The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 came into effect in October 2015. Both landlords and tenants are responsible for complying with the regulations and ensuring that alarms remain in good working order throughout a tenancy.
Remember – working alarms save lives; you are at least four times more likely to die in a house fire if there is no working smoke alarm.
What are my responsibilities as a landlord?
Private sector landlords are required to install at least one smoke alarm on every storey of their properties and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. a coal fire, wood burning stove). The landlord must make sure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy.
What are my responsibilities as a tenant?
After the landlord’s test on the first day of the tenancy, tenants should take responsibility for their own safety and test all alarms regularly to make sure they are in working order. Testing monthly is generally considered an appropriate frequency for smoke alarms. If you discover that alarm(s) are not in working order during your tenancy, arrange to replace the batteries or the alarm itself with your landlord or managing agent.
Where can I find more information?
Full details of these regulations are available on the GOV.UK website.
Need further advice on letting or managing your property?
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This winter has felt very long and I for one, am very excited about springing into Spring. Here are a few ideas to help you spruce up your home and get that Spring feeling;
1. Clean the Windows
Let a little sun shine in. Clean your windows inside and outside to frame all that springtime green. For an easy homemade glass cleaner, mix equal parts distilled white vinegar and water, pour into a reusable spray bottle.
No matter how wonderful your design skills or refined your tastes, clutter detracts from the overall function and beauty of your space. Box it up, bag it up, sell it, or donate it. It’s time to clear your mind by clearing some space.
Simple accessories like new towels in the bathroom, new pillows on the bed, new scatter cushions or floor rug can change the vibe of an entire room (and change your mood). Try www.overstock.com for a great range of reasonably priced homeware.
4. Replace Hardware
Replacing knobs and drawer pulls on kitchen cabinets or a bathroom vanity unit is an easy way to update a look quickly. For a more coordinated look, match the finishes between door knobs, hinges, knobs, pulls, and other hardware like faucets, towel bars, and robe hooks. These Please has a great range to choose from www.theseplease.co.uk
5. Invite nature in
Whether you grow plants, have a window-sill herb garden, or just arrange a few fresh cut flowers, adding a bit of nature in the form of flowers or foliage is a quick way to spruce things up. Even better if you can get them delivered directly to your door www.freddiesflowers.com
6. Reorganise Wardrobes
Almost everyone hates to do it, but cleaning out wardrobes is nearly a rite of spring. Focus on one wardrobe at a time — decluttering, cleaning, and organizing as you go. Trust me, Monday mornings won’t seem nearly so bad when you’re facing a meticulously organized wardrobe.
7. Paint It
Repainting is a simple way to get big design bang for your buck. Paint can update old furniture; brighten a room; or freshen up a front door or window trim. Choose timeless and coordinating (not necessarily matching) colors for a professional look.
8. Rearrange and Refresh
Sometimes sprucing up is as simple as rearranging what you already own. Rethink rooms and reconfigure furniture. Decorate subtly around a theme, bring in accent pieces from other rooms, and don’t be afraid to experiment with an eclectic mix of periods and styles.
9. Create a Picture
Putting together mismatching art work on one feature wall or on a stair wall can create a stylish talking point. I find ebay is great for buying pieces of art big and small without spending a fortune. Painting the frame it comes in or getting a picture reframed can take it from being uninteresting to exceptional.
10. Choose One High-Profile Project
If you decide to splurge on a single item, make sure it’s high-profile. Investments in good paint, a deluxe area rug, one professionally reupholstered chair, or luxurious bed linens will set the stage for the rest of your more frugal spruce-up ideas. Anchored by one high-profile project, all the smaller details will shine more brightly.
Contact us for a free, no-obligation chat to see if we can help.
If you are a buy-to-let landlord, recently you may have been feeling like someone has got it in for you. Firstly, the budget slashed tax relief, and then in Autumn, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond added extra stamp duty.
Perhaps you have now found your property portfolio looking not so spectacular. With these two surprise moves, the Government announced that buy-to-let properties would incur an extra 3% stamp duty and that from April 2017, buy-to-let mortgage interest payments would be slashed.
Tax relief on buy-to-let;
If you’re new to the buy-to-let scene, you may not fully appreciate the magnitude of what this is. Until now, people who buy- to- let have been able to claim tax relief on the interest payments from their mortgage at their marginal rate of tax. This meant that a basic taxpayer would get a 20% tax relief. Those at higher rate would receive a 40% relief, while top rate taxpayers could claim 45% tax relief.
When the changes begin to roll in, tax relief will just be 20%, across all rates. While this news is a relief for landlords on basic rate tax, high rate and top rate taxpayers are likely to be troubled by this news, which will see them losing more in mortgage interest payments.
The impact of this;
Estimated figures published by The Nationwide Building Society portray how a typical landlord’s profits will be affected. They looked at a landlord with property worth £200,000, and a £150,000 buy-to-let mortgage. With a monthly rent of £800, in the old system they would have a net profit of £2,200 a year. However, under this new system it would plunge to £950. Other estimates have been even worse. Essentially, the more interest you pay, the more you will feel the strain. It’s why the last thing landlords wanted was an additional stamp duty.
What’s the answer?
The first thing we can tell you is one thing that won’t work is increasing your rent to compensate as most tenants are already paying a fortune. If you think you will be affected by this, try a couple of these methods.
• If your spouse is on a lower rate of tax, you can transfer ownership of one or more properties more to them. All the while being careful that this does not lift them into a higher tax rate.
• Switching to short-term fixed rate deals will provide lower rates of interest. Be wary though, these mortgages carry added risk.
• You could place your portfolio in a limited company structure. Instead if paying income tax, you will now be paying corporation tax. However, fewer mortgage providers will lend to a company, meaning your mortgage options are narrower.
Although the news is devastating for many landlords, those with a lower income will now find themselves at less of a disadvantage when compared to those in the big league. In fact, this level playing field has been predicted to bring in a wave of ‘silver landlords’ looking to buy rental property with their pension pots. Also if you are looking to buy, you may discover that house prices are now becoming more affordable as competition from buy to let fades away.
It is worth talking to a financial advisor to get more clarification on your specific situation.
Here’s what it takes to have an envy-inducing kitchen that’s bang on trend in 2017 – when the industrial look is all the rage.
1. Mysterious Navy Blues & Revitalising Greens
Make no mistake, grey kitchens are as fashionable as ever, offering a softer alternative to their stark black or white siblings. But when you want to inject colour into your kitchen, make it one of 2017’s trendiest – a moody blue or Pantone’s colour of the year, bright green. Both pair well with almost every colour, without shrinking your kitchen.
2. Mix metals for an industrial look
Who says you have to stick to one metal for everything, from your kitchen taps to your drawer handles? Mix and match your metals in 2017. Couple trendy pewter, zinc or aluminium with warmer metals like bronze and gold to give your kitchen a simple and speedy, instant update. Only out-dated rose golds and high shine metals like brass are off limits here.
3. Embrace Mother Nature in every way
Bring as much of the outside into your kitchen as possible. Drench the room in natural light, add
decorative vases of fresh cut seasonal flowers. Pick kitchen cabinets built from recycled materials or ask your local kitchen fitter about natural timbers and dark woods to complement your marble counter top – another must-have in 2017.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be the real deal, for example, faux ceiling beams won’t rot or bow like real wood and you can’t always tell the difference. Want more? You can go tropical with your accessories too, think exotic botanical prints on your dishes – like large-fronded ferns on your bowls. Alternatively, style your kitchen with chalky or bone white textured vases to create a sense of the natural and organic in your kitchen.
4. Preserve your precious square footage
If you don’t ditch your oversized furniture in 2017, when will you? One of the biggest kitchen trends continues to be minimalism, so think extendable dining tables or space-saving stackable chairs. Do away with your cabinets altogether and have a single storage wall. Whenever you buy kitchen furniture this year, keep it matte and on trend, not glossy – which will date quicker.
5. Digital Everything
From the strength of your coffee to the colour of your toast, you can control your kitchen at the touch of a button on your smartphone apps. John Lewis predictsthat smart home cooking gadgets are going to be more popular than ever this year.