The three big priorities renters are looking for in 2021

As we continue with imposed regional restrictions in 2021, we are reminded of how it began and what it has taught us all so far.

The March lockdown caught many people off-guard and the world was forced to adapt quicker than they had ever expected. The letting market is no different. Tenant priorities have changed, as they look for new features within their tenancies and their properties.

Bigger spaces

Lockdown restrictions and social distancing guidelines throughout the year have forced people to assess their living situations. As more people are working remotely, the demand for extra working spaces has risen. This has been evident in larger cities where extra space, whether indoors or outdoors, can come at a premium. The rise of the home office has pushed tenants to look elsewhere to properties that can match that demand and give them that extra space.

A noticeable trend is the growth in appetite for properties outside of the capital and large cities in the UK. Not needing to be in such close proximity to the office has allowed prospective tenants to widen their radius. Pre-COVID, the thought of living in a city centre high-rise apartment complex wouldn’t come with too many challenges.

Now however, the isolation factor may still linger even with recent news of a potential upcoming vaccine. Time will tell when, and if, normality significantly returns, but people won’t forget. The idea of living in a different type of property, in a different area and possibly nearer family is becoming more popular.

Longer tenancies

The desire for tenants to stay in larger properties for longer has accelerated during 2020. Properties with more indoor and outdoor space have taken precedence over city-centre flats in close proximity to the office. This has ultimately increased the average tenancy length across the board.

Recent data from, Zoopla, indicates that tenant demand in rental property continues to rise. On average, demand from tenants in the private rental sector in September rose by 20% compared to the previous year. This increase has pushed prospective tenants to look for longer rental periods.

While the housing market remains open, remote and virtual management is highly encouraged. IPM are already at the forefront of technology by using their app to help manage, assess and communicate with tenants.

More flexibility

While 2020 has forced many people to adapt, it has also encouraged them to be flexible. More people are looking to try new areas, new properties and new ways of living before they commit to a purchase. This has been the case even pre-COVID.

However, what we are seeing now is more people trying new areas and properties that they otherwise would not have considered. For example, the growth in demand from London-based individuals for properties outside of the capital attests to this.

By renting, tenants can analyse the short to medium-term with an eye on the long-term. What they value now, or previously, might have changed. Tenants can see how the economy responds and whether a vaccine will return us to a more normal working/living environment.

For many, living further away from work and working from home has encouraged a better work/life balance. This trend is showing no signs of slowing down. Therefore, it is becoming clearer how significant the rental sector is for the future of the housing market.

Flexibility doesn’t just mean in terms of how people want to live, but the way the live with the increased rise in pet ownership. Many tenants are looking for flexibility in their leases to allow pets and designated exercise areas within their developments.

There are lots to think about in 2021 but the biggest factor is how we all adapt to these new changes.

 

IPM announce new director appointment

IPM ANNOUNCE NEW DIRECTOR APPOINTMENT

IPM is expanding the board of directors further with the appointment of Chris Peters as a new director of Inspired Property Management effective from the 1st December 2020. The appointment will expand the board of directors from four to five independent directors, bringing valuable experience and insight to the board. This appointment will enable the board of directors to enhance its commercial experience and operational insight, particularly within property industry.

Chris has worked within the property sector for over 10 years’ specialising in leasehold management and is a qualified member of the Institute of Residential Property Managers. Bringing a wealth of experience and a proven track record as a pivotal member of the management team, Chris has worked within some of the largest property management companies across the UK.

 

Chris Peters, director at Inspired Property Management, said: “It was an exciting new chapter to hear the board of Inspired Property Management had invited me to join their dynamic and growing company as a member of the board of Directors. It will be a great honour to work alongside Andrew, David, Danielle and Sarah in being part of an evolving team providing strategy and direction to an expanding and modern company.”

“The focus Inspired Property Management has on providing bespoke and tailored management solutions to their clients and customers, made accepting the offer to join the board of Directors an easy one to make. I am excited to help the company continue to grow in what is an ever changing and challenging environment for the property industry”

 

Danielle Parker, director at Inspired Property Management, commented: “I am delighted to have Chris join us at this important and exciting time. The appointment comes as we embark on an exciting time of expansion and we believe his input will be key in enhancing our service delivery to both clients and leaseholders.”

“As we prepare to navigate our way out of the challenges caused by Covid-19, our first-class leasehold property team, headed by Chris, whose experience and expertise is second to none, will steer us in the right direction. We’re confident about the future and our commitment to growth.”

 

IPM continues to go from strength-to-strength after making a number of strategic new hires and investing in technology within their business to allow for growth and development and become a more client focussed organisation.

 

Who is responsible?

Who is responsible for things like lights, lifts, lawned areas?

When it comes to the practicalities of looking after lifts, lighting and lawns within blocks of flats and apartments, whose responsibility is it to maintain them?

The best place to begin is your lease as this will have all the details about who is managing what aspect of your building and communal areas.

Your Lease

Your Lease should be the first document you turn to and is vital when it comes to owning your flat through a leasehold. This document will give you an overview of your responsibilities and what conditions you’ve agreed to. Examples of what your responsibilities are include:

  • if you require permission to make alterations
  • how much you’ll have to pay in maintain charges to maintain your property
  • whether you or your landlord has responsibility for repairs and dealing with noisy neighbours

As you will know (or hopefully know!) if you have bought a flat (and that could be a house broken up into flats or a purpose built block of flats, etc), then normally the leasehold you own relates to everything within the 4 walls of your flat.

This obvious leaves out the communal areas which will need to be maintained and this is usually undertaken by a property management company.

The freeholder usually appoints a company of professional managing agents who look after the overall maintenance. That’s where the fees for the maintenance come into play.

It’s well worth reminding yourself what SERVICE CHARGES and GROUND RENTS are and what you are paying for, and that includes knowing who’s in charge of repairs to internal communal areas. We will write about Service Charges and Major Works in this article only.

Service Charges

Have a look back over your lease as it will set out the way your service charges are organised and what can (or can’t) be charged. Most flat owners will pay a service charge, and if that’s you, you have the right to:

  • ask for a summary showing how the charge is worked out and what it’s spent on
  • see any paperwork supporting the summary, such as receipts

Your landlord must give you access to this information – it can be an offence if they don’t. Get to know the property managing agents and what their roles are. Most flat owners will have lights, lifts, gates and other communal services that need to be maintained, not just for aesthetics or convenience, but for safety too. Sometimes these items require additional repairs (outside the normal services charges).

Buildings insurance is normally covered by the service charges (you should stay on top of Contents Insurance) so again, check your lease and make sure you know what’s covered should something happen that requires insurers to cover a problem.

Generally speaking, the lease asks the leaseholder to be held responsible for looking after the part of the building they lease, such as:

  • internal plumbing
  • wiring
  • plasterwork and floorboards
  • the paintwork and decoration of their flat
  • any carpets
  • furniture and appliances

Major Works

Some major repairs may need to be paid in addition to services charges. Major works are usually the responsibility of the landlord.

Q. What funds do they come out of?

A. A reserve fund (or “sinking fund”) if available.

Leaseholders may pay into a sinking fund or reserve fund over a number of years. Leasehold law comes under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 so the term “major works” (sometimes known as “qualifying works”) is a term used under this Act. Alternatively, demands for the works may be sent out to leaseholders.

Q. How much do they cost?

A. If the costs of major works are going to be in excess of £250 for any one leaseholder, then the landlord is required to consult with leaseholders under Section 20.

Q. What is a Section 20?

A. There are three main notices that must be served on the leaseholders under a Section 20:

1. Notice of intention: This Notice must describe the proposed works, why the works are being considered and offer an invite to the leaseholders to make written observations within 30 days.

2. Notification of estimates: When the 30 day consultation period expires, it’s time for at least 2 estimates to be obtained by the landlord from contractors to carry out the works.

The landlord must provide to the leaseholder a Statement of Estimates setting out details of quotes obtained together with a summary of observations (received within the consultation period). The leaseholders are then invited to make observations (in writing) of those estimates within 30 days.

TIP: If this ever comes up, speak to a leasehold property lawyer to get more help, and look through Flat Living for more updates and tips on Major Works and what qualifies for the same.

3. Notification of award of contract: If you are not a legal professional or heavily into property law, this can all seem a little daunting and complicated. Essentially, this third part includes the why and what from contractors’ estimates and the leaseholders must be kept informed. Ultimately it’s a notification for you (as a leaseholder) as to why the landlord chose the contractor for the repair the major works. There are many variables to consider when gaining estimates from contractors, and sometimes the cheapest isn’t the best one.

You only have to pay into a sinking fund if your lease says you have to.

When we mention MAJOR WORKS, in property law and in leasehold terms, it means works that are required to maintain the building or premises, at an extra cost by the tenant under the terms of the lease through a “top service charge”.

If you are thinking of buying a flat it is SO important to get really good legal advice or the best leasehold lawyers on it, because there may be some works due, or the building, lift, gate or lighting may be particularly old or in need of some major TLC!

Conclusion

The law dictates that leaseholders paying variable service charges must be consulted before a landlord carries out qualifying works or enters into a long-term agreement for the provision of services.

When you are buying your flat (congratulations!) as a leaseholder, speak to your solicitor or instruct a solicitor of your choice that is recommended to you.

As a leaseholder, there are many aspects of a lease and it’s really worth understanding your requirements before signing on the dotted line. If the stairs, gates, lifts, lighting and other communal working parts, look like they are old, out of date or might be an expensive addition to the usual services to repair, speaking to a specialist lawyer will guide you with the best advice going forward.

Credit goes to LMP Law, for the overview of who is responsible.

Top Tips for Working Remotely

With phase two of lockdown now heading our way, it’s again time to get your motivation back for remote working.  Sounds easy, right?

Not for everyone. The newfound freedom is tough for some employees to adjust to, especially going back into the second phase, so better to have a plan and structure in place to keep up your productivity. Since companies rarely explain effective ways to work remotely, IPM have put together a few recommendations that have helped their team with working from home.

Remote working is becoming more common, so consider the habits below to get the most out of the days you’re not in the office.

1. Find a workspace

First, you’ll have room to spread out your work materials — such as papers, books, and reports — and leave them out the entire day. This beats working at the kitchen table. Then, you have to clean up your materials for lunch; get everything out to work in the afternoon; and clear everything away for dinner. Second, a dedicated workspace can help your motivation. When you go to this designated space, you know that it’s time to work.

2. Invest in work materials

I’ve worked for both type of companies and find that having the right materials, whether or not I buy them, is well worth it. Investing in a few supplies is a relatively minimal cost to do great work and maintain the autonomy working remotely offers.

3. Make a schedule

I also schedule breaks. For example, after writing an article for two hours, I’ll take a 15-minute break. Taking breaks is an important part of managing your energy throughout the day. Leaving your home or apartment for a bit and taking a walk is a great way to boost your energy levels for the afternoon ahead.

4. Communicate with colleagues

I find it helpful to check digital communication tools at designated times during my day. When I create my daily schedule, I note when I’ll check email and Slack, for example. Some people set up an automatic response on their email, alerting colleagues when they should expect a response. And still others, like managers, may find it helpful to tell team members in advance when they’re available to talk or respond to emails.

5. Have designated work clothes

6. Reduce distractions

7. Determine the end of your workday

That’s why it’s important to determine in advance when you’re workday will end. Include this in your daily plan discussed above. Then, close your laptop and place it in your book bag or close your office door so your computer is out of sight.

8. Use your peak hours effectively

The answer to such questions can help you determine your peak work periods. I’m a morning person; I prefer working early in the morning and immediately after lunch. I prioritize my important tasks for these periods and the save less-important stuff for later in the day when I’m mentally fatigued. Knowing when you work best can help you get the most out of your day.

More companies should explain how employees can be effective when working remotely. Until then, try out the above suggestions and see what works best for you.

Green Homes Grant Scheme Now Open

The UK Government announced back on the 30th September, applications had  opened for the Green Homes Grant Scheme, which allows landlords and homeowners to apply for a grant of up to £10,000 towards the cost of making homes more energy efficient.

The Green Homes Grant Scheme

On 8 July 2020, the UK Government announced the Green Home Grants Scheme for landlords and homeowners to help make their property more energy efficient.

Under the scheme landlords and homeowners in England can apply for a voucher to fund at least two-thirds of the cost of hiring tradespeople to upgrade the energy performance of their homes, up to a maximum contribution of £5,000 or up to £10,000 for lower-income households.

The aim of the Green Home Grant is to upgrade over 600,000 homes across England, with the UK Government saying that this will save households hundreds of pounds per year on their energy bills.

The scheme is now open for applications, if you’d like to find out more please click on the link below.

Apply for a Green Homes Grant

Preparing for a change in temperature in your property

Lettings agents’ group ARLA Propertymark has issued a seven point guide for landlords as winter approaches.

The guide ensures the points are Covid-secure, and are:

1. Clear out the gutters: Falling leaves may look picturesque, but they can cause big problems if left untouched in your gutter. Frozen water, heavy leaves and blockages can all lead to leaks and water damage or even broken gutters, so it’s important to keep them clear from any debris to minimise the risk.

2. Keep it breezy: When it’s cold or wet outside, windows usually stay shut; however, this can lead to condensation in your property which can cause damp. You should speak to and educate your tenants on the issue and encourage them to open windows in particularly humid areas such as the kitchen and bathroom. You can also help by ensuring extractor fans are working properly in these areas.

3. Bleed the radiators: If your tenants are feeling cold despite having the heating on, it could mean that the radiators need bleeding. Bleeding the radiators doesn’t need to be a big job and it will make sure the pipes in your property are being heated properly when the temperature drops. The best thing to do is to speak to your tenants and explain that this will keep them warmer too! Alternatively, if local restrictions permit it, you can go to your property and bleed the radiators yourself. Remember to speak to your tenants before visiting to make sure that they are not shielding, self-isolating and do not have any symptoms of COVID-19. It’s also important to remember to socially distance and wear a mask to protect them once inside the property.

4. Trip Hazards: Wet and cold weather leads to slippery drives and icey steps, but this can also lead to cracks in pathways which may cause tenants to trip and fall. In order to prevent this, it’s best to stay on top of any existing cracks from small to large and either get someone professional to fix them or clear the debris and fill them yourself.

5. Check the boiler: It’s good practice to get your boiler serviced around once a year, but with lower temperatures outside, tenants will be making the most of their heating, especially as many will be working from their homes, so it could be worth getting an extra service. As long as your tenant is not self-isolating, they can allow a plumber into the property to check the boiler works efficiently which will keep them warm and your property in good condition.

6. Safety first: With long dark nights drawing in, it’s worth double checking that the burglar alarm and security lights are working in your property. Tenants might not be out and about as much as expected due to social distancing restrictions, but with less natural light, a visible alarm can still be a good deterrent. You may also want to consider chatting to your tenants to make sure they don’t leave expensive items on display which could attract thieves when they are out the property.

7. Insurance: Even with all of these checks, things can still go wrong particularly if the weather really takes a turn, so you should ensure your current home insurance is up to date and check the policy gives sufficient protection for any weather-related damage particularly to your boiler and roof.

Jenrick extends ban on evictions and notice periods

The ban on evictions extended for another 4 weeks and new 6 month notice periods to be in place until at least 31 March 2021.

Renters affected by coronavirus will continue to be protected after the government extended the ban on evictions for another 4 weeks, meaning in total no legal evictions will have taken place for 6 months, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced on the 21st August 2020.

The government also intends to give tenants greater protection from eviction over the winter by requiring landlords to provide tenants with 6 months’ notice in all bar those cases raising other serious issues such as those involving anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse perpetrators, until at least the end of March.

The government will keep these measures under review with decisions guided by the latest public health advice.

When courts do resume eviction hearings they will carefully prioritise the most egregious cases, ensuring landlords are able to progress the most serious cases, such as those involving anti-social behaviour and other crimes, as well as where landlords have not received rent for over a year and would otherwise face unmanageable debts.

The government has taken unprecedented action to support renters during the pandemic, preventing people getting into financial hardship and helping businesses to pay salaries – meaning no tenants have been evicted since the start.

As a result, according to independent research, 87% of tenants have continued to pay full rent since the start of the pandemic, with a further 8% agreeing reduced fees with their landlords.

The vast majority of landlords have shown understanding and leadership, taking action to support tenants.

With coronavirus still posing an ongoing risk to public health, the government will continue to take action where necessary to further protect households in both the private and social rented sector are supported over winter, helping to keep them safe.

Today’s extension to the stay and 6 month notice periods will ensure those most at risk are protected. If tenants are unable to afford their rent we encourage them to speak to their landlord to agree a solution, and some households may decide to consider moving.

Government will continue to work with the judiciary and stakeholders to ensure that the courts are prepared for eviction cases to be heard safely.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP said:

I know this year has been challenging and all of us are still living with the effects of COVID-19. That is why today I am announcing a further 4 week ban on evictions, meaning no renters will have been evicted for 6 months.

I am also increasing protections for renters – 6 month notice periods must be given to tenants, supporting renters over winter.

However, it is right that the most egregious cases, for example those involving anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse perpetrators, begin to be heard in court again; and so when courts reopen, landlords will once again be able to progress these priority cases.

Further information

Case listing, including prioritisation, is a judicial function and we are working with the judiciary through the Master of the Rolls’ Working Group on possession to consider the categories of serious cases that would be prioritised when hearings resume. Further detail on those categories will be set out in due course and we will engage with key stakeholders on this.

Independent polling for the National Residential Landlords Associationrecently found that 87% of private tenants have paid their rent as normal throughout the pandemic so far. An additional 8% said that they had agreed a reduced rent, a rent-free period or made some other agreement with their landlord or letting agent.

The extension to the ban on evictions and prioritisation of the most serious case applies to courts in England and Wales

The intention to extend notice periods to 6 month applies to England only.

On 5 June the government announced that the suspension of housing possession cases in the courts had been extended by a further 2 months.

To support those on Universal Credit or Housing Benefit in the private rented sector, Local Housing Allowance rates have been set to the 30th percentile of rents in each area. For those who require additional support Discretionary Housing Payments are available.

As announced at the spending round for 2020/21 there is already £180 million in Discretionary Housing Payments for Local authorities to distribute for supporting renters with housing costs in the private and social rented sectors.

We remain committed to bringing forward reforms to provide greater security to tenants, but it is only right that this is balanced with an assurance that landlords are able to recover their properties where they have valid reasons to do so. This is vital to ensuring the future supply of good quality housing in the rented sector.

We will bring forward legislation in due course, once the urgencies of responding to the pandemic have passed, to deliver a better deal for renters and a fairer more effective rental market.

SOURCE: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/jenrick-extends-ban-on-evictions-and-notice-periods

IPM welcomes new director, Sarah Parkyn

NEW DIRECTOR APPOINTMENT AT IPM

IPM is excited to welcome Sarah Parkyn as a new director of Inspired Property Management effective from the 1st August 2020. The appointment will expand the board of directors from three to four independent directors, bringing valuable experience and insight to the board. This appointment will enable the board of directors to enhance its commercial experience and operational insight, particularly within property industry.

Sarah is an award-winning property manager with over 20 years’ experience in the property management. In 2019, Sarah won two awards for achieving the most outstanding exam papers in both the Associate and Membership exams for the IRPM, resulting in her MIRPM and AssocRICS qualification. Sarah will continue her role as Director at Resident’s Quarter alongside her new appointment.

Sarah Parkyn, director at Inspired Property Management, said: “It’s a huge honour to have been appointed as a director at IPM, especially during these challenging times as this shows IPM’s continued commitment to growth and leadership for the business. I’m excited about working closely with Danielle Parker and David Poppleton to contribute to the strategic leadership and management of the company. IPM provide a fantastic service for their customers, and are highly regarded as professional leasehold block managers.”

“Having worked as the director of Residents Quarter Limited with Danielle and David over the last three years, I have witnessed first-hand their dedication to making IPM, one of the leading Property Management agencies in the Country. I’m thrilled to be joining them to lead the team and take the next steps for future growth at the company.”

Danielle Parker, director at Inspired Property Management, commented: “I am delighted to have Sarah join us at this important and exciting time. As we have previously worked with Sarah, we understood her drive and experience within the industry and felt this was a good fit as part of the leadership team to continue with the expansion plans for the business.”

“Sarah is an exceptionally qualified and experienced director who will utilise her vast knowledge to ensure the further development of IPM through the next phase of growth, she will have my full support and that of our other directors. I am excited for what we will achieve now and in the future.”

New leasehold reforms to ‘transform the future of home ownership’

The Law Commission of England and Wales has published a package of leasehold reforms which it says will “transform home ownership for millions of people in England and Wales”.

The improvements would make it easier and cheaper for homeowners to buy the freehold, extend their lease, or convert to commonhold. The reforms will also pave the way for a system where flats are sold with freehold title (as part of a commonhold).

The reforms would also make it easier and cheaper for leaseholders to take over the management of their building without buying the freehold, by exercising the right to manage.

It has been estimated there are at least 4.3 million leasehold homes in England alone.

The reforms – laid out in three reports – work in tandem with planned changes from the Government, but the Law Commission says it is ultimately up to Government to decide whether the reforms should be compulsory (in all or some circumstances), incentivised, or left optional.

The first report, the Enfranchisement report, recommends changes to make the scheme of enfranchisement rights work more smoothly and efficiently. This would allow buildings with up to 50% non-residential space would qualify (rather than 25%, as is currently the case), as well as enabling leaseholders to make a claim straightaway, rather than having to wait for two years.

Additionally, the price to purchase a block would be reduced by allowing leaseholders to compel landlords to take “leasebacks” of some flats.

Leaseholders would be able to buy the freehold of multiple buildings at once and a new right to a lease extension for a term of 990 years would be introduced, in place of shorter extensions of 90 or 50 years under the current law.

The second report, the Right to Manage report, recommends the removal of existing obligations on leaseholders to pay the landlord’s costs of the RTM process, including of any Tribunal action.

It also wants to make the RTM claims process easier by reducing the number of notices that leaseholders must serve, and giving the Tribunal the power to waive minor procedural mistakes in the process.

The third report, the Commonhold report, sets out a plan to make commonhold not just a workable alternative to residential leasehold for all involved, but the preferred alternative.

The recommendations place leaseholders in control of the conversion process and enable conversion to commonhold without the agreement of every person, with safeguards to protect those who have not agreed.

It also wants to introduce flexibility into the way commonholds can be built and managed, enabling their use for developments of all types and sizes – moving away from a “one size fits all” approach which the Commission says makes the current scheme too inflexible for many developments.

Professor Nick Hopkins, Commissioner for property law, said: “The leasehold system is not working for millions of homeowners in England and Wales. We have heard how the current law leaves them feeling like they don’t truly own their home.

“Our reforms will make a real difference by giving leaseholders greater control over their homes, offering a cheaper and easier route out of leasehold, and establishing commonhold as the preferred alternative system. The reforms will provide a better deal for leaseholders and make our homes work for us, and not somebody else.”

Julie James MS, Minister for Housing and Local Government, Welsh Government, commented: “These comprehensive and much anticipated reports mark a significant step towards much needed reform. It is clear that the current leasehold system often fails resident leaseholders and these reports will give us a better understanding of the issues involved; we now need to take the time to consider them carefully.

“The Law Commission have undertaken a mammoth task in unpicking the current law, engaging widely on the options for change, and putting forward comprehensive recommendations and I’m grateful to them for their excellent work.”

How to spot structural problems in apartment blocks

How do you know whether your building is showing normal signs of settling, or sinking dangerously into the earth on which it’s built? It’s a fine line, and as a landlord it’s worth being able to spot the warning signs. If you manage a property or properties in a residential block, then you are responsible for the maintenance and ongoing safety of the building.

What are the types of structural problems on buildings?

Any structural issue should be dealt with urgently and serious problem that can have dangerous implications for a building, so it requires constant attention if it becomes evident.

What is subsidence?

When the ground on which a property is built collapses or subsides, it can take the foundations of the building with it, and compromise the whole structure, causing one side of it to sink.

This causes major cracks to appear and puts the entire building at immediate risk of collapse. Subsidence can happen to buildings of any age, as it is a problem resulting from the ground and soil.

Change in the texture or makeup of the ground underneath your property can cause subsidence. While there are a number of reasons why this may occur, weather is often a major factor. Excessively hot and dry spells can cause the ground to subside and crack as it loses its moisture, especially if your property is built on clay. Equally, large amounts of rainfall can wash away soil and soften the ground to such an extent that it loses its integrity. Other causes of subsidence include nearby plants and trees – when these are too close to a building.

What is heave?

When the ground underneath all or part of a property begins to move upwards and expand this is known as heave. It can cause significant damage to a building and is often linked to changes in soil moisture.

The most common reason that heave occurs is the removal of nearby trees or other vegetation, which causes the ground to gain moisture and swell.

What is landslip?

The term landslip refers to the gradual or sudden movement of soil on a slope. Landslip is usually caused by nearby works which undercut a slope, removal of walls, redirection of a water channel or the overloading of debris at a higher point.

What are the signs of structural problems in a residential apartment block?

Cracks are the biggest indicator of structural problems, but it is important not to assume that all cracks are evidence of a serious issue. Hairline cracks occur in walls as a normal part of a new building’s settling process, as walls naturally swell and shrink slightly according to temperature.

However, more prominent cracks are a sign of serious problems. Cracks are likely to be caused by structural problems if they are:

  • More than 3mm wide (i.e. thicker than a 10p coin)
  • Visible on both sides of the wall
  • Close to doors and windows
  • Wider at the top than at the bottom, and run diagonally

There are other signs to keep an eye out for:

  • Doors and windows beginning to jam as their frames warp
  • Wallpaper crinkling where it meets the ceiling or floor
  • Cracks where an extension joins the main house

Any one of these signs of structural problems is a cause for concern and should be investigated thoroughly without delay. As a landlord you should carry out regular inspections of the exterior and interior of the property in order to spot them before they become a problem.

What to do if you suspect structural problems

If you think that your property may be suffering damage as a result of structural problems, you should contact your landlord insurance provider immediately to see if these issues are covered. The first step will be to have a qualified surveyor visit the property. They may decide that the best way forward is to closely monitor the building for a period of time without yet taking action, rather than taking immediate invasive action which could risk further damage to the structure. The foundations of the building may also need to be closely investigated and soil samples might be taken.

How to fix structural problems?

If the cracks are deemed severe enough to need action, underpinning is the most common solution to structural problems. This is a process which reinforces the structural support of the building’s foundations in order to strengthen them.

In more extreme cases, partial demolition and rebuilding may need to take place in order to ensure the building can continue to be safely occupied.