Should You Invest in the Dragons Den Thermostat?

We are going to investigate the thermostat that secured an investment from Dragons Den Touker Suleyman and help you decide whether it’s a worthwhile investment.

The cost of living crisis and rising energy bills are a serious struggle for landlords across the country. Ensuring your rental property is energy efficient will help both you and your tenants save money on bills. 

There can, however, be difficulties in managing your property’s thermostat in rental properties. For example, you might be wasting money heating an empty property whilst your tenants struggle to figure out how to use their often complex thermostats.

What is the Time:O:Stat?

Designed by HMO landlord, Anthony Cherry, the Time:O:Stat was designed to help landlords save money on energy bills. Tenants could still have the heating on whenever they liked but the Time:O:Stat would prevent unnecessary heating when the property was vacant.  

Anthony Cherry came onto Dragons Den with the Time:O:Stat seeking investment to help launch his new models. He managed to secure an investment of £80,000 from business tycoon Touker Suleyman.    

How does the Time:O:Stat Work?

The core feature of the Time:O:Stat is to restrict the heating when the property is unoccupied. It restricts the heating to two-hour cycles, so your tenants still have control of the heating but it is restricted to 2 hours at a time. 

There are also an array of features that landlords can set up before installation to customise the thermostats to each tenant accordingly.

What are the Pros and Cons of the Time:O:Stat?

Since leaving the den with his investment, Anthony Cherry and his product have received multiple complaints deeming his invention as ‘evil’ by tenants. 

However, since the product’s launch, it has built a loyal customer base of over 10,000 HMO and student landlords and won an award at the HMO Awards for best HMO service supplier in 2022.

Let’s explore some of the pros and cons of the products.

Pros for landlords:

  • Reduced energy bills: by limiting heating when the property is vacant, the Time:O:Stat will help landlords save money on rising energy costs.
  • Range of features: the thermostat comes with a range of features from window sensors to a countdown heater timer.
  • Simple to use and install: equipped with simple controls, the thermostat is easy to use and can be set up by an electrician in under 30 minutes.

Cons for landlords:

  • Initial investment: there is an initial upfront cost to purchase and install the thermostats across your properties.
  • Less control: compared to some traditional thermostats, you can’t remotely access the thermostat settings.
  • Not suitable for all properties: this thermostat won’t suit all property rental types as some tenants will prefer to have complete control over the heating of their homes.

Who might the Dragons Den Thermostat suit?

So, having seen both the pros and cons of the Time:O:Stat, it’s time to decide whether it is the right investment for you. Especially in the cost of living crisis we are currently facing, this thermostat could suit HMO or student rentals who typically have more frequent vacant periods and tenants with varying heating needs who would like to save some money on their energy bills.

Some landlords have sung praises of the thermostat, claiming the money they have saved on energy bills since installing the thermostat is significant. Here is a review from Northampton Student Houses.

“Very easy to install and has saved us around 50% on our HMO heating bills. Tenants are happy as they can put the heating on when they need it and I am happy as I know the heating is not running when they are not at home.”

  • Northampton Student Houses

Ultimately, if you are thinking of investing in the Time:O:Stat, communication with your tenants is key. You will want to maintain a good relationship with your tenants. Therefore it is important to reach a temperature both you and your tenant are comfortable with.

What are the drawbacks to the Dragons Den Thermostat?

Although the thermostat might suit some landlords, there are various issues you will need to consider before making this decision. 

Firstly, your tenant might not be happy about the lack of control over the heating. A core feature of the thermostat is limiting heating when the property is vacant. Does your tenant prefer complete control over the heating? If so, you might face some difficulties in making this change. It is important to communicate clearly with your tenant about any changes to their thermostat. This ensures your tenants are happy with these changes before they are made.

Do you have a HMO with tenants that have varying temperature preferences? Implementing this thermostat could lead to disagreements and frustration from your tenants.

Another feature of the thermostat is the boost function which has a limited duration of two hours. Tenants might become irritated by having to constantly put the heating on every two hours, especially in the winter.

While Time:O:Stat might be the right choice for you, there are alternatives on the market including the Nest Smart Thermostat and the Inspire Smart Thermostat which also claim to save landlords money on their energy bills.

Make Sure You Are Covered

It is important to consider both the advantages and disadvantages of investing in the Time:O:Stat. From saving money on energy bills to potentially causing discontent for your tenants. It is a decision that needs to be considered. It must suit both your business needs as well as your tenant’s needs.

Here at CIA Landlords, we pride ourselves on identifying the most suitable product to suit your needs and competitive prices to ensure you get the best insurance rates from the UK’s leading insurance providers.

Whether you decide to invest in the Time:O:Stat or not, we provide HMO Landlord Insurance and Student Landlord Insurance that will give you the peace of mind you need.

Tenants from hell

While the vast majority of tenants pay rent on time and look after the property, this isn’t always the case. we take take a closer look at the proverbial ‘tenants from hell’ and just how bad some tenants can be.

Hopefully, though, you’ll never have to deal with a ‘ tenant from hell’ that is truly as awful as these examples.

The graffiti on the wall… and ceilings

Graffiti inside your property, uncleaned, can be a great inconvenience, not to mention how disrespectful it is.

One report in the Daily Mail from March 2022 provides an example of how foul some tenants can be. A tenant of a two bedroom flat in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset graffitied walls and ceilings, including expletives directed towards the landlord, causing £2,000 in damage. A local decorator described it as the ‘worst residential job’ he had ever faced.

Image of a graffitied bedroom and a shed packed with household junk.

Add such issues as stained mattresses, discarded children’s toys in the bedrooms, a smashed front window, bathroom tiles ripped off the wall, holes in the garage roof and piles of rubbish, and it’s fair to say the tenants who left behind such problems can truly be described as ‘tenants from hell’.

The cannabis farm

In early 2023, a landlord was left £15,000 out of pocket after tenants transformed his home into a cannabis farm. Getting your money back in such circumstances can be a long journey. Do you have suspicions that your property has been turned into a cannabis farm? Call the police if you have proof or ask tenants’ permission for a property inspection, providing at least 24 hours’ notice.

Image of a cannabis farm and wads of £20 notes.

Tenants living rent-free

It’s common for landlords to go through the hassle of trying to evict tenants, only for them to stay put without paying rent. Illegal renting is punishable by up to five years in prison, and politely remind your tenants of this in your letters. Be calm yet assertive when dealing with unpaid rent. Patience is also crucial since these issues can drag on.

The cost of living crisis has impacted everyone. So, before taking any action, firstly try to understand your tenant’s situation and why they may be struggling with rent.

Give yourself peace of mind

Are you seeking out the landlord insurance policy that will put your mind at rest? That is where we step in and come in handy. Are you a landlord of multiple properties? We provide robust multiple property landlord insurance that will give you the peace of mind you need.

Jackie, CIA Landlord Insurance

“One of the most frequent questions we get is about multiple homeowners. Yes, we provide tailor-made solutions for multiple properties under one policy.”

At CIA Landlord Insurance, we are friendly experts in assisting you in finding the most suitable cover for your bespoke needs.

The ultimate guide to the new rental reform for landlords 

Are you in the know about the latest changes from the rental reform?  The UK government has announced a number of reforms to the rental market, which is set to come into effect from, well…now. 

These reforms are designed to make renting fairer and more secure for tenants. In addition, they have been drawn up to improve the quality of rented homes and to prevent any inadequate living conditions 

Before we jump in, let’s get a look at the larger picture of how many this new rental reform will affect.

How many landlords are there in the UK?

Surprisingly, there are some 383,600 landlords across the nation. Considering that there are this many landlords, it makes you realise just how many properties are under the management of landlords. 

How many landlords own more than one property in the UK?

43% of landlords own one rental property in the UK. Looking more closely at the 43%, this suggested that 20% of tenancies are represented by this majority.

So how many landlords own more than one rental property? 39% of landlords own between two and four rental properties representing 31% of tenancies and 18% of landlords own five or more. This upper bracket of landlords ultimately represents 48% of UK tenancies. 

Bearing in mind, the amount of autonomy UK landlords have over tenants’ habitable space, finance and tenancy agreement length, the government have rightly placed a firm foot in the door to bring tenants’ well-being into the frame more. 

Image of landlord finance documents.

What changes should landlords expect from the rental reform?

Getting ahead of any changes will be imperative to your understanding of how the rental reform will affect you this year and beyond. In fact, you may have already started to feel the impact of these changes and had to make adjustments yourself. 

We’ve pinpointed a few highlights that we think landlords, like yourself, would deem essential action points.

Ban on Section 21 evictions 

One such reform is the ban on Section 21 evictions, which previously allowed landlords to evict tenants without a reason. Instead, landlords are now required to provide a minimum of three months’ notice before evicting a tenant. 

New ombudsman service 

Additionally, a new ombudsman service has been established to help resolve disputes between landlords and tenants. 

Pets allowed 

Unless your property is deemed ‘unsuitable or unsafe’ for a pet, you won’t be able to refuse your tenant’s pet ownership. You will still be able to find a breach in their tenancy agreement if the pet is a danger to neighbours, causing destruction or violating noise levels.  

Image of dog and cat under the bed covers.

What does the abolishment of section 21 mean for landlords?

Section 21 has been the main antagonist in many tenants’ stories of housing nightmares. With landlords being able to enforce this section previously, many tenants have been left high and dry with little or no explanation as to why. 

What’s the problem with section 21 of the Housing Act 1988? 

Section 21 is a provision that grants private landlords the power to repossess their properties from assured shorthold tenants without having to prove fault on the part of the tenant. 

This is why it is commonly referred to as the ‘no-fault’ ground for eviction. However, private tenants, their representatives, and other professionals in the sector argue that this ability of landlords to end a tenancy at short notice has a negative impact on tenants’ well-being. 

Research has shown that tenants are often hesitant to assert their rights to secure repairs or challenge rent increases due to the ease with which landlords can evict them. 

Respondents to a 2018 consultation on overcoming the barriers to longer tenancies in the private rented sector reported feeling unable to plan for the future due to housing insecurity, which has knock-on effects on children’s education and residents’ mental health.

How does the new rental reform affect Section 21 evictions?

Section 21 evictions are currently the most common way for landlords to evict tenants. However, the government has announced that they will be banned from 2023. This means that landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants without a reason.

If a landlord wants to evict a tenant after 2023, they will need to have a valid reason for doing so. This could include rent arrears, anti-social behaviour, or if the tenant has broken the terms of their tenancy agreement.

Reasons landlords are able to evict tenants without the use of Section 21

  • Nonpayment of rent. 
  • Lease violations: If the tenant violates significant terms of the lease, such as subletting without permission, causing damage to the property, or engaging in illegal activities, the landlord may have the right to evict.
  • Expired agreement: If the lease agreement has reached its specified end date, and the tenant has not renewed or entered into a new lease, the landlord can initiate eviction procedures.
  • Illegal activities: If the rental property is used for illegal purposes, such as drug dealing or other criminal activities, the landlord may have grounds for eviction.
  • Nuisance or disturbance: If their behaviour creates a nuisance or significantly disturbs other tenants or neighbours, the landlord may have the right to evict them.
  • Failure to maintain the property: Neglecting the property’s maintenance responsibilities and causing significant damage or deterioration, the landlord may have grounds for eviction.
  • Conversion of property use: If the tenant uses the rental property for a purpose other than what was agreed upon in the lease (e.g., turning a residential property into a commercial space), the landlord may be able to evict.

Notice periods

The government has also announced that landlords will be required to give tenants a minimum of three months’ notice before evicting them. This is an increase from the current two months notice period.

The three-month notice period will apply to all tenancies, regardless of when they were started.

Image of house keys.

What do landlords need to do in response to the Renters Reform Bill? 

Action is better than reaction in the face of the new renter’s reform bill. Landlords, take a look at these three points for starters and see how you will need to adjust your practices accordingly. 

Before you start you feel like the new rental reform is targeted at demonising landlords, just remember that with better conditions and relationships with your tenants, you’re set to establish more quality and consistent tenancy agreements that leave you feeling secure and your tenants happy. 

 Some of the key measures in the Renters’ Reform Bill include:

  • A ban on landlords using rent increases to make up for the cost of improvements.
  • A requirement for landlords to provide a minimum of energy efficiency rating of E for all rented homes.
  • A requirement for landlords to provide a copy of the gas safety certificate to tenants.

Check with your local council as to when these measures are being introduced. Each local council will have more authority over requirements and disputes between landlords and tenants. 

What do landlords need to do to protect themselves against rental reform changes?

We want you to feel secure with the new practices in place. Landlords need to be aware of the changes that are coming to the rental market, and they need to take steps to ensure that they are compliant with the new rules.

Some of the things that landlords can do to prepare for the new rental reform include:

  • Review their tenancy agreements to ensure that they are compliant with the new rules.
  • Start to build relationships with their tenants so that they can work together to resolve any problems that may arise.
  • Get familiar with the new ombudsman service so that they know how to access it if they need to.

The new rental reform is likely to have a significant impact on landlords, but it is important that they understand their rights and responsibilities under the new system. 

By taking steps to prepare for the changes, landlords can ensure that they continue to provide good-quality homes for their tenants.

What does the new rental reform say about pets?

The new rental reform in England will make it easier for tenants to keep pets in rented homes. Under the new rules, landlords will be required to consider a tenant’s request to keep a pet, and they will only be able to refuse the request if they have a good reason.

Some of the reasons that a landlord may be able to refuse a request for a pet include:

  • The pet is a dangerous breed.
  • The pet is too large for the property.
  • The property is not suitable for pets, for example, if it is a listed building.
  • The tenant has a history of letting their pet cause damage to the property.

If a landlord refuses a request for a pet, they will need to provide the tenant with a written explanation of their reasons. The tenant will then be able to challenge the decision by making a complaint to the ombudsman.

The new rules are expected to come into effect in 2023.

Here are some additional things to keep in mind about pets and the new rental reform:

  • Landlords will still be able to charge tenants a pet deposit, but the deposit will be capped at £250.
  • Landlords will be able to require tenants to take out pet insurance, but they cannot charge tenants an additional fee for doing so.
  • Tenants will be responsible for any damage caused by their pets, but landlords will be required to keep the property in a good state of repair.

The new rental reform is a positive step for tenants who want to keep pets. It will make it easier for tenants to find homes that allow pets, and it will give tenants more rights if their landlords refuse their requests for pets.

If you’re concerned about the pet in question, make sure you involve your local council from the get-go. As stated before, your local ombudsman will be able to offer advice and guidance if you feel the pet in question is not compliant with the list above. 

Keeping a clear trail of communication and evidence which can be taken during your six-month visits can be of great help when presenting your case to your local council. You must be able to prove that you’ve been reasonable with your requests as well as set deadlines that a tenant is able to meet. 

Image of colourfully painted houses.

How can landlords prepare for the new rental reform?

Now is a good time to begin preparing as many of these changes are in place. Here are some tips on how landlords can prepare for the new rental reform:

  • Review your tenancy agreements. Make sure that your tenancy agreements are compliant with the new rules. This may involve updating your agreements to include new clauses, such as the requirement to consider tenants’ requests for pets.
  • Get familiar with the new ombudsman service. The new ombudsman service will be a valuable resource for landlords and tenants who need to resolve disputes. Make sure that you understand how to access the service and what it can do for you.
  • Start to build relationships with your tenants. Good communication and a positive relationship with your tenants can help to resolve any problems that may arise. Get to know your tenants and their needs, and be responsive to their concerns.
  • Make sure your properties are in good condition. The new rental reform will place a greater emphasis on landlords’ responsibilities to maintain their properties in a good state of repair. Make sure that your properties are up to standard and that any repairs are carried out promptly.

Extra steps you should take to keep in the know about The Renters Reform Bill

Even though these new steps are currently in action, that doesn’t mean they aren’t subject to change or adjustment. 

Keeping ahead of any further changes will hold you in good stead. 

  • Get professional advice. If you are unsure about how to comply with the new rules, it is a good idea to get professional advice from a solicitor or property manager.
  • Stay up-to-date with the latest changes. The new rental reform is still being developed, so it is important to stay up-to-date with the latest changes. You can do this by subscribing to newsletters or following relevant news sources.
  • Be proactive. Don’t wait until the new rules come into effect to start preparing. The sooner you start, the more time you will have to make any necessary changes.

What should a landlord change in the tenancy agreement to comply with the new rental reform?

Get your tenancy agreement up to speed with the new rental reform. Remember, you always have your local council to ask if you’re unsure of the changes you need to make. 

  • Remove Section 21 evictions. Section 21 evictions are currently the most common way for landlords to evict tenants. However, the government has announced that they will be banned from 2023. This means that landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants without a reason.

If a landlord wants to evict a tenant after 2023, they will need to have a valid reason for doing so. This could include rent arrears, anti-social behaviour, or if the tenant has broken the terms of their tenancy agreement.

  • Increase the notice period. The government has also announced that landlords will be required to give tenants a minimum of three months’ notice before evicting them. This is an increase from the current two months’ notice period.

The three-month notice period will apply to all tenancies, regardless of when they were started.

  • Remove rent review clauses. Rent review clauses are clauses in tenancy agreements that allow landlords to increase rent at regular intervals. The government has announced that they will be banned from 2023. This means that landlords will no longer be able to increase rent automatically.

Landlords will still be able to increase rent, but they will need to negotiate with their tenants.

  • Include a pet clause. The new rental reform will make it easier for tenants to keep pets in rented homes. Under the new rules, landlords will be required to consider a tenant’s request to keep a pet, and they will only be able to refuse the request if they have a good reason.

Some of these changes could help to protect landlords, while others could make it more difficult for them to rent out their properties.

Will the new rental reform help protect landlords?

Yes. With tenants receiving support from the new rental reform, so will landlords, as seen in the reforms highlighted below.

One of these reforms is an increase in the minimum notice period that landlords must give tenants before evicting them, from two months to three months. This change is expected to provide landlords with more time to find new tenants and avoid financial losses

Additionally, the rental reform will introduce a right-to-rent scheme, which will require landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants before renting to them. This will help to protect landlords from renting to tenants who are not legally allowed to live in the UK. 

Another significant change is the introduction of a new ombudsman service to help landlords and tenants resolve disputes effectively, avoiding costly and time-consuming legal action. 

Lastly, the rental reform will establish a new Decent Homes Standard, which will set minimum standards for the condition of rented homes. This will help to protect landlords from being held liable for damage caused by tenants and ensure that tenants have access to safe and habitable living conditions.

However, it might not all be roses. Let’s be realistic and take a glance at the challenges landlords may face with the new rental reform being put in place. 

What challenges will landlords face as a result of the new rental reform?

Unfortunately, some changes could make it more difficult for landlords to rent out their properties. Take a look at these points below and just keep them in the forefront of your mind and landlord practice as you continue on with your property business.

Abolition of Section 21 evictions will mean that tenants can only really carry out Section 9 evictions. This could make it more difficult for landlords to get rid of tenants who are not paying their rent or who are causing problems.

Look out for increased costs. The new rental reform could lead to increased costs for landlords. This could include the cost of repairs to bring their properties up to the new Decent Homes Standard, the cost of professional fees, and the cost of insurance.

How will insurance help landlords when the new rental reform measures come in?

Our insurance expert Jackie from CIA Landlords stated

“Landlords should always have the correct insurance and the reform will not change this.

When taking our insurance Landlords should always ensure that all the information provided when obtaining a quotation is correct and that the building and contents, if required, are insured for the correct amount. The Building Sum insured can be calculated using the BCIS website. We recommend calling CIA to discuss a quotation to ensure the policy will cover all the individual landlord needs”

Discuss your landlord insurance and landlord contents insurance policy with us today. We’re passionate about finding the right policy for you. Have peace of mind and request a callback today. 

A landlord’s ultimate guide to rental finances

Whether you’ve become an accidental landlord through inheriting a property, or you are building up a rental property portfolio as part of a thought-out investment strategy, your core aim will be to generate a stable income and profit from the rent. 

Being a landlord of rental properties can present challenges at times. There is undoubtedly a lot that goes into carefully managing your rental finances, especially if you own an HMO (house of multiple occupancy) and have various tenants to collect rent from. 

Here at CIA Landlords, we have highlighted these vital considerations in our landlord’s ultimate guide to rental finances. We are an experienced landlord insurance brokerage outfit that understands the ins and outs of the best practices landlords must follow to manage their rental finances efficiently.

Image of model house. money, calculator, and notepad on a desk.

Vet prospective tenants 

It makes perfect sense for landlords to want to screen and vet prospective tenants. After all, it’s nice to know who you’re renting to when you’re entrusting people to live and look after a property you own.

Vetting the background of prospective tenants hoping to rent your property is one of the key tenants behind effectively managing your rental finances since it can prewarn you about the likelihood of future issues arising with rent payments.

Remember to bear in mind that it’s against the law for landlords to actively discriminate against tenants with ‘protected characteristics’ in the tenant screening process.

Image of tenants moving into property.

Landlord references and credit checks

Common historical issues with tenants paying rent that landlords can discover during the vetting process include things like late payments, arrears, and a history of receiving evictions from landlords. 

One way to gather such information is to ask for references from former landlords that prospective tenants have rented from. Another way to learn more about their financial history is by carrying out credit checks.

Credit checks can inform you about whether a tenant has outstanding debts, they’ve had problems with paying rent or utility bills in the past, and if they have County Court Judgements (CCJs) against them for any money they owe.

However, remember that landlords must ask each prospective tenant’s permission before a credit check can be conducted. 

How to carry out a credit check on a tenant 

Now, provided you’ve first received their permission, let’s look at how you can carry out credit checks on a tenant before signing on the dotted line of a tenancy agreement and agreeing to allow someone to rent your property.

Firstly, landlords can uncover the tenant’s credit score data from one of the three credit reference agencies – Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. 

Then, based on the data, each person you carry out the checks on will be assigned a credit score which indicates the level of risk posed to you as a landlord if you decide to rent to the person in question.

DBS Checks 

As well as covering your back financially by checking your tenant is financially responsible and will pay you the rent through credit checks, you may want to safeguard other tenants and neighbours by carrying out DBS checks. 

DBS checks on tenants aren’t compulsory measures for landlords. However, you do not want dangerous tenants living in your property and posing a risk to others or even causing damages to your property which are expensive to repair. You can only ask tenants for a basic disclosure DBS check, so spent convictions won’t show up.

How to manage rental payments 

Renting out a property can function as an excellent reliable source of passive income. When everything all goes to plan, the rental income should roll into your account in full from the tenant at the agreed time, without there ever being any blips or bumps along the way.

Yet, new landlords will quickly learn that managing rental payments isn’t always the walk in the park that it should be. Here we go into more detail and provide some tips on how you can manage rental payments.

Image of model house on table.

Ways to collect rental payments from tenants 

Landlords with direct private payment arrangements with tenants regarding rent can decide to collect their rent in person, or, go for the more convenient option of setting up electronic different debit payments. 

Tenants have the right to the ‘quiet enjoyment’ of their home and make use of your rental property without disturbance from you or anyone acting on your behalf. In addition, there are rules around landlord access to a rental property when there are tenants in situ. And you must provide at least 24 hours’ notice before turning up in person to carry out property inspections

Our advice is to set up an electronic payment arrangement to collect rental payments, this way you avoid any potential hassle or aggro that collecting rental payments in person could cause. 

Use a letting agent 

You may decide to use the services of a letting agency to collect the rent from your tenants on your behalf. There are benefits of having the peace of mind of a letting agency managing your property and taking care of collecting your rent for you. 

Just remember that using a letting agent will be an additional financial outlay and full property management costs in this country often come to around 10-15% of the monthly rent collected.

Can landlords require tenants to pay rent in cash? 

Yes, you can ask your tenant to pay you the rent in cash. However, it’s best practice to provide each tenant with paper receipts every time they pay the rent so that there’s a paper trail providing recorded proof of all rent payments for you and your tenants to keep hold of. 

When should tenants pay rent? 

You can decide whether you want your tenants to pay rent weekly or monthly. The majority of landlords ask tenants to pay monthly since that’s when most people get paid. 

It’s also common practice for private landlords to ask tenants for at least one month’s rent in advance. This means that at the start of the tenancy, tenants can find themselves having to pay for one month’s rent as well as the deposit fee all in one go. 

How to manage tenants’ deposits 

Deposits are also part of managing rental payments, and your tenants should have their deposits reimbursed when they leave, provided they haven’t caused any damage you’ve had to pay out of your own pocket to repair. 

As a landlord, you must ensure you outline any justifications for deposit reductions in the tenancy agreement. For obvious reasons, deposit reductions can be a bone of contention between you and tenants, so, providing your tenants with a breakdown of any repairs you’ve paid for by keeping receipts and invoices for repairs etc is a wise idea.

These days, legally you must put tenants’ deposits in a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme (TDP) if you’re renting out a home on an assured shorthold tenancy basis.

In England and Wales, you can register tenant deposits with one of the following schemes:

How much rent should I charge tenants?

The size and condition of the property, local wage levels, and the balance of supply and demand for properties in the local area should all have an impact on the rental price you charge tenants. For instance, in places where local wages are particularly low, it may be unrealistic to expect tenants to come forward and pay high fees to rent a property. 

Before investing in purchasing a buy-to-let home, it is important to do your research on the average rental prices in the area to have an accurate figure in your mind of how much you can expect to earn from rent. 

Location, location, location 

Like with many things related to property investing, how much rent you should charge tenants will be based on the old saying, location, location, location. Some urban areas in the UK will have completely different average rental prices compared to others, and it is vital to educate yourself on this.

Re-evaluate your rental rates regularly 

We live in turbulent times, and things such as recessions and energy price crises can have a real impact on how much money people have left over at the end of the month. Therefore, it is sensible to re-evaluate your rental rates regularly. 

You don’t want to be unwittingly over or undercharging your tenants for a long period due to not having kept on top of things and re-evaluating the rental rates you charge frequently enough.

How to deal with rent arrears 

When you’ve invested in a buy-to-let intending to generate a healthy consistent income from the rent, tenants entering into rent arrears and falling behind with payments or not paying the rent at all is a headache. 

So, how do you go down the road of evicting tenants not paying rent? Well, the law in England and Wales states that when a tenant fails to pay at least two months’ rent in an assured tenancy, you can serve them with a section eight notice for possession of the property, giving them 14 days to leave. If the tenant does not leave on the specified date, you can seek a possession order from the courts and may even need to send in the bailiffs. 

Renting a property to tenants on a rolling month-by-month basis instead of a fixed-term agreement? To evict tenants on a rolling tenancy, you must serve them with a Section 21 notice. However, you aren’t allowed to take out a Section 21 during the first four months of a tenancy.

Can the police evict a tenant? 

No, the police cannot step in to help you evict tenants, only court bailiffs are permitted to do that. On the flip side, the police will step in and help tenants if they feel they’re at risk of being evicted illegally. 

Is a buy-to-let property a good investment? 

You can earn a good, steady income from being a buy-to-let landlord, however,

like with all investments, acquiring and renting out a buy-to-let property is not an investment completely void of risks.

Becoming a buy-to-let landlord for the first time is a big deal if you haven’t dabbled in it before. So, you must do your research on the neighbourhood, local economy and wages, rental prices, property trends, and the supply and demand of rental properties in the area. Being a buy-to-let landlord is not a get-rich-quick scheme, and therefore carrying out the necessary research is all part of ensuring it is a financially worthwhile investment for you. 

Buy-to-let mortgages 

You will most likely need to take out a mortgage to help you buy the property you want to rent out to tenants in the first place. Therefore, part of your financial considerations when deciding to invest in a buy-to-let property will be how much the mortgage costs and whether you are in a position to be able to afford to pay the money back. 

In your calculations, you need to offset the rental income you will earn from the property against the cost of paying the mortgage.

In order to get a mortgage on a buy-to-let property, you must prove to lenders that you have the financial means to do so. You have to meet the following criteria to be eligible to take out a buy-to-let mortgage: 

  • Earn at least £25,000 a year
  • Already be an outright homeowner or part way to paying off your mortgage
  • Pay a deposit of somewhere between 25% and 40% 
  • Usually, you need to be over 21 when you apply (some may permit 18-year-olds)

As you may have seen on the news, mortgage rates have increased recently. But why have mortgage rates increased? The answer is that in an attempt to curb inflation during difficult times and the energy crisis, the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England has been raising bank rates, causing higher borrowing costs for mortgages. 

Of course, rising mortgage rates will have an impact on landlords, so they’re something to bear in mind when you’re managing the finances of your rental property. 

What expenses am I allowed to charge tenants? 

Landlords or letting agents acting on their behalf are no longer allowed to charge tenants for anything apart from the rent, the tenancy deposit and a holding depose As a result, landlords cannot ask tenants to cover the costs of referencing. check-in, inventories, cleaning or admin fees. 

On the other hand, you are allowed to charge tenants to cover the costs for repairs you have had to sort out due to any property damage they have been directly responsible for.  

Regular property maintenance 

Carrying out regular property maintenance is your responsibility as a landlord. 

Tenants have the right to live in a property that’s properly maintained by the landlord and fit for living in. Therefore, you cannot charge tenants extra rental money or make deposit reductions for you having to pay for repairs and maintenance which fall under the ‘regular wear and tear’ of the property. This is your duty. 

Examples of regular property maintenance landlords are responsible for include ensuring the home is well-ventilated, checking the safety of electrical appliances, changing smoke alarm batteries, keeping gardens or outside areas in a reasonable state, and much more.

To keep up a strong reputation as a reliable and trustworthy landlord, tenants want to see you making the effort to carry out regular property maintenance and minor repairs. After all, they want to ensure they are receiving a satisfactory service for the rental fees they pay you. 

Do landlords have to pay council tax?

You need to factor taxes into your rental finances. If the entire property is rented under a single tenancy agreement, for instance by a couple, two friends, or a family, then tenants will be responsible for paying the council tax bill.

However, if you rent out an HMO  property with several tenants from different households with individual tenancy agreements, e.g. a student property, then you will be responsible for paying the council tax.

How landlords can manage rental payments in the cost of living crisis 

The cost of living crisis now means that everyday utility bills such as electricity and heating will be higher for your tenants. A way you could help them out and lower bills is to move away from gas and oil and install energy-efficient eco-friendly technology in your property, such as heat pumps or efficient-energy household appliances (dishwashers, washing machines, and so on). 

Nevertheless, you still need to ensure you’re able to make profits from renting out your property. With this and rising energy prices in mind, you should have a serious think about whether you want to include utility bills in the rental fees you stipulate in the tenancy agreement. 

If you decide to include household bills in the rent, you need to ensure the increase in rent matches the increase in energy prices, or you could be considerably out of pocket. Many landlords choose to leave it to the tenants to sort out home utility bills.

As a landlord, try being as understanding and empathetic as possible with your rental tenants during the cost-of-living crisis we’re living through, times aren’t easy.

Image of a woman look at a smart energy metre.

Keep up-to-date record books of rent payments 

It is certainly good practice to make sure you keep organised up-to-date records of rent payments. Otherwise, you may fail to notice if a tenant has fallen short with their rent and gotten themselves into arrears. 

You can keep records of tenants’ rent payments digitally, or by using old-fashioned paper receipts. 

How to declare your rental income to HMRC 

Just like any other form of income, you will need to declare the rental income you make from tenants renting your property to HMRC for tax reasons. You can call them on 0300 200 3300 or get in touch online. 

Keep your personal and business accounts separate

A top tip to make things easier when declaring your rental income to the tax office is to make tenants pay rent into your business account, and keep your personal and business accounts separate from one another. That way, it makes things clearer for the tax authorities, and you won’t end up constantly getting confused about where your income is coming from.

Why you need landlord insurance

Landlord insurance is a key backup to help you manage and safeguard your rental finances. Damages, theft, loss of rent, and natural disasters are all things that landlord insurance will help to cover your back. So, taking out landlord insurance is a no-brainer for responsible landlords. 

Want to have an in-depth comparison between buildings, contents, and flat insurance policies from different providers? Get a quote from CIA Landlords today. We are landlord insurance brokers with 20+ experiences years of industry experience and offer customers the best, most competitively priced packages. 

Contact us today to get the ball rolling and find a reliable landlord insurance policy that will give you the peace of mind you need during these uncertain times. Call us on 01788 818 670 or email to find out more.

The Top 12 Loneliest Countries in Europe

There can be many reasons that cause us humans to develop feelings of loneliness and solitude, whether it be down to a lack of friends and support, falling outs with close ones, bereavement, divorce and separation, relocating somewhere new, or simply struggling to stay in touch with people we were previously close with. 

Loneliness knows no boundaries and goes across international borders, so you will find lonely people wherever you go in the world. Nowadays, people search for anything and everything in search engines, from their darkest thoughts to trivial matters. Google search is visited a staggering 89.3 billion times per month.

Internet users in the digital age often search for answers to their solitary thoughts and worries on search engines. Therefore, we at CIA Landlords decided to carry out research into the loneliest countries in Europe based on the topics people feeling lonely search for in search engines. Our research specifically takes a look at the top 12 loneliest countries in Europe based on the number of online searches for ways to combat loneliness. 

So, carry on reading to learn more about the top 12 loneliest countries in Europe and the sorts of questions on loneliness that internet users in these countries are putting into search engines, and some of the reasons behind why they may be searching for such terms. 

Image of a man using a keyboard and a mouse to make online searches on a search engine.

The loneliest country in Europe is… the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom came out as the loneliest nation in Europe from our research. Whether this is due to the weather, the cost of living crisis, Brexit creating uncertainty, or people living in this country finding things particularly tough at the moment and seeking advice to help ease their loneliness, the UK was the country where people are searching the most for answers from search engines about how to combat loneliness. 

In fact, in the data for all four of the different searches relating to questions and queries on loneliness that we tallied up during our research, the UK came out as the loneliest nation in Europe every time. 

Ranking The top 12 loneliest countries in Europe
1 UK
2 Ireland
3 Germany
4 Netherlands
5 Romania
6 Poland
7 France
8 Sweden
9 Greece
10 Italy
11 Belgium
12 Norway


The second and third loneliest countries in Europe are Ireland and Germany

In our research, the second and third loneliest countries in Europe based on search engine searches on loneliness were Ireland and Germany. 

Ireland is undoubtedly a beautiful country with lots of stunning sites for tourists and residents to marvel over, and it also has a coastline with views to die for! However, many communities in Ireland are also fairly rural and remote. So, perhaps is not surprising that some people living in Ireland may go online to search for how they can fend off feelings of loneliness.

Germany is a thriving country with the largest modern economy in the European Union. Deutschland offers a great quality of life and tourists can sample the delights of its cosmopolitan cities such as Berlin and Munich. 

So, how did it come in third place and why are there so many people in Germany heading to search engines to look up ways they can overcome their feelings of loneliness? Well, winters in Germany can be cold and brutal, and the towns and cities are pretty far apart from one another since it is a sprawling country. Some communities are really quite isolated and poorly connected to the rest of Germany. Maybe these reasons could play a role in why our research showed Germany to be the third loneliest nation in Europe according to search engine searches on loneliness.

Image of a lonely man looking out at the sunset.

Belgium and Norway came out as the least lonely European nations

Our research found that Belgium and Norway were the nations where people felt the least lonely based on searches. This could be due to people in these countries relying on effective offline methods to combat loneliness, such as maintaining healthy relationships, staying in good contact with friends and family, and being fit and active to improve their mental wellbeing. 

Another reason these nations scored lower in our loneliness rankings could simply be the people there not depending so much on search engines online to act as sources of answers to their feelings of loneliness as other places in Europe do. 

Image of fjords in Norway.

In the UK, Ireland, and Germany, many people are searching ‘How to make friends’

The UK came in poll position, with a monthly search volume average of a staggering 5,400 searches for ‘How to make friends’ and closely related questions. Ireland came in second with an average monthly search volume of 720 for the same question, and Germany finished in joint second and also had 720 searches per month.

Norway and Belgium were the countries out of the top 12 loneliest nations in Europe where people are searching the least for ‘How to make friends’ on search engines, finishing in joint 12th place each with a search volume of 210 per month.

Ranking Countries Search volume per month for ‘How to make friends’
1 UK 5,400
2 Ireland 720
3 Germany 720
4 Netherlands 480
5 Romania 480
6 Poland 390
7 Greece 390
8 Sweden 320
9 France 290
10 Italy 260
11 Belgium 210
12 Norway 210


The UK had the most searches for the term ‘How to combat loneliness’

Feeling lonely is a negative emotion since we humans are sociable creatures, and the UK finished in the top position again for the number of searches around ‘How to combat loneliness’ with a search volume of 170. The others were considerably behind tied on a search volume of 30. Those tied in second place for ‘How to combat loneliness’ included Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, and Spain.

Ranking Countries Search volume per month for ‘How to combat loneliness’
1 UK 170
2 Belgium 30
3 France 30
4 Germany 30
5 Netherlands 30
6 Italy 20
7 Greece 10
8 Ireland 10
9 Norway 10
10 Poland 10
11 Romania 10
12 Sweden 10


UK, Germany, and Ireland had the most searches for ‘How to meet new people’

People can be feeling lonely at any one point in their lives for any reason whatsoever. One factor that holds many people back from socialising is social anxiety and worries about the difficulties of getting to know new people. Many of us also feel lonely due to harbouring intense feelings of isolation and social exclusion. As a result, we also wanted to see how many people were searching for ‘How to meet new people’ on search engines in different European nations.

Image of people meeting new people and introducing themselves.

Our findings discovered the UK, Germany and Ireland to have the most searches for ‘How to meet new people’. So, these three nations came out at the top of the rankings once again in our research into online searches on the theme of loneliness in different countries in Europe! The UK had 1,950 searches per month for this term, Germany 250, and Ireland 200. Poland had the fewest searches per month for the term in question out of the top 12 loneliest European countries, with just 10.

Ranking Countries Search volume per month for ‘How to meet new people’
1 UK 1,950
2 Germany 250
3 Ireland 200
4 France 120
5 Netherlands 120
6 Italy 80
7 Belgium 70
9 Greece 30
10 Norway 30
11 Sweden 30
12 Poland 10


The UK, Ireland, and the Netherlands had the most searches for ‘Why am I lonely?’

Being unsure about why we feel a certain way can be wholly confusing. It is therefore perfectly logical for us to also want to know more about why exactly we are feeling lonely. Our research found that many people in Europe ask search engines ‘Why am I feeling lonely?’ in a quest for answers and clear explanations for what’s behind their feelings of solitude.

The UK came in the top spot as the country in Europe with the highest searches per month for ‘Why am I lonely?’ and closely related terms. Ireland came second highest with a 300 search volume per month, and the Netherlands in third with 180. 

Ranking Countries Search volume per month for ‘Why am I lonely?’
1 UK 730
2 Ireland 300
3 Netherlands 180
4 Germany 170
5 Poland 150
6 Norway 140
7 Belgium 130
9 Sweden 120
10 France 90
11 Italy 80
12 Romania 30


Why loneliness has become such a big issue in Europe?

So, our research unveiled that there are hoards of pretty lonely people in Europe. But what could be some of the reasons why loneliness has become such a problem across Europe? 

Here is a list of some of the contributing factors which could explain why people are feeling more and more lonely across Europe at the moment:

  • Rising divorce rates mean more adults are quickly becoming single and having to adapt to living alone
  • Remote working and a lack of in-person contact with colleagues and clients
  • Unemployment and economic uncertainty due to the cost of living crisis
  • Young people deciding to leave their families behind to study and work abroad (feelings of homesickness amongst young people coupled with their families also missing their company causes more loneliness)
  • Modern technology and the internet causing people to become transfixed to screens and digital devices rather than socialising in person
  • An increase in the number of people choosing to live independently rather than in a traditional family household setting, regardless of if they know full well that this decision may mean they end up feeling a bit more lonely in the future

How could countries in Europe combat loneliness?

Our research has outlined the extent of the problem of loneliness spreading in Europe, but in reality there are actually many practical ways to combat loneliness, overcoming loneliness is not an insurmountable task. 

Combating loneliness effectively partially comes down to an individual’s willpower. However, there are also things governments could put in place in Europe to fight loneliness and help people feel better about themselves by forming valuable new friendships and interacting with others. It is always nice to have a shoulder to lean on in life. 

Here are a few ideas on engaging schemes European governments could run to combat loneliness:

  • Social clubs for the young, elderly and vulnerable, or anyone at all feeling lonely
  • Encourage community sports clubs, participating in sports (especially team sports) is a great way to socialise and meet new people
  • Promote performing art clubs, such as amateur theatre performance groups, choirs, musical groups, and so on
  • Government-backed ‘book club’ schemes where people meet once a week in a group to discuss a book they have read the week before
  • Create structured programs where the younger generation is able to form bonds with the elderly and meet regularly in person (this, of course, would require the proper vetting of applicants)

Loneliness down the line can lead to mental health and wellbeing issues. So, with this in mind, it is in the interest of European governments to look after their people adequately by doing all they can to help run initiatives that aim to combat loneliness. What’s more, it could lift pressure on health services and save governments a great deal of money. 

Image of team sports camaraderie.


We decided to look at data based on search terms directly linked to the theme of combatting loneliness. We got search data from 32 different European nations, and then took the top 12 to give us ‘the top 12 loneliest countries in Europe’. Note, we decided not to record data on Ukraine for sensitivity purposes.

We recorded data on the search volume results we found for each European nation when typing in four specific targeted queries into SemRush, a reliable keyword research tool. 

Search volume is a metric that shows you how many people are searching for a particular query on search engines. The first loneliness-related query we search on SemRush’s keyword magic tool (a well-known keyword research and online data ranking tool) was ‘How to make friends’. Why did we choose this question? Well, people feeling lonely may want to find some tips on how they can get out there and fight off their loneliness by forming new friendships, and in the modern digital times of today, they go onto search engines to find the answers. 

We focussed our research on data into the search volume in each country in Europe per month for people searching phrases related to feelings of loneliness. The four specific questions and advice-based searches we took metrics from were ‘How to make friends’, ‘How to combat loneliness’, ‘How to meet new people’, and ‘Why I am lonely?’. Please note, in this, we also counted search results for similar terms. For example, we included scores for ‘how to meet people in a new city’ for data on ‘how to meet new people’. We also counted variations of ‘Why am I lonely?, such as ‘Why am I so lonely’?, ‘Why am I feeling lonely’, and ‘Why am I feeling lonely and depressed’. 

To come up with the overall rankings, we added up the search volume scores for each nation across all four of the search term queries, and the higher the score, the lonelier the nation.