Seven Ways to Make a Tenant Feel at Home

In this three-minute read, we look at a new report that outlines how Hertford landlords can build a long and prosperous partnership with their tenant.

What’s the secret to a successful tenant/landlord relationship? It’s a question that has vexed property gurus through the ages, but now the University of Stirling thinks it has the answer.

A new report from the university, Making a Home in the Private Rented Sector, says the key to a long and happy property partnership is to make a tenant feel at home.

After all, if a tenant feels safe and settled, they’ll be happier and healthier, and more likely to take good care of the property and stay put long term.

And isn’t that the Holy Grail for any landlord? Who doesn’t want a reliable tenant who keeps the place tidy, pays their rent on time, and remains in situ for years?

The report identifies seven things landlords can do to make a tenant feel at home.

  1. Keep your property in good condition 

If you don’t take care of your property, why should anybody else? Set the tone at the start of a tenancy by ensuring that the property is in good nick. Invest in energy efficient measures such as draught-proofing and insulation – your tenants will appreciate it during winter.

  • Fix repairs promptly and to a high standard

Respond quickly when a tenant reports an issue. Dithering will only make your tenant less likely to raise issues in the future (which means a minor problem could snowball into a major repair job).

  • Don’t jump to conclusions about prospective tenants

You may have a fixed idea in your head of what makes the “perfect tenant”, but avoid making assumptions based on age, income, or other characteristics.

  • Avoid blanket bans on children and pets

Landlords who veto children, cats, dogs, ferrets, or hamsters could be missing a trick. When a family or pet owner settles in a property, they tend to stay longer because they don’t want the hassle of relocating – meaning a flexible landlord can enjoy a stable long-term income.

  • Negotiate about home decorating

We’re not suggesting that you give a tenant free rein to do a full Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen makeover, but think through any redecoration request carefully before responding. If a tenant can make your property feel like their home, they’ll stay in it for a longer period. And they may do a great job and add value to your property. 

  • Be respectful and supportive

Keep the lines of communication open by being respectful and helpful. You don’t have to become BFFs (in fact, we’d rather you keep it strictly professional), but be sensitive to your tenant’s feelings, especially when it comes to things like inspections. 

  • Offer longer tenancies with stable rents where possible

If things are going well, consider offering a longer tenancy. That way, you’ll both know where you stand in the long run.

If you have any questions about building a good tenant/landlord relationship, get in touch with us here at Abel. 

COPYRIGHT Abel 2021

Three Stories to Get You in the Mood for Valentine’s Day

In this two-minute read, we share three stories that shine a light on affairs of the heart in the lead up to Valentine’s Day on Sunday.

Lockdown celebrations

One thing star-crossed lovers in Hertford don’t have to worry about this Valentine’s Day is bagging a reservation at a candle-lit restaurant. 

In “normal times”, even the most mediocre eatery is booked solid on 14 February, but – alas – thanks to lockdown that won’t be the case this year. 

So how can couples celebrate the Feast of St Valentine in style? Diana Wiley, a “marriage therapist and board-certified sex therapist” urges those in relationships to be creative. 

She told NBC that couples should focus on creating their own “bubble of love”. Ways to do this include dressing smartly (no onesies or tracksuit bottoms), buying your beloved a thoughtful gift (lingerie or some luxury bath items perhaps) and don’t obsess over the fact that you can’t go out.

Make 2021 the year you create a new Valentine’s tradition that doesn’t involve overpriced set menus.

The survey says…

Frugal types will be delighted to learn that you don’t have to spend big on your partner this Sunday.

That’s according to relationship coach Louanne Ward, who surveyed couples about their Valentine’s Day likes and dislikes.

Ward, an Australian who runs a matchmaking agency, says 63% of men and women surveyed think heartfelt gestures are more important than expensive gifts. 

So, if you were planning to present your other half with a pricey piece of jewellery or an expensive bottle of booze, think again; a home-cooked meal and a card might suffice.

And if you’re going to show your love with flowers, they don’t have to be red roses (which are usually eye-wateringly expensive on 14 February). The survey found that 80% of women would prefer to receive their favourite flower instead of red roses. The question is: do you know your beloved’s favourite bloom?

Is monogamy for the birds?

When it comes to everlasting love, birds are much more likely than mammals to stick with the same partner for life. Only about 5% of mammal species (excluding humans) are monogamous, compared to 90% of bird species (figures: World Wildlife Foundation). 

You won’t be surprised to learn that lovebirds mate for life. Other loyal species include bald eagles, barn owls, pigeons, vultures, scarlet macaws, flamingos, and mute swans.

(Side note: If a male mute swan dies, his female mate will find a new partner within weeks. However, if a female mute swan dies, the male waits until the following autumn or winter before buddying up with another swan.)

From all of us here at Abel, thanks for reading and have a great weekend.

COPYRIGHT Abel 2021

7 Reasons to be Hopeful this Year

A 60-second speed read.

The past 12 months have been a Mount Everest like challenge for most of us.

But hope is on the horizon.

Here are seven reasons to stay optimistic in 2021.

  1. The vaccine rollout continues to gather pace and is vaccinating millions.
  2. Several animal species are expected to be saved from extinction.
  3. More governments across the globe are committing to cutting carbon emissions.
  4. Spring is around the corner – Better weather is coming.
  5. The fallout from the pandemic could be that we rebuild our societies in a fairer, more sustainable way.
  6. Sociologists predict that many people will emerge from the lockdown with a kinder, community-minded approach.
  7. After the Spanish Flu pandemic which ravaged the earth from 1918 – 1920 an economic and cultural boom swept Europe and North America. It was dubbed the ’roaring twenties’ and many experts predict we could be in for a similar period more than 100 years on from that decade.

Let’s face it 2021 can’t be anywhere near as bad as 2020.

What are you looking forward to most when our lives return to normal?

Thanks for reading.

Copyright Abel 2021

How to Protect Yourself from Bogus Landlords

In this three-minute read, we explain how renters can avoid getting ripped off by fake landlords.

Renters in Hertford should be on their guard against fraudsters using Covid-19 as a cover to swindle people out of their hard-earned cash.

Rental fraud is not a new scam – Action Fraud, the UK’s reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, has been warning about it for years.

However, we’re concerned that the increase in property activity being carried out online due to the pandemic could leave renters more vulnerable to this kind of ruse.

Just last week, we heard of an attempt at online rental fraud and it’s clear the scammers are out there, doing their best to rip people off.

What is rental fraud?

Imagine this: you’re searching for a new place to live and a property advertised on social media catches your eye. It looks perfect, and the price is right. Stroke of luck!

So, you make contact to arrange a viewing. Great news, the property is available – but there’s an issue: you can’t view it in person. 

You may be told you can’t visit because:

– The ‘owner’ is out of the country due to work/personal issues/Covid-19. (They may even throw in a sly dig at Priti Patel’s quarantine rules to seem personable.)

– The ‘owner’ is unwell or isolating due to Covid-19. 

At this point, alarm bells should ring. What usually comes next is a request that you pay a deposit ASAP to secure the property. The ‘owner’ may suggest that you meet a ‘friend’ of theirs to exchange a cash deposit for the keys, or they may ask you to make an electronic transfer.

No matter how plausible the story seems, don’t hand over a penny.

If you do, we can pretty much guarantee you will never hear from the ‘owner’ again, never step inside the property you saw advertised (the pictures were probably ripped off from another rental advert), and never get your money back.

Fraud-busting tips

Never agree to rent a property through a website or social media. 

Never pay a deposit to rent a property you have not viewed in person. You must visit the property and ensure it is a genuine let. You need to be happy with the property and the terms and conditions of the letting. 

Never pay to view a property. Agencies and landlords never charge for viewings.

Never hand over cash – it’s untraceable and can be used immediately.

Never transfer funds via Western Union, Moneybookers or other electronic fund transfer services to someone claiming to be an agent or landlord.

Always establish that the property exists and that it is available for rent.

Always check the landlord/agent’s identity, and that he/she is authorised to rent the property.

Always do your research. Look online to see if the property is on any other rental platform. If it is with a letting agency, call them and clarify the details. If you want the property and it is with an agency, then go through them.

Always trust your instincts. If you’re unsure, walk away.

Always report scammers to the authorities.

From all of us here at Abel, please stay safe and be vigilant online.

COPYRIGHT Abel 2021

Three Good Reasons to Talk about Mental Health This Friday

In this three-minute read, we look at some of the positive initiatives inspired by Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week.

Mental health used to be a taboo subject, but thankfully things are changing. 

This week was Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and up and down the country, people found interesting ways to engage with young people about the issue.

The week’s theme was ‘expressing yourself’ and encouraged young people to find ways to share feelings, thoughts, or ideas through creativity. 

As one in six young people have a diagnosable mental health issue (figures: NHS), we must encourage open and honest discussion.

Here is a rundown for people in Hertford of some of the ways people shared that message this week.

Lovely Day for fundraising

Super smooth music legend Billy Ocean and Youth Voices (YV) – the world’s largest school choir – released a cover version of Bill Withers’ classic tune Lovely Day

Profits from sales of the single will go to Place2Be, a brilliant mental health charity that provides counselling services in 600 schools across the UK.

Expect to hear more from YV and Mr Ocean later in the year when they attempt to set a new Guinness World Record for the largest simultaneous sing-along (multi-venues).

The current record was set by YV in 2005 when 293,978 singers at 1,616 venues sang Lean On Me.

YV hopes to smash this record on 15 June in a mass sing-along streamed live from the O2 Arena in London.

Meditation and movement

Schools across the UK marked Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week in all sorts of ways. 

Pupils at Norbridge School in Worksop, Surrey, enjoyed guided meditation, while youngsters at Gwenfo CW Primary School in the Vale of Glamorgan took pleasure in walking and climbing in the great outdoors. 

Meanwhile, in Inverness, a new service launched called Mikeysline. It provides support to secondary school pupils who are struggling with difficult thoughts and feelings.

Olympic effort

Two sporty brothers, who recognise the vital role physical activity plays in warding off depression and anxiety, hosted their own Virtual Olympics this week.

Ottavio and Dario Tanzillo, competitive swimmers who work at a Northampton primary school, hosted a Virtual Olympics on their YouTube channel Tanzii TV this week.

In a series of light-hearted videos, the brothers, clad in superhero costumes and onesies, demonstrated boxing, hurdling, and fencing. 

They aimed to get kids – many of whom have become more sedentary during lockdown – up and moving.

Scientists have long recognised the link between a healthy body and a healthy mind, and say regular exercise increases self-esteem, reduces stress, and improves concentration.

And finally

A quick book recommendation. If you’d like to learn more about young people and mental health, get your hands on a copy of Take My Hand by Pat Sowa. Pat is a former headteacher and campaigner whose son Dom battled mental ill-health. You can also follow her on Twitter (@pat_sowa).

Visit www.place2be.org.uk to donate to Place2Be.

From all of us here at Abel thanks for reading. Stay safe and take care.

Copyright Abel 2021

It’s Children’s Mental Health Week in Hertford

In this 60 second speed read we show our support for a vitally important project which comes with Royal approval.

Children’s Mental Health Week (CMHW) is running from Monday 1 to Sunday 7 February.

The project’s patron, HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, launched the event with a special video message.

The Duchess is a passionate supporter of children’s mental health and spoke about the importance of young people expressing their feelings safely and creatively.

It’s in keeping with the theme of this year’s week, which is Express Yourself.

The Duchess also spoke about the importance of parents and carers looking after their mental health and making time for themselves.

The CMHW website is filled with activities and resources for children and parents to do exactly that.

At Abel we recognise how challenging the lockdowns have been for children (and adults) and that’s why we’re putting our full support behind this initiative.

Lookout on Thursday for our 10 top tips to help children and young adults with their mental health.

For more info and to access all the free resources visit: www.childrensmentalhealthweek.org.uk

Seven Reasons Why People in Hertford Are Moving This Year

In this two-minute read, we look at seven reasons people in Hertford are upping sticks and moving out, on, and upwards.

Over the years, we’ve helped hundreds of people across Hertford move home successfully.

The reasons why people move are varied, but in our experience, they tend to be one of the seven ‘L’s.

What are the seven ‘L’s? Fear not, dear reader, because we’re about to reveal them below.

  1. Love

A new romantic relationship is a beautiful time in people’s lives. And when things get serious in the love stakes, the decision to move in together is one that fuels the moving market.

  • Loss

Sadly, on the flip side, when a loved one dies, or a relationship ends, this can also be a catalyst for people to want to move out and on to a different chapter of their lives.

  • Learning

When love turns into a family, then the demand for being near good schools motivates movers as much as anything we come across. That’s why people will pay a premium to be within the catchment areas of great places for their children to learn and develop.

  • Lifestyle

A change is as good as a rest as the old saying goes. People’s lifestyles change as they get older, and their circumstances change. This is the driving force behind people upsizing, downsizing, and relocating.

  • Location, location, location

One of the main motivating moving factors. It might be about being nearer to loved ones, an open space, good schools, transport links, even a view. Location is always up there as one of the most popular reasons people move.

  • Leaving

When children get older and spread their wings to seek their own nests, the family home can often seem a little too big. This can be the cue for people wanting to downsize and free up some of the equity in their current home.

  • Lockdown

The pandemic has made many of us re-evaluate our lives. And spending so much time indoors and at home has made many people want somewhere new to live. It could be because of a lack of space, a need for a garden, or to be nearer loved ones.

Whatever your reason for thinking about moving, we’re here to help you every step of the way.

Copyright Abel 2021

The Top Ten Board Games People are Buying in Lockdown

A 60-second speed read on the games people are playing in lockdown.

One of the few positives of the lockdowns has been that families living in the same home have spent more quality time together.

This ‘together time’ has seen a surge in the number of board games sold.

Amazon has just released the top ten games that families across Hertford and the UK have been buying in the battle to banish boredom.

Here they are:

1. Monopoly

The property classic. Number of players 2 to 6, £14.99.

2. Match and Spell Game and Shopping List Extras

Educational learning for ages, 4+, £12.

3. EXIT – The Game

Escape rooms for the home, numerous players, ages 10+, £14.

4. Animal Families

Develops matching and memory skills, 2-4 players and for kids aged 4+, £4.99.

5. Bananagrams Big Letter

Fun word game. 1-8 players, ages 7+, £16.99.

6. Monopoly Deal

Property card game 2-5 players, £5.88.

7. Articulate

Fast-talking description party game, numerous players, £20.

8. First Times Tables

Multiplication learning for kids aged 5-8, 2-4 players, £8.30.

9. Ticket to Ride United Kingdom

Travel fun. Ages 8+, 2-5 players, £34.90.

10. 5 Second Rule

A fast-paced, talking game, 3 or more players, £12.73.

One of our favourite board games is driving around Hertford and seeing our sold and let signs.

What games are you playing to stave off lockdown boredom and to bring your family together?

Top Tips for First-Time Landlords in Hertford

In this three-minute read, we share five top tips if you’re thinking about renting out your property for the first time.

Deciding to become a landlord is a big step.

It can be both exciting and daunting.

Here at Abel, we’ve got some tips on what you need to think about when renting out a property so you can make your first venture a smooth one.

Do some market research

To work out how much rent you could be expecting, have a look at similar properties in Hertford. If you’re not sure how much you should be asking for, arrange a valuation with us. We can also help you make sure your property is aimed at the right tenants.

Make sure your property is ready for your tenants

It’s vital to ensure that your property is tenant-ready. A well-maintained home is more attractive to any new occupants and a few improvements could make all the difference. Ensure that outstanding repairs are complete before any viewings take place.

Consider whether to offer your property on a furnished or unfurnished basis. The option you choose will depend on the type of tenant you want to attract. If you decide to furnish your property, choose neutral colours and simple styles to allow your tenants to put their own stamp on their new home.

Understand your responsibilities

Being a landlord can take up a lot of your time. It’s your responsibility to take care of any major issues which may arise and these can occur at any time of the day or night. Some, like a gas leak, may require your immediate attention. Your tenants will also look to you to carry out repairs, and maintenance unless you appoint a letting agent to manage your property. Speak to usto find out how we can help.

Make sure you comply with the law

When it comes to being a landlord, there’s a jungle of laws and regulations that you need to navigate through. All tenancies begin with a right to rent check and you must make sure that you’ve taken the correct steps to register and protect your tenant’s deposit.

Ensure that the property has working smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and an up-to-date gas safety check – which should be carried out on an annual basis. Your property must also have an Energy Performance Certificate before you can offer it for rent. Weensure all the properties we rent out and manage are fully compliant with all the relevant legal requirements.

Use a letting agent

You may decide that you want to manage your property yourself.

However, the right letting agent can make your first experience as a landlord stress-free, act as a buffer between you and your tenants, and provide expertise and support if things don’t go according to plan.

Here at Abel, we’re with you every step of the way. Get in touch with your questions and one of our experts will be happy to help.

COPYRIGHT Abel 2021

A Top Ten of Uplifting Songs for People in Hertford

In this 60-second speed read, we share ten tunes to put a spring in your step despite what’s going on in the world.

What do you get when you cross a fashion magazine with a scientist? And no this isn’t a joke from an open mic Zoom night at your local comedy club.

Vogue Magazine reported back in the first lockdown that a neuroscientist, Dr Jacob Jolij, claims to have discovered the perfect feelgood song formula. And here’s his top ten.

1 – Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen

2 – Dancing Queen – Abba

3 – Good Vibration – The Beach Boys

4 – Uptown Girl – Billy Joel

5 – Survivor – Eye of the Tiger

6 – I’m a Believer – The Monkees

7 – Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper

8 – Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi

9 – I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor

10 – Walking on Sunshine – Katrina and the Waves

We’ve all got one song or playlist which makes us feel better about things. What’s yours?

Thanks for reading and stay safe, stay hopeful and stay tuned for regular updates on the Hertford property market.

Copyright 2021 Abel