Jo Westlake

Registered with
Saturday 27th June 2015

Latest Comments

Total Number of Property118 Comments: 46

Jo Westlake

14:19 PM, 28th July 2021, About A day ago

Tenant's improvements concerns?

For long term tenants I'm usually pretty relaxed about them making certain improvements to the point that I tend to pay for the materials.
It depends on their skills as to what they want to do and what I'm comfortable with. I have one tenant who is perfectly competent at decorating and fantastic with gardening. I pay for paint as and when he fancies a change (so I can insist on him using a decent brand). He does whatever he wants with the garden and it's massively improved on the bland blank canvas he had at the start of the tenancy.
Another tenant is a builder and he treats his flat like a palace. He tells me what he wants to do and I tell him to invoice me appropriately. His previous landlord treated him appallingly. The tenant refitted the bathroom and kitchen at his own expense, replaced part of the roof at his own expense, did loads of plastering, etc. As soon as he'd done all of that the landlord evicted him so he could sell the property. He didn't pay a penny towards the materials or labour and had charged full rent throughout the tenancy.

I prefer to at least pay for the materials as they become part of my property. Tenants appreciate the fact that I'm happy to regard it as a partnership and recognise that it's their home. One of the most difficult things about being a landlord is organising repairs and improvements with tenants in situ. If they want to organise or do quite disruptive work themselves that's a real winner for me (as long as they have the necessary skills).... Read More

Jo Westlake

14:10 PM, 27th July 2021, About 2 days ago

Tenant, Neighbour, Agents and the fence?

For most modern properties you know which fences you are responsible for by looking at the Land Registry document. There are T markings on the plot map. Older properties may not have this on the documents but often have quite lengthy written Deeds detailing who is responsible for what.

I thought the nice side of a feather edge fence usually went on the other side for various practical reasons.
If the fence is the outer boundary it gives the property greater kerb appeal if the nice side faces out. It is also harder to climb the nice side so is better for security. When used to separate neighbouring houses it's a bit harder to see the logic, especially as you need to physically be in the neighbours garden to nail the boards on for them to have the nice side.... Read More

Jo Westlake

15:29 PM, 23rd July 2021, About 6 days ago

Should I proceed with offering a tenancy agreement?

Referencing is a nightmare at the moment. They simply do not understand anything other than bog standard PAYE.
I do reference tenants and then use my own judgement if they fail. About 35% of my tenants have failed on something. Usually affordability where the referencing company has failed to take a part time job into account or doesn't understand self employed income. Or they're in a probationary period in their job. Or they're young and don't have a credit history.
Some of my best long term tenants would still fail referencing if they wanted to move house today, even though they have a perfect 10 year payment history and keep their homes immaculate.

Last May I let a flat to a young couple who failed referencing. Less than 12 months later they were granted a mortgage to buy a £325000 house.

So in my experience some very good tenants fail referencing. If they do fail ask them some searching questions. It may be that the way the referencing questionnaire was worded was the problem. They may not have mentioned their second job. They may have put historic income from the job they are just leaving instead of the much better income from the job they are just starting.

I also look at travel to work costs. If the property is close to their workplace there's at least another £20 a week in their budget as they're not having to pay for bus fares or parking.

The questions running through my head are:
1- Do I like them
2- Does the location work for them
3- Can I imagine them living in the property
4- How close to LHA level is the rent
5- Do they work in industries where it is easy to get another job... Read More

Jo Westlake

0:04 AM, 20th July 2021, About A week ago

What’s the best form of electric heating for rental flat?

Reply to the comment left by Richie at 19/07/2021 - 23:20
EPCs isn't really off subject. There's no point in installing electric heating if it won't get a high enough EPC rating.
The EPC system doesn't recognise Lot 20 which seems to be completely nuts. Lot 20 compliant heating is very controllable and often much lower wattage than old school electric heating.
I have 2 flats that are all or mainly electric heating and they are cheaper to run than most of my other properties which have gas central heating. They are a bit smaller but it's mainly not paying a second standing charge that makes it economical.

The all electric one has a Dimplex Quantum storage heater in the lounge, a Lot 20 panel heater in the bedroom (with a very programmable remote control) and large low wattage Lot 20 towel radiators in the shower room and kitchen, again with programmable remote controls. It has an electric shower and electric undersink water heater serving the kitchen sink and bathroom basin.
Not only is it cheap for the tenant to run it also doesn't need an annual gas safety check. If any of it goes wrong it's only one item so isn't expensive to replace and doesn't majorly inconvenience the tenant.
The downside is the EPC rating. Even doing everything the assessor recommended that was within my power to do (freeholder won't allow cavity wall insulation) it only just scrapped into a D rating.... Read More

Jo Westlake

17:32 PM, 8th February 2021, About 6 months ago

A letter to address UC flaws to private landlords

Reply to Alan Wong

You're right. It is a better position to be in than most.
All credit to the tenant being a conscientious, decent human being. He had huge problems with unemployment, under payment of benefit, wrong information from HB and UC, depression, part time minimum wage job, zero hours job, etc.
At one point his rent arrears amounted to £1800. Due to a combination of his depression and mistakes made by officials he was denied around £2000 in benefits that he should have received.

I spent many, many hours trying to point him in the right direction for help with his claim, encouraged him to apply for suitable jobs and generally tried to motivate him when things got really bleak.

He eventually got a full time job and
gradually got the arrears under control.
Unfortunately he lost the full time job when the company went bust and is now a furloughed hospitality worker.
By the time he moved out he had paid back every penny.

So there are decent tenants out there on UC.
It would certainly help if UC sorted out their communication issues and liased with both landlord and tenant. First time claimants often haven't got a clue what they're entitled to or how to claim it.... Read More