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Summertime and the letting is easy…

London in late summer is a wonderful thing. Leafy parks to stroll through, you can still catch languid lunches and sultry suppers at the thousands of wonderful places to eat. The city is still full to the brim of tourists seeking the London experience.

Tourists need accommodation and riding high on the technological wave is Airbnb. It works like any holiday booking site: prospective travellers go online, select the dates they wish to travel and pick from a list of options.
Founded in 2008 it has changed the holiday scene radically, partly because of its scale of enabling regular property owners to make extra cash by renting out their space.

For a property manager therein lies the problem. Managing multiple occupancy buildings is a high wire act at the best of times. Negotiating the range of requirements is complex so adding to the mix an unknown stream of visitors to the building is becoming an issue on a range of levels.

We wrote previously about the issues regarding Short Term Lets. One of the main problems being that short-term lettings can have disastrous effects on the amenity offered by the building, as short-term tenants are often noisy, transient and uninterested in the long-term comfort of residents.

We are seeing more and more issues as a direct result of Airbnb guests. The fragile eco-system of ‘community’ in communal living can become disturbed.

Questions you need to ask your property manager if you are considering renting via avenues such as Airbnb.

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Communication is everything

As property managers we know that good communication is vital. It can be challenging with Landlords who are overseas on different timezones, multiple language requirements and quite simply, clarity.

In today's world most communication is via email and text. As property managers we receive messages 24-7 regarding any element of the buildings that we manage. We can never make an assumption about anything; The plumber we have booked to attend your building? The time is agreed, we assume they will attend however other circumstances unknown can hold the plumber up. Serious issues on their previous job, London traffic - you name it, we have heard it. A key skill in property management is the need to see all sides of an issue – it is very rare for all the occupants of a block to agree on how the building should be maintained. We are appointed by the Landlord to maintain their investment and to observe the terms of the leases, but EVERYONE has a valid opinion...

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Invasive species of plants — check your building

As the weather starts to warm up, perusing the rows of plants in the garden centre, it seems that one of the nations most invasive species is available in a range of forms. Buddleia; irresistible to butterflies and a favourite with gardeners. Fast growing with plumes of flowers it seems innocuous enough? Buddleia davidii, to give its latin name, which originated in China, is viewed by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) as an invasive non-native species. On any train journey it can be seen trackside, with its familiar purple plumes.

The problem is that its seeds spread far and wide and can self seed in your garden however it can also lodge in cracks anywhere on your building, on the roof — quite the opportunist. Pulling it out is not recommended as you can also pull out the mortar in which it sits or parts of the roof requiring a repair.

As property managers we are very familiar with this plant as well as a range of others. The cost to remove some of these plants can become a bone of contention since this can require a cherry picker or other special equipment if access is limited. With overhanging trees If you fail to correct this and someone is hurt, you may find yourself in court accused of negligence.

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Keys, drains and rubbish! Happy Christmas!!!

Here are our top 3 tips to keep us all free from hassle this holiday

1. Keep hold of your keys!! An obvious point but we receive lots of calls from residents locked out during the festive break. Keep a spare with a neighbour if you can.

2. Plumbing and drains have to work extra hard during the festive season with more people at home all at once. Please don't flush anything down the loo that has the potential to block drains. Drain clearance at Christmas can get expensive and callout times may be longer.

3. Like it or not, Christmas means more rubbish as the bins can easily get filled up with boxes and packaging. Always crush your boxes down flat and try to recycle where possible.

Our offices will be closed from 12 noon on 24th December 2015 and will re-open at 9am on Monday 4th January 2016.

Should you require assistance during this time, please contact our 24-hour emergency team:

London & surrounds: 07894 254164
South Coast areas: 07881 908688
Other areas: 07939 264617
We wish all our landlords, lessees and tenants a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Think before you flush!

We are all interconnected in a way that I am sure many people never consider. Drainage.

Living as we do in such close proximity our drains link us together as they flow past each of us. Occasionally, we become more aware than we might like when something goes wrong, a blockage or a leak, very often caused by something or someone else in another flat or property. We do have a collective responsibility to consider our impact on others. Pouring what ever we like down our drain can seriously impact those around us.

It never ceases to amaze us what people will put down the drain. As property managers we are often called out for leaks and blockages. (Do you recall the fat berg found recently deep in London drains?)

Our regular top six offenders found down drains... 

  • Rice is a particular offender. As it is rinsed post cooking, 'some' will go down your drain, but it sticks to the inside of the pipes as it goes down thus increasing the possibility of blockages.

  • Food fat. A serious problem, as it tends to bind around wet wipes and other detritus like clay around straw. "It slips down sinks very easily when it's warm," says Simon Evans of Thames Water, "but once it hits our sewers it cools down and congeals into what we call fatbergs."

  • Baby wipes another very popular item but potentially disastrous. These can buildup very fast and then act as a wonderful net to capture anything non liquid in the drain hence creating a blockage.

  • Cotton buds and tampons. They just won't break down. It may take months or years for a fatty ball of them to accumulate, see baby wipes for the danger of build up.

  • Children's toys. Our plumbers are often fishing out a range of recognisable characters from toilets. If you have a child who develops an interest in testing the swimming ability of their toys, find a lock for the toilet.

  • Mobile phones. We wouldn't like to comment on the etiquette of using a mobile in the vicinity of a toilet other than to notice how often said mobile has to be fished out by our plumbers. Needless to say this can be expensive on two counts - the call out and the replacement mobile!

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Snow – great, isn't it?

Whilst glancing at the lunchtime news reports showing scenes of ‘massive disruption’ to the country’s road network caused by a few centimetres of snow, it struck me how different people’s experiences of the same event can vary so hugely. We rarely get snow to the level in the picture – now if we had that, that would be ‘massive disruption’!

To a child, snow falling signals many things, usually positive; Christmas, messing around outside tobogganing, snowball fights or the possibility of a day off school! What’s not to like?

To others, perhaps those of us with higher levels of responsibility, it seems we often only see the negative effects of snowy weather; treacherous pavements, car accidents, having to turn the heating up, the kids are off school – how do we deal with that when we need to go to work? What is fun to one person may be a misery to another.

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