Tag Archives: readers question

What accountancy software do landlords use? Latest Articles, Tax & Accountancy, Tax and Accountancy, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Hi all,

I’m fairly new to property investing and brand new to this site. Thanks Property Geek, Rob Dix, for your podcast on Mark Alexander that pointed me here.

Quick question; what accountancy software does this community recommend? What accountancy software do landlords use?

I currently only have three properties, but plan to scale to a lot more. I use spreadsheets for now, but it may be nice to use something with cool, pre-customised reporting and dashboards.

I’m going to use odesk to find a Virtual Assistant to do the book-keeping for me: they could use excel, but again, I want to know if there is something better out there. I’ve checked out Xero, but it seems more relevant to a trading company.

Any recommendations?



Good debt recovery agent? Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords


Good debt recovery agent?

I have recently had an absconding tenant who owes me £5,000 in rent arrears.

I have used debt recovery agents previously for different tenants but with very limited success. One even tried to avoid passing on the debt they successfully collected, fortunately I caught them out and got my dues!

I’m not prepared to employ a substandard or disreputable agent in this case, especially given the amount of money owed and the degree to which I treated this particular tenant fairly.

Therefore please could anyone recommend a company who can carry out both tracing and debt recovery with whom they have had a positive experience?

Many thanks

Genghis Perriman

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Help regarding being a victim of subletting Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

A well known national letting agency franchise office based in Ealing advertised flatshare, I viewed the property and agreed to pursue a tenancy. My agreement is for the duration of 3 months, all bills included.

The tenant I share the flat with (Mr G) was claiming to be a tenant at first with the agent supporting this but is now claiming to be the landlord and he has been subletting this property out for four years. We have written and audio proof of this. Help regarding being a victim of subletting

The agent (who has close relations to the tenant acting as landlord) has confessed that his ‘client’ is subletting.

The owner of the property currently resides in South Australia.

I have reason to believe Mr G is committing benefit fraud as a result of all he has divulged to me regarding his five bedroom villa in Iran and and in Inverness of which he put the ownership in his daughter’s name. He is in receipt of many state benefits including disability claiming he cannot work and earn.

Neither Mr G, acting as my landlord, nor the agent can provide me with a current valid gas safety certificate. I have seen a photocopy of one issued in 2010. Mr G is refusing to provide me with gas central heating, he cannot provide a valid reason of refusal. Two different employees from two different energy companies checked our gas facility two weeks ago and concluded that the cooker is unfit for use and needs replacing for safety reasons and there is an issue with the box that links to the boiler. Mr G is refusing to consider the law and the health and safety of others by not addressing these repairs.

I have documents that state that Mr G is the landlord, which prove he is subletting to me but I have not been provided with documentation to prove whether he may or may not have the actual landlord’s permission to sublet the property.

These are also the points I have raised with the property owners own letting agents, another very large national firm. They have been very sympathetic with my predicament, however, they do stress that the actual landlord “may seek legal action to remedy this situation” and that the actual landlord has no legal obligation to me. I completely understand this and assume this to mean I must leave the property ASAP, although, according to Shelter, my tenancy agreement with the illegal landlord, Mr G, still stands and I have until 3rd December to vacate the property. We are getting conflicting advice so don’t know which way to go next.

Could you please suggest anything?

Thank you so much for your assistance.

Best Wishes

Mrs Saadeh


Are freeholders obliged to insure against escape of water? Insurance, Landlords Insurance, Landlords Stories, Latest Articles, Lettings & Management, Property Maintenance, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

I am a leaseholder in a large block of flats built in 2007.

After two flats were severely damaged by water escaping through pipes our insurance had the excess for escape of water increased to £20,000. Year by year this was reduced to £12,000. However, last year the insurance company said this was an error and they would not include escape of water in our policy. Hence we now do not have any cover for escape of water.

My questions are: Are freeholders obliged to insure against escape of water

  1. Does the freeholder have to provide such cover?
  2. Can insurance companies opt out like this or is it like subsidence that the existing company has to cover you?
  3. Is this a usual scenario? That is do blocks of flats often not have such cover?

Any advice or help would be most gratefully received.

I should mention that this escape of water was due to poor building by the developers and not the usual flooded bathroom. Hence the insurers probably consider the building as a whole a risk.

Landlords lose the Zero Tariff with the energy companies Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Most savvy landlords will have negotiated with their energy providers, so that in between tenants the tariff automatically reverts to a zero tariff. This was not advertised widely for obvious reasons. It avoids annoying bills for 46p (or even £2.46!) to cover standing charges for a couple of days. It also means that if you are renovating for a couple of weeks you pay just for the energy that you use whilst you are doing that. Some companies overlook small amounts anyway – but not all and in any event it can take an extra ten minutes on the phone whilst organising the changeover of tenants. Landlords lose the Zero Tariff with the energy companies

I have just discovered that two of the providers that I use SWALEC and British Gas are abandoning this tariff, even for landlords, even for short periods, because of the new legislation. If I can find one provider who will continue with this then I will transfer all of my accounts across my whole portfolio, as it is just such a pain. It is not just the money, as the smaller the amount the more irritating it becomes, wasting paper, postage and time etc

I recently put up a BTL property for sale and if this had been in place it would have cost for every week that it was on the market. The other option would have been to cut off all the supplies, leaving the new owner (or tenant if applying it to void periods) to pay a huge re-connection fee.

I think it is disgusting that over the last few years the rules have changed so that we now have to pay for Water Rates, Council Tax and the latest – energy bills – when the place is unoccupied and even, in some cases, uninhabitable. I can’t see that this battle has been fought and it cannot be right. Can it?

Has anyone found a company that will continue to overlook small amounts between tenancies or who will continue with the zero tariff?

If one of them chooses to do this then I think it will be a winner.



I’m losing a tenant every 6 months, please help! Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Hi all,

My fifth tenant has now decided to leave after having been subject to 6 months of abuse and hell from the neighbour adjoining the maisonette. All four previous tenants have left after six months and have all cited this neighbour from hell as the culprit for their misery and reason for leaving. This has put me at substantial financial loss, not to mention the stress. This is my first property and subsequently my first time as a landlord. I am losing a tenant every 6 months

I have exacerbated all my options. The troublesome neighbour likes to throw his weight around and seems to relish in bullying my tenants. He is also very devious, he has filed noise complaints against each one of my tenants with the council and complains to both letting agents about the noise. My current tenant mentions that the last straw was when the neighbour abused and threw stones at his Mum while she was visiting, thus instigating my tenant to angrily shout at the neighbour who recorded the interaction on his phone. When my tenant called the Police they did nothing as the neighbour had footage of my tenant shouting.

Emails from my previous four tenants include incidents where the troublesome neighbour, grabbed Tenant A round the throat and threatened him in my property. He jumped over the garden fence and threatened Tenant B. Threats to steal, shoot, beat up Tenant C and Tenant D apparently used to come home from work and watch TV wearing headphones so as not to disturb him, the list is a lot longer than this.

Police have been called on six separate occasions by two different tenants (the others were too scared to).

I have contacted the landlord of the property direct. Their letting agent is not prepared to do anything about it giving the excuse that it is one tenants word against another. I am have now lost my fifth tenant! Is this not evidence enough that the neighbour is the cause of the problem?

My letting agent has tried to influence the other letting agent but I feel both have dragged their feet hoping that the dust will settle. My letting agent now is refusing to re-let the property due to this neighbour.

I feel like I only have two options:

1) Reluctantly sell the property or

2) Try and re-let the property by switching my current agent to the same letting agent who oversees the troublesome neighbour. This eliminates the denial that there is a problem and who causes it due to one letting agent getting to hear about all the problems at both properties without any middlemen diluting the seriousness of the allegations. The problem with this option is whether the letting agent would evict the troublesome tenant or just be happy to allow my tenants to leave and enjoy the inctreased income from the renewals.

What other options do I have?

Please help.

Mark Lintern

How far back can overpaid Housing Benefit be reclaimed from Landlords? Landlord News, Latest Articles

I am looking for confirmation of the legislation regarding reclaiming Housing Benefit overpaid directly to a private landlord. Is it true that if a council decides that an overpayment of Housing Benefit has been made they have up to 6 years to reclaim this money?

The tenant in question had a backdated Housing Benefit payment of circa £1800 made in 2010. We are not clear on the reason for the re-assessment and why this backdated payment was made by the HB department.

The tenant remains in one of our properties. We have previously had a situation where a tenant received a backdated payment of HB, we refunded the tenant this amount and they subsequently left our property. After this the HB department wrote to us and explained that the backdate was incorrect and they re-claimed the money from us. We at that point had no recourse to collect the money from our former tenant as we could not trace them.

As a result I want to be clear on exactly what powers HB department have to reclaim incorrect payments and specifically if there is a time limit which they must adhere to. My housing officer believes they have this option for up to 6 years from the payment but this seems prohibitive to me.

Any advice would be much appreciated.

JuliaHousing benefit

£700 per room council tax! Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

I am trying to find out when council tax would become payable by the room instead of for the whole property.

I am not getting a clear answer from the valuations agency who keep coming back with it all depends on the layouts and
if its individual tenancies and what the tenancies actually say. council-tax-going-through-the-roof

I would like them to give me examples of both which they appear not to want to do.

If I created studios with their own shower room then a living room come bedroom with a kitchenette in it on separate tenancies.

In addition the studios would all share a utility room consisting of washing machines and tumble dryers and all access to the studios would be doors off the main front door, would they try and charge the council tax per unit?

Many thanks


Boiler Theft – Copper and Carpets Too! Latest Articles

I had a call about one of my properties in the Middlesbrough area that has gone downhill quite a way since I bought it 10 years ago.

It was one of John Paul’s merry crew at Castledene who told me that the place has had its back door kicked in, all copper piping, cable, boiler and even the almost new carpets pinched. It has been void for 2 months despite the offer to the local Homeless Unit and other caring organisations.

Evidently there are no homeless people in Middlesbrough who would like what is effectively a free (LHA rate only) 3 bed house, newly decorated and carpeted, with a modern gas central heating system and UPVC windows and doors. I am even throwing in cable TV and broadband free for 6 months and £100 to help with removal expenses!

So the loss adjuster has been in and sucked air through his teeth and we are in the process of getting estimates to make good. It hits the 90 day vacant limit of my insurers next week (The NLA members scheme at Alan Boswell) and I am told that none of the insurers they use for vacant property will accept it while a claim is in progress, so I am not going to have theft, accidental or malicious damage cover as of then.

Crime Prevention officers helpfully suggest that we don’t reinstate pipes, cables or boiler until, immediately before occupation. Not realistic as it’s hard enough to let as it is!

I have bleated to the council asking what is being done about this result of their selective licensing elsewhere in Middlesbrough driving the less desirable to my area. No useful reply as yet despite the mayor being Ray “Robocop” Mallon the former controversially tough “Zero Tolerance” copper.



1. How to get insurance worthy of the name until I have a tenant
2. How to get the place (and one in the next street) tenanted
3. (Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition) Best security measures to prevent a repeat. There is an alarm system there, which I am looking into having reinstated, assuming it isn’t working, and I plan to arrange curtains, blinds and lights on timers.

Many thanks


Letting a residential property to use as a detox retreat Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords


I am looking to set up a holiday ‘detox retreat’ in the Cotswolds where people stay for a week at a time in individual rooms (similar to a holiday home but with individual rooms). I’m thinking of options but considering renting a large 4/5 bedroom property close to me (looking initially for a 6 month contract with the option of renting long term), but I’m not sure if I would be able to rent a ‘standard residential property’ as the property would be run as a holiday home business? I am thinking of purchasing a property in the future, if the business works but I would prefer to rent initially.

I am an experienced property investor and have a number of properties that I rent out, but this is a new area so looking for some advice on the rental issue. Letting a residential property to use as a detox retreat

Thanks for your help.


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