Can you smell gas?….

If you are a tenant sat in a rental property, are you aware of whether you gas safety certificate is valid, or indeed, would you know where it is?   Why don’t you go and look for it now and see if it is in date?  The consequences of it being out of date could be fatal.  

Are you a landlord? Currently relaxing and thinking how well your properties are doing for you? Would you know if all you gas safety certificates are in date and are valid?  Or even where they are?  The law states that if your gas safety certificate is valid and a tenant dies through carbon monoxide poisoning, the landlord will not be prosecuted.  If your gas safety certificate is invalid and somone dies through carbon monoxide poisoning, the landlord will feel the full weight of the law.

The cost of a gas safety certificate and a boiler service pales into insignificance compared to the consequences if someone dies and the paperwork is found to have lapsed.  As a landlord, make sure that all your gas safety certificates are valid.  An agent should not move anybody in to a property without ensuring that the gas safety certificate is in date.

Don’t take it personally….

Did anybody see last night’s ‘Secret Agent’ with Phil Spencer?  It featured the classic scenario of a couple uanble to sell their house after two years on the market and as a result calling in the experts.  Whilst we all can appreciate that it was a television programme and therefore subject to certain artistic licence it displayed the classic example of a vendor not liking the truth.  Phil Spencer made truthful observations about the presentation of the house and unfortunately one of the vendors took umbrage, stormed off and would not participate in the rest of the programme.  It was an all too frequent example of a vendor taking it personally.  It is not a matter of questioning personal taste and an individual’s choice of furnishings, it is all about making the property as appealing as possible to potential buyers.  Over the last 30 years, I have unfortunately upset many vendors, not by insulting their children or their family but my merely suggesting that they declutter and tidy their house.  I may have upset them in the short term, but I have sold their property. Agents are not in the position to comment on someone’s choice of carpet or sofa (they are estate agents, not interior designers), but they are in a position to offer an objective opinion as to the best way to sell a property.  If the aforementioned carpet is almost invisible due to clutter and dumped household items then it does not make an appealing picture to a potential vendor: not because they are clean freaks but because the room does not showcase the space available and it cannot be seen to its best advantage.  The moral of the story is if you do get a professional around to offer you advice about selling your home, then be prepared for what he or she has to say.

What’s happening to house prices?

There are lots of conflicting reports from Halifax and Nationwide about house prices going up and then going down: London prices are booming whilst the rest of the country falls behind.  Having seen this all before in the last 30 yrs of being involved in estate agency, I can only advise potential vendors to seek the professional advice of your local, independent estate agent. Of all the economists who are scaremongering, how many of them have recently bought houses or have jumped off the housing ladder?  Economists are not estate agents.  In spite of all these experts predicting house prices, it is still nationally acknowledged that there is a shortage of housing stock in the country.  There is a buyer for every property but vendors do need to be realistic about house prices.  What is the point of putting a house on the market for the price that the vendor wants even thought this may be far in excess of what a local agent with years of experience and a truthful appraisal of the current housing market deems it to be worth?

To realistically value your property and market it to its greatest potential, please do not hesitate in calling either myself or Stuart Grayer here at Chehire and Co on 01633 869086

Be prepared!

Investing in a buy to let property is just that, a great investment, but landlords do need to be prepared.  The least stressful part  is the buying, redecorating and finding a tenant; the blood pressure starts to rise when your tenants leave unexpectedly or damage the property.  Investing in a specialist landlord insurance policy is something that all potential landlords should take time to do.  Standard buildings insurance cover will not provide protection in the event of tenants maliciously damaging a property nor will it provide any cover for loss of earnings if tenants should do a moonlight flit, leaving before the end of their contract. For many landlords, they only discover that their insurance does not cover them for the buy to let market when they try to make a claim for damaged property or loss of earnings.  They are then faced with a large bill in order to make the property habitable again so that they can let it to another set of tenants. Many residential buildings policies state in the small print that the policy will be voided should the property that it covers be used for rental purposes. Insurance for rental properties provides a far more comprehensive level of protection and should include third-party liability in case the structure of a property is damged by the tenant or should the tenants need to be re-housed in the event of a disaster such as a fire or flood making the rental property uninhabitable for the forseeable future.

Adding to the need for blood pressure tablets is the feared 4 o’clock in the morning call when a hysterical tenant calls a landlord to tell them that the boiler has just blown up.  Not much fun for any of the parties concerned. I strongly advise all our landlords to invest in a boiler maintenance contract with a gas-safe registered plumber.  For a modest monthly outlay, they can be assured that if the unfortunate happens, then their boiler will be replaced. The figures speak for themselves: from £14.99 per month for the contract as opposed to a hit of £1400 for a new boiler and all the associated costs.  Like all insurance, nobody wants to pay for it until they need it!

Here at Cheshire and Co we can arrange for a quotation that could ultimately leave you with peace of mind.  Please feel free to ring us on 01633 869086, visit the website or pop into the office for an informal chat.



Be realistic about your house’s rental value

Just as people need to be realistic about what their property is worth when putting it on the market to be sold, they also need to be realistic about what it is worth in the rental market.  Just as with selling a property, location is always a key factor.  Just because your house is the most beautifully presented in a certain area, does not make its rental value 25% higher than the average for that area.  Always remember that a rental property needs to be clean and tidy and well-presented but not to your own personal taste and specifications.  Having hugely expensive, gold-plated taps does not change the water coming out of them – the cost of the taps cannot be added to the overall rental price.  It is far more important that the boiler works!  All of us have fallen victim to over-finishing a property that is going to be rented and feeling disappointed when an agent tells us that it is only worth a certain amount.  Having a property standing empty for a couple of months because you are hanging on for an extra £50 per month is false economy, however annoying it may seem at the time.