Letting Agents and Your Business

Becoming a landlord can sometimes be very difficult, so much so, that a whole new market has formed within the industry; letting agents.

They help landlords manage their properties and help ease the strain that sometimes comes along with being a landlord. However, landlords recently they have been criticised for not paying enough attention to their agents and how they are conducting their business. Often the sensible option if you are using an agent is to pass these fees onto the tenant in the form as increased rent. However if your agent is the one setting the rent do you actually know what your tenant is being charged?

The majority of agents will charge the tenants directly which is often anything up to £300 per person in each property. Also if your tenant is only staying for the short term then the agent may charge an extra 10 per cent, which, in the current economic climate is most likely going to be a deal breaker. IT is always a good idea to check what your letting agent is charging as they could be costing you money. You can always ask for a reduction in the fee or the alternative is to find a new letting agent.

If you hand over the responsibility of moving your tenants out of your property to your letting agent, make sure you know if there is an exit fee. If there is, pass this information on to your tenants. Another element to check is who your agent is getting to clean the apartment after your tenant has moved out. Often they will use commercial companies which can be more expensive that independent workers.

Most of the time tenants are happy to pay for fees they know are in the pipeline but the unexpected payments are the ones that usually cause disputes. Make sure your tenants are fully aware because your landlord insurance could become invalid if they are unaware of extra expenses.

Overall, make sure you know how your letting agents are conducting their business and that your tenants are fully informed at all times.

Frankel to Retire as the Greatest Thoroughbred Ever

In a previous blog post we have talked about Frankel the unbeaten horse that managed to take the limelight away from Black Caviar. We mentioned that he was to run one more race before retirement. Well at the weekend, this last race happened and of course he won.

The event was the British Champions Day and a huge 32,500 people turned out for the event. Of course this was all down to Frankel. Those who are horse racing lovers and the newbies all faced a last minute rush for their ticket to see his last ever race.

Even if you are not interested in horses or racing, I think everyone has heard of Frankel and what he is capable of. He hasn’t raced abroad which means his fans can be with him every step of the way and that is what they have done. Not having to race abroad also means a less complicated horsebox insurance policy too!

The event itself was very heavily promoted but the huge success and turnout of spectators can definitely be attributed to Frankel fever.

Frankel’s trainer, Sir Henry Cecil has said, “I cannot believe in the history of racing there has ever been a better horse.”

His rider, Tom Queally said, “No doubt he is better on better ground but his class showed.

“I walked the track and was worried about conditions, but after walking the home straight I knew it was not too heavy for him to quicken up and go about his business and win.

“You never see an F1 car win on anything but tarmac but for him to win on ground like that shows how special he is.”

Man drives caravan into neighbour's swimming pool

An American man was trying to reverse his caravan into the driveway of his home in Brockton, Massachusetts on Wednesday when something went wrong. Seconds later the 30-foot vehicle was lying nose-down in his neighbour’s swimming pool, the cabin filling with water. The neighbour, Norman Little, was walking into his garden just as the caravan came careering through the fence. He was able to pull the driver, Stephen Pierro, out of the water and to safety. In this situation it’s essential to have an motorhome insurance policy!

Mr Pierro said there had been a problem with the accelerator and that his foot had become stuck. Another possible explanation is that Mr Pierro, who is diabetic, may have had a medical lapse.

Emergency services and a crane arrived to lift the vehicle out of the pool, but not before draining the petrol tank to ensure there was no risk of explosion. An eyewitness, Larry Lambert, was driving down the street when the caravan went out of control and he gave this account to NBC:

“This camper just came flying out of the driveway in reverse and he crashed into the bushes of the house across the street. And the next thing I knew he put it in drive and came flying back across North Quincy again,” Lambert said. “He went the whole length of his driveway, through his backyard, through a tree, through a fence, and into his neighbor’s pool.”

– Larry Lambert, eyewitness

30,000 Stolen Napkins a Month from Jamie’s Restaurants

When you go into a restaurant that has some quirky cutlery or glasses, there will be many that are tempted to take the item home as a memento because you think the restaurant won’t notice it. Well to you it is one napkin; to Jamie Oliver it is 30,000 napkins a month. This is a huge amount and today he is complaining that it isn’t just napkins that are going missing, even the toilet flushers! So much so he has had to have them welded on to stop thieves.

Jamie said he had the Thomas Crapper toilets installed because he thought they looked “wicked” but I am pretty sure they lose their appeal after the handles are missing.
Jamie thinks that the reason for all these items going missing is due to recession but who really needs to steal a toilet flush? We all know the real reason for the items going walkies because since restaurants have been open, things have always gone missing.

Let’s hope Jamie has a good restaurant insurance policy to help pay for all these missing napkins.

Before napkins and toilet handles it was ashtrays. In the 90’s Terence Conran said his restaurant lost 1,000 ash trays each month. One person, who wanted to remain anonymous said, “I’ve got ashtrays from Mezzo, Bluebird and Pont de la Tour. I’ve also got a couple of side plates and a cruet set from Zilli Fish that are shaped like shark fins, and a side dish from the Atlantic in a crockery drawer. I think it must have been the big suits in the 80’s that made it easier to hide stuff.”

When I was working in a restaurant, we often had glasses go missing but by far the strangest thing a customer ever tried to take were the seat cushions. They didn’t even try and hide it, just walked out (or tried to walk out) with one in each hand!

Beds in Sheds Accidents on the Increase

There was a report published recently that showed that one person a month dies from a house fire in a property they shouldn’t be living in in the first place. Properties that do have people living in them but that don’t have any kind of fire safety precautions are now known as beds in sheds.

According to the report most of these incidents have been people who are squatting in derelict or unoccupied property and are living in them illegally. Sometimes if landlords have large portfolios they may not know that anyone is living in one of their properties illegally. This could be especially true if they are renovating or in the middle of experiencing a void period. Unfortunately the landlord could still be accountable for the person injured if it happens in their property. This means a good landlord insurance policy is essential.

As a landlord it is your job to ensure that the property is safe to live in and if it doesn’t fall under the guidelines, you could be letting illegally.

Fires spread quickly and can very easily affect the neighbouring properties. This means extra precaution needs to be taken to ensure you have thought about everyone’s safety not just that of the people living in your property. In void periods, your property still needs to be safe.

A restaurant has apologised after a toddler was served whisky instead of fruit juice at his birthday party

Whiskey KidSonny Rees drank the whisky at his second birthday in a Frankie and Benny’s restaurant in Swansea. His mother Nina Rees only realised the mistake after he had nearly finished the drink. Sonny, from Pontarddulais in Swansea, was taken to accident and emergency where he was kept under observation by doctors. The toddler is now recovering at home. The restaurant is investigating how the incident happened.

Sonny’s mother Nina Rees, 34, said: “We went to the restaurant just after midday and I had ordered him lime juice and water, his favourite.

“The drinks arrived and I was encouraging him to take sips because he was eating salty things.

“We had finished our first course when we noticed he was pulling a face as he was drinking.

“I took it from him and took a sip myself.

“It was whisky, I would say a double. As soon as I sipped it I had the slight burny feeling in my throat and warming in my chest.

“Sonny had taken about 10 sips – he was obviously intoxicated.

“I immediately went into a panic and a rage – I was crying my eyes out.”

Mrs Rees, who is a teacher, complained to the manager who took a sip herself. Mrs Rees was disappointed by the staff’s reaction and called NHS Direct before taking Sonny to accident and emergency. Sonny was asleep by the time he arrived at Morriston Hospital, Swansea, where staff monitored his vital signs.

He was later given the all-clear and allowed to go home.

The family took photographs of Sonny with his drink before they realised it was whisky.

A Frankie and Benny’s spokesman said: “The company is incredibly sorry for what happened. It was a human error and we are putting measures in place to ensure it never happens again.”

It was lucky that they had a good Restaurant Insurance policy!