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Am I legally able to change letting agent?

Yes, as a landlord, you have a right to decide who is the best letting agent to manage your property needs.

If you aren’t happy with the service you are receiving, you have found someone who offers a package that you prefer, or costs have crept up, you are perfectly within your rights to jump ship and move to an agent who better fits the bill.

However, it is important to remember that an agreement between a landlord and a letting agent is a legal document, so it is important to follow the correct steps if you choose to make the change.

Are there any legal issues to consider when I switch letting agent?

When you enter into a relationship with a letting agent, you will sign a contract outlining the details of the relationship. Whilst these contracts are designed to continue on a rolling basis, there are opportunities to remove yourself from the contract if you choose to.

This clause, usually called the termination clause, should give you details of how you have to notify your agent of your intention to terminate the contract, and the notice you have to give. The clause is similar in principle to a break clause in a tenancy agreement, in so much as it gives either party the opportunity to break the contract early without repercussions, as long as certain rules are followed.

Termination clauses vary agent-to-agent, so check your contract for yours. If you are still unsure, we are happy to have a look for you – pop it over to our team at [email protected], and we’ll check though it and let you know exactly where you stand.

How do I do it?

  • Check your contracts: Check your contract for your termination clause and see how you can exit the contract without repercussions.
  • Give official notice: Send your agent official notice that you would like to terminate your contract. The best way to do this is in writing, so that they have evidence that you have done so.
  • Build a paper trail: In the same way that a paper trail is important when it comes to managing tenant disputes, it is vital to document every stage of this process carefully. Once you have notified your letting agent of your decision to remove yourself from the agreement in writing, continue to document every move every step of the way to give a clear timeline of your actions throughout the procedure.
  • Refresh your paperwork: Ensure you have all of the relevant paperwork for the property that the outgoing agent holds, that you may need copies of. This includes copies of your EPC, gas safety certification, inventory, tenancy agreement, deposit protection details etc.
  • Notify your tenant: You should let your tenants know exactly what is going on. Your agent has an obligation to do so, and it is important that you engage with them too.
  • Engage with a new agent: If you are looking to engage with a new agent, make sure you do so in plenty of time. This will give your new agent a chance to liaise with your previous agent and make sure that any important information is passed across and no details are forgotten.
  • Collect your keys: At the end of the notice period, don’t forget to collect any keys that the agent may be holding for your property. If you have alarms or key boxes at the property, it is good practice to reset the codes.
  • Obtain final sign off documents: When your notice period is complete, make sure you receive a document from your outgoing agent to confirm that the contract has been terminated and that the contract has ended. This should confirm that all fees are paid, and that you no longer have any relationship with the agency.

Will it cost me anything to change letting agent?

If you give adequate notice to your agent and abide by the terms of your contract, you should be able to leave the agreement on an even financial keel.

If you have experienced bad practice from an agent, and they have failed to deliver on the terms of the contract that you signed, you may be able to exit the contract early and get any early-exit fees waived. If you believe that your agent has failed to fulfil the terms of their agreement, you can contact Citizens Advice to discuss the case. It is up to you as a landlord to prove that the agent has failed to provide an adequate service, so it is important to have good evidence and clear information ready if you are looking to go down this route. The team at Howsy are happy to advise on exactly what service a good agency should be providing, so give us a call on 0330 999 1234 if you’re unsure whether or not this could be an option for you.

If your property is under management, you may find that your agent has a clause in their contract that states that you are required to pay management charges as long as the tenant (that was found by the original agent) continues to occupy the property. Generally, a very dim view is taken on any clauses that tie an individual into a contract and do not give them any ability to leave. If your contract contains a clause like this, our free legal helpline can offer assistance in working out exactly where you stand. Give us a call today on 0330 808 1079

Do I have to give notice to terminate the agreement with my letting agent?

Yes. A termination clause will generally have a notice period of one to two months; however, this may vary depending on your agent. It is important to check your contract carefully and make sure that you are clear on this timeframe.

Could switching letting agents mid-contract impact my tenants?

If you choose to switch agents, there is no need for this decision to have any impact on any existing tenants. Keeping a good relationship with your tenants is key – you can read more about it here.

It is important to remember that there are two contracts to consider here – your contract between you and your letting agent (the one being contested), and the tenancy agreement between you and your tenant. Whilst this important legal document may have been prepared for you by your agent, it is between you and your tenant – and shouldn’t be in contest at this stage.

In order to make sure that the change-over doesn’t have any wider effects, there are some points that you should be sure to consider:

  • Make sure you have all of your tenant’s contact details. You should have this anyway, but make sure that the details you have are up to date, and that your tenant’s contact details haven’t changed from those that you already hold.
  • Ensure you have all of the relevant paperwork for the property that the existing agent holds, that your tenant may need copies of (you will need all of this paperwork anyway!)
  • Make sure your tenant has contact details of the new agent, and a way to contact them should they need to. It would be wise to send a clear email with details about what is going on, with all the relevant details so that is in one place.
  • If the agent has managed the deposit for you, make sure that this has been transferred and protected again, either under your name or that of your new agent. Don’t forget that once you have re-protected the deposit, you will have to issue Prescribed Information again to everyone who has contributed to the deposit (including guarantors).
  • Ask your new agent to draw up a new tenancy agreement, providing the details of the new letting agent as soon as possible. This isn’t the time to be making big changes to the agreement, just amend the contact details.

Can my new letting agent handle this process?

Yes, much of this can be handled by your new agent. Here at Howsy, we help our new landlords with this process as much as possible. Of course, you have to make the first step in letting your existing agent know that you are looking to leave, but once that is done, we can take over in managing the rest of the process.

We understand it can be daunting to consider jumping ship, but it needn’t be. Your property is a huge asset, and you need to be confident that the very best people are looking after it.

If you’re considering switching letting agents, simply complete this form to see how we can help and start the process. Switch today and save money tomorrow.

Finding the right tenants is so important for a landlord. Ultimately you want to trust the people that are living in your investment. The last thing you want are disputes with tenants, not receiving rent or damages to your property. According to Property Investor Today, “The most common causes for tenant disputes are delayed rent (43%), damage to property (41%), cleanliness (33%), disputes over bills or deposits (10%), pets (9%) and sub-letting (7%)” 

If you’ve spent a lot of time, effort and money to get your home up to a high standard to be let, ideally you’ll want tenants to keep it that way.  On average, data from LV=Gl revealed the average landlord spends over £3,000 a year on general maintenance. Landlords spend the most money replacing/repairing flooring (£322), white goods (£298), other items (£256), cleaning at the end of a tenancy (£178) and removing forgotten items (£149). You could end up making a loss if there are numerous damages beyond the general wear and tear. 

For many landlords, renting a property is vital for pension income, an additional salary or to cover other living costs. You’ll also ideally want to have tenants that you know will pay you each month, on time and won’t mess you around.

If you do find that your rental income isn’t secure, you can guarantee your rent with the Howsy Protect plan

What tenants do you want? 

There are various ways to find tenants. Sometimes people look to family and friends to rent out properties and it’s ideal if you know you can rely on them to look after your place. Yet there isn’t always that option to find someone you know and trust, so you’re left seeking out tenants. 

Consider the type of tenants you want. Do you want tenants on a short term let? Are you going travelling and want to let your property out for a short period of time. Do you want tenants that are in it for the long haul and want a property to really make their home. Would you rather have:

  • Professionals and want to rent out per room?
  • A family
  • Students
  • A couple

This can then help you gauge where to advertise your property. 

How to market your property
 

Get your property online

In order to attract tenants, utilise websites such as Rightmove, Zoopla, On the Market and Facebook marketplace to advertise your property. Look at having a premium listing on RightMove to help you gain more potential renters. 

Take decent photos

Ensure your property is well photographed and the property is looking at its best before you take the images. Declutter your home and let some natural light through. It can be difficult for tenants to look past the clutter to imagine themselves living in that home. Also, de-personalise your home. Take out personal items in the bedroom and bathroom and clean up dirty dishes in the kitchen, store photos and any ornaments or childrens toys. 


Although you can take images on your smartphone, the images don’t always do your property justice, particularly in small spaces such as a study or a bathroom. It’s worth investing in some professional photography to help take attractive photos. A rental property listing with good quality images will be let 70% faster. For further tips, discover our blog on using photography to market your property.

360 virtual tours

Having a virtual tour can give potential tenants a great insight into what your property is like and can encourage them to get in touch for a viewing. During the Coronavirus pandemic, virtual tours have been really valuable in showcasing a property. This has enabled landlords to still let their property. 

How to screen tenants

Once you’ve had interest in your property, it’s a good idea to screen your potential tenants and carry out some background checks. 

  • Character assessment – Try and meet your tenants in person and go with your gut instinct. Speak to them and get to know them and this will help you gauge what they could be like as tenants. If you can’t meet, perhaps get a character reference. 
  • Landlord reference – Ask their current landlord if they’re reliable and pay rent on time. 
  • Employment reference –  gain further information on whether they will be able to afford to rent the property too. You could ask for bank statements or other evidence for proof of income. Alternatively, it may be worth asking if they have a guarantor to fall back on if they’re unable to pay their rent at any point. 
  • Do a credit check 
  • Do they have pets? Is there anything that could be a deal breaker?
  • Are they smokers? 

Finding tenants can be time consuming. If you do want help finding tenants, Howsy can look after the whole end to end process. From viewings to photography and advertising your property, discover our ‘Rent it Faster (Pay Later)’ plan to help accelerate the letting process. Once we’ve found tenants, our dedicated concierge team will fully screen them and carry out reference checks. Speak to our friendly team for more information.  



With so much change facing the nation and unanswered questions leaving landlords feeling nervous and unsure, it is no surprise that both landlords and tenants are finding things confusing.

Many of you joined the Howsy team and Landlord Action’s Paul Shamplina as we worked through some of the trickiest issues facing landlords today – from how to manage essential maintenance, to managing tenant relationships.

You can watch the video playback of the webinar below:

We received many questions regarding this topic, and have done our best to answer them fully. You can check out the answers below:

Financial impact

Q. Is there any help from the government for landlords?
A. There are a few schemes that landlords can take advantage of that are aimed at preventing money being spent – such as rental property mortgage deferrals. Scottish landlords (who own five or less properties and are not classed as businesses), can now benefit from interest-free loans which cover up to 100% of lost rent if their tenants are having difficulty paying rent during the crisis. However, there are currently no grants or loans specifically aimed at landlords.There are a number of grants, loans and tax breaks that could help landlords during this time, but much depends on personal circumstances. To see what you personally are eligible for, click here.

Q. In the event that a tenant is made redundant and is unable to pay the rent, what can the landlord reasonably expect and for the long term?
A. This really does depend on the tenant and landlords’ circumstances. It is likely that the tenant will be in the process of claiming Universal Credit or housing benefit, so it might be worth looking up the Housing Allowance for your area and starting with that as a base figure. Speak with your tenant about their outgoings and what they can reasonably afford – it is better to receive a guaranteed amount for a period, than ask for an amount that they won’t be able to afford, even on month one.

Q. My rental rate has been fixed for 3 years and is now up for renewal. What is a reasonable fair amount to increase it by?
A. Now may not be the best time to consider increasing your rent, with most household taking significant hits on their incomings. However, if you do choose to, it is worth only increasing to within the market rent of your area, otherwise you risk pricing your property out of the market. Have a look on Rightmove and Zoopla for similar properties in the area, and set your figure accordingly.

Q. My overseas tenants plan to return home before the end of the contract. Are they still liable for the rent?
A. Yes, the contract is still active for the duration, unless it is ended by mutual agreement or invoking a break clause. If your tenants are returning home and you are happy for the agreement to end, you can agree to agreement mutually and remarket the property, which would require the agreement to cease to be set out in writing (email is fine).

Q. Can a tenant ask for payment holiday without providing any evidence of having been financially affected by COVID-19?
A. Your tenant is able to can ask, but you are under no obligation to agree to it. It is advisable to ask for some evidence of financial impact, as you many need to pass this on if you are planning to apply for a mortgage holiday.

Q. My tenant’s friend is replying to messages on her behalf saying she is in Intensive Care, and can’t use her phone to organise rent payment. What do I do?
A. That’s a tricky situation! If you have a guarantor, it may be a good idea to make contact with them – initially, gently to see if there is anything you can do to help, if the property needs checking etc. If you are unconvinced that the tenant is in hospital, their guarantor should be able to confirm or deny. If they are not in hospital, you could then pursue the guarantor for unpaid rent (if the tenant still fails to pay). Tread very carefully though, and remember to be tactful, it’s a horrible, horrible situation and one that nobody hopes to find themselves in.

Q. If my tenants are furloughed to 80% of their monthly wage, is it my duty to reflect that by offering a 20% discount on rent?
A. You don’t have a legal responsibility to do so, but at this time, it is a nice gesture if you are able. Building strong relationships with your tenants is key to a smooth ongoing relationship, and if you are able to work together to get through the tough time we are all facing – hopefully short term pain – they are more likely to be able to stay in the property, a great benefit to you in the long run!

Q. How do I set a repayment scheme if tenants fall into arrears?
A. Theoretically, the easiest way is to work out the defect, and the length of time left on the lease, and split the amount evenly. If there is an arrears of £1200, with six months left to go, you could add £200 to the monthly rent, for example. Whilst on paper, this makes sense, do consider that it is highly likely that your tenant will have ongoing financial issues that extend past this initial pinch point, so hiking the rent could lead to further arrears later down the line. If you are able to swallow any of the arrears, it’s great to do so, and then spread the repayments evenly, to a more manageable figure. Make sure everything is documented, and that the tenant agrees to the plan in writing.

Q. My retired tenant refuses to pay rent during the current lockdown. What do I do?
A. If your tenant has been reliant on a pension to pay the rent, it is unlikely that their income will have been impacted too heavily by the current crisis. It would be a good idea to ask for proof that there has been an income impact. If they are unable to provide this, notify them that you will have no option but to pursue for unpaid rent on once the ban on court actions is lifted, unless they are able to start payments again.

Q. Is it best just to negotiate with tenants who may not be able to pay this month’s rent?
A. Absolutely. Speak to your tenants and try to understand their financial situation If you can come to an agreement, it makes life significantly easier, and you will all know where you stand.

Q. Tenants moved in Dec and moved out January after one month. Since then the house has been empty. I’ve tried to ask for 3-month holiday on mortgage and been refused. What is the next step?
A. If the tenancy agreement has been ended, you can market your empty property, and see if there is an opportunity to get a new tenant in place. If the agreement is still ongoing, the tenant (and their guarantor) is still liable for the rent. There are also plenty of government schemes in place that may help you in the meantime, you can find out more here.

Q. My tenants are not paying. They claim it is because of C-19, yet they receive benefits. What do I do?
A. There has been no change to the delivery of benefits, so your tenant will still be receiving the correct amount. If you are in an area where Universal Credit is in place, you may be able to apply for an Alternative Payment Arrangement (there are certain requirements that must be met, more details are available here) where housing allocation is paid directly to the landlord. Speak to your local authority, they should be able to help.

Q. My tenants are self-employed and without income. How do you suggest I negotiate changes to the rent to both party’s benefit?
A. Registration for the Self Employment Income Support Scheme opened this week, which allowed individuals to check their eligibility and register for Government Gateway details. Those who are eligible will be able to claim a taxable grant worth up to 80% of their average trading profits up to a maximum of £7,500 (equivalent to three months’ profits), paid in a single instalment. It is hoped that payments will be made by the end of May. Self-employed loans have also been launched, which are available now, if eligible. Up until now, there has been little support for the self-employed, so if you can it may be worth speaking to your tenants about what they can afford now, or if they will be able to make a lump sum payment when the grants come through.

Q. Can I apply for managed Universal Credit payments without informing tenant?
A. Yes, you can do so online or through the post. You can start the process online here.

Q. If my tenant requests a rent payment holiday, does he have to make up arrears at later date?
A. Yes. Rent payment holiday is a red herring, the correct term is rent payment deferment, meaning that the amount payable is simply being shifted over to a time when the tenant can afford to pay the rent back. However, many landlords are choosing to allow complete breaks for their tenants, understanding that a significant drop in income is going to make it difficult to make p such a hefty deficit.

Lettings legislation

Q. How to get gas safety certificates done during lock down period?
A. If your gas safety check needs to be carried out during lockdown, you should make all efforts to ensure that it is still done. Speak to your tenant and engineer before it takes place, and remind them both of the relevant social distancing requirements – this may be tricky but it is very important. Your engineer may also be wearing PPE (face masks etc) so pre-warn your tenant that this may be the case.

Q. What to do when tenants refuse access for gas safety tests, as potentially this means you can’t serve notice.
A. If your tenant is self-isolating, it is likely that they will not want an engineer to enter the property, nor would it be safe for the engineer to do so. In this instance, correspond with your tenant in writing (email is ideal) getting dates of isolation, and ask them to confirm in writing that they will not allow access. Ask for a date in which they would be happy for you to gain entry, and arrange the check for as soon as possible after this date.

Q. What legionnaire measures to take when returning after the lockdown, as the sealed system has been turned off by the tenants.
You can read more about how to check your property for legionella here.

Q. Electrical safety survey is due to be done. Will my liability insurance still be covered if it is not done due to Covid-19?
A. You should check with your insurance company; many are being very understanding of this unusual situation. If your tenant is willing to allow access, do try and still have the checks done if it safe to do so. If access not possible, make sure you build a paper trail showing that you have tried to gain access, and your tenant has refused (and why).

Q. My tenants are reluctant for tradesmen to conduct EPC & gas safety certificate renewals. What are the consequence for landlords?
A. Failing to ensure that you have all vital landlord legislation carried out can have serious ramifications. With regards to a gas safety check, if this is not carried out correctly, any remedial work acted upon and documentation issued to your tenant, you will be unable to issue a section 21, potentially face a hefty fine or even a criminal conviction should anything go wrong with the gas installations within your property. EPCs are less important to complete urgently, until you come to market your property. At this stage, a valid EPC must be provided to new tenants, or you will not be able to issue a section 21, should you need to.

Managing maintenance

Q. What particular responsibilities do managing agents for blocks of flats have at this time?
A. Managing agents are still responsible for anything that they are contracted for, however many are finding some of the physical checks difficult under current conditions. Speak to your agent and make sure you understand exactly what they are still able to oversee – ultimate responsibility will fall to you, the landlord, if legal requirements are not complied with, so be sure to know what is and isn’t being carried out.

Q.What should I do about about fixing fences?
A. You have a responsibility to ensure that your property is safe and secure, and often a fence will be a big part of this. If safe to do so, and you can obtain the materials, it would be ideal to fix the fence. Additionally, you should be able to adequately socially distance in a garden.

Q. What PPE would you recommend if visits to a rented property are required, and how should I to achieve social distancing (e.g. for repairs)?
A. We would suggest following government advice with regards to PPE. Currently there is no strict measures in place, however a face mask is a great idea if you are going to be working in close contact with other people. Following social distancing guidelines are a must, you can find clear information on these measures here.

Changes to the eviction process

Q. Can a tenant be evicted if they stop paying and break contract without notice?
A. Not at the moment, no. All court action for eviction is on hold until at least 25th June 2020.

Q. Is a Section 8 notice served prior to lockdown still valid to commence possession proceedings or does a new notice need to be served?
A. Effectively, a pause button has been pressed on any notices that were served prior to 26th March, that were currently progressing. These will recommence after the 25th June, when courts reopen. No new notices will need to be served.

Q. I have a possession order and was awaiting a date for a bailiff to attend. What is the current status regarding bailiffs?
A. Bailiffs are not working currently, and will not do so until courts reopen on 25th June.

Making moves

Q. What is happening with new tenants, viewings and move ins?
A. Current government guidelines suggest that property moves should not be undertaken unless essential. With regards to viewings, you could consider utilising video technology to carry out a digital viewing, you can find information on how to do this safely here. If you don’t fancy taking on the task yourself, Howsy are now offering virtual viewings at empty properties, speak to us today on 0330 999 1234 to find out more

Q. During restrictions, if a tenant vacates a property at the end of an AST can another tenant move in straight away?
A. It is not advisable to move into a vacated property straight away. Recommendations suggest leaving a clear 72-hour period without any interaction in the property allows any risk to be minimised, which helps make the process safer for everyone.

Q. How can I market my properties in central London during COVID-19?
A. Here at Howsy we are working as normal, and are able to help you get your property live and marketed! You don’t pay a penny until a tenant moves in, so now is a great time to take advantage of plenty of people browsing the portals! Additionally, we are offering three months’ free management to new landlords during this period, so it’s a perfect time to get started on our simple management platform too.

Q. How do I manage inventories with disputes on cleaning/damages?
A. Inventories are tricky currently. If your tenant has vacated the property, it’s a good idea to leave the property empty for 72 hours (the ‘safe time’) before going in and carrying out an inventory review as normal – take lots of photos, and make comprehensive notes. You can then send an outgoing inventory report digitally, and raise any concerns via email, making sure to keep a paper trail. All deposit services are still working fully, so will be able to help with any disputes, as normal.

Q. Are video visits being advised?
A. Absolutely! Read more here. If you don’t fancy taking on the task yourself, Howsy are now offering virtual viewings at empty properties, speak to us today on 0330 999 1234 to find out more

Q. What is the situation for empty rental properties which the government will not allow people to move into?
A. The government are currently allowing moves to take place, if the move is deemed essential. We are following the changes closely, and recent news suggests that letting and sales agents will be among the first organisations to be allowed to get back to ‘business as usual’ – great news for landlords and tenants. Keep an eye on the blog for further information.

Q. Any suggestions about checking a property when tenants leave? Do we trust videos before refunding deposits?
A. Whilst it is great for your tenants to provide a video to you, it is still advisable to check your property yourself if you can. Do wait 72 hours after the tenants have vacated before visiting the property though.

Q. What advice would you give on preparing a void and reletting during the current situation?
A. You can market a property as usual, but possibly prepare yourself that the process may take a little longer than usual.

Q. We have tenants leaving on 31 May. If we observe social distancing, can we market the property during May?
A. You can market the property during May, but it would be unwise to consider any viewings – before or after your tenants have moved out. Once they have moved out you could consider creating a video walk through, which can be added to your online marketing.

Tenancy Agreements

Q. Can ASTs be signed digitally?
A. Absolutely. An AST can be signed using digital technology, and complies fully with the Electronic Communications Act 2000. The only exceptions to this are if the tenancy agreement is for longer that three-years. It is also important to remember that guarantor agreements are a legal deed, and signing must therefore be witnessed and cannot be safely signed electronically, in case of dispute.

Q. I have student tenants with tenancies due to start in July, with tenants possibly being unable to move in. What is your advice?
A. We hope there will soon be some new on what we can expect for students, after all, time is creeping ever closer for those looking to head to uni come September! Until we have definite facts, it is difficult to judge on a good course of action. If the universities go back as normal, you want to keep your properties ready for the students, but if not, you need to cover your cots. You could consider short term holiday lets as an option should worst-com-to-worst, but as the news changes quickly and details flood in, if you can hold out until the end of May, you might have some more definitive answers.

Q. I am looking to rent out a property which until now has been holiday lets only. Is now as good a time as any to begin an AST?
A. Now is a good time to get your property on the portals, there is nothing lost by getting it up and potential tenants viewing it! It’s believed that lots of landlords will be exiting the market, so if you are able to provide a property for tenants who may be looking to move, it could be a great time!

Q. My insurance states that tenants have to be in professional employment but some of them have lost their job. What to do?
A. Speak to your insurance company – most are being very understanding about the challenges that coronavirus is causing, and it is unlikely that this situation would cause your insurance to be invalid. However, all insurance companies are handling this situation differently, so be sure to check with yours to see what their policy states.

Q. Would agreeing to a temporary rent reduction invalidate our AST?
A. No, you are only agreeing to a temporary adjustment, so the figure stated on the ST is still the rental rate. However, you should be sure to confirm the amount that you are adjusting to in writing, with the dates that the change is implemented from and to, and when your tenant will be expected to go back to paying the full amount. If this needs reviewing, issue another document with revised dates, but keep the original!

Q. My tenants’ 12-month agreement ends in July. Can I roll this on to a monthly basis for them?
A. Yes, you can. If you do nothing, your tenant’s current contract will naturally become a periodic agreement, which rolls onto a monthly contract. The details all stay the same (rental rate etc), the only change is that your tenant will now only have to give one month’s notice to leave (as each month is effectively the start of a new month long contractual period), whereas you still have to give two (when you are allowed to give notice again). If you want to make any changes to the agreement, you may be better to bring the current agreement to a close and reissue a new fixed term contract. This allows you to make changes to clauses within the contract, should you wish to. This will need signing, and you will need to issue all the documentation that you would need to at the start of any tenancy in order for it to be valid. This is a lengthier process though, and if you don’t need to make any changes, an unnecessary complication.

Q. If a tenant cannot pay the rent, can he just hand in the keys and walk away? Is there anything the landlord can do?
A. If a tenant hands in the keys and walks away, legally they are still responsible for the property unless a surrender is agreed with the landlord. You can still pursue the tenant, or their guarantor, for rent payments, however do consider that no courts are currently working at this time. If you believe that the tenant is unlikely to return or make any further rent payments, you could consider agreeing to an early surrender, which is a voluntary ending of the lease. This would forfeit any right the tenant has to the property and bring the lease to an early end, allowing you to re-market your property.

HMOs

Q. How do I manage, viewings and repairs at HMOs during the lockdown?
A. Make sure you speak to all tenants, to make sure none of them are self-isolating, or displaying any symptoms before you visit the property. You should only carry out essential maintenance during this time, so anything other than that (viewings, inspections etc) should wait until it is safe to do so. If you have to attend, ask all tenants to respect social distancing rules, and make sure you stick to them yourself too. You can find up to date information here.

Q. A tenant in my HMO says he doesn’t want me coming into the house in order to check a departing tenants room state. Can I?
A. Coronavirus aside, your tenant is within their rights to deny you access to the areas of the property which they have exclusive access to (their bedroom and any other rooms that they pay for private use of), although you are allowed access to the shared areas. You should always give notice to do this, although unlike non-HMOs, you do not legally have to provide 24-hours’ notice (it is best practice to do so though). Legally, they cannot prevent you from accessing the property and the empty bedroom, however given the current situation, you should check why the tenant doesn’t want you to attend. Could they be self-isolating? Or displaying symptoms? If so, it may not be safe for you to enter the property anyway.

Q. Have empty en-suite room in HMO with individual contracts. Can a construction worker who is building a hospital move in on May 17th?
A. This is a tricky one, as moving any new tenants in will ultimately put your existing tenants at risk, as you cannot expect your new tenant to self-isolate in their private room and not make use of the shared facilities, such as the kitchen and living space. It may be wise to speak to your existing tenants, and get their thoughts on the matter. Whilst it is great to be able to offer support to key workers at this time, if this risks your existing tenants wanting to leave and potentially defaulting on rent, you should weigh up the risks versus benefits of the decision. On the other hand, they may be quite happy to take extra precautions in the property, in which case you would be able to proceed.

General

Q. My tenant of five years has sadly passed away. Is there anything different that I need to do at the end of the tenancy?
A. Legally, your tenant’s estate remains responsible for the tenancy for the duration of the lease. Generally, it is best to make contact with your tenant’s executor and agree an early surrender of the tenancy, which would allow you to re-market your property, and leave your tenant’s family free of the responsibility of the lease. It is also worth considering whether or not the tenant was a sole occupier in the property. If the tenant lived with a spouse or civil partner, as long as the property was the partner’s principle home, they have the option to ‘inherit’ the lease, and become a successor to the tenancy. This is not mandatory, but is an option that is open if they choose to take it.

Q. Do you charge full management fees if renters don’t pay rent?
A. Here at Howsy, we understand that this is a very troubling time. We have extended an offer of three months free management during this time to try and alleviate some of the pressure for our landlords, and hope this may go some way to helping smooth the way. For more information, contact the Howsy team today on 0330 999 1234.

Q. Who is responsible for licence imposed by the local authorities?
A. The landlord of the property is responsible for ensuring the property licence is in place. Whilst many local authorities are hectic at the moment, licensing is still a hot topic, and we urge any landlord who requires a licence to make sure that documentation is in on time to avoid a hefty fine.

Q. Do you know how soon you will bring back your Howsy Protect service? Is it likely to be soon after lockdown has ended?
A. As soon as possible! We’re keeping a close eye on the government advice, and as soon as it is safe to bring back this much-loved service, without putting tenants or our on-the-ground teams at any risk, or contravening any government guidelines, Howsy Protect will be back!

Q. Should the same process be applied to lodgers as tenants, or is there a distinct technical difference between the two?
A. There is one very big difference. Eviction proceedings for lodgers is not covered by the eviction changes, so if you have a lodger living in your property, you are still legally allowed to ask they to leave. You do still have to give them reasonable notice though.

Q. Are holiday lets a better option moving forwards if staycations take off?
A. This very much depends on where you are based, the demand and your time! If there is a booming holiday market in your area, holiday lets can be a great idea, but can also be quite a lot of work – so do some research into how busy you think your area may be and how available you are to keep up with weekly check ins and check outs!

Q. Any suggestions on how to deal with tenants inviting visitors to communal gardens against social distancing regulations?
A. Your tenants are entitled to quiet enjoyment of the property, which means, unless their behaviour is anti-social (in which case, you can contact the police) there is not a lot you can do, no matter how frustrating it may be.

Q. What is the best approach for cover for rented properties: e.g. boiler, electric, is it through separate or combined policies?
A. We believe that the fewer policies you have to juggle, the easier life is! Nobody wants to rifle through reams of paper when you have an emergency on their hands. Here at Howsy, we have a Home Emergency, Boiler and Appliance cover, available for only £35 a month with our standard package (which is currently free for three months for new landlords!) – you can read more here.

Q. If a property is left empty by choice now, why are councils still charging council tax?
A. There is no guarantee that they are. If your property is currently unfurnished and empty (with no tenant in place, rather than a tenant who has temporarily moved out to manage lockdown elsewhere) it is exempt from council tax for six months. After six months, an up to 50% discount applies. A furnished, empty property receives an up to 50% discount for six months. The discount rate is variable by council, so check with your local authority on the rates in your area.

Q. What can you do when your tenants are already in arrears, and you feel your estate agents have been negligent?
A. Currently, it may be tricky to pursue outstanding rent, however once courts and bailiffs are operating fully again, you can pursue unpaid rent via the normal channels. You should always be confident that your agent is working in your best interest. Don’t feel compelled to stay with an agent who you do not believe are working as hard as they can for you. Changing agents mid-way through a contract is viable, if you believe that the contractual agreements have not been met. You can read more about how to do this here.

Here at Howsy, we understand that the current crisis is making landlord life tricky and hard to manage. We’re offering a special offer for three month’s free management for new landlords courtesy of the team at Howsy during this difficult time.

For more information on how we can help, don’t hesitate to give us a call on 0330 999 1234 or arrange a callback for more information.

We’re all in this together, and we will get through it! Stay safe, and we’re here to help wherever we can.

With everything going on in the world at the moment, it is easy to forget the other things that are important to us.

Today is Earth Day, and across the world we are (remotely!) celebrating the largest environmental movement designed to drive transformative change for people and the planet.

Since 1970, the Earth Day Network’s mission has been to drive positive action for the planet, but is there anything that landlords can be doing to play their part in this major step towards a greener future?

Boosting your bottom line

As well as a positive boost for the environment, making green tweaks to your lettings portfolio can also have a really great impact on your pocket too. More and more tenants are looking at the green credentials of a property as a very real concern, and they play a big part in choosing their perfect home. Failing to take this seriously could end up having a major impact on the scroll appeal of your online marketing.

Simple changes

Most modern properties are built with energy efficiency in mind. This is great news for landlords and tenants, more energy efficiency benefits often mean far lower bills! However, if you have a property that was built before the mid-1980s, it is likely that energy efficiency wasn’t at the top of the agenda… Either way, there are plenty of things owners of properties both new and older can consider to boost their home’s output:

  1. Insulation: Most new properties will be well insulated, but older properties may be lacking a little, and this can make a real difference. Effectively insulating a property, in areas such as the loft and cavity walls, is like wrapping the entire building in a cosy coat, and traps heat in the home – saving your tenant a fortune on heating bills and really helping cut down on the overall energy usage.
  2. Double glazing: Windows with wind whistling through aren’t going to win any awards for efficiency, nor are they going to be popular with chilly tenants on a winters evening. If your property is in a conservation area, and covered by an Article 4 directive, you may be unable to upgrade to double glazing, your local council will be able to advise.
  3. Eco-lightbulbs: Sometimes the smallest things can be the brightest ideas! Making the change to LED lightbulbs throughout your rental properties can make a real difference to the energy output. Admittedly, they’re fairly pricy to buy compared to a standard bulb, but they last around 21 times longer (no more call outs for blown bulbs in hard-to-reach places!) and are brighter, and more efficient.
  4. Top rated appliances: As well as considering light, it’s worth considering the appliances you supply. Appliances are graded A to G on the efficiency scale, with A being the best and G the worst. Fridges and freezers have three extra ratings, A+, A++ and A+++, and washing machines have three efficiency ratings for energy consumption, washing and spinning (you’d be looking for an AAA).
  5. Repair, don’t replace: Even the most efficient white goods can have a wobble, and if you find yourself on the receiving end of a breakdown call, before rushing to the shops to replace the appliance, consider if it can be repaired first. Not only will it save your wallet, it’ll help do wonders for the environment too. Howsy’s Appliance cover can help keep costs in check, and have you back up and running in no time.
  6. Low-flush toilets: With every visit to the loo using up to 12 litres of water, the average fixture is literally flushing good environmental sense away! Fitting low-flush toilets could save up to 60% of the water per use. An upgrade to the old-fashioned hack of a brick in the cistern, modern low-flush systems are a savvy way of saving water and reducing energy usage.
  7. Water-saving shower heads: Everyone loves a long hot shower after a hard day, but with a power shower using up to 22 litres of water every minute, this isn’t the most economical form of relaxation! Water-saving shower heads can protect the power, but stop water wastage running down the drain.
  8. Thermostatic radiator valves: Not only a great option for environmental efficiency but also one for household harmony, thermostatic radiator valves help moderate the temperature of each radiator when the individual room temperature is reached. Perfect for when you don’t want to spend money heating an unused room, or if you have a heat lover in one bedroom, and a chilly sleeper in another. At £10 to £20 per valve, it’s a small cost for a big difference.
  9. Bleed your radiators: Perfectly balanced radiators are no use if the system isn’t working efficiently. Regular maintenance to ensure that there are no airlocks in the system causing blockages is vital. Make sure to schedule maintenance in the summer months, so as not to receive a cool reception from your tenants!
  10. Block up chimneys: Original fireplaces can look great, and be a real selling point. However, leaving your chimney unchecked can leave your property opens to more than just Santa! If the fireplace is unused, a simple method is to fit a chimney balloon, inserted up the chimney and inflated, blocking cold draughts, rain and debris.

Document your changes

If you are planning to make changes to your property to improve your energy efficiency, it is important that people know about it! The key document that highlights your property’s green credentials is your Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This is a mandatory document that must be in place in order to start marketing your property. You can read more about recent changes to EPC legislation here.

An EPC lasts ten years, so it is likely that you already have one in place, however, as you improve and adapt your property, the score you have may change. It is important to ensure that your EPC always reflects the most accurate results – after all, you want to show off all your hard work!

We can help arrange a new EPC, to make sure you have everything in place to get the very best rating. More details are available here.

Cut down your carbon footprint with technology

As we stand today, face-to-face contact is an obvious no-no. With strict social distancing requirements in place, it is clear that the market as we know it may take some time to return to normal. Many landlords are reporting that their traditional high street agents are understandably finding the transition tricky to manage.

Here at Howsy, we work with strictly digital platforms – a great asset in the current situation. However, even when guidelines are relaxed and we can get back to relative normality, technologies like ours are still great from an environmental point of view!

Cutting down on your carbon footprint is one of the biggest ways an individual can help do their bit. To let a property the traditional way, there’s plenty of to-ing and fro-ing, meaning that footprint soon ramps up! Journeys to and from your agency to sign contracts, process paperwork, oversee deposits, and that’s before you consider numerous viewings.

Here at Howsy everything is carried out digitally, with very few journeys necessary. Even initial viewings can be hosted remotely via a video (although we do definitely recommend an in-person appointment before proceeding with a tenant). Clever bespoke technology can be used at every stage to simplify and cut down on unnecessary people movement.

For more infomation on how we can help, don’t hesitate to give us a call on 0330 999 1234. or visit www.howsy.com today.

As coronavirus continues to contain the UK, the government guidelines are clear on viewings; no face-to-face viewings can go ahead in the current climate to help stop the spread of coronavirus.  Please read all our current advice here. If you have an empty property to let, apart from in exceptional circumstances, the fact is that you will not moving any tenants in under current guidance.

However, this will change.  When the restrictions are lifted, there will be pent up demand for tenants looking for a new home.  Prospective tenants are still looking at properties online now, short-listing potential homes for when the doors are flung open.  Having a digital, distance-proof, video of your home could put your property to the top of the ‘to see’ list.

Your smart phone gives you the ability to record video property walkthroughs, allowing you to showcase your property to potential tenants.  It’s a great introduction to allow future renters to really ‘get to know’ your property, without setting foot inside.

Check out our simple five-step-guide to recording the perfect video:

Step 1: Plan your video

  • You will already have a clear idea of the rooms that have the most ‘wow’ factor in your property. Make sure you have plenty of time to focus on them. Tenants won’t need to see details of the airing cupboard, but everyone will want to see the kitchen, bathroom, main living spaces and master bedroom.
  • Plan your route: have a clear idea of the route that you are going to take through the property. The first view will set the tone for the rest of the film, and the final room is the one that will remain in memory, so make sure you choose really strong spaces to stick in people’s minds.

Step 2: Prepare your property

  • It goes without saying that you should make sure that your property is looking its best, just as you would if you were preparing it for a real-life viewing. Make sure it is spotlessly clean, and any excess clutter – junk mail, or coffee cups – are cleared away.
  • The importance of great lighting shouldn’t be underestimated, make sure lights are switched on, so that there are no gloomy corners.
  • Pick the best time of day when there is the most natural light.  Sun streaming through (clean) windows will make the property look appealing.
  • Make sure any doors are open (leave them ajar) ready for you to move smoothly through. You don’t want to be fumbling over a door handle whilst trying to juggle a camera.

Step 3: Film your video

  • Make sure you are confident with the video technology that you are going to use. Do some practice runs before you get cracking with the real thing.
  • Videos look better on Rightmove and Zoopla in landscape format, so to ensure that your video maximises space, hold your phone horizontally to record.
  • Hold your phone at chest height when you are recording. This allows you to hold the camera steady (using both hands and keeping your arms clamped close to your sides will give extra stability) and gives continuity as you move around your property.
  • Wherever possible, position yourself in the corner of rooms, recording a wide pan shot of the room. This makes the room look as large as possible, and gives the viewer a clear view of the space.
  • If you can, try and position your camera so that you can see out of any windows in the room. This not only showcases any views that you may have, but also makes the space look bigger.
  • Don’t worry if there’s elements that you want to crop, most phones have editing software for cropping elements out built in, so you can snip any mishaps out of the finished product.

Step 4: Talk viewers through the video

  • Decide whether or not you are going to add a voice over to your video – there’s no right or wrong choice here, but if you are not confident don’t do it.
  • If you choose to include a voice-over, this can be recorded live as you record the visuals. Make sure you have given some thought as to what you are going to say beforehand, and are confident of your facts.
  • Including basic information such as the size of the room and any furniture that will be included is really useful, as well as drawing attention to any extra special features.

Step 5: Getting your video seen

  • In order to share your video, you will need to first upload your video to YouTube. You’ll need a YouTube account, but this is easy to set up. Head to www.youtube.com to create a new account. You’ll need to enter an email address, and provide a password, which will enable you to create an account and upload/create videos.
  • You can record directly using YouTube, Howsy Founder and CEO Calum Brannan talks you though the process here.
  • It is important to be aware of online safety, so be careful not to add the property’s full address or your personal contact details. However, it is a good idea to include the property’s road name, city and Howsy contact details for tenants to contact us for more information:
    0330 999 1234
    www.howsy.com  
  • When you have uploaded your video, each upload has a unique shareable link, bespoke to the video. Send this link to your team at Howsy, and we can add your video to your listing on Rightmove and Zoopla.

Don’t worry if you don’t produce a Hollywood classic.  Everyone in the country is in this together, and potential tenants understand that any videos are home made because of the current circumstances. 

As with everything, it is important to ensure that safety is the primary concern.

As well as ensuring that you are conscious of your internet safety (don’t identify the property’s full address or yourself in the video), it is vital that you are maintaining all safe and sensible precautions with regards to coronavirus.

Full details of the latest government advice on how to manage coronavirus as a landlord, or tenant, is available here, and whilst recording a video is a great marketing tool, you should never do it at the cost of safety.  Only attempt this if the property you are recording is entirely empty and you can always practice social distancing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVNJN0gSd1g

[UPDATED 12th May]

First and foremost, I hope that you and your loved ones are well. We have all read or used the clichés “unprecented”, “uncertain” and “challenging” times, but the fact remains that none of us have seen anything like this.

As a predominantly online business, we were able to adapt quickly to the government restrictions, so it has largely been business as normal for us apart from the team are almost exclusively remote working.

With the situation changing daily, like everyone, we are monitoring the news closely to see how the government will work to ensure that the nation’s landlords and tenants are protected during this period.

On 29 March, the government published full advice for Landlords and Tenants. On 12 May, this was updated to allow property viewings, prepare properties for renting and move home, effectively restarting the lettings market. Whilst there is no specific mention of social distancing, it goes without saying that it is expected all these activities need to happen whilst maintaining a safe distance from others. There is a lot of reliance on all of us to use our common-sense.

“Our clear plan will enable people to move home safely, covering each aspect of the sales and letting process from viewings to removals…. [and] is based on the latest guidance to ensure the safety and protection of everyone involved. This critical industry can now safely move forward, and those waiting patiently to move can now do so.”
– Robert Jenrick MP, Housing Secretary

Protect yourself

Most importantly, make sure you are keeping up to date with government advice. Washing hands, working from home, social distancing – all things that you’ve seen in the news that are important changes for all of us. Whilst it does appear that restrictions are slowly being loosened, for many of us things won’t change immediately.


Protect others

From 10 May, the edict from the government changed from “Stay at home” to “Stay alert”. Whilst there is more that is open to interpretation, the key messages are:

  • Stay at home as much as possible
  • Work from home if you can
  • Limit contact with other people
  • Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from others
  • Wash your hands regularly

If you or anyone in your household are showing any symptoms of coronavirus, then you must self-isolate yourself immediately for the protection of those who are most vulnerable. This is incumbent on all of us.


Response times

Our teams are almost exclusively working from home, and whilst this is not unusual for us as a modern technology company, it is exceptional that so many of us are working remotely at the same time.  As a result, our response times could be affected. We are trying to prioritise responding to urgent requests or those from the more vulnerable, so please bear with us if we don’t get back to you quickly.

However, we are still open 24/7, and we’re on hand to help both landlords and tenants as usual.


As I mentioned, circumstances are changing, and we’re ensuring we’re keeping updated and adapting quickly.  We know that the government is never going to be able to provide details to cover all scenarios.  So in absence of specifics, we hope decision making and issue resolution will be done with a mixture of common sense, empathy and compassion for all.

Click here for advice specific to Tenants

Click here for advice specific to Landlords

Please stay safe and look after each other. 

Calum Brannan
Founder & CEO, Howsy




Advice for Tenants


Problems paying rent

If your circumstances have changed and you are struggling to pay your rent, please let us know immediately.  Don’t wait until after you get into arrears. We will explain the situation to the landlord, and they may give you more time to pay or agree to a repayment plan, although you may be asked to demonstrate that your ability to pay has changed as a result of coronavirus.  A repayment plan means you’ll make smaller payments to your landlord over a longer period of time. You’ll still have to pay everything back – but it could be easier than paying the full amount in one go.

You may also be entitled to benefits to help with housing costs if your income has reduced, even if you’re still working. Whilst there are various groups lobbying for ‘rent holidays’ during the coronavirus crisis, there are no details on any plans to introduce this yet.

It is important to note that your total rent will still be due as normal.  Landlords may be willing to make arrangements with tenants to delay or reduce rent payments but they are currently under no obligation to do so.  Don’t offer to pay more than you can realistically afford – you could make the problem worse if you can’t keep up with your payments.


Evictions

On 18th March, the government announced a ban on evictions

However, the Coronavirus Act that became law on 26 March, doesn’t actually ban evictions, it just extends the statutory notice period from two months to three for most renters.  In effect it means landlords can still serve notice and claim possession at the end of that period.  There may be additional emergency legislation, or the legislation could be extended, but that is unknown at the moment.

The change in law only applies to notices served on or after 26 March. However, for existing possession claims there are likely to be significant delays to hearings as court hearings are also suspended.


Moving out of your property

Legally, you can only end a fixed term tenancy early if either your contract (the ‘AST’) has a break clause or you negotiate an early end to the agreement with your landlord.  Please let us know if you want to negotiate an early termination – your landlord may be sympathetic to your request to leave, but bear in mind that they will need to find new tenants to cover their costs too.   Whilst the government asked mortgage lenders to make provision for mortgage holidays for landlords, they still need to pay that mortgage – it is a deferment, not a cancellation of their mortgage costs.

Conversely, if your tenancy is due to end soon but you’ll like to stay where you are, please contact us so that we can help negotiate an extension with your landlord.

On 12 May, the government announced that there are now no restrictions on moving house, other than ensuring it is done within social distancing guidelines.


Inspections and Repairs

In line with government guidance from 12 May, inspections and repairs can start again. Landlords also have legal responsibilities to carry out gas safety checks, so they have been continuing to be done. If you are self-isolating, then gas safety checks can be delayed, as long as we have documented the reasons why. Please let us know via email as soon as you enter self-isolation, so that we can ensure the safety of you and any maintenance teams are protected during this time.

Please ensure you practice social distancing if any repairs or legal checks are required at your property during this time.


Working from home

If you are now working from home, make sure you maintain good physical and mental health during this period. Although it is second nature for many, it can be surprisingly challenging, particularly for extended periods. The BBC website has some simple tips which will help.  We can provide short term work from home furniture packages on a monthly basis in the London area for £30 a month, click here to find out more.





Advice for Landlords


Evictions

On 18th March, the government announced that eviction processes are to be suspended for three months, with no possession proceedings taking place during the crisis.  The intention was to give all tenants complete security that if they are unable to work, due to social isolation, lock-down or needing to be at home with children, they are safe in their home and do not have to worry about the risk of an eviction.

However, the Coronavirus Act that became law on 26 March, doesn’t actually ban evictions, it just extends the statutory notice period from two months to three for most renters.  In effect it means landlords can still serve notice and claim possession at the end of that period.  There may be additional emergency legislation, or the legislation could be extended, but that is unknown at the moment.  

The change in law only applies to notices served on or after 26 March. However, for existing possession claims there are likely to be significant delays to hearings as court hearings are currently suspended.

The law applies to all reasons for evictions including, for example anti-social behaviour.  If you have an anti-social tenant, then the best course of action is to keep in close telephone and email contact with your tenants and neighbours during this difficult time.  Try and diffuse any situation as quickly and calmly as you can remotely, especially if the tenant is going to remain in your property. In this situation, it’s best to show constraint and compromise. 


Rent arrears

It is likely that some tenants may find themselves unable to work during this time.  The government has effectively promised to cover the wages of many workers, but it is still possible that tenants may find themselves facing difficulties paying rent. 

The government has urged landlords and tenants to work closely whilst the situation unfolds, and should it be necessary, establish an affordable repayment plan when the tenant’s circumstances return to normal.    It is important to be realistic about how this can be managed. Setting a repayment plan that is too high could lead your tenant into long-term financial difficulties which could result in long-term rental arrears for you – simply extending the problem.  Please let us know if you want us to help with any drafting of a rental repayment plan. Similarly, if you do agree a plan directly with a tenant, please inform us.

There are rental guarantee insurances available that still protect you against any missed rent payments, and the government has implemented additional measures – such as mortgage breaks – that can ease your burden.


Protecting your income – rent guarantee insurance

There are a number of rent guarantee insurance products in the market which will cover your rent in the event of rental arrears. Because of the changing situation, the rental protection scheme providers of Howsy’s Rent Guarantee and Guaranteed Rent (as part of our Protect package) have now withdrawn their product to new customers.

You may still be able to find rent guarantee schemes with another provider, but please make sure you check their terms in relation to coronavirus.

You should be aware that any rent guarantee scheme may become redundant as the situation changes. We therefore cannot advise on whether taking up rent guarantee protection is a prudent decision or not.


Mortgage payment holidays

On 18th March the government announced financial support packages including a three-month mortgage holiday for those whose income was impacted by the virus.   From 19th March, mortgage lenders also suspended all possession orders, and will not be starting any new court actions against non-payment of mortgages for 90 days.

For landlords who find themselves with rental income interrupted by tenants who are unable to pay, this could be a real help, allowing a break on either your own personal mortgage, and/or that of your rental property. Be aware that this option may mean your monthly mortgage payment goes up after the payment holiday ends.

You must be up-to-date with mortgage repayments to apply, and be able to prove that your tenant has been directly affected (fallen ill themselves) or indirectly affected (lost their job, financially impacted etc) by the Coronavirus. Contact your individual mortgage provider directly for details of how to implement the break. 

It is worth checking to see if you have insurance that will cover your mortgage payments – for example, mortgage payment protection insurance or through your current account – as this may be more cost effective for you.


Renewals, tenant changes and evolving circumstances

On 12 May, government regulations were updated to allow people to move home, as long as they can adhere to social distancing guidelines. If your tenancy was due to end soon, but you and your existing tenant are happy to stay, then please contact us so that we can help negotiate an extension. They may be grateful for the security, and happy to stay in the comfort of a familiar home. 

For a tenant wanting to end their tenancy early, while you legally could enforce the terms of the tenancy and claim rent for the remaining period, it may be better to negotiate an end to the tenancy with the tenant or arrange a rent holiday with the tenant.  Please show compassion and empathy.


Inspections, repairs and safety checks

In line with updated government guidance, we can restart inspections and non-urgent repairs, as long as it’s possible to adhere to social distancing guidelines. 

There is no change to legislation with regards to compliance checks, such as gas and electrical safety – these have always been a requirement. If there is a reason they cannot happen (for example your tenants are self-isolating), then we will document any delays why the checks cannot be carried out and ensure that they are done as soon as reasonably possible when safe to do so. If you arrange these checks yourself, please also document any delays and send to us.

We have continued to fix urgent repairs during this time and this hasn’t changed. If you are arranging any repair work to be done, it is important to stress to any tradespeople and your tenant that government advice surrounding social distancing must always be observed. It is likely that these issues will also take longer than normal to resolve, due to demand and possible difficulty in obtaining parts and labour.   


Finding tenants and marketing your property

Even since the initial restrictions since 23rd March, we have seen sustained tenant for future moves. Historically, uncertain economic environments also tends to drive more rentals as people are less likely to buy property.  So we expect the lettings market to remain relatively robust overall.

On 12 May, the government lifted restrictions on the lettings market. Effectively immediately, you can now:

  • Hold property viewings
  • Prepare properties for renting (e.g. taking photos, inventory)
  • Move home

Guidelines on social distancing must be adhered to at all times still. If you, your existing tenants or prospective viewers are reluctant to attend a viewing, we can host virtual viewings for you, as well as recording a video walkthrough of your property which we can get on your property advert listing. If you produce your own video, remember that such a video is part of the marketing of the property and falls within consumer protection legislation. It must not contain false images or omit anything that could be a material consideration for a tenant in deciding to let the property.  You cannot simply ignore things like broken fixtures, damp or mould in such videos. They must be an honest representation of the property and its facilities.

With much of the country now working from home, more and more of us are finding ourselves at a loss as to how to manage the demands of combining home and work life.

If you are reading this with your laptop balanced precariously on the arm of your sofa, or leaning uncomfortably against a kitchen worktop, fighting for space with the kettle and toaster, the Howsy Concierge team has a solution for you.

Our team can help arrange for a dedicated workspace to be delivered directly to your home. Our series of space-saving workstations are designed to seamlessly fit into the smallest space, and help provide a clean and clear space for you to work-from-home productively, for as long as necessary.

We understand that many people may only be looking for a short-term solution, and have a range of products available instantly, for just three months. All prices include free delivery within five days, installation and a free White Chair. All products are easily cleanable.

Larry Desk

Larry Desk
White Chair
Months Subscription3612
Cost per month £30£25£21

 Price includes free delivery within 5 days + Installation + White Chair*. (London area only).

Charles Desk with drawer

Charles desk with drawer
White Chair
Months subscription3612
Cost per month£39£30£25

Price includes free delivery within 5 days + Installation + White Chair*. (London area only).

What if my needs change?

As well as providing you with great looking home office, the benefits of Howsy Concierge mean that you can switch up the look of your furniture when the seasons change! With new looks being introduced all the time, we can switch your old Howsy Concierge furniture and deliver you a new set at the end of your term. Collection and delivery are free, so there’s no additional cost to keep your look fresh, and your desk fresher!  

I love the desk! Can I keep the furniture?

Howsy Concierge is a furniture rental service, so generally speaking you don’t keep the furniture, although on our 12-month plan, the much-loved White Chair is free to keep. Our styles change all the time, and there may even be a desk you love more just around the corner, many Howsy Concierge customers love the service as a great way to experiment with the look of their property every few months! However, if you find that your desk and chair fit your property so perfectly you simply can’t let them go, speak to the team and we can provide a final payment quote.

How do I get started?

Howsy Concierge is a furniture rental service, so we have to tick the box to make sure you are suitable to proceed before signing up. As a Howsy customer, the checks we conducted when you signed up with us should cover this off, so there should be nothing holding us back from getting started. If there are any additional paperwork, it shouldn’t take any time at all and can all be carried out remotely, our team will be happy to help

If you’re fed up sitting on the carpet, working on the coffee table, contact the Howsy Concierge Team today on [email protected] to see how we can help.

Terms and Conditions

The *White Chair is provided at no additional charge. The White Chair is free to keep on our 12-month plan or we’ll collect it as normal for free, along with the desk, on our 3 or 6 month plan. Please note this is a furniture rental plan. Unless specifically stated all furniture will be collected (for free) at the end of the term. All offers are subject to availability and approval.

Don’t speak too soon, but there are signs that spring may finally be on it’s way…

As people’s thoughts turn to hazy summer evenings in the garden and plenty of Bank Holiday’s coming up, this time of year traditionally sees a significant increase in lettings activity, as tenants look to start planning a move.

But, as the market picks up, what can you do to make sure that your property stands out online? Check out our top tips for maximising your property’s potential this spring!

Set to the spring cleaning!

Freshening up a property before letting is always a good idea. Once your existing tenants have moves out, it’s wise to take a critical look at the property, empty is you can, and see if there are any areas that could do with a little attention. A lick of paint or some fresh sealant in a bathroom can make a huge difference, and lift a property from looking a little tired, to sparkling new again.

In a busy market, making sure your property looks as good as it can is key. It is unlikely that a tenant will want to settle for a slightly scruffy option, if there is a property down the road that is as neat as a new pin. A little time now can save plenty spent languishing on the portals!

Don’t neglect the garden

If your outside space survived the recent storms, it is likely to be in need of a little post-winter TLC. A great harden is a huge plus point for many tenants, so if you have outside space, make sure it is working as hard as it can for you. Before any photographs are taken, make sure that the grass is freshly cut, shrubs are trimmed and any leaves swept up – and if there is space that is ideal for a table or BBQ it can be a good idea to pop one in place, to suggest how the space can be used.

Make the most of your hard work

Once your property is looking at it’s very best, it is important to show it off! Think of your portal advert as an online shop window – a great set of professional photos will really help showcase your property, whereas a fuzzy mobile phone shot (possibly with added thumb) might not have quite the same impact!

A professional photographer will understand exactly how to frame the perfect image, showing off exactly the details that your prospective tenant will need to see. Nobody needs to see a loo on an advert, but plenty may be interested in whether there is a shower or bath…

This time of year is a great time for capturing images. Throughout the winter everything can look a little dark, drab and miserable, but with bright sunshine streaming through the windows, your property (and garden!) will look great.

Sell the lifestyle in your description

Creating the perfect description for your advert can feel like a bit of a mountain to climb… there’s so much to say, but you don’t want to waffle!

Don’t forget that your tenant is likely to have found your property through a search feature, discounting anything that does not meet their non-negotiable requirements.

A short list of key features highlights the immediate ‘need to knows’, such as bedroom/bathroom numbers, location and parking availability, however there is plenty of scope to go into more detail.

Your description is a great place to highlight anything that really makes your property stand out from the crowd, and help sell your prospective tenants the lifestyle that they could enjoy if they lived there. For example, if there’s a great local park right next door, mention it. If there’s a private south-facing garden that gets the sun all day, you’ve got a huge selling point. If you are smack-bang on top of an Underground station making commuting into central London a breeze, let them know.  

Take advantage of longer days

With your property looking great, and your advert showcasing what a dream lifestyle can be had living there, you’ll soon have people queuing up to view.

With the clocks going forward at the end of the month, we’ll soon have an extra hour of the day to utilise. As evenings get lighter, you can make the most of this extra time by conducting viewings in the evenings, outside of working hours, and still get the benefit of them seeing the property in the daylight, when it’s looking it’s very best.


With a series of storms raining chaos down on the whole of the UK, it is fair to say that this winter has been one that we are all keen to see the back of.

With heavy rain and high winds tearing through the country, there are very few properties that have escaped entirely unscathed – with some unfortunate homes being hit not once, but twice with severe flood damage.

As we cross our fingers that Storms Ciara and Dennis are beating a retreat, is there anything we should be doing to brace our properties against the worst of the weather?

Is dealing with storm damage my problem as a landlord?

Yes. As a landlord, under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, you have a responsibility for the repair and maintenance of your properties structure and interior.

Unless you have been unlucky enough to have been in the worst-effected areas and been victim of severe flooding, it is likely that the majority of the weather-related damage will be to the exterior of your property. You have a responsibility to ensure that the property is safe and secure for your tenants, and that includes the maintenance of:

  • Roof
  • External walls
  • Foundations
  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Drains and exterior pipes
  • Guttering and water collection
  • Fences

If the wintery weather has caused damage that is not causing an immediate risk to your tenant, rather it is of a cosmetic nature, you do not have to repair immediately, however, do bear in mind that some issues can be worse than they first appear…

For example, if blustery winds have dislodged some tiles from a porch, there is unlikely to be an immediate risk to your tenant, but the subsequent risk to the property if left unattended can be internal leaks and troublesome mould. It is usually in your best interest to manage maintenance issues like this as soon as they arise.

It can be tempting, when looking at the weather forecast and seeing storm after storm rolling in to leave maintenance until the weather is brighter, but do look at the bigger picture – don’t let a small job turn in to a costly and time-consuming repair!

Do my tenants have any responsibilities?

When your tenant moves into a property, the property becomes their home, and they have a right to live in it undisturbed. However, you own the bricks and mortar and must maintain them, so they have a responsibility to keep you informed of any issues that arise in order for you to do this.

Your tenants are the only people who can give you a clear overview of exactly when is going on inside your property during bad weather, so it is a good idea to touch base with them and make sure everything is as it should be. A quick text or email checking all is well can be enough to prompt them to mention a broken fence or slipped tile, and allow you to action maintenance as quickly as possible – the faster you catch a problem, the easier it is to solve!

Which areas should I be keeping an eye on in the terrible weather?  

Whilst it is certainly tempting to hide inside and curl up with a cuppa, braving the elements (only if it is safe to do so) and having a walk around your property to see how it is weathering the storm, can be a very useful exercise.

There are certain areas that are far more susceptible to weather damage than others, so it is worth keeping a close eye on them if the weather gets particularly unpleasant.

The roof

If caught early, roofing issues needn’t send your budget sky high. If you or your tenant notice any bowing/misshaping of the top of the roof line, or slipping/movement of tiles, it is a good idea to get a professional in to check out the roof and loft joists. Long term leaks caused by tiles slipping in high winds can weaken the joists in your roof, and if left un-treated end up causing a pricey problem.

External walls

With high winds and lashing rain, exterior walls really take a battering in bad weather. If your property has any cracks or damage to brickwork, water can find its way in easily, which can lead to a whole host of damp and mould related issues – you can read more here.

Whilst you’re unlikely to want to be carrying out any major exterior works whilst the weather is still bad, it is wise to be aware of any potential problems so you can be on top of your maintenance as soon as the sun starts shining again (soon, hopefully)!

Guttering

One of the key culprits for causing water ingress in walls, and damp problems internally, is dodgy guttering. It’s fair to say that with the amount of rain we’ve experienced, our gutters have been working overtime recently. With leaves and debris flying around in windy conditions, it doesn’t take much to block a guttering system, and once blocked, even the lightest rainfall can cause a soggy overflow.

Fences/gates

A flapping fence can be a real hazard, and if your fence has taken the brunt of a gale it is important to get it fixed, for the safety of your tenants and their neighbours. This may not be safe to do whilst the weather is still bad, but it is wise to secure the damaged section, or remove it completely (speak to the neighbours about this first) so that there is no risk that a ‘drunk’ panel can cause damage to property, or cause injury.

How can I prepare my property for the winter weather?

Whilst we can’t change the weather, there is plenty you can do to make sure your property is as well prepared as possible to stay safe in a storm. There are a few simple tasks you can ask your tenants to carry out too, so between you, all bases should be covered.

Landlord preperation:

  • Check for loose roof tiles/bowing and repair
  • Ensure drains and gutters are free of blockages
  • Repair wobbly fences
  • Check walls for cracks or holes and repair where necessary
  • Prune trees/vegetation near to the property

Tenant preperation:

  • Secure windows and doors
  • Park cars away from trees – ideally in a garage wherever possible
  • Move outside furniture or movable objects into a garden shed or inside

What do I do if my property suffers damage that I can’t fix?

Should the worst happen, the first thing to ascertain is that your tenants are safe, and if they can remain in the property. Their safety is paramount, and you need to make sure that there is no danger to them. If they cannot remain in the property, it is a good idea to work with them to come to an alternative arrangement. Most insurance policies will cover you for alternative accommodation for your tenants if the property is not habitable, check your individual policy – however don’t be surprised if your tenant would prefer to stay with friends or family than in a hotel!

Once this has been clarified, you will need to contact your insurance company and let them know about the incident straight away – do be aware that there is likely to be a bit of a wait for this, you probably will not be the only person in the area trying to make contact after a big storm!

You may need to arrange to have emergency repairs carried out straight away. If this is the case, make sure you keep detailed records of everything that is done and spent by you and your tenant, including quotes and receipts, which you will need if you need to make an insurance claim.

Managing damage to your property can be a real headache, and when the storm is raging on, it can be the last thing you feel like tackling. The alternative is to explore Howsy Protect, a management plan that offers full protection for you and your tenants.

From just £90 a month, the Howsy Protect team are on hand to swoop into action should disaster strike. We are always available to manage a home emergency, from roof damage due to a fallen tree, to complete failure of the gas, electric or heating system, and we’ll even cover the cost of alternative accommodation for your tenants if your property is deemed unsafe.

You can read more about Howsy Protect here.