Book a Property Valuation
11Jan

In this two-minute read, we look at the benefits of building a good relationship with your tenant.

Type' landlords are' into Google, and the words that come up next are pretty unflattering.

According to the global digital giant, the most commonly searched phrases are 'landlords are parasites' and 'landlords are leeches'.

A few other choice terms – that we're too polite to use here – come up as well, but you get the drift.

There is a common public perception that all landlords are modern-day Fagins, renting out flea-ridden hovels at rip-off prices.

This raises two questions:

1. Is this a fair and accurate description?

2. Does it matter? Being a landlord is about providing rental accommodation, not winning a People's Choice Award.

You can probably guess our answer to Question 1. The suggestion that landlords are universally evil is blatantly untrue. There are some unscrupulous characters in the industry, but they are in the minority. There are many good landlords in Medway– we work with many of them every day – who take their responsibilities seriously. But since when did a tenancy running smoothly make the news?

So now we get to Question 2 – who cares if landlords are hopelessly misunderstood? Well, we certainly don't think the negative stereotype helps.

Some tenants adopt a bunker mentality that makes every conversation that little bit more difficult. It's much better if the lines of communication are open and positive. That way, if a problem does occur, the tenant is more likely to be patient while the landlord addresses it.

To build a positive relationship, it's essential that landlords:

·       Be on top of all routine maintenance. Being sluggish when it comes to keeping the property in good condition builds resentment.

·       Respond promptly to a tenant when they get in touch. Making them wait a few days because you're snowed under with other commitments is unprofessional.

·       Carry out regular inspections. Misunderstandings are less likely to happen if you stay in touch.

In our experience, ongoing dialogue can prevent messy legal disputes. And the last thing you want is for the relationship to break down and for all communication to take place via lawyers.

If you can't dedicate the necessary time to managing a good relationship with your tenant, a good letting agent can do it for you – and save you money in the long run.

To find out how the team is helping Medway landlords manage their properties through the pandemic's challenges, get in touch.

Copyright 2021 Greyfox Sales & Lettings

11Jan

In this two-minute speed read we look at 10 things you can do as a landlord to make 2021 a year to remember for all the right reasons.

1 – Review your buy to let mortgages. Great deals are continually coming to the market. Don’t miss out on significant savings.

2- Take stock of your insurance arrangements. Do you have the right amount of cover across the correct areas?

3 – Budget for the unexpected. Always have a financial buffer in place to protect you just in case you experience voids or repairs.

4 – Remember the old saying ‘A stitch in time saves nine’? Well, it also applies to your property’s maintenance. Keeping on top of issues and maintaining the condition of the home regularly pays dividends over time.

5 – Start as you mean to go on. A nice touch is to provide new tenants with a home warming gift.

6 – Show long term tenants you appreciate them with a gift around their tenancy renewal time.

7 – Choose your letting agent with care. Look for a good track record and ask to speak with some landlords they currently work with.

8 – Stay legal. A good letting agent will help you stay the right side of the reams of regulations, red tape, and lettings laws.

9 – Be aware that the DIY approach to lettings comes at a cost. We are happy to provide a let only service, but the value our fully managed option gives our landlords is more than just a monetary one. We can take the hassle and stress out of being a landlord by doing everything for you.

10 – Call us, and we can help you with all the previous nine steps. We’ll put you on the path to rental property prosperity.

We’d like to wish all our landlords, tenants, and the Medway community a happy, healthy, and safe 2021. Here’s to better times ahead.

07Jan

In this two-minute read, we look at the increasingly sophisticated scam that fraudsters are using to separate homebuyers from their hard-earned cash.

 

Even though we’re in lockdown, criminals are still out there trying to swindle people, so if you plan to buy a new home in Medway in 2021, please heed UK Finance’s latest warning about an email scam that is on the rise.

 

Here’s how it works. Fraudsters hack into the system of a conveyancing firm and monitor their emails. When a deal nears completion, they send the buyer an email that looks like it has come from the conveyancing solicitor. There has been an administrative error, it says, and the bank account details for the transaction have changed. 

 

The buyer, anxious to secure their dream home (and, in the current climate, take advantage of the Stamp Duty holiday), follows the instructions and sends the funds – to a fraudster.

 

UK Finance, which promotes secure financial transactions, says this type of crime is on the rise with £16.2 million lost in the first half of 2020. While it’s not the largest type of scam in the UK, it is particularly ruthless as large sums of money are involved; one poor soul lost £300,000.

 

Tips to avoid being scammed

 

- Don’t assume that fraudsters write or speak in a certain way – their emails can be polite and polished and feature logos and letterheads that are perfect copies of the real thing.

 

- If you have even a quiver of doubt, step back from the situation and take a breath. Buying a home can be a fraught process and it’s easy to get caught up in the moment.

 

- Never send money without verifying the authenticity of the account information – call, or even better, visit your solicitor’s office to confirm the details. (Note: Don’t call the number listed on the invoice that has raised your suspicion, this could be a fake.)

 

- Work with people you trust. Go with conveyancing solicitors and estate agents with longstanding reputations.

 

Fraud red flags for homebuyers

- Emails that notify you of a change of bank details.

- Duplicate invoices, one will be real, one will be fake.

- Pressure to act ASAP. Fraudsters often strike on a Friday afternoon. They’re hoping you won’t realise your mistake until after the weekend (and they’ve had time to move the money on).

- A change – no matter how minor – to an email address. Often the fraudulent email will come from an address that is similar to the legitimate one. 

 

 

Here at Greyfox Sales & Lettings we’re here to support you through the homebuying process. We’re happy to provide expert advice and share our years of knowledge and experience.

 

Copyright 2021 Greyfox Sales & Lettings

16Dec

In this three-minute read, we look at the key themes that emerged in the UK property market in 2020.

2020 is the year things went nuts in the property sector, with activity in Medway and the rest of the country screeching to an abrupt halt for several weeks, before blasting back into action as buyers emerged from lockdown with a new set of priorities.

Here are four talking points from the year.

 

1. Race for space

Lockdown 1 served as a turning point for many people who, after spending months cooped up with their nearest and dearest, decided that it was time to get out of town. Demand for homes in places like Central London dropped and interest in country and coastal properties spiked.

Many of those heading for the hills and beaches were families looking to upscale to a home with a bigger garden, more bedrooms, and easy access to the great outdoors.

The super-rich got in on the act too, with Savills selling at least 21 rural estates each valued at £15m plus. 

 

2. Working from home/end of the commute

2020 is the year working from home (or WFH if you like acronyms) went mainstream. Covid-19 meant that bosses who suspected staff would bunk off if they weren’t in the office had to embrace WFH. What did they discover?

Many were surprised to find that productivity didn’t nose-dive; in fact, some workers got more done. Meanwhile, employees gleefully ditched the commute and spent more time doing the things they love at home.

As a result, enquiries from people looking for properties with dedicated office space or bedrooms that could serve as a home office increased.

 

3. Outdoor space

Even buyers who didn’t want to hotfoot it to the countryside, wanted outdoor space, be it a courtyard, a roof terrace or access to a communal garden.

In May, Rightmove reported searches for homes with gardens increased by 42% – a trend that has stayed strong. 

 

4. Resilience

When the market shut down in March, many predicted the consequences would be dire. It certainly was challenging for the industry, but the market has proved to be incredibly resilient.

At the start of December, property prices in the UK were growing at their fastest rate since 2016. The average cost of a UK home rose by 6.5% this year (figures: Nationwide).

 

What’s in store for 2021?

As the Covid-19 vaccine rollout gathers pace, things might return to ‘normal’ in some ways, but it’s unlikely that they will go back to what they once were.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the end of office-working, but a less rigid approach to the way we work seems here to stay.

As a result, many property experts predict demand in prime outer London and regional markets will continue in 2021.

Here at Greyfox,  we’re proud to have nearly made it through 2020. We’re a little bit older, wiser, and looking forward to serving the people of Medway in 2021.

15Dec

In this three-minute read, we look at the two biggest decisions landlords in Medway make when renting out their property. 

Life is a daily merry-go-round of decision making.

What to eat for breakfast?

Which coat to put on?

Which queue to stand in at the supermarket (socially distanced, of course)?

Some decisions are a lot more impactful than others. Especially when you are a landlord with a rental property.

The two biggest choices for you as a landlord, which we are about to reveal, can have substantial knock-on effects on your health, wealth, and happiness.

The choice is yours

It’s no exaggeration to say that if a landlord chooses the wrong letting agent and compounds that error by going with a tenant who has not been appropriately vetted, one thing is usually guaranteed – a big headache.

And often one that’s not easily cured by a couple of aspirin.

Poorly vetted tenants cause the most problems and letting agencies that don’t have stringent policies, procedures, and checks in place, leave their landlords wide open for future issues.

At Greyfox we’ve always believed the most critical aspect of our role is to ensure the right tenants are placed in suitable properties with the right landlords.

How do we do that?

Well, years of letting experience has taught us what to keep an eye out for.

The first stage of the vetting process is the initial enquiry. Be it a phone call, email or someone popping in to our office, we’re looking for signs to show us whether they might be a perfect or problematic tenant.

That experience we mentioned counts a great deal at this point.

What does a good tenant look like?

Simply someone who pays their rent on time, looks after the property like it’s their own, is courteous to deal with, and causes no problems with the neighbours.

These are all factors which can create the foundations for a successful long-term let (unless of course, the landlord is seeking a short-term tenancy).

The next part of the process is where less adept or inexperienced agencies often fall short.

Referencing responsibly

Good quality referencing is vital for doing the background checks, which can flag up issues before they become problems.

Referencing covers the applicant’s employment, credit scores, and previous rental history.

It’s not an exact science, but when done correctly, it’s usually an excellent indication of the calibre of the person applying to rent your property.

Once a tenant has been selected, the property needs to be professionally and ethically managed.

Keeping a tenant waiting a long time for a boiler repair or regular maintenance could lead to issues in the future, which leads us on to…

It works both ways

We also apply a vetting process to our landlords as well as our tenants.

If you are not willing to repair or maintain your property properly, we are probably not the letting agents for you.

In the same way that we always look to find the best tenants, we also want to work with the most responsible landlords.

If, having read this article, you’ve decided you need a letting agent who takes their responsibilities to you seriously in 2021, give us a call.

We’d love to help you make the correct choices for you, your tenants, and your rental investments.

Thanks for reading.

Copyright 2020 Greyfox Sales & Lettings

07Dec

In this two-minute read, we outline the costs and fees associated with buying a property so that you can budget for your next move.

 

Buying a new home can be an exciting prospect, but often in the thrill of the search, buyers fail to budget for some of the costs that are part and parcel of the process.

 

Consumer champion Which? estimates moving costs on average of £10,000 (that’s excluding deposit), although this figure varies depending on the value of the new property.

 

By starting with a clear picture of all the fees you’re likely to incur, you can avoid any last-minute surprises and the indignity of raiding your toddler’s moneybox to pay the removal crew on moving day.

 

Here’s a checklist of moving-related costs.

 

Stamp Duty – This is a tiered tax – the more expensive the property, the more you pay. Due to the pandemic, temporary changes are in place, meaning Stamp Duty does not apply to the first £500,000 of a property purchase. This rule ends on 31 March 2021.

 

Legal fees – The cost of conveyancing – that’s the paperwork that secures the legal transfer of property – varies depending on whether you’re buying a freehold or leasehold property (expect leasehold to cost you more). Tip: When you’re getting conveyancing quotes, check the final price includes VAT, search fees and Land Registry fees.

 

Valuation fee – If you’re taking out a mortgage, your lender will insist on a valuation to ensure that you’re not paying over the odds for your new home.

 

Mortgage fees – Some mortgage deals include an arrangement fee or an application fee (or both).

 

Survey fees – Different types of surveys are available. The most basic option should be a few hundred quid, while the most comprehensive survey can cost thousands of pounds.

 

Insurance – Most lenders insist on buildings insurance as part of the terms of the mortgage. It covers the cost of repairing your home in the event of a disaster such as a flood, fire, or falling tree.

 

Removals – Removal costs vary depending on how far you’re going and how much stuff you have (are you a minimalist or a hoarder?). The website comparemymove.com estimates it costs £800 to move belongings from a three-bed house to a property 50 miles away. Throw in another £250 for packing and materials.

 

Redirecting mail – If you’re planning on redirecting your mail to your new address (not such a bad idea in this era of identity fraud), Royal Mail charges £80 for 12 months.

 

The team at Greyfox Sales and Lettings can ensure your move goes smoothly. If you need advice or have any questions about the moving process, please get in touch. We’re here to help.

01Dec

In this three-minute read, we outline the costs and expenses landlords encounter when letting a property.

To succeed as a landlord, you need to have a realistic idea about the costs you'll encounter when letting out a property.

Many people think that being a landlord is child's play; they assume that once the tenant has the keys, the only thing left to do is collect the rent each month.

But the truth is, letting a property comes with an array of grown-up financial and legal responsibilities. If you're not on top of your obligations, you could lose money or wind up in court (or both).

Here's a list of all the costs that are part and parcel of being a landlord in Medway.

Mortgage repayments

Mortgage repayments are the most significant monthly outgoing for most landlords. If you're looking for certainty about the size of your monthly repayments, opt for a fixed-term rate.

Insurance costs

Landlord insurance is a condition of most buy-to-let mortgages. You can opt for a general policy (this should cover property liability, buildings insurance, contents, and loss of rent) or one that is more far-reaching (but will have higher premiums). 

Maintenance and repairs

All properties require general maintenance from time to time. Landlords must ensure the property is safe (that means keeping up to date with things like gas and electricity safety checks) and in good condition. Set aside funds to cover this and any repairs that may crop up (property experts suggest between 5% and 10% of annual rent). 

Service charges and other fees

If your property is in an apartment block, you may need to pay a service charge or ground rent. Leasehold property owners may also have to contribute to the cost of work carried out in communal areas.

Covering vacant periods

Even the most optimistic and diligent landlord should be prepared for a property to be empty for a short period between tenancies. It's also possible that a tenant could fall behind on the rent. Set aside at least six weeks’ rent to cover yourself.

Tax

The rules around what you can and can't claim as a landlord have tightened in recent years. To ensure you pay what you should, and claim that to which you're entitled, do your research and keep all relevant receipts and paperwork.

Finding a tenant and credit checks

Some DIY landlords do these things themselves, but most good landlords leave it to the pros and use an experienced letting agent. The DIY route will save you a few quid upfront – but it could cost you much more in the long run (think of the legal bills if it all goes wrong). A good letting agent will have years of experience at sourcing good tenants, checking references, and spotting trouble in advance. 

Property management fees

A letting agent will handle the big and little stuff for you: the paperwork, the people management, the legal checks, the inspections, and disputes. As a landlord, you could do this for yourself. It will save you some money but cost you in terms of time and energy. 

Here at Greyfox, we can take the stress out of managing a rental property, so you can sleep easy at night. Get in touch if you have any questions, we're here to answer your queries.

Copyright 2020 Greyfox Sales & Lettings

30Nov

In this three-minute read, we look at the crucial role small businesses play in bringing prosperity and personality to our high streets.

 

Small businesses across Medway have played a vital part in helping our community to get through the pandemic, so it’s no wonder that many of us are feeling a lot of love for local firms right now.

 

A new survey has found 59% of Brits say they support local businesses now more than they did pre-Covid-19.

 

The research, commissioned by American Express and Small Business Saturday UK, highlights the significant contribution small businesses have made in 2020.

 

It’s not been easy to keep calm and carry on amid lockdowns and tier restrictions, and for many small firms, it has taken sweat and tears to keep the wolves from the door.

 

But the good news is that many of these local enterprises are still standing, and you can do your bit for them on Small Business Saturday (5 December).

 

On this date, people in Medway and across the country are being urged to purchase goods and/or services from local businesses. (If you can’t do it in person, you could do it online).

 

Last year, some 17.6 million people backed the cause by choosing to shop small on Small Business Saturday, spending about £800 million. Organisers are hoping for similar success – albeit in more challenging circumstances – this year. 

 

Here are four reasons why you should back small businesses on Saturday, 5 December – and the rest of the year too.

 

Personality – Independent businesses bring vibrancy and creativity to villages and towns. Without them, high streets are sterile and non-descript. By supporting local firms, you’ll be ensuring our shopping areas have energy and sparkle.

 

Better customer service – Often, small businesses offer better customer service than their larger competitors. This is because the owner is never far away from the action – unlike a big chain, where the boss is in a swanky HQ hundreds of miles away.

 

Prosperity – Small businesses employ local people and draw on the services of other local firms such as accountants, builders, and cleaners. They keep the wheels of the local economy turning. 

 

Say thank you – Most small business owners are decent people who are proud of their local community. Over the past nine months, small businesses have helped out in all sorts of ways, such as delivering essentials to the homes of the vulnerable, pivoting to make PPE, or donating to food banks. A little bit of recognition can go a long way.

 

2020 has been tough on all of us, and now, more than ever, we need to work together as a community. At Greyfox we’re committed to supporting the people and communities we serve.

 

Copyright 2020 Greyfox Sales & Lettings Ltd.

25Nov

In this two-minute read, we look at what yesterday's Christmas announcements mean to households in Medway.

This year has been filled with anguish and anxiety for many of us.

But the news that came out last week around successful vaccines and yesterday's announcement of the temporary relaxation around social distancing rules over Christmas has cheered up many of us.

And in true Christmas miracle fashion, it's got the four national governments of the UK to take a united approach.

For five days, people have the option to celebrate the festive period with selected families and friends.

Here is some of the Government's guidance for England around the rules for 23 to December 27 as reported by the BBC.

- Up to three households will be allowed to stay together and form a "Christmas bubble."

- You can form a different Christmas bubble from the people you live with usually - so you can choose to stay with different people for the five days.

- You can meet people outside your Christmas bubble. But only outside the home and in line with the rules for the tier in which you are staying. Places you can meet those people include parks, beaches, open countryside, public gardens, allotments and playgrounds

- Children under 18 years-old whose parents do not live together may be part of both parents' Christmas bubbles.

- Existing support bubbles count as one household towards the three-household limit.

- Students are considered to be part of the household to which they have returned.

Look out for the announcements tomorrow (Thursday) about the different tier levels which will come into effect when this lockdown ends on December 2.

According to the BBC, the decision will be based on several factors, including case numbers, the reproduction rate - or R number - and the amount of pressure on local NHS services.

For some families, it will be a difficult choice around who to share Christmas with.

There's always the option to stay within your established bubble (AKA your immediate family).  This way, you won't fall out with the in-laws, and you'll be keeping seriously safe.

So, what will you be doing?

Will you be planning a three-family bubble with all the traditional works?

Or are you going for a lower-key approach, with a smaller turkey and Michael Bublé's Christmas songs providing the backdrop?

Whatever you plan, we hope you have a safe, memorable, and happy time.

From all at Greyfox Sales and Lettings. 

PS: Here is the link to the Government's Advice. (England Only)

https://tinyurl.com/y5czwlkc

23Nov

In this three-minute read, we look at the pros and cons of letting a property to a tenant with a pet.

 

Should tenants be allowed to keep pets in rental properties? It’s a thorny subject that is back in the spotlight after an MP called for landlords to be more flexible on the issue.

 

Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell argues that preventing tenants from being with their beloved pet companion is cruel and discriminatory.

 

“For most people, being separated from your dog is really no different than being separated from your brother or your sister,” he says.

 

Mr. Rosindell has put forward a bill that would give tenants the right to live with their pet, providing that they can show they are responsible and caring.

 

Changing attitudes

While the bill is still some way off becoming law – it’s not clear yet whether enough MPs will back it – it does indicate a growing interest in the issue.

 

A study by YouGov and Mars Petcare found that two-thirds of private tenants would like to have a pet.

 

However, only around 7% of landlords advertise homes as suitable for pets, meaning there’s a yawning chasm between the number of renters who yearn to have a four-legged friend of their own, and properties where this is possible.

 

Decisions for landlords

Landlords have an ultimate say over whether pets are allowed in a property, although the Consumer Rights Act 2015 prohibits blanket pet bans. 

 

Instead, landlords in Medway can include a clause in the contract requiring tenants to request permission to keep a pet. Landlords can refuse a request but need to provide a good reason for doing so.

 

If you receive such a request, here are a few key issues to consider.

 

Cons

1) Introducing a pet into a property can increase the risk of costly damage. Some landlords have horror stories about dogs digging up gardens, and cats clawing furniture and leaving carpets flea-ridden. 

 

2)  If the property is leasehold, some leasehold agreements do not allow pets.

 

3)  Barking dogs can upset the neighbours and be a source of ongoing dispute.

 

Pros

4) Allowing a reliable tenant to keep a pet could encourage them to stay long term, meaning you don’t have to bother finding new tenants and running more reference checks.

 

5) Allowing pets could make your property more marketable and therefore you can raise the rent. 

 

6) Rodent reduction – Cats kill rats and mice, so provide an element of pest protection.

 

Other points of consideration

7) Not all pets are equal. The impact of having a 90kg Great Dane living in a property differs greatly from a caged hamster or a cat. Talk in detail to your tenant about the pet they would like to have, and how they intend to look after it.

 

8) If the tenant owns the pet already, ask to set vet records to ensure it is vaccinated and microchipped.

 

9)  If the tenant kept a pet at their previous property, ask for a reference from the landlord in question.

 

10) Make specific provision in the contract for the pet in question so that your tenant can’t take advantage of your generosity and acquire a menagerie of animals.

 

If you’d like more advice about dealing with tenants with pets, get in touch. Here at Greyfox Sales & Lettings, we can provide a detailed briefing about how to stay on the right side of the law and protect your property.

Contact Us

Rainham Office
67C High Street
Rainham
ME8 7HS

Tel: 01634 377737
Email:
rainham@greyfox.co.uk

Contact Us

Walderslade Office
Unit 2, Thetford House,
Walderslade Village Centre,
Walderslade Road,
Chatham,
ME5 9LR

Tel: 01634 672227
Email: walderslade@greyfox.co.uk

Latest News

Privacy Policy
Referral Fees

Greyfox Investments LTD t/a Greyfox Sales & Lettings are registered in England at: Unit 2, Thetford House, Walderslade Village Centre, Walderslade Road, Chatham, Kent, ME5 9LR. Company Reg No.: 06504741