Archive for the ‘Landlords Insurance’ Category

Damage By Water Leaks and How Landlords Can Reduce Their Impact and Save Costs

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

In this blog post by LettingFocus.com, we explain why smart and insured tenants can cut a landlords repair bills, especially repairs due to damage caused by leaks of water.

It’s that very cold time of the year when landlords are always pretty busy.

As soon as the weather gets cold, the inevitable boiler breakdown will occur and it’s then that it is imperative that you have a good local heating mechanic (or engineer as they are called in the UK) to come out and affect repairs, fast.

And if you have a dopey tenant, it’s often around this time of year that they decide to forget to tell you about that small leak that keeps making the kitchen floor wet. Their delay will cause even more damage to decorations, carpets, walls and ceilings in the rest of the building.

On top of that, the cool, wet summer of 2011 has meant that condensation problems are very bad this year. So tenants who fail to air their homes, will be seeing the characteristic spotty, black condensation-related mould appear on the inside of exterior north and east facing walls.

Get Smart Tenants

Landlords’ best bet to manage issues with damp and leaks is to ensure that they choose tenants who are clued up and practical in the first place.

This is because clued up tenants are a landlord’s first line of defence. So when they discover a leak the occupiers should always know how to turn the mains water off. (All landlords should give their tenant customers a guided tour and leave them with a laminated guide which points out where the water stop valve, gas cut off switch and the electricity control unit is.)

And, next, the tenant should be straight on the phone to you or to your people who can fix the problem permanently as soon as possible.

I try to select tenants who have some of what my grandmother used to call “gumption.” And whether they have gumption or not, often becomes apparent before you let, when you are still taking references.

The smart ones (the ones with gumption) always decide whether they like a property quickly, and they don’t delay in getting hold of the references and documents you need to see. (The really smart ones – less than one percent of all applicants – have references with them when they go out to view a place!)

These kinds of people are my tenants, though occasionally, as is the case now, I will end up with one with little gumption who has somehow slipped through my net.

Insurance Issues

At the tenancy inception, along with the House Guide, I always write to my tenants to “strongly advise them to take out contents insurance and to ensure that this also includes accidental damage cover.”

Of course, I can’t force them to take out suitable and extensive contents  insurance, but if they do so, it should mean that things like carpets are covered if, say, they drop a hot iron on it or spill wine on the carpet. And I won’t have to go to the trouble of making a deduction against their deposit, if it was their fault – which I hate doing.

If tenant negligence and delay has made damage worse than it would have been, a landlord is fully entitled to make a deduction from the deposit. The reason is that a tenant has a duty to behave in a tenant like manner, which means he should take the same reasonable precautions as any other householder would.

Right now, I unfortunately have a set of tenants whose negligence in not sorting out an obvious leak quickly (either by fixing it themselves or calling my plumber) will mean that they will have to pay the bulk of the cost to fix the decoration that’s been damaged.

Though damage to walls and ceilings is a claim on the buildings insurance, as is typical of most buildings insurance for let properties in blocks these days, the excess is a whopping £500, so I’m looking to the tenants to make up this excess cost.

Importance of a Good Inventory

Of course, I had a thorough independent inventory done at the outset of the tenancy with photos, and the tenants have already admitted negligence, so there is not likely to be a problem.

It’s just a shame that tenants who lacked “gumption” managed to slip through my net. And it’s a shame, for them, that come of the cost to fix the problem will have to come out of their deposit.

And unless they start to show some gumption and common sense, I may not offer to extend the tenancy at the end of the fixed term.

Shop Around for Buildings Insurance

Our final observation is that landlords should look carefully at the excesses on buildings insurance claims.

Many insurers now impose very high excesses for claims for damage caused by water leaks. As ever, the best advice is to shop around for the best insurance deal – and that means both premium and level of cover.

ABOUT LETTINGFOCUS AND WHAT WE DO

LettingFocus.com is the home of Private Rented Sector Consultancy and advice.

Services to Businesses and the Public Sector

We are advisors to a range of organisations including banks, building societies, local authorities, social housing providers, institutional investors and insurers. We help them develop and improve their services and products for private landlords.

We also write for property websites, speak at property events (send an email to david@LettingFocus.com to find out about our next event) and we are regularly quoted by the media.

Services for Private Landlords

We also help landlords and property investors by showing how to make money in the private rented sector using ways which are fair to tenants and which involve minimal risk to the investor.

AT OUR WEBSITE LETTINGFOCUS.COM:

HOME PAGE OF THIS BLOG click here: Blog

To read blog posts on related posts use the tags and categories at the bottom of each post (after the list of links), or over to the right of this page – where, you can click on “Select Categories” and use the pull down menu to read all the posts on any Category that interests you.

THE HOME PAGE OF OUR MAIN SITE

Four our main home page click here:  http://www.LettingFocus.com

For general info on our CONSULTING SERVICES and also to find a small sample of links to where our comments have been featured in the National Press please click: Consultancy and Seminars

For ONE TO ONE PRIVATE CONSULTANCY FOR PRIVATE LANDLORDS click here: Property Advice

TO READ CLIENT TESTIMONIALS – from both organisations and private landlords click here: Testimonials

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Landlords Insurance Shop Around for Buy to Let Insurance Plus a Look at New Markets for Landlord Insurers

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Insurance is an area where competition is rife in the private rented sector. This means it is an area where landlords should be shopping around.

But it is also a product where the providers of insurance should widen their marketing activity too as they could easily open up new markets.

For landlords in the private rented sector, the two big insurances are property insurance and rent guarantee insurance.  Often bundled together, rent guarantee insurance is often included along with property insurance, though landlords can opt to add it as an optional extra, delete it and save on premium or choose to buy it separately from another provider.

My top level advice for landlords is to always shop around for insurance. Both the main insurances are very competitive and it is so easy to shop around on line and get a better deal.

Indeed, you can see how much money there is in landlords insurance and just how competitive it is when you know that there is one major building society that sells it through its branches but which does not actively market its buy to let mortgages at branch level. And there is a big direct insurer that now offers it but also doesn’t sell mortgages.  To me this indicates competition is rife.

Getting a Good Deal

So, how do landlords get a good deal?

As a minimum, landlords should not just accept the property insurance that comes with their buy to let mortgage from their mortgage company. I have usually found that better (or at least equivalent cover) is available from insurance brokers at a cheaper price than is available from mortgage lenders.

Portfolio landlords should also aim to get all their properties on the same renewal date as by doing so, not only will it save them valuable time when it comes to renewing, but they will also be able to get a much better rate from an insurance broker. Any broker will be only too pleased to cut a good deal with a landlord who offers him a batch of properties all renewing on the same renewal date.

It is important to also check what level of cover you need and don’t need and when comparing policies always check you are comparing like with like. For example, there is no need to pay for lots of contents cover if you don’t supply a fully furnished property. Get a quote for a buildings policy with just a small level of contents cover, or even none, if you let unfurnished.

If you insure through your mortgage lender, you may find that they have basic policies that include a certain level of contents cover as standard – so in this scenario it might be that you are paying extra for something you don’t actually need. And think about what level of excess (or deductible) are you happy with. Again, check you are comparing like with like when comparing different offers.

If your tenant checks are very good and you have never had a bad tenant do you really need to pay for rent guarantee insurance or for malicious damage cover?  Remember, stand alone rent guarantee insurance is not cheap and also not usually available for tenants who don’t pass muster on tenant reference/ tenant scoring checks anyway.

Advice for Insurers

At LettingFocus, we think that insurers who sell rent guarantee insurance and damage insurance / bonds are missing a trick in the private rented sector where they could do lots of business with local authorities.

Local authorities are looking for bonds and insurances to guarantee against claims made against “LHA Tenants” that they have placed in the private rented sector with private landlords.

In our consultancy work with local authorities, we advise councils on “private rented sector access schemes” or “social letting agencies” – basically advising councils on how they can find and keep private landlords who are prepared to let to people who present themselves to the councils as homeless or in danger of being homeless.

In this area, we see a big market for this type of rent guarantee insurance. Many local authorities choose to self insure this property risk for a variety of reasons, but the commercial insurers who underwrite this type of risk are missing out on a big opportunity to make their products available to the councils.

MORE ABOUT LETTINGFOCUS AND WHAT WE DO

LettingFocus.com is the home of Private Rented Sector expertise and Landlord Information and I’m David Lawrenson, a landlord and property investor myself for over 25 years and author of “Successful Property Letting” – the UK’s top selling commercially published property book for the last 3 years. 25,000 copies sold.

Services to Businesses and the Public Sector

Primarily we are  consultants to a range of organisations including banks, building societies, local authorities, social housing providers, institutional investors and insurers. We help them with their landlord facing or buy to let product strategies, marketing and services.

This work includes helping banks improve their buy to let mortgage lending practices and helping housing associations / local authorities procure supply of properties from private landlords (private rented access schemes, local letting agency models etc.)

We also write for property websites and we are regularly quoted by the media.

Services for Private Landlords

We also find a limited amount of time to help landlords and property investors by coaching them in how to make money in the private rented sector using ways that work, which are ethical, fair to tenants and which involve minimal risk to the investor. We pride ourselves on giving independent unbiased Buy to Let Information on a coaching basis or through our (very occasional) group seminars.

AT OUR WEBSITE LETTINGFOCUS.COM:

TO GO TO THE HOME PAGE OF THIS BLOG click here: Blog

To read blog posts on related posts, use the tags and categories at the bottom of each post (after the list of links), or over to the top right, you can click on “Categories” and use the pull down menu to read all the posts on specific topics.

If you want to reply:

If you are on the URL for this specific post, at the bottom of the post, you should see a space to “Leave a Reply.” If you are on the Blog Home Page, go to the very end of this specific post and biog (i.e. after the tags) and click on “No Comments” or “Comments” which should open a Reply Box. (Spammers please note: We delete all spam.)

THE HOME PAGE OF OUR MAIN SITE click here: http://www.LettingFocus.com

For general info on our CONSULTING SERVICES and also to find a small sample of links to articles where our comments have been featured in the National Press please click here: Consultancy and Seminars

For ONE TO ONE PRIVATE CONSULTANCY FOR PRIVATE LANDLORDS click here: Property Advice

TO READ CLIENT TESTIMONIALS – from both organisations and private landlords click here: Testimonials

BUY “SUCCESSFUL PROPERTY LETTING” click here to Buy the Book at Amazon plus anything else at that Amazon sell. (If you are from an organisation and would like to bulk buy at least 50 books please ask us for special rates (which are lower than Amazon)).

To JOIN our Free NEWSLETTER containing regular news for landlords and details of our Events simply send an email to david@LettingFocus.com – Please note we WILL NOT send spam or sell our mailing list to advertisers but please put us on your “white list” to ensure you receive our emails.

Discounted Products for Landlords: Landlords Resources

This blog is updated once a week, usually on a Monday or Tuesday (or more frequently when “hot” news items come up.

For my random thoughts on property plus a host of other things that make me grumpy or happy, please see our TWITTER PAGE: Twitter

Copyright of Blog: David Lawrenson 2011.

IF YOU HAVE A SITE WHY NOT LINK TO THIS BLOG OR TO OUR WEBSITE?

The Main Media Doesn’t Understand Private Landlords and Suppliers to the Private Rented Sector Could Market to It Better

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Does the media “get” the private rented sector? Do they understand the market?

I’m afraid the answer to this is often “No”

On Sundays we always buy a “chunky” Sunday paper for the main reason my son wants to read the Sports pages and my partner wants a TV guide and to tut about the stick thin models in the fashion supplement.

So, as we have the paper anyway, I always read the Personal Finance pages over my Sunday morning coffee and, while some of the writing is good, I’m always pretty amazed by the lack of understanding that there is out there about the private rented sector.

(As an aside I read the FT Weekend for my personal finance news – accurate, sharp and to the point and also pretty good on the housing markets (including the buy to let market) too. For other news on our sector I read sites like LandlordZone by genial Tom Entwistle, who does a great job from up in his  hill top hideaway. Sites like Inside Housing and Property Week are also good for different perspectives too.)

Lack of Understanding

Of course, the lack of understanding of the private rented sector in much of the rest of the main press may not surprise anyone.

The UK press does a great job in many areas but its track record in some aspects of personal finance is a tad mixed –for example at forecasting things like banking crises I’d give it just 2 out of 10.

How many journalists really saw the credit crunch coming and the collapse of the UK’s major banks? Answer – few.

The fact is that most journalists were (and still are) well outside the loop which is the City’s Inner Magic Circle of Investment Bankers and when it comes to their predictions for banking profits, the press’s opinions are often about as reliable as a Fifa Exec’s word.

In last weeks’ Sunday paper (which shall be nameless) there is an article about the outlook for the private rented sector that has at least 5 major mistakes, false assumptions and conclusions. Oh dear!

So please, if you are a private landlord or an organisation with an interest in our sector, please take what you read in much of the press with a big pinch of salt.

In terms of suppliers to the private rented sector a similar lack of understanding also exists – especially with regards to how to market to private landlords.

The supplier group that actually gets closest to doing it right is the providers of landords’ property insurance – they understand quite well how to reach landlords cost effectively, especially using the internet. Another supplier group that knows how to market to private landlords is the On Line Lettings Portals – through which landlords can stick their properties on all the sites like Rightmove and FindAProperty for less than £60 and a whole lot cheaper than using a letting agent.

Take Advantage

So, if you are a landlord, you should take advantage of this and shop around for these two products: Landlords insurance can usually be obtained quickly and much cheaper on line than you will get if you just go with your mortgage lender.

And by using On Line Lettings Portals you can have your property on all the sites that the big letting agents use. Then just make sure you reference check the tenants carefully and choose the right one. Not easy to do but very easy if you have read Chapter 7 of my book!

There are links to an On Line Lettings Portal and to a Landlords’ Insurer at our Affiliates Page but we have included them at the very bottom of this weeks’ post – in purple.

For other products and services for landlords, private landlords will have to work harder to find the best deals and offers themselves – at least until such time as the providers of services get a whole lot better at their marketing and at finding private landlords first!

MORE ABOUT LETTINGFOCUS AND WHAT WE DO

LettingFocus.com is the home of Private Rented Sector and Landlord Information.

I’m David Lawrenson, a landlord and property investor myself for over 25 years and author of “Successful Property Letting” – the UK’s top selling commercially published property book for the last 3 years. 25,000 copies sold.

Services to Businesses and the Public Sector

Primarily I am a consultant to a range of organisations including banks, building societies, local authorities, social housing providers, institutional investors and insurers – helping them with their landlord facing or buy to let product strategies, marketing and services.

For example, I help banks improve their buy to let mortgage lending practices and I help housing associations / local authorities find private landlords (private rented access schemes, local letting agency models etc.)

I also write for property websites and am regularly quoted by the media.

Services for Private Landlords

We also find a limited amount of time to help landlords and property investors by coaching them in how to make money in the private rented sector using ways that work, which are ethical, fair to tenants and which involve minimal risk to the investor. We pride ourselves on giving independent unbiased Buy to Let Advice on a coaching basis or through our (very occasional) group seminars.

AT OUR WEBSITE LETTINGFOCUS.COM:

TO GO TO THE HOME PAGE OF THIS BLOG click here: Blog

You can use the tags and categories at the bottom of each post and over to the right to read blog posts on related posts.

Just click on the categories and use the pull down menu over to the top right to find all the posts on a specific topic.

If you want to reply, please make sure you are on URL for this specific post – if you are on the Blog Home Page, you’ll need to make sure you click on the link to the right of the page. At the bottom of the post, you should see a space to “Leave a Reply.” (Spammers please note: We delete all spam.)

THE HOME PAGE OF OUR MAIN SITE click here: http://www.LettingFocus.com

For general info on our CONSULTING SERVICES and also to find a small sample of links to articles where our comments have been featured in the National Press please click here: Consultancy and Seminars

For ONE TO ONE PRIVATE CONSULTANCY FOR PRIVATE LANDLORDS click here: Property Advice

TO READ CLIENT TESTIMONIALS – from both organisations and private landlords click here: Testimonials

BUY “SUCCESSFUL PROPERTY LETTING” click here to Buy the Book at Amazon plus anything else at that Amazon sell. (If you are from an organisation and would like to bulk buy at least 50 books please ask us for special rates (which are lower than Amazon)).

To JOIN our Free NEWSLETTER containing regular news for landlords and details of our Events simply send an email to david@LettingFocus.com – Please note we WILL NOT send spam or sell our mailing list to advertisers but please put us on your “white list” to ensure you receive our emails.

IF YOU HAVE A SITE WHY NOT LINK TO THIS BLOG OR TO OUR WEBSITE?

IF YOU SELL SERVICES TO LANDLORDS, YOU COULD BE A PARTNER ON OUR AFFILIATE PROGRAMME. Ask for details.

This blog is updated once a week, usually on a Monday or Tuesday (or more frequently when “hot” news items come up.

For my random thoughts on property and various other things that typically make me grumpy, please see our TWITTER PAGE: Twitter

Using On Line Portals to Find Tenants

You can advertise on all the main property portals like Rightmove and FindAProperty to Find Tenants and /or have someone Find and Manage Your Properties by clicking this link to: Upad.co.uk.

As a LettingFocus customer quote LF001 for a £10 discount per property advertised. In no time your property will be on all the main portals.

Landlords Insurance

For products such as landlords rent guarantee cover and property insurance from UKInsuranceNet click on Buy to Let Insurance. Don’t forget to quote our reference code  -which is LFOC to get the best rates from them if you contact them by phone.

Copyright of Blog: David Lawrenson 2010.