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Letting Your Property: Getting Started – Some Things Landlords Need to Know

Becoming a Landlord for the first time is always a daunting experience. To help you prepare for Tenants letting your property here are some practice things you will need to know.

As an overview UK Landlords have a number of responsibilities, to include:

  • repairs to the structure and exterior of the property
  • repairs to heating and hot water installations
  • repairs to sinks, baths and other sanitary installations
  • safety of gas and electrical appliances that you supply
  • fire safety of furniture and furnishings that you supply
  • provision of an Energy Performance Certificate for the property
  • protection of your Tenant’s deposit in a government-approved scheme

Consent to Lease

It may be a purpose buy-to-let investment property or it may be your own home. Either way as the owner of this property if your current mortgage is a residential contract you will need to contact your lender and ask permission for the lender to “consent to lease“. Most lenders will happily agree to this, but some may ask for conditions to be attached. Failure to do this is a breach of your mortgage terms and conditions and could lead to the lender terminating your agreement.

Type of Property

Your Landlord obligations can vary depending on the type of property you are letting. In particular if you are letting rooms or flats within a single property this may be considered a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). This being the case you may need to apply for a licence. Regardless of the type of property as a Landlord you must keep your rented properties safe and free from health hazards and comply with all relevant health and safety requirements.

Health and Safety

Gas Safety Certificates are required by law and must be annually re-certified. All gas appliances within the property must be tested and approved by a gas safety registered engineer – formerly Corgi. This is to ensure that no appliances or heaters are leaking carbon monoxide, which is undetectable in the environment of the home. This is critically important as tragic results can occur and you as a Landlord would be liable. You should keep inspection records for at least two years and give copies of the reports to your existing Tenants within 28 days of each check. You should also give copies to new Tenants before they move in. Failure to obtain a Gas Safety Certificate at its extreme may result in loss of life, prosecution, an unlimited fine and imprisonment.

Landlords are also responsible for the safety of electrical appliances. A qualified electrician can provide the required tests. At the beginning of each new tenancy, you should ensure that electrical installations are safe and well maintained. Any electrical appliances you supply to Tenants (cookers, toasters, kettles etc) should be safe for them to use. As a Landlord you should carry out regular inspections of fixed electrical installations every five years. You should also arrange, at least once a year, for a qualified electrician to carry out portable appliance testing (PAT); a safety test on all portable electrical equipment you provide for Tenants, such as kettles. The PAT tester will give you a dated certificate and put stickers on the plugs of appliances to show that they are safe.

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are required by law when any residential or commercial property is either sold or rented. An EPC provides information on a building’s energy efficiency shown on a sliding scale from ‘A’ (very efficient) to ‘G’ (least efficient). The EPC also contains a recommendations report showing how you could improve the rating and make the property more attractive to Tenants. The EPC is valid for ten years and can be used for all new Tenants in that period.

Depending on the age and type of your property it may be a legal requirement to have smoke alarms fitted. In the case of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) for example, there is a requirement for Landlords to supply a mains operated interlinked smoke alarm system. In the case of older single family rental properties, technically there is no legal requirement for Landlords to provide a smoke alarm. However, it is strongly recommended that Landlords do provide at least a battery operated smoke alarm or alarms in their rented properties. Where Landlords do provide battery operated smoke alarms they should have a clause in the agreement making it clear that it is the Tenant’s responsibility to check their operation and replace the batteries as and when necessary.

Some companies can provide both EPC’s and Gas Certificates.

Marketing your property to find Tenants

Deciding on the rental income you think the property can achieve can be done by looking at similar properties for rent in your area or looking on-line at property listing sites. You may wish to engage a traditional letting agent who will value and market the property for you. More Landlords these days are turning to online letting agents to find Tenants for them, because they offer tremendous value for money in comparison to traditional agents. Of course the Landlord has to take on a bit more work, but all services from managing a property to inventory check-ins can be arranged through online agents at very competitive rates.

Viewings can be done by an agent or by the Landlord. The advantage of this is that you actually get to meet the Tenants in person and this can provide re-assurance and peace of mind. Some agents offer a virtual viewing service where they will attend your property, make a short video of the key features and post the video in a YouTube style format on their site. Tenants can then view your property at any time from the comfort of their own computer.

Tenancy Agreements

It is now much easier to deal with all the legal aspects of letting with a lot of good free advice for Landlords on the Internet, in particular direct.gov.uk. A tenancy agreement is a property rental agreement, which is a legal agreement in writing that sets out the rights and responsibilities of both Landlord and Tenant in a contract. Landlords can either pay for a solicitor, estate or letting agent to draft a tenancy agreement, although it is possible to obtain free tenancy agreements and do them yourself. A tenancy agreement as a minimum should include:

  • the names of all people involved
  • the rental price
  • the deposit amount and how it will be protected
  • the property address
  • the start and end date of the tenancy
  • any Tenant or Landlord obligations
  • which bills the Tenant is responsible for
  • how to pay the rent
  • whether the tenancy can be ended early and how this can be done
  • who is responsible for minor repairs
  • whether the property can be let to someone else (sublet) or have lodgers

Tenant Deposit Scheme

Deposits by law have to be registered with an appropriate holding scheme or indemnity scheme within 14 days of the tenancy commencing. This is a legal responsibility for the Landlord. The Tenancy Deposit Scheme is free to use and offers very comprehensive dispute mediation if this should occur.

Tenant Credit Check

As a Landlord you will want to make sure that Tenants can pay their bills. The best indicator to find out if Tenants are financially able to pay their rent is to obtain an assessment of their credit rating. Agents can do this as well as facilitating bank references, employment references and personnel references, although the best assessment will be a credit check report.

Inventories

It is strongly recommended that Inventory check-ins and check-outs are done. Another top tip is to have the property professionally cleaned before the Tenant moves in and they can pay to also have it professionally cleaned when they move out. This tends to avoid any disagreement over how clean the property is expected to be.

Full Property Management

You may want to manage the property yourself, but you may wish for this to be done by a third party. Full property management services can be responsible for monthly rent collections and any maintenance or repairs that may be required during the tenancy. This is especially helpful if the Landlord lives a long distance from the property or is abroad.

Ending a tenancy

Landlords can end an assured shorthold tenancy at any time usually after six months, but so as long as any agreed fixed term has ended. There is usually a two months’ written notice period for the Tenant of the date you want the tenancy to end.

If a tenant refuses to leave, you cannot evict them yourself, but you can apply to the county court for an order to get your property back. If you have a written tenancy agreement and you have given the tenant notice in writing that you are seeking possession, you can use an accelerated possession procedure, which avoids the need for a court hearing.

Access to your property

Remember that if at any time you need to visit your property then the usual requirement is to give the Tenant at least 24 hours notice. Landlords have no legal right to immediate entry unless there is an urgent necessity to do so, for example a flood or a fire. The key here for positive Landlord and Tenant relations is good, clear communication between the two parties. This will often prevent misunderstandings and lead to a successful rental of your home.

How to Start a Lifestyle Business?

Has it ever crossed your mind what actually constitutes a lifestyle business? Many people normally dream of a lifestyle but lack the true understanding or have a concrete plan. This is a very important subject because there many people join network marketing businesses with dreams of fancy lifestyles but with absolutely no understanding of what it actually takes in order to succeed in this business.

In fact, most people are lured to become members after seeing a slick presentation or being persuaded by friends or family member without the slightest idea of what they are getting into. This is why they get disillusioned when they do not notice tangible results for their efforts.

Cash Flow

Cash flow is one of the most important aspect of any lifestyle business. It is cash flow that pays your bills and determines your lifestyle. If you have huge cash flow your business will definitely thrive. On the other hand, if you lack cash flow, your business will most probably collapse.

Digital Products

Traditional network marketing companies selling physical products only give out 5% to 21% commissions depending upon the achievement level of an affiliate. Digital products companies selling information and entertainment products give out as much as 50% to 100% of their profits to affiliates. They can afford such high commissions simply because after their initial development they do not incur any additional costs e.g. manufacturing, distribution or warehousing costs. Importantly digital products can be delivered instantaneously which is an important criteria in today’s instant gratification world.

Digital products can also be sold to clients anywhere across the globe. With digital products the entire world becomes your oyster while in the case of physical products, companies have to seek local government approvals to set up infrastructure e.g. warehouses and distribution channels prior to finally launching their products into the market.

In case of a physical product network marketing company, whenever any country opens up for business you are forced to travel and physically launch the product in that country. This process requires a lot of effort, time and is very expensive.

Most physical products have safety issues and need to be demonstrated to new clients and affiliates for proper usage. This is a time consuming process as the training new affiliates is real hard work. The above reason explains why not a single product company will encourage affiliates using a blog or website for marketing the business due to fear of product misrepresentation.

Traditional network marketing companies only allow you to promote the company’s affiliate website which takes the sting off your e-commerce marketing effort as thousands of other affiliates are also promoting the same website hence significantly reducing your chances of ever standing out from the crowd.

Remember, digital products have no safety issues hence most internet based companies understand and encourage e-commerce and help you with global marketing.

The basis of a lifestyle business lies in selling digital products that pay higher commissions, have global markets open instantaneously and the business operations can be automated.

Retention Rates

Retention of affiliates is another important aspect of network marketing. It is pointless to join a company with very poor affiliate retention rate. This is because your hard work will go to waste if large number of affiliates drop out from the business. It is impossible to have a lifestyle business with a low affiliate retention rate.

Physical product companies have an average retention rate of approximately 8%. In case you are an outstanding leader with a great training program then chances are your retention rate will increase around 10% to 15%. These are industry standards.

Building a network with high attrition rate requires extreme hard work and persistence. If you wish to earning a lifestyle income through network marketing then your retention will have to be closer to 100%. Also ensure that your business is sticky to avoid having affiliates dropping out. This is only possible if affiliates start making money within couple of weeks if not month of joining the business opportunity. It is obvious that no one will drop out of your organization especially when they start seeing cash flow and profits from their business.

Profit Sharing Model

Innovative companies are offering profit shares in order to improve retention rate of affiliates. Profit sharing helps new affiliates earn money even if they don’t sponsor anyone. What’s more, once a new affiliate makes money it becomes much easier for that person to refer and sponsor more people into the business.

100% Commissions

This is another business model that works perfectly with lifestyle business model. Believe it or not some innovative companies are offering 100% commissions on sale of their products. By simply making a single sale affiliates are able to recover their initial investments and with their second sale they are in profit.

Residual Income

The business that you choose to join must guarantee you steady cash flow and also build residual income if you are to create a sustained life style. Remember, smart businesses are those which not only create cash flow but also guarantee quick residual income.

Leverage

Applying leverage can help reduce your time and effort consequently making a lifestyle business possible. Without leverage you will not be able to enjoy your wealth or have free time to pursue other dreams. To have leverage you’ll need to have technology and business systems. Every successful business has proper systems put in place. Systems give you the leverage to enjoy lifestyle business.

Simplicity

The business you join must embrace the principle of simplicity. The business may be complex but it should be easy to operate on a day to day basis. This is actually the reason why McDonald franchises are so successful. It’s because of simplicity. A business should be designed by a genius to be run by ordinary folks.

The Right Team

Joining the right network marketing team is the highest leverage you can apply in your business. This is because a professional team gives you support, training and the necessary systems for not only you to succeed but also the prospects you sponsor into your business.

Pre-Departure Travel Planning

Make sure you’re healthy before you start traveling. If you’re embarking on a long trip, make sure your teeth are OK. If you wear glasses or contact lenses take a spare pair and your prescription. If you require a particular medication take an adequate supply, as it may not be available locally. Take the prescription or, better still, part of the packaging showing the generic rather than the brand name (which may not be locally available), as it will make getting replacements easier. It’s wise to have a legible prescription or a letter from your doctor with you to prove that you legally use the medication to avoid any problems.

Health Insurance:

A travel-insurance policy to cover theft, loss and medical problems is a wise idea. There is a wide variety of policies available and your travel agent will be able to make recommendations. The international student-travel policies handled by Harvey World Travel and other travel organizations are usually good value. Some policies offer lower and higher medical-expense options but the higher ones are chiefly for countries like the USA which have extremely high medical costs. Check the small print. Some policies specifically exclude ‘dangerous activities’, including scuba diving, motorcycling and even trekking. If such activities are on your agenda then you don’t want that sort of policy. A locally acquired motorcycle license may not be valid under your policy.

You may prefer a policy which pays doctors or hospitals direct rather than you having to pay on the spot and claim later. If you have to claim later make sure you keep all documentation. Some policies ask you to call back (reverse charges) to a centre in your home country where an immediate assessment of your problem is made.

Check if the policy covers ambulances or an emergency flight home.

Medical Kit:

It is sensible to carry a small, straightforward medical kit. A kit should include:

Aspirin or paracetamol (acetaminophen in the US) – for pain or fever.

Antihistamine (such as Benadryl) – useful as a decongestant for colds and allergies, to ease the itch from insect bites or stings and to help prevent motion sickness. There are several antihistamines on the market, all with different pros and cons (eg a tendency to cause drowsiness), so it’s worth discussing your requirements with a pharmacist or doctor. Antihistamines may cause sedation and interact with alcohol so care should be taken when using them.

Antibiotics – useful if you’re traveling well off the beaten track, but they must be prescribed and you should carry the prescription with you.

Loperamide (eg Imodium) or Lomotil for diarrhoea; prochlorperazine (eg Stemetil) or metaclopramide (eg Maxalon) for nausea and vomiting.

Rehydration mixture – for treatment of severe diarrhoea; this is particularly important if traveling with children.

Antiseptic such as povidone – iodine (eg Betadine) for cuts and grazes.

Multivitamins – especially for long trips when dietary vitamin intake may be inadequate.

Calamine lotion or aluminum sulphate spray (eg Stingose spray) to ease irritation from bites and stings.

Bandages and Band-aids – for minor injuries.

Scissors, tweezers and a thermometer (note that mercury thermometers are prohibited by airlines).

Insect repellent, sunscreen, chap stick and water purification tablets.

Cold and flu tablets and throat lozenges. Pseudoephedrine hydrochloride (Sudafed) may be useful if flying with a cold to avoid ear damage.

A couple of syringes and needles, in case you need injections in a country with medical hygiene problems. Ask your doctor for a note explaining why they have been prescribed.

Immunizations:

For some countries no immunizations are necessary, but the further off the beaten track you go the more necessary it is to take precautions. Be aware that there is often a greater risk of disease with children and in pregnancy. Leave plenty of time to get your vaccinations before you set off: some of them require an initial shot followed by a booster, and some vaccinations should not be given together. It is recommended you seek medical advice at least six weeks prior to travel.

Record all vaccinations on a International Health Certificate, which is available from your physician or government health department.

Online Education Degree – How Can Getting an Online Degree Change Your Life?

Are you a professional yearning to go back to school for further learning and just cannot get the time? Education is never wasted you know but your family obligations, work and other pressures of life cannot just allow you enough time to ever go back and acquire that elusive degree that you know you are capable of getting if only you had the time. How frustrating but is it a dead end? I say no because it is precisely with you in mind that online degrees for education exist. This is surely the key to your problem.

How will this degree change your life? A good education is always beneficial regardless of where you are and so an online education degree would ensure you remain gainfully employed and in line for a bigger salary and promotion. So many have improved their lives by going back to school online and gotten their education degrees online. This is of course a degree where program where you don’t need to go to class and attend lectures, all the learning and assignments are carried out online which saves you a lot of time and allows you to do all the other things that may be occupying your time.

Education degrees can now be found in several areas and at all levels from bachelors to doctorate degrees in a large variety of fields like adult education, teaching to name a few. Therefore, with such facilities, it is inexcusable for one to be stuck because of lack of a degree. If this is your situation, don’t waste any more time, choose a course and register for an online education degree and your chances in life will improve tenfold. Ensure however, you are dealing with an accredited college as not all online degrees recognized universally but the “stigma” so long held about online education is now slowly fading and they are gaining wide acceptance worldwide because even major colleges now offer online education.