What is the best landlord insurance for an LNPG member?

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It might seem like a simple question, but when you ask what the best landlord insurance is, there’s really a lot more to think about before you can find the answer. Here at Protect My Let, we don’t like to complicate things or make fluffy promises; instead we’ve broken down the main things you need to think about in order to find out how you find the best landlord insurance.

In order to get the best landlord insurance, you first need to answer the question: What is your goal?

We all love a deal and in an ideal world you’d get the most comprehensive policy for the same cost as a basic one – or being honest, you’d probably like to not have to pay for landlord insurance! Unfortunately, the reality is that neither is an option, so in order to find the best landlord insurance for you, you need to ask yourself what is your realistic landlord insurance goal? What is the most important thing to you? Whatever the answer to this is, as an LNPG member you can be assured that we at Protect My Let will be there to help you achieve it, just like we have with so many other LNPG members.

How much support do you want or expect?

We appreciate that some landlords want more service than others so you need to ask yourself – do you want a good service and someone you can rely on? If this is the case then you’re in luck as that’s our entire ethos. We’re here to help and pride ourselves on the level of service we provide to LNPG members.

landlord insurance

Do you have a bad claims history?

If you have a bad claims history on your landlord insurance, then you may find your goal is to get some decent cover in place which doesn’t penalise you too harshly for your claims. Or perhaps your property will always be considered high-risk and you find it hard to find an insurer who will offer the cover you’re after. If this is the case then we’d suggest that for you, working with an experienced broker would provide you with the best landlord insurance for your circumstances. As LNPG’s preferred supplier, we have experience in placing difficult risks for members. We also have access to a panel of insurers, which means we will have more options for you than a one-stop-shop on a comparison website.

What type of cover do you need?

Main Cover

There are three main types of cover that your landlord insurance will provide: Buildings, Contents or a combination of both. You’ll be able to get any of these easily and all will be available on a basic or more comprehensive policy.

Buildings

This will cover the main structure of the building (including outbuildings if any) plus any fixtures and fittings inside the property i.e. kitchens and bathrooms, including integrated appliances and permanently fitted flooring.

Contents

This is designed to cover any furniture owned by you and any other loose items, including carpets, however, fixtures and fittings cover can also be included if the property is a leasehold e.g. a flat.

If you own the freehold of a property, it is most likely that you would need Buildings or a Buildings and Contents combination. 

Legal Expenses cover

Another type of cover that landlord insurance can provide is Legal Expenses. This protects you against a variety of situations that can happen as a landlord that would normally leave you having to foot the bill for legal fees, including having to serve evictions or pursuing rent arrears.

Liability cover

As a landlord, you are also responsible for looking after your tenants in certain situations. For example, if your property becomes uninhabitable, it’s up to you to temporarily rehome them. This cover is provided in the form of Loss of Rent/Alternative Accommodation cover.

There are other things to consider too such as who is responsible if a tenant or their family is injured in the property as a result of your fixtures and fittings, or what happens if their property is damaged. This is where Property Owners Liability comes in.

What tenants are you letting to?

Each type of tenant comes with their own risks, but some can be harder to get insurance for, meaning if cost is your main driver and you have a high-risk tenant, you might not be able to achieve a really low-cost policy. Equally, some insurers do not offer cover for certain tenant types so you might find it hard to find insurance full stop. Depending on your tenants, you will have a different goal in respect of finding the best landlord insurance for you, so it’s important to bear this in mind when looking for your new policy.

I know my goal; what are the next steps to finding the best landlord insurance for me?

Get in touch with a broker  

If you decide to join the LNPG then you’ll have access to our exclusive member benefits which is a great place to start! Once you have joined, we’ll be in touch to see how we can help and if you’ve already sorted your insurance we’ll put a reminder in to contact you before your renewal to see if our member benefits can help. Remember, working with a broker, you’re more likely to reach your goal and you get the added bonus of not having to do it all yourself!

Be clear about your goals

Being open about your goals and providing all the required information from the start is going to make the process a lot faster. It will also mean we have a higher chance of achieving your goal.

Be realistic about your goals

If you have a high-risk property or a bad claims history, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever be able to achieve the very cheap prices you may have seen advertised online. If you’ve been clear from the start, I promise that as your broker we’ll always be realistic in what is achievable from our markets and experience.

Review your insurance options and place cover smoothly

We’ll provide you with options that suit your needs, and often we’ll also give some other options which might provide cover for things that you hadn’t thought of. Once we’ve discussed your options, we’ll place the one you choose. Your property will be covered and you’ll be safe in the knowledge that it’s the right cover and that together, we hit your goals.

Cheap Thrills: The Pros and Cons of Low-Priced Budget Blinds

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June 21st 2019

By Greg Worthington, Rullgardin UK

Rullgardin Banner Image

One of the most recent partners we’ve added to the LNPG roster is Rullgardin Blinds, a family-run business specialising in all things blinds and window coverings. It’s one of those things that typically gets left at the bottom of the list when you’re taking on a new refurb. However, as with most things, setting aside the right budget in the in the first instance can often save you a lot of time, money, and headaches down the line.

Thankfully Greg Worthington at Rullgardin UK has years of experience and stacks off passion for this field and has given us a thorough breakdown of top tips and best practices.

For more information, or to get in touch with Rullgardin UK directly, check out the Rullgardin page of the LNPG website (make sure to sign in if you’re a member!).

How to tell a Rolls-Royce from a Reliant Robin: Spotting the Real Value in Blinds

What’s the real difference between an expensive blind versus a cheap one? They all do the same thing don’t they?

Well here in the UK, there are companies that invest a serious amount of time and money making vertical and roller blind component parts. These are patented and tested to destruction and will far outlast any of the imported parts coming into the UK.

I’ve manufactured blinds myself, so it’s obvious to me when I come across a substandard product. Cheap plastics in a south-facing window will probably only last a year or two before becoming brittle and breaking. At least they’ve got the warranty backing the product up, we can just get the guy to come back out and fix it, right?

Well, whose to say they’re still in business? A lot of businesses will jump from company to company supplying the same products but invalidating any warranties they may have given in the past. Even if you’re lucky enough to get in contact with the same company you got your blinds from a year or two ago, you might end up being turned away under the pretence that they don’t make that very specific type of blind anymore, you’ll just have to get a new one instead! It’s something I’ve come across time and time again.

So what do you need to know? Well first of all, big manufacturers don’t just change their component parts every two years, and if they do change them, the new models are almost always compatible with their old parts which are still kept on for years.

…you will soon find out that the tracks

and components are the most expensive

parts you can buy!

On the other side of the spectrum, the cheap components that flood the market from time to time tend not to be compatible with our major UK manufacturers. This is particularly frustrating for customers as you will soon find out that the tacks and components are the most expensive parts you can buy! The false economy is that the cheap untested parts which simply don’t cut it (especially in a commercial, HMO, or rental setting) are worth ‘saving’ a few quid for in the first place.

After all this, you’ve got the age-old fabric debate, and this is a great one. Did you know that some of the market leader in fabric production are based right here in the UK and Ireland? These companies invest heavily in the testing of fabrics to ensure longevity, fire-resistance, and resistance to fading.

The remaining percentage of fabrics tend to be imported from China and India – in the vast majority these are not tested or manufactured to any typical standard or specification; they’re just cheap copies. In the interests of fairness and transparency, I will say that a tiny percentage of these fabrics are made on licence, but it’s incredibly difficult to know which ones these are, especially if you aren’t looking at these fabrics every day.

You won’t have to look too hard to find multiple manufacturers selling the same fabric at vastly different price points. This all points toward these manufacturers buying from the same wholesaler and rebranding the fabrics with a fancy new logo to push up the price. It should go without saying that any reputable company stays well away from this practice and will stand by their products, normally warrantying against any non-destructive faults.

Rullgardin Collection

What Dave Down the Road isn’t Telling You…

It’s something most of us in any industry have come up against in the past. We measure up, recommend the best options, and quote, only to be told that Dave down the road is coming in £300 cheaper. After all, he can do three blinds for £99 and fit tomorrow!

I’ve laughed about this many times myself – it simply doesn’t add up! If Dave can do it for that price then he must be the biggest manufacturer of blinds in the UK; he must not have liability insurance in case he drills through a pipe etc.; he must not have any VAT or overheads to pay, nor vehicles to keep on the road! No company can survive on this margin and still manage to keep all of their promises to clients.

In the last two years alone, we have seen perhaps 30 companies pop up offering crazy deals: 3 for £99, 5 for £150, a whole house for £299! Unsurprisingly these companies don’t last long. For most, they go into this business expecting easy money, but the reality is the easiest thing is actually putting the blind up. Even for a small project you’ll spend a minimum of three hours sorting samples, site visits, and making sure you’ve got the right products for the right customers – it all takes time and money, but is well worth it if you know you’re getting the job done right.

…we’re available outside of regular

office hours because there simply

isn’t enough time in a working day

This is part of the reason why we make such a point to be contactable outside of office hours, as well as being available to install out of hours, because there is simply not enough time in a working day.

Now, I wonder if Dave down the road is willing to come out on a weekend to repair those £99 blinds? Well, we know the answer to that, just listen to the Spanish dial tone!

The longstanding businesses in this industry are predominantly family-run businesses for good reason. The reason businesses like ours don’t disappear over night is because we know the ins and outs of the industry and are prepared to charge a fair price for our work to ensure the job is done correctly. We use good quality components and fabrics, and most of all look after our customers!

We Need to Talk About Child Safety Laws

It seems at times that many people tend to switch off when it comes to child safety laws in the blinds and window coverings industry. If your properties cater to young families, it’s so important to be getting the right products for the job.

Only a few months ago I was asked by a client to sort out a problem with another company’s installation. The customers had three toddlers and the company had installed venetian blinds throughout. The trouble was that they had put the safety bracket behind the blinds leaving two metres of cord hanging down just waiting for the kids to get caught up in! Not only is this dangerous, it also meant that unnecessary holes were drilled in the customer’s brand-new windows. It just goes to show that even the companies that claim to be child-safety aware sometimes allow things to slide, which is why it’s so important to make sure you know the facts yourself before allowing yourself to get swindled.

If you know there are likely to be children in your properties at some point, you need to make sure your contractor is aware and installs the appropriate child safety devices, as they are required to do so by law (this does not apply to your own home when you install yourself).

Product Shot

The Self-Installation Money Machines

Talking of self-installation, you’d be hard-pressed in this industry to come up against some of the huge retailers both online and offline that try to price out the rest of the market by using the self-install model.

The sad reality of these businesses is that despite their reputation for value, once you go above the insanely cheap low-quality ranges, they are in fact no more competitive than anyone else. I mentioned the rebranding of imported fabrics earlier in this article, and this is one of the many cases where you’ll need to keep a sharp eye to avoid being stung. As with everything, it always pays to shop around.

There will always be a place in the market for high volume, low quality, self-installation blinds, but when you’re looking to rent out a property the risk of having no fallback, warranty, and a possible improper installation far outweighs any reward that might be gained by the small saving you get in the first instance.

Closing

I think it’s fair to say I could talk about blinds and the window coverings industry all day long and still not run out of things to say. It’s an aspect of the rental products market that can sometimes be a little hard to understand and I want to do my bit to make it as transparent as possible and keep my clients happy and within their budget.

The best advice I can give is to pay that little more for quality products to make sure you won’t have to revisit the job in six months’ time when you should be focussing your time and attention somewhere else. Fortunately, LNPG members are in a unique position to benefit from getting the best products available for the job while making a saving from the everyday price across this and many other industries.

For more information, or to get in touch with Rullgardin UK directly, check out the Rullgardin page of the LNPG website (make sure to sign in if you’re a member!).

Combat the Toughest Stains with Johnstone’s

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Johnstone's Stainaway

Combat the Toughest Stains With Johnstone’s Trade StainAway

One of the biggest problems faced by property owners and landlords is tackling tough stains left behind by tenants. Not only is it a time-consuming task to rectify, if the right product is not used the results can also be short-lived.

Stains, including smoke damage, water damage and nicotine stains, can be difficult to cover and often cause delays on a job. Traditionally, you would need to apply a stain block primer before adding a top coat. However, even if this has been applied, there will still be a risk that the stains would reappear – leading to additional work or an unsightly mark left behind, both of which demand additional, unplanned labour and material costs.

To help tackle this issue, we developed an innovative product. Johnstone’s StainAway Matt emulsion paint is an all-in-one wall and ceiling paint, guaranteed to tackle the toughest stains. Its durable coating will leave a flat matt finish, while its stain blocking technology acts as a primer and finish in one to permanently block unwanted marks and blemishes.

The Science of StainAway

The stain blocking technology used in StainAway Matt Emulsion paint permanently isolates and covers stains thanks to the crosslinking polymer compounds within the paint layer. This allows for complete coverage and prevents any penetration through to the surface layer. The high opacity levels also help set it apart from anything similar on the market.

In addition to this, the paint also has a class one scrub resistance, making it a viable, longlasting option for projects in need of a durable finish. Combining a top coat and primer into one product, this water-based paint will speed up the time spent on any decorating job.

StainAway is also suitable for use on a wide variety of substrates, including brickwork cement, concrete, render, plaster and plasterboard – making it the perfect solution for stain covering projects of all sizes. The product is available in 2.5ltr, 5ltr and 10ltr sizes in Brilliant White or up to 16,000 colours via the Johnstone’s tinting system.

Stainaway Matt

Customer Testimonials

“When it comes to a paint that blocks water and nicotine stains, Johnstone’s Trade has developed the ideal formulation. StainAway Matt paint is easy to apply with either a brush or roller. It has superb coverage, and it really does cover and blocks stains. We recently used StainAway on a brown, nicotine-stained ceiling. After just two coats, the ceiling was so bright, with no traces of the nicotine bleeding through. From now on, StainAway will always be used on our jobs.” Aston Mills, EA&AJ Mills

“I’d rate this product 5 stars out of 5. It’s fairly priced, easy to use and does what it says on the tin. Johnstone’s Trade has nailed it!” Paul Davis Church, PHS Property Maintenance

To put the product to the test for yourself, pick up a tin at your local Johnstone’s Decorating Centre.

Electric Heating: The Future-Proofed Choice for Landlords

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By Electric Radiators Direct

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Electric Heating: The Future-Proofed Choice for Landlords

Home heating has come under a lot of scrutiny as one of the main contributors to the UK’s carbon emissions and numerous industry reports have stressed the need for decisive change. Even the humble gas boiler – a mainstay of many properties – is having its future re-evaluated and looks set to be phased out of new builds altogether by 2025. So, if that’s the case, what’s the future for domestic and commercial heating? The answer is in many cases is electric in all its forms. Whether it’s electric radiators or electric boilers, air source heat pumps or infrared, electric heating is going to be key toward achieving a greener, better future for everyone. It’s no longer playing second-fiddle to gas and offers efficient heating, quick installation and a host of other benefits for landlords and developers. Here’s why:

Easy Installation, Zero Maintenance

Electric heaters offer total freedom when it comes to fitting and can be quickly and easily installed by a professional electrician. In fact, there are some solutions which are suitable for DIY installation so if you need to refurbish a room at short notice, all you need to do is mount your heater to the wall and plug it in at the mains. Job done. You don’t need to bother with pipes, valves or draining the system whenever you want to move an electric radiator, which means no lengthy callouts or invasive installation. Electric heating solutions can also help to cut down on costs when it comes to maintenance too. With gas, there’s all the rigmarole of annual servicing and checks, as well as monthly breakdown cover but there’s none of this hassle if you opt for electric.

Efficient & Controllable Heating

Unlike gas central heating, most electric heating systems are modular, allowing you to have precision control over your property’s temperature levels on a room by room basis. So, for example, as electric radiators have their controllers and thermostats built into each unit, you can decide on an individual temperature level and heating programme for each area of the building to minimise energy usage. The thermostats in electric heaters are often accurate to within a fraction of a degree for pin-point temperature management, and combined with their daily and weekly programming, you can rest assured that you’re never wasting energy.

Energy-Saving Features as Standard

It’s a great time to switch to electric heating. The recent overhaul of legislation in 2018 for electric space heating has meant that all products manufactured since that time will now meet an even more impeccably high standard, coming with extra energy-saving features built in so you can slim your running costs even further. Take open window detection, for example, which is now a feature included with most electric heaters. This function is clever enough to know when a room is losing heat too quickly because of an open door or window, and effectively stops the heater from operating until the source of the draught is dealt with. Then, once the temperature has stabilised, it will resume heating as normal. It’s a superb feature for shared houses and student accommodation and engages automatically so no effort is needed.

Smart Heating for Modern Lifestyles

For landlords, we highly recommend products with WiFi heating control as this allows you to program and adjust heaters using a smartphone or tablet from anywhere in the world. WiFi compatible products like our Haverland SmartWave and Technotherm KS DSM electric radiators let you check current temperatures, change your programming and group heaters together all from your phone, so no matter where you go, you’re always in total control. Heating apps also provide access to a wealth of extra features. They give you the option of viewing energy statistics to keep an eye on consumption and most come with a ‘guest account’ feature, which allows other users to be able to adjust the heaters without giving them full access to your account settings.

Sustainable & Eco-Friendly

Clean energy recently overtook fossil fuels in terms of the percentage generated in the UK, which goes to show we’re slowly but steadily moving away from gas and coal as a method of powering and heating our homes. As we increasingly source more power from renewables, choosing electric heating becomes a no-brainer, especially when it’s paired with a green energy tariff for truly environmentally-conscious, zero-carbon heating. It’s safe, it’s becoming the greener choice by the day, and it’s emission free heating with no worry about carbon monoxide.

Looking for More Info? Talk to Us.

Few heating systems are as versatile as electric so if you’re not sure what product to choose or if you want to know whether it will suit your property, give Electric Radiators Direct a call on 0330 880 7001 and let our dedicated trade account managers put you on the right track. From initial queries, to quotes and after-care, we can help your project get off the ground in no time.

For more information on LNPG’s partnership with Electric Radiators Direct, head to their page on this website.

Carpet and Flooring: How to Make Long-Term Cost Savings in Your Rental Property

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By Lisa Tomlin, CEO of Carpet & Flooring

Carpet and Flooring Product Header

Last week we were excited to announce the latest partner to join the LNPG network: Carpet & Flooring. With over 40 years’ experience in the market, Carpet & Flooring is the UK’s largest independent flooring distributor, providing a complete range of flooring solutions to the commercial and domestic markets, including floor coverings, screeds and adhesives. Combining a reliable customer service offering with an extensive product set, and now with exclusive LNPG contract rates, Carpet & Flooring is a unique one-stop-shop in the industry.

For more information on Carpet & Flooring, just visit the Carpet and Flooring page on the LNPG website (make sure to sign in if you’re a member!).

Lisa Tomlin, CEO of Carpet & Flooring, is going to share her insights into what landlords should consider when selecting flooring for their letting properties.

Who are your tenants?

The first question you should ask when selecting a floor covering for your rental property is who is, or who will be renting your property. Do you have a trendy apartment ideal for young city-dwellers? Or maybe you have a three-bed house in the suburbs that is best suited to a young family? Perhaps you are renting a suite of offices to a business?  The floor coverings you choose should reflect this.

For example, if you’re targeting young professionals with your property who may be more design-led, perhaps with a boutique HMO, you may want to consider specifying Luxury Vinyl Tiles in on-trend colours, such as an understated grey. A young family however may be better suited to a low maintenance yet highly durable dark coloured LVT. This way, however hectic your tenant’s lifestyle, the flooring will remain in tip-top shape and will be easy to clean, whatever spillages occur.

What will the room be used for?

We’ve all had disasters, whether it’s spilt food in the kitchen or overflowing bathtubs, accidents are inevitable! One thing you can do to reduce damage to your property and the furnishings within it, is to choose a suitable floor covering, for example, a suitable cushion vinyl for kitchens and bathrooms. Cushion vinyl, is warm and soft underfoot meaning your tenants will have a more comfortable experience whilst in their property. Moreover, it’s water resistant and easy to clean meaning that if an accidental spillage does occur, you won’t need to worry about replacing the flooring.  It also offers health and safety benefits to tenants as it is more slip resistant than most other hard surface floor coverings, making it an ideal option for young families where children might be unsure on their feet.

In areas of a property that experience high footfall and will be seen by everyone entering the property, like entrances to apartments and hallways, a highly durable product is ideal. In this instance, we’d recommend installing entrance matting in porches to reduce damage to flooring further in the property. In hallways, commercial grade LVT can be swept clean yet maintains an appearance of luxury. In areas such as bedrooms, where there will be significantly lower footfall, there is an opportunity to introduce a luxury carpet to provide a sense of style and comfort to the property which will again appeal to many homeowners.

Carpet and Flooring Products

Colour and Style

The colour of flooring can not only impact how easy it is to maintain (white carpets are notoriously difficult to keep pristine) but it can also have a huge impact on the overall style of a property. Choosing a neutral colour will suit all interior design choices and is a popular choice amongst rental properties due to this versatility. However, adopting a blanket approach and choosing the same floor covering across an entire property can mean the most suitable product isn’t selected for the room.

Consider installing darker, more durable, flooring, such as LVT in high footfall areas, with lighter carpets reserved for the bedroom. It is also important to note that more and more people, particularly those looking to remain in a property for a number of years, are looking for a home that will make a statement and flooring is a great way to achieve this. By mixing and matching different colours and styles of floor covering, you can create a style-led property without being too extreme in your style choices and putting off potential tenants.

Minimising Noise

Whether it’s children, televisions, music or just loud conversations, noise can become a big problem in the rental market, particularly in apartments with neighbours on all sides. This can have a significant impact on the comfort of tenants and in the long term can result in complaints. Luckily, having a high-quality acoustic underlay installed underneath flooring can help fix this. Sitting beneath the flooring, high quality acoustic underlay creates a barrier to sound, ensuring noise pollution in the home is reduced. If you’re unsure about which underlay is best for your property and the floor coverings you’re choosing, a member of the Carpet & Flooring team can help.

Not only can choosing the right flooring result in significant cost savings in ongoing maintenance and replacement, but flooring can really transform a home, providing many benefits for occupants. The correct investment in floor coverings can impact those living in their properties, save money in the long run, make your property more attractive to prospective tenants and add value to your property – it’s a win-win!

Looking for More Info? Talk to us!

For more information on LNPG’s partnership with Carpet & Flooring, including contact details and a full LNPG-negotiated price-file, head to their page on this website

Dodging the Damp: Your Questions Answered

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You might remember a few weeks ago, we hosted our Dodging the Damp Expert Lock-In with damp-proofing and remedials veteran, Chris Reynolds.

Well squeezing such a broad topic into only an hour and a half was always going to be optimistic, but we never expected over 100 questions still waiting for an answer at the end of the webinar.

We couldn’t just let these disappear into thin air. Chris was kind enough to give us even more of his time to properly answer all your questions. With a lot of different areas covered, we’ve  split these into the following categories: Educational, Ventilation, Insulation, Tenant & Landlord relationship, and Remedy & Prevention.

Educational

Let’s kick things off with some general educational questions on damp to whet your appetite.

Q: Estate agents usually claim damps as solely condensation in viewings. How do I distinguish between damp and condensation?

A: Condensation damp is due to air quality. Other types of damp are water leaks, rising damp, bridging damp, and penetrating damp. The structural damps require a specialist surveyor to diagnose correctly.

 

Q: What is the appropriate/optimum humidity % to avoid bacteria and viruses to breed? Is it different in Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn?

A: There’s no difference for the various seasons. Ideal humidity parameters at anytime are between 40 – 60% RH. If maintained within this range, it is impossible for black mould to thrive.

 

Q: What are the current solutions for the solid brick walls, say built in 1930, to protect from damp?

A: Feel free to call to discuss 07775 927151.

Ventilation

It’s fair to say no one expects tenants to leave their windows open during the winter, but this webinar really showed there’s a hell of a lot more to ventilation than that. With it not being a one-size-fits-all policy, it was no surprise that you were chomping at the bit to ask Chris more questions in this area.

Q: What spec of Extractor fan would you recommend for an internal windowless bathroom? The standard ones are typically 40-50 Litres per minute.

A: Elta Mori dMEV HT II from Alliance Remedial Supplies.

 

Q:Would you recommend passive fans to reduce condensation in a Grade ii listed building?

A: Ventilation in Grade II listed properties is very challenging. Any changes to the façade of a listed property(i.e. ventilation grilles), require approval from a Conservation officer. Not sure what you mean by ‘passive’ fans? Feel free to call to discuss.

 

Q: Can I ask the tenant to change the filters to the extractor fan in the kitchen or change the batteries for the smoke alarm?

A: I do not advise you place the onus of maintenance of an electrical fan on a tenant. However, it’s not a problem for smoke alarm battery replacement.

 

Q: We have been told that most extractors are for reducing odour and not damp, is this true?

A: Completely incorrect information. The absolute primary function is the removal of excess airborne moisture. However, odours are carried in airborne moisture and will be carried out with it. I definitely would recommend you to have a look at Part F in the ventilation regulations which were mentioned in the webinar.

 

Q: Is Positive Input Ventillation (PIV) a dehumidifier?

A: No its not.

 

Q: I use Environment. They do fans at around £400 but the whole house one is around £1200.

A: Environment are very expensive. You are paying between £300 and £400 more than you need to just for a brand name.

 

Q: What PIV product would you recommend?

A: Airtech, Elta, Nuaire. Which you go for depends on the type of property, volume of air to be changed, and space available to install it.

 

Q: If the tenant keeps the internal doors closed, can positive input ventilation still work?

A: Incorrect. Provided a gap of 10mm is available at the bottom of the door to any given room, it will still work. That is an ideal dimension stated in all manufacturers data sheets, but between 5mm and 10mm is acceptable.

 

Q: In my HMO, in one of the tenant’s room, I have had a heat recovery ventilation system installed. I haven’t been in to inspect and the management agency is dealing with this. Is this machine a satisfactory solution? This machine has cost me £900 + vat. The tenant has also remarked it’s slightly noisy.

A: I wish you had got in touch with Alliance Remedial beforehand. A single room heat recovery fan should not cost £900 plus VAT. That is pretty expensive, and in standard idle mode, they are inaudible. When boost mode is engaged, it will sound like a standard extract fan. If the complaint is the fan is engaging boost mode, when they are sleeping then yes, it has not been installed correctly or is incorrectly specified.

 

Q: A damp specialist recently told me to tell my tenants to open the windows and put the heating – what can we say to that?

A: Ventilation and heating are key to reducing condensation. However, if tenants are worried about heating bills – they will do it in a limited fashion, and will definitely not open the windows! It is not as simple to say this to them  – a damp specialist will not have said this in isolation, if indeed he is a specialist.

Insulation

And now it’s time for the antithesis of ventilation – insulation of course. Dodging the damp is about getting the right balance between these two factors, so it’s no surprise there were a lot of questions about keeping heat in your property too.

Q: I have a masionette with a lot of damp. It had cavity wall insulation fitted before I purchased it off the local housing association. They say they have no record of who fitted it – is it worth paying a company to remove this and is it very effective?

A: Remove it only if it is causing bridging damp. Typically, this will be because the mortar is breaking down. Walls that have received CWI do need to be maintained in good order. This prevents rainwater penetrating through the outer leaf coming into contact with the insulation’.

 

Q: Do you think investing in exterior wall insulation would solve, or at least improve the damp / mould situation inside the house?

A: It can help but insulation in isolation is not the cure. For making a given surface warmer, you simply move the moisture (condensation) to another wall/surface. The key is ventilation’.

 

Q: One of my properties supposedly has cavity wall insulation, but I get a lot of damp and condensation problems. I have emailed the previous owner to try and find out who put this in, and what the guarantee situation is. In short I have hit a brick wall, as they say they have no records, and do not know who put the cavity wall insulation in. I have replaced the glass to new style double glazing, but there’s been no difference.

My question –  is it worth paying a company to completely remove this cavity wall insulation? ( being quoted £1500 – £2000)

A: Feel free to call to discuss 07775 927151. Fundamentally, the CWI industry went bust when the government stopped the grant subsidies. There will be next to no chance of a claim against a guarantee, as the installer will not be around. However, it is little known but there is a significant pot set aside for guarantee claims put in place by the government. Please refer to CIGA or look up ‘No win – No fee cavity insulation guarantee claims’. But you would have to prove the damp via the cavity insulation was due to poor installation work or into a wall that should never have received it. If on the other hand, the wall has not been maintained i.e. pointing kept in good order, you will struggle to win a claim. Remove it if you have had an inspection carried out which has proven the material is wet. The prices you have been quoted are either based on an M2 area or a day rate.

Tenant & Landlord Relationship

It can be difficult to know who’s accountable for damp problems. Education is key for reduction, but often you can be faced with very specific situations and it can be tricky to know what to do.

Q: I agreed to fix the damp problem for my tenant after we both agreed there was a problem, but she doesn’t give me a date for the fixtures to take place. How can I proceed?

A: I believe your tenancy agreement states that you need to have reasonable access to carry out routine checks and maintenance. Your managing agent should take care of this.

 

Q: We are putting digital hygrometers into our problem properties and educating the tenant as to how to keep the RH below 70% – only £15. It makes the tenant aware of the moisture they are generating.

A: Good step. It focuses their attention.

 

Q: I have tenants who pretend to open their windows when we visit. However, they are always closed when we drive past on other occasions. The wooden double glazed windows are starting to rot and the black mould is everywhere now

Any ideas gratefully accepted.

A: Opening windows or telling occupants to open windows is not a solution in itself but is part of the solution. Forgive my cheek, but if it is cold outside, would I drive past your house and see all your windows open? If one goes to court in a black mould litigation case, the judge would not rule in your favour – if this was used as part of your defence.

It is general practice to be carrying out all measures to make properties more energy efficient, which is the process of keeping the heat generated in a property, for as long as possible. Why carry out all the proposed measures, if we then tell tenants to open their windows?  That said, of course there is a benefit to getting fresh air in via window openings, but it can only be done as a comfort measure. Feel free to call to discuss.

 

Q: With the government bringing a Epc C forward to 2025, I see a high rise coming in black mould resulting in claims against landlords. Try proving to council bodies it’s not damp and the tenants lifestyle. Many landlords have older 1900/1930 properties – I have for some time been putting extra loft and cavity wall insulation in and these type of properties are high risk for mould.

A: Kathy you have indirectly hit on a point that I used the webinar to focus on, but has not gone down too well. Post Grenfell, a lot of new legislation has been introduced to make Landlords more accountable for providing dwellings fit for purpose. My observations are taken from having surveyed thousands of properties, so I’m drawing from a lot of experience. As the rental market increases, so will the financial challenges of tenants who are not motivated to look after their rental property. The new legislation makes it easier for a tenant to take a Landlord to court. Without doubt, (because its already happening), a Judge, at a bear minimum will appease them , and offer them some kind of compensation. But why should it be a ‘fight’? Why would a property investor not take care of their investment and keep it in tip-top condition? Big problems to come for those who have been getting away with doing very little!

Remedy & Prevention

And now finally, some extra preventative measures that you can take as well as finding the balance between ventilation and insulation.

Q: Who do we call to have a look at an external wall and tell us if it needs repainting and how do we know if they should be using lime?

A: A local general builder is your man, but there are standard indicators. Look to see if mortar has eroded or is missing. If so, it will need repainting. Lime is only used if the existing mortar is lime (a good builder will identify this). No point putting lime mortar over cement and vice versa.

 

Q: Had 3 damp proofers out to a property, all of whom have advised to remove plaster, inject and then re-plaster!

A: Please call to discuss. Re-plastering is an old method which is fine, but all guidance documents for this method will tell you that you should not redecorate for between 6 – 9 months minimum. New methods and materials available and available through Alliance Remedial.

 

Q: What about white washed lime rendering on solid walls?

A: Why would you render? Is there render already on the walls? If not, what is the current mortar? If it is sand and cement mortar, the lime render will not be able to fully work as a breathable material, because the concrete mortar is not offering the breathability.

 

Q: What is the best antifungial paint brand please?

A: Suretherm from Alliance remedial.

 

Q: I had the flat roof of the porch come down and the walls in the porch had mould in the internal walls. What is the best action to take?

A: Very challenging! Porches are notoriously cold. They never get ventilated, as they generally don’t have a heater stick out from the main house like an appendage. This all means they’re very prone to condensation. Make the external brick in sound order and apply Dryfix masonry water repellent cream to the brickface. Then, apply two coats of Suretherm insulating paint to the internal wall.

 

And there we have it! The first webinar we’ve done that had so many questions, it warranted not one but two blog posts!

To see our breakdown of Chris’s webinar in our first blog post, click here

LNPG Hits 5,000 Members!

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5000 members for LNPG

A few days before LNPG launched, I sat down and gave myself a serious kick up the backside.

The reason for the kick was that after years of negotiations, re-negotiations, and re-re-negotiations, LNPG was finally coming together as a proper business – and I’d still managed to avoid the most important thing on my to-do list. I needed to set a goal for the business.

Back then I somehow managed to be too cautious about LNPG’s potential reach (I though no-one outside of the East Midlands would be interested) and too optimistic about its growth (assuming thousands of landlords would want to join immediately).

Today, just a few months after LNPG celebrated its tenth birthday, I continue to believe thousands of landlords should join LNPG immediately – but I’ve also been on a ten-year journey where I’ve seen first-hand the grit and dedication it takes to get the business to where I knew it could be – not just from me, because with all the grit and dedication in the world I couldn’t do it on my own – but from dozens of staff members, directors, suppliers, promoters, and early-adopters over the years.

The goal I’d kicked out of myself all those years ago was to reach 5,000 members.

There were days when it seemed absolutely impossible: imagine driving from Hinckley (that’s in Leicestershire) to Edinburgh (you know where that is) to speak at a property meeting. I was there to pitch to local landlords and spread the word about LNPG but when I turned up everybody already knew my name.

On the one hand it was a real boost to think I could drive all that way and LNPG was already on people’s radars.

But from a growth perspective it was a wasted trip. That nagging voice in my head that was always asking is this going to get you to 5,000 members went unanswered and I felt like I’d already plumbed the depths of the landlord market after only a year or two – supposedly there’s 2.5 million of us in this country – so where are the rest of them hiding?

And there were days when we’d stay late into the evening at the office – sometimes just to keep working, trying to stretch the few resources we had at the time, but other times to celebrate the small successes of the week – maybe we’d broken our weekly sign-up record that week or secured a new partnership that we knew would be great for our members.

The roadmap we’d set out for LNPG back in 2010 remains one of the most important hours, even if we have strayed from it entirely at parts, but everything we have done since then has come from that goal of eventually hitting 5,000.

Yesterday, we achieved that goal.

I wish I could say that for the next few days or weeks my only plans are to sit back and enjoy this moment the way I thought I would all those years ago, but the reality is I’ve already started the journey towards the next goal for LNPG because we’ve got no plans of slowing down.

– Nick Watchorn, LNPG Founder