Are you an accidental landlord?

Are you an accidental landlord?

What is an accidental landlord?

As the name would suggest, an accidental landlord is someone who didn’t particularly intend to become a landlord. Perhaps you inherited a property, or you moved in with a partner and for whatever reason, haven’t sold your property. Maybe you split from a partner and can’t afford to live in your own property. Or maybe you’re working away from home at the moment, so have rented your property out.

There are all sorts of reasons why you may find yourself in the position of renting your property! In fact, This IS Money reported at the end of last year that there had been a massive increase in accidental landlords, with an estimated 80,000 properties now being rented across the UK as a result.

Why would you consider becoming a landlord rather than selling your property?

Help to BuyWell, the answer to that is simple. Rental payments are often considerably more than the cost of a low mortgage and the annual rate of rental growth increased by 1.6% last year. That said, it was slightly less in the south-east.

And if you’ve got your mortgage covered by rent payments, it takes away the pressure of having to get a quick sale, allowing you time to reflect on what you want to do, while you watch the market.

Landlord responsibilities and liabilities 

It is important to note, however, that in becoming a landlord, you take on a number of responsibilities, both in respect of the rent you receive, in respect of the property and in respect of your tenants.

Notify your lender and insurer

The first thing you must do if you decide to rent your property is to notify your lender of the change in circumstances. You should also notify your insurers.

Your lender may grant you a Consent to Let mortgage (which normally allows you to let your property for 12 months although you can sometimes reapply) while maintaining your current mortgage.

Alternatively, you may need or want to switch your residential mortgage to a buy to let mortgage. Although this is not necessarily complicated, it may include an arrangement fee and a different mortgage rate. You may also be offered a lower loan to value.

At the end of the Consent to Let period, you will have to decide whether to reapply, switch mortgage type or cease letting. How your lender responds to your application will depend on their individual approach.

It’s worth noting when considering your mortgage, that on average, most accidental landlords only rent their property for approximately 15 months and rarely seek a second tenant after the first has vacated.

Tax issues

You also have to declare any rental income for tax purposes and this is at a time when, unfortunately, the government is clamping down on landlords. Tax relief on offsetting mortgage interest payments against rental income is being gradually phased out (and will be replaced by a tax credit).  This year landlords will be only allowed to offset 50%, falling to 25% in 2019 and zero in 2020.

There are also changes to the wear and tear tax allowance previously available to landlords, diminishing the relief that’s available.

Stamp Duty and Capital Gains Tax

Changes to the stamp duty regulations mean that if you purchase a new property before you’ve sold your rental property, you will get hit with a 3% additional stamp duty charge.  And on disposal of any property, there could also be significant Capital Gains Tax implications.

A rise in mortgage interest rates

After enjoying low interest rates for a considerable period of time, there is now almost daily speculation in the financial press that there will be a hike in interest rates (and therefore in mortgage interest rates) at some point this year. How this will affect accidental landlords remains to be seen.

All these issues need to be given proper consideration before you make the decision to rent your property. And that’s before you take into account your actual legal responsibilities to your tenants.

Your landlord responsibilities

home safetyWe’ve blogged about your legal responsibilities as a landlord before but by way of a quick reminder, they include:

  • Right to rent. Under the Immigration Act 2014 landlords must check that their tenants have a legal right to rent in this country. You will have to check that they are eligible to be in the UK and allowed to rent. Failure to do so can result in severe penalties.
  • Tenancy deposit. There are rules about how you hold tenant deposits.
  • Safety checks. You will need to ensure a registered engineer checks every gas appliance and provides a record for the tenants. There are also fire and electricity safety issues and regulations with which you need to comply.
  • You will need a properly prepared tenancy agreement.

You don’t have to rule it out

It may sound like I’m a bit negative about accidental landlords. But I’m not. In the right circumstances, they can be an attractive and financially rewarding solution.

However, what I can’t stress enough is the importance of taking professional advice before you decide to become a landlord. Letting your property means you are in effect running a business, and it should be approached and treated in the same way.

Know your responsibilities, know the risks, as well as the perks and you’re far more likely to make it a success.

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi-award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 or via email to dorking@ewemove.com

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Is a ban on gazumping the answer?

Is a ban on gazumping the answer?

Ban gazumping!

“To make buying and selling homes cheaper, faster and less stressful”.

That was one of the Government’s promises at the end of last year. Sounded good and we were all ears. A clampdown on gazumping, a practice which often leaves the original purchaser with legal fees and surveyors’ costs in respect of a house they’ve lost out on.

It’s certainly a popularity winning style headline but is targeting gazumping really getting to the root of the problem? Or could it prove more painful than ever before for those moving home?

The proposals

tips for moving houseAccording to the Land Registry, nearly 18% (200,000) of all house sales fall through every year. A fact that is now widely accepted as one of the causing factors of the enormous stress and anxiety which often surrounds a house sale or purchase.

As a result, the government proposes to try and reduce this number by bringing forward the point at which a house sale/purchase is legally binding for both parties. More specifically, by making the transaction binding at the point at which an offer is accepted. Any parties who withdraw after the offer is accepted would be liable for the other side’s wasted expenses.

But surely there’s a flaw in the proposals?

ban gazumping The trouble with the proposals is that they take a naïve approach to why a sale may fall through. Of course, there are occasions when sellers just accept a higher offer but there’s a lot more to it than that.

The enormous pressure on the housing market means that:

  • Buyers often make an offer almost out of a sense of desperation and often before they have any clear idea of whether and how much they can borrow or fund.
  • The boom in marketing properties online may undoubtedly make a property much more widely available, but it also makes the competition even fiercer with queues of viewers and open house events, making the pressure and competition feel that much more intense.
  • Unfortunately, not every estate agent is a property expert and some online portals will have very little to no interaction with the property itself. That means that faults in title deeds and paperwork or faults in the house itself may go completely unnoticed until quite far down the line. Of course, that, in turn, may affect borrowing.
  • Most residential property sales become part of an ongoing chain where the buyers and sellers have little control over the overall timing. Sometimes, unsurmountable difficulties can be caused by an unrelated third party, further up the chain.
  • If a sale is binding at the point an offer is accepted, this raises the questions of who pays for upfront costs like surveys and legal fees. And that on its own could be enough to put some buyers or vendors off altogether.

So, what is the answer?

banning ordersIt’s fair to say the house buying and selling process could do with a shake-up. After all, we’ve been using the same system for nearly 100 years. A ban on gazumping would be a popular policy and for a number of people, it would mean greater security and a great deal less stress.

But it would be wrong to think that this is a one size fits all solution. And it would be wrong to turn a blind eye to the additional and possibly much more distressing and expensive side effects that a ban could cause.

Pending a thorough overall of the entire system, my advice would be to be careful in your choice of professionals and don’t assume that a ban on gazumping offers complete protection. Choose an estate agent who is experienced, proactive and who understands property. Seek early advice about borrowing and instruct a conveyancer who is equally robust.

In recent years, too many people have paid the cost of trying to buy or sell with minimal assistance from professionals and with the current pressure on both the economy and housing, this is only set to get worse.

That said, at the moment the government haven’t announced how a ban would be policed and whether such a ban ever becomes law remains to be seen.

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi-award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 or via email to dorking@ewemove.com

Tenants may soon be able to sue their landlords

Tenants to sue landlords over substandard properties!

Yes, that’s right. Last week MPs voted in favour of a Bill that could give tenants the ability to sue landlords over poor housing conditions.

The Government supports The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill and MPs voted unanimously to pass it. It now moves to the Committee stage, where a detailed examination of its obligations takes place.

The details as known

Housing reform If made law, the Bill would amend the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 to require that residential rented accommodation is provided and maintained in a state of “fitness for human habitation”. The Bill extends to England and Wales but will only apply to tenancies in England.

Why is the Bill necessary?

An outdated legal framework

The law at the moment relating to health and safety in people’s homes is widely regarded as piecemeal, out-dated and complex.

The current legislation under section 8 of the 1985 Landlord and Tenant Act requires most landlords to keep their properties in good repair, including the supply of water, heating and sanitation. But annual rent limits (£52 or less, and £80 or less in London) means that for most tenants, the provisions of section 8 don’t apply.

Increasing concern about standards 

poor housing

A survey in 2015/16 found that the private rented sector has the highest proportion of homes (40%) in England that have at least one indicator of poor housing conditions. What’s more, 28% of privately rented properties failed the decent home standard in 2015.

In July last year, I blogged about the rise in retaliatory evictions by landlords, following requests by private tenants for repairs to be carried out.  This, combined with a lack of resources (be it lack of legal aid, private finance or the wherewithal of how to go about it) makes it very difficult for some tenants to insist on basic improvements to their living conditions.

It makes for a bleak picture for tenants in some areas of the country. But whilst unsuccessful attempts to amend the current legislation have been made a number of times recently,  the devastating events at Grenfell Tower last year, have rightly brought the issue of housing firmly back into the spotlight.

What’s your view?

Of course, full details of what may eventually become law aren’t known. But the Residential Association of Landlords (RLA), National Association of Landlords (NLA) and Shelter have expressed support for the Bill.

As do many landlords. After all, a lot of landlords provide perfectly suitable and well maintained rental properties and the Bill does nothing more than state what they are doing already.

Housing reform However, in November last year you will recall I wrote about the rise in spurious claims by tenants against their landlords and there will always be an element of concern that for those with such intent, this is one more weapon to beat their landlords with.

Overall, however, my view is that this reform is a force for good. Anything that clarifies and simplifies the current legislation should be embraced and to be a successful landlord, you should always be trying to maintain high standards for your tenants.

I’ll keep you posted on any amendments and on the Bill’s progress through Parliament but if you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch or leave a comment.

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi-award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 or via email to dorking@ewemove.com

 

10+ reasons to move to Dorking!

10+ reasons to move to Dorking!

Why move to Dorking?

Happy New Year! Here’s hoping 2018 will be a prosperous and successful one!

But there’s no escaping the general feeling of gloom and doom in January. The twinkly lights and festive spirit are gone, the weather is, well, mainly cold, wet and grey and it feels like a long time until spring.

Add to that the news that as rail fares go up yet again, there’s set to be more strike action in some areas of the country.  It’s all enough to drive you into hibernation until well after the daffodils are out.

But I’m looking on the bright side

Because let’s face it, there is lots to love about living in the Dorking area. We’ve got some incredible countryside right on our doorstep which is perfect for some stunning winter walks. Or you can head into town for a browse of the antique shops or a bite to eat in one of the many quaint little cafés or restaurants.

I’m not the only one who thinks Dorking is a great place to live

Surrey Hills

At the end of last year, estate agent Jackson-Stops revealed its top commuter hotspots based on considerations such as house prices, annual house price growth, train reliability and speed of journey.

And guess what? Dorking game second! Ok, I’d have liked it to come first but second is pretty impressive when you consider some of the competition from the home counties and the south-east corner.

What’s more, Luton in Bedfordshire came first, notwithstanding the fact that last year Reddit users voted it the ‘worst place to live in the UK’!

Now I don’t know Luton that well but I do know Dorking. I know that over the years, it’s won lots of awards, and often been voted one of the best places to live. Even on the gloomiest January day, it’s still a pretty and attractive market town with a thriving and vibrant community and if you’re thinking of moving out of London, you couldn’t do much better than moving to Dorking.

Still not convinced?

10+ great reasons to move to Dorking:

  1. The North Downs and the Surrey Hills (a designated area of outstanding natural beauty which includes Leith Hill, Box Hill, Colley Hill, Holmbury Hill and Newlands Corner) are right on your doorstep for you to enjoy.
  2. Because of its situation, Dorking is a great base if you’re a keen cyclist, runner, hiker or walker.
  3. For commuters, there are no fewer than 3 railway stations, with regular trains to London and the south as well as cross-country links to Guildford, Reigate and Reading. The journey time to central London is just 25 mins and nearby Guildford is a thriving and busy town with a University, large hospital and cathedral!
  4. And if it’s foreign travel you enjoy, you’re only a short distance from the M25 and links to Gatwick and Heathrow.
  5. Dorking even has its own vineyard, the very successful and award-winning Denbies Wine Estate, where you can enjoy wine tasting and tours!
  6. Unemployment in Dorking is lower than both the Surrey and national averages with the number in receipt of working benefits 10% lower than the national average. But during the 2011 census, the residents of Dorking rated their health “very good” which is higher than the national average.
  7. Dorking Dorking is an historic town, with a network of underground caves, attractive architecture and a traditional market.
  8. And if it’s a night out on the town you’re after, Dorking has a cinema, theatre and arts centre as well as lots going on.
  9. According to Zoopla house prices in Dorking rose between January 2017 and 2018 by nearly 3.43% although according to RightMove, “Dorking, with an overall average price of £498,742 was cheaper than nearby Brockham (£610,500), Westcott (£639,864) and Betchworth (£738,000).”
  10. And if you’d love to move here but don’t think you stand a chance, there are a number of new developments within the Dorking area with houses, flats and apartments for sale.
    So, if you already live in Dorking, that’s great news. It really is a lot nicer than Luton, isn’t it? And if you don’t live here, but would like to, why not come and spend some time here this January and discover the many delights Dorking has to offer!

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi-award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 or via email to dorking@ewemove.com

A brief review of the property market this year and a look at predictions for 2018

A brief review of the property market this year and a look at predictions for 2018

Let’s end the year on a high! House prices are up, if only just and there’s good news for first-time buyers.

Back in October, the BBC published a rather depressing report.  “House prices in more than half of neighbourhoods in England and Wales are still lower in real terms than a decade ago.” they revealed. Up to 58% less in some areas. Added to the general gloom and doom of the Brexit negotiations, it wasn’t what most of us wanted to hear.

But …

maximising the rental yieldHere in the South East, house prices have in fact risen. And although the UK is still very much divided between north and south when it comes to house prices, overall across the UK, prices were up by 5% in the year to August 2017 and the market has been more robust this year than was predicted.

On Zoopla’s website they are recording:

The average price for property in South East England stood at £416,084 in December 2017. This is a rise of 0.81% in the last three months (since September 2017) and rise of 1.84% since 12 months ago. In terms of property types, flats in South East England sold for an average of £243,845 and terraced houses for £306,503.”

And in 2018?

Early this week, Rightmove predicted that house prices of small and medium-priced homes around the country will rise by 1% in 2018 (albeit with a decline in London). That’s despite a slight drop in the average asking price in England and Wales between November and December this year.

Rightmove also predicts that the increase will be slightly higher (3%) for properties typically bought by first time buyers (i.e. two bedroom properties or less) and for properties bought by those moving on from their first home (2%).

Slow but still good news

There is no escaping the fact that an increase of 1% is pretty modest, but it’s worth considering the predictions from this time last year which were that the property market would stagnate and the picture would be a lot worse.

Incentives for first-time buyers

tips for moving houseAnnounced in last month’s budget, the new stamp duty exemption for first-time buyers saw an instant flurry of new buyers making enquiries and registering with estate agents.

With immediate effect, the exemption abolished stamp duty for all properties up to £300,000 bought by first-time buyers.  For those first-time buyers buying a property worth between £300,000 and £500,000, the new policy provides a £5k discount off stamp duty.

Despite more predictions of gloom, it remains to be seen what effect this will have on house prices, although some suspect that those who will benefit most will be those second-time buyers who are upsizing.

The stamp duty cut wasn’t the only measure in the recent Budget introduced to boost the property market which included making available £44bn of funding, loans and guarantees to boost the housing supply by 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s.

It also shouldn’t be forgotten that there are still other resources available if you’re hoping to buy for the first time, including:

  • Help to Buy with an Equity Loan. Save a minimum 5% deposit of the property value and the Government will offer an interest-free loan of a further 20%. The remaining 75% is covered by a standard mortgage.
  • Help to Buy ISA and Lifetime ISA. I’ve written about these previously, and they are still a valuable resource. With the Help to Buy ISA, for every £200 you save into the account, the Government will add £50. This is up to a maximum bonus of £3,000 (which applies to £12,000 of savings). The Lifetime ISA offers a tax-free boost of up to £1,000 a year towards either buying your first home or saving towards retirement – and is available for savers aged under 40.

It’s always difficult to predict the property market but from an on the ground perspective here in the Dorking area, the situation does seem to continue to be reasonably dynamic. And if you’re thinking of buying or selling your first home in the foreseeable future, early in the new year could be the best time to capture some of the current interest and best deals.

So all that remains now, is for me to wish you a very Happy Christmas and New Year and I look forward to catching up with you in 2018!

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi-award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 or via email to dorking@ewemove.com

Selling an empty house? Should you furnish it or not?

What’s the best way to sell an empty property?

 

Hard as it is to believe, soon Christmas will be over and it will be prime time to place your property on the market. That’s all well and good if it’s your current home and you can spend time tidying up and adding some warm, finishing touches to present it at its best.

selling your empty property But what about when it’s empty? Should you furnish it or leave it as it is? Unfortunately, there isn’t a one size fits all answer to this. However, if you go through the following list, you should get a better idea of what is best for your situation:

  1. The condition of the property 

Fixtures and fittings hide a multitude of sins. That’s not that I am suggesting for one moment that you should deceive potential buyers. Absolutely not. But in an empty house, issues that may not actually be that significant or major can look like a much bigger issue and become a distraction.

selling your home

Take a slight stain on the paintwork, a bit of mildew from condensation or a damaged bit of skirting board. With an empty house, they are very obvious and can become the focus of a buyer’s attention – even though they are probably easy to fix.

The other thing to consider is how an empty house portrays itself and what first impression it creates. Does it come across as a warm, family home or will the first impression be a damp, musty smell?

My advice would be that if you want or have to sell it empty, you should invest a little in making sure it’s gleaming and spotless, as well as smelling fresh and clean. That will mean you probably need to bring the decor up to a very high standard.

Whatsmore, don’t forget to consider the condition of any fixtures that are being sold with it – do they need refreshing or replacing? And make sure the property is kept well ventilated and smelling fresh. Could you use some scented home fragrance (but don’t overdo it of course) to ensure it smells nice?

Finally, do not forget the condition of the carpets, floors and curtains! These can and do often retain unpleasant odours and stains so professional cleaning may be required.

2. The condition of any furniture you could install 

You may not have the budget or resources to furnish the property you’re selling, in which case, you will have to follow the steps above and below. But if you are considering furniture, do think about quality and impressions.

A furnished house is great for those buyers that can’t see beyond what is in front of them, those that don’t have the vision to imagine it as their home. It helps them work out how a bedroom or sitting room could be laid out and to what extent their furniture will fit.

But shabby, battered old furniture, that you’ve sourced on the cheap, could do more harm than good when it comes to creating the impression of a warm and comfortable home. Think about your budget carefully and decide whether your money wouldn’t be better spent bringing the decor and empty interior up to standard.

3. Don’t forget the outside 

maintaining your property for sale Having talked about first impressions, you must not forget kerb appeal and the garden. It’s absolutely essential to keep the garden of an empty property well maintained – even in winter – so that it looks tidy. You should also consider outside lighting and any other little touches that may have an impact if a potential buyer drives passed for a quick look or for when they first arrive.

4. Photos and floor plans 

One of the most influential aspects of encouraging interest is, of course, the photographs or your property. Most buyers will decide whether or not to view, based on these.

It can be difficult to create the right impression with an empty room. You don’t necessarily get the perspective of a room, in the same way as you do with a furnished house, where there is furniture by which you can judge how big a room is.

Therefore, if your property is unfurnished, your floor plans are going to play an important role. Check that they are crystal clear and include each room and ask whether you can add any details to make them more illustrative.

5. Your buyers 

In much of this post, I’ve put the emphasis on the buyers looking for a family home but of course, that’s not always the case. Think about the different types of buyers you might attract. Is your property likely to sell as an investment property? Is it ripe for substantial improvements or alterations? Might it be converted into multiple occupancies? It goes without saying, these factors will make a difference as to whether or not furnishings will make a difference.

If you’re still in any doubt, why not give me a call and we can discuss your property and what the best way to present it is.

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi-award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 or via email to dorking@ewemove.com

 

Calling all landlords – new Energy Efficiency rules from April 18

Calling all landlords – new Energy Efficiency rules from April 18

Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES)

In April next year, new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) come into force. I blogged about this back in April this year and the fact that non-compliance carries a fine of up to £150,000!

So it’s very worrying to read research by EON which suggests 21% of landlords expect to have to spend over £1,000 on energy efficiency over the next 5 years.

Even more worrying is research by LetBritain that suggests 34% of landlords still don’t even know that they have to provide an Energy Performance Certificate for their property.

The new regulations – a quick recap

The 2015 Energy Efficiency Regulations set out minimum energy efficiency standards for England and Wales. These regulations mean that from April 2018, it will be unlawful to grant a new lease of a property if it has an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating below E, unless the property is registered as an exemption.

After 1 April 2023, landlords must register an exemption for any building with an EPC rating of less than E if they wish to let the building.

EPCs let the person who will use the building know how costly it will be to heat and light, and what its carbon dioxide emissions are likely to be.

For more information about the exemptions and non-compliance penalties, just visit our previous blog about Minimum Energy Efficient Standards (MEES).

energy efficiency certificate

Mitigating the impact

Back in April, I made the point that the regulations aren’t all doom and gloom, and forward-thinking landlords have the potential to increase rental and asset value by making energy efficiency improvements and combining these with other upgrades.

This remains the case, and having a highly energy efficient property (which therefore attracts lower bills) may make your property the stand out property for potential tenants.

Check any existing EPC

If your property has an existing EPC, it will highlight cost-effective ways to achieve a better rating.  This can be a good place to start a thorough review of your property’s energy performance and identify areas for improvement.

Next, check the basics:

  • Windows and doors. Poorly insulated windows can account for 10%+ of heat loss. Double glazed windows or secondary glazing can make a significant difference. Secondary glazing is not quite as effective as double glazing but is more affordable.

Also check areas prone to drafts such as doors, letterboxes and even keyholes. Replacing old doors to exclude drafts (and improve security) can be a quick win.

MEES

  • Walls and lofts. Consider the construction of the property. Older properties with solid walls as well as newer ones, with cavity walls, can both benefit from additional insulation. It can be relatively easily applied and make a big difference to energy loss.

Also, check the quality of the loft insulation and whether it is complete. Loss of heat through the roof can amount to a quarter of a property’s overall heat loss.

  • Boiler. Check the boiler and consider whether an upgrade is appropriate.
  • Solar panels (which help heat the house) may seem like a big investment but could make a difference long term.

It’s also worth exploring any other new technology which could have an impact long-term and be attractive to potential tenants.

For landlords who are worried about the costs, financial support may be available through the Energy Company Obligation if tenants meet certain qualifying criteria.

However, the most important thing at this stage is to be aware of your responsibility and to take the appropriate measures. Failure to do so, may not only open you up to the risk of a substantial fine but could leave you with a property that is empty and unrentable.

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi-award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 or via email to dorking@ewemove.com