How Hertford Landlords Can Nip Garden Disputes in the Bud

In this three-minute read, we look at who is responsible for maintaining the garden at a rental property.

The most significant property trend to emerge from the pandemic has been the surge in demand – from buyers and renters – for properties with gardens.

The race for space is undoubtedly good news for landlords marketing properties with a garden, balcony, or courtyard. 

And it’s not just easier to rent out a property with a garden; it’s more lucrative, too. New research shows renters are willing to pay on average 25% more for a home with a garden*.

But letting a garden property isn’t always a bed of roses (see what we did there?); almost a quarter of all deposit disputes are over garden maintenance**. 

Often, the cause of tension is confusion over who is responsible for what when it comes to maintaining outdoor spaces.

This all should be spelled out in the contract, but generally speaking, the tenant should keep the garden in good condition and return it in the same state it was in at the start of the tenancy. Jobs that fall under the tenant’s remit include weeding, watering, and removing litter.

The landlord is responsible for tasks that require expertise, such as lopping off tree branches, fixing broken fences, and any other structural work. 

Here are a few ways landlords can safeguard themselves from getting dragged into a garden dispute.

  1. Lay the groundwork

Ensure that the garden is in good condition before you rent out the property. Plant low maintenance shrubs, sort out uneven paving stones, and get rid of that rickety old shed. 

  • Outline responsibilities

Explain (in person and in writing) what you expect from the tenant and what they can expect from you.

  • Keep records

Often landlords diligently record the condition of the fixtures and fittings of the property’s interior but make little or no mention of the exterior. Check-in and check-out reports should detail the condition of the garden with photographs and descriptions. 

  • Regular inspections

When you carry out a property inspection during a tenancy, don’t forget to look at the garden. Document its condition (photographs are a must), and if any issues are apparent, ask the tenant to rectify them.

  • Be flexible

A tenant is not allowed to make changes to the garden without the landlord’s permission. But if they ask to plant a veggie patch or add some more plants, be flexible. If your tenant is reliable and responsible, allowing them to create the garden of their dreams will encourage them to stay long term. Always clarify any agreed changes in writing beforehand. 

If you have any questions about tenant/landlord responsibilities, get in touch with us here at Hertford.

*Analysis carried out by Paving Direct, based on the average price of renting a three-bed home in cities across the country on Rightmove. Read the full report: https://bit.ly/3gyOJEj

** Data from The Dispute Service. Figures cover the year up to March 2020. 

The Pros and Cons of Using the Help to Buy Scheme in Hertford

Three-minute read to help you consider the Help to Buy Scheme from all angles.

The Help to Buy scheme is a government-backed equity loan opportunity. It is also referred to as ‘shared equity’.

The scheme is currently only available on new build properties. The loan from the government is up to 20% of the purchase price (40% in Greater London). This means that you only need to raise a 5% deposit and get a 75% mortgage (55% in Greater London).

Let’s consider the benefits and downsides of using this option.

Pros

Although this can be called a ‘shared equity’ scheme, you will own the property 100% outright.

This low deposit amount is what can make the scheme appealing to many. It allows you to get onto the property ladder often much quicker than if you had to save for a 10% or more deposit. It’s also cheaper than getting a 95% mortgage, which is what you’d have to do without the scheme.

The first five years of the loan are interest-free and there is no maximum household income cap.

You have 25 years before it has to be paid back in full.

Cons

There isn’t a household income cap but there are regional price caps. For example, in the North West, you couldn’t purchase a property for more than £224,400 using this scheme. In London, you couldn’t spend over £600,000.

The first five years are interest-free but after that, you’ll be charged an annual fee of 1.75% on the outstanding loan amount. This fee goes up each year with inflation. The loan becomes more expensive over time but your wages may not increase at the same rate.

When you sell the property, you must pay off the loan in full. However, because the loan is a percentage of the market value of your home, the loan amount may end up being more if your home has gone up in value. This might mean that you are left with a lot less from the property sale than you would have otherwise had. This can make upsizing harder as you’re not scaling the property ladder in a linear manner.

It’s important to seek specialist financial advice if you are looking to take advantage of the Help to Buy scheme. We can recommend trusted independent financial advisers and mortgage specialists.

If you would like some support to explore what route to take when buying your first Hertford home, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us on 01992 532 222.

Five Reasons to Leave Property Viewings to the Experts

In this two-minute read, we look at why it pays to get an experienced estate agent to handle viewings.

When it comes to selling a property, many people overlook the important role viewings play in the process.

They mistakenly believe that viewings are simply about opening doors and making sure would-be buyers don’t nick any valuables.

In fact, buyers share crucial information during viewings that can be helpful during negotiations and push up the final selling price.

Cutting corners on viewings – as many low-fee and online-only agents do by insisting the seller handles them – only chips away at the end result. Here are five reasons to entrust viewings to an experienced professional.

  1. Honesty

Brits are a polite bunch who don’t like hurting other people’s feelings – which is lovely if you’re hosting a tea party, but not much use if you’re selling a property. Buyers are much more likely to give honest, constructive feedback to an agent than an owner.

  • Personal safety

When you open your front door for a viewing, you’re essentially letting a stranger in to wander around your home. In most cases, buyers are genuine and well-meaning, but many sellers prefer to have a professional in charge for peace of mind.

  • Buyers prefer it

There’s a reason why sellers are asked to remove family photos and personal belongings before a viewing: too much personal information is a turn-off for buyers. Similarly, buyers can feel awkward when an owner, especially one with a strong emotional attachment to the property, conducts viewings.

  • Spot genuine buyers

Viewings are an opportunity for the seller to suss out if a buyer is for real. As well as achieving top price, you’re looking for a buyer who won’t mess you around or drop out at the last minute. A good agent will ask the right questions during a viewing to glean if the buyer means business.

  • Negotiation

If you’ve never negotiated a large transaction before (and let’s face it, selling your home will probably be the largest transaction of your life), why start now when so much is at stake? Let an experienced agent with a proven track record handle it for you. They’ll be calm and level-headed and immune to any buyer shenanigans.

To learn more about our sales success in Hertford, get in contact with us here at Abel. 

How to Boost Your 2021 Kerb Appeal in Hertford

This three-minute read will help you maximise the kerb appeal for your Hertford property.

A HomeOwners Alliance survey showed that 68% of potential buyers felt a property’s kerb appeal influenced their decision. Use these quick and easy tips to help your potential buyers fall in love at first sight.

Pathways and driveways

If you access your main entrance via a pathway or over a driveway, make sure you give it some TLC.

  • Refresh gravel
  • Pressure wash to remove discolouration or slippery bits
  • Remove weeds

Top tip: Add solar lights along the route for added elegance.

Front façade

The front of your property is like its shop window. Make sure any soffits, fascias, or guttering are clean and in good order. Clean the windows and frames, or repaint if necessary. Little things like that subliminally reassure viewers that the bigger things have been taken care of too.

Top tip: Clean or repaint your front door, polish the hardware, and add a hanging basket for a burst of colour.

Green fingers

There are low maintenance ways of making a front outdoor area more appealing. You can pick up outdoor plants, even from a supermarket. Pop a few around to brighten any space. If you have a lawn or hedging, keep it tidy. Alternatively, ask a responsible young person if they’d like to earn some pocket money by doing it for you.

Top tip: Choose plants without flowers if you won’t remember to deadhead them. The foliage and pots will still look striking.

Add storage

It might be that you don’t mind your bins and recycling boxes at the front of your home. However, for others it can be off-putting. Broaden your property’s appeal as much as possible by adding a bin store. You can use some trellising to create a divider or go all out and box them in.

Top tip: Surround or cover with pots of flowers or shrubs. You could even train climbers up the side.

Boundaries

If you have fencing or gates, make sure they’re looking their best. This might mean a lick of paint or wood stain. If you’ve got a fence post or panel that’s seen better days, just replace it. It’s unlikely to cost much in time or money. It does, however, prevent any offers from including that as a reason to knock the price down.

Top tip: Add trellising to a fence for some extra foliage.

Identification

You know where your house is. It seems obvious to you. But when you’re travelling around trying to find somewhere, possibly battling with family members, sat nav, or other traffic, it can feel stressful. Make it easy for your viewers. Add a house number or name that is clear and easy to read.

Top tip: Visit your local garden centre. They often have a range of signage so you can choose one that fits the style of your property.

Give your property the best chance of making a good impression. If you would like any advice, please do get in touch for a free, no-obligation chat on 01992 532 222.

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