Visitors to the Hills Estate website may find themselves curious as to why they may want to use the services of a lettings agency in the first place. It is a relevant question, as many landlords prefer to try to do things on their own. However, there are a number of benefits to using a lettings agency that you may not have considered, including the following.

Faster Occupancy

Good lettings agencies are able to appeal to larger segments of a landlord’s target market as they have access to numerous marketing channels. In practice, this means that more people will see that your property is available to let, which increases the amount of viewings you will hold. Naturally, this usually translates into filling vacant properties quickly, allowing you to enjoy more income from them.

Finding The Right Tenants

Selecting the right tenants is often a chore, with many landlords being uncertain of how to vet those who are interested in the property before signing any agreements. A lettings agency will be able to look into the backgrounds of prospective tenants for you and find out if any previous landlords have had issues with them. Not only does this save you time, but it can also help you avoid letting your property to people who may cause issues further down the line.

Property Management

The majority of lettings agencies also offer property management services and will act as the point of contact for your tenants. This frees up the landlord’s time to take care of the issues raised, plus you will be informed of any maintenance problems quickly. These day-to-day property management is something that often takes up a lot of time that could be dedicated to other things, making this service particularly invaluable, especially for landlords who let a number of properties.

Dealing With Late Payments

Late payments are an issue that all landlords worry about, as chasing them can often be a time-consuming process that distracts away from work that needs to be done. Lettings agencies will contain experienced individuals who are able to deal with issues related to late payment for you, plus you will often find that they have connections to experienced property solicitors who can provide advice should you need to escalate the issue.


If you are new to the property market it is natural to feel wary about the sheer volume of paperwork that you will be asked to complete. This can lead to things being missed, which could cause issues in a number of ways. Lettings agencies understand the complexities involved in letting out property, which means they can get all of this paperwork completed for you efficiently, offering you peace of mind in the process.

A Flexible Service

Hills Estate is a lettings agency that aims to provide clients with everything they need. This flexibility allows for properties to be managed in the way that clients intended, with the solutions provided being tailored to the specific requirements of the landlords they work with. To find out more, please call 020 8553 3036.

If you have designs on being a landlord there are a number of things that you need to take into account that stretch far beyond the requirements of normal homeownership. Insurance is one such aspect of the role and it is one that many new landlords forget or don’t have full understanding of before they undertake their endeavours. Our aim with this little guide is to give you a bit more information about landlord insurance, as well as pointing out a few things that you should look out for.

Do You Actually Need It?

In a word – yes. While some may feel like they can get away with simple home and contents insurance, landlord insurance is designed to cover issues that are specifically-related to rental properties. Furthermore, the nature of having a tenant in the first place will often render other insurance cover, particularly contents insurance void.

A tenanted property needs landlords insurance because a regular household policy offers no cover for contents, buildings or third-party liabilities during periods in which the property is being let put.

As for what they contain, most landlord insurance policies are made up of two parts. The first, and perhaps most important, part is related to covering the structure itself and will be used if there is any need for rebuilds. The second will cover fixtures and fittings, such as carpets and light fixtures. It is also worth checking if the policy has some sort of cover against accidental breakage of windows or sanitary fittings, as these are amongst the most common issues that crop up with rental properties.

You may also consider adding specific contents cover, especially if you are letting a furnished property.

What Should I Watch Out For?

Underinsuring – As a general rule you should try to insure your property for as much as possible, as going to low may end up causing issues later on down the line. Rental properties are often subject to damage and trying to pay low may not result in you having what you need to cover the costs. It may save a bit of money in the short-term, but underinsuring is not recommended.

Check The Excess – In many cases the claims you will need to make as a landlord are fairly small. As such, if your policy has a high excess you may find that it is useless to you when dealing with the niggling little problems that often crop up in rental properties. Negotiate an excess number that you are comfortable with, but remember that the lower the excess the more your monthly payments will be.

Theft – It is worth keeping in mind that most landlord policies will only cover theft if it can be proven that there has been forcible entry into the property. Naturally, this means that they often don’t cover theft by tenants who steal items and then disappear. This is also often not an option on such policies, so ensure the deposit you take is adequate enough to cover any major thefts from the property.


Becoming a landlord is an attractive proposition. The demand for rentable properties is on the rise and the prospect of earning money from a property you own can be a very attractive one. However, becoming a landlord is not as easy as buying a property and finding a tenant. There are a number of rules and regulations that you need to follow if you are to provide the level of service that is expected by tenants. Here we will examine some of the most important.

Ensuring The Property Is Safe

You have a duty to tenants to ensure the properties you rent to them are actually safe to live in. This means you need to stay aware of any issues that arise with the electrics, gas or any other potential hazards that could harm those living in the property. Furthermore, it is important that you provide other safety devices, such as smoke alarms on each floor of the property and adequate escape routes in the event of a fire. You must also resolve any issues that arise when your tenants are living in the property, as an unsafe property also leaves you liable for any legal issues that follow.

Providing An Energy Performance Certificate

Your property’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) lets tenants and authorities know how energy efficient the property is. The ratings provided range from A to G and the EPC will define what measures have been installed in the property, such as insulation, new boilers or double-glazed windows, to make it as energy efficient as possible, thus reducing the cost of bills for tenants. It is in your best interest to achieve a high rating for your EPC, as this makes the property more attractive to prospective tenants. You can acquire an EPC from an accredited assessor, of which there are many on the web.

Right To Entry

While you have the right to enter a tenant’s property to inspect things, you also need to understand that there are some key rules you must follow before turning up. Chief amongst these is that you must provide your tenants with twenty-four hours’ notice before you arrive at the property. IN many cases, the tenancy agreements that you create will also stipulate that visits must be made at reasonable times, which means no turning up in the early hours of the morning. Failure to comply with this means you are breaking the law and violating the privacy of your tenants.

Protecting Deposits

If you have taken a security deposit from your tenant it is your duty to protect this money. The rules state that all deposits must be placed in a Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) scheme and there are no exceptions.

There are three such schemes in England:

  • Deposit Protection Service
  • MyDeposits
  • Tenancy Deposit Scheme

Each of these protects deposits and ensures that tenants receive them back upon leaving the property, assuming they have held up their ends of the tenancy agreement. You must place a deposit into one of these schemes within thirty days of receiving it and the agreed sum must be returned to tenants within ten days of said sum being agreed.

If you have any questions or concerns, the team at Hills Estate is happy to help. Contact us today to find out how our property management and letting agency services may benefit you.

One of the first tasks you will face when you decide to rent a property out is figuring out how much you want to charge your prospective tenants. It is crucial you get this right, as charging too much will mean that people just look elsewhere, whereas charging too little means you don’t get as much as you should out of the property.

While a lettings agency like Hills Estate will be able to help, it is still a good idea to follow these tips so you understand exactly what your property is worth to a tenant.

Figure Out What It Has To Offer

The first thing you need to do is consider all of the basics of the property. How many bedrooms does it have? What size are the rooms? Will you be providing the property furnished, or will the tenant have to supply their own furniture? All of these questions need to be taken into consideration, as their answers will play a role in determining how much you can charge. You also need to consider the décor and general state of the property. Tenants often won’t want to pay more for properties that don’t quite meet modern standards.

Do Your Research

Now you know what the property itself has to offer, you need to figure out what similar properties on the market are going for. The best way to check this is to go to property websites and check out the properties that are being advertised on them. Get a list of about ten or twenty that are similar to your own and then work out an average fee. Of course, you need to check out the pictures for each property as well, so you can work out what factors may have influenced the rent figure.

Consider The Location

You also need to keep the location of the property in mind. If it is near a school and provides easy access to local amenities or a town centre, you can usually feel pretty safe in charging a little more than comparable properties that are a little further afield. You may also need to consider factors like local crime rates and other issues that could adversely affect the price. Try to coma at it from the perspective of whether or not you would want to live in the property and how much you would pay yourself for the privilege.

Speak To The Professionals

All of this could be a little difficult to take in and consider if you are new to the property market, which makes it a good idea to speak to people who have more experience to find out what they think. Property management companies, like Hills Estate, will be able to provide you with further advice on the state of the market and what your property has to offer that will allow you to determine a fair rent payment. A little trial and error may be involved, but you will eventually find a fair figure that potential tenants are willing to pay.

It’s a situation that no landlord or property manager wants to have to deal with, but there will be times that you will need to evict tenants. There are many reasons why this situation might come about, but the most important thing is that you handle it correctly so that you respect the rights of the tenant in question and don’t leave yourself in a difficult legal position.

The following are some useful tips for landlords who find themselves in this situation.

Always Serve Notice

The first thing you should do when you decide to evict a tenant is service the proper possession notice. It is best to work with a legal expert when doing this, so you can define the reasons for the eviction and understand what you need to do to see it through. In the majority of cases you need to observe a notice period, which is important to remember if you are considering court proceedings.

Rent Arrears

One of the most common reasons for evicting tenants is that they have fallen into arrears with their rent. This is frustrating for landlords, for obvious reasons, but does not necessarily mean that you need to jump straight towards eviction. There are a number of potential alternatives out there, such as The Landlord Rent Arrears Action Plan. Explore these first and leave the eviction notice as a last resort in such cases.

Keep Proof

You will also need to be able to prove that you have served the proper notice to your tenants, especially if you need to pursue court proceedings. Keep copies of every form that you send out and consider bringing an independent witness or legal professional along when you serve the notice if you believe that the tenant may deny having received it. This will ensure you are covered in all circumstances.

The Accelerated Procedure

The quickest and most cost-effective way to evict a tenant if to follow the ‘Accelerated Procedure’, which is based on a previously-served section-21 notice. This is a notice where you must give two months’ notice and which can’t expire before the tenants fixed term is over. While the accelerated procedure is usually quicker, you will still have to wait somewhere in the region of eight to twelve weeks before it can be obtained. However, it will usually result in judges making orders based on the paperwork that is presented to them, which can help you avoid a legal battle.

Always Follow Procedure

Regardless of your reasons for eviction, it is important to keep in mind that you will essentially be taking a home away from your tenant. This is traumatic for the tenant and it also means that judges will look for you to follow procedure to the letter to ensure it is handled correctly. Work with legal professionals and make sure you exhaust every alternative before serving any form of eviction notice.

If you would like help with any aspects of property management and want to work with a reliable lettings agency in London, contact the team at Hills Estate today to find out how we can help you.

Carrying out inspections on the properties that you own is important for a number of reasons. Not only does it allow you more perspective on how your tenants are treating your property, but it also allows for you to identify maintenance issues that may need to be addressed and offers your tenants peace of mind in the knowledge that their landlords take care of their properties.

However, those who are new to property management tend to struggle with inspections for a number of reasons, so here we offer a few useful tips to keep in mind before you conduct them.

Always Inform Tenants

Turning up unannounced may seem like a good way to catch tenants out, especially if you feel as though your property is being mistreated, but doing so can shatter the bond of trust that you need to have with your tenants. In essence, you are invading the tenant’s privacy if you turn up without any notice, especially if you let yourself into an empty property. As such, you always need to provide written notice in advance to allow tenants to prepare for your arrival.

Keep A Schedule

As you purchase more properties it stands to reason that you are going to need to conduct more inspections. Falling behind in this can again lead to your tenants becoming distrustful of you, so it is important that you find some way to schedule your inspections. Online calendars are great in this regard, as they can allow you to set reminders for when the notice of inspection needs to be sent out, in addition to helping you keep track of properties that haven’t been inspected for a while.

Know What You’re Looking For

A cursory look around the property once you are conducting the inspection isn’t going to do. Instead, it is a good idea to create a checklist of the specific things that you want to check, such as the plumbing, electrical outlets, condition of the carpets and the locks on the doors. Run through this list during your inspection, while also ensuring that your tenants have the opportunity to raise any issues of their own.

Respect Tenant Privacy

It is still possible to violate tenant privacy, even if you have provided advance notice of the inspection. Remember that your property is somebody’s home and that there is a certain line that should not be crossed. Don’t go rummaging through cupboards, wardrobes or medicine cabinets as it is not your place to know what they contain. Instead, keep your focus on the fundamentals of the property itself.

Update Your Records

Once you have completed the inspection it is important that you update your records accordingly. Make note of anything that you find and ensure that the inventory for the property is accurate and up-to-date. This record can then be used for making improvements and for your later inspections of the same property.

Of course, a property management service, like the one offered by Hills Estate, can take all of the hassle of inspections out of your hands. If you would like to find out how, please contact us to speak to a representative.

With the rental market being in such a strong position, it is only natural that more people are considering becoming landlords, particularly those with second homes that they rarely use or people who are looking for investment opportunities that can pay long-term dividends, if executed correctly.

However, being a landlord is no easy task and there are a number of things that you will need to keep in mind to ensure that you stand the best possible chance of making good returns and keeping your tenants happy.

Consider Location

The area where your property will be located is often going to be crucial to its success. This means that you need to put in some prior research, ideally with the help of a good real estate agent, to find out what the demand looks like and what you can consider charging for rent in the area where you are looking to purchase your property. Naturally, making mistakes in these early stages could lead to you struggling to find tenants for the home.

Know The Law

Property law is fairly fluid in that changes are made quite regularly. This means that you need to consult with professionals before purchasing your property, so that you can find out what needs to be done to bring it up to code, and afterwards, such as when drafting tenancy agreements or just to stay current on the latest legal events. Hire a property solicitor with experience in the area, as this will also allow you to make use of their connections.

Screen Tenants Well

While it can be tempting to allow the first tenants that come along rent the property, it is always a good idea to have a screening procedure put in place that offers you the chance to find out more about the potential tenant’s work history, credit rating and any dealings that they have had with other landlords. Ideally, you will want to bring in tenants that are there for the long haul, as this will mean you get a steady flow of income, so make sure that you ask the right questions and take time to ether meet the tenant or have a letting agency do so with an understanding of your requirements.

Work On The Maintenance

As a landlord you will have a duty to your tenants to keep your properties in the best possible condition, so you should not neglect any maintenance issues that the property has. This is especially crucial as, in some cases, poor maintenance may actually result in you dealing with legal issues. Inspect the property fully and invest into it before you put it on the market. You should also inspect it after tenants leave, so that you can create an inventory of the property ready for your next tenants. Of course, it should also go without saying that you need to stay on top of maintenance issues raised by your tenants while they are in the property.

If you are considering becoming a landlord and don’t know where to start, the team at Hills Estate is more than happy to help. We are a letting agency offering property management services in London that should prove useful to all potential landlords.

One of the key things that landlords need to be able to handle is the creation of robust tenancy agreements that offer them all of the protection they need, in addition to ensuring their tenants are happy when they take up occupancy in their rental properties. This can often be difficult to implement, especially for new landlords who don’t have prior experience in renting property or in creating such agreements. The following simple tips should help you to create a strong tenancy agreement that will ensure that everybody is happy.

Keep Initial Fixed Terms Short

Unless you personally know the person who will be moving into the property that you’re renting, it is a good idea to keep the first, fixed term tenancy period fairly short. The industry standard is six months before a re-evaluation, so this should make a good starting point. Doing this will prevent you from committing to a tenant for a long period of time, which gives you the freedom to rent the property out again should the tenant prove troublesome.

Cover Payments Specifically

In addition to outlining the amount of money you expect as a rent payment, and whether this will be paid every four weeks or per calendar month, you also need to outline exactly what that rent payment will cover. For example, some landlords may be happy to pay for water and other utilities out of the rent payment, whereas others prefer to place this responsibility on the tenant. Make sure that you are completely clear so there can be no room for misinterpretation.

Prepare An Inventory

Before allowing somebody to move into one of your properties, you should create a detailed inventory that notes everything of importance within the property and any areas of concern. It should cover everything from carpets and walls, through to light and power fixtures. Ideally, you will check over this inventory with the prospective tenant and gain agreement that everything on the list is accurate. Your inventory also gives you something to check against when the tenant eventually leaves the property, allowing you to spot damages that weren’t there before.

The Right Type of Agreement

There are a number of different types of tenancy agreement, depending on how you will be renting the property out. For example, renting out to a sole tenant in a property you own will require a different type of agreement than if you are letting to a limited company or rooms in a shared house. Understand exactly what you need, as drafting the wrong type of agreement will waste your time and leave you unprotected.

Work With Professionals

Working with a lettings agent, such as Hills Estate, and a property solicitor will offer you the benefit of knowledge and experience from professionals who can ensure you draft agreements that suit your needs and property type. You should also be wary of amending your tenancy agreements without help, as small changes could have big ramifications for your rights as a landlord, especially if you have failed to take into account the regulations surrounding the changes you want to make.

When people make the decision to move into a new property, one of the most important choices they are going to have to make is whether they should rent or buy a home. There are various pros and cons associated with each option, so it is important to weigh things up properly and consider your own personal situation before you make a choice.

Here we will examine just a few of the reasons why buying a home may be right for you, so that you have everything you need to make a decision.

It’s Yours To Do What You Want

One of the biggest restrictions that people who rent their properties face is being able to decorate or change aspects of the house. In most cases, they will need to ask for permission from their landlords in order to make any changes to the décor, some of which may end up not being granted if the landlords wish to keep their properties in pristine condition for their next tenant. By contrast, if you own the home you are free to do whatever you want in terms of interior décor. Of course, extensions and the like are subject to various planning permissions, but even then at least you have the option.

It’s Generally Cheaper

The monthly cost of a mortgage on a home is generally cheaper than renting an equivalent property. While you may occasionally get lucky and find a rental property that has similar costs to a mortgage, it is an increasing rarity as the market moves more towards providing properties to rent for a generation that is less likely to purchase a home. Of course, you do need to take initial fees and deposits into account, but once those are settled your monthly house costs should be lower.

The Money Goes Somewhere

In addition to often being able to pay less every month for the property when you buy, you can also be safe in the knowledge that your money is going somewhere other than your landlord’s pocket. Each mortgage payment that you make allows you to build equity in the house, which means you are making an investment. If you decide to move at a later date, you will actually get some money from the sale, rather than just packing up your things and leaving like you would if you were in a rental property.

Greater Privacy

If you are renting a property, the odds are high that you are going to have to deal with occasional invasions of privacy, particularly as your landlord will need to come round every so often to check the property over and make sure it is being kept in good condition. Of course, good landlords will provide you with plenty of notice before they come over, but even so it is an invasion of privacy that some people may not appreciate.

The Final Word

So we have looked at some of the reasons why you may consider buying a home this week, which also gives something of a negative view of renting in the process. Next week we will take the other tack and look at the advantages of renting a home instead, to make sure you have all of the information you need to make a decision.

Here at Hills Estate we want to provide as much advice as possible to people on both sides of the property rental market. In addition to helping property owners with all of their concerns relating to letting agencies and property management, the team also aims to provide advice to new tenants relating to the issues that they need to keep in mind when renting a property. All of the below are important considerations.

Read The Tenancy Agreement Properly

Your tenancy agreement will essentially determine the things that you can and can’t do in the property, such as redecorating or keeping pets, in addition to detailing the ways that you will be able to communicate with your letting agency or landlord. You need to make sure that you read the agreement properly before signing it, as it is a legally-binding contract that you will be expected to abide by. Raise any issues that you have before signing, as many landlords are flexible enough to make alterations as long as the changes are fairly minor.

Check Everything

When you go to view the property for the first time, you should make it a point to check everything. Examine the electrical sockets to make sure there are no signs of damage. You may even wish to bring a device, such as a phone charger, that you can use to confirm that they are all in working order. You should also test any taps, toilets and showers in the property, as you have the right to expect that these will be in working order unless you have been specifically told otherwise.

Ask About Deposit Protection

You will usually be asked to place a security deposit on the property, often in addition to paying your first month’s rent in advance. These deposit is taken for the landlord’s protection, so that they can repair any damages that result from your tenure in the property that cannot be put down to general wear and tear. However, it is also important that you remember that this deposit will be returned to you upon leaving the property, assuming that no damage is recorded. As such, it is a good idea to check with your landlord or letting agency to find out where the deposit is being kept. You should also familiarise yourself with the dispute resolution service that each organization – the Deposit Protection Service, Tenancy Deposit Program and myDeposits – uses in case you need to make an argument against a landlord.

Confirm The Inventory

You work isn’t done upon moving into the property either. You should be presented with an inventory that details what is in the property and any pre-existing damage, such as cracks in plaster, already exist. You should spend your first day in the home examining the inventory and making note of anything that is missing or any issues that haven’t been highlighted. This will mean you’re protected when you do leave the property.

As always, the team at Hills Estate is here to provide advice and guidance to any new tenant who needs it, so please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.