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RENTAL ARITHMETIC: SHOULD YOU BE A PRIVATE LANDLORD OR A LIMITED COMPANY?

Landlords in Leeds are an essential part of the local rental market – there simply aren’t enough new homes being built and demand from tenants is stronger than ever.

 

Ever since the Chancellor began phasing out mortgage interest relief in 2017, landlords have been wondering whether it’s still possible to have a profitable buy-to-let business.

 

It’s a concern for landlords in Leeds as much as anywhere else. Some have chosen to exit the buy-to-let market altogether, while others have decided against expanding their portfolio.

 

We’d like to reverse that trend by talking about one of the biggest shifts in the property market: landlords switching from owning their buy-to-lets privately to buying them through a limited company.

 

It isn’t an option that’s right for everyone, and if you only ever intend to own one or two rental homes, you’re probably better off staying as a private landlord. But if you’re a higher-rate taxpayer and you’d like to build a sizeable portfolio, there can be significant advantages to owning your rental homes through a limited company.

 

So this week’s blog is all about cutting through the noise to see if being a private landlord or owning your buy-to-lets through a limited company is right for you.

 

 

BUY-TO-LET MORTGAGES FOR INDIVIDUALS AND LIMITED COMPANIES

The market for buy-to-let mortgages for private landlords is packed with multiple products from almost every high street lender, and some have interest rates that are almost on a par with standard residential mortgages.

By comparison, buy-to-let mortgages for limited companies are less common. The market is growing as lenders play catch up with landlords setting up limited companies, but rates and fees are still higher.

 

For example, at the time of writing, fixed-rate buy-to-let mortgages for companies start at around 3% APR, while private landlords can find deals for less than half of that, as low as 1.31% APR.

 

Buy-to-let mortgages for companies and individuals share the same 75% loan-to-value cap, and variable rates are about the same.

 

Money.co.uk is an excellent source of information on the latest and best buy-to-let deals for private landlords and limited companies.

 

 

ADMINISTRATION & ALLOWANCES

There are differences in the amount of paperwork and tax allowances between owning a buy-to-let as a private landlord and as a limited company. Here’s our roundup of the main distinctions.

Private landlords

As a private landlord, the level of administration is very low. You simply include the profit from your rental income with your tax return.

 

However, you are taxed on 100% of your profits each year, regardless of how you intend to use them. The basic rate income tax for 2022/2023 is 20% after the first £12,573 and up to £50,270, but any income above that is taxed at 40%.

 

Mortgage interest relief for private landlords has now been phased out and replaced by a tax credit. Fixed at the basic income tax rate of 20% of the mortgage interest repayments, the new rules effectively exclude higher rate taxpayers from claiming the credit.

 

When it comes to carrying out works to their buy-to-lets, private landlords are also limited to claiming back the costs of repairs. Property improvements are not an allowable expense for income tax.

 

 

Limited companies

Setting up a company is a very simple procedure. Just log on to the Companies House website, then start the process. It takes less than 15 minutes.

 

Owning a company does come with extra administration and you’ll need to pay corporation tax on your profits and file annual accounts that are separate from your regular tax return. Of course, you can outsource that work to an accountant.

 

The real benefits come from allowable expenses, which include mortgage interest relief and making improvements to your property.

 

Mortgage interest is considered an allowable business expense, which means you can claim for your entire monthly mortgage payment on an interest-only loan.

 

For profits left rolling up in the company, you’ll only pay corporation tax at 19%. This makes carrying out improvements extremely tax-efficient as well as increasing the value of your portfolio.

 

You’ll pay personal income tax on any dividends you take, but you can time your payouts to make them more tax-efficient, including spreading them over more than one tax year.

 

 

INCOME OR INVESTMENT

There’s no doubt that the buy-to-let market is moving further and further away from short-term yield, and more towards long-term capital growth.

The days of immediate high yields of 10% and more are mostly behind us, particularly with recent tax changes. But rental property is still a sound long-term investment that produces far greater yields than savings accounts. Coupled with capital growth and the security of bricks and mortar, buying to let can be an effective route to a financially-free future.

 

One obstacle to expanding your portfolio can be the need to find a 25% deposit for each purchase. And paying income tax on 100% of your profits against a background of reduced allowances can leave dwindling returns.

 

But a limited company can be extremely tax-efficient if you intend to use the profits from your buy-to-lets to expand your portfolio. That corporation tax rate of 19% leaves far more to play with than the higher-rate income tax of 40%.

 

When you add up the savings on mortgage interest relief, income tax and increased allowances for improvements, it’s not hard to see how much faster your pot for expansion can build, and with less and less needed from your savings.

 

And as any mortgages are paid off, you’ll have plenty of options to explore with your tax adviser over how to make the most of your portfolio’s income in your retirement, either through share dividends or selling all or part of the company.

 

 

PROPERTY SALE & TRANSFER

At first glance, it’s not entirely obvious whether you’re better off as an individual or limited company when selling your buy-to-lets. But as you’ll see, there is one bargaining chip that only companies have.

Selling a privately owned buy-to-let immediately attracts Capital Gains Tax (CGT) which is currently 28% for higher-rate taxpayers and 18% for basic rate taxpayers.

 

Everyone has a tax-free Capital Gains Tax allowance of £12,300, so you only pay CGT on profits above that. But with the gain added to your income for the year, it could push you into a high-rate band for income tax.

 

Limited companies don’t pay Capital Gains Tax. All their profits, regardless of whether they come from rental income or selling a property, attract corporation tax which is currently 19%.

 

You can also claim back purchase costs like stamp duty and legal fees along with any capital improvements you’ve made to the property (although a limited company would probably have already claimed against those improvements as they were made).

 

So far, so unclear.

 

However, and as made famous fairly recently with Tony & Cherie Blair, purchasing the shares of a company with assets including property attracts Stamp Duty of just 0.5%.

 

On a sizeable portfolio that could be quite a saving for the buyer, and may give you valuable bargaining power to sell your company and portfolio for a higher price than you might have achieved by selling each property individually.

 

 

INHERITANCE PLANNING

An aspect of buy-to-let that rarely gets any attention is inheritance tax.

The way you own your investment properties can have profound effects on the amount of tax paid by your beneficiaries. If you intend to keep your buy-to-lets as a business to pass on to your children or anyone who isn’t your husband, wife or civil partner, owning them as a limited company can have a real advantage.

 

Inheritance tax is currently 40% and is payable on anything over the tax-free threshold of £325,000 (this rises to £500,000 for passing into your children or grandchildren, and for estates worth over £2,000,000.

 

But with a limited company, you could choose to make it a real family enterprise by making your beneficiaries shareholders whose controlling interest grows over time. And if more than 50% of your business includes buying land to build rental homes on (the build-to-rent sector is most definitely worth exploring), the company may also be eligible for Business Property Relief. This can reduce Inheritance Tax on qualifying assets by 50%.

 

Tax is a supremely complicated area and what’s right for one person or company isn’t necessarily right for another, so we recommend speaking to a tax adviser about your own situation.

 

 

Final words

For portfolios larger than two properties, owning them as a limited company can be an excellent long-term holding solution. With significant tax advantages during your ownership and for inheritance planning, there’s plenty to consider if you’d written off buy-to-let as no longer worth it.

 

We’d love to help you start, grow and manage a successful buy-to-let business. So if you’re a landlord and you’re looking to begin or expand your lettings portfolio in Leeds, call us on 0113 460 2416 or send us a message at info@silverspringlettings.co.uk to talk about your ideas, plans and the future.

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PREMIUM LETTINGS: HOW TO ATTRACT HIGH-EARNING PROFESSIONAL TENANTS

Landlords are always asking us how they can make their property more attractive to professional tenants, and no wonder. It’s a lucrative market of high-earning people who’ll pay a premium rent for the right home. But what exactly do they want?

 

Professional tenants often work extra-long hours, so their free time is particularly precious: whether they’re staying home alone or entertaining friends, they want to truly savour where they live.

 

They also expect a professionally managed home where they can be sure of being well looked after, with a 24-hour number to call in case of emergencies. And with time a precious commodity, finding a home fast is also a priority, which means your buy-to-let should be listed on a major property portal and not buried in classified ads.

 

If you already own a buy-to-let, our blog this week will help you identify improvements you can make to reach a new audience. And if you’re starting or expanding a lettings portfolio, you’ll find tips on what professional tenants look for in potential homes and locations to pay a premium rent.

 

 

LOCATION

Either side of a long and busy day, professional tenants want an easy commute and an enjoyable lifestyle that’s close to home. In short, the perfect work-life balance.

Singles, couples and sharers have entirely different wish lists than families when choosing a location. Instead of Ofsted ratings for the best schools, they’ll be looking up places to meet up with friends.

 

So when you’re considering whether to add a home to your lettings portfolio, use the following checklist to see how the lifestyle matches up:

 

  • easy (10-15 mins max) walking distance to transport
  • grabbing a coffee
  • somewhere for brunch
  • a great local pub with food
  • seeing a film
  • going shopping
  • heading to the gym
  • staying in with a takeaway
  • a decent dry cleaner
  • buying groceries
  • open green space

 

Having a fulfilling lifestyle doesn’t require living in the most expensive streets. Professional tenants don’t prioritise family-friendly avenues or the most exclusive position; they’re looking for convenience and connectivity to enjoy the best of the neighbourhood.

 

 

ACCOMMODATION

Successful people want a home that reflects and rewards the effort they put into their working day.

By offering accommodation that’s comfortable for everyone to live in, you’ll attract professional tenants who’ll pay a premium rent.

 

  • Whether the living room and kitchen are separate or a single open-plan space, there should be plenty of room for a dining table and sofa(s) that comfortably seat at least the number of tenants.

 

  • Each tenant or couple will expect a bedroom that’s big enough for a full-size double bed, nightstands and wardrobe without it feeling like a squeeze. Single bedrooms get a lot of tenant turnover, which is unsettling for a household and requires time to find a new housemate – time that professional tenants either don’t have or would rather spend on something more fun.

 

  • You can add value, space and convenience to a small bathroom by replacing a tiny tub with a large shower. And if you have more than three sharers, an extra shower room will relieve many-a morning rush and the accompanying frustrations.

 

 

SPECIFICATION

Professional tenants are happy to rent either newly-built or traditional homes, but they care about living in a style-conscious and modern environment. A place where everything works, and that makes them feel good.

Decoration

Make sure the paintwork is clean and bright. Many marks and scuffs will wash off, and for those that won’t, treat them to a fresh coat of warm white.

 

Windows

Bare windows are a no-no, even in unfurnished lettings. Choose Venetian timber blinds in birch or oak to go with any style of property and furniture.

 

Bathrooms

A good shower is absolutely essential, along with an extractor fan that works properly. Replace a regular radiator with a heated chrome towel rail for a market-seducing and cost-effective upgrade.

 

Kitchens

With so much of modern life revolving around the kitchen, the way it looks and functions is a major deciding factor in choosing a home to rent.

 

It’s a myth that professional tenants never cook. They want a good-looking kitchen with:

 

  • fan oven (consider one with a microwave function)
  • fast hob
  • washing machine with 7kg+ load capacity and 1000+ spin speed
  • tall fridge/freezer
  • dishwasher (for 1-2 people, you can get away with a well-designed half-size model from the likes of Neff, Bosch & Siemens; 3 or more sharers will expect a full-size machine)

 

Choose stainless steel for exposed appliances wherever you can. If the kitchen is open to the living space, create a cleaner look by installing integrated models with facias to match the units.

 

Floors

Engineered or solid wood floors are the finish of choice for professional tenants because they’re easy to maintain and look brilliant in hallways, living rooms and bedrooms. Carpets are more prone to stains and can show their age quickly through dust lines behind doors and imprints from furniture.

 

In wet areas like kitchens and bathrooms, go for tiles: a smart grey or limestone finish goes with almost anything, but contemporary takes on Moorish, Roman and Art Deco designs are also a popular look.

 

 

STORAGE

It’s remarkable how little storage space we find in some buy-to-lets when it’s a huge priority for professional tenants. We all have belongings we need to store, and when there’s nowhere for them to go, they end up in piles and make rooms feel cheap, messy and uninviting.

Use our tips to offer a home that stays effortlessly tidy.

 

Household items

It’s essential to have somewhere to store the vacuum cleaner, ironing board, broom, mop, towels and household cleaning products. Common areas like hallways, landings and kitchens are the perfect spots – try to keep them out of living rooms and bedrooms.

 

Kitchens

There should be sufficient space to store enough food for the likely number of tenants, plus room for cutlery, crockery, pans and containers. If you can’t fit more units in, increase their current storage efficiency. Most cupboards will take an extra level, whether an additional solid shelf or a freestanding organiser that stands inside.

 

Bathrooms

Everyone has products that need to go somewhere. A metal shelf or caddy in the shower will hold gels and shampoos; a mirrored medicine cabinet over the washbasin hides everyday products, and a tall, slender cupboard will swallow loo rolls, hairdryers, beard trimmers and everything else.

 

Bedrooms

If you’re serious about getting a market-leading rent from professional tenants, consider installing full-height built-in wardrobes. They provide tons more storage than their freestanding cousins, making it easier and tidier to stow items like suitcases, boxes, weights, yoga mats, and other personal items.

 

You’ll also have less wear and tear from bulky furniture being carried in and out.

BONUS TIP: Choose space-saving sliding doors with mirrors to make dressing make a room feel bigger and brighter.

 

Hooks

The humble hook makes life so much easier in so many places. On bedroom doors for clothes; in bathrooms for towels and robes; in kitchens for aprons and tea towels; and by the front door for coats.

 

 

OUTDOOR SPACE

Professional tenants aren’t looking for large lawns where children can run around and build tents. They love stylish, private and low-maintenance patios, balconies and terraces with things like:

  • space for a table and chairs to comfortably seat the number of tenants
  • easy-care surfaces like paving and decking
  • outdoor lighting
  • a few pots with hardy succulents that thrive on neglect
  • room for a barbecue

 

It’s also worth thinking about how your tenants will get outside. For singles and couples, it’s not so important, but for sharers, the access to outdoor space should be through a common area like a living room, kitchen or hall. If it’s through someone’s bedroom, there’ll be times when it’s inaccessible to the other tenants, which could become contentious.

 

 

Final words

By actively designing your buy-to-let to attract high-earning professionals, you’ll achieve premium rent, add value to your property and keep it ahead of the market. And as your equity increases, you can release it to fund future investments.

 

If you’re a landlord with rental property Leeds, we’d love to show you how we can help you optimise the performance of your lettings portfolio. Call us 0113 460 2416 or email us at info@silverspringlettings.co.uk for a friendly chat and expert advice.

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BUY. REVAMP. RENT. REPEAT: FOR SUSTAINABLE LETTINGS SUCCESS

There are many different models of buy-to-let, but a proven winning formula is buying a property in need of renovation, upgrading the specification, then releasing the increased equity to fund another buy-to-let project.

 

Homes in need of work cost less to buy, which immediately reduces the cost of stamp duty. And when you’re not paying for somebody else’s taste, you can add value by updating the interior and identifying untapped potential.

 

With tenancies getting longer and renting becoming a lifestyle choice, tenants are looking for high-quality homes to live in for longer. By meeting this continually growing demand, you’ll achieve higher rents and grow a profitable long-term business.

 

Finding suitable homes to renovate, getting the specification right, and having the finance in place for the purchase and works are essential elements of any successful project. So here’s our comprehensive guide to the “buy, revamp, rent, repeat” system used by many successful landlords.

 

 

BUY-TO-LET COSTS AND FINANCE

Before you go hunting for a buy-to-let project to renovate, your first step is to confirm your spending power and budget for the extra costs involved with buying and financing a rental property.

 

The first and most important thing is that buying a second or investment home attracts additional Stamp Duty, so make sure you factor the upfront expenditure into your plans.

 

Buy-to-let mortgages also work differently:

 

  • loans are usually capped at 75% of the property valuation
  • lenders require a monthly rental income of at least 125% of the mortgage payment
  • interest rates and fees are generally higher than residential loans

 

Most buy-to-let mortgages are fixed-rate and, just like residential loans, have a penalty for repaying the balance before the end of the fixed-rate period. Savvy landlords often take out a standard variable rate first, then switch to a competitive fixed-rate after renovations to avoid wasting thousands of pounds in charges.

 

Aside from dipping into your savings, options for funding the renovation works include:

 

  • rolling the costs of the works into your buy-to-let mortgage
  • short-term refurbishment bridging finance
  • releasing equity by remortgaging your own home
  • taking out a secured personal loan, also known as a second charge

 

Given all of the above, we recommend speaking to an independent financial adviser to clarify what you can borrow and which lenders and loans are right for you.

 

 

SOURCING HOMES TO RENOVATE

Once you’ve confirmed your budget and chosen location, it’s time to start looking for a property with the right potential.

Trawl the property portals

To find potential renovation projects, select the type of property you want (a 3-bedroom house, a 2-bedroom apartment, etc.), then reduce the maximum price band by 10-20% of the typical market value. This will remove the already-perfect homes from your results, making it easier to find the ones that need work.

 

Approach local estate agents

The property portals tell you what’s on the market, but local estate agents know about homes that are coming soon.

 

Many investment buyers approach agents, so make sure you have your funds in place and know exactly what you want. Be specific about the type of property you’re looking for, the streets you’re most interested in, and how much work you’re willing to take on.

 

Be friendly and professional, then stay in touch with the ones who seem most promising.

 

Look for auctions

Because they attract investment buyers, auctions are a reliable source of unmodernised and neglected homes. A successful bid is a legal commitment and, because of the speed required to complete the purchase after the hammer falls – usually 28 days – most auction sales are to cash buyers.

 

It’s not impossible to buy at auction with a mortgage, but you’ll need to pay for a survey to be carried out before the auction and have a mortgage offer in place. Even then, if your bid is not the highest on the day, you’ll lose any costs you’ve incurred.

 

Pound the pavement

Not everyone has the time or inclination to wander the streets in search of neglected homes, but it can create opportunities. If you’re not comfortable knocking on doors, you could either leave a note with your contact details, or talk to the local agent you liked the most and ask them to follow up the lead.

 

 

 

THE RENOVATION GAME

When taking on a renovation project, your best bet is to start small and know your limits: don’t buy a massive wreck with multiple structural problems if you’re new to the game. Take the time to build your experience, grow your knowledge and gather a team of trusted contractors.

However complex or straightforward the works, it’s vital to get the finish right. Too cheap and your buy-to-let will be difficult to rent with a disappointing income and a high turnover of tenants. Too expensive, and you’ll be out of pocket with a low return on your spend.

 

If you’re unsure of the correct specification for rental property in Leeds, give us a call on 0113 460 2416 or drop us a line at info@silverspringlettings.co.uk for some guidance.

 

Meanwhile, let’s look at different types of projects.

 

Complete refurbishment

This is for the confident expert and requires a building contractor and full team to gut a property and start from scratch.

 

Having everything new will generate the highest income and protect your property’s value for many years, but refurbishments are expensive, and you should budget for surprises and delays.

 

Conversion

Many houses (particularly Victorian terraces) divide easily into apartments, and plenty of commercial spaces make excellent homes.

 

Although converting property can be highly profitable, it’s also complex. You’ll need specialist development finance, and you’ll be dealing with local authorities, architects and construction firms. There’s also extensive new-homes regulation to satisfy. In short, not for the novice.

 

Modernising

Mortgages are much easier to get on habitable properties: lenders mainly look for a working kitchen and bathroom, even if they’re old. You may get lucky with simply replacing those, stripping off 70s wallpaper and replacing swirly carpets.

 

Watch out for wiring and heating. Boilers are easy enough to replace – you might even be able to retain existing pipework and radiators – but installing an entirely new heating system or rewiring can be more disruptive. If you need to channel into walls and ceilings, it’ll mean more expense with repairs and replastering.

 

Remodelling

Changing a home’s layout can release untapped value and income, usually by increasing the number of bedrooms. Examples include turning an unused loft into a master suite, or relocating the kitchen into the living room to gain an extra bedroom or study.

 

In freehold homes, you’ll generally need simple building regs permission from the local authority. For leasehold, you’ll also need approval from the freeholder, and you’ll need to update the lease plan to reflect the new design.

 

Refreshing

Unlike unmodernised homes, those in need of redecoration are often up-to-date but poorly maintained. They can look a lot worse than they really are, which means they can sell for less than they’re technically worth.

 

Look for superficial issues: scuffed and damaged walls, dirty floors, greasy kitchens and overgrown gardens are all simple enough to put right, but they can be off-putting to regular homebuyers.

 

 

RENTING OUT YOUR PROPERTY

As soon as you’ve completed your renovation project, it’s time to find tenants who’ll take good care of it.

You’ll get the best income and the best tenants when your letting agent:

 

  • is local to your property
  • has a history of renting other similar homes nearby
  • uses high-quality photography in their marketing
  • writes enthusiastic descriptions
  • advertises on at least one of the major property portals
  • has a management department
  • has a thorough referencing procedure

Ask every letting agent you meet for examples of homes they’ve let that match the quality and location of your rental property, then check their reviews on Google for an idea of how successful, professional and helpful they are.

 

Finally, don’t forget one last essential element: how does it feel to talk to them? Your letting agent should be someone you enjoy talking to and feel you can trust, so are you filled with confidence and the sense that you’re in good hands?

 

Keep looking until it feels just right.

 

 

REPEAT THE PROCESS

After you’ve renovated, rented out and refinanced your buy-to-let, it’s time to look for your next project.

Before you do anything else, take a moment to review your first venture. How did everything go?

 

  • Was it easier or harder than you expected?
  • What aspects of the project did you particularly enjoy?
  • Are you comfortable taking on the same amount of work again?
  • Is there a new or bigger challenge you’d like to take on?
  • Did you learn anything about dealing with suppliers and contractors?

 

With more experience, you’ll find your perfect niche. You might be in the mood for more ambitious projects to flex your creative muscles, or you might prefer less work and faster turnarounds.

 

As you become known among local estate agents as a reliable buyer and a landlord with high-quality homes, you’ll move to the top of their list of people-to-call when a suitable future project becomes available.

 

And with the right formula in place, you can recycle your initial deposit, then refinance your buy-to-lets to fund future projects, time and time again, leaving your savings free for enjoying life.

 

 

Final words

Buying, renovating, renting and refinancing buy-to-let property is a proven system that you can repeat to create ever-increasing returns. It’s a solid way to build a portfolio of high-quality homes that tenants enjoy and love, all the while growing in value to create a secure financial future for you and your family.

 

To begin or expand your lettings portfolio, or to talk about the buy-to-let market in Leeds, call us on 0113 460 2416 or drop us a line at info@silverspringlettings.co.uk – we’re here to help you become and stay a successful landlord.

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2021 RENTAL REVIEW: A THANK YOU TO LANDLORDS & TENANTS

As we approached the beginning of 2021, hopes were high of a return to normal, with Covid and Brexit seemingly in the rear-view mirror. But the year turned out very differently, and both have continued to feature strongly in everyone’s life.

 

With supply shortages, lockdowns, the end of furlough, tax changes and a whole heap of uncertainty, we think it’s fair to say that 2021 has been a bit of a jungle!

 

From our perspective, the year also showed how relations between landlords and tenants in the private rental sector are not a scene of constant combat. In fact, the market is more friendly, open and communicative than we’re sometimes led to believe.

 

So, to end 2021 on a high note, let’s acknowledge the challenges landlords and tenants have faced, along with how they’ve met them and what the future may hold.

 

 

LESSONS OF THE LETTINGS MARKET

Just as in 2020, the property market was allowed to remain open through the lockdowns of 2021, with the Government recognising the importance of people’s lives at home.

It’s so much more than an economic decision, with our emotional well-being heavily improved by living somewhere that meets our needs and reflects our lifestyle. In particular, as working from home remained the norm for so many people, there was no shortage of tenants hunting for extra space both inside and out.

 

Virtual viewings, social distancing at face-to-face appointments, managing PPE and hygiene – we’ve all mastered all sorts of skills to keep each other safe while finding a place to live. And we’ve mostly managed it with a smile.

 

More than anything, 2021 proved that absolutely nothing gets in the way of our national obsession with making a new home.

 

 

LANDLORD & TENANT CHALLENGES

Perhaps the biggest challenge for private landlords in 2021 was the final phasing out of mortgage interest relief on buy-to-let homes.

Already hit with extra Stamp Duty/LBTT that increased the costs of buying an investment property, many existing landlords decided to sell up and exit the rental market altogether.

 

It remains to be seen what they’ll choose as an alternative investment strategy. Perhaps some will return through the newer business models we covered in our article on https://cutt.ly/TUr3AZ2.

Meanwhile, tenants faced uncertainty with the end of furlough and concerns over the pandemic’s effect on the economy and employment. This made it essential for letting and managing agents to provide a listening ear for any tenant who thought they might run into difficulty.

 

Our experience was that tenants prioritised their rent over other costs, finding savings where necessary to avoid arrears building up. Our landlords were also flexible wherever possible, meaning we saw very few problems among the homes we let and manage.

 

 

SHORTAGE OF RENTAL HOMES

We’ve always had more tenants looking for a home in Leeds than properties available, but 2021 saw a huge drop in landlords and rental stock.

As landlords sold, their properties were snapped up by eager buyers who took advantage of the Stamp Duty/LBTT holiday. This removed rental homes from the market and increased competition for those that remained.

 

While many tenants became homeowners, the lack of rental stock hasn’t gone away, so the competition for homes is almost certain to continue throughout 2022. A survey of 500 landlords by Simply Business found that only 7% had plans to expand their portfolio, while Zoopla recorded the supply of rental homes in Q3 at 43% below its five-year average.

 

When the housing shortage is most acute and the potential for rental income so high, it’s ironic that the increase in upfront purchase costs and ongoing taxation has created a financial barrier for private landlords to invest.

 

 

OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE FUTURE

As with all difficulties and obstacles, opportunity is never far behind. Many landlords see buy-to-let as key to their financial future and are exploring new ways to grow a sustainable portfolio.

Anything that makes tenants’ lives easier and more enjoyable, particularly the busy professionals that many landlords want to attract, will always be met with enthusiasm.

 

As renting becomes a longer-term lifestyle choice, tenants are actively seeking comfort and permanence: there’s a genuine market and real desire for better-quality places to live. Whether it’s a single occupancy or a multi-let, tenants are happy to pay a premium for a higher specification and a focus on modern design in empty and furnished homes.

 

Building to rent also shows a lot of promise, where landlords partner with construction firms to buy land and build on it. It’s a model that reduces acquisition costs and slashes the Stamp Duty/LBTT liability, thus removing two major obstacles for buy-to-let investors.

 

 

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE

Landlords, tenants and letting agents have a symbiotic relationship that forms an essential part of the property market.

Most landlords are regular people who take real pride in offering homes that are comfortable and enjoyable places to live.

 

Tenants, meanwhile, are generally easy to deal with, look after their homes, pay their rent on time and live as responsible residents and neighbours.

 

Of course, problems sometimes arise, and that’s where managing agents come in to provide perspective, guidance and solutions. The vast majority of tenancies are amicable from beginning to end, and that’s down to the people involved.

 

Perhaps this doesn’t get aired enough, so we’d like to say thank you to all our landlords and tenants for weathering the storm – it’s been quite a year for everyone!

 

 

Final words

That just about completes our roundup of the lettings market for 2021. Wherever you’re spending the festive season this year, we hope you’ll have a very merry Christmas that leaves you refreshed and ready for 2022.

 

And if you’re thinking of becoming a landlord or expanding your portfolio next year, we’d love to help. Call us on 0113 460 2416 or send us a message at info@silverspringlettings.co.uk for a friendly chat about property in Leeds and the local buy-to-let market.

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2022 DESIGN TRENDS: OUR GUIDE TO WHAT’S IN STORE FOR HOME DECOR NEXT YEAR

It’s the middle of November, and your thoughts are probably turning to putting your feet up for Christmas. But with the new year just six weeks off, it’s also natural and exciting to look forward to new beginnings, so what better time to start thinking about your decor for 2022?

To help you make a start, and to ensure the homes of Leeds look and feel the part, we’ve been scouring the media for the latest trends and comments from home decoration experts. From putting it all together, it’s clear that 2022’s watchword is evolution rather than revolution. 

So many of us sunk our energies into improving our homes during lockdown and beyond, so instead of drastic changes, there’s a focus on subtly merging vintage, natural and zen elements with a deft updating of timeless classics.

This means good news for everyone: whatever your taste, 2022 has a trend to fit. 

So, whether you’re getting ready to sell, planning the decor for your next home, or simply looking for a new look, read on for 2022’s key design developments to be up-to-date and thoroughly on-trend.

A RETURN TO NATURE

If you struggle with being too neat, but you’re not over-keen on clutter, you’ll be glad that hard-line minimal and maximal style are both set for a softer tone. For 2022, instead of trying too hard, there’s a move towards a gentler, easier and relaxed authenticity with a fresh and breezy colour palette of natural colours to reflect an optimistic return to normal.

Rustic vogue broke through this year with its stylish updating of cottagecore and modern farmhouse for a universal audience. Neither too country nor too urban, the look emerged from people moving out of town, but with a spark of city-style brought along for the ride.

Bringing in the zen are curves, organic shapes and floating surfaces that focus on longer sightlines and seeing more of the floor. Think shelves (instead of bookcases) with invisible fixings; tables and chairs with stem-like legs; wall-mounted sideboards; and elevated pot plants in slender stands.

2022’s COLOURS OF THE YEAR

With everyone rediscovering nature and feeling blessed to get outdoors, it’s little wonder that 2022’s colours of the year reflect the natural world and the feeling of a fresh start.

  • At Dulux, Bright Skies is an airy light blue chosen to capture the optimism and desire for a fresh start. Instead of feeling shut inside, the colour reflects the ultimate sense of being outdoors.
  • Over at Benjamin Moore, October Mist 1945 is a gentle and soft sage green. It’s a colour that feels like being wrapped in nature, and it’s equally at home in traditional and contemporary rooms.
  • Never knowingly usurped, Farrow & Ball has no less than five colour predictions for next year. Among them, you’ll find the vibrance of yellow mustard fields reflected in Babouche, while the warm and gentle Schoolhouse White goes anywhere with anything, or even on its own.

Where would you use them? How about a sunny yellow dining kitchen to set the tone for a vibrant centre of the home, a calming sage green for a soothing bedroom and comfy living space, or a refreshing welcome home from a pale blue hall? 

And those soft whites? Well, anywhere really, but particularly great in bathrooms when paired with natural tiles and accessories.

STYLISH SUSTAINABILITY

Hot on the heels of COP26, the emphasis on sustainability continues the trend of recent years.

If you’ve ever moved home with a flatpack chest of drawers or wardrobe, you’ll know how they’re only truly happy when you leave them where they are. To escape the cycle of buying again and again, the move is toward what might be called “proper furniture” – intentional purchases that stand the test of time and bring continued enjoyment, no matter how many times you up sticks.

How might that look? Well, if you’re in the market for a new sofa, think of those 1970s Danish couches with rich leather upholstery and simple, clean lines. Or, if you’re buying new, picture a classic chesterfield, redressed in opulent velvet and given streamlined modernity by removing the buttons. 

Could this affect our relationship with fast furniture in favour of longer-lasting and timeless pieces? And will the likes of IKEA widen their focus to include durability as well as design?

ACCESSORIES & TEXTILES

If you’re simply not up for decorating or major purchases, a few chosen accessories can transform everything from the corner of a room to your entire home. (Not to mention the health benefits of a day’s retail therapy!)

The return of velvet adds a sumptuous dash of tactile style, from couches, curtains and cushions, and onto headboards & throws. You need only visit the Habitat aisle at Sainsbury’s to see what’s in store, with the Agra collection giving a clear signal of the trend.  Wherever velvet goes, glamour follows.

Elsewhere around the home, handmade and artisan wares are more popular than ever, particularly with sites like Etsy giving rise to cottage industries around the globe. Timber trays and organisers, clay pots and vases, leather footstools and woven bedspreads all play their part in a natural, organic style.

And if you’ve admired loft living from afar but found it slightly too rugged or raw, you’re in luck. From John Lewis to B&Q, refined industrial lighting is very much in vogue, from polished metal fittings in brass and steel to vintage Edison bulbs shedding your home in their softly golden glow.

BETTER HOME WORKSPACES

Working from home is different for everyone, but one thing’s for sure: there’s a move away from temporary, makeshift solutions. It’s time to give yourself space!

Multi-functional spaces are not the answer to everything, particularly when your work involves video calls, visits from clients or deep concentration. If you do need an office at home, the most important thing is to have a space that truly works for you. Consider these five elements for the right combination of functionality, practicality, and style.

  1. Location: Your workspace should nurture a healthy business, mindset and homelife. Where can you work happily and undisturbed, then shut off when you’re done? If your home is quiet during the day, that space could be in the hall or on the landing. But if your household is active while you work, find a place to hide. A lesser-used bedroom, an under-utilised loft, or perhaps a cabin in the garden?
  2. Equipment: Think about what you need to work efficiently and comfortably. A proper, ergonomic chair is essential – you only get one back!
  3. Storage: Organisation doesn’t have to mean hidden away. Think about what inspires you to work: open shelves where everything’s in reach, or everything in cupboards for a feeling of peace?
  4. Colour: The consensus among interior designers is to go for subtle blues, greens and whites. Very conveniently, they fit perfectly into 2022’s colour palette.
  5. Styling: Welcoming and unfussy. Pictures on plain walls; a rug for a cosy acoustic; plants to freshen the air.

Final words

So, there you have it. A roundup of 2022’s key design trends for a striking start to the new year at home. Are you feeling inspired?

If you’d like any advice on the best ways to style and decorate your home to get it ready for sale, why not get in touch? Call us for a chat on 0113 460 2416 or drop us a line at hello@silverspringsales.co.uk- we’re here to help you get things right.

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LETTINGS TRENDS 2022: A LANDLORD’S GUIDE TO FUTURE DEMAND FOR BUY-TO-LETS

What are your plans for your buy-to-let business next year? Buying your first rental property? Upgrading your portfolio? Or expanding into new parts of the lettings market?

 

Keeping up to date with market trends is the cornerstone of any successful business, and being a landlord is no exception. By offering homes that offer a comfortable and modern lifestyle, you’ll continually attract high-quality tenants and market-leading rents.

 

Some of next year’s trends began life in city centres and are spreading further out, while others reflect evolving home life: flexible, sociable and economical are the buzzwords for next year! Climate consciousness, energy bills and outside space are among the biggest concerns of tenants, while new business models are creating more profitable returns for landlords.

 

So, let’s take a look at where the lettings market is going so you can plan your buy-to-let strategy for 2022.

 

 

GARDENS & OUTSIDE SPACE

The garden took on many new roles during Lockdown, with additional duties of pub, cafe, coffee shop, park, gym and even office. Searches on the property portals became more focussed than ever before on homes with some sort of outside space, and there’s no sign of that changing.

A Rightmove study found gardens topped the list of tenant ‘must haves’, with 49% saying they valued outdoor space above all else. If you’re looking to begin or expand your portfolio, don’t underestimate the draw of a garden or balcony.

 

Tenants expect to buy their own outdoor furniture, but consider these qualities for an outside space that gives year-round enjoyment:

 

  • Attractive and easy to care for
  • Decking, patios and simple planting
  • Exterior lighting
  • Outdoor heating – an infrared heater is an inexpensive touch of luxury
  • Privacy – even a trellis on top of a wall or fence can make all the difference

 

Remember that a garden doesn’t have to be huge to be popular. Families will generally look for a lawn and space for children to play, but single renters, couples and sharers tend to prioritise the minimal maintenance of patios and balconies.

 

 

WORKING FROM HOME

A recent BBC survey said 79% of business leaders and 70% of the public thought that working from home would continue in some form.

The pandemic has shown that people don’t necessarily need to fit their lives around their work anymore. Many are seizing the opportunity for change: some by going self-employed, others through flexible working that mixes days at the office with days at home.

 

This means that single bedrooms have found a new life and audience. Historically landlords looked for two double bedrooms to attract sharers, but one double and one single bedroom is the perfect solution for couples or singles who need a dedicated workspace at home.

 

Of course, some people simply need a place to sit with a laptop that isn’t the sofa or bed. Aside from dining tables and breakfast bars doubling up on duties, we see small desks appearing in bay windows, alcoves, under stairs and on landings as people create unintrusive work corners.

 

Are you unsure where a home workspace would fit in your buy-to-let? We can help you identify suitable locations to show potential tenants how well your property works for their lifestyle.

 

 

ENERGY EFFICIENCY

Two of the biggest news stories right now are climate change and rising utility bills. It’s a double whammy that’s causing everyone to look even harder at their energy consumption, for both the cost to the planet and their bank balance.

Tenants are asking more and more about running costs when we’re out on viewings with them, which makes the energy efficiency of your buy-to-let an important factor in its rentability. Government legislation is also set to tighten even further.

 

Not all energy improvements are expensive or require major work, and you can start with simple solutions like:

 

  • low-cost flow restrictors to taps and toilets to cut water consumption;
  • room and radiator thermostats to optimise heating use;
  • insulation of the hot water tank;
  • draft excluders over letterboxes and around doors to reduce heat loss;
  • appliances with an eco function (be sure to ask your agent to point them out).

 

Older homes tend to be less energy efficient, so if you have drafty single glazed windows or zero insulation, talk to your managing agent about a timetable for bringing them up to date and keeping your property in demand.

 

 

CO-LIVING

If you’ve not heard of co-living, think of it as a deluxe version of HMOs and multi-lets. It’s become big in purpose-built apartment buildings from corporate landlords, but there’s nothing to stop private landlords from increasing their income by offering something similar in houses.

Tenants already share, but co-living gives them a more coordinated experience around their outgoings, home life and how a property is run. Think:

 

  • weekly cleaning;
  • bills included;
  • a focus on design-led specification;
  • smart TVs and desks in each bedroom;
  • comfortable & sociable living spaces with high-quality furniture;
  • additional shared bathrooms or en-suites.

 

With its upgraded fittings and enhanced lifestyle, co-living has shown that busy professionals will pay extra for sharing with like-minded people who value a well-managed and stylish place to live.

 

 

BUILD TO RENT

If you’re looking to scale your buy-to-let business, have you considered building to rent (BTR)?

As the tax liabilities for lettings have increased, landlords with a long-term view are exploring more profitable models. The cost of building a property is less than its full market value, and Stamp Duty is only payable on the price of the land rather than on each home. All of that can quickly deliver savings of many tens of thousands of pounds.

 

Most new-build homes are built around owner-occupiers who prefer private spaces, but tenants appreciate shared amenities like communal terraces, co-working areas and social events. The idea is to create a place where tenants feel part of a permanent and dedicated rental community – somewhere they cherish and want to stay for the longer term, even moving within the building as their lifestyle changes.

 

Building to rent also gives you more control over maintenance and repairs. When you own the building and all the apartments within it, you can simply get on with works without needing to wait on the owners of each home for consent or access.

 

 

Final words

By keeping on top of market trends and evolving lifestyles, buying-to-let can still be a profitable business both now and long into the future.

 

If you’re a landlord in Leeds and you’re looking for a letting or managing agent to help you optimise your lettings portfolio, why not get in touch? Call us on 0113 460 2416 or message us at info@silverspringlettings.co.uk for an expert and friendly chat.

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LANDLORD TAX TIPS: ALLOWANCES TO CLAIM, EFFICIENT EXPENDITURE & EASIER ACCOUNTING

With the annual tax return deadline a couple of months off, what better time to explore preparing in advance to avoid all that late-night uploading on January 31st?

Using the tips in our handy guide, you can make a start right now. Then you can use the Christmas break to collate your receipts, claim all your allowances and submit your return, well before the deadline.

More than that, you’ll find ideas for streamlining your record-keeping for the future, and ways to minimise your tax liabilities through caring for your buy-to-let and having a long-term plan.

In short, all you need to get on top of your tax and feel relaxed, is right here.

BREAK UP THE TASK

Most of us leave our tax returns to the very last minute, which means a slow build-up of anxiety that grows over the year until the deadline looms. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way and there are some tools at your disposal to make the task feel smaller and more manageable.

Envelopes

If you prefer a paper system, but you find the paper overwhelming, here’s a neat trick: get 12 x A5 envelopes and label them from January to December. Drop in your receipts each month, and write on the back what the purchase was for if it isn’t obvious on the front.

Apps

Online banking has come on leaps and bounds, and many banks let you split your account into multiple areas. This means you can tag your buy-to-let expenditure for easy finding when tax time comes. There are even apps for expenses where you can photograph your receipts, link them to payments and turn your paper trail into a digital one.

Accountants

If your portfolio is growing and your tax is getting more complicated, or you simply can’t stand paperwork and forms, employing an accountant can remove the task of doing your return. Just supply them with all your receipts and details of your income, then leave them to it.

Managing agents

With a managing agent, you’ll have no receipts and paperwork at all. As well as organising the maintenance, repairs and legal compliance of your property, they’ll send you a simple statement of your income and expenditure at the end of every tax year.

USE ALL YOUR ALLOWANCES

The best way to minimise your tax bill is to take advantage of every tax-deductible expense.

There are more allowances than many landlords realise, and they mount up to significant savings on your tax bill. Having a good managing agent on your side will help you claim everything you’re entitled to without having to do any research.

Among the allowances available to landlords are:

  • Fees for letting and managing agents
  • Costs for services like gardeners, window cleaners and house cleaners
  • Accountancy fees
  • Buildings and contents insurance
  • Maintenance and repairs
  • Gas, water and electricity bills
  • Ground rent and service charges
  • Council Tax when you have no tenant
  • Legal fees including eviction costs
  • Subscriptions to landlord associations
  • Other direct costs of letting and managing your property including phone calls, travel and advertising

Are you making the most of these at your buy-to-let? If you’re not sure about what you can claim for your property, get in touch, and we’ll talk you through.

MAKE TAX-EFFICIENT REPAIRS

Unlike improvements, repairs and maintenance are still fully tax-deductible, which makes looking after your rental property a wise financial move.

Not only can you claim back your costs, but you’ll also protect the value of your investment. Your tenants will love you for looking after them and their home, which means longer tenancies, fewer complaints and minimal void periods.

While you can’t usually claim for improvements, there are exceptions. For example, replacing a broken single-glazed window with a new double-glazed one is considered perfectly acceptable by HMRC, with the bonus of improved energy efficiency. How’s that for two birds with one stone?

If you’d like to talk about profitable repairs and maintenance at your rental property, give us a call on 0113 460 2416 or email info@silverspringlettings.co.uk.

CONSIDER SETTING UP A COMPANY

If you own (or plan to own) more than one buy-to-let, or you’re already a higher-rate taxpayer, it’s worth exploring whether holding your properties within a company would be right for you as there are certain tax advantages.

First, the rent you receive is not added to your personal income. Instead, it attracts corporation tax which currently stands at 19% (2021-2022) with no upper tiers (unlike Income Tax)

Second, you can claim back all the interest on your mortgage as a business expense – an advantage that grows with your portfolio. 

Setting up a company is easy enough, and can be done in about 15 minutes. But mortgage lending is different with fewer lenders and slightly higher interest rates. It’s not the right option for everyone, so speak to a financial advisor with experience in this field to see what’s best for you.

HAVE A CAPITAL GAINS TAX PLAN

Capital Gains Tax can be a real downer on your business, particularly if you’re a higher-rate taxpayer, with a large chunk coming off your profit when you sell your buy-to-let. 

You can offset some of this with your annual tax-free allowance (£12,300 for 2021-2022) and also if the property was your main home before or after you rented it out, but there is a much better strategy.

If you never sell your buy-to-let, you’ll never pay Capital Gains Tax on it, so it’s our advice to hold your property for the long term. In fact, plan never to sell. 

Look for properties that will give you a lifetime of service, and then look after them. If you’d like to know the best types of property to rent out in Leeds, drop us a line at info@silverspringlettings.co.uk.

As values increase over time, you can use the capital in your property to continually expand your portfolio, or release funds for enjoying life, with zero Capital Gains Tax liability.

If you do sell, remember that you can deduct the costs of improvements from your profit like extensions, loft conversions and modernising. You can also deduct the stamp duty you paid, as well as the fees of estate agents, surveyors and solicitors.

It’s also worth thinking about timing your sale, as the capital gain will be added to your personal income for that year. So if you’re disposing of other assets like stocks and shares, or if your income is likely to fall (perhaps you’re about to retire) it could be worth holding off until the next tax year to reduce your bill.

Final words

Taking a proactive approach to your tax throughout the year will make the task of completing your return easier. You’ll also have the time and brain space to ensure you claim all the allowances available to landlords.

If you own a buy-to-let property in Leeds, why not get in touch to see how we can make your life as a landlord simpler and more profitable? Pick up the phone to 0113 460 2416 or drop us a line at info@silverspringlettings.co.uk for a friendly chat and expert advice.

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PRETTY VACANT: HOW TO STYLE YOUR BUY-TO-LET WITHOUT USING FURNITURE

Empty rooms can look a bit sad, and there are plenty of uninviting photographs out there of vacant buy-to-lets. It’s a constant challenge for landlords and letting agents when the demand from tenants is for unfurnished property, but when homes never look their best when they’re empty.

With no comfy couches or well-dressed beds to draw someone’s attention, your property needs to work harder to secure the best tenant and the highest rent. The good news is that with surprisingly little time and expense, you can turn empty rooms into welcoming spaces without buying any furniture. 

By giving your buy-to-let a few clever styling touches, you can improve its visibility, increase its popularity and maximise its income and performance. More than that, by reducing the potential for wear and tear and keeping your tenants for longer, you’ll minimise changeovers, void periods and tedious admin.

Whether you’re in the middle of a purchase, halfway through renovating or simply between tenancies, follow our tips to give your empty buy-to-let all it needs to stand head and shoulders above the competition.

If you’re a landlord with a rental property in Leeds, we’re here to help you get it looking the part. Call for a chat on 0113 460 2416 or send us a message at info@silverspringlettings.co.uk for some expert input.

LIGHTBULB MOMENTS

As well as leaving everyone looking positively ill, cold lighting makes rooms look about as luxurious as a hospital corridor, but it’s incredibly cheap to put right.

Early energy-saving spiral bulbs are prime culprits with their blue-tinged fluorescent glare, but newer LEDs with a high CRI score (Colour Rendering Index) emit a natural-looking light as if coming from the sun. The bulbs are readily available at IKEA, Amazon and DIY stores, and they make a massive difference to a potential tenant’s viewing experience.

You could even go one step further in living rooms or bedrooms with vintage-looking bulbs where the yellow filaments cast a cosy, soft and flattering glow.

In the mood for an easy luxury upgrade? Because of their height at waist or shoulder level, light switches are an unmissable feature on walls: replacing standard white plastic casings with brushed steel designer faceplates is an easy job with a sleek and stylish impact. 

GET A HANDLE ON THINGS

Whenever someone opens a door or a cupboard, the handle is a tactile and visual reminder of sophisticated accessorising or, as the case may be, not.

Having cheap-looking and feeling door handles detracts from any home’s appearance, but it’s easy to turn a negative impression into a positive one. In older homes, lovely Victorian beehive or porcelain knobs make great close-up shots and talking points on viewings, while modern brushed steel handles deal a welcome blow to brass-effect offenders from the 80s and 90s.

Kitchen cupboards also get an instant lift with new hardware, and you’ll find a whole world of knobs, bar handles and flush-mounted pulls in every style and finish that will easily cover any previous holes and look super-smart into the bargain. 

Bonus points for metal hooks, not just for coats and scarves in the hall, but for towels and robes in the bathroom and mops and brooms in the kitchen. They look a whole lot better and last a whole lot longer than plastic stick-ons, and there’ll be no more ugly ovals of gluey residue on your doors or tiles!

TREAT YOUR WINDOWS

One of the most effective ways to enhance an empty room is to style the windows.

As well as looking great in photos and on viewings, wooden Venetian blinds are available in models to suit every price range and are popular among tenants. Choose a light to medium oak finish to flatter any interior style and decoration. 

Whether it’s sunlight filtering through the open slats and casting cinematic shadows, or the warmth of natural timber when they’re closed at night, wooden blinds look great in both modern and traditional homes. And because they work in every room, from living spaces and bedrooms to kitchens and bathrooms, they provide a stylish continuity that suggests a professional landlord who knows what’s important to tenants.

Blinds are also a smart purchase. By having permanent window treatments, you’ll remove the need for every subsequent tenant to drill new holes for their blinds or curtain poles, meaning your walls and woodwork will take less of a beating. 

FIND A PLACE TO SHINE

Reflective surfaces increase natural light levels and help rooms to feel larger, cleaner and more luxurious.

When taps and showerheads lose their sparkle, they drag everything down with them, making bathrooms and kitchens look dowdy, even when the other fittings are perfectly fine. Sometimes it’s a simple matter of good old elbow grease with some vinegar and water; otherwise, find good-quality replacements and watch their gleaming metal catch the light and elevate the surroundings, causing your viewers to cry out: “Ooh, nice taps!”

Staying in the bathroom, a mirrored stainless-steel cabinet above the basin is both practical and stylish. Available everywhere from Argos and Amazon to specialist suppliers, they combine somewhere to get ready for the world with valuable storage space for hiding lotions and potions. It also means your tenants won’t have to drill into your tiles, making their lives more enjoyable while removing the potential for damage.

Mirrors can also improve natural light levels and brighten areas that struggle, particularly internal hallways and landings. More than that, they add to the sense of space and flow, giving tantalising glimpses of what’s to come.

HIT THE RIGHT TONE

There’s no hiding tired, scuffed paintwork or dreary colours when we’re out showing potential tenants around empty homes.

Fresh paint makes a home feel like new. But more than that, it makes rooms feel more expensive, more loved and more inviting.

Welcoming and bright are the qualities to aim for so that whatever the personal tastes and furniture style of your tenants, your walls will make the perfect backdrop.

Warm whites go with anything without the starkness of pure brilliant white, and you can ramp up the glamour with an accent wall in a soft neutral like Nordic grey. Favourites among interior designers are chimney breasts, alcoves, and, for a dash of hotel chic, walls behind beds.

Final words

It doesn’t take much to transform an empty home into a stylish and inviting future place to live. By using our tips, you’ll stand out from the crowd, attract the best tenants and keep them for longer, meaning fewer vacant days and an increased yield.

For some expert advice on getting your buy-to-let property looking just right, why not get in touch? We help landlords every day in Leeds to increase the popularity and performance of their rental portfolio, and we’d love to help you too. Call us on 0113 460 2416 or drop us a line at info@silverspringlettings.co.uk today.

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SETTING THE SCENE: HOW TO BE READY FOR VIEWINGS EVERY DAY

No matter how neat and tidy they are, people always ask us how their home should look on viewings and whether they can improve their presentation.

While no one expects you to live in a perfect show home, buyers do react well to a bit of pizzazz and polish. They’re looking to be seduced, and the way you present your home can shorten the time it takes to agree a sale, which means less tidying up in the long run.

Viewings can happen any day, and the trick is to minimise disruption to your morning routine so you can get ready for work, prepare the kids for school or go for your daily run without adding a lengthy to-do list. Then you can leave the house knowing that everything looks just right, without feeling flustered or rushed – or at least no more than usual!

With a simple plan and some upfront preparation, it’s fairly straightforward to be ready for viewings every day without feeling as though you’re living in a museum. A home that’s full of love and full of life is a big selling point for buyers, so this week’s blog is about finding the perfect balance between maintaining your happy home life and presenting a home that sells.

BEFORE YOUR HOME IS FOR SALE

Now is when you’ll be energised with the excitement of moving and putting your home on the market, so let’s make the most of your enthusiasm.

When it comes to having your home photographed, you can often get away with hiding things around a corner to get the perfect shot. But to prepare for viewings, you need a more permanent solution.

We’ll happily give you some pointers on getting your rooms looking right. Then, we’d suggest a weekend purge to deal with any visible or hidden clutter. Make it a household event with Spotify playlists, pizza deliveries, coffee on constant rotation… whatever makes it fun for you. 

With storage space a priority for buyers, they’ll pay attention to your cupboards. If they’re full to the brim, tackle them now rather than waiting until you pack – you’ll save time later, and your home won’t feel like it’s bursting at the seams.

Once you’ve chosen what to sell, donate, store or throw away, make your listings live on eBay, head down to the charity shop with any donations, and get everything else bagged up and boxed before the caffeine wears off.

Still got too much stuff? Try spreading it out across the loft, cellar or garage. Alternatively, ask a willing friend or relative to keep some at theirs, or rent a storeroom until you move.

CLEANING & LAUNDRY

Just like death and taxes, laundry is a fact of life, but sheets hung over doors are never a good look.

Aim to get your laundry done when you’re least likely to have viewings. That might be a Saturday evening, so it’s dry, folded and put away by Sunday night, leaving you clear for the rest of the week.

Do you have a cleaner? Tell us their schedule to help us time your viewings accordingly. As a tip, we’re often in the office on Monday mornings to follow up on the weekend’s viewings, gather feedback and deal with offers, so this can be the perfect time for your cleaner to work their magic.

With longer days and the approach of summer, most viewings will happen when it’s light, and the natural brightness of your rooms will become immediately clear. The rays of the sun highlight how clean your windows are, so make sure they’re kept sparkling and see-through, either by you or by a pro.

SCENTS & SENSIBILITY

From beginning to end, the scent of your home is the backdrop to every viewing. As the sense most connected to memory, smell does more than create an instant impression; it leaves a lasting reminder. What better excuse for some aroma therapy?

If we all lived in the pages of a magazine, freshly-cut flowers and gently roasted coffee beans would appear every day, imbuing your home with fragrant greetings. Real-life isn’t necessarily like that, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of options.

First off, never underestimate the power of nature. The simple act of leaving a couple of windows securely ajar will keep the inside air circulating and noticeably refreshed.

For something more aromatic, try a couple of well-placed reed diffusers or scented candles. Go for high-quality, natural fragrances and don’t go overboard; too many can be overwhelming and even raise suspicions, so buy one or two and gauge the effects. You can always add more later.

Flavoursome aromas like coffee and nutmeg are foodie favourites for kitchens; calming lavender or vanilla create a soothing mood for bedrooms, and crisp scents like lemongrass or ginger keep bathrooms feeling fresh.

If you love curries, garlic, fish or other pungent foods, save cooking those meals for a Saturday night to give the air in your home a chance to clear. 

BEFORE BEDTIME

Evenings are your best friend when it comes to tidying up.

As well as shaving valuable minutes and fuss off your morning routine, performing a reset for tomorrow brings a natural end to the day. You’ll probably even sleep better knowing how well you’ve got everything handled.

  • Put the living room back together by plumping up cushions, neatening throws, and returning books, magazines and paperwork to where they belong.
  • Do the washing up, put it away, or get everything into the dishwasher and set for the morning. Check bins and empty them if necessary.
  • Wipe down hob, worktops and cupboard fronts to remove any cooking prep and spills.
  • Get any toys into crates, then either hide them away – under the bed, in a cupboard, on top of the wardrobe – or put them in a corner to keep the floor space clear.
  • Drop clothes into the laundry basket or hang them inside the wardrobe.

THE TEN-MINUTE TIDY

With everything else in place, the final finishing touches are all that’s left for the morning. Do a quick sweep with this speedy checklist for an easy and on-time start to your day.

DOORS & WINDOWS

Leave all internal doors open for air circulation and a sense of flow

Open curtains and blinds for maximum light

KITCHEN

Breakfast plates, coffee cups and pans in the dishwasher, or rinsed and put away

Tea towel hung in its place

Wipe down worktops and sink

BEDROOMS

Make the bed and plump the pillows

Close wardrobe doors and drawers

Put away any jewellery and accessories

BATHROOMS

Shower screen squeegeed

Toothbrushes and toothpaste away

Posh products only left on show

Towels on hooks or folded on rails 

Feng shui etiquette – loo seat down

In summary

Preparation is everything. Spending some time before your home goes on the market to get everything in order, then having some simple routines to keep it that way, will help you enjoy your everyday home life while being ready for viewings, no matter how much notice you have.

Most tasks are tiny in themselves but combine to make a big and lasting impression, as though you’ve had a cleaner in every day.

Are you planning to sell your home? We’re here to ensure you make the biggest impact, so why not get in touch? Call us on 0113 460 2416 or email us at hello@silverspringsales.co.uk – we’ll help you get your presentation perfect from the start.

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DEPOSIT DISPUTES: WHY DO SO MANY LANDLORDS LOSE?

Ending up in a dispute at the end of a tenancy is one of the least inviting prospects of being a landlord, and thankfully most tenancies end perfectly amicably. But when they do end in disagreement, many landlords manage to lose their claim, leading them to feel that the system is weighted against them.

The most important thing in a deposit dispute is for the outcome to reflect the reality, whether the fault is on the landlord or tenant side. The courts and arbitration services are not there to automatically find in favour of the tenant, but it is the landlord’s responsibility to prove a claim is valid and realistic.

So, in this week’s article, we’re taking a look at why landlords – and particularly self-managing ones – lose so many disputes: from whether their claims are fair in the first place, to how they can improve the way they create and run their tenancies.

If you own a rental property in Leeds and you’ve either lost a dispute, or you’d like to chat about minimising the chances of them happening, we’d love to talk to you. Call us for a chat on 0113 460 2416 or email us at info@silverspringlettings.co.uk.

Meanwhile let’s see where things go wrong for landlords, how the outcomes can be different, and how many situations can be avoided altogether.

 

SETUP & ADMIN

Whenever a property requires a knack for things to go right, you can guarantee it will come back as bad news.

One culprit here is condensation and mould. If your bathroom or kitchen are susceptible to either, the most effective option is to install an extractor fan with a humidity sensor that automatically activates. One small job removes all the possible consequences, costs and kerfuffle. Otherwise, you’ll need to highlight the potential for mould and condensation in your tenancy agreement, and get your tenants to accept any future costs that arise from forgetting to open a window. Terms like that could lead to someone questioning whether your property is somewhere they want to live.

Another example of poor setup can be when renting to people with pets, which is usually problem-free but does require written agreement over any costs that may arise. If the responsibilities for these aren’t stipulated at the outset – from damages to smells to infestations – your claim is at risk if the tenancy agreement is unclear. You’ll find that most tenants are quite happy to sign a clause accepting responsibility for any costs arising from their pets, or any visiting ones.

 

FITTINGS & REPAIRS

There are plenty of landlord groups on social media where you’ll see posts that celebrate how cheaply someone has managed to renovate one of their rental properties. Often they find good-looking but ultimately poor-quality fittings that are not likely to last, and where a later visit from a contractor sends the price above the cost of buying something better in the first place.

Cheap taps or laminate floors in wet areas are a couple of quick tricks to making a kitchen or bathroom shine on the surface, but your property must be durable as well. It’s tough to prove a tenant is at fault when the fittings and materials in a property simply aren’t up to the job.

The same goes for repairs: if you respond quickly and attend to repairs, you’ll show respect for your investment, your tenants, and your time. By making your property a low-maintenance home, you’ll have longer, happier tenancies and fewer repairs and disputes.

 

BREAKING THE RULES

Every now and then, a property gets handed back in a condition where lots of work is needed to put things right.

You may feel rightly frustrated, disappointed or let down, but it’s essential to keep a cool head. Whatever you do, and no matter how tempting, don’t hold onto the security deposit in a way that ignores legal procedures, or you risk invalidating your claim.

Your best course of action is to obtain quotes as quickly as possible for all the works and costs, then submit them to the previous tenants along with any reports or photographic evidence, and with clear and comprehensive details about why they are responsible. You don’t need to wait until you’ve settled your dispute to carry out any repairs, so your next tenancy needn’t be delayed beyond the completion of the works.

Of course, it’s a hassle, and you may not even want to speak to the people who’ve left your property in such a state (one of the benefits of having a managing agent to deal with it on your behalf!). Still, clear communication without resorting to angry recriminations is the most likely route to a swifter settlement.

 

CLEANING CONFLICTS

The largest area of dispute between landlords and tenants is cleaning, accounting for around 25% of all claims.

In a way, it’s comforting. Cleaning is not about breakages, repairs or arguments over wear & tear, so it’s effectively a small dispute. Regardless of who wins, it’s straightforward enough to get a property cleaned, but what a waste of everyone’s time for such a mundane thing!

Of course, it can be more than a trivial issue if your incoming tenants have to move into an unclean home. It’s not a great start to a tenancy, and a professional clean is more difficult to obtain while there are boxes everywhere and your tenants unpack.

Generally speaking, a dispute over cleaning comes up when one side skimps. Suppose you don’t hand your property over in a professionally-cleaned state, and you don’t employ an inventory clerk to take photographic evidence. In that case, any claim will be difficult to win at the end. The same goes for outgoing tenants: if they sign off on the cleaning when moving in, but can’t produce a receipt for a professional clean when they leave, they are unlikely to win a dispute.

 

UNFAIR CLAIMS

Unfortunately, some landlords do attempt unjustified or exaggerated claims against their tenants.

If you don’t regularly inspect your property, there could be a few years between your visits, during which time signs of wear and tear will develop. Scuffs on walls, woodwork and floors are a part of life; ovens don’t stay looking like new; neither does grouting or sealant – not even in the homes of landlords!

Areas like these are more noticeable when a property is empty than when it’s lived in, and they’ll also look far worse to you if it’s been four years since your last visit.

Regular inspections are invaluable and, for us, they’re a normal part of the day. Anything that might have gone unnoticed in the everyday distractions of life tends to get picked up before it becomes a major problem and a cause for a dispute.

 

In summary

As a landlord, there’s a lot you need to get right: not just to minimise the opportunity for disputes, but to ensure you don’t automatically lose them. The many laws that cover lettings are there to help you run your tenancies effectively, and well-maintained properties tend to attract higher-quality tenants, most of whom will love their home and treat it as if they owned it.

As a self-managing landlord, it can sometimes feel like an awful lot to stay on top of, so you might want to explore having your rental investments looked after by people who do it every day. If you have a property in Leeds and you’d like to discover whether using a managing agent is the right decision for you, why not get in touch? Call us for a chat on 0113 460 2416 or email us at info@silverspringlettings.co.uk – we’re here to make your life as a landlord as easy as can be.