With over 160 laws and regulations in the lettings industry with penalties for landlords as sever as imprisonment and fines it is critical to ensure you have everything covered and ultimately, someone else to share the liability with you.
Over the years we have been approached by both private and corporate landlords who have started out managing the properties themselves but who have subsequently elected to involve a third party. In addition to keeping up with legislation, tenants can be very unpredictable in their demands on your time and it can be a very difficult relationship to manage. We are there to act on your instructions and you will have a full time property manager who will mediate on your behalf. Increasingly more of our clients are coming over to a fully managed service and are finding that this actually saves them money in the long term.
We are often asked how long it takes to find a suitable tenant and obviously there is no fixed answer. It depends on the time of the year and the number of tenants looking. However, the process is much quicker than the sales market and it is not unusual for us to market a property and let it within days. We will give you advice about marketing your property to ensure that we get the maximum rent for you, the best calibre of tenant and the highest yields. As experts in the local market we are best placed to advise you of a realistic achievable rent and will create a bespoke marketing strategy accordingly.
Absolutely! We employ a third party to reference all our tenants. To build up an accurate picture of your prospective tenant we carry out a full credit check as well as obtaining references from their employers, previous landlords where appropriate and a bank validation check. We are encouraging the use of open banking checks as they allow checks to be made faster (e.g. to check regularity of salary payments) but to also highlight any anomolies or potential risks to the landlord. We will also conduct the necessary Right to Rent Checks in accordance with the new requirements set out under the Immigration Act 2014. We believe that you need as much information as possible before you enter into a binding agreement with your prospective tenant.
In general your tenant is responsible for the utilities (unless you agree otherwise). We advise the utilities of the change of occupancy and we check to ensure that the bills have been put in your tenant’s names. Under the terms of the agreement that we use, you are indemnified against potential non-payment of utility bills by your tenants. You would be responsible for utilities during void periods.
We are delighted to be able to be able to offer a Guaranteed Rent and Legal Protection scheme to our Fully Managed and Rent Collection landlords. This particular cover is only available to a limited number of agents who meet the most stringent requirements regarding their professional conduct. Unlike many other insurance based schemes, there is no excess for you to pay and you still receive the rent payments on time. It further covers your legal costs in the event of a breach of tenancy.
The Tenant Fees Act 2019 applies to all assured shorthold tenancies, student accommodation and licences to occupy housing in the private rented sector in England. The Act limits the amount a tenant can be charged for a holding deposit and security deposit and defines what a tenant can be charged in addition to rent. It now caps tenant holding deposits to secure a property and hold it off the market while references are checked at one weeks rent. Security deposits are capped at five weeks’ rent where the annual rent is less than £50,000 and six weeks’ rent where the annual rent is £50,000 or more.
In April 2007 The Tenancy Deposit Scheme came into affect. It was born out of the Housing Act 2004 and requires all landlords to register any deposits held against any tenancy, even those created prior to 2007. If you choose a Let Only Service we will pass the deposit to you and you will be responsible for registering it within 30 days of the start of the tenancy and providing the tenant with the relevant prescribed information for your chosen scheme. If you chose a Fully Managed or a Rent Collect Service we will register the deposit on your behalf.
If your tenant disagrees with the level of proposed deductions you intend to make from their deposit at the end of the tenancy, they have the right to raise a dispute with the Tenant Deposit Scheme. In this instance, both evidence packs (the landlord’s and the tenant’s) have to be submitted and an independent tribunal makes a decision. This decision is final and there is no right of appeal. In the event that the inventory or the check out report is compiled by the landlord, lacking in detail or not mutually agreed it can be deemed as biased by the tribunal. This results in as much as 50% of the claim being rejected. This could represent hundreds of pounds otherwise justifiably due to you, so we strongly recommend that our landlords appoint us to organise the inventory report. This will include a detailed report with time/date stamped photos, detailed condition statements, electronic submission to the tenant with an opportunity for them to comment and sign. It is also advised to appoint us to carry out mid tenancy property visits. A report is sent to the landlord highlighting any maintenance or tenant issues. The tenant also receives a report with anything requiring the attention (e.g cleaning, condensation management etc). If not addressed during the tenancy after they have been given advice, the landlord is in a stronger position to make a claim.
Historically, we could stipulate that tenants must take out a cover for a minimum of £2500 accidental damage to landlords furnishings, fixtures and fittings. New legislation prevents landlord/agents from enforcing this and it can be the tenants choice. We still encourage it and promote the benefits as in effect it protects their deposit and covers potential high costs for damage caused during the tenancy.
The only monies we require in advance of marketing your property are those to enable us to commission an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for your property. From January 2009 it is a statutory requirement that you have one before your property can be marketed and also to ensure the notice to terminate a tenancy is valid. For landlords who we provide either the managed or rent and collect service for, we give you an interest free payment plan over 12 months of the fees.
We are acutely aware that there are a number of agents who are offering a cut price service in the marketplace. We believe this is a specialist job and know the pitfalls of not doing it properly. Many landlords approach us each year who elected to go for a cut price service and sadly got just that. There are too many stories of tenants that have been allowed to move in without taking up proper references; tenancy agreements that do not protect the landlord’s interests as they should; rent that has not been charged and therefore not collected; inappropriate tenants put into properties who have caused £1000s of damage; notices that have been served incorrectly or late; deposits that have not been registered and so on. One of the major complaints we hear, however, is that agents just do not communicate with their clients as they should. We have priced our service as competitively as we can with the personnel and systems that we have in place. We know that your asset has to be looked after to ensure maximum yield and we will do just that.
This is a question that we are frequently asked. Obviously the answer varies depending on individual circumstances and attitude to investment and risk. What we can look at are market trends. There has been a significant shift in attitudes in the country to renting – fewer people own their own houses today than they once did. We are moving towards a more European model with professional people looking to the rental sector for long term housing which has increased demand for privately rented accommodation. Sandersons have seen an increasing number of private landlords growing their portfolios often starting by releasing equity from their own homes. Capital growth predictions and estimated yield forecasts would suggest that property ownership is a sound proposition and one people feel more comfortable with than stock and shares where there is no tangible asset. This is clearly too complex a question to provide a generalist answer to, but if you would like to discuss the matter in more detail please do not hesitate to contact your local sales manager.
As a landlord you are responsible for insuring the Building and adding Contents, predominantly for the liability insurance. You must have a landlord specific cover in place.
Since the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act 2019 we are no longer able to make a tenants contract conditional on them purchasing cover for accidental damage to landlords goods. We do howevely continue to firmly promote the benefits of having such cover in place not only for their own possessions but because they are, in effect, insuring their deposit. Any remedial work as a result of accidental damage can be carried out during the tenancy and it protects their deposit from more costly deductions at the end of the tenancy.
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