For all students taking a property for the next academic year, please note your deposits are due by today. You can make payment either via a bank transfer, calling the office and paying with a card (please note card charges apply), or bring cash to the office. For more information contact Amy or Nadine in the office on 01227 765008
Agent shut down whilst fears are aired regarding missing money – iConn Property Management, Canterbury0
Here is an interesting article written by Rosalind Renshaw on behalf of Property Industry Eye. This article gives you all the more reasons for using an ARLA qualified Letting agent like iConn Property Management. We are an affiliated agent with the relevant and essential ‘client money protection Insurance’ in place, providing our Landlords and Tenants peace of mind;
Landlords and tenants are feared to have lost thousands of pounds after the sudden closure of a property firm.
Sweet Property Services has shut down with a Notice of Forfeiture on the door saying that the landlord of the building in High Street, Rochester, Kent, has re-entered the premises.
As a consequence, says the notice, the lease has been forfeited and the premises secured. The firm is said to have entered liquidation, although details are unclear.
Landlords have told their local paper that rent has not been passed on, with concerns that tenants’ deposits may not have been protected.
A spokesperson with The Deposit Protection Service told Eye: “I can confirm that Sweet Property Service have never protected a deposit with The Deposit Protection Service.”
The Property Ombudsman confirmed to Eye it has received a number of complaints about the agency, run by Richard Sweet and which was more recently known as My Sweet Property.
A TPO spokesperson said: “The TPO has been informed that the agent has gone out of business and is in possession of the administrator details. It is assisting complainants in progressing their complaints.”
Had deposits been lodged with the Deposit Protection Service they would have been safe.
The spokesperson said: “Problems such as insolvency proceedings affecting letting agencies are relatively rare, but we of course sympathise with anyone experiencing complications.
“We can reassure both tenants and landlords that our custodial scheme offers the best protection against issues arising from insolvency proceedings. With the funds directly held by the DPS as an independent custodian, the deposit remains protected, notwithstanding such proceedings.
“Under both our insured and custodial schemes deposits remain protected and responsibility for these deposits can be transferred to the appropriate party.
“As a result, a tenant’s access to a deposit that he or she is entitled to at the end of a tenancy is unaffected.”
According to the local paper, one tenant said she had been trying to contact Mr Sweet and his daughter Courteney for over a month without success.
She said: “I, like other tenants, have been emailing these agents for confirmation that my deposit has been lodged with the Deposit Protection Scheme (DPS) and to question why some of my rent has not been paid to my landlord and about the sudden name change.
“Every time I was answered with ‘everything is fine and the paperwork is in the post’.
“It now looks as though Sweet is offering a new online service and this needs to be looked into. Firms should not simply be able to set up shop again.”
Her landlord claims he is £5,000 out of pocket. David Newton said the property had been rented out because his father had dementia and had gone into care: he had needed to rent out the family home to pay for his care.
Mr Newton said: “I have been left distraught and am owed at least four months’ rent.”
Source: Property Industry Eye http://www.propertyindustryeye.com/fears-over-missing-money-as-yet-another-agent-shuts-down/
Rosalind Renshaw from Property Industry Eye highlights Labours intentions regarding letting agent fees together with longer tenancy terms…..
Labour’s manifesto, published yesterday, has confirmed that the party will ban letting agent fees if it wins the election.
The manifesto also confirms that it will legislate to make three-year tenancies the norm and introduce rent caps.
The manifesto says: “For the 11 million people who rent privately, we will legislate to make three-year tenancies the norm, with a ceiling on excessive rent rises.
“A ban on unfair letting agent fees will save renters over £600.
“We will drive standards up by creasing a national register of private landlords.”
The manifesto also says that Labour will build at least 200,000 homes a year by 2020. Under Labour, a “new generation of garden cities” would also be built.
In a further confirmation of plans previously announced, the Labour manifesto says a mansion tax will be introduced to help fund improvements to the NHS.
Meanwhile, Eye’s story yesterday alerting agents in Walthamstow, London, that Stella Creasy and her supporters were due to embark on a mystery shopping exercise of their fees was highlighted by her on Twitter.
She tweeted: “amazing @alexhilton – letting agents upset walthamstow campaigners wanted to see if transparent about their fees….#saysitall”
Thirteen minutes later, she tweeted: “Want to know why Walthamstow needs Labour Govt? Local letting agents upset asking about fees – lab would ban them!”
Here at iConn we’re proud to say that we are an ARLA agent. Here ARLA explain the importance of staying gas safe in this useful article:
What set’s ARLA agents apart from the competition is their high standards, professionalism and credibility. Gas Safety is a crucial thing for agents and landlords to get right if you’re to protect your tenants, avoid a PR disaster and worse, a potentially fatal accident.
Annual gas safety checks need to be carried out every 12 months by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Landlords or their agent must keep a record of the safety check for two years and issue a copy to each tenant within 28 days of the check being completed and issue a copy to any new tenants before they move in.
As part of their contracts with letting agents, many landlords will assign responsibility to their agent to fulfil the gas safety obligations of the contract, so it’s vitally important that you have a good grasp on when each of your properties anniversary falls. It is a criminal offence if you don’t comply with your legal duties under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and the HSE can issue a formal caution or decide to prosecute.
Help is here
One way for agents and landlords to dramatically minimise the risk of forgetting to schedule a gas safety visit or boiler check is to sign up to Gas Safe Register’s free reminder service. They will they email or text you when it’s time to get your appliances checked. This is a FREE service for landlords, agents or tenants to service their boilers on a yearly basis.
Gas Safe even provide a service for lettings agents or landlords with multiple properties, which allows you to do bulk uploads of properties. Once you’ve uploaded them once with basic details including the month which a check is due, they will do the rest! All you need to worry about is choosing a Gas Safe registered engineer of your choice when the time comes to complete the work!
So what are you waiting for – STAY SAFE and take a load of your mind and make – get proactive and !
If you’re not sure of your obligations under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, HSE has free leaflets and a free Gas Safety Advice Line offering telephone help – 0800 300 363.
They also offer some great advice here: http://www.hse.gov.uk/gas/domestic/faqtenant.htm
See link for the gas map tool and reminder service:- http://www.staygassafe.co.uk
Congratulations to Amy in lettings for passing her fourth and final unit in NFOPP Technical Award in Residential Letting and Property Management.
Amy has now obtained the industry recognised ARLA membership, meaning that five members of staff here at iConn are now ARLA qualified.
For all of you still searching for your student accommodation for the next academic year, for three days only iConn are offering half price administration fees for ALL OF OUR AVAILABLE STUDENT PROPERTIES !!! This means that for each party securing a property with iConn for 2015-16, you each will only pay £90.00
To view our current student list, visit our website at http://www.iconnproperties.co.uk or contact the office on 01227 765008
Congratulations to Nadine in lettings for passing her fourth and final unit in NFOPP Technical Award in Residential Letting and Property Management, and of course to Paul in maintenance for passing unit one!
Nadine has now obtained the industry recognised ARLA membership, meaning that four members of staff here at iConn are now ARLA qualified.
Rightmove reveal a few handy tips in order to prevent losing your deposit at the end of your tenancy:
As a young professional, moving into your first rented property is an exciting time; exploring your new local area, buying a variety of brightly coloured decorative items for your various rooms and ‘investing’ in homely goods (slow cookers, smoothie makers etc.). You’ve made it! You have your own home!
Sadly though, the sting comes at the end of your tenancy, when it comes to getting back your deposit…
Many landlords and letting agents have had problems with tenants in the past so those contracts you signed, without scrutinising, at the start of your tenancy can sometimes come back to bite you at the end. So here’ some things to think about before you jump in, to ensure you glide happily into your next home:
Before you move in
At the start of your tenancy, go around your property with the landlord or letting agent and go through each point on the inventory, with particular attention to damages. Only sign the inventory when you are happy that everything is included. If they claim they will repair something which is broken, as it is not on the inventory, then follow the conversation up with an email so you have a paper trail. It is also worth recording the meter reading.
Take photographs of all rooms before you unpack (to show the condition in which you received the property) and of any particular issues or broken objects on check-in, preferably with a camera which displays the date, to prove when it was taken.
During your tenancy
At any point during your tenancy, if anything is broken or damaged which you cannot repair, such as damp or electrical faults, tell your landlord or letting agent as soon as possible. If you talk to them via phone, follow it up with an email so that, again, you have a paper trail. And, again, take photographs of any damages.
On check-out, get out your contract and inventoryand read it thoroughly before you begin. If it states in your contract that you should professionally clean the property, do so and retain the receipt – as if the landlord disputes the standard then you have evidence. Adhere to any other conditions, such as defrosting the kitchen’s white goods, if it is in your contract.
You should leave the property in the same condition as you moved in, but your contract will state, and it is legally projected, that ‘fair wear and tear’ is completely expected and acceptable. Things which don’t class as ‘wear and tear’ and which you should sort out are, for example, damp around the grouting of sash windows, limescale around the bathroom and general dirt and grime. This should have been maintained by you throughout the tenancy and is therefore not acceptable to leave behind.
Before you leave, and preferably when you have moved out your belongings, take photographs of all of the rooms, as you did when you moved in. Also, take pictures of any problems or damages, which you will have, hopefully, discussed already with the landlord or letting agent. Remove all rubbish and belongings from the property, even if you don’t wish to take them on with you, and check your meter reading again.
It is definitely worth requesting to go over the check-out inventory with the landlord or letting agent. If they allow that, you can look at any issues together and any reductions from your deposit won’t be a surprise.
If, after following this advice, you do have any problems with retrieving your deposit, you can log an issue with the tenancy deposit scheme with which yours is registered, who will give you advice, guidance and, if it comes to it, mediate a fair communication between yourself, the landlord and the letting agent with all of the evidence you have – so the paper trail and photos you have will be handy – to decide what portion you will get back.
Moving house is a busy enough time, so taking a little time before, during and at the end of your tenancy to protect your deposit is well worth it to save you the hassle and bad taste left afterwards.
Don’t get stung! Get back your deposit and enjoy your new home.
iConn ensure all deposits are protected with an appropriate scheme. If you have any questions regarding the above, or cannot locate your inventory and wish to have a copy emailed out to you in preparation for your check out, please do not hesitate to contact the office on 01227 765008.
If you wish to speak to a member of our lettings team to discuss, please call either Amy or Nadine on 01227765008.
Rosalind Renshaw, on behalf of Property Industry Eye, writes about this interesting case that will see changes being made in property inspections by agents on behalf of landords:
An important new case has major implications for letting agents who manage properties and for landlords.
It may also have implications for insurance.
In the case of Edwards v Kumarasamy, the tenant tripped on a path outside the block of flats where he lived on the second floor, injuring his knee.
The landlord did not own the path and did not own the block. However, the landlord did own a flat within the block and the path was the essential means of access to the block.
Until now, it has always been assumed that repairing obligations only apply to what the landlord actually rents out to the tenant, and also that the landlord cannot be held liable if they have not been notified of the need for a repair.
However, in this case, the tenant took a disrepair claim under Section 111 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and, at the Court of Appeal, won his case.
Solicitor David Smith, of Anthony Gold, says this is “a big deal” for agents and landlords, and will have “serious consequences”.
Smith warns that as a result of the case, any landlord can now be sued for disrepair to areas serving their property, irrespective of ownership.
It also means that agents doing property inspections should look not just at the property itself but also at areas over which the landlord has rights, such as paths and drives.
There is, says Smith, no obligation on the tenant to report disrepair, so it is up to the landlord or agent to identify it and resolve it.
This particular case also raises another question, although one not dealt with by the Court of Appeal: paving stones that are merely uneven, rather than being in a state of disrepair.
The full case is reported here
David Smith’s commentary is here
Rightmove have printed this relevant article taken from The Muney Advice Service, reminding Landlords to complete their tax return before the end of the month:
There’s more to being a landlord than collecting rental payments and deposits. Paying your tax is one job you really need to be on top of – and the clock is ticking.
You must complete the online tax return by 31 January (if you’ve not paid in another way by 31 October 2014) having registered for self-assessment by 5 October.
All landlords need to keep HMRC in the loop
You must inform HMRC as soon as you start renting out a property, even if you’ve not yet made any income from it. Once you have earned £2,500 in rental income, you may be liable to pay tax on it. Landlords whose properties generate more than this amount in rent each year must complete a Self-Assessment Tax Return.
How you can reduce or avoid a tax bill
The amount of tax you pay depends on the type of property you are renting out and your personal circumstances. The tax obligations are different for each of the three categories – residential properties, furnished holiday lets and commercial property.
As a buy-to-let landlord you – or your company – pay tax on any profit you make from renting your property to residential tenants. This means you don’t pay income tax on what are known as allowable expenses – and there are plenty of these to get your teeth into. For example, you can claim back letting agents and accountant’s fees. Maintenance and repairs are also covered, as are buildings and contents insurance premiums.
Keep a record of your property-related outgoings
There are plenty of elements to renting out property that you need to keep a record of, including Council Tax bills, any utility bills you pay on the rented property and other direct costs like advertising and phone calls to tenants. Even so, it’s probably best to seek professional advice when calculating tax obligations and allowance expenses. The HMRC Self-Assessment helpline can be reached on 0300 200 3310 if required.
What you can’t claim for
You can’t claim for capital expenses such as buying the place or renovating it, but can lodge a claim for wear and tear. Be aware through that excessive claims will be scrutinised, so don’t think the tax office will automatically claim for the cost of a new bathroom suite or a plush kitchen. HMRC allows you to claim up to 10 per cent of the net rent as a wear and tear allowance if you provide a furnished flat or house, but make sure you have the receipts to hand.
Cheap rentals and HMRC
Even if you don’t earn £2,500 a year from your tenants – after considering all the costs you can claim to reduce tax – you still need to keep HMRC in the picture. They will be able to help ensure you tick all the right boxes as a landlord. You can also visit the Money Advice Service’s guide on your responsibilities as a buy to let landlord for more information.
Source: Rightmove, on behalf of Money Advice Service http://www.rightmove.co.uk/news/articles/buy-to-let-landlord-dont-forget-your-january-tax-return
Numerous student properties still available for the next academic year – iConn Property Management, Canterbury0
Calling all students still searching for their property for next year! We still have a few three, four, five and six beds available for the next academic year, some even offering FREE JULY and AUGUST RENT as well as NO DEPOSIT TO PAY!!
Furthermore, for all tenancies that are compelted within the specified time frames, you will be entered into a raffle with the chance to win £200 CASH!
Please check out our remaining properties on the link below, and should you wish to organise a viewing feel free to contact either Amy or Nadine in the Lettings Department, who will be happy to assist you
As usual we have arranged an emergency call-out service for the Christmas & New Year period. The service will operate between the following:
1pm Wednesday 24th December to
9am Saturday 27th December
1pm Wednesday 31st December to
9am Friday 2nd January
During this period, faults should be reported as follows:
Plumbing / Gas Heating / Electrics /Security – One Call 07515369200
Please also refer to our website for emergency details under the Tenant/Student Tab for when the office is closed.
Please note that if you have a British Gas Homecare service contract in place, you should call them in the first instance. 0800 365100
Best wishes from everyone at iConn Property Management
Our offices will be closed from 1pm for a staff training afternoon tomorrow; if you have any emergencies please contact One Call Property Services on 07515369200.
For more information visit our website: http://www.iconnproperties.co.uk/emergency_contact.php
Landlord immigration checks – pilot scheme takes effect from 1st December 2014 – iConn Property Management, Canterbury0
‘Nearly Legal’ has informed us all that pilot areas for the landlord immigration checks came into force from the 1st December, under the requirement of the Immigration Act 2014. These areas include Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton. Other areas are expected to be announced in 2015.
Giles Peaker writes:
The equipment will apply to all tenancies, leases below 7 years, sub-lets or lodging arrangements granted on or after 1 December 2014 in the affected areas. Existing or renewed agreements where the tenancy/lease/lodging etc. is continuous from before 1 December will not be affected.
Councils are exempted (including discharge of homeless duty via private sector), as are other social landlords (where they have already been required to consider prospective tenant’s immigration status before allocating them the property) and hostels and refuges ‘which are managed by social landlords, voluntary organisations or charities, or which are not operated on a commercial basis and whose operating costs are provided either wholly or in part by a government department or agency or a local authority’.
Here at iConn we’ll continue to monitor the situation and keep you all up informed as and when we know more, especially concerning Canterbury and the surrounding areas!
Here are a few key tips to ensure your home is ready for winter!
Protect your pipes from freezing: Insulate your pipes with pipe insulator to prevent them from freezing and potentially bursting
Check drains and gutters: Remove all debris and blockages from your guttering to prevent the water from draining away and in extreme circumstances causing flooding
Clear paths from debris: C lear any leaves and debris from your paths to prevent any accidents; wet weather and frost can lead to extremely slippery pathways
Keep your garden tidy: To ensure your property isn’t damaged in bad weather and especially high winds, make sure any garden furniture is stored away if possible, and branches cut back where necessary
Bleed your radiators: Bleeding your radiators is a great way in which to ensure they are working to their full potential
Organise a kit for emergencies: Put together a box full of matches, candles, a torch, batteries and blankets in preparation for any power cuts
For all of you students frantically trying to organise your accommodation for the next academic year, here at iConn alongside our NO DEPOSIT and FREE SUMMER RENT offers, we also are running a competition whereby for each student property rented for the academic year 2015-16, you will be entered into a draw and a property will be picked at random (date to be confirmed), with the winning group of tenants winning £200 CASH!
There is absolutely no catch, all you simply have to do is complete all of your paperwork on time and pay any monies due, and then your details will be entered into the raffle!
If you have any questions, or would like to book a viewing, feel free to give a member of the lettings team a call on 01227 765008
Calling all students looking for accommodation for the academic year 2015-16!! Here at iConn we have just released out student property list detailing all available properties. Some are even offering FREE JULY AND AUGUST RENT and NO DEPOSIT TO PAY so check out our list now and contact either Amy or Nadine in the lettings department on 01227 765008 to arrange a viewing today! Visit the website below for more information:
Paul Lang, Maintenance Coordinator for iConn Property Management writes:
Some advice for student tenants regarding their utility bills and what to do when things are not right;
SENARIO ONE: If we are the managing agent for your property.
We have notified the utility companies on your behalf. When you first move into your property you are provided with an inventory which contains meter readings which were taken at the beginning of the tenancy. These meter readings are provided to all the utility suppliers registered for your address via our office as your opening readings. Some utility companies will take a while to update there information but you should start to see bills arriving this month.
SENARIO TWO: If your Landlord provided you with your inventory and completes your maintenance.
You need to confirm with your Landlord if they have notified the utilities on your behalf, if they do not then you will need to call the utility companies yourself and set up your new accounts. Use the start date on your tenancy agreement as your opening account date and provide them with meter readings. These should be on the inventory provided by your landlord but if not then call your landlord direct to confirm them and what companies are the suppliers.
SENARIO THREE: If your bills are included in your rental price.
You need do nothing further as the accounts for the property will remain in the landlords name.
ADVICE FOR ALL:
If post arrives that is not addressed to you then please either drop it into our office or back in the post box with “Return to sender – Not at this address” on the envelope. This is normally due to a cross over of information being received by the companies and by returning to the sender it should stop them from writing to the address again.
If the post is in the correct names but the dates or readings are wrong you will need to call the company and confirm your details with them. Use the date on your tenancy agreement as your start date (even if you did not occupy for summer months your tenancy started on this date and so you are responsible from the tenancy start date) then provide them with your meter reading from your inventory as your opening reading. You may want to provide them with a more recent meter reading at the same time. This is advisable as most companies base their bills on “Estimated” usage and if you have not been in the property they may be overcharging you, by providing a recent reading they will only generate the bill for your exact usage. Once you have confirmed these details with them they will then amend your details and resend you the correct bill.
Water bills – these are normally calculated at a set cost for the year regardless of occupation or usage. You should receive two bills for your water supply, one is the water IN and one is for the water OUT. You can arrange with them to pay on a yearly, quarterly or monthly basis dependent on your preference but again the account will be from the start date of your tenancy. Some properties may be on water meters and the companies will come and read these every few months and will adjust your payment schedule accordingly.
Council Tax – The Canterbury city council are notified through our office of all our student properties. They will sometimes write to the address with a yellow exemption slip for you to complete with your student details to confirm that you are entitled to the exemption. These forms are also in your welcome packs. This is standard procedure and once you have returned this to them they will send you a new bill with a zero balance to show that you are exempt. You must be aware that if your courses do not start till later in the year there is a chance they will charge you for the period between the start date of the tenancy and the course start date if necessary and if someone living in your property is not classed as a student then the exemption will not apply. They may be entitled to a reduction but the full exemption will not be allocated.
TV license, Telephone lines, Internet access, Sky or Digital Television Services – are not classed as utilities and you will need to set these type of accounts up directly with the companies you are choosing for supply.
At this time of year the utility companies do receive an excessive amount of notifications because of all the student tenancies in Canterbury which turn over in July and August. We do keep a record of the notification from our office as proof but, because of the large numbers of notification, the companies sometimes miss things or set up accounts incorrectly. It is no problem for us to re notify them for you but, if a bill is arriving in your name it is more advisable for you to call them direct, as once an account is set up the companies will sometimes not speak with us because of data protection. If bills are arriving in your name or some companies have your details but other do not it is evident that our notification has been sent and that some companies have not updated their details yet, so you may wish to call them to confirm your details or call us and we will re send the notification.
I hope this information is useful to you but obviously if you have any further queries then please do not hestiate to contact us and we can confirm the best way forward.
CALLING ALL TENANTS!! For those of you who aren’t a fan of gardening, why not instruct our very reasonable gardener Pete from General Gardening Services to organise this for you? Or even obtain a quote!? Call 07814863228 for more information
Another interesting article from Property Drum:
UK rental prices rose at a slower rate last month, with every region of the country witnessing smaller rises than in previous months, the latest index shows.
Fresh figures from the August HomeLet Rental Index reveal that the average rent in the UK now stands at £921 a month, compared to £851 a year ago.
The average monthly variation in rent across the UK was 2.3 per cent, led by the South East at 3 per cent and London at 2.4 per cent. The biggest drop in rental prices was recorded in the North West, down 3.5 per cent month-on-month.
Martin Totty (left), Chief Executive of the Barbon Insurance Group, which owns HomeLet, commented, “August can traditionally be a slower month for the rental market and similar dips have been seen in rental prices in previous years.”
“Nevertheless, the cooling in the rental sector may prove to represent the beginning of a trend towards a more settled market after several months of much more significant growth. A similar cooling has been seen in the wider housing market, with house price indices recording an easing of house price growth,” he added.
On an annualised basis rental growth remains firm, with only the North East and the East Midlands reporting lower rents for new tenancies in August than in the same month of last year.
Across the UK, the average private home rent increased by 8.2 per cent over the year to August 2014. In London, rents were up by 11.4 per cent on a year ago, while East Anglia saw annual growth of 8.4 pent cent and the South East 5.3 per cent.
Landlords in the UK are now estimated to be collectively earning more than £32 billion a year, or almost £2.7 billion per month, in rental income annually, according to new analysis by Direct Line for Business (DL4B).
Landlords in London collect the largest proportion of private rental income in England at £14 billion per year, more than the North East, East Midlands, West Midlands, Yorkshire and East Anglia combined.
In total, 44 per cent of the entire country’s rent is paid in London. Outside the capital, Leeds pays the greatest amount of any city, with annual private rent totalling £565 million, followed by Birmingham at £521 million and Manchester at £401 million.
“Buy to let is becoming an increasingly attractive option for people as property prices continue to soar,” said Jazz Gakhal head of DL4B.
With landlords now playing an increasingly important role in the private rented sector (PRS), the Government last week launched a new PRS code, designed to provide guidance for letting agents and landlords on how to achieve high standards.
Ian Fletcher, Director of Policy at the British Property Federation, one of 17 organisations that assisted with the code, said: “As the private rented sector grows, it is coming under more and more scrutiny, and it is important that good practice is constantly encouraged and promoted.”
Christopher Hamer (right), the Ombudsman, said, “The new Code is a milestone for the industry as it provides a set of principles for every landlord and letting agent in the private rented sector to follow, which TPO has championed the idea of for many years.
“The new Code will act as a complementary pathway to the more detailed standards in TPO’s Lettings Code of Practice that was established in 2006 and which forms the basis of the decisions I make when reviewing disputes between member letting agents and landlords or tenants.”
“The overarching principles outlined in the new Code will ensure agents, landlords and investors across the industry have a shared understanding of what levels of service to expect from agents letting and managing property in the private rented sector in England.”
More than 11,500 letting agents are already following TPO’s Code of Practice, which enables their landlords and tenants to access TPO’s free, fair and independent dispute resolution service.
TPO member agents will not be required to take any action following last week’s launch of the PRS Code, as their membership and commitment to follow TPO’s detailed Code of Practice means that they already meet the principles outlined in the new PRS Code.
Source: Property Drum – http://propertydrum.briefyourmarket.com/Newsletters/JUNGLEdrum—the-newsbeat-from-PROPERTYdrum124/Rent-increases-slow-down-as-new-PRS-Code-is-launched.aspx?utm_source=BriefYourMarket&utm_medium=Newsletter%2c+Email&utm_term=&utm_content=JUNGLEdrum+-+the+newsbeat+from+PROPERTYdrum&utm_campaign=Instance%3a+propertydrum.briefyourmarket.com+-+MessageId%3a+12270
For all of you students for 2014 – 2015 planning on collecting your keys on Monday 1st September, as long as all of your paperwork has been completed and monies received (check with the lettings team on 01227 765008 if you have any queries), then our office is open between 9am and 5:30pm. We are located on Castle Street in Canterbury, CT1 2PU.
**Please remember all paperwork and monies will have needed to have been received in order to release keys; you would have received an email and also a telephone call should there be anything outstanding on your file**
Calling all professionals looking for a room available in a shared house! We have rooms located in Gordon Road, Tudor Road, Sturry Road, Old Park Avenue and Castle Street ranging from £310 PCM to £358 PCM! Call us today to organise a viewing!
Students! Read this interesting article by Property News with regards to settling in with your new housemates as University begins….
Ok, so you’ve just moved in with your mates and you’re ready to party, or perhaps you’ve never met your new flat mates but hey, it’s going to be great, right?
Not always! So although no one really wants to sound like their parents by setting out the ground rules, it’s best to have a open chat with everyone about how living together is going to work out for the best. Even the most domesticated Nigellas and budding Bob the Builders will soon get fed up of always doing the cooking or fixing the broken boiler.
So as you start your tenancy, here are a few things to consider:
– Make sure that everyone knows the details of the tenancy agreement – sounds simple, but if just one person took responsibility at the outset the others need to know their share of the rent, when and how it’s due and how long they are obliged to pay under the length of the tenancy agreement. It’s most straightforward these days to set up a standing order to pay rent directly into the Landlord or Estate Agent’s bank account.
– As a household you need to budget for additional bills like electric and agree at the outset if they will be divided equally among everyone. There’s no point arguing every quarter over who uses the electric shower more!
– It’s a good idea to split ownership of various bills or make sure that the bills are in joint names to avoid one person being responsible for everything and, in the worse case scenario, the one being chased for payment at the end of your tenancy. If student bills are left unpaid this will possibly incur a poor credit score which could come back to haunt you later in life.
– A kitty is a common sense idea for shared items like tea/loo roll etc! And it may even encourage everyone to be more sociable – why not add in a little extra every so often and eat together in the evenings or go out for a drink or two.
– Going one step further than a loose change kitty it makes sense to pool resources and cook together – a lot cheaper than take aways or meals for one. And if you’re environmentally conscious it’s a lot less wasteful.
– If there are a number of you sharing and cleaning the oven is the last thing on anyone’s mind, it might be cheaper than you think to club together and employ a cleaner for a couple of hours a week. One less excuse to fall out with each other over who’s turn it is to clean the floors!
– Be open and honest and don’t let grievances fester. If you are annoyed at ‘Jonny’s’ girlfriend practically moving in as a new house guest say so!
– Be respectful of your other house mates at all times. Yes, everyone likes to party but if someone has important exams on the horizon know that organizing a party the night before is not the best idea.
– Decide at the start of the tenancy if your house is going to be smoking or non smoking.
– Remember, a tenancy agreement is only for a maximum of a year so if things don’t work out you’ll find new flat mates next year!
Rightmove, on behalf of The Money Advice Service, explain all:
You needn’t get stuck with a high energy tariff – changing supplier could save you up to £200 a year.
Rising bills can mean a big chunk of your household budget goes on essentials such as gas and electricity.
Simply switching your supplier could mean big savings without much effort.
Yet two-thirds of people have never switched their energy provider which the regulator, Ofgem, reckons could save households about £200 a year.
That kind of saving could make a tidy contribution towards, say, redecorating a room in your home.
Most people can switch energy suppliers – even if you have a prepayment meter with debts of up to £500. If you change your mind, you have a 14-day cooling off period.
Here’s how to switch:
1) Check your bill from your current energy provider to see your usage in kWh
2) Make sure your provider won’t charge you to break your existing contract
3) Use comparison sites approved by Ofgem’s Confidence Code
4) Compare the latest deals and choose the best one for you
5) Consider different suppliers of duel deals for your gas and electricity
6) Choosing an online tariff and paying by direct debit could save you extra money
Another interesting read by Rosalind Renshaw on behalf of Property Industry Eye:
The checking of prospective tenants’ immigration status by landlords and agents is set to become mandatory in October.
It follows the Royal Assent of the Immigration Bill last week – just days before the Home Secretary ordered an urgent investigation into an immigration documentation scam at the weekend.
Although the checking requirement – which will almost certainly fall upon letting agents who act for landlords – was highly controversial, it forms part of what is now law.
Its aim is to prevent people with no right to be in the UK from accessing private rented housing. The requirement specifically applies to the private rented sector, not the social sector.
Landlords – or their agents – will have to request to see at least one document from a specified list, yet to be published, to confirm if prospective tenants have the right to live in the UK.
The requirement will mean having to check all applicants – for example, birth certificates of those born in the UK, and passports, but checks might have to extend to much more complicated paperwork or its lack.
If the prospective tenant does not have permission to live in the UK and the property is subsequently let, the landlord could be fined up to £3,000.
If a tenant’s right to be in the UK has a time limit, checks must also be made either annually or before the expiry date if that is after 12 months. Failure to carry out these subsequent checks will also attract fines of up to £3,000.
There is also an obligation on landlords – or agents – to report to the authorities any suspicions that tenants might be illegal immigrants.
The landlord’s responsibility to make the checks and face the fines can be transferred to a letting agent, but that must be done specifically in writing – suggesting that agents will have to revisit their standard contracts, terms and conditions.
They will also need to see if their current referencing checks cover immigration status.
Agents and landlords should also be aware of some of the issues surrounding their new responsibility, not least that they could become liable to accusations of discriminatory practice.
There is also concern as to how far the responsibility extends. Lawyer Simon Kenny, of Moore Blatch, says: “If, for example, a landlord notes from the tenant’s visa that he has the right to live in the UK but not to work, does he breach these rules if he is also aware through credit referencing that the tenant works full-time?
“It seems at least possible such a landlord could also be prosecuted in respect of ‘facilitating a breach of immigration law’ in this situation – an offence with a penalty of imprisonment.
“Guidelines are expected to say that a passport will be the main method of checking a prospective tenant’s immigration status.
“There is also likely to be an online checking facility, where the immigration status of a prospective tenant can be found, together with a free telephone checking service.
The Home Office may also confirm that the new system will be piloted in one area before being rolled out across the UK.
A good blog which outlines the main issues is at the link below this story.
However, it was written before any mention could be made of the latest scam, by which immigrants who speak no English can buy, for £500, a certificate saying they have passed a language test.
The false documentation could open the door to British citizenship but as yet there is no advice as to how letting agents or landlords could detect false paperwork.
Home Secretary Teresa May has ordered an urgent investigation.
Rosalind Renshaw from Property Industry Eye writes:
The lettings industry and the Labour party remain on a collision course ahead of next year’s general election.
Labour has repeated its vow to make letting agent fees illegal, while agents are stepping up calls for wholesale regulation of the industry.
Speaking after Tuesday evening’s failed bid by Labour to have fees banned, Paul Weller, managing director of lettings chain Leaders, said: “Fortunately common sense has prevailed, but the vote was a wasted opportunity.
“The vote should have been on banning all unregulated agents from practising.
“This would have enabled Parliament to tackle all the problems at the heart of our industry in one motion: 40% of letting agents are not members of a professional body so it is clear that self-regulation is not enough.
“What is needed is legislation that ensures that – as a minimum requirement – all letting agents are qualified, have client money protection and operate to an agreed code of conduct for the whole industry.
“The issues go much further than agents charging fees to tenants. We need to rid the industry of rogue agents who charge extortionate fees, who do not protect their clients’ money and in some cases abuse it, who put their tenants’ lives at risk in unsafe properties and who provide a sub-standard service with little regard for the law.
“The best action politicians can take to protect tenants is to properly regulate letting agents. We have been calling for this for decades.”
Ian Potter, outgoing managing director of ARLA, said: “Fees are not arbitrary or unnecessary – they represent a business cost that those tabling the amendment failed to recognise.
“ARLA’s call, as ever, is for wholesale regulation of the market to ensure fair and transparent practices for all consumers, landlords and agents alike.”
Darren Harley, of EweMove, said: “Whilst we agree that there are far too many lettings agents across the country who don’t disclose their application fees too readily, banning all fees to tenants isn’t the way to promote fairness. It will simply drive up fees to the landlords which, in turn, will drive rents up.
“Ewemove charges no application fees, and only ever charges tenants once a property has been offered to them. We believe this is a much better system because it ensures more applications per property, and we can find the very best tenant for the landlord every time.
“Yes, the agent earns slightly less under this model, but it’s not all about the agent.
“Regulation of the industry is clearly required.
“We’ve all seen the reports from Shelter and other organisations, declaring the unscrupulous practices of a few rogue agents. I really don’t believe that those horror stories are the norm in the UK, but I do think that things can be improved, and a professional standard would be the way forward.
“The most obvious route would be compulsory membership of ARLA, and ARLA’s standards being strengthened.”
However, one person who took to Twitter to complain about the way the vote went was London Evening Standard columnist and landlord Victoria Whitlock.
She said: “Am disappointed MPs bought that bunkum that tenants would have paid more if letting agent fees were banned.”
The tireless Stella Creasy, Labour shadow consumers minister, was back on Twitter yesterday claiming: “An agency has contacted me to argue fees to tenants justified because they ‘give them a bag for life & mug’ upon arrival. Yes really.”
Meanwhile, shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds put the industry on warning by making it clear that the whole issue has not gone away.
She said: “Generation Rent needs proper protection against being ripped off.
“A Labour government will ban letting agent fees on tenants.”
* There were just three rebels when it came to Tuesday evening’s vote on letting agent fees – one Tory and two Lib Dems who refused to toe their party line.
Phillip Hollobone, the Tory MP for Kettering, and Lib Dem MPs Julian Huppert (Cambridge) and Ian Swales (Redcar) all voted to ban letting agent fees.
Of the Lib Dems, 38 voted against a ban, and 16 were missing. Among the absentees were Nick Clegg, Vince Cable, Danny Alexander, Andrew Stunell, Sarah Teather and Jo Swinson.
There were 242 Tory MPs who voted against the ban, with 58 absent from the vote. Absentees included David Cameron and George Osborne.
Labour’s attempt to ban letting agent fees was defeated by a majority of 53 (281 to 228).