Bolton Letting Agent, Westpine Property Lettings, wish all a ‘Merry Christmas’!

Bolton Letting Agent, Westpine Property Lettings, wish all a ‘Merry Christmas’!

2014 has been a strong year for the lettings market in the North West. Here at the Westpine Lettings office based in Bolton, we have observed that tenancy lengths are increasing, rental arrears remain low, the tenant demand for high standard 2/3/4 bed properties continues and our investor landlord clients have added to their property portfolios throughout 2014.

We are excited to see how the lettings market in Bolton develops and continues to grow in the New Year 2015.

Michelle and Stuart, the Managing Directors at Westpine Property Lettings, would like to thank all our clients for their ongoing custom this year and all staff would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas! May 2015 be a fantastic year for all!

Westpine Lettings, Bolton, wishes all a 'Merry Christmas'!

Westpine Lettings, Bolton, wishes all a ‘Merry Christmas’!

Posted in December 2014 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Decor in rental property – by Bolton Letting Agents, Westpine Property Lettings

Décor in Rental Property – by Bolton Letting Agents – Westpine Property Lettings

Decoration can often be a source of dispute between Landlords and Tenants at the end of tenancies. Disagreement can arise over condition and changes to the specification during tenancy.

Landlords – what should you ensure?

Firstly it is important to understand that in decorating your property you should try to keep colours neutral rather than to your own taste. Strong colours and patterns can be a matter of individual taste and some prospective tenants may be influenced by colours which they cannot tolerate. Numerous surveys have established that whilst neutral colours such as white or magnolia are not everybody’s favourite colour, they are usually acceptable colours which most furniture will match with.

It is essential that landlords, or their managing agent, record detailed descriptions of the decoration within the inventory and schedule of condition. In the event of any dispute it is not sufficient to describe “painted walls” – this must show the colour and the condition. Tenants often disregard the tenancy agreements and assume that they can decorate the property to their own tastes. Whilst in some cases this can improve your property and be a benefit, there are also as many cases where the tenant has selected to decorate in strong or bizarre colours which would be off-putting to future tenants. In such a situation it is essential to have a before description of the decoration, ideally with photographs, in order to enforce the decoration to be returned to its original state, deducting from the deposit if necessary.

Letting Agents Bolton

Neutral colours are always preferred in rental properties

 

Tenants – what should you do if you wish to decorate?

Westpine Lettings advise their tenants that they should always check their tenancy agreement and contact the managing agent to advise of any intended changes before they are carried out. Whilst most landlords will not object to decoration, they will usually request details of colour and paint quality before-hand. It is important to understand that whilst the property is yours for exclusive use, any changes to décor must have permission granted by the landlord or managing agent. Try to put forward neutral or soothing colours which are likely to appeal to future tenants and most likely to be agreed to by the landlord.

In not seeking permission, tenants run the risk of being asked to re-decorate the property at the end of the tenancy and return the decoration to the original state whether painted or wall-papered. This can prove costly and time consuming and if keys have already been handed back can mean that decoration would have to be organised by contractors at the tenant’s expense, usually deducted from the deposit.

Westpine can be contacted on 01204 694121 or info@westpinelettings.com

Posted in September 2013 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SAFEty first: Gas Safety Week – by Bolton Letting Agent, Westpine Property Lettings

SAFEty first: Gas Safety Week – by Bolton Letting Agent, Westpine Property Lettings

SAFEagent, Westpine Property Lettings & Management is urging all landlords and tenants to be gas safe and choose their letting agent wisely, during the third annual Gas Safety Week (16 – 22 September). It can be a matter of life and death as badly fitted and poorly serviced gas appliances can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning. By looking for a letting agent which is Gas Safe, landlords and tenants can be confident that gas appliances in their rented properties are checked annually and regularly serviced by registered engineers. Westpine Property Lettings has already pledged its commitment to consumer protection by signing up to the SAFEagent campaign.

Lettings Bolton

Choose a letting agency who is registered with SAFEagent

 

SAFEagent is an easily identifiable logo signposting letting agents who are part of a Client Money Protection Scheme. This means that landlord and tenant funds will be protected, if an agent loses, steals or is subject to bank fraud. Michelle Leatham of Westpine says: “The importance of maintaining gas appliances should not be underestimated: the consequences can be fatal. We are committed to ensuring that all of our properties are gas safe and we are proud to support Gas Safety Week.”

Tenants can be gas safe in their homes by following these tips:

• Look out for warning signs that your gas appliances aren’t working correctly e.g. lazy yellow or orange flames instead of crisp blue ones, black marks on or around the appliance and too much condensation in the room

• Know the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning – headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, collapse and loss of consciousness

• Install an audible carbon monoxide alarm

• If you smell gas call the gas emergency number on 0800 111 999

In addition to Government support, key organizations in the industry including Citizens Advice Bureaux,Ombudsman Services: Property, The Property Ombudsman, DPS, TDS, My Deposits and the Trading Standards Institute have all allied themselves to the campaign. Key suppliers to the sector are also standing behind the campaign – HomeLet, Imfuna and CFP Software have led the way in pledging their backing to it.

For gas safety advice or to find and check an engineer visit the Gas Safe Register website at http://www.GasSafeRegister.co.uk. Alternatively call the free helpline on 0800 408 5500. To find a SAFEagent in your area visit http://www.safeagents.co.uk

Westpine Property Lettings can be contacted on 01204 694121 or info@westpinelettings.com

Posted in September 2013 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Important warning to anyone looking to rent a property – written by Westpine Property Lettings

Important warning to anyone looking to rent a property – Written by Bolton Letting Agents, Westpine Property Lettings

The National Landlords Association has issued a warning this month about the number of ongoing rental scams on Gumtree. The NLA has advised that it has received a number of worrying reports of defrauded tenants, as a new wave of scams are starting to appear on the Gumtree site.

Potential tenants are replying to advertisements on the website for rental accommodation in the UK. After supposed rental acceptance, tenants are then asked to send money over to the “landlord”.

Having sent the money, the tenants attempt to make contact with the “landlord” or collect keys to the rental property, only to find out that the “landlord” is not able to be contacted and the potential tenant has been defrauded, losing their money.

In one recent scam, the “landlord” claimed to be a member of the NLA, even using the NLA logo. Fake letters from NLA local representatives were also used to support their demands for the rental money.

Westpine Property Lettings & Management of Bolton advise that prospective tenants should not send payments in response to advertisements without first making checks that the advertisement is genuine.  We advise all prospective tenants to use a reputable lettings agency in order to search for a suitable property. That way a prospective tenant can rest assured that the property is genuine, the landlord is fully checked and that any payments made are secure and guaranteed.

Signs of Gumtree scams often show signs of poor English, an unwillingness to speak on the phone and requests for paypal/bank transfer payments. If your first impression is that of suspicion then you are advised to avoid. The scams can lead unsuspecting and inexperienced tenants to trust and to part with money.

By using an ARLA licensed letting agency such as Westpine Property Lettings, prospective tenants can rest in the knowledge that landlords are fully checked and authenticated before any property advertising commences. Don’t risk your money – stay safe and use a lettings agency.

Westpine Property Lettings can be contacted on 01204 694121 or info@westpinelettings.com

Posted in September 2013 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bolton Letting Agent, Westpine Property Lettings, shortlisted for prestigious North West Business Award

Bolton Letting Agent, Westpine Property Lettings, shortlisted for prestigious North West Business Award

Michelle Leatham, of Westpine Property Lettings & Management, has been shortlisted for a Enterprise Vision Award (EVA). The company are one of six finalists in the New Business category of the prestigious awards, which have been running for three years.

Letting agents Bolton

Westpine Property Lettings are delighted to be finalists in the prestigious North West business awards, the EVAS

Michelle presented the business to a panel of judges, made up of strong North West business women, in June 2013. This was followed by an interview on how the business came to be, how it is developing and the future plans to grow the company further. Michelle now requires public votes, which will be accrued with the judges scores, to make up the final score for the award. You can vote for Michelle to win by entering your email address on the following link:

http://www.evavoting.co.uk/vote.php?this_category=New%20Business%20of%20the%20Year&this_finalist_name=Michelle%20Leatham&this_finalist_company=Westpine%20Property%20Lettings%20and%20Management&this_finalist_pic=%20Michelle%20photo.jpg

The winner will be announced at the EVA award ceremony being held at the Hilton Hotel in Blackpool on 4th October 2013.

 

 

Posted in August 2013 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Choosing the right rental property investment by Bolton Letting Agents, Westpine Property Lettings

Choosing the right rental property investment by Bolton Letting Agents Westpine Property Lettings

 

It is essential for any prospective landlord that when choosing a rental property, the decision is based on good investment judgment and not on your own personal taste. The type of homes that you would choose to reside in are not necessarily the type of properties that would appeal to a mass market and that would bring high rental yield. It is vital to establish your target market before purchasing and ensure that the features of the property are suitable for prospective tenants. For example if you are targeting a working professional, ensure that the property is located near to train stations or has good commuter links. If you are targeting students, ensure that the house is of a large size and is well located to nearby universities for appeal. Never underestimate the investment potential of investing in locations with high and diversified employment, good transport links and proximity to good schools, shops and other facilities. Prospective tenants, particularly those with children, take into account school journeys. Prime locations such as city centres hold their value during market downturns.

Westpine Lettings would advise any first time landlord to contact us right from the start of the property search. We are able to provide useful information on the tenant market and can guide your choice of property to ensure that the property you purchase will give you the rental yield that you require. A good tip for property purchase is to complete in winter when the market is usually on a downturn. This will maximise the benefit of your position and allow you to pick up properties for less. New-build properties have a premium. But that premium will erode over your period of investment, so reducing your returns. Consider carefully before purchasing ground-floor or basement apartments. Whilst this can be a benefit to the elderly who struggle with stairs, it may be seen as a disadvantage to some potential tenants because of concerns over security, greater noise from the apartments above and lack of sunlight.

Letting agents Bolton

Be objective in your property choice – consider carefully your target market

It is essential to be sensible with your choice of property. Ensure that you know beforehand the maximum amount that you are prepared to pay for a property. If you are outbid it is often best to walk away rather than make snap decisions and pay more than your investment plan was based around.

Consider beforehand whether you wish to rent your property with furnishings. Most tenants have a budget and won’t pay extra for better furnishings. If tenants want a refit, that cost should be considered alongside a review of the rent. Don’t waste money decorating the property to your taste – walls and decoration should be kept neutral to appeal to the widest range of prospective tenant. Tenants who have previously rented are likely to hold their own furniture such as beds, wardrobes, televisions, although white good kitchen appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers and fridge-freezers tend to be favoured.

The mortgage of your rental property is generally the biggest single monthly cost. It is important to check carefully the rates and flexibility, remembering to factor vacancies into rental income and the impact of higher interest rates so that your borrowing costs don’t become unsustainable. Westpine Lettings of Bolton can arrange for a mortgage advisor to find you the best mortgage to suit your needs. Remember although the rental market is in a boom period, it is up to you to make the right decisions in order to take full advantage of any property investment.

For further advice, Westpine Property Lettings can be contacted on 01204 694121 or www.westpinelettings.com / info@westpinelettings.com

Posted in August 2013 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The rental market continues to grow – by Bolton Letting Agents Westpine Property Lettings

The rental market continues to grow by Bolton Letting Agents Westpine Property Lettings

According to the latest English Housing Survey, home ownership levels are continuing to drop whilst privately rented households are on the rise.

The results confirmed that 65% were owner-occupied, 17% socially rented and 17% privately rented. The number of owner-occupied homes has dropped by around 400,000 since 2005.

The report also surveyed tenancy deposit protection and found that 70% of private tenants had their deposits returned in full, 17% received part of their deposit money back, and 13% had none of it returned.

Tenants were also asked why tenancies had ended. Around 81% ended because the tenant wanted to move, 10% ended their tenancy by mutual agreement, and 9% of households were asked to leave by their landlord.

Westpine Property Lettings & Management of Bolton believe that the figures evidenced are good signs for Landlords in that the private tenant pool is still increasing and leading to more competition for housing. This will in turn mean fewer void periods and possible choices between those wishing to make applications.

Letting agents Bolton

Rental market remains strong

The figures also show that there are a large number of tenants who are treating rented properties well and maintaining the property and furnishings to a high level. Only 13% of tenants had their deposits taken in full. Westpine believe it is important to establish a suitable deposit amount that does not discourage applicants but that will cover the landlord for a satisfactory amount in the event of any damage. In order to be able to claim from the deposit, it is essential to have a signed and agreed inventory, a schedule of condition and where possible photographic evidence of the original and damaged state of any items.

Westpine offer Landlords a comprehensive inventory, schedule of condition and photographic evidence at no additional cost under our full management package (currently 50% of the 1st month’s rent tenant find & 7% monthly management). We also offer quarterly inspections included in the full management package which are designed to identify damage within the property at an early stage before issues progress.

Westpine Property Lettings & Management can be contacted on 01204 694121, info@westpinelettings.com or http://www.westpinelettings.com

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in July 2013 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lettings boom continuing – by Bolton Letting Agents Westpine Property Lettings

Lettings boom continuing – by Bolton Letting Agents Westpine Property Lettings

 

Newly released census figures show that the number of private tenants has doubled, while the proportion who own a home has fallen sharply.

One in five families in England (around 1.2 million households) were renting from a private landlord in 2011. This represents double the number from 2001. The proportion of families who own their home dropped by 13% according to the latest census.

The figures show that renting is no longer just the popular choice for the young and for professionals and that more and more families are taking the option of renting as home ownership is not a financial possibility.

Westpine Property Lettings & Management believes that this is great news for landlords. The figures show that there is still a huge growing demand for rental properties across the country and over the years this has led to fewer “void” periods and to increasingly quick tenant applications.

At the same time this has led to tenants facing more competition for rental properties as the demand is currently out-weighing the quantity. Westpine Property Lettings would advise prospective tenants to be decisive at viewings. It is essential to ask the right questions at the viewings and to make not only the right decision, but a timely decision on whether to take the property. All too often, we receive an excited call from a person wishing to apply for the property a few days after viewing it, only to have to inform that another applicant has since applied and reserved the property.

Letting agents Bolton

The lettings market continues to grow

 

Our advice to viewers is to ensure that all people involved in the property decision are present at the viewing. This allows all parties to see the property and can prevent having to make further viewing appointments and reduce the risk of losing the property to another applicant in the meantime. If the property is the property for you, ask the letting agent involved about making an application and reserving the property. A respectable letting agents will take an application fee and holding deposit which will then cease further viewings/applicants to the property until your referencing has been processed. Always remember to confirm and ask for all fees involved in making an application, moving into the property, throughout the tenancy and at move out – some agents charge tenants undisclosed ‘admin’ fees either on the move in day, when you wish to renew your tenancy and also for your move out inspection – avoid these agents wherever possible.

Westpine charge a flat fee of £100 per applicant (No VAT charged). This covers all aspects of the referencing process, inventory, move-in and also ensures that any tenancy renewals are carried out at no extra cost to our tenants, or landlords. Westpine believe in offering competitive and fair prices to our applicants at a time when the lettings industry is un-regulated and it is common place for agencies to be charging applicants astronomical fees.

Westpine Property Lettings can be contacted on 01204 694121, info@westpinelettings.com or www.westpinelettings.com or can be found at 87 Winter Hey Lane, Horwich, Bolton, BL6 7PA.

Posted in July 2013 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The importance of using a reputable letting agent – by Bolton Letting Agent Westpine Property Lettings

The importance of using a reputable letting agent – by Bolton Letting Agent Westpine Property Lettings

Being a landlord can be a risky business, with a range of legislation and regulations to adhere to – not to mention attracting the right kind of tenant and ensuring they are fully referenced. That’s why choosing a reputable letting agent is the most important decision made by a landlord.

The difference in choosing a professional agent and a shoddy ‘as useful as a chocolate teapot’ agent can determine whether you, as a landlord, have a positive and profitable investment property or a major cause of numerous headaches.

It still surprises the majority of people when I inform them that the lettings industry remains an unregulated industry. The majority of service industries are, if anything, somewhat over-regulated but at least it gives the consumer the peace of mind that there will be intervention should a company mistreat them in any way. The same, sadly, cannot be said for the lettings industry. Therefore, Westpine Property Lettings always recommend that landlords instruct an agent who is licensed with ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents). Each year unlicensed letting agents cost landlords thousands of pounds because they don’t have protective measures in place – make sure you’re not one of them. By using a licensed ARLA agent you are guaranteed that you are dealing with an agent who follows a strict Code of Practice laid down by the professional body and generally adheres to uphold the highest ethical standards in the industry.

Letting agent Bolton

Protect your property by choosing a professional letting agent

I regularly here horror stories from landlords about how they have been treated unfairly by unscrupulous agents. Recently, I listened shocked as a landlord informed me that he was switching agents as his previous agent only paid over the rent to him every two months, despite receiving the rent from the tenant monthly. The agent was using the money in the meantime to help with his cash flow ‘issues’. If this situation sounds familiar, without hesitation de-instruct this agent from managing your property. Here at Westpine, we uphold a strict process to ensure that all client money is held in a separate insured client bank account. As members of SafeAgent, we guarantee that our landlords that their money is always safe, offering full reassurance.

Finally, we strongly recommend that landlords ensure that an agent is ‘qualified’ to manage their property. Shockingly, anyone can start a letting agent business but a landlord should always ask the agent the following questions to ensure they are placing their property in the hands of a professional:

 

1: Do they have experience working in the lettings industry?

2: Do they hold any professional qualifications in lettings & property management?

3: Do they attend regular training courses to update their knowledge?

 

If the answer to any of the above questions is ‘No’ – move on and find a more reputable agent. Westpine regularly advocate the importance of using an agent who is qualified to manage your property – make sure you always instruct an ARLA licensed agent. To find a licensed agent in your area, visit: http://www.arla.co.uk

Westpine Property Lettings can be contacted on 01204 694121, info@westpinelettings.com, www.westpinelettings.com

 

 

 

Posted in June 2013 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why a written tenancy agreement protects the Landlord – by Bolton Letting Agent, Westpine Property Lettings

In England and Wales there is not a legal requirement to produce a written tenancy agreement. It is possible to have a spoken arrangement between landlord and tenant.

So as a landlord, which is the best course of action? Westpine Property Lettings of Bolton believe that by not having a written agreement, the disadvantages are experienced by only the landlord and not the tenant. Not having the agreement in writing does not affect the rights of the tenant under an assured shorthold tenancy.

It is a criminal offence for a landlord to not provide a tenant with a written summary of the main arrangement terms both within 6 months of the tenancy start date, or if the tenant requests the information. The logic of this argument would be such that if this is to be provided anyway, it is not much more intensive to have produced the agreement in writing in the first place.

As part of its services in the Bolton and North West region, Westpine Property Lettings produce a thorough written tenancy agreement as part of its full management, rent collection and its tenant find processes. This is a written agreement which sets out the obligations of both the landlord and the tenant in order to protect both parties. This is designed to stop the potential for any disagreements and disputes and to ensure that terms are clear for all parties to understand.

A landlord should be aware that in order to use the accelerated possession procedure to evict a nuisance tenant, a landlord must have previously issued a written tenancy agreement. By deciding not to issue the tenancy agreement in writing, a landlord risks a problematic tenant remaining in the property for longer than necessary and reducing the potential rental income.

A landlord should also consider using a tenancy agreement as once a tenancy has begun, a tenant cannot be forced to sign a contract whether it keeps the same oral terms or looks to vary the conditions. In order to use the statutory deposit schemes, a landlord must be able to provide a copy of the written tenancy agreement. Deductions cannot be taken from a tenancy deposit without reference to a clause in the written agreement. As such a landlord is at risk to cover damage to his property caused by the tenant.

Letting agent Bolton

Ensure you have a tenancy agreement in place

 

The law certainly favours the tenant and whilst Westpine Property Lettings recognise the great strides since the 1980’s in protecting the position of the tenant, there are situations where landlords need to consider certain clauses and restrictions which can only be proven by a written agreement in order to ensure property protection.

Westpine Property Lettings of Bolton believe that the onus with regard to the written tenancy agreement should fall on that of the letting agent. A reputable letting agent will include the cost of their standard written tenancy agreement in the cost of their landlord services and we believe it is vital for landlords to consider use a regulated an ARLA licensed agent who will ensure thorough protection. In summary, a written tenancy agreement only holds fear to problematic tenants, landlords and good tenants should enjoy the written clarity and peace of mind of their obligations.

Westpine can be contacted on 01204 694121 or info@westpinelettings.com Further information on our landlord services can be found on www.westpinelettings.com

 

 

 

Posted in June 2013 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment