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How to Settle Your Kids into Your New Leeds Home

Moving house is stressful, moving house with kids… well, that can be a recipe for meltdowns, tantrums, and sleepless nights.

 

As parents, you’re probably moving house for logical reasons: you need more space, you want to be closer to good schools, you’ve found a better job in the area. But as many of us know, logic and rationale aren’t always high on a kids list of priorities.

 

Change is scary for all of us, not just kids, so how can you make it easier?

 

In this three-minute read, we look at a few ways to help your little (and not so little) cherubs settle into a new home.

 

Prepare your child

Keep your child informed. Talk about the new home, why you’re moving, where you’re going, their new room, and so on. By including them in the process – such as visiting the property before the move – they know what’s coming. Kids love an adventure, and a new home is just that.

 

When packing up their things, get them to help. Create a special moving box, so they have all their favourite toys, clothes, and bits and bobs in one place. It could help them feel more in control and get them ready for the change ahead.

 

Sleep is key

When your child doesn’t sleep, everyone suffers. You’ll be exhausted, they’ll probably be grumpy, and the whole household will feel bleary-eyed. Try to keep their sleep routine similar to their old one to (hopefully) avoid sleepless nights.

 

Show them their room before you move in, or if possible, let them choose their new room. Let them know where their cot/bed will be and how the room will look.

 

When it comes to those first few nights, make sure you know where their favourite blanket or toy is, so you don’t have to fret before bedtime. (This approach might not work with teenagers.)

 

Moving-in present

Show us a parent that hasn’t bribed their child with chocolate or a toy, and we’ll eat our hats! A move-in present doesn’t have to be expensive; it could be the promise of an activity you’ll do together once you’ve moved in, or a toy that’s been waiting for them to arrive.

 

Decorate together

Whether it’s a new paint colour, bedspread, or wall art – letting your child choose what they like gives them a sense of ownership and independence. Creating a cosy, welcoming space will help your child settle and make their room feel like home.

 

Celebrate

Whatever the circumstances of your move, children will want to feel like it’s an adventure. So, make sure to celebrate together. You could have a first-night pizza party, a teddy-bear’s picnic in the garden, ask the grandparents over, or even blow out candles for the new home’s first day. Making the move as fun and celebratory as possible gives the whole family something to look forward to.

Silverspring can help you and your family find your new home, so get in touch with us today.

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Great Pubs/Bars in Hyde Park Leeds

Have you recently moved to the Area? Or just want to know what there is that you haven’t tried yet, well don’t worry this blog is for you. We have curated a list of some great pubs/bars in the Hyde Park area. 

 

Hyde Park Pub 

One of the most iconic pubs in Leeds Hyde park pub is known for being on the infamous otley run map and being one of the longest standing pubs in Hyde Park. The pub is equipped with a great outside seating area, perfect for those (occasional) sunny summer days as well as loads of tvs all around to show all the big sports games. This is a great ‘go to’ for a weekday pint or some weekend madness. 

 

LS6 cafe

Now, as mentioned in our previous blog about great cafes, LS6 is a fab cafe by day, and pub by night. Selling some great craft beers and funky cocktails, take a seat in one of their comfy booths and enjoy a great night with friends. 

 

Hyde Park Book Club 

Again, a place that was referred to as a cafe in a previous blog, is also a great night time destination or even an early afternoon drink destination. The menu is entirely vegetarian food also, so it’s a great location for you foody veggies. Hyde Park Book Club also hosts some great live bands and DJs on the evenings making it a ‘go to’ evening location for many people. 

 

The Royal Park Pub

A firm student favourite, Royal Park pub is a great mid-week choice. With a wide choice of drinks from lagers, to ales, to gins the atmosphere is always lively due to its student clientele. Keep a lookout for live music and themed nights too. 

 

The Library 

Another well-known pub due to the infamous Otley run, the Library always has a lively atmosphere. With tons of screens at every corner it is the perfect place to go for big sporting games. 

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BLOOMING RENTALS : GROW YOUR RETURNS IN THE GARDEN BOOM WITH STYLISH OUTDOOR UPGRADES

Not so long ago, many landlords saw gardens as a bit of a liability. Tenants weren’t exactly clamouring for them, and landlords were convinced they’d be handed back an overgrown jungle of weeds.

But the pandemic produced a revolution in the demand and appreciation for outside space across the country. It’s a trend that’s never gone away, with gardens and balconies firmly on the non-negotiable lists for many tenants in Leeds. More than that, they’re willing to pay extra for the privilege.

So how can you reap the greatest reward from the outside space at your buy-to-let? And how do you match your garden or balcony to the right kind of tenant?

This week’s blog digs deep, from tiny patios to family lawns and stylish luxury upgrades. Use our design and planting tips for an in-demand garden to maximise your rent and improve the value of your investment.

SOWING THE SEEDS OF A BUY-TO-LET GARDEN

The perfect buy-to-let garden is beautiful and easy to care for. This magic combination comes from using plants and materials that you can easily replace or refresh.

  • Plant native perennials and evergreens for year-after-year blooms. See more in the ‘Sunny Sizzle and Shady Chic’ section.
  • Hedging and climbers give weathered walls and fences an instant facelift. Planting them in containers requires minimal maintenance and keeps them under control.
  • Buy spare materials like paving slabs, tiles, decking and paint for easy replacing and refreshing in case they’re discontinued or out of stock later.
  • Give fences and walls a unifying makeover with a contemporary paint job in a single colour.
  • Install exterior lighting so tenants can use their outside space in the evenings. If wiring into the mains isn’t practical, try solar-powered fence lights that can also be fixed to walls.

By reducing the ongoing tasks of planting, painting, weeding and trimming, you make it easy and enjoyable for your tenants to look after your outside space.

PETIT PATIOS AND BIJOU BALCONIES

You don’t need a massive garden to give it a big personality – stylish small spaces can pack a lot of punch and be a hit with tenants.

The wonderful thing about patios and balconies is how quickly you can create something truly memorable. You could have an Instagrammable space in a matter of hours!


FAMILY-FRIENDLY GARDENS

Families want a garden that’s a real multi-tasker. A safe place where children can play or hang out with friends, and somewhere for parents to relax and unwind.

  • Lawns are essential for football, gymnastics, camping and running around with soft landings.
  • Include a lounge or dining space for the family to come together – to eat, play games or simply catch up.
  • A shed is useful for tools, toys, bikes, sports equipment and sun loungers, or as a den for kids (and parents!) to hide.
  • Secure all fencing and add a lock to any gates.

A family garden that fulfils the needs of the whole household can really seal the deal for parents.

HIGH STYLE FOR HIGH EARNERS

There’s so much more to gardens than plants, lawns and patios. If you want to attract affluent, professional tenants with the promise of a luxury lifestyle, there any many ways to elevate the garden experience to a whole new level.

  • Create an all-year garden with a retractable canopy that provides shade in the summer and protection in the rain.
  • Install a permanent firepit or infra-red heating for warmth on chilly evenings.
  • Upgrade the lighting with different zones and moods.
  • Inject a touch of Love Island’s luxury villa with designer screens.
  • Build a bar, barbecue or seating area from brick or stone for minimal maintenance.

Drop us a line at info@silverspringlettings.co.uk  for some guidance on the right level of luxury for your buy-to-let.

SUNNY SIZZLE AND SHADY CHIC

Any outside space can look fabulous, and by working with the natural levels of light, you can perfect your design with the right low-maintenance materials and plants.

  • Colourful flowers love the sun, so have fun with random planting for a magical stylised meadow. Check the RHS website for their top 10 wildflowers.
  • Shady gardens don’t have to be dull – just look at a rainforest floor! Create a dazzling display of gorgeous greens with a mix of ferns.
  • Natural finishes like stone, terracotta and brick are timeless and perfect for maintenance-free planters, seating and boundaries. Avoid plastic containers as they’re rarely sustainable and tend to discolour or fade, potentially spoiling the look of a garden and needing replacements.
  • For painting or treating fences and walls, use the best-quality outdoor products and use their recommended primers to ensure a long life of protection against the elements.

Finally, not everyone wants to roast in the sun, so if you’re looking for your next buy-to-let, don’t discount shady gardens or balconies – plenty of tenants will see that as an advantage.

What’s your next step?

There’s so much potential in the outside space at your buy-to-let. Humans a hardwired for nature, and the pandemic has given tenants a valuable appreciation of having a place at home to get outdoors.

If you’re a landlord in Leeds, we’d love to help you grow your returns with a garden or balcony that’s easy for tenants to love and look after. Call us on 0113 460 2416 or email us at info@silverspringlettings.co.uk for a chat about what’s best for your rental property.

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Four Things Accidental Landlords Need to Know

people become landlords due to unexpected circumstances such as bereavement or a new relationship, here’s some helpful advice. A two-minute read.

It’s surprising how many people become landlords more by chance than design – or in other words, ‘accidental landlords’.

Whether through inheritance, a change in a relationship or a new job, sometimes people find themselves in the (rather fortunate) position of owning a property that they don’t want or need to live in. And instead of selling up, the owner decides to rent the property out.

While this usually works out well in the long run, accidental landlords can slip up if they underestimate what the job involves – it’s not as easy as it looks.

Here are four tips for accidental landlords.

  • Talk to your lender

If you have an owner-occupier mortgage on the property, you must notify your lender if you intend to rent it out (otherwise you could be penalised). Sometimes, the lender will grant ‘consent to let’, which is permission to rent the property under your existing mortgage. But this is usually a short-term solution, and you’ll probably be expected to get a buy-to-let mortgage eventually.

 

  • Get landlord insurance

A bog-standard home and contents policy won’t suffice – you’ll need specific landlord insurance. Do your research on this because the policies on offer can vary significantly. On top of buildings and liability cover, some policies allow you to opt in to cover legal costs, loss of rent, or accidental damage.

 

  • Understand the rules on deposits

There are strict laws regarding tenant deposits. When a tenant pays you a deposit, you must register it within 30 days with a government-approved scheme. (This is a third-party scheme that protects tenant deposits.)

 

  • Get to grips with red tape

There are all sorts of laws – at least 175 – that apply to UK landlords covering everything from evictions and gas safety to electrical checks. It can be overwhelming trying to get your head around these, but most successful landlords develop systems to make sure they stay on top of things. And if you really wanted to sit back and let someone else take the strain, employ the services of a professional letting agent to do it for you.

To learn more about our property management services, contact us here at Silverspring.

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Walk This Way: Do it for Your Children and Planet

Find out why it’s time to ditch your car and walk to school with your children instead. A two-minute read.

Want to reduce carbon emissions, traffic congestion, and the risk of childhood obesity? Then step right up and out for Walk to School Week (16 to 20 May).

Next week’s event, organised by the charity Living Streets, encourages children and their carers to leave the car at home and do the school run on foot instead.

So, why all this emphasis on swapping four wheels for two feet? Here are just a few benefits associated with walking to school.

  • It’s a great way to boost children’s activity levels (bear in mind that only 45% of children and young people exercise for the recommended one hour a day*).
  • Starting the day with a dose of fresh air gets the endorphins (feel-good emotions) going and increases alertness.
  • It’s an excellent opportunity to have a little one-on-one time with your child and natter about whatever is on their mind.
  • According to Unicef, in 71% of UK towns and cities, children breathe in unsafe levels of air pollution (which is linked to an increased risk of asthma and respiratory problems). Reducing cars on local streets will mean cleaner air.
  • The roads around schools are often chock-a-block at peak times, with some parents also failing to adhere to road rules and parking irresponsibly. Fewer cars mean less stress and less dodgy driver aggression.
  • A Living Streets study found that 87% of parents with primary school-aged children have had to step into the carriageway because of vehicles parked on the pavement while on the school run. This poses serious safety and accessibility issues.

Take part 

Why not try walking your child to school every day next week and see if you notice the benefits?

If it’s not feasible to walk the whole way due to distance, consider parking about ten minutes away from school and completing the rest of your journey on foot.

And don’t forget to take note of the street conditions on your route to school and contact your local council if improvements are needed to remedy unsafe crossings or damaged pavements.

 

From all of us here at Silverspring, thanks for reading and happy walking.

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Energy Bills: How to Help Your Leeds Tenants

This eight-point plan outlines the best way landlords can manage the issue of energy bills. A two-minute read.

This year’s colossal hike in energy costs has left millions of households reeling. And with no relief in sight, the problem is likely to stay at the top of the agenda throughout 2022.

Here’s an eight-point plan to help landlords deal with the issue as best they can.

  • Make sure your tenancy agreement clearly states who is responsible for paying energy bills (most typically, it is the tenant).
  • Even though your tenant will most likely pay the bills, do your bit to keep costs down by staying on top of maintenance and draught-proofing. Repair any rickety windows that might allow heat to escape and install energy-saving light bulbs.
  • Take a meter reading when a new tenant moves in and record it in the inventory. (That way, there can be no confusion or dispute with the previous tenant.)
  • Explain to your tenant (if the bill is in their name) that they are entitled to shop around for the best energy deal. Also, discuss the benefits of having a smart meter. These provide detailed energy usage information to allow tenants to understand what’s driving their fuel costs.
  • Some energy suppliers require a few days’ notice to end a contract. It’s the bill payer’s job to notify the fuel supplier. Your tenant may not be aware of this, so give them a gentle reminder a week or so before their tenancy ends.
  • When your tenant moves out, take a meter reading and pass it on to the relevant energy supplier along with the tenant’s forwarding address.
  • As the landlord, you’re responsible for the energy bills during void periods. Ensure that most of the lights are switched off (you might want to leave a few on for security purposes). In the warmer months, turn the boiler off, too. In winter, you might want the heating on intermittently to ensure the pipes don’t freeze and protect against dampness.
  • Consider investing in big-ticket energy-efficient measures such as solar panels, insulation, and triple glazing. These will bring down fuel bills and add value to your property.

 

Much of the above can be handled by an experienced letting agency – making your life a whole lot easier.

For more advice on our property management services, contact us here at Silverspring Lettings.

 

 

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Why Your Windows Matter

Before you were a property owner, chances are windows were something you just looked out of to take in the view. You probably didn’t give them much thought and you might have cleaned them occasionally. That was it.

Now, as a homeowner, your single, double, or triple glazing means so much more. And if you’re about to renovate a property or upgrade your windows, it’s worth diving into the fascinating world of double glazing to find out more. (Honestly, it’s pretty interesting.)

 

In this quick read, we look at different types of windows and why they matter, especially as energy prices rocket.

 

Why windows are so important

Traditionally, windows were single panes of glass. Great to look out of, but not the best at reducing heat loss. They were also quite dangerous if broken. While some older homes still use single panes, double glazing is now the norm.

 

Double glazing is a long-term solution for saving on energy costs. There are multiple types of double glazing, and their energy rating (from A to G) tells you how energy efficient they are.

 

Different types of glazing

 

Insulating glass

These are multiple panes of glass in one unit with a layer of gas in the middle. They reduce heat loss and are Building Regulation compliant.

 

Solar reduction glass

Perfect for reducing the amount of heat entering your home, these panels have a special metal oxide coating that’s invisible to the eye. Consider these if you’re lucky enough to have a sunshine-filled south-facing home and need to keep cool during the summer months.

 

Noise reduction glass

If you live along a busy road or near a train line, these are a must-have. They prevent sound waves from travelling through the windows due to their thickness and sound dampening core.

 

Structured glass

These windows have the wow factor. They are large pieces of glass that can hold the weight of surrounding structures. Think of big sliding doors or conservatories.

 

Window safety glass

These windows are made extra strong due to a heat treatment and shatter into smaller pieces rather than large shards if broken.

 

Mix up your glazing

For maximum energy reduction, consider double and triple glazing for your home. For example, double glazing on the south-facing side of your home and triple glazing on the cooler, north-facing side.

 

It’s worth remembering that good windows add value to your home/rental property.

 

We love all things property in Leeds. If you have a property question, get in touch with us today.

 

 

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IS BUY-TO-LET BROKEN? FACTS, FIGURES AND FUTURE TRENDS FOR PRIVATE LANDLORDS

There’s no denying that buy-to-let isn’t the same as 10 or 15 years ago.

Changes in lending criteria mean landlords have to put in more of their own money; changes in tax policy have affected initial yields; changes in lettings legislation have changed what it is to own a rental property.

As the private rental sector has moved away from short-term profits, corporate investment in buy-to-let is on the rise, with major institutions attracted by its long-term prospects for growth and income.

But is the future only for the big boys? Or is there a place for small, independent landlords to have a thriving and profitable business? Our blog this week looks at the factors affecting the market today and tomorrow, so you can choose whether buy-to-let is for you.

ARE LANDLORDS PANIC-SELLING?

While we’ve seen some landlords selling up, it’s generally those focused or reliant on the monthly rent from their buy-to-lets as a main source of income.

The most successful landlords have always taken a long-term view over their investments. As such, they’re keeping hold of their rental homes and even expanding their portfolios. Capital growth is their priority, and they take care to ensure their buy-to-lets are well managed to stay ahead of the market and attract the highest quality tenants.

The bigger story is how corporates are entering the market. John Lewis intends to build 10,000 rental homes over the next ten years, while Lloyds Banking Group has announced plans for 50,000 buy-to-lets by 2030 and predicts increasing demand over the next five years.

In the words of accountancy firm Blick Rothenberg, “everyone wants to become a landlord”.

NO ROOM FOR AMATEURS ANYMORE

Most of our landlords (and doubtless most others) are conscientious people. They’re true professionals who care about their property and tenants.

However, it’s good to remember that, until relatively recently, the system was thoroughly exploited by a particular type who used lending rules, tax breaks and lax legislation to provide sub-standard rental homes for short-term gains at the expense of tenants.

Please don’t try this at home, but their unsavoury formula included:

👎 buying the lowest-quality property in a high-demand area

👎 filling it to the brim with as many tenants as possible

👎 supplying the cheapest specification and appliances

👎 carrying out only basic repairs and only after countless reminders (if at all)

👎 never investing in upgrades or improvements

Gradual changes in allowable expenses, loan-to-value ratios and standards for habitable homes have made that business far less viable and forced those landlords to either up their game or leave the table.

So, while the landscape has undoubtedly changed, buying to let is still a sound prospect for landlords with long-term investment strategies.


THE HOUSING SHORTAGE ISN’T GOING ANYWHERE

Rental homes are in short supply, and there’s no sign of that changing anytime soon.

The shortage is not only underpinning rents and property values; it’s ensuring that landlords with high-quality buy-to-lets attract the very best tenants and keep them for years.

Just look at the numbers:

  • Average rents are up 8% on 2021.
  • Property prices rose 10% between March 2021 and March 2022.
  • According to Zoopla, the supply of rental homes is 43% down on the five-year average.
  • Tenant demand is the strongest we can remember.
  • Tenancies last longer than ever, creating fewer void periods and more stability.

So landlords and their rental homes are constantly and urgently required, and the market looks set to stay that way for a long while yet.

WHAT ABOUT THE COSTS OF UPGRADING ENERGY PERFORMANCE?

There was a fair degree of fuss when the Government announced its vision for energy-efficient rental homes in February. But in truth, the proposals are no stronger than the shortlisting criteria of many tenants.

Nonetheless, there are a few things worth remembering about the Decent Homes standards:

  • The government has admitted to not including the most vulnerable households in their report, so the targets may well change.
  • We don’t know yet if Government grants may be available like the Green Homes Grant will be available, or financing schemes that allow landlords to spread all or part of the cost over a few years.
  • Improving an EPC rating isn’t necessarily expensive – some landlords have seen their ratings go up simply by switching to energy-efficient lightbulbs or sealing drafts.
  • The estimated expenditure to get the average rental home to Grade C is £4,700, which should easily be covered over 10-15 years of income-producing ownership, increasing rents and the associated capital growth.

With some of the least energy-efficient homes in Europe, UK standards are long overdue for an overhaul.  Better homes are better for everyone, and improved energy performance will help to protect the value of your buy-to-let whenever you come to refinance or sell.

ARE THERE BUY-TO-LET STRATEGIES WITH HIGHER YIELDS?

While huge 10%+ initial yields from single lets are mostly behind us, it doesn’t mean buy-to-let isn’t profitable or that higher yields aren’t possible.

– Target high earning professionals

Use the tips in our recent blog to upgrade your buy-to-let to get the highest possible rent. Busy and successful people will happily pay more rent for a stylish and high-quality specification.

– Explore multi-lets/HMOs

You could double or triple the monthly income of your property if it can take five or more unrelated people living in it, each on a separate tenancy. Remember that you’ll need a license from the local authority, and there are stricter fire-safety regulations along with extra management.

– Consider building to rent

Corporate organisations are making a big move into build-to-rent, but there’s nothing to stop independent landlords from partnering with local building contractors and property developers to pool their expertise on higher-yielding projects.

– Invest in less popular property

People’s dream homes to buy tend to be either period properties or brand new ones. However, some of the highest-yielding buy-to-lets are homes built in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s because of the rent they achieve against lower purchase prices.

There are many buy-to-let models and plenty of opportunities for a healthy business. With some creative thinking and openness to new ideas, the rewards can be significant for landlords and tenants alike.

What’s your next step?

Property has proven itself time and time again as one of the safest investment strategies. People will always need a home, and, whatever happens in the market, your buy-to-let cannot disappear overnight. There’s a reason for the phrase: “as safe as houses”.


Whether you’re an experienced landlord or looking to buy your very first rental property in Leeds, we’d love to help you make the most out of buying to let. Give us a call on 0113 460 2416 or email us at info@silverspringlettings.co.uk for friendly and expert advice: we’re here for your success.

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Is the Internet Frying Your Brain?

 

What impact do constant scrolling and swiping  on the internet have on your ability to focus, reflect, and connect? A two-minute read.

If you can’t read two pages of a book without getting twitchy or struggle to go for an hour without checking social media, then you’re not alone.

A recent study by tech giant Microsoft found that the human attention span has shrivelled by 25% in just a few years. It’s just one of a growing number of studies suggesting that in the digital age, our ability to focus is decreasing.

Over the past two decades, the internet has become a constant presence in our lives. Much of that has been good – social media connects people with shared interests, gives the under-represented a voice, and exposes us to new ideas. You are most likely reading this article online.

And podcasts and audiobooks make mundane tasks, like driving or household chores, more enjoyable (and sometimes educational).

But are we having too much of a good thing? If you seem to spend hours lost in a digital rabbit hole, perhaps it’s time to reappraise your habits. You don’t have to take an all-or-nothing approach, it might just be a case of being more measured.

 Five ideas to sharpen your focus

  • Be more mindful of your online activity. Is it productive? Does it make you feel happy? If the answer is no, consider scaling back your screen time or deleting apps that have a negative impact.
  • The artificial light from phones and laptops messes with the body’s internal clock and your ability to sleep. That’s why experts advise people to avoid screens before bed.
  • Every time we flick from one thing to another (as most of us do online), our brain adjusts. This can be tiring over an extended period and explains why you feel shattered after an hour on the couch scrolling.
  • Wrestle back control with apps like Serene and Freedom, which monitor your focus and block distracting apps and websites, or try the more radical options: SelfControl and Cold Turkey Blocker.
  • The kSafe is a time-lock safe that protects you from yourself. You set the timer and put your object of choice – be it a phone or gaming handset – into the heavy-duty container and lock it. The safe won’t unlock until the designated time.

From all of us here at Silverspring, thanks for reading.

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What to Do Before Renting Your Property to Family or Friends

 

Here are some questions you should ask yourself before renting your property to family or friends.

Do they need to sign a tenancy agreement?

Yes, yes, and yes again! They might be family, but they’re also your tenants and both parties need to know what is expected of them. For example, they might say they want to stay for 12 months but then leave after just six. Without a tenancy agreement, there’s nothing to stop them – putting your income at risk.

Should I take a deposit?

This is a personal decision that you need to make, as there’s no legal requirement for a landlord to take a deposit. However, it is a good way to protect your property and any contents from damage.

Similarly, by having a professional inventory carried out before they move in, both parties know the exact condition of the property and how it should be left.

Should I do a tenant reference check?

Asking family for personal finance details? It might make you feel awkward just thinking about it, but it’s an essential step of the rental process.

While you may think you know your family/friends’ financial background, it’s still worth making extra checks. Referencing will ensure that your potential tenant can pay the rent and highlight any issues with previous landlords.

Are there any legal issues I should be aware of if I rent to family/friends?

Not exactly, but renting to family/friends could cause problems if you have a mortgage. In fact, a lot of lenders are quite strict about this issue, and you may need to ask their permission before you move family in.

This is because the lender could be concerned that you’d charge family members less rent, or be more lenient if they didn’t pay – both of which could impact loan repayments.

Renting to friends or family can often be a great option, but it’s one you need to consider carefully and go into with your eyes wide open.

For more advice on anything and everything related to rental property in Leeds, call Silverspring today.