Letting agent’s double chance of awards glory

Mercury 2013-05-30

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Check Out Our New Video Here…

We are really pleased to be able to show you a fun, informative animated video all about what’s on in Hertford in June.

This clever video is the brainchild of Stephen Bardle from Start Uploaded TV www.startuploaded.com and Rob Glover from TheBestOf Hertford www.thebestof.co.uk/hertford

Stephen then took the idea back to his studio and set his minions to work and came up with what you can see below:

We think it’s a brilliant way of showing upcoming events in Hertford and we’re very, very pleased to have the first one on our website.

The great thing about it is it can be adapted to so many uses, for example a small business can show it’s products or services and of course, it could be a training video, a health and safety video, or it could be made for a business who has a calendar of events to tell their employees or the world about.   The options are endless.

We’d really like to learn what you think about it too so please post your comments and we’ll pass them on.

I hope you have a great Bank Holiday, it’s meant to be sunny for once!

 

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Exciting times here at Knight HQ!

We're finalists!

We’re finalists!

 We are so excited here at our busy office in Hertford because we’re in the finals in no less than two categories of the FSB Hertfordshire Business Awards 2013.  The two categories we are shortlisted for are Best New Business and East Herts Business of the Year.

So please excuse a little chest thumping by David while I do a bit of a mad dance around the office but we’re so pleased to have been chosen by the judges to go through to the finals.

But we’re sure we wouldn’t have been nominated without  our lovely clients who have been so forthcoming with their praise and appreciation of what we do.  I don’t want this to turn into something like an acceptance speech at the Oscars, so I’ll leave the gushyness and just say ‘THANK YOU’ to:

Our clients – who are, of course, the best in the world and I’m so pleased they’re ours!

Our families and friends – who have put up with us being unsociable and unavailable for a couple of years now!

And finally, our business colleagues, sob, our networking friends, sob, and everyone who has contributed their advice, time, knowledge, and plain hard work – sob, sob, please pass me the box of tissues …

Okay, enough already!  Seriously though we are truly delighted to have our hard work recognised and we’re really looking forward to the awards ceremony on June 13th at Shendish Manor, mmm, fizz, lots of fizz, mmmmm!

Note to our lovely tenants:  You know we are always here if  you need us, but please, please, don’t call us on the evening of 13th June because unless it is really, truly is an emergency – we won’t be available!  And even then we won’t be available but the emergency services will be. 

FSB Business Awards Finalist 2013
FSB Business Awards Finalist 2013
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Why you need a written tenancy agreement

It is critically important for landlords to have a written tenancy agreement.

While it is possible to create a tenancy without a written agreement, it is certainly not a good idea.  Here  are four good reasons why you should always have a written agreement:

1)  With a written agreement you can prove what was agreed between you and the tenants.  Otherwise your tenants could claim, for example, that the rental figure is less than you actually agreed, and without a written agreement you wouldn’t have any evidence to the contrary.

2)  You wouldn’t be able to evict your tenants using the faster and cheaper accelerated possession procedure without a written agreement.

3)  There would be no point in you holding a tenancy deposit, because you would not be able to make deductions from a deposit without an appropriate clause in a written agreement.

4)  You may want to insert special clauses, such as a break clause, or a ‘no pets’ clause.

A written agreement is not enough

However, it’s not enough to have a written agreement.  It also needs to be properly drafted.

You can download standard tenancy agreements for free from a number of websites, but how do you know if they’re any good?  Or in fact, even legal?  Taking a chance and trusting to luck with a free, poorly drafted agreement could end up costing you thousands if it all goes pear-shaped.

judge

The judge decides your clause is unfair!

You also need to be careful about adding clauses yourself, because they could be considered ‘unfair’, and therefore invalid, if poorly worded.  To give you an example, a clause stopping your tenants from keeping pets would be considered unfair, and therefore invalid, unless it stated that the tenants can request permission for keeping a pet, and that the landlord must not unreasonably refuse.  Even if you know you would never give permission for a pet, your ‘no pets’ clause would be invalid if it omitted that wording.  Your tenants would therefore be entitled to keep a pet without even getting your consent!

Protect yourself

Protect your sanity, your time and money by paying for a professionally drafted document.

Protect your sanity, your time and money by paying for a professionally drafted document.

Protect yourself and your property from pitfalls such as these by getting a properly drafted tenancy agreement.  Make sure it is appropriate for the circumstances of your tenancy (eg. common law tenancy, assured shorthold tenancy etc.)  The best option is to speak to a solicitor specialising in residential landlord and tenant law, or to contact a reputable letting agent, ideally one who is regulated by ARLA or RICS. Please let us know if you’ve had any experience of any of the above, (you can remain anonymous if you wish), but it may help someone about to make a similar mistake.

free hugs

Free credit checks and reference checks, and we may even throw in a free hug too if you ask us nicely!!!

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Ten things you can do to make letting your property easier. Part 3 of 3

7) Make all your windows invisible

By thoroughly cleaning all your windows both inside and out means that at the very least any prospective tenants won’t notice them, and if they do then you want them to notice them for the right reasons!

Time to clean the windows!

Time to clean the windows!

Sparkling clean windows will make a very big difference to the impression of a property, but this will be a wasted effort if the blinds or curtains are not properly fixed up.  Tatty or badly hung blinds and curtains shout out ‘trashy property’ to any prospective tenant.

8) Let your property unfurnished if possible

Letting unfurnished means you no longer have to worry about the fire resistance of all your furniture and furnishings.  Also, the more items in the property, the more there is to record in the inventory and the more that you are responsible for maintaining during the tenancy.

9) Check your appliances are in good working order

This will help reduce your time spent dealing with problems later on, and will make your property that much more desirable.  By law you’ll need any gas appliances checked every 12 months anyway, but you should also get your electrical appliances checked out by a qualified electrician, to make sure they are safe to use.

10) Ask a friend to point out ‘the elephant in the room’The Elephant In The Room

If you have a trusted friend or relative who will give you an honest opinion then ask them to walk through your property pointing out any defects or undesirable points (while you note them down).  It’s very easy to miss something really obvious just because you are so used to seeing it.  At least you can then do something about it before your prospective tenants walk in and sees it.

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Doing these simple things should help you earn more rent, more quickly, and make it much easier to let your property to decent tenants.  At least, that’s been our experience!

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Ten things you can do to make letting your property easier. Part 2 of 3

4) Give your property a good spring clean prior to letting

Get rid of nasty smells.

Get rid of nasty smells.

If necessary, get rid of any smells (of cigarettes, pets, etc) as these are a real turn-off for prospective tenants.  Open all the windows and get busy with the Mr Sheen.  Some fresh flowers will work wonders too.

5) Get carpets professionally cleaned

It really is worth getting them cleaned professionally prior to a tenancy, then provide the tenant with a copy of the receipt/invoice with the inventory.  At the end of the tenancy you could legitimately expect the carpets be brought back to the same standard of cleanliness (making allowance for fair wear and tear).

6) Kitchen and bathrooms matter – a lot!

A spotlessly clean kitchen and bathroom will go a long way to making a brilliant impression.

Shiny surfaces add sparkle and look good

Shiny surfaces catch the eye and give a good impression, so shiny chrome-ware (taps, kettles etc.) all add sparkle and look attractive.

Another plus point is that a clean property at the start of the tenancy makes it a lot easier to assess any excessive deterioration at check-out time.

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Ten things you can do to make letting your property easier. Part 1 of 3

If you’re thinking about letting your home or finding more tenants for your buy-to-let property, here are ten things you can do to make letting your property a lot easier:

1) Make a good first impression 

Ensure your property looks good from the start with kerb appeal – get this right and you’ll already be ahead of many other landlords, and well on the way to getting the right tenants. Clear your front garden of any rubbish, garden debris, children’s toys, etc, and check that any net curtains look bright and white, not dingy and discoloured.  Yes, people do notice!

2) Weed and reap (more rent)

Flower container and water feature

Flower container and water feature

Ensure both front and back gardens are neat, tidy and rubbish-free for maximum appeal.  Keep lawns mowed, beds weeded and bushes trimmed during the growing season.  Don’t forget to dig out those pesky weeds from paths too, it’s the small things that make a huge difference.

In the summer, if possible hang a basket or pot or two of flowers, but don’t forget to water them – dead flowers look worse than none at all!

3) Ensure decorations are in good condition

The good impression you created outside should continue when your prospective tenant comes through the front door.  Walls and flooring are best if they are plain, light and neutral in colour.  Paint the walls instead of papering them, it’s quicker and cheaper to re-paint when required than using wallpaper.  Alternatively, in some rooms you could go for one wall papered making it a ‘feature’ but be careful of your choice of colour and pattern.

Create a feeling of space by taking away everything that you are not planning on leaving when renting it out.

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Prescribed Information matters!

A recent ruling by the Court of Appeal on a case involving tenancy deposit protection legislation could have costly implications for landlords.  

law book and gavel

Make sure you serve ALL the Prescribed Information!

In the case of Ayannuga v Swindells, the landlord had protected the deposit, but failed to issue all of the Prescribed Information.  When the tenant allegedly fell behind on the rent, the landlord tried to obtain possession, but the tenant counter-claimed that the landlord had not provided all the Prescribed Information.

The landlord admitted this, but argued that the purpose of the legislation was to protect the tenant’s deposit, which he had done.  He said the information which he had failed to supply was merely a technicality, as it was in the public domain and was easily accessible online.

The lower court agreed with the landlord and dismissed the tenant’s claim, but the tenant appealed.  The Court of Appeal subsequently disagreed completely with the lower court, saying that the required information was of real significance, and not just a minor issue.

The appeal was therefore allowed, and the landlord was ordered to return the original deposit and pay a penalty equal to three times the deposit.  The result of this decision is that landlords should regard the provision of all the required Prescribed Information as of equal importance to protecting the deposit itself.  It also means that, should there be a minor omission in the information supplied to the tenant, then the tenant will have a defence to a S21 ‘no-fault’ notice requiring possession.

So, the Prescribed Information really does matter!

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New and Shiny Hertford Business Buzz

Hi on this cold and wintry afternoon, I don’t know about you but I’m fed up with it being dull and gloomy outside, it’s about time we had some sunshine!  So, we’ve been brightening things up a little around here!

We hosted the launch of Business Buzz networking in Hertford last Thursday and the general consensus seemed to be that it was a roaring success so we’re very excited about that and really looking to next month’s meeting and each month after that.

Jan and David with the mayor of Hertford, councillor Miss Jane Sartin.

Jan and David with the mayor of Hertford, councillor Miss Jane Sartin.

In case you are not familiar with Business Buzz, it is an informal networking meeting for local businesses: http://bit.ly/buzz-hertford

So, if you run your own business and would like to join us for the next busy, buzzing meeting, we will welcome you with open arms!  The next one will be on 21st March and every third Thursday monthly.

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I’ve won an Oscar!

This morning David and I went along to a business breakfast meeting, it is held every fortnight in Ware, and these particular meetings are currently chaired by Paul Violet (http://www.paulviolet.co.uk/) who likes to make his meetings very interactive (horror of horrors!)  However, he’s a nice chap so I don’t like to be too grumpy about participating, today however, did sound a step too far for my limited comfort zone but fortunately I was saved the embarrassment of doing whatever it was that Paul had in mind to make our individual businesses interesting to the assembled friends, colleagues and newbies because we ran out of time.  Phew!

Paul therefore took the executive decision to cut out the additional active part and allowed (expected!) each of us to just do a short talk about our business.  He then jumped straight to presenting his very own, hand-made ‘Oscar’ which he very kindly decided I should be the winner of for Best Dramatic Performance.   Now, anyone who knows me also knows this is absolutely the last thing that I would ever be given any kind of award for which has consequently amused a few people.

What have I learnt from this?  Well obviously that Paul thought it would be ironic to

Oscar

Oscar

present me with his Oscar but also, to accept situations that are sometimes challenging but going with it.  This hasn’t been an easy lesson for either David or myself to learn as we are both ‘safe’ kinds of people and don’t like standing up and making idiots of ourselves.  However, we still go along every fortnight to who-knows-what plan Paul may have for all the attendees because sometimes we have to push ourselves outside our comfort zone to learn and grow and find where our limits are.

David and I go to a few different networking meetings on a regular basis, and we have both come to the conclusion that although it is important for us all to find the ‘right’ kind of meetings for each of us, (that is for our comfort and the results for our business) it is also important to sometimes take that step into the unknown and see where it takes us.

All of us who own our own businesses have sometimes had to take a leap of faith to push our business forward, so we’re doing our bit of pushing outside our comfort zone by starting a few new projects (all to do with networking) which a year ago we wouldn’t have dreamt of doing, and you know what?  We’ve found it’s fun!  We don’t actually enjoy standing up in front of a group of people yet but we have learnt a lot about networking, and we’re looking forward to our new projects and meeting new people who have a positive and can-do attitude.  We’ll look forward to seeing you soon!

So, I’m off now to polish my ‘Oscar’ and find a suitable place for it!  Now where’s that link to Ebay?!

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