5 things Sheffield’s student HMO landlords should consider this summerMake Text Bigger
No one likes to think too much about their property being burgled. As unpleasant a thought as it may be, your property’s security should always be reassessed each summer. Whilst Sheffield has seen a reduction in burglaries, reported cases remain high compared to similar demographic areas nationwide. In Broomhill, a thoroughly student heavy area, burglary accounted for 13.7% of all crime, second only to Anti-Social behaviour.
More worryingly, and as the graph demonstrates, counts of burglary sky rocket during the summer months from August onwards; in part, down to the number of vacated student properties. There’s talk of a sting operation currently being rolled out by the South Yorkshire police, where trap properties are set up to catch burglars in the act. Whilst the average landlord may not wish to shell out on sophisticated crime fighting gadgetry of the police force, there are ways to severely reduce the risk of burglary over the long dormant summer months.
The smart solution
This may be obvious, but a weekly or twice weekly check-up over the summer goes some way to spotting any suspicious activity. Look out in particular for any markings or symbols on your property’s doors or walls. This is a well-known burglar tactic to identify empty properties and easy targets. Whilst alarm systems and CCTV could be problematic with your tenants, you could always invest in some cheap motion sensor lights to deter thieves and the local feline population!
Too often the last student to leave is left with any number of tit and tat to dispose of, or worst still, leave it on the street for the landlord to clean up. There’s nothing pleasant about a rubbish strewn street and the Council have teamed up with the Students’ Union and rolled out the Redsack Scheme, to remove any unwanted leftovers by the end of June.
Any recyclables or reusables still in your property can be donated to the British Heart Foundation. Click here for more information on donation points about Sheffield.
If you’re property has a garden, now is the time to take action. Too often the UK’s temperate and fertile climate can see dramatic vegetation growth; one week it’s manageable, the next you have a jungle!
Short of hiring a local gardener or cash-strapped teenager known to you, you’ll have to mow your lawn at least fortnightly to keep it in tip top order; a good, luscious lawn is a highly attractive asset when it comes to marketing and viewings. For an ugly but more effective weed killing treatment, a heavy plastic sheet over the offending gravel will smother any potential weed growth. Another cheap and minimum effort trick is to invest in potted (self contained) plants. Rosemary and lavender are great aromatic plants, and the former will certainly be appreciated on Sunday roasts, whilst a few potted and self-sufficient strawberry plants produce crop from Spring to Summer. In addition, be sure to remove any indoor plants. Without constant watering they may die and cause insect infestation.
4. Tramlines Music Festival (21st to 23rd July)
If festivals, loud music and large crowds aren’t your thing, now is your chance to sort out a weekend away! Whilst a music festival won’t lead to anymore raucous student behaviour than it usually is, student landlords should be particularly aware of any friends of tenants staying at their properties during the festival.
Usually this does not contravene tenancy agreements, but in terms of insurance and peace of mind, it might be worth enquiring with your tenants. This makes the tenants aware that you know, and gives them no wriggle room on any breakages that occur.
5. Preparing for the next intake
Depending on the tenancy agreement, the chances are the next lot of tenants won’t move in until September. That gives time to redecorate, dress the property up and photograph the results marketing purposes.
Any wear and tear needs to be addressed. Blu-tack stains need removing, any damp needs bleaching and a fresh lick of paint won’t go amiss. When airing the property, remember to either be present or, when leaving, to lock all windows; you’d be surprised but this is the most common cause of burglary. It might also be worth restocking some tired furniture and cheap is not always better. The aim of the game is to buy good, durable furniture and cover it cheaply. For instance, a durable second-hand oak table is aesthetically pleasing, particularly in line with recent shabby chic and Hygge trends, but a good varnishing will protect the wood from any spills. For any shallow dents or crevices, rub some walnut wood into the crack or, if needed, fill it in with some wood filler, finished with sandpaper.
Smart Property are a student and professional HMO property management and investment company. They offer their services across Sheffield, Leicester Nottingham, Manchester, Salford and Chester.
Their young and creative team directed by Andy Graham and Nick Morris were extremely successful in 2016 raising equity finance on Europe’s largest crowdfunding platform. As well as their standard property management service, they offer a long term rent guarantee programme that Property 118 founder Mark Alexander was ‘so impressed’ by, that he decided to invest in the company himself.
Andy encourages private landlords and developers to talk to the Smart Property team about standard property management, guaranteed rent, investment and block management
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