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SELLING Sunset was the one of the most talked about programmes in lockdown, but you don’t need to travel to LA for the same treatment.
Twins Tonya Barnard and Rea Hill, 34, from Chelmsford, Essex, have spent the last 13 years making a name for themselves on the property market.
Tonya and Rea are better known as The Property Twins
With the motto “we close deals in heels” the sisters bring some serious glamour to the job while garnering a reputation for their fiery and honest approach.
The sisters say they had to work hard to be taken seriously in the industry
“The twin thing made us stand out but we worked our way up quite quickly and made a name for ourselves.”
With their killer wardrobes and blow dries, the twins admit that they initially struggled to get themselves taken seriously.
“You will always get a bit of sexism wherever you go” Tonya says.
“When we first started out you would always get the jokes that we had won a deal because someone had fancied us because we were young women.
“At the end of the day the figures speak for themselves, you’re not going to win business based on your looks.”
The girls have made a name for themselves as the UK’s answer to Selling Sunset
“We have had to prove ourselves a little bit more, as blonde girls from Essex we’ve had to work that little but harder and gain that credibility.”
Working at estate agents just three doors apart, the women built up some healthy competition in their early years before opening up their own property businesses.
We had so much fun covering a spring makeover in our latest column in Essex Living Magazine.
The full article can be found here https://www.living-magazines.co.uk/our-magazines/essex-living and as promised please fine below a full product break down.
Starting with an empty lounge with your usual lounge furniture in place, we wanted to showcase how you can make a dramatic transformation using just furnishings and home accessories.
Here are some product shots of the gorgeous Interior items we used to style our Spring Inspired Lounge
Our favourite piece from this project has to be this stunning duo of floor vases with eucalyptus, what a statement piece!
All of these beautiful products can be viewed in store at Tec Lifestyle, a gem of an Interior Showroom that we use often!
Located at Wycke Hill Business Park
As promised we have included below a full product breakdown for our readers, any questions please feel free to get in touch!
We look forward to sharing our next makeover with you soon, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for all our property adventures @officialpropertytwins
Vanilla grass in white bowl – £126.00
Taupe frame 5×7 15mm – £31.50
White mouthblown glass vase – £58.00
Dark grey mouthblown glass vase – £45.00
Baobab Madagascan Vanilla max 16 candle – £85.00
‘The Kinfolk Home’ book – £28.00
Large orb silver – £70.00
Small orb silver – £56.00
White and green vase £190.00
Sandy smoke ceramic vase – £65.00
Natural pussy willow stem – £6.00 each
Small vase – £25.00
‘Eat Drink Nap’ book – £30.00
‘Christian Dior’ book – £40.00
Green cushion – £77.00
Cream cushion – £77.00
White wave edge plate – £35.00
Leigh tray black and white – £288.00
Stainless steel vase – £40.00
LSA tea/coffee cup and saucer – £35.00
‘You Do You’ book – £14.99
Brass stainless steel marble décor – £165.00
Baobab black pearl diffuser – £115.00
White jar with lid – £204.00
Dianthus small in black pot – £118.00
Dianthus medium in black pot – £118.00
Green table lamp – £489.00
‘Mad About The House’ book – £20.00
‘Fashion’ book – £20.00
‘Vogue Living’ book – £71.99
Floor Standing Accessories:
Large white round vase – £83.00
Extra Large white round vase – £160.00
Green baby eucalyptus spray – £11.50
With the demand for affordable renting at an all-time high, HMOs currently seem like the perfect investment.
The yields that can be achieved are far greater than a standard buy to let with some of my clients tripling their current rents. As soon as you have tasted the return of a HMO it’s very hard to go back!
I have helped clients achieve maximum rent by turning their properties into HMOS and have also got some of my own however with the highs there also comes lows and my blog is going to teach you the pros and cons and the dos and the don’ts of HMOs.
It’s very important to do your homework and make sure you familiarise yourself with the minimum standards set up by your local authority, you also need to find out if your property will require a licence or not. It’s important to follow the rules as you could be liable to hefty fines for breaching them.
Here is a link to our local councils minimum standards-
When you are out viewing, take you minimum standards to refer to, a measurer (I recommend a laser for speed) a note pad for your measurements and notes on any reconfiguration you require and a camera to take photographs. Always price your works up and allow room for issues and always price your rents at the minimum rate, never work out your numbers based on best figures you can achieve.
When you are number crunching you need to take into account monthly expenses you will be expected to pay for such as utility bills, council tax, TV licence, Wi-Fi, insurance, cleaning etc all of which will eat into your profit. If you are using a managing agent then you will also need to allow for letting and management fees.
Managing a HMO is not for the faint hearted, you will find that there is normally more maintenance to attend to, lots of regulation you need to follow, regular fire alarm testing and a regular turnaround of Tenant.
Here are some of my HMO buying tips
I have worked as a lettings Agent for over 10 years and one of the trickiest parts of the job has always been handling deposit disputes.
It’s very hard now for a Landlord to take money without good reason as all deposits must legally be registered and held in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme. The schemes are The Tenancy Dispute Service, My Deposits and Deposit Protection Service. I use the Deposit Protection service (DPS) and your landlord or agent must legally register your deposit in one of the schemes within 30 days.
If the court finds a landlord hasn’t protected a deposit, it can order the person holding the deposit to either:
• repay it to you
• pay it into a TDP scheme’s bank account within 14 days
It can also order the landlord to pay you up to 3 times the deposit within 14 days of making the order!
How do I get my full deposit back? This is a question most Tenants ask and something that always causes a bit of a stir at the end of Tenancy.
You are given an inventory at the beginning of the Tenancy, this is your guide on how to leave the property. Go through your inventory line by line ticking off what is okay and what is not, this is what an agent will do so it is a very thorough check.
Also check any clauses you have in your agreement such a carpet cleaning clauses or oven cleaning. If you are unsure ask your Agent or Landlord for your check out obligations. If you have had professional cleaning keep receipts, don’t rely on your agent of Landlords checkout, do your own. Take timed and dated photographs the day you leave and mark your own inventory. Some Tenants try to hide damage I.e. rugs over carpet burns, this will not work and it’s much better to be honest or rectify this yourself before the end of tenancy.
I am a firm believer in being fair, if you know you have caused damage the right thing to do is repair it. Some Tenants believe they have paid enough in rent and that the Landlord should just lump it, this is not a fair attitude to have. You have paid rent to live in a property which would have gained wear and tear and which the landlord would have had to maintain and keep in good repair for you. I have many landlords with just one property, and most with mortgages to pay on them so not all Landlords are rolling in it which is often the misconception from Tenants.
When you lease a car you pay for any damages, when you rent a holiday home you would have to pay for any breakages/damage so there should not be a different attitude towards landlords and rental properties.
Landlords should also play fair, I believe if a Tenant has been a great Tenant and never missed a rent payment, always been very cooperative and polite then there are areas they could be let off with if minor. Some landlords believe the property should come back to them in the same condition, this is impossible for a property that has been lived in so this must to be taken into account.
Now, we also have the landlords that just want the whole deposit, the unreasonable and greedy ones. This, I find hard to tolerate! I had a landlord that would do this on every checkout, whatever amount of deposit registered he would say to deduct full amount, with no good reason and not taking into account fair wear and tear, I ceased management of his properties!
Fair wear and tear would be light scuff marks to walls, a little wear to carpets etc, if you have moved into a property with old fixtures and fittings then the landlord cannot claim betterment so please be aware of this. Even if you have been responsible for a further stain on carpet, if these were stained on moving in or were years old anyway the landlord does not have a leg to stand on.
The House of Lords defines fair wear and tear as: ‘Reasonable use of the premises by the tenant and the ordinary operation of natural forces’ So when do natural forces become in excess of what is ‘ordinary’
The general ‘rule of thumb’ is that an item in a tenanted property will have an average lifespan of five years but an adjudicator will also take into account number of occupants, length of tenancy and quality of item in question.
Your landlord must return your deposit within 10 days of you both agreeing how much you’ll get back. If you’re in a dispute with your landlord, then your deposit will be protected in the scheme until the issue is sorted out and can take several months to arbitrate in some cases so it’s always better to try and settle outside the scheme.
If however the landlords is being very unreasonable and trying to charge you unfairly then it would be in the Tenants interested to take the amount to dispute. The schemes are in place to protect Tenants not landlords so they will work in the Tenants favour to award what is fair based on evidence provided by all parties which is assessed by a third party adjudicator.
Tonya vs Rea – The £1000 Challenge!
We recently set ourselves a challenge to transform a room with a £1000 budget. Using High Street Interiors Tonya worked on a children’s craft room whilst I made over a lounge/diner!
Black and Greys are currently very on trend and here ill break down how I created this living room look for just £850 turning this very dull grey blank canvas into a chic living area!
Starting with the wallpaper, I was after an industrial/grey style paper and came across this stunning wall covering by Holden. The paper has a slight texture to it and some areas of metallic which gives the wallpaper a very luxurious feel/look and what a bargain at just £11 per roll! Covering just one or two walls is plenty to help transform a bland room and add some texture.
I found two beautiful accent rugs at Wayfair and opted for mixed tones of white/grey and blacks. I placed one in the dining room as well as the lounge to bring the two rooms together. The rugs feel amazing and look far more expensive than the £80 each I paid for them.
Let there be light…..
Keeping with the Industrial look I went on the hunt for some grid cage light fittings and come across these beauties, they really finished the look off nicely and cost just £19.99 each. The black pendant and flex helped finish the look off nicely.
I also come across a lovely grid style tray from Homesense which matched in perfectly with the light fittings!
A living room isn’t complete without some personal touches so I used this bare wall to create a home gallery of my favorite photos, the frames are from Ikea and add a touch of class to the look.
I also added a touch of blue with two stunning prints from Ikea.
Can a girl ever have too many cushions…..?
Cushion shopping has to be one of my favorite parts of accessorizing a room, and no….you can never have too many scatter cushions. I always opt for feather filled cushions as you can prop them up easily and they tend to keep their shape longer. Here we have a mix of greys/silvers/patterns from Homesense, The Range and BM Stores. These high-street shops have a fantastic range of cushions to suit any budget.
The Little Details….
This has to be my top buy, this gorgeous glass and metal nest of coffee tables was just £45 from Ikea. I have to say it looks so trendy and the quality is there too, everyone who has walked in recently has asked me where it’s from and have been blown away with the cost.
Now it’s easy to get carried away with coffee table accessorising and there’s a thin line between too much or too little but I always opt for a tray, candle, vase and book.
Here you will see I have gone for a lovely mirrored/black tray and candle, slim line vase and silver table décor (Ideal for sweets or nibbles) and a stunning marble effect box storage box. Not forgetting my little black of Chanel which should be on every coffee table!
The mirror was my most expensive Item at £200 but what a statement, This stunning mirror is from Mason Du Monde and really brought the room together.
Below you can find a full product breakdown which I hope will help you with creating my trendy look on a budget.
I will always love high end interiors but as far as High St Interiors go I have found these products excellent value for money proving you can create a designer look on a high street budget.
On the announcement of the recent Tenant fee ban there was further blow to Landlords and Agents on hearing that from the 1st of June 2019 we will no longer be able to hold more than 5 Weeks Rent as a Deposit. This will now be the law and we must also refund any surplus on deposits we already hold at renewal stage which is just an administrational nightmare. This is for all Agents and Landlords and any person failing to follow this will be breaking the law and susceptible to very costly fines.
With this now in place Landlords and Agents will have to protect themselves better from the offset and ensure we are choosing the right Tenants to look after our properties.
How do we do this?
Firstly, I can’t see Landlords being as flexible on accepting pets with the new cap in place, most contracts would state that professional fumigation would be required by Tenant at end of tenancy which can be pretty costly in itself and that’s before any other cleaning or damage that might need to be accounted for. I can’t see there being enough room in the deposit, especially on the lower end monthly rental figures. For this reason, Landlords may have to restrict renting to Tenants who have pets.
The reason why 6 weeks rent worked for most is because we had a 1 month’s rent for potential rent arrears ( some Tenants decide to not pay the last month’s rent despite being told they need to) plus a couple of weeks left for minor repairs and or cleaning. Two month’s rent would have been the norm for pets to allow for fumigation plus the above and in other more risky tenancies we may have charged more to protect ourselves.
Another area we might need to look at is ensuring rent protection is put in place for every tenancy, this would mean Landlords have peace of mind that they will get their rent payment no matter what and also be able to use this at the end if the Tenant doesn’t pay their last month’s rent, leaving the full deposit for any dilapidations. We could further protect our financial risk by also having a guarantor, this is really as much as we can do as Landlords/Agents before taking full rent in advance for the whole term.
Make sure you have an agent who has your best interests foremost and that is fighting to find you the best tenant not fighting for personal commission. In an industry full of young negotiators all on a low basic with strict targets it’s hard to avoid the “let and forget attitude” as I call it. I feel for the trainees as it’s a very tough and target driven industry but at the same time it’s no good for Landlords. This was one of the reasons I chose to leave agency and set up on my own, none of my colleagues I work with now are on personal commission or targeted, we all work as a team and only want the best for the landlords we look after.
The dispute centres are set up to protect tenants therefore it is fundamental that Agents and Landlords are setting up new tenancies accurately and ensuring Tenants understand their checkout obligations.
There are plenty of Landlord’s out there who take the mick when it comes to deposit deductions and those wanting to charge tenants need to first of all make sure they have offered the property in the best condition at the start of the tenancy. They also need to make sure they have done their job as managing agent by paying regular visits to their tenants and to advise the tenant throughout the duration of any issues they may face at the end.
Paper trail is crucial for this, without it you might as well not even hold a deposit.
There are lots of cases in which the dispute centre has (in my opinion) favoured a tenants case too one sided, for example only last week I had a landlord who lost a claim for replacement carpet on a brand new carpet that was supplied to a tenant of which they burnt badly with an iron. With her high standards as a Landlord she chose to replace this for the new tenancy again and was only awarded a £50 contribution towards the cost of her new carpet from the dispute centre, something of which I will never understand nor agree with.
Its normally always better for a landlord to try and settle outside of arbitration so communicate with your tenants and try to reach an agreement yourself!
It’s hard to not feel that as a Landlord you have little protection and the only way to deal with that is to accept it for what it is. Don’t have unrealistic expectations that your Tenant is going to leave your property immaculate and don’t assume you will win your disputes regardless of how black and white it might be, assume the opposite and hope for the best.
Also remember no Agent in the world can guarantee a risk free Tenancy, don’t expect them to provide the impossible…. us Agents can’t wave a magic wand and get your Tenant to pay rent or have them keep the house clean and damage free, its simply unrealistic!
Remember it’s a business, it’s not personal. No business is plain sailing, no tenant or tenancy is perfect and you may have trouble along the way. If you can adjust to this mind set and remember that the tenant that may have left a burn mark on one of your new carpets has also paid your mortgage for the last few years you will be a much happier and content Landlord.
There has been a rising number of Landlords exiting the market, which has left me worried on where this will leave the industry as a result. I, myself as a Lettings Agent have seen my own clients off load due to the concern in rising costs, continued legislation change and what I guess feels at times a very one sided industry. I am also a Landlord and I can’t help but also feel as though we are being pushed into a corner and driven out of the market.
In November 2018, the East of England was the highest region for landlords selling up and Landlords leaving the market was 100% higher than the national Average.
With so many Landlords off-loading it is likely that the supply of rental properties will drop which could mean rents increase due to there not being enough property to meet Tenant demand, this could actually make the market much worse for Tenants and long term renters as their rents are likely to increase and could also mean there its lots of competition for the same property.
The Tenant fee ban has now become law and will become enforceable from the 1st of June 2019, This is terrible news for the industry and something I believe is completely unfair, one sided and a reckless move from the government which will loose the industry millions not to mention all the unfortunate people who will loose jobs thanks to their decision. As I expressed in my last blog the ruling has not been thought out nor the bigger picture seen by our government.
This will have a knock on effect as Estate Agents are likely to pass on this cost to their landlords which again may mean Landlords increase their rents to cover this cost or mean further Landlords start to sell up. The fee also applies to private Landlords who will no longer be able to charge for any administrational or referencing costs which means estate agents and landlords will have to still do the same level of work, admin and Tenant checks at no charge. Lettings portfolios will be less lucrative and I fear lots of Lettings agencies may have to make redundancies and possibly smaller Agents not being able to cope at all.
Although all seems pretty bleak for the Lettings Industry I predict that this year will be a good buyer’s market due to the amount of property that will need to be sold, this is good news for Investment buyers who are in it for the long run and first time buyers in getting their feet on the property ladder, there should be some good deals to be had and buyers could be in a very good negotiating position.
I have been out this weekend viewing property and have put some offers over on what could be some fantastic investments, I will keep you updated on how these deals go!
So for a while now it has been on the cards that there will be a ban on Estate Agents charging Tenants fees for rental properties and caps on things such as dilapidation deposits.
My thoughts on capping a Deposit at one month (which is in question) is that this does not leave any money for dilapidations if the Tenant leaves the property owing the last month’s rent, this sometimes happens.
The cost for repair works and materials have certainly risen and even at 6 weeks rent (which is what I currently charge) can sometimes not be enough. I also think it’s fair to charge extra if Tenants have pets as properties at the end of tenancy need fumigating for hygiene reasons and possible allergies for the new tenant.
According to the DPS over the last year, 63% of landlords who made a claim against their tenants’ deposit stated it was for cleaning.
I think the ruling on the Tenant fee ban is rather narrow minded and the long term effect is not being taken into consideration. As a Landlord, An owner of a lettings agency and my past experience as a Tenant my thoughts on the possible ruling are as follows.
Firstly, there is no question that there are some agents charging astronomical fees to tenants which cannot be justified at all and are simply not fair. For this I believe there has to be some sort of regulation on the amount charged and a cap to stop this happening. But, I am going to base this on good practicing, regulated Agencies who are on average charging approximately £200 per Tenant.
There is a huge amount of upfront work required when letting a property and we charge a Tenant fee to carry out administrational duties, costs towards referencing and other fees such as inventory costs, check in fees etc, some of which are shared with the Landlord depending on how the agency operates. Agents also charge this fee to show the Tenants commitment to rent. At the point of taking this fee the agent should not show any other Tenants the property, this secures the property for you until your references are complete and confirmed.
If for any reason the Tenant decided to pull out or failed referencing this fee is normally non-refundable.
Agents do not generally charge anything upfront to their Landlords until the Tenancy starts so at this point we would have lost all money and time in carrying out all the referencing and paperwork, how do we recover this? We can’t if the ban is there!
The ban may result in some agents charging their Landlords upfront for the extra risk and also higher letting fees which I can only imagine will result in Landlords increasing their rents. If this happens the ban in the long run would mean the Tenant is a lot more out of pocket then the initial £200 they save.
The other issue with not taking an admin fee from a Tenant is they could potentially secure several properties to keep their options open resulting in the landlords and Agents losing valuable marketing time and creating longer void periods for Landlords.
I think the work of a letting agent can be very down valued and misunderstood. For example when you purchase/sell a property you pay the agent and you pay a solicitor who progresses it and fees for this are normally in the thousands. The Letting agent lets the property and progresses the whole tenancy from start to finish, hours of admin/legal work goes into each and every let.
I feel to make the market fair to all that there should still be a charge to Tenants but at a capped amount.
This would avoid rent increases, make it fair to the work the agent carries out, deter time wasters and hopefully regulate agents charging silly amounts.
Are you thinking about Investing into property?
If you’re in it for the long run you can’t lose….
Today it is very hard to make a ‘quick buck’ flipping a property (buying/renovating/selling) due to shortage of suitable property and taxes, however in regards to securing your future there still isn’t a better way then with a property portfolio!
Here are some of my tips…
Regardless of what others may be telling you at this uncertain time, don’t be scared to invest!
If you’re in it for the long run you can’t lose….
Think about it, your tenant is paying your mortgage monthly for you plus you property is growing in value/equity as you sleep, it’s a win win.
Keep following us for more Investing Tips.