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Lifestyle Group 1

How to tell if your next home will be warm

The topic of staying warm at home has never been more pertinent. In the face of a cold winter and rising fuel prices, Ovo Energy – Britain’s third-biggest energy supplier – sent an email to its customers in January, containing ideas on how to stay warm.

Ovo’s advice was ridiculed in the press. The firm’s ‘simple and cost effective’ tips included cuddling your pets and loved ones to stay cosy, eating ‘hearty’ bowls of porridge and consuming ginger (but not chilli as that makes you sweat) and doing a few star jumps.

While the pointers were well-meaning, they aren’t very practical on a long-term basis. A better solution is to ensure your next property is as energy efficient as possible, allowing you to enjoy a warm home without resorting to a daily diet of Quaker oats.

EPC ratings are your best friend

If you are moving home soon and want to know if the property will retain heat, there are a few things you can look out for. The first is the EPC rating – which shows how energy efficient the property is. All dwellings, whether to rent or for sale, will be listed with an EPC rating – look out for the coloured bar graph on our property details.

Properties are given a letter to show how energy efficient they are – an A rating is the best and G is the lowest. Although properties for sale can have any EPC rating to be sold, landlords can only rent out properties that have an EPC rating of E or above. 

If a property’s current EPC is more than 10 years old – or if the home doesn’t have an EPC at all – an energy assessor will visit and look at certain aspects to decide how good its energy performance is. The heating system makes up the largest part of the EPC calculation, so a high rating is a good indicator that the property will be warm. Also taken into consideration by the assessor are windows, loft insulation and the external structure – all of which have an impact on how well heat is retained and cold air kept out.

Ask to see energy bills

While an EPC certificate will provide a guide to a home’s ability to generate heat and stay warm, seeing energy bills or smart meter readings from winter months will give you an idea of how heavily the current occupants rely on gas and electricity.

Energy bills are good for guidance but ensure you know if the property is heated using a gas-fired boiler or by electric storage heaters when interpreting the figures. In addition, bear in mind other energy usages outside of heating a home – lighting, powering electrical goods and cooking on a gas stove, for instance.

Be vigilant on viewings

If you are looking around a property between the months of November and March, there’s a good chance the heating system will be fired up when you arrive. Check the warmth coming from radiators and ask to see the boiler, noting the make and model. Don’t forget to ask about alternative sources of warmth, such as underfloor heating, electric towel rails, wood burning stoves, open fires and gas fireplaces. 

If you would like more information on EPC ratings and what to look out for when moving home, please contact us today.

Categories
Lifestyle Group 2

5 ways to know if a potential property will be warm

With the threat of rising gas and electricity prices, it’s no surprise that people are increasingly concerned about  energy efficiency. Heating your home and staying cosy once warmth is generated is very much a hot topic, pardon the pun, so Britain’s third biggest energy supplier – Ovo Energy – felt compelled to dish out some rather novel advice on staying warm at home this winter.

From eating bowls of porridge and performing a few star jumps to cosying up with your pet and leaving your oven door open once you’ve finished cooking, the company’s tips were mocked in the media and labelled unrealistic.

If you’re not happy with how your current property heats up and stays warm, moving to a new home represents a good chance to live somewhere more energy efficient. As well as resulting in lower energy bills and reducing your carbon footprint, a warmer home is the perfect solution if you haven’t got a cat to cuddle.

Here is our advice for home movers on the hunt for comfortable temperatures:-

  • Check a property’s EPC rating

If you’re looking for a home that offers a toasty living environment, take time to understand the EPC rating. An energy assessor will have evaluated the heating system, the windows and any insulation when calculating the rating, which is expressed as a letter. 

A well-performing home will have a better EPC rating – an A is the best classification with G being the worst. Every home we list has an EPC certificate, so ask us for the full details.

  • Read the full EPC report

As well as a certificate showing what letter rating the property has, read the energy assessor’s report. It will contain advice on where energy efficiency can be improved and from this, you’ll be able to deduce how well the property generates heat and where it’s being lost. If the assessor recommends better loft insulation, the addition of cavity wall insulation, upgrading single to double glazing, improving draught proofing and swapping to a condensing boiler or heat pump system, you’ll know the levels of warmth may be compromised.

  • Know when the property was built

All newly built homes have to meet minimum energy standards, so they will be the warmest around, but older homes – especially those that are listed or considered ‘period’ – may be harder to heat and more difficult to keep warm. Aspects such as ill-fitting wooden floorboards, open flues, ageing windows, gaps in the roof and a myriad of cracks formed over time will leave a home feeling chilly. The good news is these defects can be fixed.

  • Enquire about running costs

The current occupants are the best port of call if you want to know if a property is cold and how much is spent on making it warmer. Ask to see fuel bills or smart meter readings from the coldest months – January, February and March ideally. Although how cold a person can stand being at home is subjective, enquire about very heavy gas bills (or electricity bills if the property is fitted with storage heaters).

  • Conduct a smart viewing

There is no substitute for actually visiting a property you’d like to move to and if you’re going on a viewing in winter, you can feel for yourself how chilly a home is. It’s advisable to touch walls and floors with your hand – if they’re stone cold it could indicate the property is hard to heat. If the central heating is on, use caution to feel the radiators, noticing any unheated spots, as this could indicate the system needs attention. You can follow up your viewing with additional questions, asking about the age and type of boiler, how much loft insulation there is and details of the nature of glazing installed.

If you’d like help with EPCs and energy efficiency when moving home, please contact our team today.

Categories
Lifestyle Group 2

Purple reign! 6 ways to use Very Peri

After last year’s dual grey/yellow combination, the colour masters at Pantone have reverted to a single shade for 2022’s Colour of the Year. Introducing Very Peri – an uplifting shade of purple that was created especially for the year ahead.

Unlike other shades of purple, which are either classified as warm or cool, Very Peri is a mix of colder blues and violet reds, which makes it an easier shade to work with. That said, we appreciate that it may not be a hue you want to paint an entire room.

Using Very Peri as an accent colour is a flexible, low cost and more temporary way of embracing the latest colour trend in your home – especially if you are in rented accommodation and can’t make permanent changes. Here are 6 ideas to try:- 

  1. Say it with flowers…and a vase: one of the quickest ways to bring Very Peri into your home is with a bunch of flowers. Choose hyacinths, irises, hydrangeas and lisianthus for a heady mix of purples, or opt for an all-white selection of blooms displayed in this Dartington Crystal Vase in the amethyst colourway, stocked at John Lewis.
  2. Throw in the towels: add colour and a spa-like vibe to your bathroom with a new set of fluffy towels – neatly folded in a stack or placed over a heated towel rail. Marks & Spencer’s cotton rich towels in the colour violet are a great Very Peri match.
  3. Paint it purple: paint isn’t just for walls. Prepare your surface correctly and choose the right paint finish, and you can apply a coat to just about anything – photo frames, bedside cabinets and even terracotta pots. Try Dulux’s off-the-shelf shade Purple Pout, or its mixed-to-order shade Amethyst Showers 1.
  4. Colour up with candles: Very Peri’s likeness to a vibrant shade of lavender makes it easy to find purple-coloured candles. Many examples that are infused with the scent are often coloured purple too – such as these ribbed lavender-scented candles by Bolsius, stocked by Wayfair.
  5. Cast some shade: whether you have a table lamp, ceiling pendant or wall light, a change of shade can completely change a room’s look. Pooky has an amazing choice of shades designed to fit a variety of fittings. Opt for the empire shade in cobalt silk for a fantastic colour match.
  6. Blanket coverage: a blanket or throw is one of the most versatile home accessories you can buy. This super-soft dyed cashmere blanket in violet from Anthropologie will add Very Peri vibes when neatly folded at the end of a bed or draped over the arm of a sofa.

Over the years we have seen many different interior design schemes in our property visits, with varying degrees of success. If you would like to view our current crop of design-led homes – or would prefer your next property to be a project – please contact the team today.

Categories
Lifestyle Group 1

Very Peri: how will you use Pantone’s Colour of the Year 2022?

It may be best to stop reading now if you’re a fan of neutral design palettes, as home interiors are set to be full of Very Peri this year – Pantone’s Colour of the Year 2022. For the first time in its annual colour trend history, the company created a brand new shade that wasn’t already in its extensive catalogue.

Very Peri has been described as a ‘periwinkle shade of blue’ that also brings to mind fields of soft lavender and hyacinths in full bloom. Unusually for a colour that is arguably purple, the colour is a blend of cool blue tones and richer violet-reds. As a result, Very Peri is a warm shade that can be embraced in a variety of settings. 

If you are a fan of the colour but are struggling to imagine how you could use it in your home, here’s our room-by-room guide:

Living room: if you are worried about overpowering purple on your living room walls, stick to colour on accessories and textiles. Flashes of Very Peri can be introduced by adding scatter cushions, a rug, a lampshade or even a piece of art hung over a mantlepiece. 

Kitchen: despite its functional role, it’s still possible to bring the latest colour trends to where you cook. Look out for Very Peri themed ceramics, such as mugs, fruit bowls and ovenware, or make a more permanent change by retiling in purple – a colour that works well with white kitchen cabinetry.

Bedroom: if you would like to embrace Very Peri in a bolder way, a bedroom is a great place to start. Try bedlinen or a window blind for a dash of colour, or use the wall behind your bed as your focal point. A painted or wallpapered feature wall would look great.

Bathroom: white bathrooms suites can be perfectly paired with Very Peri as the blank canvas really makes any accessories stand out. As well as soft towels in a shade of Very Peri, look out for colour matched soaps, toiletries and candles that can be used to create a hotel-style display.

Exterior: kerb appeal is very underrated and a splash of colour can transform your front of house. If repainting your front door in Very Peri is a step too far, you can add an essence of the colour by opting for plant pots painted purple.

Garden: its periwinkle description shows how nature has inspired Very Peri; no wonder it’s easy to surround yourself with this shade by refreshing your planting scheme. Opt for lavender, nepeta, hydrangeas, liatris and veronica spicata, whose purple hues are a great match for Very Peri.

If your design ideas lead you to a new property, contact us for a list of the latest houses and apartments available.

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Sales Group 1

All you need to know about Japanese knotweed

There are a couple of phrases that strike fear into the hearts of property sellers – ‘serious subsidence’ and ‘negative equity’ being two of them. Another phrase you never want to hear is ‘Japanese knotweed’, but is having this invasive plant among your borders really a property death sentence?

Over the course of 2021, it is estimated that £11.8 billion was wiped off the value of UK property due to the presence of Japanese knotweed, with values taking a dip as soon as the plant is identified in a survey report or disclosed by the seller.

This figure, however dramatic it sounds, is a little misleading. Homeowners should be aware that only around 4% of UK properties are affected by Japanese knotweed and even when it is detected, it impacts the value of a property by about 5%. In many cases, a home’s full value is often achieved after an appropriate course of action is taken, despite the plant’s presence.

Even though the plant is found at less than 10% of UK properties, Japanese knotweed isn’t something that can be glossed over when it comes to selling a property. When you have decided to sell, you’ll be asked to fill out a Property Information Form (TA6). 

This form requires sellers to give detailed information about the property and the surrounding area. It is a legal requirement to disclose if the property is or has ever been affected by Japanese knotweed, as its presence can create or worsen cracks in mortar and structural joints, as well as push up through paved and concrete areas. 

It’s important that the ‘affected’ aspect is understood too, as sellers will need to divulge if they’ve ever had to treat the plant if it spread from a neighbouring property. It’s worth noting that a Japanese knotweed plant can be up to 7 metres away from your boundary and still need disclosing on a TA6 form.

Identifying Japanese knotweed (fallopian japonica) can be troublesome if you have no horticultural experience – it can look similar to other harmless plants but the RHS provides a good point of reference. If you’re in any doubt, it’s wise to revert to a specialist removal company for identification.

There is good news. Selling a property is entirely possible if there is Japanese knotweed. It really isn’t the barrier that some people imagine it can be. The vital aspect is to seek guarantee-backed treatment that mortgage lenders will accept. 

It is usually the seller who instructs a specialist Japanese knotweed removal company to excavate and remove the plant’s rhizomes. The plant is rarely eradicated for good through hand weeding or with the use of herbicides as the rhizomes will be buried deep underground. 

If a removal company offers an insurance-backed guarantee, lenders (sometimes referred to as knotweed IBG, a Japanese knotweed indemnity or a knotweed insurance-backed warranty), there’s a high chance a mortgage lender will loan against the property.

Don’t forget, the Japanese variety isn’t the only invasive knotweed out there. Dwarf, giant and bohemian are the other top three knotweeds buyers and sellers need to be on guard for. You can visit the Government’s web page dedicated to the prevention, treatment and disposal of knotweed for further details. 

If you are planning to sell a property where you suspect a case of Japanese knotweed, or are buying a property where the plant has been disclosed on the TA6 form, please contact us for advice and guidance

Categories
Sales Group 2

Japanese knotweed: 7 plant points to note

A report by Environet UK at the end of 2021 discovered that Japanese knotweed – a non-native and aggressive weed – had knocked an estimated £11.8 billion off the value of UK property. While it’s lush leaves and dainty white flowers may look attractive, its potential to scupper a transaction is something buyers and sellers need to be aware of.

Despite its bad reputation, identification and successful treatment of Japanese knotweed almost always result in favourable outcomes for sellers. Here are the 7 most important points you need to know when it comes to the plant:-

1. Even though Japanese knotweed is a well-known horticultural pest, only around 4% of UK properties actually have a problem with the plant. It is an invasive species that is classed as a weed but it’s not illegal to let it grow in your garden.

2. When you sell a property affected by Japanese knotweed, this must – by law – be disclosed on the Property Information Form (TA6). Disclosure also pertains to Japanese knotweed that has spread from a neighbouring property or from surrounding land – any plant within 7 metres of the property’s boundary must be mentioned.

3. Some lenders won’t approve a mortgage on a property where there is Japanese knotweed as it represents a threat to the structure of the building. Its roots and rhizomes can damage drainage systems, foundations and walls – harming a home’s current and future value, and potentially making it unsellable in the future.

4. If you suspect Japanese knotweed, you will need to instruct a Property Care Association (PCA) approved surveyor, who will assess the plant and its posed risk. They will grade the problem using a categorisation system set out by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors – a system widely used by mortgage lenders to assess risk.

5. Eradicating Japanese knotweed needs the involvement of a specialist company. The plant’s rhizomes are buried very deep in the ground and simply pulling out what’s above ground is very rarely enough – the stems merely snap and the plant regrows quickly, sprouting up to a metre a week in spring. There are also strict laws governing the disposal of Japanese knotweed, set out by The Environment Agency.

6. Japanese knotweed doesn’t always have a detrimental effect on a property’s value. Reports suggest the plant can reduce a home’s value by around 5% but in cases where there has been a successful insurance-backed treatment (see below), the full market sales value is often achieved.

7. It is essential that any eradication work is carried out by a specialist Japanese knotweed contractor that offers an insurance-backed treatment plan accepted by mortgage lenders (also known as knotweed IBG, Japanese knotweed indemnity or knotweed insurance-backed warranty). With this in place, mortgages on properties that have Japanese knotweed are usually granted, although the lender will usually want the treatment finished before completion takes place, and it may also require a larger deposit.

If you have any questions about Japanese knotweed – as a buyer or a seller – please call us for guidance.

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Lettings Group 1

Your guide to damp and mould in rented properties

Winter presents the ‘perfect storm’ of conditions that can trigger episodes of damp, mould and condensation. While it can be concerning to see black patches develop or water running down the walls, many issues are easily fixed. Knowing who is responsible for prevention and treatment in rented properties is the essential place to start, as our guide explains. 

Know what damp you’re dealing with

There are three main types of damp and knowing the difference will establish the course of treatment and by whom. Rising damp is when moisture below a building is drawn up through bricks and mortar, and it’s this moisture that encourages mould growth. A lack of a damp course – or a damp course that’s failing – are the most common reasons for rising damp, and this issue needs resolving by the landlord.

The landlord is also responsible for rectifying penetrating damp, which is a result of failing structures, such as broken guttering or a  leaky downpipe. It’s important to note that while a landlord is responsible for repairs involving rising and penetrating damp, tenants should alert their landlord or managing agent if they notice blocked gutters, peeling wallpaper or bubbling paintwork – especially if it’s occurring on the interior surface of an outside wall.

The third type of damp – ambient damp – is the most common and reducing it is a shared responsibility between the tenant and the landlord. Damp and mould are most frequently caused by condensation – warm, moist air that turns into water droplets when it meets colder surfaces. Many everyday actions produce condensation – from taking a shower and drying wet washing inside, to boiling a kettle and even having a conversation. 

Prevention and cure

If there is a suspicion of rising or penetrating damp, a specialist company may need to be deployed by the landlord to find the root cause and undertake repairs. Cosmetic redecorating will also be the responsibility of the landlord, unless agreed otherwise.

Condensation is a trickier issue as improving insulation standards in let properties can actually contribute to increased condensation, unless well mitigated, as homes are now more airtight with fewer cracks and gaps where air can naturally escape or enter. 

We know asking tenants not to breathe or bathe simply isn’t possible so ventilation is crucial, especially when cooking, showering and drying clothes inside. Windows should be open or kept ajar whenever safely possible to let moist air escape and extractor fans should be installed in rooms susceptible to high humidity – bathrooms, kitchens and utility rooms as a minimum. 

On the note of wet washing, this can be a hard aspect to tackle in flats, especially those without balconies or outside drying options. In these cases, a condensing tumble dryer or a dehumidifier is something to consider.

As well as ventilation, a steady, even temperature throughout a property is a useful tool in the fight against condensation. Avoid letting a property get too cold inside by keeping the central heating on low – warm air of around 18° and warm surfaces are what you ideally need to stop condensation forming. 

Everyday actions to prevent condensation, damp & mould

Small lifestyle tweaks can make a big difference around the home, so here are eight to encourage:

  1.     Keep lids on saucepans when cooking
  2.     Keep the bathroom door shut when bathing
  3.     Open a window in any room where washing is drying
  4.     Wipe condensation off window sills promptly
  5.     Move furniture away from outside walls to improve air circulation
  6.     Boil only enough water required to cut a kettle’s boiling duration
  7.     Air a property on a regular basis by opening as many windows as safely possible
  8.     Use anti-mould and condensation paint when decorating

If you would like more information about mould and damp in lieu of Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 in England, please contact us today.

Categories
Lettings Group 2

Your damp & mould questions answered

Damp and mould are not glamorous topics but some of our most frequently asked questions involve humidity, condensation and unsightly black patches. As landlord responsibilities are bound in legislation and compliance, including the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 and the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), it is imperative those involved in lettings understand how damp and mould issues are tackled. 

Here are the answers to the most common damp and mould questions:

What is damp?

Damp is a broad term for the presence of water, moisture and condensation within a property. There are three main types of damp. Rising damp is when moisture is drawn from the ground up through a property’s bricks and mortar, while penetrating damp is a result of a structural defect – such as a cracked chimney stack or broken gutter. Ambient damp is usually attributed to condensation and is a by-product of everyday lifestyles inside. 

What produces condensation?

Condensation is when warm air full of water vapour comes into contact with cool surfaces. In the home, this can be the steam from a hot shower settling on a cold mirror, or a kitchen window fogging up when boiling a pan of water. Having a conversation, breathing in our sleep, houseplants and wet washing drying inside also create condensation.

What is mould?

Mould is a microscopic fungus that grows best in damp and poorly ventilated areas – it’s what you see if there’s a black-green, mottled stain on a wall or window sill. As well as being unsightly and damaging to surfaces, the presence of mould and its spores can create or worsen respiratory health issues.

Who is responsible for preventing & treating damp in rented properties?

Prevention is definitely a shared responsibility but it is usually the responsibility of the landlord to provide the cure. In the case of rising and penetrating damp, a structural fault is usually to blame. It falls to the landlord to solve the issue and make repairs under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

It is wise, however, for tenants to let landlords or their property manager know if they see the first tell-tale signs of damp or mould, such as peeling wallpaper, bubbling paint, black speckles or water droplets – especially if these are on the interior surfaces of outside walls. In fact, a tenancy agreement may stipulate that it’s a tenant’s responsibility to flag up issues early.

Ambient damp needs a team effort. A tenant should take measures to reduce the amount of condensation they produce in their property by making lifestyle changes, while landlords should create an environment where warm, humid air can easily escape.

Are there any condensation, damp & mould prevention tricks?

For tenants, this could be: line drying washing outside or using a condensing tumble dryer; ensuring the inside temperature in winter is kept steady throughout the property at around 18°; ventilating the property by opening windows whenever safe to do so, and keeping steam confined to one room by shutting the bathroom or kitchen door.

A landlord can also play their part by ensuring there are extractor fans in all high humidity areas; using specialist anti-mould and condensation products in kitchens and bathrooms; ensuring replacement windows have trickle vents installed, and making sure windows have locking safety latches so they can be left securely ajar for ventilation. 

Nip small issues in the bud

Professional inventories and scheduled inspections commissioned by a letting agent are two other ways of ensuring instances of damp and mould are recorded, tracked and attributed. Often small lifestyle changes or the installation of extractor fans are enough to reduce condensation to acceptable levels. If you’d like more advice on the matter, get in touch with our team.

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Lettings Group 2

The pros and cons of longer tenancy lengths

Results of the latest English Housing Survey (EHS) have brought the issue of long-length tenancies back into the spotlight. While the idea of making 3-year tenancies mandatory was abandoned by the Government in 2019, following an extensive consultation, the survey results have highlighted how renters are choosing to stay in the same rental property for extended periods.

The EHS found the new average stay in a privately rented property is now 4.3 years – surpassing the three-year benchmark that was widely rejected as a mandatory term. It’s a trend that has been building for a number of years, with the average tenancy length rising from 3.9 years in 2016/17 and 4.1 years in 2017/18.

The findings may prompt more landlords to consider offering longer-term tenancies but there are pros and cons to weigh up when it comes to offering rental agreements of more than 12 months. Here’s our quick-read considerations guide but for tailored advice, please contact our lettings team.

Pros:

  • Void periods are reduced: any void is a drain on finances so reducing the number of times you have to find new tenants – a process that may potentially leave a let empty for a week or two – is a good thing. A long-term tenant also ensures rent is always hitting your bank account every month.
  • You’ll generate a ‘hands off’ investment: long-term tenants are a great option for landlords who like as little involvement in their buy-to-let as possible. There’s less worry about renewing tenancies, finding new renters, check ins, inventories and check out, plus landlords who opt for a fully managed package can really sit back and enjoy the rewards.
  • Tenants will reward you with respect: tenants who feel secure in their rental generally feel more positive about the experience. They will be keen to create a home they can settle in, and anecdotal evidence suggests they look after the property better and forge good relationships with the landlord or property manager.

Cons: 

  • Regaining possession may be harder: currently, landlords can serve a Section 21 ‘no fault’ eviction notice after a fixed term tenancy ends. If the agreement is only for 6 or 12 months, regaining possession doesn’t pose too much of a problem. If the agreement length is two or three years, landlords may have to wait an untenable amount of time. One workaround is to insert a break clause into long-term agreements – something we can organise on behalf of landlords.  
  • You’ll have to trust your tenants: when the same people live in your let for 2 or 3 years, you’ll have to trust that they’ll take care of the property and pay the rent on time, especially if the eviction process will favour the tenants more in the near future. Referencing carried out by a letting agent is the best line of defence. It will uncover an applicant’s past renting behaviour and reveal their financial situation, allowing the most trustworthy tenants to be chosen.
  • Rent reviews will need careful planning: it’s a wide-held but unwritten rule that landlords reward long-term tenants with fair rents that aren’t hiked up overnight. If you’re used to raising the rent every time new tenants sign up – perhaps as often as every 6 months – you’ll need to plan a rent rise strategy before you move in long-term tenants. Always consult with a letting agent and consider writing any plans into the tenancy agreement. 

Speak to us about setting the right tenancy agreement length for your property, your target tenant and the current lettings market. We will create the perfect tenancy agreement that factors in break clauses, rent rises and notice periods.

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Lettings Group 1

Tenants: in it for the long haul

Despite the common rhetoric that renting is great for flexible living and flighty lifestyles, the latest English Housing Survey (EHS) – which represents the biggest and most representative dataset for the private rented sector – showed that average tenancy lengths are rising.

The average stay in a rented property is now 4.3 years. This is up from 4.1 years detailed in the 2017/18 EHS, and up from 3.9 years in the 2016/17 version of the report. The findings also reveal that tenancy length increases with age. Renters aged 75 and over were found to have an average tenancy length of 17.5 years, which puts their tenure on a par with owner occupiers. Those aged 45 to 64 were found to live in one property for an average of 5.7 years, while those in the 16 to 24 age group stayed the shortest time – an average of 1.3 years.

The figures come at a time when the Government looks set to publish its Renters Reform Bill white paper – a document that seeks to shake up England’s private rental sector in favour of creating secure long-term tenancies. While the white paper mentions lifetime deposits and a ban on Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions, it stops short of introducing mandatory 3-year tenancies – a move it consulted on in 2017.

That doesn’t mean to say that the notion of long-term tenancies is abandoned or is a bad idea. On the contrary. For many landlords, the thought of a regular tenant is an appealing one, especially if they pay the rent on time and look after the property. There is always the option to set longer tenancies at the start, rather than keep renewing the same tenancy after 6 or 12 months.

Agreeing a tenancy length of 2 or 3 years will reduce the ‘churn’ of renters and eliminate void periods. Longer tenancy lengths can also save landlords money, as there are fewer tenant-find, inventory and check-out costs to pay. In addition, well-managed, long-term tenants are a great way to earn passive income – especially when a property manager takes on the day-to-day running of the tenancy.

Creating a tenancy agreement of more than 12 months does, however, need a well-planned approach. Choosing to have the agreement professionally drawn up and the tenancy managed by an agent is the safest way to ensure everyone enjoys maximum protection. This is especially pertinent for landlords in light of forecast changes to the evictions process, of which we can explain more when you get in touch.

Three essential considerations for long-term tenancies:

  1. Evaluate risks at the referencing stage: when agreeing to a longer tenancy, it is imperative that the very best tenants are placed in the property. Referencing will identify those who have good credit histories and are in secure employment. Crucially, references will reveal if applicants have been model tenants when renting before.
  2. Ask for a break clause to be added to the agreement: if the security of a long term tenant appeals and makes you nervous in equal measure, ensure there is a ‘break clause’ inserted into the tenancy agreement. A break clause gives the landlord, or the tenant, the right to end the tenancy before the fixed-term period ends.
  3. Ensure inspections are carried out regularly: it’s easy to cultivate a false sense of security when you have long-term tenants who pay the rent promptly. Knowing how your buy-to-let is being treated over the years is imperative to protect the property’s value and to catch small niggles before they turn into major problems.

We can help landlords plan for their buy-to-let’s future, advising on the best tenancy duration based on individual aims and circumstances. Get in touch with us today.