KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR PROPERTY.Similar to the old adage “when the cat’s away the mice will play”, student properties outside of term time certainly shouldn’t be ignored. Whilst the vast majority of students will return home for the summer months, issues can arise for landlords and their properties. Without live-in tenants, the summer months put your property at greater risks of break-ins. Local criminals will have a pretty solid idea of which properties will be vacant in the summer; indeed, break-in statistics are far higher between July and September. They’ll more than likely be hoping to steal student valuables left in storage but televisions and even large appliances have been known to be stolen. Even a damaged door from a failed break-in is expensive to replace.
The Smart Solution
Common sense prevails here. Most landlord insurance policies require weekly property checkups by the landlord. Keep a healthy eye out for any suspicious markings or symbols made on the door or front of the property; this is a common burglar tactic to mark prime targets. If you do find one, notify the police or rub it off! It may also be worth joining the local neighbourhood watch. Ultimately however, the best defence is upping your security. Invest in durable locks or an alarm system. With luck a visible alarm system may deter or interrupt the burglars, but in the event it doesn’t, many insurance policies reward the use of alarm systems. The simplest solution is to arrange for someone to temporarily live in the property. Depending on tenant agreements and rent, this may be you, a family member or a future tenant who wishes to move in early. But beware, you do not want to fall foul of the tenancy agreement.
MAKE SURE THE TENANCY AGREEMENT IS CLEAR TO BOTH YOU AND THE TENANTS.
So this year’s students may all have posted teary “goodbye Abbot Street 31” photos on Facebook, but have they gone for good? Most landlords will visit a week or two before tenancy is up to make sure the tenants know tenancy is nearly up.
The Smart Solution
Depending on how lenient you or the agreement may be, some students might wish to stay on for a few days more, as their graduation dates can sometimes unhelpfully be on the other side of June 30th. This is, of course, at your discretion providing there’s legal wriggle room. It may also be worth reinforcing move-in dates with the next intake.
DEPOSITS AND THE RESTOCK
Hopefully, you’ll find your property without a blemish. At Smart Property we highly recommend keeping check on Inventories and Inspections, as a way of justifying withholding the deposit to pay for any breakages that may occur over the course of tenancy. Of course, the majority of landlords are reasonable but if the situation arises where there is conflict over deposit charges, it helps to have a third party mitigator to calm the waters and come to an amicable settlement.
The Smart Solution
When replacing furniture it helps to know your tenant. Whilst we all envision a spanking new sofa may suffer pizza or beer stains in the first months of its life in a student living room, cheap is not always better. Look for good, durable furniture and cover cheaply. This may be a second hand oak table protected by varnish or a cover, or a midrange Ikea sofa covered in a sofa protector. Skimping on furniture can also lead to problems when it comes to marketing your property. Prospective tenants know what cheap looks like, and cheap does not sell. If, however, you don’t know your Lawson from your Divan, it may be worth passing on the interior design headache to Smart Property who offer a furniture replacement scheme for peace of mind.
KEEPING ON TOP OF THE JUNGLE
How often have you left your property for two weeks to come back to find the garden something of an amazonian rainforest? With any luck, BBQ opportunities will have incentivised the tenants to keep the garden in order but, if that is not the case, how do you keep the garden in check over an optimal-growth summer?
The Smart Solution
Short of mowing the lawn every week, and assuming you are too busy for that, the aim of the game is to stand back, and let nature take its course. It may seem counterproductive, but using a lawn fertiliser will grow out grass and kill any unwanted weeds that might pop up over the summer. The trick here is that come tenant check-in or photograph opportunities a quick mow will reveal a uniform and luscious lawn. For any gravel or, dare I say it, concrete, now is the time to get weedkiller down. For an ugly but more effective weed killing treatment, a heavy plastic sheet over the offending gravel will smother any potential weed growth. It may also be worth investing in some hardy plants contained to pots or raised beds can help avoid overspill. Rosemary and lavender are great aromatic plants, and the former will certainly be appreciated on Sunday roasts, whilst a few potted and self-sufficient strawberry plants look great both in an ordered and ‘wild’ looking garden. In addition, be sure to remove any indoor plants. Without constant watering they may die and cause insect infestation.
For more information and tips on student property management, or if you're lookng for a student letting agent you can trust, talk to us at Smart Property now to find out how much time and hassle we can save you. Be sure to keep an eye out for the Comprehensive Student Landlord Guide too which will be availabe for download on the website soon and contains lots of useful documents you need in 2017.