Saturday, 31 May 2014


Yes I am still alive, and no I've no real excuse other than events just overtook me in May. I held a fundraising fete on the 17th, which raised about £500 (yay!) for Maggie's but it took a lot of organising on top of my full time job and training so something had to give and it was the blog. Also I'm not going to promise this will not happen again as I'm off to climb a mountain today, a night summit of Snowdon to practice for summit night of Kilimanjaro...then we have our engagement shoot...then we have a week away climbing...and we still have to raise money for our charities and also save up to pay for the trip to Kili. So yeah, sorry in advance for the irregular posting this has to be all paid for in July so maybe it will get better then...

In the meantime here is a post in inspections...

We had our inspection a couple of months ago, so while I was preparing for it I thought I would share the process. What do you need to do to prepare for an inspection?
  • Your landlord or lettings agent needs to give you notice, verbal or written and the notice period will depend on your contract but ideally they should at least give you a few days to a month (you should be expecting it already ideally as they should have already told you at what intervals you need your inspections when you moved in), they can’t just turn up unannounced or on a day you have said isn't convenient and say it’s time for an inspection. Also you should be present for the inspection, a landlord or agent should not access your home when you aren't there.
  • Repairs wise before the inspection I tend to just do things like fill and paint and holes or scuffs on the walls (from hanging pictures etc not massive cracks or anything you might want to show them those!), clean any carpet marks and generally do any little repair things I have been meaning to do. You obviously will need to tell them about any damage you have caused not try to hide it, but an inspection is a good prompt to do any small maintenance or repair jobs like painting over wall scuffs or replacing light bulbs.
  • There should be a certain amount of leeway for reasonable wear and tear, so don’t worry about getting rid of every mark, scuff or chip. Obviously living in a place you will inevitably make some mark on it, although ‘reasonable’ can be hard to define I’d say generally any small marks on skirting boards or doors, or any small scratches on hard floors or small marks on carpets are acceptable. However large marks on walls or floors (like paint spills, animal wee, carpet tears) or any things that you have actually broken are damage rather than ‘wear and tear’. You’ll need to agree with your landlord what you are going to do to rectify any damage.
  • Think about any problems you have been having or anything you want to show the landlord. As well as them looking over the property this is a good time to show them any problems, and a good chance to ask any questions face to face.
  • Obviously don’t leave any big problems until the inspection, contact your landlord or agent as soon as they arise. When I say ‘problems’ I will ask them about at the inspection it’s just little non urgent things I've been meaning to ask them about like the loo seat is a bit wonky is it ok if I get a new one or will they, or to let them know that the bedroom window gets a lot of condensation and that might be a mould issue down the line…not things like there is a massive crack running down the bedroom wall or the oven doesn't work.
  • I tend to email any issues to the landlord before the inspection so they know what to expect, and often can start looking into things beforehand and we can have a talk about possible solutions at the inspection. I find this helpful (some might not), we tend to communicate via email with our landlord so when we set up the date I just send the main things I want to talk to them about so if there are any things on there we can sort out or get started on before the inspection it speeds it up.
  • They don’t need to look at any of your personal stuff, should go without saying they don’t need to look inside your furniture or through your things. However if they want to look at walls or carpets that look like they might be damaged but hidden by furniture you might need to move some things around. If it is heavy furniture and you can’t move it there and then you might need to arrange for them to come back.
  • An inspection should be professional so you shouldn’t need to feel worried or intimidated about it, but I once had one from a letting agent who made no effort to talk to me about the property, just arrived and barged around from room to room noting all the smallest marks or ‘potential damage’ (stuff like having washing drying inside will cause mould, although there was no mould as I’m careful to open windows if drying inside – and there was no garden or tumble dryer at this property), and asked rather rude questions like ‘did I always leave dirty washing up out? Was I aware that could cause an infestation?’ like we were stupid or living in a pigsty (There were a few bowls from breakfast on the counter not washed up and it was only mid morning, the rest of the place was clean). I always have Tom home for inspections as well, if you live alone and do feel nervous about the inspection having a friend or family member there to back you up or just for moral support might help. I can be quite assertive and I know my rights so didn't feel intimidated but I was really shocked by the attitude.
  • It is also good to have a copy of the landlord or agents notes or to take your own, so that you can remember everything that was discussed.
  • Cleaning – I often have a little clean before people come round any way (I think a lot of people do!), and the flat is relatively clean most of the time. You shouldn’t need to scrub the place from top to bottom before an inspection but I tend to just make sure the kitchen and the bathroom are clean, dust and run the hoover and mop round. I also empty the litter tray before and make sure there aren’t any litter tray smells lingering (I do that just before anyone comes round though as I am paranoid about the flat smelling of cat wee). Generally just make the place presentable, as long as the place is at an acceptable level of cleanliness (I.e. no stains on the carpet or piles of rubbish) you shouldn’t need to worry about the odd bit of dust or stray laundry, you do live there after all it’s not a show home.
  • If you don’t have time to clean much right before the inspection then just make sure that the floors, walls, windows and fittings are in good condition. The landlord or agent should be focussing on the stuff that they are responsible for, like the actual walls, floors and ceilings as well as kitchen counters, fittings etc. Your possessions shouldn’t be of any concern to them. If the place is messy but clean (i.e. the carpets and counters are clean and there are no marks on the walls, but you have loads of laundry to do and the bed isn’t made) then that will do.
  • If there is something that needs doing, how do you work out who is responsible for it? Generally anything caused by you like damage to walls, flooring, windows, fixtures and fittings you are responsible for repairing or paying to get repaired. Anything that is generally faulty like an oven, boiler or shower that has stopped working (not from damage by you) is the landlord’s responsibility, as well as of course any structural issues and general repairs or maintenance (like boiler servicing and electrical or plumbing issues).
  • Get a verbal agreement at the inspection of what needs to be done, and who is responsible for it, sometimes you or the landlord might need to go away and get a professional to come back and look at something so get a timeframe agreed on when this will happen. Make a note of these timeframes in your notes from the inspection, some agents even bring a form that you fill out with the inspection notes, any damage, any repairs and what needs to be done and you both sign. After the inspection if things aren’t moving along then refer to the notes from the inspection and remind the landlord of what was agreed.

That's all of my little tips on inspections, feel free to add your own in the comments and I will hopefully be back soon!

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Monday, 5 May 2014

Renting with pets – Part 4 – Long term

Last in the renting with pets series today. So you’re all settled in with your pet, but as a tenant what do you need to think about long term?
  • Toilet habits – Obvious really but keep the litter tray clean, change the litter regularly and use a mat underneath to protect floors. For dogs or larger animals if they go outside make sure to clean up after them regularly to keep any grass in good condition. You might need to reseed the lawn sometimes if any yellow patches come up from animal pee.
  • Carpets – Pets like dogs and cats will put a bit more strain on carpets. There will be inevitable accidents, muddy paw prints and puke so make sure you always have a good spot cleaner to hand, I also shampoo our carpets once or twice a year (depending on how dirty they get). You can rent carpet cleaning machines from DIY stores for a pretty reasonable cost to give them a really deep clean, I’d definitely recommend doing this before you move out. Rugs are also great for protecting problem areas.
  • Our cats are pretty good at using the scratching post and not clawing the carpet or furniture, make sure you provide them somewhere to scratch though as they will scratch something to sharpen their claws and you don’t want it to be the door frames or carpet! Sometimes they won’t use a post and would prefer to use a tree or fence post – you might need to discourage this dependent on your property. There are lots of different scratching posts or mats available, if they won’t use a post try a mat and vice versa. If they really won’t use the pet store ones and prefer wood then you could DIY something or set up a piece of wood they are allowed to scratch. They will often go back to the same place so for example if they seem to like a certain fence post just rig a plank to it and they can scratch that rather than the fence.
  • Smells – litter trays, wet dogs, water in tanks, pet food left out in hot weather etc can all make some unpleasant smells. You will probably need to vacuum more often now you have pets (I used to hoover just once a week now try to at least twice a week) or bath/groom your dog more regularly. We change the litter as often as we need to, to try and avoid the cat wee smell. Also due to not having our own bin and sharing with the landlords we use litter tray liners, we just pick up the liner and its contents and put it into a small bin liner, then tie the top and take it out to the bin – this keeps the smell at bay until the bins are collected. We use a freshening powder in with the cat litter, and also have a plug in and air freshening sprays in the bathroom for if it does get a bit whiffy. We try to air the place as often as we can, although being a basement flat it’s nice to get some fresh air anyway. We change the water often and clean the filter weekly on the turtle tank. You may also need to use febreeze on carpets and curtains, I use ‘shake n vac’ type carpet deodorising powders every now and then to freshen carpets and rugs.
  • Heavy tanks or vivariums can mark floors, a rug or floor protective mat underneath will help catch any water and protect the floor. We need to get a new tank and when we do I’m thinking of this, as our current one seems to be ok but a larger heavier new tank might leave dents in the floor.

Pets are the best way I’ve found to make a house a home, enjoy them!

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Saturday, 3 May 2014

Weekend Inspiration

Hello, it's been a while I know! I think with the training and fundraising routine, as well as planning a wedding I just don't have a lot of time for home projects right now. I hate filler posts but maybe I might have to post some more non-home related stuff, like general life posts and maybe some outfits or fitness posts. What do you think?

It's either that or radio silence I'm afraid as not much going on in the way of home improvement around here! In fact the hallway is stuffed with jumble sale boxes, and the dining table is covered in raffle prizes so it's not looking very blog worthy at all in our flat! After the 17th of May when I am holding a charity fete then it will look a lot better and I can FINALLY post the after photos from the decluttering.

Good job I always have a back log of pins to show you each week hey...

Another trunk as coffee table set up, I love it and I am still on the hunt for one. I also like the monochrome living room, and while that light fixture is hung way too low for my liking (I am clumsy and would spend half the time walking into it) it is really interesting...
This large leaning photo frame with lots of pictures inside is a great way to display photos with no fixings in the walls (if it's somewhere stable and you don't have kids or pets who might knock it over) or with only one anchor (to be safe if you do need to steady it). Perfect for tenants!
This was originally a wedding pin, but it looks like a really easy DIY art project that you could totally change for any shape, maybe even words.
I'm off to make a load more candles and peg magnets for my stall at my fete, and then off to check out the jazz festival later on. Have a wonderful long weekend everyone, enjoy the sunshine :)

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