tagged ‘Lettings’

What are the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards?

Posted by

Making homes more energy efficient is vital if the UK is to meet its commitment to cutting carbon emissions and helping to halt climate change. For landlords, ensuring properties are well insulated and installed with energy saving measures is important too – to give tenants a warm and comfortable home with reasonable energy bills.

This year, however, energy efficiency is about more than good practice – it is a legal necessity. The government’s domestic Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) regulations enforce energy efficiency in the rental sector. The regulations apply to all domestic privately rented properties with assured shorthold tenancies.

 

What do the MEES regulations say?

Under the regulations, since April 2018 all new tenancies must achieve an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of at least E. An EPC rates how energy efficient a property is on a scale of A to G, with A being highest. Any property, which has been sold, let or modified since 2008 is legally required to have an EPC.

As well as giving the property an energy efficiency rating, the EPC also sets out measures you can take to improve your score. You need to have an EPC inspection carried out every 10 years.

Under the law, landlords are not allowed to grant a new tenancy for any property rated F or G – they must take steps to improve its energy efficiency first. From April this year, all existing tenancies must also achieve an energy rating of E or greater.

In other words,

  • If the tenancy started before 1 April 2018, you have until 1 April 2020 to improve the rating of your property to an E, if you plan to keep letting it.
  • If you plan to enter into a new tenancy before 1 April 2020, you must ensure you meet the standard before the new tenancy is signed.
  • If the tenancy started after 1 April 2018, you must take action immediately to make sure the property reaches an E rating.

If your property is currently rated F or G, and you have made energy efficient improvements since your last EPC assessment was carried out – if you have had a new boiler or double glazing fitted for example – it is advisable to get a new EPC certificate, as you may not be affected by the MEES regulations.

 

How do I pay for improvements?

The government has introduced a cost cap on energy efficient improvements, meaning you should never need to spend more than £3,500 (including VAT). There are three funding options open to you:

  1. Third party funding – grants and payments may be available to landlords to help them make energy efficient improvements. These include grants from local authorities and the Energy Company Obligation, funded by energy companies. Find out more on the government website. The cap doesn’t apply to improvements which are funded by third parties.
  2. A combination of third-party funding and self-funding – if you receive some funding but it is not enough to bring your property up to standard, you may need to top it up with your own money.
  3. Self-funding – if you aren’t eligible for any external grants you will need to pay for the improvements yourself. If it costs less than the £3,500 cap to improve your property, you will only need to spend as much as it takes to achieve an E rating.

 

What if the improvements cost more than £3,500?

If you cannot improve your property to EPC E for £3,500, you should make all the improvements you can up to that amount, then register for an ‘all improvements made’ exemption. Find out more about this on the government website.

There are various other exemptions, which you may be eligible for too – for example a wall insulation exemption can be used if fitting this type of energy efficiency measure would have a detrimental effect on your property.

Most exemptions last for five years, after which you will need to try again to bring your property up to standard or register for another exemption.

 

Should I invest in energy efficiency?

If the improvements will cost you more than £3,500, and you can afford to make them, it may be advisable to go ahead regardless of whether you could have obtained an exemption. Regulations are likely to become increasingly stringent over time and it may cost you more to complete the improvements later.

The government has committed to improving energy performance standards of privately rented homes in England and Wales, with the aim of seeing as many as possible being upgraded to a B or C rating by 2030.

Energy efficiency improvements could have numerous other benefits for your property, from avoiding problems with damp, to attracting tenants and making it easier to sell if you wish to.

 

What can I do to improve my property’s energy efficiency?

Examples of energy efficient measures that will improve your property’s rating include installing floor insulation, switching to low energy lighting, adding double glazing, increasing loft insulation and changing to a modern heating system. Adding renewable energy sources such as solar panels or ground source heating can really boost an EPC score too.

If you are a landlord with property in Wimbledon, we would be happy to advise you about the many aspects of letting homes. Please contact us today to find out more.

Why location is the key to successful buy-to-let investing

Posted by

We all know location counts when you are looking to buy a family home, but the same is true if you are buying to let. If you are looking in South West London, Wimbledon is a good choice as it will undoubtedly always be popular with tenants.

Wimbledon’s appeal lies in its versatility. Living in Wimbledon gives you all the amenities of the town centre with the rural feel of the village close by. Plus, there are amazing transport links to central London and beyond, as well as plenty of outstanding schools in the state and independent sectors.

Wherever you decide to invest in a buy-to-let property, location is key. As a landlord you’ll be looking for high rental yields, minimal void periods and for your property to gain in value over time. Choosing the best location for your budget can help you achieve this, so before you commit to a property think carefully about how attractive it will be to tenants.

It makes sense to have your ideal tenant in mind when deciding on a location. If your budget will only stretch to smaller apartments, your target market probably isn’t families, where more space is a priority.

If you are looking at young professionals, you’ll probably want a flat that’s close to amenities and night life as well as handy for good transport links. You might also want to consider whether it’s close to a local employer – Wimbledon is close to St George’s Hospital and medical school, for example.

You should do plenty of research about who lives in the area and the average rents they pay. This will help you get a good idea of whether you’ll achieve the return on investment you’re looking for.

To help you decide if a location is right for your buy-to-let project, look at our local area guides. Then use our checklist of what to look out for when choosing your investment.

 

1. Avoid traffic hotspots

Go back a street from the main road – quieter streets with less traffic may hold their value better and are more attractive to tenants.

 

2. Look to the future

Do your research on any planned regeneration schemes in the area and think about the impact on the property you’re considering, good and bad. Will the plans bring better transport links and upgraded facilities, or mean noisy works for years to come that will deter renters?

 

3. How are the schools?

Families are drawn to areas like Wimbledon because of their proximity to good schools. Houses close to outstanding state schools will be popular with renters and retain their value – as long as the schools remain high-performing and popular. If you’re targeting families, do your research into popular schools and where people need to live to secure a place.

 

4. What are the main attractions?

Look at properties with good amenities close by. Attractive parks, bars, restaurants and shops can all make a place appealing to tenants. Wimbledon is well served in this respect, with the common and Wimbledon Park, plus numerous other open spaces. The area also has plenty to do, including New Wimbledon Theatre and a range of amazing places to eat in both the town and village.

Factors like a corner shop or mini supermarket, neighbourhood pub and coffee shop can also give a particular street the edge.

 

5. How is the transport?

This is a crucial one, especially for city professionals looking for an easy commute. Wimbledon may have been planned with commuters in mind, so well is it served for transport, with frequent trains into London Waterloo, Vauxhall and Clapham Junction as well as access to the District Line, Tram, Thameslink and Northern Line services.

 

If you are considering purchasing a buy-to-let property in the Wimbledon area, we’d be happy to discuss the merits different parts of the area and show you some great properties. Contact us today to find out more.

Ten steps to becoming the tenant that landlords love

Posted by

 

 

 

 

If you are new to renting, there are a few things you need to know about your responsibilities as a tenant – ten, in fact!

While a difficult landlord is every renter’s worst fear, the relationship works both ways and tenants can be big trouble too. More often than not, problems occur because of a lack of communication, which lets minor issues escalate, creating a difficult situation.

A good landlord/tenant relationship is great for everyone. As a tenant you may find your landlord eager to respond when there’s an issue and happy to keep you in the property for as long as you wish. The landlord will also benefit from a longer-term tenant, who will look after the place.

If you’re new to renting, there are a few responsibilities in your tenancy agreement that you really need to know about, from being on time with your rent to getting on with the neighbour. Read on for our ultimate guide to becoming the tenant that landlords love.

 

1. Always pay your rent on time

Your number one duty as a tenant is to pay your rent on time. If you pay by standing order, make sure you have funds to cover your rent on the due date. If you fail to pay, your landlord can take steps to evict you and reclaim the money that’s owed. You need to make sure you pay any other charges, as agreed with your landlord too – council tax or utility bills, for example.

 

2. Look after your home

It’s generally a condition of your shorthold tenancy agreement that you keep the property in good order.

While your landlord is responsible for carrying out repairs to the structure, plumbing, electrics and heating, you’ll be expected to complete small tasks to keep your home running smoothly – checking smoke alarms, changing lightbulbs and keeping the place well-ventilated, to prevent damp.

While not everyone is a Mrs Hinch, you’ll need to keep your home clean and tidy, and take reasonable steps to prevent problems occurring – not flushing wipes down the loo and turning off the water at the mains if you’re away in cold weather.

Always report repairs to your landlord promptly – small damp patches could become a big deal if not treated. If further damage is caused because a problem wasn’t fixed, you could be liable.

 

landlord

 

3. Allow your landlord access

Unless living in the property, landlords don’t have the right to come and go as they please. Your landlord must give you at least 24-hours’ notice before visiting and should visit at a reasonable time, apart from in an emergency.

You do need to allow them access, however, to carry out repairs and maintenance and to make fire and gas safety checks. It’s in your interest to be as accommodating as possible – being flexible, by offering a choice of dates and times, will help you to a good relationship and make sure repairs are completed in a timely fashion.

 

4. Don’t make alterations without permission.

Rental properties tend to be decorated in neutral tones, which suit most tastes. Avoid the temptation to personalise your space with something more radical. Unauthorised redecorating, or drilling holes to hang pictures, is likely to result in the landlord withholding your security deposit, so they can make good after you’ve gone.

 

5. Don’t sublet

Subletting happens when an existing tenant lets part or all of a property they rent to another person. There are genuine reasons why it might suit you to sublet. You may be struggling to pay the rent alone or need to be away from home for a short period but want to make sure the rent is covered. If you have a good reason, your landlord is likely to be sympathetic, but will want it all made official so you must get their permission first.

 

neighbours

 

6. Be a good neighbour

Your behaviour in the property reflects on your landlord, so don’t create a nuisance. Keep your music to a reasonable volume and avoid noisy parties. Make sure you put your rubbish and recycling out on time and keep the outside of the property tidy – check your responsibilities around gardening in your tenancy agreement. Landlords can start eviction proceedings against tenants for antisocial behaviour caused to neighbours. As a tenant you will be held responsible for the actions of anyone visiting you too.

 

7. Communicate with your landlord

Try to respond to texts, calls and emails as soon as possible and be helpful. Keeping the lines of communication open will help your relationship long-term.

 

8. Ask before getting a pet

Some landlords allow cats and dogs, others don’t. While some people are relaxed about animals, others are concerned about damage to furnishings, annoyance to neighbours and smells. If the property is a flat, there may be a clause in the Landlord’s own lease that prevents anyone from keeping animals. If you have a pet, or are thinking of getting one, always check your tenancy agreement and get permission in writing before bringing home a furry friend.

 

9. Let your landlord know if you’re going away

If you ‘re going to be away from your home for a substantial period – because you’re in hospital, travelling abroad or caring for a relative – let your landlord know. You’ll still need to pay rent while you’re away unless you come to some arrangement with your landlord or sublet with permission.

When going on holiday, or away from the property for a short time, it’s also good practice to let you landlord know and to give their details to a neighbour in case there’s an emergency while you’re away.

 

10. Saying goodbye

You should end your tenancy properly by giving the correct notice. If you don’t you will still be liable to pay rent. You can’t give notice if you are still in the fixed term of a tenancy, unless your tenancy agreement says otherwise.

 

If you are looking for somewhere to rent in Wimbledon area contact us today to find out more about our selection of rental properties.

Property predictions: what next for property in 2018?

Posted by

Looking back at 2017, one constant that has been proved yet again is the continued robust nature of the London property market. Despite the political and economic uncertainty of Brexit, the changes introduced to the landlord tax relief and the Bank of England’s rise in interest rates, the property market as a whole has proved to be incredibly resilient.

2017 was a great year for us as a company. Our sales turnover was up on the previous year and the team’s hard work and relentless commitment to delivering exceptional service – and achieving the best possible results for our clients – paid off with a Gold Award at the highly prestigious British Property Awards as the top estate agent in Wimbledon for customer service.

As we look ahead to 2018, we are confident that the market will continue to hold its own. Whilst there is continuing economic and political uncertainty in the run-up to Britain’s departure from the EU in 2019, the continued low rates of lending still make today’s market a good time to buy. As ever, the phrase ‘Location, Location, Location’ is true when it comes to the demand for property in Wimbledon, and that has encouraged more agents to open offices in SW19, giving potential vendors even more choice than before. However, with 11 sales and 7 lets already agreed in January we are off to a very positive start and, despite increased competition from local and online agents alike, we are even more determined to make 2018 our best year ever!

 

24 High Street,
Wimbledon Village,
London SW19 5DX

Tel: +44 (0)20 8971 6780
Fax: +44 (0)20 8946 3683