How to decorate your rental property

Decorating for Landlords

Guest blog by Nicky Percival, Interior Designer

Creating homeliness for everyone

Decorating a rental property is not like decorating your own home. Whilst home renovation is all about individuality and creating a space that reflects your personality, decorating for rentals is about creating homeliness that suits everyone.  On top of that, this homeliness needs to be hardwearing and cost-efficient.  

Depending on the market and the number of properties in the portfolio, landlords must decide to whether to spend on good quality for longevity or pay less for cheap and cheerful, knowing that certain furnishings may have to be replaced regularly.

Flooring

We Brits have an obsession with fitted carpets, we think they bring cosiness and warmth in a way that our continental neighbours do not.  Being practical for rentals is key. Wood or porcelain (or laminate, if on a budget) for hard working areas – kitchens, bathrooms and hallways, is a must. Darker options are better than light and are both easier to clean and more durable.  I would recommend carpets only for bedrooms, and choose wisely – mid tone or small pattern, so marks show less easily.

Walls

Think neutral, but no ‘builders magnolia’ please!  Pale neutrals give an illusion of space.  White can work well in bigger properties but may seem cold and utilitarian in others.  All shades of grey have been more fashionable recently.  A soft warm taupe is also a good option. Use water-resistant eggshell or acrylic paint in the kitchen and bathrooms.  If you have more than one property, consider keeping to the same palette, so that spare tins of paint work for all.  All woodwork should be white for ease and a streamlined look.

Bathrooms

White chinaware is a must, set against a coloured backdrop.  Simple tiling in limestone or travertine style is very effective, but remember that white tiles and grout can look tired very quickly.  Use similar tiling on the floor and consider tiling floor-to-ceiling for a homogeneous, clean, lined look.  Fit the shower over the bath, rather than separately, to save space.  Choose an electric shower, so that your tenants will still be able to take a hot shower even if there is a problem with the boiler.  Have a separate loo if possible, so there is less of an emergency if one breaks.

Kitchens

When renovating, it is not necessary to strip out and start from scratch.  Consider replacing cabinet doors and worktops.  Make sure there is plenty of storage, good lighting and a workable layout. Worktops need to be as tough as possible.  Use quartz if the budget allows and have upstands and a splashback to protect walls. Appliances do not need to be integrated, although this does give a smart, clean, lined look.  Freestanding appliances are easier to access for repair.  Be clever with storage solutions and make sure everything is clean and fresh.  Kitchens and bathrooms are the most important rooms.

Furnishings

Avoid furnishing rentals unless they are HMOs or holiday lets, which are not being covered here.  Tenants who bring their own furniture and make their rental their home will look after it better and stay longer.  Dress the windows. These should be simple, practical and durable.  Blackout roller blinds in bedrooms and venetian blinds or shutters in other rooms.  Pair these with simple poles and readymade curtains.  Well fitted, good quality door furniture is key to making the property seem well-appointment and well-maintained. This will help it to appear homely and complete.

Nicky Percival, Interior Designer

https://www.nickypercival.co.uk/

https://www.instagram.com/nickypercivalinteriordesign/

Carlean Promise: What does it mean?

Carlean Promise – to look after your property properly

Many companies have a promise. They proudly promote this on their website and talk about it when they meet new customers. However, in my experience, once the customer has signed on the dotted line, the promise and the behaviour and standards around it, seem to be forgotten.

A promise should run deep

For me, when I make a promise, I believe that it should stand for more than a verbal nicety or marketing jargon. It should run deep within the heart of the organisation, underpinning and shaping the very heart of the business.

A promise should uphold values and standards

The values a company’s promise stands for should shape the behaviour, language and approach of the company, right through from answering the phone, to dealing with suppliers as well as clients and customers.

A promise is a commitment

A true promise defines the standards you expect to deliver and, therefore, in turn, sets expectations in the mind of your client or customer. Failure to define accurately, to over-promise or failure to deliver will result in a negative opinion towards your company.

In addition, your promise is a commitment to a standard of behaviour and attitude all of the time, not just on the good days.

An authentic promise is rooted in purpose

At Carlean, we have made a promise to our clients which is firmly rooted in the reasons why I set up Carlean Lettings 10 years ago.

I had what can only be described as the worst experience with the letting agent who was managing my first buy-to-let property. Despite leaving me with a devastated apartment, months of unpaid bills, a court summons and an absent tenant, I was still expected to pay the agency fees.  I was a new landlord, finding my feet in the rental market and this was my first experience! 

A promise to manage properties in my care properly

My mission and purpose from that point forward was to set up an agency that would do things differently. Starting with providing the very best service and being open and transparent with fees and charges. Fulfilling all the legal and financial obligations was an absolute given, along with managing all properties in my charge with the same commitment and dedication I gave to managing my own.   

A commitment to the future

I am grateful to have won several awards over the years and my client testimonials prove that I am running my business in a way which is true to my promise. I remain as committed as ever to continuing to do things differently and to managing your property properly.

 

The Carlean Promise

 We promise that we will always do our very best to provide you and your tenants with exceptional service.

Our fees will be fair and transparent, we will ensure that your tenancy is legally compliant, and that your deposit and rent will always be held in our segregated client account.

When you or your tenant call, we WILL know who you are.

We will keep in touch with your tenant, visit regularly and report back to you.

But most importantly, we are landlords ourselves, we know what landlords want and we know how to manage your property to award-winning standards.

 

If you are a landlord and would like to find out what makes us different, please get in touch. 

Renting Out Your Property, A Starter Checklist For Landlords

A Starter Checklist For Landlords…

If you own a property which you are planning on renting out, with or without the assistance of a letting agency, there are several considerations worth bearing in mind, so I thought it might be worthwhile to put together a 10-point checklist…nt 24 hours’ notice of this.

1. Furnished or not?

Before you do anything else, you should probably decide whether you are going to let your property furnished, part-furnished or unfurnished.  Any of the above are fine, but if you are going to be advertising the property using photographs, you will need to first remove any furniture which won’t be there when the tenants move in.  At Carlean Lettings, we have a mixture of furnished and unfurnished properties but if you are going to furnish, you must ensure that all of your furnishings meet current safety regulations.

2. Is it clean?

Maybe it sounds obvious, but nobody wants to move into a dirty property.  I would recommend having a professional deep-clean done before you embark on your search for the right tenant.  I would also advise paying for a professional clean of the oven – you do it once, then advise your tenants that it has been professionally cleaned, provide proof of this and let them know that they are expected to have it professionally cleaned when they vacate – they can arrange it themselves or agree to the cost being deducted from their deposit.

3. Advertising

Where/how will you advertise it? Most people, whether renting or buying, do their initial property searches online, so you may want to consider using one of the online property portals.  If you do this, you will need a selection of good quality photographs illustrating the property at its best, demonstrating its appeal to any prospective tenants. It is also a good idea to have a professional floor plan done, as many people find it difficult to visualise space.  If you use an online agent, be aware that you will have to do your viewings yourself.  If you are not comfortable with this, I would advise using an agent for a tenant-find service.

4. Safety and insurance

As landlord, it will be your duty under the law to provide a working smoke alarm on each habitable floor and a carbon-monoxide detector in any room capable of burning fuel.  You must also provide your new tenant with a Gas Safety Certificate and an Energy Performance Certificate (EPL) at the start of their tenancy. 

As it will be your responsibility to take care of any structural failings that may occur during the tenancy (also heating and hot water systems, plumbing, etc), landlord insurance is a must.  This should also provide cover for unforeseen repair costs, such as damage caused by storms, floods or fire.  Should you need to enter the property at any point to make repairs, you will have a legal ‘Right to Enter’, but you must give your tenant 24 hours’ notice of this.

5. References and Right-To-Rent  

Again, a letting agency can help you with these if you find it all a little daunting.  The reference check would ordinarily include the usual checks on a prospective tenant, such as bank statements, employment details and references from previous landlords. 

As well though, it is worth knowing that it has been a legal requirement since February 2016 for landlords to carry out an ‘Immigrant Right-To-Rent’ check.  Essentially, you need to know that your tenant actually has the right to rent property in the UK.  The check will include identity documents (such as passport or identity card) and any other documents such as, for instance, a permanent residence card, which show they have indefinite leave to remain in the UK. 

Be vigilant with these checks, as failure to properly carry them out could result in your being fined £3,000 per tenant.  A comprehensive check from a reputable credit-check agency will cover this, or use a letting agency, as this should be part of their tenant find service.

6. The tenancy agreement

This is the contract between you, the landlord, and the tenant.  It gives them the right to reside in your property and you the right to collect rent for that period.  An Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreement will cover such things as landlord, tenant and property details, rental payments and when they are due, the duration of the tenancy and the notice period.  

You will find many templates online but be aware that this is a complex area and needs to be right and lawful.  Should your tenancy go wrong, you will be relying on this should you need to start possession proceedings, so cutting costs now may not be in your best interests.

7. The deposit

The tenancy agreement will spell out the details regarding the tenant’s deposit but, as landlord, you are required by law to place this deposit, within 30 days of its being paid, into a Government-backed tenancy deposit scheme.  The three approved schemes are the ‘Tenancy Deposit Scheme’, the ‘Deposit Protection Service’ and ‘My Deposits’.

8. The inventory

Firstly, remove anything from the property which doesn’t need to be there.  Then I would recommend employing a qualified inventory clerk to prepare the inventory as, should you have issues at the end of the tenancy, you will be reliant on this if you wish to withhold any of your tenant’s deposit.  When your tenant moves into the property, I recommend a formal check-in where you go through the inventory and they sign to say that they agree with its contents.

9. Financials

Keep in mind that you will probably be paying income tax on your rental property (although you will be able to claim back the costs of day-to-day running expenses), so consider setting up a separate account for this.  You may also have to pay Class Two National Insurance, if the rental is deemed to count as running a business.

10. Disputes

If you have done everything listed above, hopefully there won’t be any!  But if there are any disputes, in the first instance speak to your tenants, as it may all just be a misunderstanding.  If this doesn’t work, you may need to write a formal letter in which you address your concerns. 

The next step would be to use a mediation service, which would save on the costs of going to court.  But, in the end, you may have no alternative other than to take your case to the Small Claims Court, which will adjudicate in cases involving sums of less than £10,000 (or £1,000 if the case involves repairs), which is why it is vitally important that your tenancy is set up correctly.

So that’s it, my 10-point checklist for new landlords looking to rent out their property.  Many people choose to let and manage their own properties without any problems.  If this works for you then that is great, but I have built my business on using the right person for the job and that is why my advice would always be to employ a letting agent.