Why your development should have a Resident’s Association

A Residents’ Association (RA) is a local group, made up of local residents who represent the interests of everyone living in a particular area or building, they are set up for everyone to join and membership is open to all local residents (tenants and leaseholders). For the RA to be successful and effective it should represent and include all residents in the area its serves.

Why are they worth having?

A collective voice is a powerful voice. Being united with other people who share your living environment, means that you have the opportunity to influence and shape the quality of the services to your local community and improve residents’ quality of life.

For example, you can…

  • have a say on the services provided by Network Homes – i.e. cleaning and repairs.
  • develop the environment and community i.e. apply for funding for safe play areas and carry out social activities that bring you and your neighbours together.
  • lobby the council for local provision i.e. recycling facilities, improved lighting etc.

The formation of a residents’ association is a simple process, which requires a group of interested individuals with a common interest and an agreed constitution, by which the activities and rules of the association are governed. The recognition of residents’ associations is in Schedule 19 of the Housing Act 1980, as amended by the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and 1987. This act of law entitles RA’s to certain rights and access to information which is not typically shared, such as work invoices, detailed transaction reports, stock condition surveys and fire risk assessments (FRA). This transparent and open approach with a small group of elected members is often valued by the wider majority; seen as an honest attempt for transparency, improved communication and better relations.

When carrying our planned work or major repairs, RA’s are a great sounding board for ideas and feedback. They are often happy to ballot members for when multiple options are on the table, or similarly, they will make the final decision on behalf of their members, as elected to do so. This approach put people and the centre of what we do.

For Managing Agents and Landlords, there is little administration required when working with an RA. It is easier and far more effective for RA’s to meet frequently with the Inspired Property Management team to ensure your goals are recognised for the development and your ideas are heard. If you’d like to know more about how our team at inspired can work with your RA please get in touch with a member of our team.

Decorate your apartment without upsetting your landlord

A few nifty tricks to give your home a very merry makeover without so much as a pin in the wall… Handy if your landlord has stipulated no holes in the walls.

Hosting Christmas for all the family in your new rental home? We have all the tricks of the trade to make your house feel Christmassy, festive and merry without pinning or painting anything.

Keep your landlord, and even your mother-in-law, on side with these nifty decorating techniques that won’t damage a wall, skirting board or doorframe…

If you can’t hang things on the walls or pin anything to doorways, then opt for ornaments. Glittery reindeers, giant nutcrackers and charming nativity scenes will create a traditional Christmas feel without upsetting the landlord. Smother mantelpieces, top tables and decorate the base of your tree.

Redecorate with a wreath

If you can’t go crazy inside, then you always have outside. People are putting exterior lights up, perching trees on their porches and of course the time old tradition – hanging beautiful wreaths. If you don’t want to pin it to your door, cascade the circular garland from ribbon tied to a door handle or brickwork above the frame.

Go crazy for candle displays

Candles omit a Christmassy glow, warming winter scents and can be glammed up to create opulent table displays. Surround simple tower candles with conifer cones, berries and rings of holly to give off an easy Christmassy vibe without redecorating a thing!

Go gaga for garlands

Bring the forest inside this winter by draping garlands of holly, ivy and fir across fireplaces, mirrors and winding them up staircases. Botanical displays around the home will instantly give off the smell and look of Christmas without damaging anything.

Invest in warm wintery accessories

With just a few hours of light a day (and even those are clouded, snowy and drizzly!) we all love wrapping up in a cosy onesie and nestling into our cushioned den with a chunky throw. Accessorise this winter with Christmas-inspired and adorned cushions and blankets that will transform that bleak sofa into a sanctuary.

Decorate a traditional tree

If you’re unsure about pinning things on walls then simply go to town on your Christmas tree. Get the biggest one you can, or a collection of tiny trees, and adorn it with a sprinkling of hundreds and thousands, a scattering of fairy lights and top with a beautiful angel.

Top it off with an amazing table display

We all spend a large amount of the big day in the dining room eating and drinking and eating some more, so decorate your table extravagantly. Invest in a large centrepiece and compliment it with fanciful dinner platters, serving spoons and festive flowers for a truly beautiful banquet.

How will you be decorating your apartment home this Christmas?

Tips courtesy of idealhome.co.uk – read more here

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

The team at Inspired Property Management would like to wish all our tenants and clients a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

We look forward to seeing you all in 2019.

Our offices will be closed from the 17.00pm on Friday the 21st December and will reopen again on at 9.00am on Wednesday the 2nd January.

For any emergencies out of our normal working hours, including flood issues please contact the emergency number below.

Urgent maintenance or emergencies: 01302 249 349

To view our latest news please visit our website

The impact of advances in AI on your home

Over the next five years, we are about to witness the world we live in entirely disrupted by improvements in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

Children today are growing up with AI assistants in their homes (Google Assistant, Siri and Alexa and the newly launched Vector Anki aimed at children) — to the point that you might consider their mere presence an extension of home organisation and home assistance. As voice and facial recognition continue to evolve, machine learning algorithms are getting smarter. More and more industries are being influenced by AI, and our society as we know it is transforming.

We all have various technology we use in our everyday lives like our smartphones, laptops, tablets and fit bit devices but with the ever evolving changes in technology, are we getting nearer to a home run by A1?

New technology is now available like the smart thermostat or smart lighting which can save you money, but what’s infinitely more exciting to people is the smart home could offload any decisions/choices and work by completing tasks independently.

A Smart Home Driven By Artificial Intelligence

In many industries, when you interview an ambitious leader, he or she will talk with you about how they will reinvent factory-built housing or the fitness space or retail. However, in some, people will talk about how they are part of an ecosystem and how their success is in large part predicated on the success of other companies in the ecosystem. In the case of the smart home, almost all of the players I interviewed talked about a future where the holy grail was a home driven by Artificial Intelligence.

Think of Artificial Intelligence as computing power that is able to perform particularly complex tasks that would otherwise require a human brain to perform. A motion sensor might trigger a light to turn on. But if a home had Artificial Intelligence, it might consider the time of day, the person walking around the home, and where she was walking in deciding which light to turn on and how long to keep it on for. Not every person I spoke to used the words “Artificial Intelligence.” A hot phrase you’ll hear again and again from experts is that a house needs to be “aware” or “contextually aware” before you can bring Artificial Intelligence into the home.

Let’s imagine the universe of things a house can be aware of: it can be aware of the presence of the people who live in the house (along with their personas); it can be aware of what they’re doing; it can even be aware of what every device in the house is doing. If you want the house to think like a human, the house needs to be able to analyse the data a human would analyse before making a decision.

Whether you are pro A1 or not this is definitely something which is shaping our homes in the future.

Changes to the rules concerning assured shorthold tenancies for Landlords

Changes to the rules concerning Assured Shorthold Tenancies come into place on 1 October this year.

How will this affect you as a landlord?

The Act brought into force new rules in which Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) in England could be granted and terminated, which can restrict the Landlord’s ability to serve a notice under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 to terminate the AST.

Between 1 October 2015 and 1 October 2018 these requirements only applied to an AST created on or after 1 October 2015. However, from 1 October 2018 the requirements will apply to all ASTs irrespective of when the AST was granted.

Q. What is the effect of the act?

A. A landlord will only be able to serve a Section 21 Notice once he has first complied with the regulatory requirements under the Act. These are that the landlord must have provided the tenant with the following:
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) free of charge.
A Gas Certificate.
The current version of the ‘How to Rent: The Checklist for Renting in England’ booklet.

Q. What if the tenancy was granted prior to 1st October 2015?

A. There is no longer the option of serving the non-prescribed form of Section 21 Notice which does not require compliance with the Act. Only the prescribed form of Section 21 Notice can be used from 1 October 2018.

Q. Can the landlord comply with the requirements after the tenancy has been granted?

A. This is a topic of much debate. In a recent County Court case which is non-binding which was heard in February this year, it was held that the Gas Safety Certificate must be provided to the tenant at the start of the tenancy and that a Landlord is unlikely to be able to serve a Section 21 Notice where it is served late.
The view is that it cannot have been Parliament’s intention to give a tenant full security of tenure and the Landlord cannot be forever precluded from serving a Section 21 Notice. Binding authority is required to give clarity.

Q. Does the landlord have to use the prescribed form of Section 21 Notice?

A. Yes, from 1 October 2018 the prescribed form of Section 21 Notice must be used for all ASTs.

Q. Can possession proceedings be issued after 1 October 2018 relying on a Section 21 Notice served before 1 October 2018 which was not in the prescribed form?

A Yes, the Act should not affect the ability to issue proceedings after 1 October 2018 but relying on a Section 21 Notice which was correctly served prior to that date.

Q. Will the Court grant possession where there has not been compliance with the statutory requirements for an AST granted before 1 October 2015?

A. It remains to be seen whether the Courts will grant possession where a prescribed form Section 21 Notice has been served on or after 1 October 2018 but the Act’s requirements had not been complied with prior to 1 October 2018. It cannot be the case that the landlord will forever be prevented from obtaining possession although Courts may not be sympathetic when faced with a landlord who has failed to take action during the three year transitional period.

Q. Will it affect the accelerated possession procedure?

A. The current Claim Form for Accelerated Possession requires compliance with the Act’s requirements. There are therefore difficulties with using the current claim form and relying on the accelerated possession procedure when the Act has not been complied with for pre 2015 tenancies.

From 1 October 2018, a landlord may only be able to proceed by means of the ordinary possession procedure route.

Holiday Checklist before leaving your apartment

We’re always a little nervous after we leave our apartment for a long holiday. Are we going to come home to a stinky house because we forgot to take out the trash? Will I have a leak? Let us help to allay them with this handy checklist of things to do before you leave your apartment.

Compiled from our own experience of queries we have received from tenants and our excellent customer service team. This list can help you remember everything that is easy to forget in the excitement of preparing for a trip of any length of time. Follow this list and we promise you won’t come home to a stinky house (and hopefully you won’t have a swimming pool newly installed in your bedroom, too).

Temporarily stop mail and newspaper delivery

 or arrange for a neighbour to take care of it.

Prepay bills

that will come due while you are away or any service charges for your apartment.

Finish up perishable food in your refrigerator

or donate to neighbours.

Take out the trash and recycling

no one likes returning to a smelly house.

Do the dishes

you’ll be so glad on your return

Run your garbage disposal

to stop any nasty smells on your return

Coming home food

leave a meal waiting in the freezer

Unplug appliances like

coffee machine, computer, TV and other appliances and electronics. Make sure any electronics left plugged in have surge protection

Time your lights

or consider doing this to keep burglars at bay.

Turn down the AC and heat

 unless of course a pet sitter and pets will be there and think of the season you are too.

Put on clean sheets

 it’s always nice to come home to a clean bed.

Water plants

or arrange for a neighbour to water them

Close and lock windows

to make sure your apartment is secure

If you’ve got a spare key hidden

 somewhere outside your house, you may want to remove it, unless of course, you’ve forgotten to take your key on vacation with you.

Sprinkle a little baking soda

 in toilets and down the sink drains to avoid coming home to the stench of stagnant water.

Make sure you have not left any wet clothes

 in your washing machine or drier. Consider turning off all the water, but at least turn off the water supply to your to washing machines, dishwashers, ice-makers and toilets.

Now turn on your email out of office.

 Do this even if you are planning on checking email. It will relieve you of the pressure to answer quickly and reduce the number of emails you get.

Got any great tips that we have missed, then why not email one o our team.

Happy Holidays…

9 HOT TIPS TO COOL DOWN YOUR APARTMENT

How to keep cool in your apartment when the thermometer rises

The UK is currently experiencing one of the longest, summer heat waves since records began. While some apartment-dwellers have been blessed with air conditioning, many other apartments haven’t required such a luxury, as the UK is not known for it’s long hot summers. The team at IPM have put together some tips of how to keep your home cool when the thermometer goes up.

Keep your blinds closed

Did you know that limiting the amount of sunlight coming into your house can help keep your house cool? Sunlight carries a large amount of heat, and blocking it out can mean estimated savings of 10-15% on your cooling costs.

Leave those doors open

Nothing halts a cooling breeze or draft quicker than a closed door. By allowing air to circulate naturally, your apartment will automatically feel cooler.

Use this ice-cold fan hack

Yes, this really does work. Fill a large bowl with ice or ice packs and put it directly in front of a fan. When the fan blows across the ice, it produces an air conditioner-like chill that’s sure to cool you down.

Don’t forget those extractor fans

While we’re on the subject of fans, why not put those exhaust fans you have in kitchen and bathroom to good use? Both can suck the hot air out, allowing cooler air to move in — particularly useful after a cooking session or a hot shower.

Think about fabrics

Are your sheets, pillowcases, pyjamas or other clothing summer-friendly? It might be time to step away from the flannel and fleece. Switching your fabrics to cottons and other lightweight material lets your body breathe easier and stay cooler.

Chill yourself out

While your apartment may be hot, there are still things you can do to ensure you’re keeping yourself as chilled as possible. Focus on wearing lightweight clothing and use a cold washcloth to cool down areas such as your head and neck. A cool bath can also be very refreshing, and don’t forget to keep downing the ice-cold drinks.

Make use of the night

When it comes to cooling your apartment, nighttime is indeed the right time. Temperatures generally fall in the evenings, giving you a chance to set up some fans near your windows and suck in that cool breeze.

Stop cooking indoors

It’s a fact: when you turn on the oven, it heats up your apartment. Instead of meals that require your oven, focus on cooling summer salads, BBQ’ing outdoors or even look into a slow cooker which can cook your food without all the extra kitchen heat.

Keeping your apartment cool in the summer is no easy feat without an air conditioner. What are some of your top tricks for staying cool when the thermometer is in the red? Share your tips with the IPM team and we’d be happy to publish them here.

Be cool!

 

World Cup Fever

Football can change the way friends, neighbours, especially people of different political opinion, ethnic nationality think about one another.

Although other sports have the capability of bringing people together the number of countries and people involved in these sports: basketball, handball misnamed football and long tennis or volley ball and tracks among others are small compared to the number of people who play, watch and act as soccer fans.

The World Cup can still be a magical time in the city, seeing pockets of people gather to watch and cheer and talk. The world’s game, celebrated in cities all around the UK by different cultures and nationalities. For a few weeks, it is everywhere you look. In bars and restaurants and cafes. In living rooms. In the lobbies of office towers and the TV screens behind the counters in variety stores and gas stations.

The games themselves are exciting to watch, but many of us find them more fun if we have a community to watch them with. The current World Cup 2018 is a great opportunity to bring friends and neighbours together. Endless possibilities abound with the latest World Cup and England’s current top performing team.

The eight last-16 ties will be played from from Friday 30 June to Tuesday 3 July. On each day of football, one match will kick-off at 3pm UK time and one match at 7pm.

Teams that have reached the last 16

  • Uruguay (winners of Group A)
  • Russia (runners-up in Group A)
  • Spain (winners of Group B)
  • Portugal (runners-up in Group B)
  • France (winners of Group C)
  • Denmark (runners-up in Group C)
  • Croatia (winners of Group D)
  • Argentina (runners-up in Group D)
  • Brazil (winners in Group E)
  • Switzerland (runners-up in Group E)
  • Sweden (winners in Group F)
  • Mexico (runners-up in Group F)
  • Belgium (winners in Group G)
  • England (runners-up in Group G)
  • Colombia (winners in Group H)
  • Japan (runners-up in Group H)

Why not get to know your neighbours better and invite them to join you in watching the next game. Football helps bring people and communities together.

Recycle your rubbish

Recycle your rubbish the right way!

Not a month goes by when the IPM office doesn’t hear about issues with rubbish or recycling at one of the blocks of flats which we manage.

Missed Bin Collection

Sometimes the issue is to do with the council. This is an issue which is easily rectified, but it must be done as soon as possible. If the council have missed a bin collection, then they must be notified within 24 hours in order for them to reallocate a collection to your property. Most councils now prefer for these issues to be addressed via online forms, so it is actually much easier and more effective for the issue to be directly addressed by you, the leaseholder or tenant, rather than us dealing with the issue. The form you are asked to fill out doesn’t account for third party interests such as block management companies, so it is much easier for a resident to contact the council directly.

Sort your rubbish the right way

Another refuse issue occurs due to residents not disposing of their refuse correctly. Lots of the sites we manage have bin areas, which can be accessed by residents (normally via a coded lock) and by the people who collect the refuse. Simply leaving your rubbish in the bin area, i.e. not putting it in the relevant bin means the council will not collect it. It could be either refuse or recycling, and as such the council will not collect it.

Don’t follow the lead

This initial issue means that others will start to follow by example, leaving their rubbish bags in the bin store instead of in the bins themselves. Before long, piles of rubbish are in the way. The council will not collect from sites with this issue, which means a private contractor would need to be instructed, at a cost to leaseholders’ service charges. If we can prove that a particular tenant left rubbish, we will charge it back to that tenant.

Paper means paper

Recycling also causes an issue. As soon as there is any cross-contamination from refuse to recycling, the council will not be able to collect. This will also incur a cost to the site, by having to instruct a contractor to reorganise the recycling.

Rubbish and recycling will always be a contentious issue as it involves both communal and personal responsibility. We all have a responsibility to recycling where we can. Not only that, but communal living necessitates respect for your neighbours. Everyone wants to live in a clean and safe environment, and we can all do our best to make sure that happens.

For more information about your developments recycling procedures you can contact your IPM development manager directly.

Can I have a pet in my apartment?

We are a nation of animal lovers. 1 in 2 households own a pet, with around 20 million pets owned in total. It is no wonder that residential property agents are frequently asked if pets are allowed in flats?

Can I have a pet in my apartment?

Landlords are often reluctant to let tenants keep a pet in their rental flat as there are often concerns about potential damage or noise caused by the animal. 78% of pet owners have had trouble finding a flat which allows pets, advises a survey by the Dogs Trust.

It’s important to check your tenancy agreement to see if there is a ‘no pets’ clause before you move in. If a landlord does allow pets, make sure that you get their agreement in writing. The landlord might have a covenant that allows them to withdraw their agreement if problems arise that impact the neighbours or damage the interior of the property.

It is also vital to inform the estate agent or property management company of your requirements for your pet when you are looking to rent or buy a property. When you buy a flat, it is most likely to be leasehold. If this is the case, the terms of the lease will specify whether you are allowed a pet in the property or in the grounds and what if any restrictions there are.

The other consideration that has to be prioritised when looking to keep a pet in a flat which is also very important, is the welfare of the animal. Many dogs and cats could be unhappy confined to a flat, especially if they don’t have easy access to a garden or outdoor space.

How do I find out if you can’t have a pet in my flat?

All leasehold flats will have a lease, which sets out the rules that you have to abide by. Pets aren’t the only potential restrictive clause in a property lease and you should look out for others. Subletting may seem an obvious one but even hanging your clothes to dry on your windows might be prohibited, alongside the installation of individual satellite dishes or aerials, more likely in listed or older properties.

What if pets aren’t in the lease?

If there is no mention of pets within the property lease yet the landlord refuses permission to keep a pet, they may argue that pets aren’t allowed under a general nuisance clause. However, the landlord would struggle to enforce this if the issue was taken to court without concrete evidence of what was deemed to be causing the nuisance.
What are the penalties for breaking the terms of my lease?

Under the unfair terms regulations – part of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 – you should be able to request that you can keep your pet in your flat despite a clause in the lease against it.

Be wary of a landlord who removes the wording that says a tenant can apply for permission to keep a pet. If a landlord does this, this automatically renders the clause unfair and so – in theory – nothing in the tenancy agreement will stop you from keeping a pet.

If the freeholder then gives their consent to allow you to have a pet, your solicitor will ask the freeholder for this agreement in writing. You could be taken to court by the freeholder if you breach a no pets clause on your lease. The court would then order you to remove your pet from the flat.

If you can show that there will be no problems with your pet, this will give you a stronger case. Your landlord will be concerned about potential noise and any possible damage to the property. They may consider allowing you to keep a pet if you can pay for the flat to be professionally deep cleaned when you leave. This could be funded using your deposit.

If you keep a pet against the clause and are on a shorthold tenancy agreement, the landlord can evict you using the section 21 procedure or simply refuse to extend your tenancy at the end of the term. If the animal is clearly inappropriate to be kept in the flat, the landlord has the right to take you to court even if you have a long fixed term tenancy agreement.

If you are a landlord and want to allow pets in your rental property, a tenancy agreement with clear terms and conditions will protect your property. You can specify what pets you will allow and refuse and who will look after the animal if the tenant is unable to do so.

Are guide dogs are allowed in flats?

You are not automatically entitled to keep an assistance dog in a flat. In the case of Thomas-Ashley v Drum Housing Association Ltd [2010] EWCA Civ 265 a disabled tenant was not allowed to keep a dog in their flat, despite the dog being critical to maintaining the tenant’s health. This was not considered to be discrimination against disability by law as the terms on the lease were clear and applied to all.

As a flat owner, how can I be prevented from keeping a pet?

You can’t be prevented from having a pet if you own the freehold to the flat, however when you buy a flat, most properties are typically leasehold. You will therefore need the freeholder’s permission to keep a pet in the property, as you would if you were renting.

You should check the property leasehold to find out if there is:

– A no pets clause
– A statement saying that prior consent is needed before you can keep a pet

Including a no pets clause in a lease is straightforward. The clause should be written clearly and explicitly and it should forbid any pets being kept in the flat, even temporarily. It should highlight the actions that will be taken if there is a violation, plus any costs that may be incurred.

A statement asking for prior consent should make clear that each pet will be considered separately – it is not a blanket authorisation. The leaseholder has the right to refuse any pet. The clause should also highlight that if permission for a pet is granted, each rule must be adhered to, otherwise the privilege can be automatically revoked.

Most landlords don’t allow pets in their flats due to risk of damage to the property, however by allowing pets in flats landlords may be able to attract more prospective tenants. Tenants with pets also tend to stay in their flat for longer, meaning a lower turnover rate and potentially higher revenue.

Always check and then check again!