5 top tips for saving money on household bills

With the new year in full swing, there is no better time to take a look at household spends to understand best how you can make some positive changes for the year ahead. In the UK, the average household bills total to £144.30 a month. With some simple tips in this blog, we share how you can save on household bills.

Switching energy supplier

A great place to start to save money on your household bills is by changing energy supplier. If you are not sure how to find the best deals, you can use a variety of comparison sites such as Comparethemarket, uSwitch and GoCompare. Some of these even have rewards you can get such as discounts on meals out and buy one get one free movie tickets, so you can benefit from a better energy supplier and a trip to the cinema!

It is important also that you ensure that your meter readings are accurate, rather than estimations. If your energy supplier has overestimated your energy use, you could be entitled to a rebate. You should also look into a smart meter to help keep track of your energy consumption. You can contact your supplier for more information on installation.

Water meters

 

Following on from the previous tip, water meters could be a great way to save on your water bills. Instead of being charged for the size of your home, you will instead be charged for what you use. However, if you are unsure about whether a water meter will help you save money, simply use the water calculator by The Consumer Council for Water. If you live in a rental property, you will need to ask your landlords permission if you have a fixed-term tenancy agreement of fewer than six months. If your fixed-term tenancy agreement is longer than six months, you don’t need your landlord’s permission to have a meter, but your tenancy agreement may mean you have to ask their permission for alterations to the property.

Combi boilers

Otherwise known as combination boilers, these boilers work by having both a high-efficiency water heater and a central heating boiler in a compact, single unit. They also work to save roof space, by not requiring a hot water storage cylinder or a cold-water storage, but instead come straight from the mains when you turn on a tap.

These boilers are both cost-effective and energy-efficient as the water is heating instantly compared to being heated and then stored in a cylinder. Their compact size benefits for smaller properties as they do not require much space.

 

Broadband savings

With the latest superfast broadband being rolled out through Milton Keynes, it is important to check that you have the best broadband for your area. To find the best broadband for you, simply enter your postcode on switchly. You can also take a look into saving even more with getting broadband without paying for line rental. A major provider for this at the moment is Virgin Media, but there are other options you can take a look at on GoCompare.

Saving on the food shop

The average household spends £3,151 a year on food for at home. As essential as food is, there are certainly ways you can save. Small actions can make a huge difference, such as picking up food in the reduced isles and purchasing own-brand ranges. Furthermore, you can sign up to be a member with supermarkets, such as the Tesco Clubcard, Morrisons more and myWaitrose means every time you shop you earn points which become discounts and coupons that you can use in-store.

You would also benefit from saving on food waste by doing simple things like storing food correctly so they last longer, saving leftovers and reusing as much food as you can in meals. For ideas on recipes, check out lovefoodhatewaste.

Waterside Living: Is it all plain sailing?

Waterside properties have always been high up on the property wish list. With picturesque views and a calming environment, there is a vast array of homes available – from traditional canal side cottages to contemporary townhouses and modern flats overlooking Milton Keynes lakes, rivers and canals.

Milton Keynes is famed for its man-made balancing lakes that are designed to provide open spaces for the town’s residents to enjoy in their free time and are cleverly engineered to prevent flooding. Lakes such as Furzton, Caldecotte and Willen provide beautiful waterfront homes for those longing for a stunning all-year-round view that brings an ever-evolving scene, with migratory wildlife and the changing of the seasons.

But what is the price you have to pay to enjoy this water life? Buyers and tenants are willing to pay a premium for a waterside property and prices can be between 20-50% more than countryside properties. They attract city-dwellers who need an escape from the hustle and bustle of a hectic, fast-paced working life. Milton Keynes creates the perfect balance of both urban and waterside living. You’re never too far away from civilisation and you can still enjoy those gorgeous sunrises over the water.

Let’s dive into the bonuses of waterside living a little deeper…

Boost your health

Living near water has added physical and mental health benefits, allowing for walking, cycling and relaxing with activities such as fishing and boating. Milton Keynes has various cycling and walking routes along its waterways such as the River Ouzel and the Grand Union Canal. Aside from building stamina and maintaining a healthy lifestyle through exercising, you also reduce the risk of developing various illnesses and help to improve your mental health with the release of endorphins.

Lower pollution

If you’re concerned about pollution levels and their impact on your health, these tend to be lower by lakes and rivers as these areas are generally free from heavy traffic found in the more densely populated areas of town. By having a less polluted environment to live in, your general health can benefit from clearer airways, lower blood pressure and improved digestion.

Stimulate your mind

Do you work from home or work in a creative industry? If so, a waterfront property could be the ideal home to relocate to. Imagine having all that creative inspiration on your doorstep – just step outside into a watery scene and feel re-energised by your surroundings. A clear clean environment also helps for a clear mind, which benefits productivity.

Future investments

In terms of investment and value for money, waterside homes are in short supply meaning it is highly likely that your property will always be in demand, making them a sound investment for the future. If you’re considering purchasing a second home in a desirable waterfront location, your property could also provide the opportunity for a holiday let investment.

What are the drawbacks to living in waterside homes?

Home insurance premiums

With all the benefits of owning a beautiful home by the water, there may be an increased risk of flooding. Elevated homes and gardens provide some protection against this, but it can have an impact on insurance premiums if the location is known to flood. Always read the fine print and check you have flood insurance, this is something you can find out more about here. You can also check the risk of flooding with the Environment Agency.

Safety first

If you live in a waterside property with young children, it is advisable to invest in extra child-safety precautions such as securing the boundary of your property with sturdy fencing or gating. It is not only important for children to remain safe around water, but also for pets too. Any boundary fencing/gating will also help to keep pets safe within your property.

A price to pay

Despite the longer-term benefits on investing in these properties, it is inevitably more expensive to buy and rent these desirable properties. With high demand and short supply on the market, they can be difficult to get your hands on. Remember it’s all about location, location, location!

There are many benefits of living in waterfront homes, including personal benefits for your mind and soul. However, factors such as price, availability, safety and insurance should all be considered when deciding whether to invest in these properties.

 

 

 

 

 

Trendy kitchens and bathrooms – What can they do for you?

The quality of a bathroom/kitchen can increase or decrease the value of a property so it’s essential to keep them up-to-date. They should be a space for relaxation and, for many, unwind after a long day. A potential buyer could easily be put off by a dated bathroom or kitchen as they may see this as an area where they would need to invest extra money in when purchasing a property.

Installing a new bathroom or kitchen is a big commitment. Any design choices will need to be lived with for several years, so it’s important not to be too easily influenced by current trends that can come and go (i.e. 1970s style avocado green bathroom suite). This month’s blog post covers our top tips on how you can improve kitchens and bathrooms with simple, cost-effective changes.

Let’s begin with kitchens…

A pop of colour

Adding a statement pop of colour to your kitchen can help modernise tired paintwork. This adds a sense of personality and character to your kitchen and reflects who you are within your home. Adding a fresh coat of paint to walls is a relatively inexpensive way to transform your kitchen. If you enjoy more intense colours, focus on painting one statement wall and keep the rest of the walls neutral so that the colour does not overpower the room.

Matte black appliances

No matter what colour your kitchen, matte black is a perfect contrast colour for your appliances –  including ovens, kettles, dishwashers and fridges. This helps to add a technological and futuristic feeling for your kitchen and can blend in with most interior design schemes.

Headless ventilation

Headless ventilation is something that many kitchen designers are now implementing into modern homes. It saves drawing unnecessary attention to less attractive features, such as your cooker hoods. It also means you have a much airier and open spaced kitchen.

Clutter-free surfaces

This idea of minimalism is huge in all areas of the house and there is no exception for the kitchen! Take a leaf out of famous tidier, Marie Kondo, who preaches about storage and keeping only what you need. If you have an excessive amount of tabletop appliances then narrow it down – if things such as electrical appliances are old and not working as well as they used to, get rid of them too.

Tons of texture

This is a simple yet highly effective way to keep your kitchen visually pleasing. Having a variety of textures works to add dimension to the room and can include wooden counters, glass splash backs and tile flooring. 

Open-plan living

If you are someone who has watched the show ‘World’s Most Extraordinary Homes’, many modern homes have open-plan kitchens combined with living rooms so that families can enjoy spending more time together in one space. ‘Broken-plan’ layouts are becoming increasingly popular – by adding bookcases, screens or half-walls creates distinct areas within a kitchen for eating/socialising.

Darker floors

Adding darker floor tiles or wooden flooring can create a sleeker and chicer kitchen. Having chestnut or ebony wood floors, or grey/black tiles is the way forward. Marble flooring can add make an impactful statement, however, if marble tiles are out of budget, why not take a look at marble- effect tiles?

 

Next up is bathrooms…

Don’t be tempted to buy a coloured bathroom suite!

Bold coloured bathroom suites might be making a comeback but white bathrooms are truly timeless. If you want to add colour to white bathrooms, they are easily accessorised with towels and blinds that can provide a funky accent colour or can be complimented with patterned tiles and flooring. In contrast to kitchens, choose more angular styled white suites to add a contemporary twist.

Make a big statement in a small space

Bathrooms are often the smallest rooms in a house but that doesn’t mean you can’t be adventurous in your design choices. Using large print wallpaper can create a vibrant wall or utilising a statement mirror can be both practical and add some drama to the space.

 

Go natural

Cold, stone textures and materials have been popular in bathrooms for quite some time but now wood is on its way in. Darker-stained, rustic timber can be used to add a warmer touch to often cold, clinical bathroom designs. There are even wood effect tiles on the market to add a more natural feel without compromising on functionality.

A metallic touch

Forget shiny chrome – think industrial copper or glamorous gold. You may not want to commit to changing your taps to these bold new metallic trends, but you can accessorise your bathroom with gold or copper accents by installing an on-trend light fitting with coordinating metallic framed mirror or shelving unit.

Wet rooms

If you’re planning a complete bathroom renovation, a wet room may be a great option. They are becoming increasingly popular as they offer an easy to maintain bathroom and are a practical alternative to a walk-in shower, offering greater accessibility.

Industrial chic

Industrial chic is an emerging trend. With a more masculine feel, the industrial look consists of bold, straight lines, exposed pipework and black, chunky fixtures and fittings. Simplicity is key with this design and larger, more stylised shower screens hint at influences from Japanese minimalism.

Space saving bathrooms – always on trend

If your bathroom is particularly tiny, there are lots of space saving options available from vanity units with built in storage to slim basins, compact WCs and even tapered bathtubs, perfect for awkward spaces. The use of mirrored tiles can make a small space feel bigger, as can lighter colour palettes and choosing bright lighting. Neutral tiles, around 30-60cm, are ideal for bijou bathrooms, smaller tiles can make a small room look too busy.

 

 

 

 

 

What is a catchment area and why should you consider yours when buying a property?

Relocating to a new town is a big decision, and there are a few factors that you should consider before moving. One of these factors is the school catchment area, especially if you have children or are thinking about having children in the future.

A catchment area can be defined as the geographical area served by a school and it is important to do your research into the schools in the area that you are looking to move to. Both primary and secondary schools should be able to provide information on where their catchment areas are, so you can find out if you’re close enough to be considered for a place.

Milton Keynes is fortunately packed with Infant, Primary, Secondary and Independent schools, meaning that when you are looking for an area to move to, you will probably have a choice of schools to send your child/ren to. In Milton Keynes, we are also very lucky in that we have a various Special Education schools for children with complex needs along with SEN provisions in place at all Primary and Secondary schools.

In light of this, one area within Milton Keynes that is worth mentioning is Bletchley, as it has a large amount of schools within its borders, including Lord Grey Academy, Abbey’s Primary School, Barleyhurst Park Primary School, Romans Field School, MK Prep School, Chestnuts Primary School, St Thomas Aquinas School, Newton Leyes Primary School and Sir Herbert Leon School. Average housing prices in Bletchley are £265,483, which is below the average of £313,587 for a house in Milton Keynes as a whole.

You should also take into consideration a schools Ofsted rating, especially if you would be looking to sell you home later down the line. According to Net House Prices, the average price of a house with an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted school in its catchment area is £331,605. That’s 13.2% higher than the cost of a home near a school with an Ofsted grade of ‘good’. The figures show the average house price increases by a whopping £96,363 if you want to live in an area with an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating compared to one with an Ofsted ‘inadequate.’

As well as considering catchment areas, it is important to consider when in the academic year that you are moving to a new area, most schools will need you to be living at your new address before you apply for your child to attend the school, and although it is possible for your child to move schools midterm, it is recommended that this happens in a half term or, even better, over the summer holidays.

If you are considering relocating to Milton Keynes, click here for more information

Top tips for maintaining your garden this summer

Our gardens are now a true extension of our home and are becoming as important as any other room. Terraces and patios help add extra usable space for al fresco dining, socialising with friends and family or simply enjoying the evening sun with a glass of wine and a good book. With summer in full bloom, it’s time to get out there and enjoy your garden. Here are our top tips for maintaining your garden through the summer so you can make the most of your outdoor space.

Weeding – kill em off!

Weeding is one of those dreaded tasks but if you can keep on top of it, it can help make the task a lot easier. Try to weed kill little and often – look out for signs of new weeds growing and remove them before they grow bigger. Consider using mulching to supress weeds and make life a little easier…

After weeding, carefully sweep away debris and dirt ready for pressure washing. Pressure washers are a fast and effective way to bring back the colour to paving slabs and rejuvenate a dull-looking patio. If you don’t own a pressure washer, a garden broom and soapy water can do the job just as well.

Side note: It is important to choose child and pet-safe weed killers if appropriate.

There’s so mulch you can do!

Using mulch to dress borders and flower beds not only looks smart, but it also reduces weeding, helps retain moisture in the soil in the summer and protects plant roots during the winter. Biodegradable mulches such as wood chippings, compost and leaf-mould release nutrients into the soil as they break down and will need to be replaced as they rot. Non-biodegradable mulches including slate chippings, decorative pebbles and stones do not add anything to the nutrient content of the soil but are a good way of suppressing weeds and help to maintain moisture levels. Non-biodegradable mulches do not need to be replaced on a regular basis as with biodegradable options and can add a polished look to any garden.

Perfecting your patio and driveways

The warmer summer months provide the perfect opportunity to clean up tired-looking patios. Start by pulling up weeds that have surreptitiously grown between slabs and block paving. Be careful to remove the roots to prevent future regrowth. There are several different weed-killing options on the market, from fast-acting sprays to chemical free weed burners. However, the good old-fashioned method of pulling up weeds by hand is eco–friendly, effective and it’s free!

Side note: It is best to treat wooden decking in the spring or autumn to avoid the hot summer sun from drying out the treatment before it is fully absorbed into the wood.

It’s time to cut back

Keeping hedges neat and tidy is vital for a well-maintained garden, making the space look well-cared for and inviting. Cutback excess growth using shears or an electric hedge trimmer, being careful not to disturb nesting birds. Hedges can be pruned to look informal and natural or can be carefully trimmed to look more formal with crisp, sharp edges. Use a green bin to discard of larger, thicker hedge trimmings, smaller cuttings can be added to the compost heap, if you have one.

Side note: Conifer clippings release tannins which can harm other plants. Any excess clippings must be composted on their own for at least 3 months

The grass really can be greener

During the summer months, lawn mower blades should be set a little higher than during the rest of the year. Try to keep the height of your grass at around 5cm as this prevents the soil beneath becoming scorched thus stunting future growth. It’s easy to forget to water grass but aim for once a week if you can (your lawn will really thank you for it!). For an extra special touch, you could even add some stripes for that Wimbledon feel! Strawberries and cream anyone?

Keepin’ it cool

As important as it is to keep yourself cool in the summer, the same goes for your garden. By keeping your garden cool it helps to keep your soil fertilised, which allows garden insects such as worms and ladybirds to survive and your plants to grow.

A way to do this is to invest in an irrigation system. An irrigation system not only keep your garden cool, but it is time efficient and uses water more efficiency than a traditional hose. Water timers and mini sprinklers are also good alternatives to irrigation systems as they help to keep grass and plants hydrated.

The best time for watering your garden is in the early morning or later in the evening as this avoids evaporation and allows more of the water to be absorbed into the soil. When watering, it is best to dampen the soil, concentrating on the root point rather than the leaves, as this can result in leaf-mould diseases. It is best to water flower beds only once or twice a week but do ensure that you are watering sufficiently without waterlogging the soil. Installing a water butt is a great way to save money on your water bills and it’s much better for the environment, using a watering can instead of a hose is also a good way to keep costs down.

Even if you are renting a property, water systems are a good investment as it saves time in watering an entire garden manually and is good gardening practice for when you own a property.

Plants, plants, plants:

Plants are the aesthetics of your garden. It is important to choose plants dependent on different conditions, such as weather, season, soil condition etc. and consider this when buying plants because they have to be able to survive where and when you plant them. During summer, choose plants that require little moisture and little shade as they are often easier to maintain. Your local garden centre will be able to offer advice on what plants to buy. If you are not a homeowner, you can still invest wisely on plants. Hanging plant decorations and balcony plants are a great way to add greenery to smaller garden spaces and are more versatile if you choose to move to a new property. You can also plant this in your front garden to make your house look pretty!

The birds and the bees… and everything else:

If you are investing time and effort in maintaining your garden, it is also important to consider making your garden more wildlife friendly. Adding bird feeders to trees and bushes will help to entice the birds to your garden. Not only are they beautiful to watch, but they also help remove pests and other critters within your garden. You can also make your garden friendly for bees by planting wildflowers to attract them and help spread pollen. They also provide nectar which is important for food pollination as they offer a source of food for birds. Why not consider planting nectar-rich plants like salvia and lavender. Buying or making little homes such as bird houses and bee hotels help to allow birds and bees and to repopulate and allows for general shelter throughout the colder seasons.

Finally…

Enjoy your garden! After all the hard work, make sure you take the time to sit down and admire your beautifully maintained outdoor space this summer. Whether you are renting a property, or you own your home, you have the guidance right here to make sure your home is loved and cared for this summer.

Smart investments to keep your home a safe one.

Limestone Sales & Lettings Office Manager Paul Neale gives his top tips for looking after your home and keeping it safe.

Owning a house and making it a home is one of the greatest achievements in life. It is important that you know how to keep your home safe and there are smart investments you can make to help achieve this. Some of these investments may also make your home more appealing to potential buyers in the future.

Digital home monitoring

A remote home monitoring system is usually controlled by an app, in which you can place small cameras around your home to view both the inside and outside of your property via your phone and can be used for everyday use, such as watching your pets or checking the kids while you’re out. If motion is detected whilst you are away from home, you’ll be sent a notification to your phone so you can watch the activity in your home, sound an alarm or call the police. You can also place detectors on doors and windows which can detect when they are being broken into.

Smart doorbells

Smart doorbells help you to see who is at your front door before allowing visitors access to you home. These doorbells are particularly useful for pre-screening unwanted cold-callers or monitoring the whereabouts of parcels. Many of these smart doorbells you can connect to an app on your smart phone to view camera footage and will get a notification if you have a visitor at your door and for other things, such as when the post arrives.

Remote Garage door opener

This gives you the power to open your garage from wherever you are. Therefore, if you have a trusty friend popping over to check the house then you can grant them access to your home via the garage with a click of a button. On the other hand, if you were to have an intruder (most commonly homes are burgled through the garage) then you would receive a notification immediately.

Security gate

There are a variety of gates that you can use to protect your home, including Aluminum double swing gates, manual gates and wireless gates. These can be fitted near the front of your home or around it. You will also be able to use it every day to let visitors in and out of your property. With this system becoming more and more affordable, protecting your property through secure gates is becoming much more accessible. 

Access code home lock

Do you often lose your house keys? An access code home lock allows you to enter your property using a PIN code. This device rather than using keys. This means that the door is much more advanced and is a good preventative measure for house intruders as it removes the risk of traditional locks being snapped or forced open. This can also be used as a great safeguarding device for the elderly as relatives can access the home using a key code instead of having multiple sets of keys.

LED home lighting

When in doubt, trick ‘em out. By using remote LED lighting, you can schedule times for your lights to go on and off within your home while you’re away, to give the impression that someone is home. This is also a great tool to use day-to-day (e.g. If you want to monitor the lights on behalf of an elderly family member).

From smart doorbells to LED lights, all of these things will help you have a safe and secure home. However, not all security has to be smart. For official guidance, Thames Valley Police have their very own top tips regarding how to maintain your garden, windows, doors etc. to help prevent crime. You can find out more here: https://www.thamesvalley.police.uk/cp/crime-prevention/residential-burglary/

For more tips like these and to get the best price for your property, contact the team on 01908 234 111 or email us at info@limestonemk.co.uk

Top 10 tips for moving home

Limestone Sales & Lettings Office Manager Paul Neale gives his top tips for moving home.

There is a time in everyone’s lives where you take the plunge and move home. Whether it be moving into a flat or your ideal family home, moving can be hard work! However, if executed correctly, the job can be made a whole lot easier. We share our top 10 tips fora (relatively) stress-free house move.

  1. Pack early

Seems like an obvious thing but is it crucial you make time to pack. If you leave it too late, you run the risk of ‘panic packing’, which would result in things not being packed as organised or as well as they could be. Set aside a small amount of time each day at least one month before the final move date to start packing away non-essential items – this will help significantly reduce the amount of packing you need to do before you move.

  1. Start with the things you use the least

Non-essential items are usually stored in the ‘spare room’, utility room or in lofts. By doing this, it also saves time so you can focus on packing your essential items and moving large pieces of furniture. Prioritising is the key to the whole process of moving home and choosing what rooms are most important to start packing helps everything else fall into place.

  1. Pack one room at a time

It is important to take time and ensure you pack one room at a time. This helps to make sure that you aren’t jumbling up your things, like kitchen utensils with duvet covers. This also means that when you move into your new property, you will be able to easily and quickly place each box to the right room instead of having to dart around the house trying to find the right room for your belongings.

  1. Label your boxes

This relates to the previous point, if you organise the boxes in a logical order (such as by each room within your current home), labeling them accordingly makes organising your new home a lot easier to do. If you are getting rid of a cluster of things labeling the boxes, they’re in helps to differentiate what you are taking to your new home and what you are parting with.

  1. Declutter!

When sorting out your things, you are almost guaranteed to sift through things and find that you have a lot of unwanted or unused items. This is a prime opportunity to organise what items you want to get rid of and you can either donate the goods to a local charity shop or start selling them at car boot sales or online on Depop/eBay. By selling these things, it also helps to accumulate a few extra coins for things you may really need in your new home. Any items that aren’t fit for selling (e.g. if they are broken or missing parts) can either be recycled or disposed of.

  1. Do not make the boxes heavier than 30 pounds

Packing light will mean that you have more boxes to move, but overall it makes moving and handling your boxes safer. If you over pack and accumulate heavy boxes, you are putting yourself and others at risk of injury. Lighter boxes reduce the risk of injury and you are less likely to drop or break boxes because they are easier to hold.

  1. Heavy boxes at the bottom, lighter boxes at the top

Seems logical but having the heavier boxes at the bottom and the lighter boxes at the top when travelling means you are less at risk of accidents and breakages. If anything were to fall from the top, it is less likely to cause a problem and also means that the lighter items are not crushed by heavier things.

  1. Fill empty gaps within the boxes

Filling gaps in boxes, particularly with crockery or glasses with newspaper or polystyrene, helps to keep delicate things stable and secure. By preventing breakages within boxes, this also helps reduce injuries when moving, handling and unpacking boxes for those involved.

  1. Have an ‘essentials’ box

When you are finally ready to move out of your home, it is great to have an ‘essentials box’ full of the things you use every day, such as phone chargers, tea and coffee, cereal, milk, toilet rolls, body wash etc. This is the box you should load last and unload first. This box would essentially work as your overnight bag for the transition from your old home to your new home and is also great to have if you don’t manage to finish unpacking within your first day. It is also wise to try and assemble a bed or have an air mattress to hand so you have a comfortable place to sleep at the end of a hard day’s work.

  1. Take time to clean

Your mind may be completely fixated on moving everything out of boxes into your new blank canvas home, however, it would also be useful to take time to clean your new home, so your new and beloved furniture is sat within a clean home, rather than having to clean around them. Take advantage of the fact that the rooms are empty and easy to clean! Don’t forget to make sure your former home is also left in a clean and tidy state (especially if you are moving from rented accommodation) when you move out as it will add a nice touch to those moving into the new property and if you are moving out of a rented property, it will also help to recuperate your deposit money

As exciting as it is to move home, keeping these tips in mind will help you to make your moving home journey much smoother, easier and safer.

For more tips like these and to get the best price for your property, contact the team on 01908 234 111 or email us at info@limestonemk.co.uk

It takes two: How to have a good Landlord and Tenant relationship

Limestone Sales & Lettings Office Manager Paul Neale talks about what makes for a good Landlord and Tenant relationship.

Renting a property requires both the tenant and landlord to be cooperative and strive to be the best for a smooth renting process. But what really makes a ‘good’ landlord and a ‘good’ tenant?

What makes a good tenant?

  • Honesty is the best policy: No matter what you are getting yourself into in life, being honest is always the best way to be. In your role as a tenant, don’t give excuses as to why your rent is late, lie about your employment status or any damages or problems in the property while you’ve been there. Communicate in an open and honest fashion with your landlord or letting agent so that all parties are on the same page.
  • House proud: Your landlord pays you a visit- are you panicking that the place is a mess? Or are you welcoming your landlord into a smart property? Treat the place with the upmost respect – after all, it is your current home. Keeping it clean and tidy is essential in being a good tenant and is a lesson learnt for when you eventually move into a property that you own.
  • Steady income: This is an essential aspect in being able to pay your rent each month. Your Landlord can also run a credit check to see if you are in any debt, which could indicate reliability issues for paying the rent on time. If you struggle to pay your rent each month, you could face eviction, so it is important to make sure you have a reliable source of income each month and you can afford the rent payments from your salary.
  • Communication is key: Urgent matter or not, it is important that you respond to emails, phone calls and texts from your landlord or letting agent to ensure you always have good communication with them. Showing you are responsive and willing to work with them is always a good sign.
  • Be kind: Kindness goes a long way. This doesn’t mean becoming best friends with your neighbours or building a friendship with your Landlord. A simple “hello” and a smile and wave gives the people that live around you and the person you rent from a good impression of you. Being friendly during your tenancy will make the whole experience much easier, and it can also mean that if a problem does arise you’re treated a bit more generously.

What makes a good landlord?

  • Firm but fair: As a landlord, you need to keep the balance between being firm and being fair. Good landlords should keep their rental properties in order (such as organising annual gas safety checks and addressing any repairs immediately) and treat the tenant with respect at the same time (i.e. giving advance notice before visiting a tenant at the property).
  • Always be available: If you have chosen to manage the tenancy yourself, then you must be available to a tenant when needed. There is nothing more frustrating from a tenant’s point of view than not being able to reach their landlord. No matter how trustworthy your tenant is, or how big or small the problem is that they are contacting you about, things have to be dealt with right away.
  • Be transparent: A good landlord doesn’t cover things up from their tenants. You have to be honest with the property you are offering, including things that you cannot see at first glance. The history of the property such as pests, mould, plumbing etc. are key facts to inform your tenants of.
  • Document everything: You need to ensure that your tenants sign a well written, detailed tenancy agreement. Any extras such important dates and details are also vital to document (i.e. where a tenant’s deposit will be held). If something isn’t in writing, it usually can’t be enforced if it was ever needed.
  • Trust your tenants: Innocent until proven guilty right? If you do not trust your tenants to look after the property, then it’ll form a bad relationship between yourself and your tenant. By trusting them, you can use this to your advantage by having them work with you for things such as styling the property, so it is attractive to future tenants.

If both parties work with these pieces of advice, then it’ll help to make the experience smoother and easier. Besides the tenants and landlords, a letting agent can help facilitate a smooth tenancy. At Limestone, we offer a range of services including a range of tenant find services that cover areas such as checking potential tenant’s credit history to moving the tenant into the property. We also offer a ‘Fully Managed Service’ in which all you have to do is sit back and watch the money come in each month.

For more tips like these and to get the best price for your property, contact the team on 01908 234 111 or email us at info@limestonemk.co.uk

5 top tips for a first-time buyer – and someone you’d never think to talk to when buying a house

Limestone Sales & Lettings Office Manager Paul Neale talks tips and advantages for first time buyers to consider, and ways to save yourself from unwanted fees and other financial issues.

Buying a house for the first time is something everyone faces at some point and is undoubtedly becoming more demanding and competitive. In the first half of this year, first-time buyers purchased 985,000 single-family homes, which breaks the record since 2005. Within the second half, 512,000 houses were sold, which is a 1% increase compared to last year. However, in overall home sales there has been a decrease, which has led to an increase in interest rates and home prices; this means for first time buyers the monthly mortgage payments have risen by 12.6% year over year. Within this blog, you will learn the best ways to safely and efficiently purchase your first house.

 

  1. If you are interested in a house, be quick and stay up to date-

This may seem like a simple thing, but if you are interested in placing an offer or viewing a house then be sure to be quick to contact the seller; if you don’t, you will risk losing out. The kind of things that could cause this problem is things such as the house getting a high amount of offers and therefore all showings would be cancelled; this could happen in as little as a day, so make sure to avoid this.

  1. Keeping housing money in one account-

If you are buying alone you will have a bank account for housing anyways, but if you are a moving out with your other half or just a friend this in the long run makes your life as buyers a whole lot easier. With putting down deposits it means big money, and that’s hard enough to deal with; you don’t need the bank asking for proof of where the money has come from via statements every time you and your partner must transfer money to one account for the housing (which is something the bank will do). Setting up a joint account will save you this hassle and will allow with easy and clarified savings.

 

  1. If you are currently renting, keep your Landlord in the know-

The last thing you need is problems with your current Landlord while you’re trying to branch out and get away from the renting life. However, you will face problems if you don’t keep them up to date, such as if you plan to move out before your contract ends you could face an early termination fee, which could knock you back in your fund for a house. If the landlord is aware then you may be able to come to a sort of agreement and avoid these fees.

 

  1. Document everything in writing-

If you discuss something with the seller’s agent such as keeping appliances in the house like a microwave, washing machine etc. or discuss minor fixtures that the seller will do on your behalf such as changing light bulbs then it is important to not only agree to these things face to face but to also write it down, date it and sign it from all parties, in case for example you go for your final viewing and the things you agreed to are not in place for you, you can take these written documents to your attorney and get what you have agreed to. If you face any issues and there is no evidence of them being discussed, then your attorney can do nothing for you.

 

  1. Finalise a closing date as early as you can –

By this point, you are pretty settled on the house you are going to buy, but that doesn’t mean it is time to relax just yet. There may be factors that you consider before settling a closing date, such as having a month or so left on your renting contract, but if you do not settle a date as soon as you can, you could face charges such as an increase in interest rate, which is something that could be avoided if you locked in a date sooner. Another thing to consider with your bank is a courtesy extension, which means that if there is something that delays you moving in when you should, such as delayed paperwork, it covers you from fees for moving in later than agreed.

 
Pro tip- someone to consider:

It is easy to get caught up only in the financial side of house buying, and it is easy to forget that your home is your personal place. As important as it is to keep up contact with the seller’s agent, the bank and your landlord, you would also benefit from simply talking to a neighbour within your new area. Whether you catch them on your house viewings or driving through the area it is super handy to talk to someone first hand about where you’re about to live. Consider asking, what are the people in the community like? Are there any local events within your area? What are your local councillors, headteachers, doctors like? Remember to take this information with a pinch of salt, as it should work only to give you an idea of the area, and once settled you will enjoy that area differently to your neighbour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is important for you to consider all these points and will make house hunting and buying a little easier on your long journey to a successful home.

 

For more tips like these and to get the best price for your property, contact the team on 01908 234 111 or email us at info@limestonemk.co.uk

The benefits of living in Milton Keynes – why people love MK and what attracts people to move to the area

On average, 13 people move to Milton Keynes every day, making it one of the fastest growing cities in the UK. We have all heard the negative stories about too many roundabouts and a lack of identity, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. To help you get to know more about the real Milton Keynes, we have rounded up a top ten list of the benefits of living in MK and why there is more than meets the eye beneath the grid system.

1. It is great for getting around

Due to its geographical location within the UK, the transport links within Milton Keynes make it a commuter haven. Whether you are looking for a city with good links to London or Birmingham, Milton Keynes offers fast train services so that you can be in either city in less than 45 minutes. With good road links and proximity to the M1, it also offers easy reach to Bedford, Luton, Northampton and Cambridge.  On top of this, there are five international airports within 90 minutes’ drive meaning you are never too far away to escape to a sunny destination abroad.

2. Two-fifths of Milton Keynes is glorious, green open space

Whilst there may be over 130 roundabouts and an infamous American grid system, Milton Keynes surprisingly offers residents a lot of green space in the form of beautiful parks. There are over 200 parks in Milton Keynes including Willen Lake South Park where you can tackle a high rope adventure or splash about in the outdoor water park, Campbell Park where you can admire the sculptures and catch a game of local cricket or Linford Lakes Nature Reserve where you can spot herons, otters, owls or deer in their natural habitats. This also provides plenty of opportunities to go for leisurely strolls or bike rides at the weekend.

3. It is a good place to find work and purchase a property

Statistics within the last three years show that there are 67.7 start-up businesses per 10,000 people in Milton Keynes, second only to the capital. It is home to many businesses such as Mercedes-Benz, BP, Dominoes, Red Bull Racing and Argos providing plenty of career opportunities within the area, so it is no surprise that it is also an affordable place to get on the property ladder. Property prices also provide an attraction to those looking for a new base outside of London. According to latest valuation figures, the average property price is £305,271 in Milton Keynes, which is less than half the price of living within the capital, where the average property price is £636,363 in London.

4. The city is host to surprising tech innovation and testing

Forget Silicon Valley – Milton Keynes is the new home to unique technology trials. If you happen to order a takeaway, don’t be surprised if you encounter a little white robot greeting you at your door with your margarita pizza. Starship Technologies have deployed these robots which features sensors for detecting obstacles, nine cameras and GPS technology to help them navigate their way along the grid system. Milton Keynes is also trialling Aurrigo self-driving pods within the city centre that can travel up to 15 miles per hour and last up to one hour off a single charge for members of the public to utilise as a new mode of transport.

5. You are never too far away from water

At face value, Milton Keynes couldn’t be further from the sea, yet the city is home to 15 beautiful lakes and 11 miles of canals. You can take a leisurely boat ride down the Grand Union Canal and visit the country’s smallest canal lock at Fenny Stratford or have a picnic by the windmill at Caldecotte Lake.

6. For a new town, MK boasts a lot of history

Even though Milton Keynes was elected as a new town on 23 January 1967, it is steeped in history. Bletchley Park was vital to winning World War II where 10,000 citizens from all walks of life helped to crack enemy codes and communication in secret. Bradwell Priory was founded in 1154 by Benedictine Monks and is listed as a nationally important scheduled monument. For car (and James Bond) lovers, Newport Pagnell is the birthplace of Aston Martin. Stadium MK (the polarising home of MK Dons) hosted record amounts of visitors during the 2015 Rugby World Cup to watch international matches of France v Canada, Fiji v Uruguay and Samoa v Japan. And finally, Milton Keynes has shaped the UK in winning several Gold medals at the Olympic Games including Torvill and Dean (who practiced their Olympic-winning ‘Bolero’ routine at Planet Ice) and Greg Rutherford (who won Gold at the 2012 London Olympics for Long Jump). The ‘Leaping Man’ statue and two gold postboxes in Lloyds Court are a long-standing tribute to Greg’s achievement.

7. MK has plenty of arts and culture (not just animal statues)

Aside from the infamous ‘Concrete Cows’ installation by Canadian artist Liz Leigh, the city provides a thriving hub for art, theatre and music. Milton Keynes Theatre is reported to be one of the UK’s busiest theatre districts outside of London’s West End with regular shows such as RSC productions, the English National Ballet and musicals such as Matilda, Jersey Boys and Legally Blonde. With over 200 public art installations in the area, there is also a major refurbishment of MK Gallery due to open in 2019 offering a new home for contemporary art, live performances and film showings. For gigs and live music, check out The Stables where you can see the likes of Newton Faulkner, Northern Soul and Joan Armatrading perform. Let’s not forget The Bowl where icons such as Take That, Linkin Park, Bon Jovi, Oasis, Guns and Roses and Eminem have performed.

8. The local schools and colleges have strong education ratings and rankings

For parents with children, there are a high proportion of schools and colleges within the Milton Keynes area which have achieved respectable inspection ratings. To date, there are 30 schools and colleges in MK which have been rated ‘Outstanding’ by OFSTED and 66 schools and colleges which have been rated ‘Good’. There are also a number of good independent schools within Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire to choose from.

9. New adventures are just around the corner

You don’t have to travel far to experience thrill sports. The Xscape in Milton Keynes offers the SnoZone where you can ski or snowboard to your heart’s content all-year-round and has taught over 2 million guests since its opening in 2000. To satisfy your inner Peter Pan, you can also learn to fly through a unique indoor sky-diving experience iFLY which allows people of all ages to soar through a 12 ft wind tunnel. On warmer days, you can sail, paddleboard or powerboat your way across Willen Lake.

10. The shopping centres attract over 27 million visitors each year

If you are looking for retail therapy, Milton Keynes offers an impressive shopping centre made up of two adjacent shopping areas, Intu Milton Keynes and thecentre:MK which offers 120,773m2 of high street and designer retailers and is ranked in the top 15 largest shopping centres in the UK (even featuring in the 1997 Guinness Book of World Records for the longest shopping mall in the world). MK shopping is only due to get bigger over the next 10 years as Intu Milton Keynes has been granted expansion plans to add 9,300m² of space to the centre, including a new food hall over two levels and a five-screen boutique cinema.

If you want to find your dream home in Milton Keynes, contact the Limestone team on 01908 234 111 or email us at info@limestonemk.co.uk