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Seven Tips to Save Money in Leicester

A 2-minute read. In this article, we share six tips from Mr Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis on how you can make the most of your financial resources during this period of uncertainty.

With all that’s happened during the past three weeks, you would be easily forgiven for losing sight of your personal and family finances.

But it’s one area of life where you can exercise some control.

Finance guru, Martin Lewis of Moneysavingexpert, has been a trusted voice for years, and his knowledge and expertise is being called on even more during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Here are six tips (plus one from us) he has shared with people in Leicester. For a full list see the link at the bottom of this article.

  • Council Tax – Speak to your local authority if you are struggling to pay your council tax.
  • Credit card debt – Act now to shift credit card debt to 0% interest while offers are still available in the financial markets.
  • Sports on hold – Sky Sports customers can pause their subscription while sport is suspended.
  • Returns – Many shops are extending their returns policies. If you’ve bought something and want to send it back, it’s worth checking with the retailer what its policy is.
  • Low life scum – There’s no other way of describing those scammers who are targeting people during this time. Be particularly mindful of unsolicited text messages, calls or emails from your bank, HMRC, phone providers or anyone else asking for your bank details.
  • Good advice – Sign up for Moneysavingexpert’s free money tips email. It’s always filled with ideas, offers and sound advice – which we could all benefit from now perhaps more than ever.

Support Local Businesses

And a final idea from us. We all still need to eat and buy essentials so wherever possible perhaps try to support independent local businesses in Leicester.

Many are now offering delivery services and keeping these businesses alive during this time will benefit us all when this is all over, and life returns to normal.

Do you have any money-saving tips you’d like to share with our community? If so, please let us know or comment below.

Thanks, and remember: Stay at Home, Protect the NHS and Save Lives. We’re in this together, and we will get through it together.

Below is the link to more tips from Martin Lewis and his MSE team.

https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/latesttip/

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Introducing Feelgood Friday in Leicester

In this 2-minute update we share a quick round-up of some of the good news which is happening during these tough times.

Welcome to what will be a regular Feelgood Friday update from us at Knightsbridge Estate Agents.

For every episode of selfish panic buying in Leicester, there are a dozen more examples of selfless behaviour, random acts of kindness and generous community spirit.

We’re in the strangest and most surreal period of modern history.

But it’s in these darkest of times many people can, and do, shine their brightest lights.

And here are five reasons to be cheerful and optimistic that Leicester, the UK and indeed the World, will pull through this testing period.

Clap for Carers

It was amazing and moving last night at 8 pm to see and hear people across the UK come out of their front doors and applaud the heroes of the NHS.

The Volunteer Army

On Tuesday, Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, initially issued a request for 250,000 people to give their time to help the 1.5 million vulnerable people who have to self-isolate for 12 weeks. More than 500,000 people signed up for this volunteer army in just 24 hours. And that number is growing fast.

Rainbow Nation

Hundreds of home-schooled kids across Leicester have been spreading a little cheer this week by drawing and colouring in rainbows. These rainbows have been put in the windows of homes across the community to give a little lift to passers-by.

Our Community Cares

We have heard of lots of lovely stories of kindness, compassion and generosity across Leicester It makes us proud to serve this community, and as a local business, we are doing all we can to do our bit.

Please send or share with us your examples of local heroes. It could be a video of your street applauding the NHS, your children’s rainbows or something positive done locally that you’ve heard about.

And Finally

If you get a chance, check out the adorable video of two puppies exploring an aquarium in the USA which is closed to humans, due to you know what.

Here’s the video:

Please, please remember folks that wherever possible we need to: Stay at Home, Protect the NHS and Save Lives.

Thanks, and stay safe.

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Is now the perfect time for people in Leicester to get organised?

In this two and a bit minute read, we look at four fantastic ways you can use the ‘lockdown’ to take on those decluttering chores, you never get a chance to do.

You know those jobs you always said you’d sort out when you got time?

Well with the Government’s instructions to Stay at Home, Protect the NHS and Save Lives, that excuse might be wearing a little thin in a few weeks.

Many of us across Leicester have a lot of time on our hands right now. Making it the perfect chance to look at ways to declutter and re-organise our homes.

And who better to give us advice than the Japanese Queen of De-Cluttering, Marie Kondo.

Marie has written a bestselling book – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. And has had her own TV show teaching people how to get their homes (and lives) in order.

Below are four of her top tips to get your home looking and feeling tip-top.

#1 Marie advises starting with clothing as it’s the least emotionally loaded of our stuff. Do you need that beige roll neck which makes you look like Captain Birdseye?

#2 When having a clear-out, ask yourself a simple question when mulling over throwing something out or not: Do you LOVE it? Not just like it, but love it. If yes keep it, if no (especially if it is clothes) get rid of it. Of course this doesn’t apply to your spouse if they are driving you bonkers during lockdown.

#3 Tidy by categories, not rooms. So, for example if you have lots of books spread over your home that you no longer need or want, sort these out first, rather than going from room to room. The same applies to clothes, ornaments, shoes etc.

#4 Take on a paper round-up. The paperless home is still a long way off. But if you use Kondo’s simple 3 step approach, you can add a lot of order to your paperwork. Sort into categories like this: 1)  Papers that need attention now – bills etc. 2) Papers that you need in the short-term only like offers or statements. 3) Papers that are needed indefinitely like lease contracts and insurance covers. By having the paper filed like this, you will know what needs your attention and when and what you can recycle.

Kondo’s tips are not just cosmetic. A tidy home is said by researchers to aid mental health, which is incredibly important, especially at anxious times like this. So that’s even more reason to listen to the Japanese Queen of Clean.

Thanks for reading and stay safe and looking out for each other.

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Five ways Leicester can keep calm during these anxious times

In this two-minute read, we discover five ways to keep calm during these uncertain times.

Well it’s fair to say that none of us have ever lived through such uncertain times.

The Coronavirus outbreak has caused global uncertainty, panic and anxiety.

It would be disingenuous of us if we said that as a local business impacted by this, we weren’t worried. We all are. It’s a natural response to extraordinary events.

But there are positives. For every panic buying report, there are plenty more incidents of kindness, generosity and community spirit.

And heroes are coming to the fore.

The outstanding work of the NHS staff, retail workers and our emergency services across Leicester is something we all respect and appreciate at Knightsbridge Estate Agents.

Their selfless actions help bring some reassurance to our current lives and below are five ways, recommended by the NHS on how we can all reduce our anxiety levels.

  • Keep a diary of your thoughts and what is making you feel anxious.
  • To avoid feelings of being overwhelmed, set specific ‘worry time’ in the day to go over what’s on your mind.
  • Shift your focus. The outbreak has seen a significant rise in meditation apps. There are also plenty of free resources on the internet to help learn more about mindfulness and useful breathing techniques.
  • Challenge your thoughts. By asking ourselves ‘is what I’m thinking helpful?’ you can start challenging your ideas and coming up with new solutions.
  • Talking helps. We’re all in this together so reach out to a friend or loved one and have a chat with them about what’s on your mind. Chances are they have the same concerns.

To find out more about what the NHS has to say on this subject, please visit:

https://tinyurl.com/rmkfxaw

As an independent local business, we’re doing all we can to help people in Leicester get through these challenging times, and we will get through this together.

Stay safe, stay healthy and stay positive, and if you know someone who might benefit from the information in this article, please share it with them.

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Coronavirus update: What Landlords in Leicester Need to Know

In this three-minute read, we share a Coronavirus information update for landlords in Leicester. 

The situation and advice available following the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak is continually changing.

At Knightsbridge Estate Agents we are doing all we can to keep landlords and tenants in Leicester as up to date as possible.

And we are here to help you and our community in any way we can.

Since our last update, the Prime Minister has effectively put large sections of society on lockdown to reduce the spread of the disease and support the NHS who are in the frontline of tackling Covid-19.

This has and will have a massive impact on the rental property industry.

But we’re doing all we can to stay on top of the emerging information and guidelines.

Government Help for Landlords and Tenants

The Government has announced a package of measures to protect renters and landlords affected by the outbreak.

A statement from the Housing Minister, Robert Jenrick, said: “This means no renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home during this challenging time.

“Emergency legislation is being brought forward so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least three months. As a result of these measures, no renters in private or social accommodation needs to be concerned about the threat of eviction.

“Recognising the additional pressures, the virus may put on landlords, we have confirmed that the three-month mortgage payment holiday will be extended to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties due to coronavirus.

“This will alleviate the pressure on landlords, who will be concerned about meeting mortgage payments themselves, and will mean no unnecessary stress is put on their tenants as a result.

“At the end of this period, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ circumstances.”

In addition to that information, we’ve compiled six links below to information you might find useful – simply copy and paste them into your internet browser. These links are accurate as of Wednesday 25 March– 7 am.

The Government’s rental announcement in full.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/complete-ban-on-evictions-and-additional-protection-for-renters

Gas Safety

https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/help-and-advice/covid-19-advice-and-guidance/

A Good Article on Legal Implications

https://blog.goodlord.co/legal-ramifications-for-lettings-of-coronavirus-qa-with-das-legal

Self-Employment & Universal Credit

https://www.gov.uk/self-employment-and-universal-credit

Employment & Support Allowance

https://www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance

Emergency Funding

https://www.stepchange.org/debt-info/emergency-funding.aspx

Call Us

For up to the minute news, to ask us any questions, or to simply have a chat and air what’s on your mind, please call us on 0116 274 5544 – we’re here to help.

We would also like to thank our landlords and tenants for their co-operation, understanding and for creating a sense of togetherness during this challenging period.

And finally, we salute the selfless staff of our NHS, our emergency services and retail workers who are keeping Leicester running.

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Remote Home Seller Advice Meetings

In such fluid times we know how important it is to keep things moving. We are quickly implementing new ways of ensuring we can still offer the highest levels of service to all our clients.

As part of our continued efforts from this week we will be launching our ‘Remote Home Seller Advice’ meetings.

Our remote meetings can take place with our experienced team via Skype, WhatsApp Video, Facetime or Zoom video and there’s no need for you to leave the comfort of home.

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Help with homeschooling in Leicester

In this 90 second read we share a useful list of free internet resources which might prove VERY useful as parents and carers in Leicester start homeschooling.

Out of all this uncertainty and anxiety has come plenty of positives.

The news yesterday that schools in the U.K. were to shut for the foreseeable future was met with a wave of companies and organisations offering up learning resources for free.

For every instance of selfishness, there’s been plenty more stories of community spirit and kindness.

Here’s a list of some websites people have been generously sharing which will keep the younger members of our community in Leicester entertained, interested and motivated. Useful for adults too.

Khan Academy

https://www.khanacademy.org

Especially useful for maths and computing for all ages but other subjects at Secondary level. Note this uses the U.S. grade system, but it’s mostly common material.

BBC Learning

http://www.bbc.co.uk/learning/coursesearch/

This site is old and no longer updated and yet there’s so much still available, from language learning to BBC Bitesize for revision. No T.V. licence required except for content on BBC iPlayer.

Futurelearn

https://www.futurelearn.com

Free to access 100s of courses, only pay to upgrade if you need a certificate in your name (own account from age 14+ but younger learners can use a parent account).

Seneca

https://www.senecalearning.com

For those revising at GCSE or A level. Tons of free revision content. Paid access to higher level material.

Openlearn

https://www.open.edu/openlearn/

Free taster courses aimed at those considering Open University but everyone can access it. Adult level, but some e.g. nature and environment courses could well be of interest to young people.

Blockly

https://blockly.games

Learn computer programming skills – fun and free.

Scratch

https://scratch.mit.edu/explore/projects/games/

Creative computer programming

Ted Ed

https://ed.ted.com

All sorts of engaging educational videos

National Geographic Kids

https://www.natgeokids.com/uk/

Activities and quizzes for younger kids.

Duolingo

https://www.duolingo.com

Learn languages for free. Web or app.

Mystery Science

https://mysteryscience.com

Free science lessons

The Kids Should See This

Wide range of cool educational videos

Crash Course

https://thecrashcourse.com

YouTube videos on many subjects

Crash Course Kids

https://m.youtube.com/user/crashcoursekids

As above for a younger audience

Crest Awards

https://www.crestawards.org

Science awards you can complete from home.

iDEA Awards

https://idea.org.uk

Digital enterprise award scheme you can complete online.

Paw Print Badges

https://www.pawprintbadges.co.uk

Free challenge packs and other downloads. Many activities can be completed indoors. Badges cost but are optional.

Tinkercad

https://www.tinkercad.com

All kinds of making.

Prodigy Maths

https://www.prodigygame.com

Is in U.S. grades, but good for U.K. Primary age.

Cbeebies Radio

https://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/radio

Listening activities for the younger ones.

Nature Detectives

https://naturedetectives.woodlandtrust.org.uk/naturedetect…/

A lot of these can be done in a garden, or if you can get to a remote forest location!

British Council

https://www.britishcouncil.org/school-resources/find

Resources for English language learning

Oxford Owl for Home

https://www.oxfordowl.co.uk/for-home/

Lots of free resources for Primary age

Big History Project

https://www.bighistoryproject.com/home

Aimed at Secondary age. Multi disciplinary activities.

Geography Games

https://world-geography-games.com/world.html

Geography gaming!

Blue Peter Badges

https://www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc/joinin/about-blue-peter-badges

If you have a stamp and a nearby post box.

The Artful Parent

https://www.facebook.com/artfulparent/

Good, free art activities

Red Ted Art

https://www.redtedart.com

Easy arts and crafts for little ones

The Imagination Tree

https://theimaginationtree.com

Creative art and craft activities for the very youngest.

Toy Theater

Educational online games

D.K. Find Out

https://www.dkfindout.com/uk/…

Activities and quizzes

Twinkl

https://www.twinkl.co.uk

This is more for printouts, and usually at a fee, but they are offering a month of free access to parents in the event of school closures.

Thanks to everyone in Leicester and the U.K., and indeed the World, who has shared useful information such as this.

At Knightsbridge Estate Agents, we are doing all we can to support the community in these testing times. If we can assist you in any way, please do not hesitate to get in touch and we’ll do our best to help.

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Five tips for landlords in Leicester on dealing with the Coronavirus

In this two-minute read, we look at how landlords in Leicester can successfully tackle the challenges presented by the Coronavirus.

Keep the lines of communication open

Hopefully you already have a good relationship with your tenant. If you don’t, now’s the time to start. If you haven’t already contacted them about the Coronavirus, do so now. Send them the latest Government advice and the NHS Stay at home advice, and ask them to notify you if they fall ill. That way you can take appropriate measures if, for example, a tradesperson is due to carry out works on the property (you’ll have to re-schedule).

Be flexible

With some businesses asking staff to take leave without pay and others shutting shop altogether, incomes are set to take a hit. This means some tenants will fall into rent arrears. If your tenant is struggling, don’t act in haste. If they have no previous history of arrears, it may be worth coming to an alternative arrangement. In hard times, you may struggle to find another good tenant promptly – especially if we end up in an Italy-style lockdown. Being flexible and compassionate may be the better business decision in the long run. If you’re uncertain, give us a call for expert advice.

Be prepared

In times like these, the Scouts’ motto ‘Be Prepared’ is as good as any to go by. Take time to think through all potential scenarios and start planning. If a tenant tells you that they’re self-isolating, what will you do? If a tenancy is ending in the next few weeks, will the tenant be able to move out?  And if you come down with the virus, who will manage yourproperty? The point of the exercise is not to freak yourself out but be ready for all eventualities.

Keep up to date 

With things changing daily, stay abreast of the latest advice from official sources. Follow all Government and NHS announcements and watch what the banks are saying. We will regularly be communicating with our landlords and tenants.

Don’t panic

If you feel your anxiety levels rising, ask yourself this: What would hitting the panic button achieve? By keeping as cool as possible, you’ll be able to make level-headed decisions.

And remember, you don’t have to figure everything out by yourself. If you need advice, we’re here for you. We are continually talking to landlords across Leicester in similar situations.

If you’d like more advice about lettings and Coronavirus contact us on 0116 274 5544

We will help guide you through the situation and come out the other side of this testing but temporary time stronger and wiser.

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Landlords in Leicester urged to get ready for new electrical safety regulations

In this two-minute read, we discover why landlords in Leicester need to get serious about electrical safety.

After years in the pipeline, new electrical safety standards for private rental properties are expected to come into force on July 1.

The legislation is likely to get the green light in the House of Commons and the House of Lords in the coming weeks.

What will the new rules mean?

Currently, landlords are obligated to keep the electrics in their properties in good working order, but there are no hard and fast rules about exactly how and when they do this.

After July 1 this is likely to change. Every fixed electrical installation in a rental property will need to be inspected and tested by a qualified electrician every five years.

This inspection process will generate what’s called an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). Get used to hearing this acronym. As a landlord, you’ll be required to give each tenant a copy of the property’s EICR at the beginning of a tenancy.

Your local authority will also have the right to ask to see a copy of the EICR – a request you must comply with within seven days. And letting agents won’t be able to move people into your property unless you can provide them with one too.

What if an inspection reveals a problem?

Any issue must be remedied within 28 days – or sooner, if it’s a more serious fault. The work needs to be done by a qualified person, and you need the paperwork to prove it’s been done to a high standard.

What if a landlord fails to comply?

Breach these new regulations, and you could be hit with a fine of up to £30,000. It’s also worth noting that local authorities will have the power to carry out repair works themselves – and then pass the costs, along with a hefty fine, onto the landlord.

If you don’t feel comfortable overseeing this process yourself, we can provide you with the right advice and numbers for good electricians to make sure you stay on the right side of the law.

When does it come into place?
The new rules are expected to come into effect on July 1, 2020. Any new tenancy or renewal after this date will require an electrical inspection and report (EICR).

For pre-existing tenancies, you have until April 1, 2021, to get an EICR.

If you’d like more advice about this new legislation contact one of  our lettings team who are well-informed about these, and other new changes, and can help guide you through the processes.

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How Leicester Landlords can attract good tenants

How to find good tenants

When it comes to renting out a property, it pays to invest time in finding the right tenant. Good tenants will pay rent on time and leave your property in a good state when they move out. So how do you find them?

Get your house in order 

Before you start, make sure your property is clean and presentable. Don’t cut corners on maintenance and upkeep. If the property looks cheap and shoddy, you’ll attract tenants who will treat it like a mosh pit rather than a high spec home. Remove clutter and ensure communal entrances are tidy. This sends potential tenants a signal that you, the landlord, can be trusted.

Get the price right

It’s tempting to go for broke and try for the highest price you think you can get. But you don’t want to price yourself out of the market. Every week your property sits empty, is a week without rent. Research the local market to find out what similar properties are achieving – and keep your expectations real.

Target your marketing 

Identify your target market before writing promotional material. Don’t just mention bathrooms and bedrooms, include features like storage and parking if they’re on offer. Remember, you’re not just marketing a property, you’re selling a lifestyle. If you’re targeting young professionals, mention nearby restaurants and cafes, and transport links. If you’re aiming for families, talk about local schools (especially if they’re outstanding), parks and leisure facilities.

Screen time

Streamline the viewings process by screening people first. Ask potential tenants to fill out a Rental Application Form before you arrange to meet them. This form should cover the applicant’s current address, place of employment and references.  Once you have this information, verify it’s true. Make a few phone calls (ring their place of work, for example) and do a little snooping on social media. If their socials reveal they’re headbanging party animals or breed fighting dogs, don’t bother with a viewing.

But wait there’s more

If you think you’ve found a suitable tenant, there are two more things you must do. Run a credit check (there are lots of companies online who do this) and a Right To Rent check. The latter is something you are required to do by law if you are in England. It ensures a person has the legal right to live in the UK.