Landlords - Six Simple Steps to Rental Success
In this two-minute read, we look at seven fundamental steps landlords need to take to put themselves and their rental properties on the path to success.
Being a landlord can be challenging, complicated and confusing. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
By following these quick tips below, you’ll make your life easier and your properties more profitable.
1 Picking a Letting Agent. Look for professionalism, integrity, value for money and a proven track record of serving local landlords
2) Marketing Magic. How, where, and when your property is marketed adds significantly to its chances of success. At Alexander Charles & Browne, we use several different platforms, tactics, and techniques to attract the largest possible audience for your property.
3) The 3 Ps. If you want to attract quality tenants at the best price, your property must be clean, well maintained and nicely presented. Remember the 3Ps as they are worth repeating – presentation, presentation, presentation.
4) Dealing with offers. Once quality tenants have been found, and the rental price agreed, we will carry out all the necessary work. This includes gathering references, creating tenancy agreements, collecting the initial deposit and rent, and arranging for a thorough check-in and inventory to take place.
5) Moving in and on. Once all the above has been carried out and is in order, you/we can release the keys to your new tenant. By establishing excellent communication during the moving in process we lay the foundations for good future relations.
6) Hassle-Free Property Management. We offer different tiers of service, from let only where we will find you a quality tenant and carry out all the preparatory work, right through to full property management.
When you decide to have your property fully managed, it means we take responsibility for most things that need doing and sorting out.
This includes collecting rents, arranging safety checks, property inspections and making sure maintenance and repairs are carried out by skilled local professionals. we’ll keep you the right side of the mountain of rental regulations and laws affecting rented property.
Thanks for reading, and if you are a landlord looking to have their life made easier and rental property more profitable, please get in touch with us today.
Please call the lettings team on 0208 613 0775 or email email@example.com
The court ruling that all landlords in need to know about “No DSS” court ruling
The court ruling that all landlords in need to know about “No DSS” court ruling
In this three-minute read, we look at what a recent court ruling that found a “no DSS” letting ban was unlawful means for landlords.
A disabled mum-of-two emerged victorious from York County Court earlier this month after winning a case that sent ripples through the lettings industry.
The woman, who was on housing benefit, had been blocked from renting a property by a blanket “no DSS” lettings policy.
The court heard the woman, who had a part-time job, good references from two previous landlords and a reliable guarantor, had been treated unfairly. The judge agreed and awarded her £3,500 in damages and costs.
The ruling is significant because, despite lots of rumblings over “no DSS”, it is the first time a judge has ruled it is unlawful and discriminatory.
Homeless charity Shelter says the case sends a clear warning to landlords “that they risk legal action if they continue to bar housing benefit tenants from renting”.
Now some legal eagles have noted that as the ruling was made in a county court, it is not binding on other courts. But we think this is splitting hairs.
Even before the York court case, some tenants had won out-of-court settlements after challenging adverts which openly banned benefit claimants.
The direction of traffic is clear: blanket bans that take no account of an individual’s circumstances are increasingly risky. A one-size-fits-all approach can leave a landlord exposed to the threat of legal action and one big headache.
Push to end “no DSS”
The term “no DSS” has been used in property listings for years to make it clear benefit recipients will not be considered for a tenancy.
It’s loathed by welfare charities who argue it should be a relic of the past. (History buffs take note, the DSS – the Department for Social Security – ceased to exist back in 2001!).
There are many reasons why historically some landlords have not rented to people on benefits. One is that some mortgages and insurance policies were invalidated if the tenant was on benefits.
But things have changed. Many lenders, including the Co-operative, Nationwide and NatWest, have loosened buy-to-let mortgage restrictions that relate to benefits tenants. And the phrase “no DSS” has been banned by property portals Zoopla and Rightmove.
Finding the right tenant for your property
Understandably, a landlord wants to find a reliable and respectful tenant.
But slapping “no DSS” at the end of a property listing can be like hitting a walnut with a sledgehammer.
Landlords need a more nuanced strategy which considers applicants on a case by case basis.
This legwork might take a little more time, and involve more admin, but in the long run, it is worth it. This is where we come into our own as experienced, ethical letting agents.
Who – other than a lawyer, of course – wants to get caught up in a legal dispute over the fine-print of the Equality Act 2010? We can think of about 5,000 other things we’d rather do with our time.
If you’d like more advice about how to find a good tenant and protect your investment, contact us.
We’ll take the stress out of the rental process and give you back time to focus on other priorities you have.
At Alexander Charles & Browne we’re here to help landlords navigate the lettings market. If you have any questions about the issues raised in this article, please get in touch.
Free Advice for First-Time Buyers 06/07/2020
There’s a first time for everything, and in this 3-minute easy-read, we share advice on making your property buying a successful one.
Do you remember when you rode a bike without support for the first time?
Or when you learned to swim?
And who can forget the moment when the driving examiner turns and says ‘congratulations, you’ve passed.’
You also never forget your first love or the first home you buy.
That’s why at Alexander Charles & Browne we do all we can to make it an experience you remember fondly.
Because after all, your home is where some of your most magical memories are made.
But it can be a daunting first step entering the World of estate agent speak.
Fear not friends, as we’ve come up with a jargon buster to take the mystique out of buying your first place.
For the record, we don’t like or use the terms, below.
Vendor – No, it’s not a Harry Potter character. It’s the person selling a place.
The ‘applicant’ – This is you, the fresh-faced person buying the place, NOT a device for applying cream.
Sole agent – This has nothing to do with shoes or fish from Dover. It simply means the only agency selling the place.
Chain free – In theory (and in practice) any property that is sold without being involved in a chain should be an easier place to buy. This is due to fewer people, mortgage providers, agents, solicitors, and surveyors being involved.
Mortgage Offer – The confirmation you get from your mortgage provider saying you have the funds approved to buy the property. Having this in place puts you in an excellent position when making an offer.
Subject to Contract – You’ve made an offer, it’s been accepted, but there are still a few contractual hurdles to leap over first.
Conveyancing – The legal stuff that needs doing when you are buying a place. Solicitor jargon is another thing altogether.
Stamp Duty – The bad news is it’s a Government tax slapped on when you buy a home. The good news is there is relief offered to first-time buyers. Get in touch with us, and we can work out what you could be eligible for.
Exchange – The solicitors are happy. The agents are relieved, but most importantly, you’re delighted and the transfer of contracts means it’s now VERY unlikely the home will not become yours. This is the cue for a sigh of relief and perhaps a cheeky little celebratory drink.
Completion – This is D-Day when it comes to buying your first home. It simply means all the legalities and finances have been completed successfully. You will know your ‘completion day’ in advance as you’ll need to pack, arrange removals, and get super excited.
The first evening in your new home should be memorable. We’ll provide the champagne (and take away menus), so you can take a break from unpacking and celebrate in style.
We’ve 25 years of giving people in London and Kent straight-talking property advice.
And we have a dedicated advice service for first-time buyers where you can book in a 20-minute chat to go over any questions you have or jargon you need decoding.
Thanks for reading.
It's a Feelgood Friday Time 03/07/2020
Small businesses are hurting – let’s show them some love
In this three-minute read, we share some ideas on how you can help your local shops and businesses through these difficult times.
One of the most remarkable things about the Covid-19 crisis is the way communities in have pulled together.
People have stepped up and supported their neighbours, the vulnerable and the NHS.
As we enter a new phase of this pandemic – let’s dare to call it post-lockdown (touch wood) – we mustn’t lose that sense of community spirit.
Yes, we may be weary, we may be yearning for a relaxing holiday in the sun, but the fight isn’t over yet – not by a long shot.
Along with stamping out the virus, we need to get our stalled economy moving again.
To do this, we need to redirect all the positive energy we’ve seen over the past few months towards helping our local economy.
High street blues
Even before Covid-19 the UK’s 7,000 high streets were suffering. High rents and competition from online retailers and out-of-town megastores meant many shops and pubs were closing their doors.
At the start of 2020, there were 50,000 fewer high street shops than there were a decade ago.
As retail guru, Mary Portas put it: “We’ve sacrificed community for convenience.”
Well now is the time to start to fix that by supporting family-run and independent businesses.
Don’t forget service providers
While local shops, bars and pubs are a vital part of the community, the local economy is much broader than that. Think about the solicitors, physiotherapists, beauty therapists and independent estate agents who also contribute to the local economy and employ people.
We need your support too.
It’s your call
Recovery and regeneration won’t happen by itself. Do you want our shopping areas to be vibrant and welcoming? Or riddled with yobs and boarded up shops?
If we want our local businesses to thrive, we must all start using them more.
Here are three simple ways we can help our local economy
– Pause before you jump online. Often our initial reaction, when we need something, is to turn to Google or ask Alexa. But what if your first reaction was to think locally? Before you make that online order, why not take a walk up to the shops and see if you can purchase it then and there. No waiting.
– If a local shop, tradesperson, or service provider impresses you, shout about it. Tell your friends and neighbours and mention it on Facebook or digital community platforms such as Nextdoor. Word of mouth recommendations are incredibly powerful.
– Contact your council. If your high street, shopping area or town centre feels down at heel, get writing. Ask your local councillors what they’re doing to help the local area. Point out that in some places, such as Rotherham in Yorkshire and Deptford in London, work has been taking place for years to encourage regeneration. If your council isn’t being proactive, speak up and put positive pressure on them.
Remember, miracles don’t happen overnight. Change takes time and requires commitment.
The next few months will be challenging for us all.
But it’s worth remembering the words of Manchester United’s young star and social justice campaigner Marcus Rashford when he said: “Look at what we can do when we come together.”
At Alexander Charles & Browne we’re proud to be part of the local community and supporters of local businesses.
It's a Feelgood Friday Time 26/06/2020
Five reasons to be cheerful
Architects have designed a floating chicken farm. Yes, really. The three-storey creation will nestle on a concrete pontoon in a Rotterdam waterway, in The Netherlands. It will house 7,000 hens, an egg processing plant, and a cress farm.
So, what do the neighbours think?
As the chicken farm will go next to an existing floating dairy, we don’t expect them to have any beef with the plans
New figures from the Zoopla Property Index show house prices are on an upward trajectory.
Zoopla found house prices were up 2.4% year on year in May. It also predicts property prices in the next quarter will grow by between 2 and 3%.
Micro homes for rough sleepers
Six “micro homes” have been built on church land in Cambridge as part of an innovative project to help the homeless.
As well as getting a roof over their heads, rough sleepers who move into the self-contained pods will receive counselling and support.
The micro-homes, which are easy to relocate, will stay on their present site for three years.
After this time, they could be moved to a new location. Let’s hope we see more being done to help the homeless.
New research from Rightmove shows that Whitby in Yorkshire is the most in-demand seaside location in the UK – up in popularity by almost 5% in a year. The figures are based on inquiries for properties available for sale in the area.
Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear, was second, followed by Troon in Ayrshire, Scotland.
The most expensive seaside destination though remains Sandbanks, in Poole, where the average cost of a home is £1,243,364.
We want you to know that we are optimistic about the future and determined to continue to serve our community.
Whatever your property needs are, we’re here to help.
It's a Feelgood Friday Time 12/06/2020
Here’s some good news
Here’s a two-minute dose of good news to lift your mood this Feelgood Friday.
The number of Brits cycling has skyrocketed. New official figures reveal a 100% increase in people cycling on weekdays and a whopping 200% rise on weekends during lockdown. The trend has been welcomed by environmentalists, fitness campaigners and bike shops – where sales have gone through the roof. Such is the demand that bike stocks are running low, prompting some to say, “bikes are the new toilet paper”. Not one of our favourite expressions, but we know what they mean.
Toy story volunteers!
You could be forgiven for thinking the nation’s little people have spent the whole of lockdown glued to screens. But new market analysis from a data collection company called NPD shows strong demand in recent months for old fashioned toys. Demand for puzzles and jigsaws rose by 43%. Meanwhile, outdoor toys, like sandpits and waterslides, were a hit in May when the glorious sunny weather arrived, creating a 31% spike in sales. Building sets like Lego increased by 17%. (Figures cover January 1 to May 23 this year, compared to the same period in 2019).
Two resourceful brothers have invented a mobile handwashing unit to help stop the spread of Covid-19 in Ghana. Richard Kwarteng Aning and his brother Jude Osei built the Solar Wash from an old barrel and items bought at their local market. The nifty solar-powered basin has a sensor-triggered soap dispenser (so no need to touch anything) and an alarm to ensure you wash your hands for 25 seconds before rinsing. Solar Wash units will be rolled out to communities in Ghanaian cities so people with limited access to freshwater can keep their hands clean.
A yellow Labrador called K9 Raider is in the running to be named America’s top dog. K9 Raider is a Courtroom Therapy Dog who sits with young victims of serious crime when they give evidence. He provides a calming presence during what can be a traumatic experience. Another frontrunner in the American Humane Hero Dog Awards 2020 is Dolly Pawton, a Labrador who can detect when her owner’s blood pressure or heart rate drop and raise the alarm. Then there’s MacKenzie, a Chihuahua born with a cleft palate who now spends her time cuddling up to young, abandoned animals at a New York shelter.
We want our community to know we are here to help you as life slowly gets back to normal.
We wish you all a safe, happy, and enjoyable weekend.
It's a Feelgood Friday Time 05/06/2020
Five reasons to be cheerful
Mystery man cleans up
A mystery man in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, has washed the windows of some 700 properties – for free! The Eastern Daily Press reports that the window cleaner, known only as “Scott”, wants to do his bit to aid the recovery of the local economy. He hopes that by keeping the area spic and span small business can “bounce back quickly when this is all over”.
Let’s cheer our volunteers!
This week is Volunteers’ Week, a chance to celebrate the 20 million people in the UK who give up their time to help others. This year has been particularly challenging for volunteers due to lockdown and social distancing rules, but that hasn’t stopped them doing good work. Volunteers at London’s Slipstreamers Cycling Club, for example, have devised a range of virtual spinning workouts to keep their young charges active until they can get back out on the track again. Then, of course, there are the tens of thousands of NHS volunteers who have helped alleviate pressure on our health service. You’re all heroes.
Everyone needs good neighbours
It’s official: Pemberton Road in Winstanley, Wigan, has the UK’s nicest neighbours. This week it was named Britain’s Friendliest Street in an online poll. Despite being a long and busy thoroughfare, Pemberton Road has bucket-loads of community spirit. During the lockdown, residents pulled together to ensure anyone who was self-isolating was kept stocked up on essentials. The road also has its own quiz master, who organises regular brain teasers to keep people occupied, and a videographer, who compiled a video of neighbours dancing to the Madness song Our House to keep spirits up.
Two young brothers in Derby have made more than 100 cushions for key workers. Ronnie and Reggie Cockroft, aged ten and seven, wanted to do something special for NHS staff and supermarket workers who have been putting in long hours during the pandemic. Their mission is made even more special because Reggie was born prematurely and has cerebral palsy. The boys’ family credit the NHS with saving Reggie’s life.
Radio Ga Ga
While some sectors have struggled in the pandemic, radio has enjoyed a resurgence. The BBC has recorded an 18% increase in listeners during the pandemic. Meanwhile, many of the nation’s 300 community stations have also thrived, with people seeking out local news and the chance to interact with their community while in lockdown.
We want our community to know we are here to help you as we were in the past, as we are in the present and as we will be in the future.
It's a Feelgood Friday Time 29/05/2020
In this two-minute read, we look around the UK and the World to see what’s been bringing a smile to people’s faces.
Taking the biscuit
If you’re looking for an excuse to raid the biscuit tin, we’ve got one. Today is National Biscuit Day, a chance to celebrate the humble hobnob, bless the bourbon, and commend the custard cream. Dedicating an entire day to biscuits may seem a little over the top to some, but let’s be honest few food items inspire as much loyalty in the UK. Do you dip or dunk? Is a Jaffa Cake really a biscuit? These questions have divided Brits for decades. But did you know that in the US scones are called biscuits? Now, that’s crackers.
High street big names re-open
As lockdown eases, many favourite high street names are getting back to business, with more to follow in the coming days. Matalan, Dunelm and Poundland have re-opened many shops, albeit with strict social distancing rules. KFC’s 500 stores are now open for drive-through and delivery, while McDonald’s continues its phased re-opening, with all 975 outlets to be back in action by next week.
Check out the bride
A woman who had to postpone her wedding due to Covid-19 has walked down the aisle – a supermarket aisle. Staff at Asda in Leckwith, Cardiff, treated colleague Mandy Hamling to a special in-store ceremony to cheer her up about working on what should have been her big day. Checkout worker Mandy, 42, was presented with a veil, sash and flowers and walked down the aisle to Chapel of Love. To top things off, there was also a wedding cake and confetti. The only thing missing was Mandy’s fiancé Michael, but we’re sure he’ll turn up for the real event which is due to take place next year.
Dabirul Makes it a Double Century
Congratulations to 100-year-old Dabirul Choudhury, an East Londoner who followed in the footsteps of Colonel Sir Tom Moore by walking 100 laps of his garden. Dabirul completed the feat in his 80-metre garden in Bow while also fasting to observe the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Dabirul’s goal was to raise £1,000 to help victims of Covid-19 – a target he smashed by raising more than £220,000.
A hairdresser in the US who was struggling to make split ends meet (sorry!) was thrilled when a customer gave her a whopping $2,500 tip. Illsia Novotny, a hairstylist at Floyds Barbershop, Denver, was unable to work for two months due to lockdown. The shop had only recently re-opened when the mystery customer came in for a trim. He must have been delighted with the haircut because on top of tipping Illsia, he gave the shop’s receptionist $500, the general manager $1,000 and a further $1,800 to be shared between the rest of the staff.
We’d love to hear what’s been happening this week that’s left you feeling good?
Thanks for reading. Stay safe, stay sensible and be kind to each other.
It's a Feelgood Friday Time 22/05/2020
Let’s take a moment to celebrate some of the joyous, upbeat, and downright quirky stories that made us smile this week.
The Knitting Nana
A nimble-fingered Norfolk Nana is raising funds for the NHS. Margaret Seaman, 91, is knitting a woollen tribute to the Nightingale hospitals set up to provide care during the Covid-19 crisis.
Once complete, Knittingale Hospital will have an A&E department, X-ray room and four wards along with staff and patients. Margaret spends up to 12 hours a day working on the project, which has already raised £2,700.
Encouraging news on the search for a Covid-19 vaccine. US company Moderna reports that early results from human trials of its vaccine have been positive. Meanwhile, scientists at Oxford University who are developing their own vaccine say that they are making good progress. There’s still a way to go before we have a vaccine, but these are two reasons to be optimistic.
Oh, What A Knight!
Congratulations to Colonel Tom Moore who received a knighthood for his spectacular fundraising efforts. The 100-year-old war veteran won our hearts when he completed 100 laps of his Bedfordshire garden, a feat that raised £39 million for the NHS.
Since then Captain Tom has become Colonel Tom, recorded a hit song with Michael Ball and been named an honorary member of the England cricket team. Howzat!
A Rottweiler in the US called Loki has been helping to lift spirits in his hometown of Baltimore. Loki is a “therapy dogtor” who usually visits sick patients in hospitals. When lockdown meant he could no longer make his usual rounds, he switched to delivering special care kits to nurses on the Covid-19 frontline. The packages contain goodies like moisturiser (to soothe skin irritated by wearing tight-fitting personal protective equipment), coffee and tea. So far Loki – wearing his special face mask of course – and owner Caroline have helped deliver 4,500 packages to four hospitals. That’s pawsome. (Sorry).
Online property portal Rightmove has reported a surge in traffic following the re-opening of the English property market. The number of enquiries to the website hit a whopping 5.2 million the day after restrictions on moving home were eased. Rightmove bosses say this shows “clear signs of returning momentum” in the market.
We want our community to know we are there for them during these challenging times.
And we would love to know what’s making you feel good this Friday?
Thanks for reading. Stay safe, stay sensible and be kind to each other.
Home movers given the green light
In this three-minute read, we look in more depth at the Government guidelines released last week which kick-started the property market.
On Wednesday last week, it was officially announced estate agents in England could go back to work as part of the Government’s phased relaxation of the lockdown.
And we’re open again but only because we are fully ready to do so thanks to preparing in advance.
Some agencies have rushed blindly out of the traps, unprepared and dived straight back in.
When Elvis Presley sang “….Only fools rush in’ he could have been singing about certain sections of the property industry.
And just like the King of Rock and Roll that’s not our approach either.
We took our time under lockdown to ensure we have enough Personal Protective Equipment, we have also stocked up on santisers, social distancing signs and prepared our Be Clean Be Safe protocols and policies.
We’re definitely not foolishly rushing in.
The key parts of the Government’s advice for people looking to move or purchase a home are summarised below. We want to reassure home sellers and buyers we will be following these guidelines thoroughly.
- BUYERS: Initial viewings should be carried out virtually wherever this is possible, and estate agents should help you to do this.
- BUYERS: All physical viewings should be limited to members of the same household, and open house viewings should not take place.
- BUYERS: When physically viewing properties, where possible, you should avoid touching surfaces, wash your hands regularly, and bring your own hand sanitiser. The number of people on a viewing should be minimised to those from your household that have to be there. If you need to be accompanied by small children, you should try to keep them from touching surfaces and ensure they wash their hands regularly.
- SELLERS: If people are being shown around your current home, you should open all internal doors and ensure surfaces, such as door handles, are cleaned after each viewing with standard household cleaning products.
- SELLERS: As most people choose to, we recommend you leave your property while viewings are taking place to minimise your contact with those not in your household.
- EVERYONE: Anyone involved in any aspect of the home moving process should practice social distancing in line with public health advice.
- MOVERS: When moving between properties, you and those in your household should try to do as much of the packing yourself as you can. Where this is not possible, you should speak to removal firms in advance.
- MOVERS: If you are particularly worried about the risk of infection, then speak to the professionals involved, your estate agent, landlord or removers as they may be able to put in place extra measures.
In addition to these and our other measures we have also created a Safe Homes Hotline where we will answer any questions you have about how we are protecting people.
We’re expecting a very busy few months as buyers and sellers who have been put on hold by lockdown are now released.
Property portals reported record numbers of people visiting their sites in the 24 hours after lockdown, and we look set for a busy summer, especially as overseas holidays look unlikely to happen.
And we are ready, and looking forward to serving our clients safely, sensibly and successfully.
Thanks for reading.
To read the full document visit:
SAFETY FIRST at Alexander Charles & Browne
I hope this letter finds you safe and well and adapting to the ‘new normal’ we’re all living in right now.
On Wednesday 13 May estate agents were given the green light to get back to work and get the property market in England moving again.
While this is excellent news for the many people who were wanting to buy and sell before lockdown, we are proceeding with measured caution rather than simply rushing back in.
And I wanted to let homeowners know what we are doing to follow the Government’s guidelines around safely and responsibly selling properties.
We’ve created our Be Clean- Be Safe policy which is attached.
We will be doing all we can to protect people’s health and wellbeing.
- To reduce the number of physical viewing
- We are verifying all potential buyers to ensure they are in a strong position to buy.
- Verified potential buyers will be shown video tours of all properties before a physical viewing can be arranged.
- We have stocked up on PPE, hand sanitizer and keys disinfectant.
- We are conducting a brief health questionnaire with all sellers and potential buyers to see if they have had COVID-19 or any recent related symptoms.
- We will be strictly adhering to our Be Clean – Be Safe policy during any physical viewings of a property.
We will add more measures as when the Government guidelines are updated.
If you are thinking of putting your property on the market or just curious about its value post the first phase of lockdown, please get in contact with us.
We’re here to help people get moving again safely.
11 Dartmouth Road Forest Hill
London SE23 3HN
Buying: 0208 613 0775
Letting: 0208 613 0775