The latest news from Mansell McTaggart

The latest news from Mansell McTaggart

How to host the perfect BBQ

As we can now socialise with up to 6 family members and friends in outdoor spaces, including back gardens, a BBQ is a great way to have some fun with your favourite people whilst staying safe. However, there is now a bit more to think about with increased hygiene standards and social distancing crucial in preventing a second wave of the coronavirus. With the summer months well underway, we share how you can host a perfect BBQ.

1. Planning your space
Planning your garden space and how people will move around your garden will help everyone to maintain social distancing. For example, you could create a one way system so that people can collect their food and navigate back to their seats with ease. Setting out a seating plan will also help to minimise movement and touching around your garden.

2. Hygiene
Whilst this is already a must, ensuring that you wash your hands prior to preparing or handling food and utensils is crucial to reduce the risk of germs spreading. If you have hand sanitizer at home, have this available outdoors for your guests so that they can regularly keep their hands clean during their visit too. You could ask your guests to bring their own condiments and cutlery where possible too.

3. Food preparation
Stick to having one person in charge of food preparation and BBQ'ing. Although there is minimal risk of any transmission from food or food packaging, this will ensure that touching is kept to a minimum.
Making food preparations prior to guests arriving will allow you to prepare food calmly with no distractions. It will also ensure that you can spend as much of your valuable time catching up with your guests instead of in the kitchen.

4. Plating food
Often at BBQs you may be used to having food in the middle of the table where people can help themselves. To reduce physical contact it is better for people to plate all of the food they would like onto their individual plate once food is ready so that there is less touching of surfaces and utensils. You could create a queuing system where people can use their own utensils to serve themselves, or you could plate the food up for them. This is especially important for foods such as dips and nibbles where you would usually share the packet.

5. Watch the booze!
A couple of drinks at a BBQ is part of the fun for many. But after a few drinks people can tend to become lazy and forgetful; making social distancing more difficult to manage. Watch the drinks so that you can continue to be aware of the government guidelines.

6. Facilities
People are aloud to enter your home to use the toilet as long as they thoroughly wash their hands. You should keep some disposable paper towels in the bathroom instead of having everybody use one of your towels to dry their hands. Wipes should be used to wipe any surfaces as required.

How are property priorities changing?

2020 has forced us to make many changes in our lives, from home working, to self-isolation, it has created a time period for us to step back and re-think what is most important to us. As life slowed down many transformed their lifestyles and now need their homes to fit into this. This drive for change has already started to be noticed by agents and property portals, with a decrease in demand for the more vanity features and an increase in lifestyle practicality. Findings from a report released by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) have also confirmed the trends.
Home Office
When searching for property, features such as spare rooms for home offices spaces have been key for many. Working patterns have changed over the past few months, with many opting for more flexible work routines for the long haul. Home working has been found to be very productive and provide a better work life balance for many. For those that no longer want to commute, space for a comfortable home office is a number one priority.

Garden or Balcony
Properties with a garden or balcony have dramatically shot up the priority list. According to RICS, more that four fifths of property professionals believed that there is an increased desire for gardens or balcony’s for potential buyers. The lockdown period we have all faced has shown many how important the great outdoors is and having access to that on your own property is the most convenient way of getting outdoors.

As well as this, having space for garden storage has also been high on the property wish list. This is so that bikes and garden furniture can be stored securely. The rental sector has seen a dramatic increase in searches for property with bike storage in line with the encouragement from government to cycle to work where possible.

Proximity to Green Space
Having a garden or balcony is not the be all and end all for everyone. For some, as a long as they are in proximity or easy access to public outdoor spaces, they can still meet their needs for getting into nature. There have been many home hunters looking outside of city life to be closer to nature trails, local parks, and cycle routes. Outdoor exercise has become a staple part of fitness routines, so having nice locations to cycle or jog is key to meeting the fitness goals for many.

Home Improvements
The UK is poised to spend billions on DIY and home improvements following our period of lockdown. Spending so much time at home has caused people to have less tolerance for the areas of their home that they have been meaning to change. From extensions, to converting rooms into different functions, society is certainly starting to take ownership of their lifestyles and make their environments fit into their preferred ways of living.

Landlord update - electrical legislation

If you are a landlord, it is important to keep up with the latest legislation in order to keep your tenants and yourself secure. The latest change to keep abreast of is the government’s new electrical safety regulations – specifically for electrical installations in your properties. Fall foul of these rules, and you could be facing financial penalties of up to £30,000.

In recent years we have seen somewhat of a reform to the rental sector with seismic changes including the Tenant Fees Act, Fitness For Human Habitation Act and a potential review of Section 21 evictions. The new Electrical Safety Standards regulations will apply to all new tenancies from July 1 2020 and for existing tenancies from April 1 2021.

One of the key features of the legislation is electrical inspections, with landlords having to ensure that all electrical installations in their property are inspected and tested by an appropriately qualified electrician at least every five years. Documentation around these inspections then need to be shared with new, existing and prospective tenants as a legal requirement. Should the local authority request the paperwork, a landlord is also then required to supply this within 7 days of receiving the request.

Here is an overview of the changes;

• A landlord is required to obtain an inspection and test report from a qualified person, supply that report to each tenant within 28 days, and to the local housing authority within seven days of a request. A copy must be retained until the next inspection is due.

• For new tenancies, the landlord must supply a copy of the last report to any new tenant before occupation, or any prospective tenant within 28 days of a request.

• If the report requires further investigative or remedial work, this must be carried out within 28 days or sooner if the report suggests. Written confirmation of the work being carried out by a qualified person must then be given to the tenant and the local authority.

• If a landlord is in breach of the regulations, the local authority can serve remedial notices, if necessary, carry out the required works themselves recovering their costs from the landlord and can impose financial penalties of up to £30,000.

If you would like to read the full guide for landlords published by the government, you can do so here or if you would like to talk to us about your rental properties, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be able to advise you.