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Renting Made Easy: A Step-by-Step Guide for Tenants - Your Complete Rental Handbook


Renting a property is an exciting milestone, but it can also be overwhelming if you need more preparation. As a tenant, understanding the ins and outs of the rental journey is crucial for a smooth and hassle-free experience. This comprehensive guide presents a step-by-step handbook for tenants, providing valuable insights and tips to ensure a successful and secure renting journey. From navigating the rental process to effectively managing your tenancy and staying safe, we've got you covered. Let's dive into renting and make your journey a breeze!


Section 1: Steps in Rent - A Breakdown of the Rental Process

Assessing Your Rental Needs


Before you begin your rental journey, take some time to assess your specific rental needs. Consider factors such as the number of bedrooms, desired location, amenities, and your budget. Are you looking for a cosy apartment in the city's heart or a spacious house in a peaceful suburb? Identifying your preferences will help you narrow down your search and save time.


Setting Your Budget


Knowing your budget is crucial in finding the right rental property. Calculate your monthly income, factor in essential expenses, and determine how much you can comfortably allocate to rent. A general rule of thumb is to spend at most 30% of your monthly income on rent. Setting a clear budget will prevent you from getting into financial strains and allow you to focus on properties within your price range.


Searching for the Perfect Rental Property

With your needs and budget in mind, search for the perfect rental property. To explore available options, use online rental platforms, real estate websites, and local classifieds. Consider working with a reputable real estate agent specialising in rentals to access a broader range of properties.



Touring Potential Properties



Once you've identified potential rental properties, schedule viewings to inspect each one physically; during the tour, pay attention to the property's condition, amenities, and surroundings. Take note of any repairs needed and ensure that the property meets your requirements.


Submitting Rental Applications



After finding the property that suits you best, it's time to submit a rental application. Typically, landlords require personal and financial information, references, and proof of income. Fill out the application accurately and promptly to demonstrate your commitment as a reliable tenant.


Reviewing the Lease Agreement


Upon approval of your application, the landlord will present you with a lease agreement. Carefully review the lease terms, including the rental amount, lease duration, security deposit, and additional clauses. Seek clarification on any unclear points before signing the contract.


Understanding Tenant Responsibilities



As a tenant, it's essential to understand your responsibilities during the tenancy. This includes paying on time, abiding by the lease terms, and maintaining the property well. Familiarise yourself with the property's specific rules and any regulations set forth by the landlord.


Section 2: Effective Tenant Management - Tips for a Smooth Landlord-Tenant Relationship


Communicating with Your Landlord


Maintaining open and transparent communication with your landlord is vital for a successful tenancy. Address any concerns or maintenance requests promptly, and inform your landlord of any significant changes, such as a temporary absence or potential lease renewal.


Understanding Your Lease Terms


Take the time to understand the lease terms to avoid any misunderstandings later thoroughly. Don't hesitate to ask your landlord for clarification if there are any clauses or points you're unsure about.


Paying Rent on Time


Paying rent on time is a fundamental tenant responsibility. Set reminders or automate your payments to ensure timely rent submissions. Consistent on-time payments build trust with your landlord and demonstrate your reliability as a tenant.


Reporting Maintenance Issues Promptly


If you encounter any maintenance issues during your tenancy, immediately report them to your landlord. Promptly addressing repairs can prevent further damage and ensure your living conditions remain comfortable.


Respecting Your Neighbors


Be mindful of your neighbours and maintain a respectful and considerate living environment. Avoid excessive noise, follow community rules, and be courteous to those living nearby.


Abiding by Pet Policies (If Applicable)


If your rental property allows pets, adhere to the pet policies set by your landlord. Keep your pets well-behaved and clean up after them when using common areas.


Being Mindful of Lease Renewal


If you want to renew your lease, communicate your intention to your landlord well before the lease expiration date. Being proactive allows both parties to plan accordingly and avoid any potential vacancies.


Section 3: Staying Safe When Renting - Important Security Measures for Tenants


Assessing Safety Features of the Property


Prioritise your safety by assessing the security features of the property. Check the quality of locks on doors and windows, ensure proper lighting around the property, and examine the functionality of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms.


Installing Security Devices


Consider installing additional security devices, such as a security system, doorbell camera, or motion sensor lights, to enhance the safety of your rental property.


Ensuring Proper Locks on Doors and Windows


Verify that all doors and windows have secure locks to prevent unauthorised access to the property. If you notice any issues with locks, promptly inform your landlord for repairs or replacements.


Getting Renter's Insurance


Renter's insurance is a valuable investment that protects your belongings in case of theft, damage, or natural disasters. It also provides liability coverage for accidents on the rental property. Consult with insurance providers to find a policy that suits your needs.


Being Cautious with Strangers


As a tenant, be cautious when dealing with strangers approaching you or visiting the property. Avoid sharing personal information with unknown individuals and report any suspicious activity to your landlord or local authorities.


Safeguarding Personal Information


Protect your personal information and financial documents from potential identity theft. Store sensitive paperwork securely and be cautious when sharing personal details online or with third parties.


Section 4: Demystifying Rent Terminology - Understanding PCM in Rent


Decoding Rent Terminology


The rent terminology can confuse tenants, especially if you're new to renting. Familiarise yourself with common rent-related terms to make informed decisions.


Understanding Per Calendar Month (PCM)


Per Calendar Month (PCM) refers to the rental amount charged each month without considering the number of days in the month. It is a straightforward and common method of rent calculation.


Clarifying Additional Rent Costs


Apart from the base rent, there may be additional rent costs, such as utilities, parking fees, or property maintenance charges. Clarify these costs with your landlord before signing the lease agreement to budget accordingly.



Congratulations on reaching the end of our comprehensive guide to renting made easy! Armed with the knowledge and tips provided, you are now well-equipped to navigate the rental process confidently and responsibly.


Renting doesn't have to be complicated or overwhelming. By following the step-by-step guide, you can clearly approach the rental journey and make well-informed decisions.


Remember to assess your rental needs, set a budget, and search for the perfect property that aligns with your preferences. When communicating with your landlord, address any concerns respectfully and proactively. Prioritise your safety by implementing security measures and safeguarding your personal information.


Understanding rent terminology, including PCM (Per Calendar Month), helps you manage your finances and avoid confusion during your tenancy.


Before you sign the lease agreement, thoroughly review all terms and responsibilities. Paying rent on time, reporting maintenance issues promptly, and respecting your neighbours will contribute to a positive landlord-tenant relationship.


Staying safe is paramount; investing in security devices and renter's insurance can provide peace of mind.


By following this guide, you're on your way to a successful and stress-free renting experience. Now, find your dream rental property - your perfect home awaits!

© Open Estates

Getting Your First Time Mortgage: A Comprehensive Guide for London Buyers



Welcome to the World of Homeownership in London


In a vibrant city like London, owning a home may seem like a distant dream for many first-time buyers. However, getting your first mortgage in the capital can become a reality with the proper knowledge and guidance. This comprehensive guide will address the critical aspects of obtaining a mortgage for first-time buyers in London. From understanding the best mortgage options to navigating the process of purchasing your first home, we've got you covered.


What Type of Mortgage is Best for First-Time Buyers in London?


When choosing the right mortgage for first-time buyers in London, several options can help you step onto the property ladder. Here are a few popular mortgage types to consider:


1. Fixed-Rate Mortgage


A fixed-rate mortgage offers stability and predictability. With this type of mortgage, the interest rate remains unchanged for a specific period, typically between two to five years. This lets you confidently plan your finances, knowing that your monthly mortgage payments will remain consistent during the fixed-rate term.


2. Help to Buy Equity Loan


The Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme is designed to assist first-time buyers in purchasing a newly built property. Under this scheme, the government provides an equity loan of up to 20% (or 40% in London boroughs) of the property's value, reducing the mortgage amount required. This can particularly benefit those struggling to save for a larger deposit.


3. Shared Ownership


Shared Ownership schemes enable first-time buyers to purchase a share (typically 25% to 75%) of a property and pay rent on the remaining portion. This option is beneficial for individuals with lower incomes or limited deposit funds. Over time, you can gradually increase your share through a "staircase."


What Does It Mean to Get a Mortgage in London?


Getting a mortgage in London involves several steps and considerations. Here's a breakdown of the process:


1. Assessing Affordability and Creditworthiness


Before you start house hunting, it's crucial to determine your affordability. Lenders will assess your income, expenses, credit history, and existing debts to evaluate your ability to repay the mortgage. Understanding your financial situation and creditworthiness will help you set realistic expectations and avoid potential disappointments.


2. Saving for a Deposit


Saving for a deposit is a significant milestone in the journey to homeownership. The required deposit can be substantial in London, where property prices are typically higher than the national average. Aim to save at least 5-20% of the property's value, as a larger deposit will often result in more favourable mortgage terms.


3. Mortgage Application and Approval


Once you've assessed your affordability and saved for a deposit, it's time to apply for a mortgage. Seek the assistance of a mortgage broker or approach lenders directly to explore your options. The lender will evaluate your application, considering your income, employment status, credit history, and the property's value.


4. Property Search and Offer


With a mortgage pre-approval in hand, you can begin your property search in London. Engage with estate agents, attend viewings, and carefully assess the suitability of each property. When you find the right one, make an offer. If accepted, the process moves forward, and you proceed to the next step.


5. Conveyancing and Survey


Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring the property's ownership from the seller to the buyer. It is essential to hire a qualified solicitor or conveyancer who will handle the necessary searches, paperwork, and contracts on your behalf. Additionally, it is highly recommended to survey the property to identify any potential issues or hidden costs.


6. Mortgage Valuation and Offer


As part of the mortgage process, the lender will arrange a valuation of the property to ensure it is worth the amount you're borrowing. This valuation is primarily for the lender's benefit but can provide additional peace of mind. Once the valuation is satisfactory, the lender will make a formal mortgage offer detailing the terms and conditions of the loan.


7. Exchange of Contracts


Upon satisfactory completion of the conveyancing process, you will exchange contracts with the seller. You become legally obligated to purchase the property at this stage, and the seller is committed to selling it to you. A deposit is usually paid at this point, typically around 10% of the property's value.


8. Completion and Moving In


The completion date is when the remaining funds are transferred to the seller, and legal ownership is transferred to you. Once completed, you can collect the keys to your new home and begin moving in. Remember to arrange for utilities and services to be set up in your name.


Is It Hard to Get a Mortgage in London?


Getting a mortgage in London can be a competitive and challenging process due to the city's high property prices. However, it is undoubtedly possible with careful preparation and the right approach. Here are some factors to consider:


1. Affordability and Deposit


As mentioned earlier, affordability and saving for a deposit are crucial factors in securing a mortgage. Higher property prices in London mean larger deposits are typically required. However, various schemes and assistance are available, such as Help to Buy and shared ownership, which can make homeownership more accessible.


2. Creditworthiness and Financial Stability


Lenders assess the creditworthiness and financial stability of mortgage applicants carefully. A good credit score, steady employment, and manageable debt levels are essential. Maintaining a healthy financial profile is crucial to paying bills on time, minimising debt, and avoiding unnecessary credit applications.


3. Seeking Professional Advice


Navigating the mortgage market can be complex, especially for first-time buyers. Seeking the assistance of a mortgage broker or independent financial advisor can be highly beneficial. They can help you understand your options, compare mortgage deals, and guide you through the application process.


How to Buy a House for the First Time in London?


Buying a house for the first time in London requires careful planning and consideration. Here are some essential steps to guide you:


1. Set a Realistic Budget


Determine your budget based on your affordability and deposit savings. Consider other costs like stamp duty, solicitor fees, and moving expenses. This will help you narrow down your property search and avoid disappointment.


2. Research and Location


Research different areas in London to find the ones that align with your lifestyle, budget, and prospects. Consider factors such as transportation links, amenities, schools, and potential for capital growth.


3. Engage with Professionals


Work with reputable estate agents, mortgage brokers, solicitors, and surveyors who have experience with first-time buyers in London. They can provide valuable guidance and ensure you make informed decisions.


4. Attend Viewings and Make Offers


Attend property viewings to get a firsthand look at potential homes. Take note of the property's condition, size, and suitability for your needs. If you find a property that meets your requirements, make an offer to the seller through your estate agent. Be prepared for negotiations, and remember to stay within your budget.


5. Conduct Due Diligence


Before committing to a purchase, conduct thorough due diligence. This includes obtaining a survey of the property to identify any structural issues or hidden problems. Review the property's legal documentation, such as title deeds and local authority searches, to ensure everything runs smoothly.


6. Secure Your Mortgage


Once your offer is accepted, move forward with securing your mortgage. Consult with your mortgage broker or lender to finalise the mortgage application. Provide all the necessary documentation and information required for the underwriting process.


7. Exchange Contracts and Completion


Work closely with your solicitor or conveyancer to complete the legal processes involved. This includes exchanging contracts with the seller and arranging a completion date. Ensure that all necessary paperwork is in order and funds are available for the completion.


8. Moving In


On the completion date, the property officially becomes yours. Coordinate the logistics of moving in, including arranging for removal services, notifying relevant parties of your change of address, and setting up utilities and services in your new home.


9. Enjoy Your New Home


Congratulations! You are now a homeowner in London. Take the time to settle into your new home and explore the city's exciting opportunities. Remember to budget for ongoing expenses, such as mortgage payments, maintenance, and insurance, to ensure a smooth homeownership experience.


Owning your first home in London is achievable with careful planning, financial preparation, and professional guidance. By understanding the options available, navigating the process of obtaining a mortgage, and following the steps involved in purchasing a property, you can turn your dream of homeownership in London into a reality. Remember, seeking professional advice, conducting thorough research, and staying within your budget are crucial to ensure a successful and fulfilling journey to your first-time mortgage in the vibrant capital.

© Open Estates

Tips on Quickly Passing the Tenancy Referencing Process



The number of people renting rather than buying property around the country is on the rise for many reasons. This rise in renters means landlords can afford to be picky about their choices, so passing a tenant referencing fast and without any issues is a very important part of the process.

The tenant referencing process is a simple thing in itself, but you still need to know what your potential obstacles may be. In this guide, we will cover what you need to do to pass it with minimum bother:

Be Honest

Rather than having the letting agent or landlord find out any unpleasant information about you, it’s always better to be upfront about your issues and let them know what they need to know before they find out themselves. If there are some prior experiences you may have had with landlords that lead to poor references or a bad credit rating, then these will be the thing the new landlord will need to know.

Being honest from the beginning will let you approach the situation in a way that will give you an edge later on. Being upfront and sharing what happened shows integrity and a will to admit the truth. When the tenant reference check is conducted, landlords and letting agents will always prefer it when someone puts their cards on the table, saving them the time to research you and your personal history. Remember, they will likely find anything you’re hiding regarding tenancies, so being honest about things is the best policy.

Get Your Paperwork Together

This is often something people tend to get intimidated by during the referencing process. Though it may not necessarily stop you from passing the check, it will cost you valuable time if you don’t have the documents done beforehand. Competition for rented accommodation is stiff, so you will need every edge you can get. The paperwork will include references for renting, both for employers and previous or current landlords, passport and visa if required and bank statements. Having those on hand will make things go faster, letting you into your potential new property before other people who take longer to process their documentation.

Inform Your Referees

Many tenants will mistakenly believe that their landlords and letting agents won’t decide to call their referees. Don’t assume that, and remember that a good tenant referencing check will also include at least one call to the previous landlord and current employer of a potential tenant. Still, most letting agents and landlords will go about that far.

If your referees ask the landlord or letting agent to call them later, they may follow up on the call once or twice, but usually no more. You need to contact the people you named as referees, so they will know the call is essential.

Answer All Correspondence Promptly

Unresponsive referees may happen, but a tenant who avoids acting when prompted to respond is something else entirely. If you receive a request for information from the letting agent or landlord, you will answer them immediately, without any delays whatsoever. As part of the tenant referencing process, you are expected to fill out forms and complete certain boring tasks, but you would only harm your chances if you put off things later down the line. Get them done fast, and you will have a better chance of passing the tenant checks and getting the rental you want.

©Open Estates

Why You Should Set Up a Property Inventory


Property inventories are documents reporting the state of a given property, its contents and the time of assessment. These are done twice identically, once when the tenancy begins and once at the end, as an inventory and checkout.


The most significant bit of the inventory assessment is the Schedule of Conditions. This details the state of every part of the property, including floors, walls, ceilings, decor, etc. Landlords may think that this is only regarding fixtures and fittings. Still, the Schedule of Conditions offers protection against any structural damage on the property during the tenancy. You need to have an inventory taken, even if the property is unfurnished. 


Having the two documents allows both sides of a tenant-landlord agreement to know exactly what has changed during the tenancy's length. The checkout report details any areas that need attention, and those will be segmented into tenant and landlord sections, showing who is responsible for what around the property.


Having the documents on hand will lessen the chance of disputes, making the process of exiting a tenancy straightforward and streamlined. Both parties must review the reports, ensuring everything was noticed during the process. This is especially important if the tenant is at the inventory stage, as any existing damage or defects that are picked up, in the end, will be their responsibility.


As a tenant, you have the right to be present when the checks are done. Thai ensures the person conducting the check won't miss anything, but it's still a good idea to check out the document in detail before it is completed. In the process, spotting omissions and errors as soon as possible ensures the changes made can be reported without worrying about mistakes.


Who Conducts the Inventory?


The landlord, a letting agent, or an independent inventory clerk may compile inventories. Independent inventory companies need to be a member of a professional association so you know you are dealing with a reliable firm in the process of your tenancy.


Inventory reports are often compiled on the day you move in when both parties must sign the document and confirm they agree with what's inside it. The document's details depend on the property's value and contents, and it may include photos as evidence and written documentation.


There are many reasons why you would want to have a property inventory done, both as a landlord and a tenant: landlords must know that conducting an inventory on their own may be an issue in disputes. Protection schemes such as the TDP (Transport Deposit Scheme) always favour inventories made by professionals over those done by the property owner.


  • Conducting an inventory gives both parties an accurate assessment of the state of the property.
  • The property's inventory shows areas that need to be addressed and who is responsible for their repairs.
  • The document will help tenants on how the property needs to be returned to the landlord and provides a guideline on how the home must be maintained.
  • Inventories help make a difference between damage and wear and tear,
  • Property inventories help the landlord's investment and the tenant's deposit.
  • Going through the inventory helps lessen the chance of disputes when the tenancy is over.

  • If a dispute happens, having an inventory helps ensure you get the right results and consensus.


©Open Estates


Things Every Homebuyer Should Do Upon Moving In



So you bought a property, were handed the keys, and now you’re ready to start enjoying it, but you’re not sure where to start with the empty rooms of your new place. Moving is one of the more stressful things you may have to deal with, and it doesn’t end when you move in.


Once you arrange and unpack, you may feel overwhelmed and need help figuring out what to do next. Preparing a checklist of things to do can greatly benefit your daily needs upon moving in.


Clean Up Before You Unpack


There is no better time to start cleaning your new home than when everything is packed. The previous owner would have already done this in a perfect world for you, but you can’t always count on that. Naturally, that may not be something you’re willing to do immediately after a move, but it is worth the effort. Getting a good clean in before you put everything out where it belongs is a good way to get every corner of the property cleaner than ever. You will be able to find small scuff marks and imperfections in the property and fix them if need be. You will feel much better once you clean the property, even if you think it doesn’t need it.


If you can afford it, consider hiring a professional cleaning company to do the cleaning for you, preferably before your arrival. You’ll save yourself a bit of effort and time if you do, and the company will be much more thorough and professional about keeping your home spotless upon arrival than you ever could. That way, you won’t have to deal with disruptions and can handle things on your end for the moving part of the equation.


Create a To-Do List


While you have more access upon arrival, you can make a list of things you want to do in each room. You don’t have to go into too great a detail; make a list of things you want to do with a pen and paper, a notepad or even your phone. These may be small things that come to mind, such as where you want to hang your favourite paintings, mirrors or whatever else strikes your fancy. It may even be something bigger, such as possible additions to your home, like new furniture or interior walls. Going through the property while you have it free and empty of clutter may give you a better understanding of how your new home should look.


Change the Locks


Many of us feel more secure when the locks are changed, even when we move into a new property. Luckily, this isn’t difficult and is not too expensive to handle. Regarding security, you should change your front and back door locks if you have a second door. This may seem a bit much, but there is no way to know whether someone has copies of your keys lying around, so it’s best to err on caution. Once you’re done installing the new locks, you should head to the local locksmiths and get some copies made. Only give your key copies to someone you trust - parents and siblings, as you may need someone to give you a hand if you lose your keys. That way, you can be sure no one will have a handy key to your belongings.


©Open Estates

6 Tips to Get The Best Price For Your Property


Selling a property can be a lot of work and preparation well ahead of time, but it is worth it in the end. You need to keep a few things in mind if you want to make the best of it, so let's point them out:


Being Strategic


Preparing a strategy for your sale will help you achieve the best potential price range and cover your needs. You should consider what is important to you - are you interested in having the highest price, or do you want to move your property in a specific timeframe? Knowing your goals clearly before you will have you better prepared to deal with the challenges ahead.


Running the Numbers


Knowing how much your property is worth is essential to get the most out of the sale you're going for. The worth of your property can only be used if you can persuade a buyer to part with their money. Figuring out the property's realistic price puts you in a better bargaining position than selling at a price you hope is the right choice. Knowing exactly how much your home is worth will make it easier to set the right price and get more potential buyers on board.


Making changes to add value


If you have the funds and time to make some improvements before placing your property on the market, you should go for it. You can completely change a bathroom or simply a doorknob or front door, repaint the house or do much more, but every renovation you do will make a difference in the property's final value.


Depersonalise for Profit


You should give potential buyers a chance to appreciate your property by removing your presence from it as much as you can. You want the buyers to feel like this property could be their home, so try to strip it of things that make it personal without going so far as to make it feel unwelcoming and unpleasant. Get rid of family memorabilia and find a proper balance; there is no need to remove everything personally, but make sure the buyers won't be overwhelmed with your items.


Work Within Time Frames


Adapting to the market's needs is necessary if you want to sell quickly and reasonably. Speak to your agent about how the market is performing in your area and figure out an action plan with realistic time frames. Sticking to those will help attract the greatest attention in the first month or so, but you will need to be ready for what comes next. Figure out your next move, and you will have a better chance of getting some interested potential buyers. Your chosen agent will advise on whether a price drop may create more interest or not, so you should be able to adjust your actions.


The Virtue of Patience


Getting your first offer from a potential buyer may feel exciting, but you should remember this is just the first. Your agent will be able to read the situation and give you more objective advice on whether or not this is a good sale. Analyse the facts and see for yourself whether you feel good about selling at that price or whether you should hold out for a better offer. Each carries its risks, so you need to have a solid understanding of the market, something you can gain by hiring a skilled and experienced agent.


©Open Estates

Using Equity as a Deposit for Moving Home


This is one of those questions that may seem pretty straightforward until you look for the answer. You may need to keep a few things in mind, such as your options for releasing your equity, how much you have, whether you can use it to invest in buy-to-let and more.


Can You Use Equity in Your Property as a Deposit to Purchase a New Home?


This is one of the most common ways people use the equity they built in their homes. But you can do it. You can use equity as a deposit, giving you a chance to lower the amount you need to borrow for the new mortgage. That allows you to reduce your loan-to-value or LTV, which enables you to have a much greater range of mortgage choices.


The simplest way to look at things is as an unsecured profit, something that makes the difference between the sheer market value of a home and the amount you still owe until you pay off the property. You haven’t sold your home yet, so that makes it unsecured. Property prices fluctuate, or you may pay off more of the mortgage before you see the equity you accumulated released. There is also a flipside to this, in the face of:


Negative Equity


Whether or not you can use the equity in your home as a deposit, we’re looking for positive equity. On the other hand, if you owe more than the value of your property, you have fallen into negative equity. This happens when a home’s price drops dramatically for one reason or another. Certain places have disproportionate amounts of homes that fall into this category, thanks to the state of the local property market. If you ever find yourself in this situation, you should either move home or remortgage your property, but that could be extremely difficult.


How to find out if you have accrued any equity in your home


The formula to work out your property equity is fairly simple, but you need the proper figures before you can start calculating. The rough property value can be gauged by doing a bit of online research. You can do that on property portals like Zoopla, Rightmove and so forth, searching for similar properties in the same area as yours that was recently sold. This gives you an idea of the price range offered, something you can also obtain by calling a reputable local estate agent to get your home professionally viewed.


You can check the latest mortgage statement or call your lender for what’s left to pay off your mortgage. Most lenders out there will send mortgage statements annually, so your latest one may not be that recent. It’s best to give them a call to get more accurate figures. With those two things in mind, you can subtract the amount you owe from the value of your property. The result is the amount of equity you have.


6 Ways to Release Equity from Your House


If the results of your calculations show you’re positive, that’s good news, and you may want to think about how you can use that to your advantage. The listed tips below give you that chance:


  • Obtain a second charge mortgage
  • Take out a further advance loan
  • Use the equity to buy your next home outright
  • Remortgage your home
  • Access equity via an equity release scheme
  • Use the equity as a deposit on your next move


©Open Estates


Important Terms You Should Know in Regards to Lettings in the UK

When it comes to lettings in the UK, you will need to keep a few things in mind to run a successful business. Using the following tips will give you a hand when you need it, making sure you're ready for the challenges ahead:


An agent must keep written accounts of who holds the keys and inform tenants of the access required by the tenancy agreement terms. The only time this shouldn't be the case is in cases of emergency.

Agency Agreement (Landlords only)

Whenever you're dealing with an agent, as a landlord, you should ensure that they understand the services you are providing and what is recorded in the agreement. Services may range from finding tenants to carrying out referencing, drafting tenancy agreements, check-ins, arranging inventory, rent collection and management and the tenancy itself.
When you sign agreements, you are entering a legally binding contract and incurring a financial commitment. It must be clear how long the agency agreement will run for, as well as how it may be terminated, the notice required and whether or not any continuing liability for costs will exist after it's ended. The agents and their business terms must include all fees and confirm whether they are a member of a redress scheme such as TPO.
You must ensure you understand the terms of the agreement and the commitments you are entering with the agent. You should take care before you sign and be aware that the document you sign can be cancelled within 14 days.


You should avoid future disputes whenever you can by amending, verifying, signing and copying the inventory or check-in reports and returning the documents through a registered post. You should ensure these documents reflect the true condition used at the end of tenancy, should the deposits get disputed. When the tenancy ends, the agent or the landlord must arrange a check-out inspection to see the property's condition against the check-in report and inventory.


Security deposits due under the tenancy agreement must be protected with an approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme. The deposit money belongs to the tenant unless otherwise agreed by the tenant or the tenancy deposit scheme. Deposits must never be used to pay fees owed to the agent by the landlord.

Duty of Care

Agents must always work in the client's best interests, that is to say, the person who pays the letting agency services, which is most often the landlord. The agent must be informed as early as possible if they had any personal or other business interest in the property. Agents must also treat those renting or letting fairly and politely.

The Energy Assessor

By law, any property that is supposed to be let must have an Energy Performance Certificate. The agent might assist landlords in finding an Assessor.


Since 27 May 2015, letting and management agents must show a list of all fees, charges and penalties for any letting agency or property management service payable by landlords and tenants. This means additional fees, charges and penalties that may have been incurred during a tenancy. The same goes for fees, charges and penalties references in Tenancy Agreements and Terms of Business. There are exceptions with tenancy security deposits, not holding deposits, rent payable to landlords and fees, charges or penalties where the agent receives those from a landlord under a tenancy on behalf of someone else.

A Guide to House Surveys - Everything You Need to Know



If you ever had an offer accepted on a property, you may be wondering whether or not you will need a house survey and, if so, which type that would be. Here, we are looking at different types of house surveys and which one is the most fitting for your property.


There are a few types of house surveys, each depending on the depth of the survey you need, your budget, the condition of your property and more.


RICS Home Survey – Level 1


The RICS Home Survey Level 1 is the first step if you purchase a conventional property built from commonly used materials and in reasonably good condition. This type of survey was previously known as a Condition Report. Level 1 surveys give you a general idea of the condition of different parts of your building, grounds, services, etc. It helps you notice problems that may need attention, and the assessment is essential to understanding what needs to be done. It will also include a summary of the risks to your building, the grounds and the people. The report doesn’t go in too deep with details and has no advice or valuation.


RICS Home Survey – Level 2


It used to be called a Home Buyer Report or a Homebuyer survey. This mid-level survey is among the more popular choices for people buying a conventional property in good condition. It will cover everything you get in an RICS Home Survey Level 1 and check roofs and cellars. You can also get recommendations for more investigations where the property surveyor finds it hard to conclude within reason. This report will also give you advice on the budget for repairs that need doing and the amount of ongoing maintenance required in the future.RICS Home Survey Level 2 also comes with or without evaluation. Go for a Home Survey Level 2 with evaluation. This will also include a market value, insurance reinstatement figure and the list of problems that the property surveyor believes may affect the value of your property.


RPSA Home Condition Survey


An RPSA Home Condition Survey is more or less the equivalent of the RICS Home Survey Level 2. It is offered by the Residential Property Surveyors Association instead of RICS. Home Condition Surveys are produced in a consumer-friendly format and are independently checked for quality and consistency. You will get information such as damp assessment, boundary issues and broadband speed for the conveyancer to consider.


RICS Home Survey – Level 3


The RICS Home Survey Level 3 is also known as a complete structural survey and RICS Building Survey, one of the most thorough ones offered by RICS. Though they are the more expensive option, they are more thorough. This is a good house survey option if you are going for a property over 50 years old, one with an unusual design or something listed in poor condition. It’s also helpful if you are planning to undertake renovations or are worried about the state of the property.


Level 3 surveys will include everything you get under the RICS Home Survey Level 2, as well as describing the identifiable risks and causes of potential hidden defects in areas that weren’t inspected. It outlines the likely scope of remedial work and explains the consequences of avoiding repairs. You will also get recommendations on the priority and timescale of these repairs.


RPSA Building Survey


An RPSA Building Survey may be the highest level of a non-invasive survey from the RPSA. You can get everything the Home Condition survey offers and more comprehensive descriptions of the construction and its defects. It will also explain how to fix those and what will happen if you don’t.


©Open Estates

Gazumping and Gazundering Explained and Tips to Prevent Them


Gazumping is when the property seller accepts your offer, then proceeds with the purchase and instructs a solicitor. You may be paying for searches, valuation and instructing a lender. Then you can be notified that the seller accepted a higher offer from a different person. Now you are left in a position where you're unsure what to do. Is there anything you can do to recover the money you spent? Is the seller bound by the verbal agreement you had, is there any way to offer a higher amount, or can you simply walk away from this transaction?


You were gazumped.


Unfortunately, unless the contracts are exchanged, the agreement between you and the seller is not legally binding. That means either party can withdraw from the agreement. It is very little you can do to protect yourself and recover the money you've spent. How can you avoid being gazumped?


  • Timing is Important - the quicker you can move, the less the seller will be willing to accept a new offer. You should speak to the estate agent only to understand the expectations and timeframes of the seller.

  • Building a positive relationship with the seller and the estate agent and informing them of your actions is a good start. When you place your offer, advise the estate agent of your expectations and timeframes.

  • As a part of your offer, you should consider asking the seller to remove the property from the market. Some sellers and estate agents will naturally feel reluctant to do that, but you should still try.

  • Consider offering on the basis that you can perform an exchange of contracts within a set amount of time. Before doing this, you should ensure you can meet the timeline you're offering.

  • It would be best if you asked the seller whether they are prepared to enter a pre-contract deposit agreement. If this is agreed upon, the terms will state that both parties pay a percentage of the deposit held by a third party. The exchange of contracts must be discussed and agreed upon by a specific date. If the contracts are not exchanged by that date, or one side pulls out, the other party keeps both deposits.


What is Gazundering?


In a slower property market where more sellers are available than buyers, gazundering is common. This is the opposite of gazumping, something happening when a property seller accepts a buyer's offer. Sellers may proceed with their purchase and make plans to move house, but they may decide not to have further viewings. When the exchange of contracts is near, the buyer may significantly reduce their offer. Once that happens, the buyer is left in the lurch, as they may have been relying on the money from the sale to fund the purchase.

Remarketing means the seller could risk the related investment if they fail to find a new buyer. This results in a dilemma between accepting the lower offer and having to fund the shortfall of any purchase or refusing the offer entirely and remarketing the property instead. How to reduce the risk of gazundering? Well, there are a few ways:


  • Timing is essential, so the quicker you move, the less time the buyer has to reduce any offer. You should ask the buyer if they can meet the timeframe before accepting an offer.
  • Please get to know the market and the property, and ensure you have a realistic price for it, which may negate the need for buyers to reduce the offer.

  • Being realistic about the defects of the property and the cost of remedying them is a good way forward.


©Open Estates

Top Tips to Make your Home More Valuable and Sell it Quicker

If you want to prepare your home for a sale, you will need to do a few things to make it have a better chance on the market:

Declutter But Keep it Personal

You should get rid of items that get in the way. Put them in storage, sell them, give them away or throw them in the rubbish. Consider removing the bulkier furniture that makes the rooms seem smaller and replace it with smaller, leaner furniture if you can. People often find it difficult to imagine the property they live in portrayed in a different light. You don’t need to make it look like something generic, but you should leave some of its personality behind. It gives unimaginative buyers something to connect to on how the rooms may look like. People often buy a property as much as they buy into the idea of a lifestyle. If you are looking to clear out items, you should get a rubbish removal service to do it for you. This will spare you a lot of the work involved in the process.

Giving Things a Fresh Coat of Paint

Giving the walls of your home a nice bit of neutral paint coat will make your home seem bigger and more filled with light. It enables the viewers to imagine their take on the rooms that fit their needs. It will be easier for them to move around and use the rooms right away, instead of having them feel uneasy about certain colours or looks.

Maximising Kerb Appeal

Kerb appeal is the way of leaving a lasting impression, something most buyers will be affected by when they make up their minds in the first few minutes of witnessing a property. The most important feature of kerb appeal remains the well-maintained windows and roof combination, ensuring they are in great condition and looking as good as possible. Well-maintained front gardens, a fresh coat of paint in the front of the home, fences, pathways and everything else needs to be prepared. You should see how much it costs to get your exterior prepared for a sale.

Fixing and Cleaning

If there are minor repairs to be done, such as holes in walls, cracked tiles, broken doorknobs, threadbare or torn carpets and so forth, then you need to get them done. Many buyers also want to move in without making changes, so you should allow that as part of the deal. Clean everything that needs cleaning, get rid of limescale, clean and repair the tile grout, get rid of unpleasant odours, hang up fresh towels, wax the floors, and whatever needs to be done.
You should tidy up the garden by cleaning the patio and furniture of any dirt and lichen, cut the bushes and grass back and prepare things for a sale. Though this won’t add any value to your home, you can still make it more likely to sell as people will enjoy imagining themselves in the garden.

Updating the Kitchen

The kitchen is the most important room in a house, as it is usually the most used in our daily lives. Consider working on refacing the kitchen cabinetry, as it offers you a much cheaper alternative than installing new ones. Upgrading the kitchen countertops can be expensive, but worth it, as it adds a lot of value. Declutter your surfaces and leave a bowl of fresh fruit out to give the place a lived-in feel. Take out any bulky appliances that won’t ever be used and clean their places to perfection. You should upgrade the plumbing fixtures, but keep in mind you may not recoup their full value, even if it helps you sell faster.

Legislation Changes of 2022 That Landlords Need to Know About



If you’re a professional or a complete newcomer to the market - be aware that changes are coming to how landlords are supposed to handle business in 2022. Let’s cover them in the points ahead:

Changes in Tax Returns

The deadline for your 2020-2021 self-assessment passed on January 31st, but it is just one where a new mortgage interest tax relief credit applies going forward. The rules introduced in April mean you may get higher tax bills this year. The changes mean that you will no longer have the ability to deduct mortgage expenses from your rental income. This may be a serious change, as it was a major advantage regarding taxes for many UK citizens. You will now be issued a tax credit based on a 20% rate of your mortgage interest payments instead.

Changes in Capital Gains Tax

This is another chance for landlords in 2022 you should be aware of. It is meant to help taxpayers with meeting deadlines and mitigating the risks of late payments. Although you originally had 30 days to report and pay your capital gains tax, this has been extended to 60 days instead. If you are about to sell a buy-to-let home or your second property, you may have to pay this tax on the profits you make. The rates will be between 18-and 28%, depending on the bracket the home falls into.

Changes to Energy Efficiency Rules

The new government rules being placed mean you will have until 2026 to ensure your newly let homes will achieve band C or more on their energy performance certifications. You will have more chances to get the perfect property, making the necessary refurbishments and changes to make it happen. 
You may need to do more work on older properties, as they will need to meet regulations. Double glazing and insulation may need to be up to standards, as well as other details. Though it may cost you more in the long run, thankfully you will have more time to get things done, spreading the expenses over a longer period. 

Changes to Section 21 Evictions

As one of the most awaited changes in how landlords do business, the abolition of section 21 is here. It means you won’t have the right to evict a tenant on short notice and without a viable reason. Renters need that protection since it allows them to fight and avoid unfair evictions from their homes by landlords who may be doing so based on prejudice or similar reasons. The no-fault evictions of the past meant that tenants had to be asked to leave in as short a time as 8 weeks for any reason at all, or none. This left renters feeling worried about the stability of their homes, but with the new legislation in place, they can feel safer in their tenancy agreements.

Changes in Lifetime Deposits for Tenants

Every time a tenant moves to a new rental property, they will need another deposit to secure tenancy, with the hope it will be released from their previous home. Although paying rent and other expenses at the same time, this may be something hard to scrounge for some people. To avoid such situations, a lifetime deposit allows their money to be transferred directly from one landlord to another with every move. It’s meant to simplify the process, as well as address the potential abuse of these deposits. Tenants won’t have to worry about finding the funds for a new deposit each time, and they can focus on a more straightforward renting process.

How to Find a Good Estate Agent for Your Needs?

If you’re looking to buy or sell a property, there are quite a few things you wouldn’t know. The experience of a good estate agent can make or break your search for properties or buyers, so you will need one in all cases. Let’s point out what you should be looking for:

Asking for Recommendations

This may be the obvious first thing to do, but you should ask your friends, family members and any coworkers who may have moved with the help of estate agents. Ask whether they were happy with the services of a specific one, or look for any signs around town that indicate agents are working in your area. Look them up online as well, to expand your pool of potential agents for hire.

Check their Industry Credentials

Estate agents need to be members of The Property Ombudsman Scheme, something that allows complaints against them to be investigated independently. A lot of the estate agents out there will be members of trade bodies as well. Their membership in those means they have to keep to a code of conduct, something that requires a level of professionalism typical for the job. The trade bodies may include the Guild of Property Professionals, the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), as well as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Members of these schemes will be putting their membership upfront and centre whenever they can.

Going Up Close

You should visit your shortlisted estate agents, doing so as a potential buyer looking for a property similar to your home. Take note of the way they behave and consider if they will be good for your needs.

Invite Agents to Value Your Property

You should shortlist agents, but still, keep your options open. No less than three agents should be invited to value your property as you go forward. When the property is valued, you should not feel too impressed by whatever assessment is given by the agent. This could be a way to ingratiate themselves to you so they can win you over. You need an honest, fair agent who doesn’t overvalue your property, as that may fail to get a buyer at the same price.

Asking the Right Questions

You should ask how much the agent charges for sole agency and what the tie-in period is. Sole agency means the agent is the one holding exclusive rights to sell your property for a set period. If the property is sold by another agent at this time, you will have to pay the sole agent their fee, as well as the fee for the agent who made the sale. Fees for the sole agency may range between 1-2.5%, with a tie-in period spanning as far as eight weeks.
How much is the charge for multi-agency the agent is asking? A multi-agency arrangement means that several agents will have the property on their books. The successful agency will be granted the fee. The fee in question will be somewhere between 2.5-3.5% of the sale price.
How long has the agent been established, what kind of experience are you dealing with? An established agent will have experience selling properties, but one that operates close to your home will provide greater familiarity with the neighbourhood and other important details.
How much will the property be advertised? If the agency gets it done right, then you should have examples of other advertised properties to get the hang of how they handle that important part of their business.

Ask the Estate Agent These Questions When You Want to Buy a Home


Whenever you want to buy a house, there are a few questions you will need to ask of your estate agent. The questions will help before you make an offer and you negotiate prices. Let’s get started:


  • Why is the Owner Selling the Home?

One of the first and most important questions to ask when you’re looking for property. The estate agent isn’t obliged to answer, but if you are convincing enough, they may drop some hints about the circumstances of the sale. You may understand whether the owner was desperate to sell or not, and what the underlying reasons may be. Would you need to know specific facts about the home you’re buying? The biggest fear you may experience when you’re buying is to miss out on some negative about the property that may have skipped your attention. There are many details you could pay attention to, such as environmental factors, unpleasant neighbours and more. All of those could help lower the price or even make the purchase pointless if the area is hard to live in. If you have any doubts about the home, ask some neighbours nearby for more information before you commit.


  • How Did the Property’s Value Change in the Last Few Years?

This information should be easy to find on the Land Registry website, so check it out and see the previous sold prices. Be ready to ask questions about the changes to the property’s value, especially if there were any drops in those in recent years.


  • What about the Local Neighbourhood?

What is the local crime rate? What schools are available for children? What are the transportation links like? What is the location of the nearest petrol station and food store? There are many questions to ask, but you can also do the same by doing some research of your own.


  • Are there Local Plans that May Affect the Homeowners?

If you are viewing a property because you enjoy the landscape, you are undoubtedly interested in keeping it looking the same way for years. If there are plans underway for new housing development in these fields, you will want to know of that sooner or later. Ask about this possibility before you make a purchase, otherwise, you’ll need to deal with the consequences later on.


  • What Does the Sale Include?

You should ask that question to your estate agent. Knowing whether the garden shed or the greenhouse of the property are included, whether the fittings and fixtures are part of it, knowing where the boundary of the property lies. All of those questions are worth asking and knowing before you commit to the purchase. A good conveyancing solicitor will ensure your purchase has all of that agreed upon on a viewing verbally. You should compare quotes from the local conveyancing solicitors as soon as possible.


  • How Long has the Property Been on the Market?

If the home has been on the market for longer than three months, then you should ask the agent why the property isn’t selling. Are there any problems that the people have spotted that you haven’t? Is the price too much for the average buyer?


  • How Long have the Owners Lived on the Property?

If the current owners have decided on moving out after a short period of ownership, you need to find the reasons why. This is extremely important before you make a purchase, as you may be setting yourself up for owning a property that is hard to sell.


  • How Many Times Did the Property Change Hands?

You need to be aware of any possible issues if the property has been changing hands repeatedly over a short period. You need to find the reasons and you may need to contact the previous owners to ask why they decided to sell


©Open Estates

Important UK property market forecasts for 2022


2021 brought us rising property prices alongside other surprises, with the last three months of the year seeing the fastest growth in prices in the last 15 years. House prices are going up with the highest quarterly rate since 2006, bringing the average price of a home to a record-breaking £272,992. A few factors are leading to the current outcome in the UK housing market.


The ongoing housing shortfall is playing a part, with the government plans to build 300,000 new properties within 2022 to meet the high demand being one of the reasons. Other factors involved were the stamp duty holiday, urbanization as the tenants are returning to the office, their changing priorities and more. After the period of remote work is beginning to near its end, the returning employees are checking the rental market in the UK's largest urban areas.


House Price Growth


The national asking price for a property is expected to rise by 5% in 2022, with an increase of 17,000 GBP. Property prices in the sector have risen five months in a row by November 2021 and they were 8.2% higher than the previous year in the same month. This trend is expected to continue throughout 2022, with the supply and demand imbalance and the workers going back to the office.


Which Regions Are Experiencing the Highest Price Growth?


The 2022-2026 residential forecast report by JLL shows the top-performing cities and regions, using economic, market and social factors to create an accurate model and forecast. The West Midlands are expected to lead the house price growth in the UK with a 7% growth.


  • Birmingham


The average house prices were GBP 233,148 and have an expected increase of 6% for 2022, the expected average price has risen to GBP 247,136. An additional 6,300 jobs have been created in the city by HMRC, attracting high earners and hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2022, raising attention to the area. 


  • Manchester


The average house price for Manchester stood at GBP 247,726 in 2021, with an expected rise of 6% in 2022, the expected GBP 262,589 average price for houses in 2022. Manchester is also seeing the highest economic growth in the next five years, with a GVA growth of 16.4%, according to Oxford Economics. The same projected price inflation is seen for Birmingham, with both cities having massive potential for investment and development.


Rental Growth in the UK Housing Market


The private rented sector has an expected 4.5% rise in 2022, according to Zoopla. This is a great sign for investors. The UK Rental Market Report shows that the average UK rent went up by 4.6% in the year leading to October 2021. Rent increases have hit a 13-year high, as the demand for property has doubled in the central zones of the major cities.


A third of millennials across the world are expected to live in rentals their entire lives, so people are now paying higher prices for their dream living experience. A prime city location with amenities nearby and co-working areas are the most desired accommodation. Estate agents will notice that renting is still the cheaper way of achieving a better lifestyle, without the sense of being locked into a location. This is a dealbreaker for many young employees on the market. The increasing costs of living such as energy bills means many people can’t afford to buy a property at all.


For those reasons, the renters are returning to the cities, but supply is lacking compared to demand.


©Open Estates


Everything landlords and tenants should know in regards to Covid-19 repairs, maintenance, health and safety

If there is one thing of significant importance in regards to rented properties during the ongoing pandemic, it is that landlords, tenants and local authorities should continue to work together, to maintain these properties safe. This is in the very best interest of both landlords and tenants. Ensuring that the properties are free of hazards and are a safe environment is priority number one. Tenants need to stay on top of the issue and alert their landlord early on, in case of a problem. This will allow the landlord to address the task as soon as possible and take adequate action. In the following guide, we will have a look at a few important factors considering all of that. 


Allowing fresh air in is very important for any meetings conducted indoors. According to health and safety experts, it is best if landlords and tenants meet outside. For communal areas, opening windows and doors is one of the simplest ways to improve ventilation. It allows stale air to circulate outside the building and thus reduce the chance of Covid-19 virus particles remaining in the building. In case windows have openings at both the bottom and the top, like sash windows, keeping the top open ensures the incoming fresh air warms up a bit. If the weather allows it, both openings should be used. It is a good idea to open windows/doors on opposite sides of a room, to ensure the best circulation. If possible, tenants should maintain openings throughout the day to ensure a constant flow of fresh air is entering the home. 

Carrying out repair and maintenance work 

Work undertaken should always follow the safety guidance during Covid-19. If local authorities, landlords and contractors need to access a property, to carry out certain work there, they should do so in a safe manner. The possible works include: 

  • Safety inspections are done on a routine basis, which also includes electricity and gas safety checks. 

  • Various essential and non-essential repairs

  • Unplanned or planned maintenance inside and outside of the home

There are no guidelines for homes with potential or confirmed coronavirus infection. The same guidelines apply to the occupants of shared properties. If one of the occupants have symptoms of the virus, all of them should behave as a single household. No work should take place in households isolated due to symptoms of the virus unless there is a very clear risk for the safety of the same household or public. 

If there is a case of a tenant refusing access to the property, landlords have the tools and powers that will allow them to gain access. This includes obtaining an injunction from the court, or a warrant. 

Maintenance work and repairs with clinically vulnerable people 

As per expert clinical advice and the rollout of the vaccine programme, all individuals previously considered clinically extremely vulnerable are not advised to shield again. Such individuals should consider some advice from their healthcare professional on what precautions are right for them. 

Communal lounges in retirement/shelter schemes 

Scheme managers and landlords should always perform a risk assessment, inclusive of the risk of Covid-19 and do the necessary to minimise it. Everyone who is self-isolating, or symptomatic of Covid-19 or has a positive test should steer clear of communal areas when others are there. These areas should be properly sanitised at all times, to ensure no cross-contamination occurs. 

© Open Estates