As a landlord, you probably worry about the security of your property a fair bit – and this may heighten over Christmas if your tenants are going to be away for a period of time.

Fear not. Even if you're not living in the property yourself, there are some things you can do – and ask your tenants to do – to deter potential burglars this festive season.

1. Keep valuables away from windows

Encourage your tenants to avoid keeping expensive items like laptops and speakers in plain sight. Burglars will be looking for the quickest and easiest way to get to belongings, so leaving them in front of the window will only encourage theft. Ask your tenants to close the blinds or curtains if they're going to be away for a few nights (or more).

2. Lock up

Sounds basic, but one of the best ways to prevent robberies is to keep the front door locked! Check the lock on your property – if it's feeling a little flimsy or has seen better days, get it changed. Having a latch mechanism can be useful as it means the door will automatically lock as tenants leave the property. It's also a good idea to have more than one lock on each door and install a door chain for extra security.

3. Check in

It's also worth checking the windows in the property. Do all windows lock? Are there curtains or blinds in every room? Some properties may have a window next to the door which could make it easy to break in by smashing the window and releasing the door handle. Do a thorough check on every possible way to enter the building, and try to improve security accordingly.

4. Invest in an alarm

If you're really worried, it's worth spending a small amount on a burglar alarm and fitting it in the property. Alarms, security lights and spy holes are small touches that could make all the difference to a burglar getting in successfully or not. Once you install a new alarm or light, don't forget to provide instructions or run through how to use it with your tenants.

5. Pretend someone's at home

New research has found that first-time house buyers who use the Help to Buy scheme could be paying up to 21.6% more in the long run.

Last month, money expert Martin Lewis advised people who are not yet on the property ladder to open a Help to Buy ISA with just £1 so that they do not miss out on the initiative. The account basically means that the government will add 25% to your savings, up to a maximum of £3,000 on savings of £12,000, to help you buy your first home.

You can then choose to put the deposit towards a property using Help to Buy schemes. With a Help to Buy: Equity Loan, the government lends you up to 20% of the cost of a new-build home, so you’ll only need a 5% cash deposit and a 75% mortgage to make up the rest. Through Help to Buy: Shared Ownership, you can buy a share of your home (between 25% and 75% of the home’s value) and pay rent on the remaining share.

Its that time of the year and your tenant gets in touch to tell you they’ve got mould growing on the wall!

Damp and mould in a rented property are very common, but they can cause extensive damage and endanger the health of your tenants, so they need to be dealt with promptly. The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 specifically cites “freedom from damp” as one of the criteria for deciding whether a property is unfit for human habitation, and the law makes the landlord responsible for keeping the property in good repair.

The health risk can be serious. The NHS website states: “If you have damp and mould in your home you're more likely to have respiratory problems, respiratory infections, allergies or asthma. Damp and mould can also affect the immune system.”

 

Who is responsible for mould in a rental property?

 

The first thing you need to do is determine the cause. Most of the time it is condensation – the result of the room not being properly ventilated, which is normally the tenant’s responsibility. The telltale sign is a cloud of little black dots spread over an area of wall that can be mistaken for dirt.

With so many property completions taking place in December, it’s highly likely that someone on your Christmas list has either just moved home or is gearing up to do so. With this in mind, we thought it would be nice to give you last-minute shoppers some great gift ideas aimed specifically at those movers. These perfect presents are both thoughtful and useful, which will ensure you’ll be invited over in the new year! 

Let’s take a look…

 

Food hampers

Moving home at any time of year can easily result in one too many takeaways being consumed...and Christmas is definitely no different! So, why not help out by buying the movers a fabulous food hamper? Whether the hamper comes from Fortnum and Mason, John Lewis, M&S, Harrods, or The British Hamper Company, it’s sure to be a welcome gift for those whose entire kitchen is still pretty much packed away in boxes. 

House plants

 

A few years back, this could have been considered a relatively dull and unimaginative idea, but not any more. House plants are extremely popular at, ahem, present, and there’s a wide enough range to suit every taste and wallet. From tiny succulents, which are ideal for that tiny bathroom nook, all the way up to an impressive Areca Palm, you’ll definitely be able to find something fitting to give to your movers. 

Tool kit

More practical than festive, perhaps, but for those who are moving into their very first property, a tool kit full of essential items is an absolute must have. You don’t have to go overboard here (although you could, of course), just an easily stowed away box with common everyday tools like screwdrivers, allen keys, pliers, and such will be gladly received by any new homeowner.

Cafetiere and coffee

This one will be especially welcomed by those who are completing in the final week running up to Christmas. What with everything else going on, it’s highly likely that their non-essential kitchenware will remain packed away until the new year. For many, though, coffee is an absolute essential that they will be kicking themselves for not packing in the ‘open immediately’ box. Give the gift of an upgraded cafetiere and a bag of craft coffee to put an end to those instant, freeze-dried woes.

Gardening essentials

Sure, we all love the idea of turning our house into Santa's grotto. But when it actually comes down to it, the process of actually visiting a Christmas tree farm, lugging the chosen one home, and shelling out for decorations too can seem a little OTT when both time and budget are limited. And who's going to volunteer to hoover up pine needles anyway?!

Well this year you can forget all about heading to Poundland to only come home with crinkled plastic and lingering disappointment. We've got the perfect solution.

Meet the alternative Christmas tree. The super cool festive beauties that will see you through many Christmases to come.

Round up your flatmates, get that festive kitty started, and invest in one of these...

1. The wooden one

Coming in at £55 on Cox & Cox, this rustic hanging tree is perfect for lovers of minimalist interiors. Decorate with as many or as little hanging ornaments as you want – the best thing about this alternative tree is how little space it takes up. It just hangs from a hook on your wall.

2. The lit one

Let's face it: nothing screams "holidays are coming" more than twinkly lights literally EVERYWHERE – and why should your house be the exception to the rule? Forget the strings of tacky cheap fairy lights this year, and invest in a cool light up tree instead. This £34.99 one from christmastreesandlights.co.uk will cost a is a small price for making your days merry and bright (and Pinterest-worthy).

3. The metal one

Metal isn't the most obvious material to make a tree from, but a more minimalist design means the decorating choice is all yours. This one from Sklum costs £44.59 and comes in a choice of colours – and it's lightweight enough to be moved around as you please. We think it'd be beautiful with fairy lights wrapped around it and a few simple decorations hung from the hooks.

4. The millennial one