What you need to know about the Government’s new Green Deal

house with a grass roofLandlords often have very little time on their hands, and whilst many want to improve the energy efficiency of their properties, they often lack the money or the time to do so. Therefore, it is good news that the government has recently launched their new Green Deal scheme which enables landlords to have improvements made on their properties for free. Here, we discuss how the scheme works and what you have to do if you want to take part.

How to take part in the Green Deal

It is now mandatory for all landlords to provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for all their private rented properties, and more and more tenants are now asking to see the EPC for a property before they move in. By improving the energy efficiency of your property you will probably see an increase in interest from potential tenants, as a house with a good Energy Performance Rating will save them money in energy bills.

If you want to take part in the Green Deal scheme then all you have to do is go onto the government’s website and complete a Green Deal assessment which will decide if you are eligible for the scheme.
After this, you need to find a Green Deal provider who will come to your properties and decide what work needs to be done. This could include adding insulation to the property, replacing old heating appliances, or even just draught proofing. Finally, the Green Deal provider will then arrange for a Green Deal installer to come and upgrade your property.

How is it Paid For?

The best part of the Green Deal for landlords is that it is completely free. The Green Deal provider will arrange with you a contract stating how much it will cost to improve your property, and then the payments will be made by your tenants through their energy bills. Whilst this may automatically seem like this is unfair to tenants, it is actually a win-win situation as the improvements to the property will actually decrease the cost of their energy bills, meaning they will pay less and get more.

The Green Deal is sure to help many landlords improve the energy efficiency of their properties, especially those that have a poor F or G rated houses. Just remember to protect your property with landlord insurance before any work is started in case there are any accidental damages.

Accessories for your Motorhome

bright yellow motorhomeMost people invest in motorhomes because they are just exactly that – a home on wheels! One of the best parts of going on a motorhome holiday is the fact that you can take what you want and always feel like you are at home. Accessorising your motorhome can go a long way in making it feel more homely, but it can also be beneficial as well. Saving space and keeping safe are main concerns for many motorhome owners, so here are our favourite accessories you can treat yourself to!

Looking good on the Outside

After spending all that time and effort making sure you have picked the right motorhome, insured it with motorhome insurance, and planned your holiday, why not treat your motorhome to some exterior accessories that really make it unique? There are a range of weird and wonderful exterior accessories for your motorhome, such as mud flaps, wheel covers and even remote control satellite systems!

For those that want to take a more practical approach, you can invest in storage boxes that sit on top or sides of your motorhome, meaning that you will have more storage space for your journeys. You could also invest in exterior or interior blinds that will help you control the heat inside your motorhome, meaning you can stay comfortable whatever the weather!

Feeling good on the Inside

Everyone is different, and so is their idea of luxury. For some, investing in gadgets and electronics for their motorhome is all part of the fun, and with the range of technology available these days we can see why. Many motorhome owners will have invested in the basics – sat navs, televisions, and radios – however real technology enthusiasts will be more interested in full multimedia packages, wireless camera systems, and even wi-fi!

For those that want to spend their time being more traditional, there is a vast range of accessories you can take with you that will help you enjoy the great outdoors. It’s always an idea to invest in a good quality awning so you have extra space to relax outside, and don’t forget to bring your portable BBQs and armchairs for some relaxation time!

There is an abundance of products out there for you to accessorise your motorhome with, and as everyone’s personality and needs are so different we are sure that not two motorhomes are the same! Why not try and think of some personal touches to add to your motorhome? We sure it will make your holidays even more enjoyable in the future.

Keeping your Properties Safe

padlockLandlords generally have a large portion of their money invested in their properties, which means if something happens to them it could leave you in a difficult position. Even though landlord insurance can protect you against damage to your properties, sometimes the best defence is a good offence, such as making sure your properties are safe and secure. Here we discuss some of the most important safety tips for your properties.

Keep them Locked up

It may sound obvious to install properly working locks on your properties, but don’t forget that most burglars are opportunists. If the locks on your houses are old it may be time to invest in some new ones, especially if your property isn’t double glazed as thieves may be able to force their way into inside. Also, make sure you discuss with you tenants how to keep their home safe, and remind them that unless they have contents cover then it is not your job to replace their possessions if they are burgled!

Install Alarms

Depending on what type of property you are letting, you may want to invest in an alarm system. It’s probably not worth installing them in residential properties unless they are in an area where there is a high level of crime, and you can trust that the tenants will remember the code! However, commercial properties will probably expect alarms to be fitted to make sure they are protected when they are unoccupied. Just remember, if you do install alarms you need to make sure you have a clause in you tenancy agreement as to who pays for call outs!

Talk to the Neighbourhood

Sometimes you can invest in a property only to find out too late that you are in an area with a high crime rate. The best way to protect yourself against this is to check out the area before you buy, and maybe even talk to the local police and council. If it is too late and you have already invested, it may be wise to try to attend a neighbourhood watch meeting in order to find out how they are planning on tackling the problems.

Keeping your properties safe should be your number one priority, especially as it will not only benefit you but also your tenants.

New ways to enjoy Caravan Holidays

airstream caravanLet’s face it – camping and caravanning holidays are just not for everyone. But what do you do when you are desperate to stay in a caravan yet a friend or family member just won’t budge? Well, there is now a way for you to compromise! Hotels are starting to look at introducing caravans into their rooms (or on top of their buildings!) so that guests can have the fun of staying in a caravan whilst having all the little luxuries that you get from staying in a hotel, such as breakfast in bed. Here we look at two hotels that have changed the traditional camping holiday:

The Huttenpalast – Berlin, Germany

For those that like to camp on the continent, The Huttenpalast (or ‘Hut Palace’) offers a full campsite complete with caravans, trees, hanging lights and washing lines – all inside a hotel! The hotel provides a range of caravans, from static to touring, and even has communal ‘outdoor’ areas where you can meet fellow campers/guests of an evening. This hotel will be sure to entice even the most anti-camping family member, as they will get to experience the sense of fun and community that you get from a caravanning holiday without having to worry about the weather!

The Brooks Guesthouse – Bristol, England

For those wanting to go on holiday a little bit closer to home then why not visit The Brooks Guesthouse in Bristol? This bed and breakfast has recently gained planning permission to have four vintage Airstream caravans on their roof overlooking the St Nicholas marketplace. Furthermore, each caravan has been modified so that they are state of the art and completely luxurious, whilst the surrounding rooftop has been decorated by local Bristol artists and the garden has been designed by a local landscape gardener. The city of Bristol is known for its quirky sense of style, so why not join in and stay on a rooftop caravan for your next holiday?

Many people have misconceptions about caravan holidays, but hopefully these new hotels will entice even the most reluctant family members. And even the most dedicated caravanning enthusiast enjoys staying in the lap of luxury every now and again – and at least it saves money on petrol and caravan insurance! But who knows, maybe visiting one of these hotels could be the start of the whole family enjoying caravanning and going on more holidays in the future.

How to decorate your Buy-to-Let Properties

Paint Tin and BrushWhen investing in buy-to-let properties you will probably find that they will need a bit of a revamp before you put them on the market. But what is the best way to decorate your properties? You may think you have quite an artistic flare, however sometimes less is more. On the other hand, you don’t want to make the properties look too simple, otherwise potential tenants may find them unwelcoming. Here we give you some advice on the best ways to decorate your buy-to-let properties.

Warmth and Light

Many landlords choose neutral colours when decorating their properties in order to make it look light and airy. However, if you choose a colour that is too stark it can make your property look cold, so make sure you choose a colour that has a warm tone to it such as cream or a very light beige. When it comes to carpets it may be wise to go for a colour a few shades darker than the walls, as this means that they will be easier for you to clean once the tenancy is over. White carpets are a recipe for disaster as even the smallest stain will mean you will have to have the entire carpet replaced!

Add a little bit of Colour

When you have tenants come visit your house you want them to feel like they could live there – they want to see a home and not just a property! Show them how little touches can make the house seem even more inviting, such as investing in coloured curtains, some fun cushions or a fashionable clock. Just make sure that you explain to them what changes they are allowed to make, you don’t want them to think that anything goes!

Replace old Appliances

You would be surprised how many potential tenants can be put off by little things such as a lime scale encrusted shower head or an oven that looks like its seen better days. Most of the time, these things can be easily and cheaply fixed, however if you are planning on doing a whole revamp it would be wise to invest in landlord insurance that will protect your property against any damages made by your new tenants so it can stay looking well maintained for years to come! Decorating a property can really let you show off your creative side, and if you have some family and friends you can round up to help you can also do it quickly and cheaply! And remember, the better your property looks the more likely you are to rent it out.

What to do if you become an ‘Accidental Landlord’

landlord booksMany people across the UK are becoming what are known as ‘Accidental Landlords’ – people that somehow come into properties and then decide to rent them out yet have had no previous experience in the lettings industry. Here we discuss what to do if you find yourself becoming an accidental landlord, as if you play your cards right you could even find yourself with some extra money!

Make sure you can pay the Mortgage

Whilst renting out properties can ultimately increase your income, this often takes time and you need to make sure you have the resources to keep up with the mortgage repayments whilst you are looking for tenants. It is therefore important to invest in unoccupied property insurance that can help cover the cost of the mortgage whilst you are waiting for it to become let out. Remember, you may be ready to enter the landlord industry, but that doesn’t mean you will be successful straight away!

Get the Property up to Scratch

In order to successfully rent out your property you need to make sure that it is up to a certain standard. Make sure that the furnishings are clean and that there are no loose floorboards or dodgy electrics in the house. Also, you need to make sure that your house is safe for your future tenants, so make sure that you have a gas safety certificate, have fitted smoke alarms, and have applied for adequate landlord insurance to cover any damages that may happen to the property whilst it is rented out.

Keep an eye on the News

If you have never been a landlord before then it’s highly unlikely that you have an in-depth understanding of the private rental sector, so make sure you brush up on your knowledge by reading news articles concerning landlords and the industry. There are many changes coming up concerning legislations for landlords, such as Labour leader Ed Miliband calling for all landlords to have to sign a register and make sure their properties are up to a certain standard. Don’t get caught out by any upcoming changes, it may prove to be costly!

Becoming an accidental landlord is not easy at times, but if you put in the work you could find that you have a flare for it! Remember, there are many places you can go for advice on letting out properties, and if you really think you won’t be able to handle it you can always pay a letting agent to deal with the property on your behalf.