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How to choose the right Berkhamsted letting agent

Choosing the right letting agent is a big decision, as your agent may be responsible for important long-term financial and legal matters. The aim is to find an agent who will enable you to rent out your property securely to an appropriate tenant for the best possible return. So what criteria should you consider when looking for a Berkhamsted letting agent?

Service level

The first decision to make is what you will require of your letting agent. At Home & Abroad Rentals, we offer landlords three options:

  • Let Only: the agent finds a suitable tenant and the landlord undertakes the day-to-day management of the letting.
  • Rent Collection: the agent finds a suitable tenant and collects the rent. All other matters are dealt with by the landlord.
  • Full Management: the agent takes care of all matters related to the letting and only involves the landlord if something out of the ordinary needs their input. For new or less experienced landlords, full management can be a good option, as it offers the greatest peace of mind.

Home & Abroad is unique among Berkhamsted letting agents for providing a complete in-house management service.

Local expertise

It’s a good idea to use a letting agent that is located in the same area as the rental property, as knowledge of the local market is invaluable when it comes to setting rents and finding suitable tenants. Home & Abroad Rentals was established over 25 years ago and all our staff have been with us for many years, so we offer unparalleled local expertise.

Membership with professional body

It is important to choose a letting agent with membership to the National Approved Letting Scheme, or one of the professional bodies that support it:

  • The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA)
  • The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
  • The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA).

Home & Abroad Rentals is ARLA registered, which means that we follow codes of professional conduct and have guarantees in place to protect landlord and tenant monies.

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Commuters: why choose rental property in Hertfordshire?

If you travel into London every day for work and are thinking about moving, it would be worth considering a rental property in Hertfordshire. Located just north of London, Hertfordshire combines the best of both worlds: fast transport links into the capital and picturesque countryside. In fact, the uSwitch Quality of Life Index listed Hertfordshire as the third-best place to live in the UK in 2013 and 2015.

Hertfordshire is a business traveller’s dream, within easy reach of Luton, Stansted and Heathrow Airports. It offers four motorways and five train lines which run into London and out into East Anglia, the Midlands, the north and Wales.

Whatever your preferences and budget, you will find your ideal rental property in Hertfordshire, with its market towns and garden cities, urban communities on the outskirts of London and sleepy country villages. Hertfordshire offers all types of property, from town centre apartments, cottages and character houses to larger traditional country residences. At Home & Abroad Rentals, we handle properties ranging in value from £700 – £6000pcm.

Hertfordshire is one of the most highly performing education authorities in England, with 26 independent schools and 73 state secondary schools.

There is plenty to do in Hertfordshire during those precious weekends. The county includes a number of historic houses, museums, parks, gardens, historic buildings, theatre, concerts and events. Whilst the tranquil English countryside and the great outdoors are all on the doorstep, the bright lights and visitor attractions of London are just 30 minutes away by train, so you’ll never be short of things to see and do.

Home & Abroad Rentals was established over 25 years ago in the delightful Hertfordshire market town of Berkhamsted, which boasts the nearby attractions of the National Trust Ashridge Estate, the historic remains of 11th century Berkhamsted Castle and the Grand Union Canal.

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How to choose the right Berkhamsted letting agent

Choosing the right letting agent is a big decision, as your agent may be responsible for important long-term financial and legal matters. The aim is to find an agent who will enable you to rent out your property securely to an appropriate tenant for the best possible return. So what criteria should you consider when looking for a Berkhamsted letting agent?

Service level

The first decision to make is what you will require of your letting agent. At Home & Abroad Rentals, we offer landlords three options:

  • Let Only: the agent finds a suitable tenant and the landlord undertakes the day-to-day management of the letting.
  • Rent Collection: the agent finds a suitable tenant and collects the rent. All other matters are dealt with by the landlord.
  • Full Management: the agent takes care of all matters related to the letting and only involves the landlord if something out of the ordinary needs their input. For new or less experienced landlords, full management can be a good option, as it offers the greatest peace of mind.

Home & Abroad is unique among Berkhamsted letting agents for providing a complete in-house management service.

Local expertise

It’s a good idea to use a letting agent that is located in the same area as the rental property, as knowledge of the local market is invaluable when it comes to setting rents and finding suitable tenants. Home & Abroad Rentals was established over 25 years ago and all our staff have been with us for many years, so we offer unparalleled local expertise.

Membership with professional body

It is important to choose a letting agent with membership to the National Approved Letting Scheme, or one of the professional bodies that support it:

  • The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA)
  • The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
  • The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA).

Home & Abroad Rentals is ARLA registered, which means that we follow codes of professional conduct and have guarantees in place to protect landlord and tenant monies.

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Questions to Ask a Letting Agent when Appointing Someone to Manage your Property in Berkhamsted

A good letting agent is essential for a landlord for many reasons. A letting agent in Berkhamsted will help you in many ways, from taking the stress out of managing the property to finding new tenants. It is important to make sure you find the right letting agent. Here are some key questions to ask before appointing a letting agent in Berkhamsted.

Are They a Member of an Organisation?

There are a few nationally recognised organisations that ensure a high quality of practice and legal compliance. Important organisations to ask about are:

1. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors or ‘RICS’
2. The National Association of Estate Agents or ‘NAEA’
3. Association of Letting Agents or ‘ARLA’

Also ensure you ask how long they have been members for, as this will show that they are committed to providing a quality service.

How Many Properties Do They Manage?

The amount of properties the letting agent manages in their portfolio is important. This shows that they are able to handle a certain capacity. Also take into account the mood in the office and how the staff seem – do they seem like they are efficient and able to deal with a range of enquiries?

How Many Tenants Are Behind on Their Rent?

This is essential for you to ask so you know how the letting agent will deal with rent arrears. Do they have a system in place that ensures they will react quickly?

How Do They Screen New Tenants?

As a property owner, you will have an idea of who you want to be living in your property. A screening process is vital to ensure that you get the ideal tenant, so do ask how they will screen new tenants. Do they meet the tenant personally? Will they conduct a thorough background check?

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Things to Consider When Looking for a New Place to Rent in Hertfordshire

Looking for a place to rent is a time-consuming task and it can feel like an endless beauty parade of houses and flats. There is no set formula for finding the ideal house, but you can take a checklist approach.

What’s Your Budget and the Cost of Renting?

On the surface, it seems like you only pay the monthly rental amount, however there are more costs involved. You’ll need to take into account whether you have to pay a deposit, the cost of council tax, and the cost of bills for the property. The area will impact on the price of rent, as well as the size of the property and extra features such as a drive way etc.

Location and Local Amenities

Location is important when choosing a rental property in Hertfordshire. Take into account how far you will need to travel for work and whether there is public transport if you don’t have a car. It’s also worth considering the local amenities around, including shops, pubs, cafes etc. If you’re after a place with a lot going on, a house in a remote location won’t be ideal.

Furniture and Fittings

Some rental properties can come fully or part-furnished, so it is important to consider your current furniture and whether it will fit into the house. You should also check the condition of the furniture in the property, such as any white goods that are included.

Using a Good Letting Agent in Hertfordshire

A good letting agent is essential in helping you to find the perfect rental property. They will have the skills and knowledge to help make your search for a new house easy and enjoyable. When working with a letting agent like home abroad, ensure you are clear on your needs, as this will help the whole process move smoothly.

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What to expect when you rent a property in Hertfordshire

When you’re looking for a rental property in Hertfordshire, you may not consider what goes into the whole process. We’ve written a short, useful guide so you know what to expect when looking to rent a property.

The application process

Once you’ve submitted your interest in a rental property in Hertforshire, your letting agent will send you an information pack with a written tenancy agreement. This agreement will have information about your rights and responsibilities as a tenant in the rental property. You should read this carefully and ensure you understand every part of it. If you have any questions, do speak to your letting agent.

Inventory check

Before you move into the property, you should have an inventory check with the landlord or a representative of the landlord. This is a list of fixings and items that are present in the property when you move in. When you are both satisfied with the inventory, you will both sign this paperwork. The inventory check will be an important document for when you move out.

Take meter readings

When you get the keys to your new rental property in Hertfordshire, it is worth taking a note of the meter readings. This will make sure that you are not paying for the previous tenant’s bills.

Documents you will receive

By law, your new landlord (or letting agent acting on behalf of the landlord) must provide you with specific documents. This includes:

  • Gas safety certificate
  • Paperwork about deposit
  • Energy performance certificate
  • Record of any electrical inspections
  • A copy of ‘How to Rent’ guide (this only applies to tenants in England)

Rental properties in Hertfordshire

A knowledgeable letting agent will be able to help you find your ideal rental property in Hertfordshire.

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Tips for finding the perfect rental home through a local Letting Agent

 Whether you’re moving out for the first time or looking for a bigger property to move into, looking for and securing a new home is a big job. The rental market offers many advantages, especially for people who don’t want to worry about being responsible for repairs and property maintenance. Here are some tips to help you find the perfect rental home through your local letting agent in Berkhamsted.

Consider your budget and your needs

Most people already start off with a figure in mind that they want to pay in rent; however, rent varies from area to area and depending on the size of the property. Consider what you want from a property such as parking, garden, and number of bedrooms. Do some research on rental properties in the area to give you an idea of how much your budget should be. Speak to local letting agents in the areas you’d like to rent in for more information and help.

Make sure your finances are in order

When renting a property, you will need to have enough money saved for a deposit and proof of your income from the last few months. This is to ensure that the landlord and letting agent in Berkhamsted are happy you can afford the rent and other associated costs of living at the property.

View a range of properties

Your letting agent in Berkhamsted will be able to help you with viewing a range of properties within your budget and specification. It’s important to view each property to get a feel for the size of the rooms and the surrounding area. You should also be open-minded about any other properties, as you may be surprised to find that your dream property isn’t necessarily within your specifications.

Work with a local letting agent in Berkhamsted

A good letting agent is essential to help you find and rent your ideal rental property. Clear and regular communication with your letting agent will ensure they can help you find the best properties within your budget and specifications.

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Insurance, Tenant Checks, And Tenancy Agreements – What You Need To Know

Becoming a landlord can be a lucrative means of making an additional income or, with a large enough property portfolio, it could become your main earner. However, the legal requirements alone can seem baffling at first glance. You need safety checks on appliances and even furnishings, will be faced with a wide selection of insurance options, and although you don’t necessarily need a written tenancy agreement in place, it is highly likely that you will want one.

 

Many of these certificates and additional safety checks need to be carried out on an ongoing basis too, but if you really want to become a landlord and attempt to make an income from property rental yield, then don’t be deterred. Once you know what is required, and have a better understanding of your legal requirements as well as some of the extras and additional policies and checks that you should also give serious consideration to, the process will seem easier. You should also consider using a letting agent; they will manage most of the process for you, and ensure that you don’t fall foul to any regulations or rules.

 

Mortgages – Have You Checked Your Current Mortgage Allows You To Let?

 

Most personal mortgages do not allow the property owner to rent their property out, which means , if you are looking to rent out your existing property, then you may need to arrange for a new mortgage. Buy-to- let mortgages are popular and commonly available from most lenders, but they do have certain stipulations and requirements that must be met before your application will be granted.

 

It is worth contacting your existing mortgage provider and asking whether you are permitted to rent out your property. They may be able to offer you a competitive mortgage that will allow you to become a landlord on your existing property, but it is always worth shopping around for the best deal. Even 1% or 0.5% can make a big difference to your rental yield and, therefore, your annual profits.

 

Insurance – Do You Legally Require Landlords’ Insurance?

 

You are not legally required to get landlords’ insurance when you start leasing property, but it is one of the most convenient and beneficial means of protecting your financial investment and ensuring that you don’t lose out on income in the future. As well as landlords’ insurance packages, that include a number of different types of policy, you can also consider taking out rental protection insurance, deposit protection insurance, landlords’ liability insurance, and landlords’ content insurance, among others. Public liability insurance is also strongly recommended.

 

Check with your mortgage provider to determine whether they require any specific types of insurance before they will accept your buy-to- let mortgage application. Many will require that you have rental protection insurance, while it is commonplace for mortgage companies to demand that you have buildings insurance to protect the value of the property itself should the worst happen.

 

Tenant Checks – Is It Safe To Do It Yourself?

 

Some elements of a tenant check are not a legal requirement, but it has been regulation that you conduct an identity check to ensure that any potential tenant has the right to reside in the UK. This law was passed to ensure that properties were not being rented by illegal immigrants, and while it might seem like an unnecessary step to a lot of landlords, it is still a legal step that must be adhered to.

 

Other potential tenant checks include credit checks, rental payment checks, and reference checks.

These do take time, even if you know exactly what you are doing, and if you get some elements wrong, it could end up costing you a lot of money. Use a tenant checking service, or choose a letting agent like Home and Abroad Rentals Limited that will manage these elements of your tenancy and landlord management, to be sure that you meet all the necessary requirements.

 

Deposits – Do You Need To Use A Tenancy Deposit Scheme?

 

One element of tenancy agreements that has changed in the past few years is that of tenant deposits. Every deposit you accept must be placed in a Tenancy Deposit Scheme. These accredited schemes protect the deposit on behalf of your tenants, but they also serve to protect your investment because any dispute over deposit and deposit returns needs to be resolved before the deposit is repaid to the tenant at the end of the tenancy.

 

Both parties need to agree to the deposit repayment at the end of the tenancy, which means that you are likely to need to discuss damage and any other influences that impact the amount of deposit that is returned. There is protection so that if the tenant disappears without contacting the scheme, you will eventually gain access to the deposit.

 

Tenancy Agreements – Written Or Verbal?

 

You do need to have a tenancy agreement in place with any tenant in your properties, but, surprisingly, the agreement does not need to be a written agreement. In England and Wales, at least, it is usually only necessary for a verbal agreement to be in place. While this might sound like an easier alternative to a legally drawn up written agreement, having a written agreement can help protect your investment and your income, and it can also prevent disputes between you, as the landlord, and your tenants.

 

Other Requirements – Other Factors To Consider Before Letting Your Property

 

Before embarking as a landlord you should consider all of the benefits, but also all of the potential pitfalls. If you intend to take a hands on approach to being landlord, you should expect it to take up as lot of your time, and you may not be comfortable conducting all of the work that is needed.

 

  • Are you comfortable chasing up late payments?
  • Do you know how to find and attract your target market as potential tenants?
  • Do you have the financial backup to protect you if you lose a tenant?
  • Are you prepared to arrange for annual safety checks for all of your properties?

 

If you aren’t comfortable researching, marketing, maintaining, and ensuring that you at least meet the legal requirements of being a landlord in the UK, then you should either consider another means of investing your capital, or you should use a reliable and reputable letting agent that will take on many aspects of this work on your behalf.

 

Visit one of the best property agents Hertfordshire over at homeaboard.co.uk

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A Guide To Becoming A Landlord

For many, the thought of becoming a landlord is incredibly appealing. There is the potential to make ongoing rental income from a major asset that, in itself, has the potential to grow financially. However, entering into property investment without first researching your legal and other requirements. While it is a legal requirement that you have regular safety checks on electrical and gas appliances, there are some requirements that might not be legally required but should still be considered vital. Tenancy agreements, for example, can be oral, but this offers little to no protection in the event of dispute.

 

Appliance Checks And Energy Certification

All electrical and gas appliances must be safety checked to ensure that tenants and others are not put in any undue risk. These checks need to be carried out by certified professionals, should be conducted every year, and will provide you and the tenant with gas and electricity safety certifications. As a landlord, you need to provide your tenants with a copy of these certificates.

If you fail to meet these safety requirements, then you could face a prison sentence, as well as fines of up to £5,000 and £25,000 for electric and gas appliances respectively. Ensure that you use registered engineers to complete the check. Recent changes mean that CORGI registered gas engineers are not suitable; you must current use Capita registered engineers instead.

It is not yet a legal requirement to offer a specific level of energy efficiency in rental properties, but you must have an up-to-date Energy Performance Certificate and this must be made available to your tenants. The certificate should be provided along with gas and electricity safety certificates at the start of a tenancy agreement.

 

Furnishing And Furniture Safety Checks

Appliances aren’t the only elements of a property that need to be checked for safety, either. If you provide any furnishings or furniture with your home, such as chairs and sofas in the living room or beds in the bedroom, then these also need to be checked for safety levels.

If you have any furniture that does not comply with Fire and Safety Regulations then you could face a fine of up to £5,000 and even a prison sentence of up to six months. What’s more, if any damage is caused, you could be liable to pay for damages and losses to your tenants and even to other property owners and tenants in a building.

Even part-upholstered furniture is covered by this regulation, and all compliant furnishings should include a rectangular label that states that the furnishings have met safety standards.

 

Tenant Checks

It is now a legal requirement to ensure that tenants have the legal right to reside in the UK. This means conducting proper and thorough citizen and ID checks. Although not a legal obligation, credit checks and background checks should also be considered an important part of tenant checks. If you take on a tenant that has a poor rental payment history, then this means that they are more likely to miss payments or make late payments than a tenant with a perfect rental payment history.

A tenant referencing company will not only ensure that potential tenants have the legal right to stay in your property in the UK, but they will also check factors such as whether the rental of a property is affordable and whether a person has had any break in income over the past six months.

Having a professional service conduct your tenancy checks is a prerequisite for most rental guarantee insurance schemes too, and these can save you considerable money if a tenant does default.

 

Tenancy Deposits

Since 2007, it has been a legal requirement that all deposits paid by tenants to landlords are placed into a Tenancy Deposit Scheme. This is to prevent instances where tenants have been left out of pocket because they have only received a disproportionate amount of their deposit back following a rental. Legally, any tenancy deposit must now be paid into a TDS and the tenant provided with details of the scheme and how the deposit will be protected.

When your tenant decides to leave, it will be necessary to show the Tenancy Deposit Scheme that you are entitled to keep a portion of the deposit, if this is the case. This is meant as a means of protecting the tenant, but it does encourage tenant and landlord to come to an agreement on what is an acceptable amount.

 

Tenancy Agreements

In England and Wales it is not usually a legal requirement to have a written tenancy agreement in place; a verbal agreement is enough to meet legal requirements. In Scotland, a written agreement is a legal requirement; all landlords and tenants are advised to have any agreement written down and signed by both parties.

If there is a dispute, then a signed agreement not only helps ensure that you meet your legal requirements, and so does your tenant, but it can help avoid irreparable damage to the landlord/tenant relationship.

 

Insurance

Strictly speaking, landlord insurance is not a legal requirement. You could make do with a standard buildings insurance policy, but there are many reasons to consider upgrading, not least the fact that most mortgage lenders will require that you have landlords’ insurance before allowing you to lease a property out or before accepting a buy-to-let mortgage application.

As well as having insurance for the property, and even for any building contents that you have, you should at least consider additional insurance protection. Rental protection insurance, liability insurance, and legal expenses cover will help to safeguard and protect your financial future. Otherwise, you could be left with a considerable outlay if the worst were to happen.

 

Meeting Your Legal Requirements

Not only do you need to consider the legal requirements that you need to meet when you first get  property rental hertfordshire, but you should also set up reminders or arrange with professionals and professional services to conduct regular and routine checks. Bear in mind that you will need the permission of your tenant to enter the property even for things like gas and electric checks, you should allow reasonable time before the deadline, in order to complete these checks.

When you first take a tenant on, you should provide :

 

  • Copies of the gas and electrical safety check certificates
  • A copy of the energy efficiency rating
  • Details of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme that you have used
  • Also give serious consideration to using a written agreement, which offers greater protection over a verbal agreement
  • Take out any insurance that you want
  • Ensure that furnishings are checked and that they include the safety check label

 

Using A Letting Agent

Becoming a landlord can be lucrative and it can offer you a sizeable second income without having to manage multiple properties and dedicate yourself full time to managing tenants and properties. Using a professional and experienced letting agent like Home and Abroad Rentals Limited means that you don’t have to worry about annual safety checks or conducting tenant checks. Your letting agent will conduct all of the necessary checks while also ensuring that you maximise your rental income and the rental yield on your property.

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10 Tips To Save Money While Renting Property

Around a third of all people rent property in the UK, although this figure ebbs and flows according to the present state of the rental market, property market, and other financial markets. There is certainly nothing wrong with renting, and some people prefer the freedom that comes with it. You aren’t tied down to a single property for the next 10 or 20 years, for example. However, renting can prove more expensive than a mortgage on the same property, but there are ways that you can save money while renting, giving you opportunity to save up the money for a deposit, or simply allowing you to enjoy greater expendable income during the month.

1 – You Only Need Contents Insurance

It is the responsibility of your landlord to pay for building insurance on the property, which means that you don’t have to pay for it yourself. Check your policy, ensure that it doesn’t incorporate both building and content insurance, and make sure that you only receive quotes for the level of content insurance that you actually require. Do check your contract to ensure that you don’t need to arrange the buildings insurance, however.

2 – But You Should Definitely Have Contents Insurance

Contents insurance doesn’t have to be excessively expensive but it is important. It basically covers anything that would fall off and break if the house were turned upside down. You may not think that you have a lot of belongings, but you might also be surprised by how much it would cost to replace everything in the event of a major disaster. Estimate the value of your contents by taking an itinerary and ensure that you have enough coverage with your policy.

3 – Prepare Your Property To Get Your Deposit Back

If you’re moving from one rental to another, make sure that you take as many steps as possible to recover as much of the deposit as possible; ideally, you should receive all of the deposit back. Make any repairs, clean the house through, and take photos of the condition of the property before you finally vacate. You can use these photos if there are any disputes over the condition of the property.

4 – Join The Free Rental Exchange Scheme

Ordinarily, paying your rent on time has no effect on your credit score. Landlords do not report to credit reference agencies. However, if you’re a good renter that pays on time, then you can now take advantage of this by joining the Rental Exchange scheme. The scheme is free to join and it reports your regular rental payments to Experian, the credit reference agency.

5 – Get The Best Deals On Bills

You could be wasting £100s a year if you move into a property and settle for the energy, phone, and other bills. Similarly, if you take a contract with you from another property, this may not be your most affordable price either. Shop around, use comparison sites, and consider companies that don’t necessarily list their prices on the net.

6 – Negotiate On Your Rental Contract

Not everybody is comfortable bartering or negotiating, but if you can pluck up the courage to do so, then you could save a bundle of money every month. Even if you can negotiate so that some bills or costs, such as council tax, are included or partially included in your monthly bill, this could mean a greatly reduced monthly rental bill.

7 – Note Flaws When Looking Around

When viewing the property, don’t just give a cursory glance around and do consider more than whether there is enough room and whether the aesthetics of the building are appropriate for your needs. Look for damp patches, damage, and other problems. Point them out and you should either be able to have them fixed before you move in, or you could use this to help you negotiate a lower rental rate.

8 – Consider Your Travel And Other Costs

If you’re moving further away from work, or to a different area, consider any additional costs associated with travel and with other additional costs that you might incur. Travel costs may seem minimal on a daily basis, but they soon add up over the year. At least be aware of this when you are looking at potential properties.

9 – Compare Removal Costs And Consider DIY

When it comes to the day of the move, make sure that you know exactly when you are able to move in. Try to arrange for services and utilities to be turned on when you arrive, and try to minimise the gap between the first day of your contract and the day that you move in. If you are paying rent but unable to move in then you will be wasting money. Shop around for a competitive quote on removal costs and consider renting a van, getting some friends to help, and conducting the move yourself. It will save time, although it may be more work than you imagine, and you should include the cost of pizza and beers for those that do assist.

10 – Take And Submit Meter Readings

The day you move in is the first day that you should take a meter reading. Once you’ve taken the reading, submit it to your gas and electricity suppliers. Explain that you’ve only just moved in and give them your readings or you could end up paying for costs that were accrued before you moved into the house.

Home and Abroad Rentals is a residential letting and property management service based in Berkhamsted near London. Find properties to match your requirements, those of your family, and
those that meet your budget.