Posted on

My top ten tips on tenants deposits

tenants deposits

Do you collect tenants deposits?

If you are taking a deposit from a tenant and using an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement you must read my top ten tips:
1. Deposit Amount – take more than just one month’s rent as a deposit. I advise taking one months rent plus an extra £150, this leaves some for cleaning or damage if the tenants don’t pay their last months rent and some work is required.
2. Approved Scheme – The deposit must be registered in a government approved scheme within 30 days of receiving it. Otherwise you could be fined three times the deposit amount and you can’t serve notice using a section 21 to evict your tenants.
3. Prescribed Information – This must be served on the tenants and any relevant persons (anyone who has paid the deposit on their behalf such as mum or dad) within 30 days of receiving the deposit or you face the same penalties as above.
4. Scheme Leaflet – you must provide a copy of your chosen schemes leaflet to the tenants. This can be downloaded from their website. You need proof that you have sent this along with the Prescribed Information so ask your tenant to sign for it.
5. Details of Schemes – the approved ones are the TDS (Tenancy Deposit Scheme), DPS (Deposit Protection Scheme) or MyDeposits.
6. Tenancy agreement – must be up to date and provide for the deposit to be kept in a scheme and deductions to be made. Your chosen scheme will look at the contents of this in the case of any disputes.
7. Pets- you can take an extra deposit or keep a small pet retention (say £200) for a couple of months after the tenancy has ended in case any pet related issues arise. This must be a clause in the tenancy agreement and returned if no issues arise.
8. Inventory – this is vitally important even if the property is new to prove that it was new. Take plenty of photos and ask the tenant to sign for it. Your chosen scheme will want to see it in the case of a dispute.
9. Check out – take photos and keep receipts and invoices. You must allow for fair wear and tear depending on the length of tenancy, number of tenants, standard of the property at the start of the tenancy. You cannot claim for a full carpet due to one iron burn mark.
10. Dispute – if the tenants dispute any deductions you must comply with your schemes requirements and any time limits they set. This may vary from scheme to scheme.
Homes4harrogate registers all tenants deposits and complies with all of the above in our flexible landlord packages as we want our clients to be legally compliant whether they self manage or not.


Posted on

Our latest landlord event “The Accidental Landlord”


landlord event

Local landlord events are well received for a second time.

I would like to say thank you to everyone that attended our latest landlord event “The Accidental Landlord” this week. I pride myself on educating Harrogate’s local landlords with a range of video blogs but also free property seminars. This was my second seminar and I’m pleased to say it was a success.

These events are held quarterly and usually consist of presentations from myself and other local experts. I would like to say thank you to Helen Forster of Newtons Solicitors and Karl Gehrke from Mortgage Advisory Network for their excellent presentations.

Our attendees found the accidental landlord event to be informative, relaxed and enjoyable with one guest stating “Thank you for the wonderful evening, we had good discussions and networking. Thank you for the hospitality and information”.

We discussed how someone might become an accidental landlord, the mortgage implications of this, the regulations and legal requirements involved and the property management obligations. The event started with a gin reception and the presentations were followed by networking and our experts were on hand to answer further questions.

Our next landlord event will be held in June 2018. If you would like to be added to the mailing list please email me at and I look forward to seeing you there.

Posted on

Exciting news! homes4harrogate has a new location!


Harrogate town centre office here we come!

I am excited to announce that as from the 5th April 2018 homes4harrogate has a new town centre location. Since setting up the letting agency in July 2017 it has gone from strength to strength. We will now be offering our excellent and personal service to landlords and tenants from a Regus office  on Copthall Bridge House, Station Bridge, Harrogate.

The aim behind starting homes4harrogate was to offer a personal and flexible service to my clients. After working for eight years for other letting agents in Harrogate I realised that the main complaints that clients had were customer service related.

Not all clients are the same but were being treated as such with restrictive management agreements, mounds of paperwork, strict “office” hours and often being passed from employee to employee with no-one having a thorough knowledge of the landlords property.

This is why we offer out of office hours appointments and four flexible landlord services. My aim is to put the personal service back into lettings. One of my clients recently said “Thank you Sarah for finding us some tenants for our house quickly and efficiently. Swift responses to our questions made our life a lot easier and your managed service has taken a huge workload from us. We will definitely use your services again”.

If you are unhappy with the customer service you receive from your current letting agent or are new to buy to let and would like some personal guidance and help please feel free to contact me by email at or my number is 01423 529250 and I will be happy to help.

Posted on

Rent increase? When did your tenants last have one?

Do your tenants need a rent increase?

As a landlord, private or using a local letting agent, when did you last carry out a rental valuation on your tenanted property? In a lot of cases letting agent have found a tenant and the landlord self manages, often going several years without a rent increase.

I recently took over the management of a portfolio for one of my clients and discovered that one of his tenants were paying considerably less than market value. Has your letting agent advised you regarding rent increases and the current valuation of your property.

If you want to serve a rent increase on your tenants do you know how to go about? Did you know that it depends whether they are in a fixed term tenancy or on a rolling month by month. Did you know that there is a rent increase notice that you need to serve and a notice period to adhere to.

If you would like any further help on rental valuations or serving notices please don’t hesitate to contact me by email to or by telephone on 01423 529250

I hope you found this video blog useful and if you want more information on notices to end a tenancy please see  How to serve notice on your tenants


Posted on

Right to Rent checks – landlords must do them


right to rent

Did you know that all tenants must have Right to Rent checks before they can rent a property?

As a landlord you have to check that your tenant has the right to rent your property in England.

This applies to:

1. Everyone over the age of 18 (you have a responsibility to check any child who turns 18 during the tenancy)

2. Whether they are named on the tenancy agreement or not or even if you don’t have an agreement in writing.

3. If your tenant has a time limited right to rent you must re-check before it expires.

So, what right to rent checks must you do:

1. You must see original documents in the presence of the tenant.

2. You must make and keep copies with a record of the date seen. Keep these copies for a year after the tenancy has ended.

What documents can you accept:

1. Uk passport, EEA identity card, passport or travel document with unlimited leave

2. Uk driving licence, birth certificate, letter from employer/local authority/higher education. YOU MUST SEE TWO OF THESE DOCUMENTS.

You can face unlimited fines or prison time if you don’t do these checks. homes4harrogate carries out right to rent checks for its landlords, always check that your letting agent does the same.

For the full list of acceptable documents and more information please visit


Posted on

The Accidental Landlord

accidental landlord

homes4harrogate are proud to announce their next landlord event “The Accidental Landlord” seminar in conjunction with Newtons Solicitors and Mortgage Advisory Network.

Our free event will be held at Hotel Du Vin, Harrogate on the 14th March 2018 with a gin reception from 6pm followed by talks from our local experts. There will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions in an informal environment. The event will be followed by networking in the bar afterwards.

We will be discussing the duties and obligations of an Attorney in relation to income tax, regulations and annual accounting and common problems that arise. We will also disucss the regulations and legislation affecting accidental landlords, the Harrogate rental market and Consumer Buy to Let regulations with regard to mortgages.

So, who are our local experts?

Sarah Johnston – Homes4harrogate Ltd

Sarah spent over eight years working in the letting industry in Harrogate and District before starting homes4harrogate, a local letting agency putting the personal back into property. With experience of managing over 1,500 rental properties and being ARLA propertymark qualified Sarah is well equipped to advise on the Harrogate rental market and landlord responsibilities. With a background in Law Sarah is well placed to advise on changing legislation and regulation.

Helen Forster – Senior Solicitor at Newtons Solicitor Group

Helen is a solicitor and trusts and estates practitioner with particular expertise in tax and capacity matters, including acting as attorney or Court appointed Deputy. Helen regularly assists individuals in respect of trusts, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Wills and tax planning as well as the day to day management of a person’s property and financial affairs.

Helen is also a lecturer with MBL Seminars providing training to professionals around the country on Mental Capacity and Deputyship matters.

In 2016 and 2014 Helen was shortlisted in the Yorkshire Legal awards and was highly commended as a ‘Rising Star of the Year’ in the Modern Law Awards 2016.

Karl Gehrke – Mortgage Advisory Network

Karl began his financial services career just as the world entered the ‘credit crunch’ in 2008, initially working for a large multi-national high street bank before cutting his teeth in the world of mortgage broking with a nationwide estate agency chain. Placing mortgages for clients throughout the economic downturn led to the development of an in-depth understanding of lenders and their criteria. His experience within estate agency makes him ideally placed to guide you through the full home-buying process.

If you would like to reserve your free place please use the following Eventbrite link

Posted on

How to serve notice on your tenants

Do you want to know how to serve notice on your tenants?

There are many reasons why a landlord might want to serve notice on their tenants. They might want to sell the property, live in it themselves or their tenants might be in arrears. You must serve notice correctly to prevent grounds for harassment and claims of illegal eviction.

In order to serve a section 21 notice you now need to have supplied your tenants with certain documents. This means that starting your tenancy correctly is now vitally important so that it doesn’t affect gaining possession of your rental property.

The notice you serve you will also depend on whether you want your property back at the end of a fixed term or whether your tenants have breached their tenancy agreement mid term.

What if your tenants don’t leave once notice has been served?

This video blogs explains section 21 and section 8 notices and what happens if your tenants don’t vacate.

If it is due to tenant arrears you might find this blog useful

If you would like to discuss starting your tenancy the right way please contact me at or on 01423 529250.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Posted on

Are you unhappy with your current letting agency?

letting agency

Do you want to change letting agency without incurring costs?

I am often told by landlords that they don’t receive a great service from their current letting agent. So, naturally I ask them why they don’t change to another one?

The answer is usually that their current agent will charge them a termination fee and the paperwork is too much effort. They would rather wait until the current tenancy ends and change agents when it’s time to re-market. They don’t want to upset the apple cart as such.

So, I would like to tell you about my current offer. If you are not happy with your current agent and you want to switch to a proactive and personal service with homes4harrogate then I will cover your current agents termination fee*.

I will also personally deal with all of the paperwork associated with the move and will liase directly with your current agent.

If this is something that you would like to discuss and explore in more detail then please give me a call on 01423 529250 or an email to

Lots of my clients are already glad that they have. If you would like to see what they have to say about myself and homes4harrogate then please visit the review section of the website

I look forward to hearing from you.

*subject to terms and conditions



Posted on

What is good property management?

property management

homes4harrogate are delighted to have been named one of the top three property management companies in Harrogate!

Similarly with the phrase “a company is only as good as the staff it keeps”, a property management company is only as good as the contractors it uses. When a landlord is looking to instruct a letting agency to manage their buy to let property a key factor in the decision making process should be its maintenance contacts. These are the questions that a landlord should be asking a potential property management company:

  1. Are your contractors self-employed and independent? If so this means that they are more likely to be unbiased and fair. They have no loyalty or hidden agenda.
  2. Does the letting agent add any commission onto the contractors invoice? For individual jobs they definitely shouldn’t as that is what your monthly charge is for.
  3. Are the contractors local? Is it time and cost effective for an agent to use out of the area contractors on your rental property?
  4. Are the contractors reliable and trustworthy? What do their independent reviews say on their website and social media?
  5. Has the letting agent got copies of the contractors public liability insurance? Who covers any damage if an accident occurs?

A property management company needs reliable, local, self employed contractors on hand to carry out repairs and advice on your property. The wrong maintenance team can cost you time and money.

To discuss my range of managed landlord services and property management please call 01423 529250 or email me at and I will be happy to help.


Posted on

Property for rent and effective marketing

Effective marketing of your property for rent:

When it comes to marketing your rental property first impressions certainly do count. One grumble a lot of landlords have is that their current letting agent isn’t proactive enough in the marketing of their property for rent. This ultimately leads to unnecessary void gaps.

Or, even worse, they are proactive but the photos of the rental property are way below the standard they should be. We have all seen truly awful photographs of properties on Rightmove and wondered how they get away with it.

In order to stop this happening your letting agent needs to get the maximum exposure possible from the start. There are several different ways this can easily be achieved.  You need to entice tenants to view your property and want to make it their home. This video blog tells you my top tips for marketing your property for rent effectively.

If you would like to discuss the current marketing of your property and see how i might be able to help, please feel free to contact me at or on the phone at 01423 529250.

If you enjoyed this video blog, you might also be interested in

property for rent