Posts tagged changes to lettings
First-time buyers outnumbering buy-to-let purchasers by three to one – iConn Property Management, Canterbury0
Rosalind Renshaw from Property Industry Eye reveals the turn around with the sales market;
There were 311,700 mortgages issued to first-time buyers last year. While the figure was the same as 2014, the amount borrowed – £46.7bn – was the highest since 2007.
Home movers took out 365,800 loans for house purchase, down fractionally (0.2%) on 2014. Again, though, the amount, at £72.1bn, was the highest since 2007.
Buy-to-let lending rose by both volume (up by 28%) and by value (up 39%), and that too was at its highest since 2007.
Despite the rise in buy-to-let lending, last year first-time buyers outnumbered buy-to-let purchasers with mortgages by three to one.
Only 41% of buy-to-let mortgages were for house purchase, a total of £15.6bn. The bulk of buy-to-let lending was in the form of re-mortgaging – something which buy-to-let borrowers constantly do as they seek out better deals.
John Heron, managing director of Paragon Mortgages, said: “A common accusation levelled at buy-to-let landlords is that they have an unfair advantage over home-buyers.
“The data would suggest this is not the case, with buy-to-let purchases making up only 11.6% of all purchases.
“First-time buyers accounted for three times as many transactions as buy-to-let purchasers.”
Separately, the Office for National Statistics has said that average house prices ended last year at £301,000 in England, £175,000 in Wales, £193,000 in Scotland and £148,000 in Northern Ireland.
The highest average house price in England was in London at £536,000, and the lowest was in the north-east at £155,000.
The ONS puts annual house price inflation last year at 7.3% in England, 1.0% in Wales, -0.2% in Scotland and 1.5% in Northern Ireland.
Countdown to Right to Rent as Home Office updates Code of Practice – iConn Property Management, Canterbury0
Rosalind Renshaw keeps us all updated with her article for Property Industry Eye;
With landlords and letting agents faced with getting to grips with Right to Rent less than a month away, the Government yesterday updated its statutory Code of Practice.
In doing so, there is still a certain amount of muddle, as the Code suggests there will not be a big bang introduction, but one that will be phased in geographically.
The Code says that the scheme will be implemented “on a phased geographical basis, and will apply to residential tenancy agreements entered on or after the date of implementation for that area”.
However, users are then directed to the Right to Rent website where it says that for tenancies starting on or after February 1, “landlords of properties throughout England should check that someone has the right to rent before letting them a property”.
This morning, a Home Office spokesperson confirmed that the reference in the Code to a phased geographical implementation is both a reference to the pilot scheme in the west midlands, where landlords – or agents acting on their behalf – have had to carry out Right to Rent checks for just over a year and also to the UK-wide roll-out. However, the spokesperson confirmed that Right to Rent goes live throughout the whole of England on February 1.
The Code also clarifies its own legal status, saying: “This is a statutory Code. This means it has been approved by the Secretary of State and laid before Parliament. The Code does not impose any legal duties on landlords, nor is it an authoritative statement of the law; only the courts can provide that.
“However, the Code can be used as evidence in legal proceedings and courts must take account of any part of the Code which may be relevant.
“Home Office officials will also have regard to this Code in administering civil penalties to landlords and their agents under the Immigration Act 2014.”
The Code is here
NEWS FLASH: Right to Rent being extended across England from February 1 – iConn Property Management, Canterbury0
Rosalind Renshaw from Property Industry Eye reveals all:
The Home Office has announced that from February 1, 2016, the Right to Rent scheme will be extended across England. This means all private landlords, or their agents, in England, including those subletting or taking in lodgers, will have to check new tenants have the right to be in the UK before renting out their property.
The scheme is being extended following an evaluation of the first phase in the West Midlands and has received the continued input of a panel of industry experts, housing and homeless charities and local authorities.
Right to Rent is one part of the government’s ongoing reforms to the immigration system to make it harder for people to live in the UK illegally.
As of February 1, anyone who rents out private property in England will need to see and make a copy of evidence that any new adult tenant has the right to rent in the UK (for example a passport or a biometric residence permit).
The process is simple, according to the Government which says many organisations in the private rented sector already check the immigration status of tenants.
In most cases, it says, checks can be carried out without contacting the Home Office. However, if a tenant has an outstanding immigration application or appeal with the Home Office, landlords can request a Home Office Right to Rent check. A yes or no answer will be provided within two working days.
Landlords who don’t make the checks could face a civil penalty of up to £3,000 per tenant if they are found to be renting out a property to someone who is in the UK illegally.
The Government is also making it easier for landlords to evict illegal migrants as part of the Immigration Bill.
With ten working days to go, our Property Manager Paul Lang has a very important message for all Landlords on behalf of ‘Landlord Zone':
As announced recently by Housing Minister Brandon Lewis, from October 2015 Landlords will be required by law to ensure working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are installed in rental properties in England. The information below is intended to help you understand your responsibilities in relation to the new legislation.
Why have these changes been made?
This legislation has been proposed to address the imbalance between protection levels for private tenants in contrast to residents classed as owner occupiers, or social housing occupants.
It is estimated that the national percentage of all households with a working smoke alarm currently stands at over 90% compared with 83% in rental properties. Although a seven percent difference between the level of protection in rental properties and the national average may seem relatively minor, the numbers are much more compelling when qualified in terms of casualties. Between April 2013 and March 2014, 97 people died and 1900 were injured in domestic fires affecting properties where no smoke alarm was present.
Why do you need to install a CO detector?
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents reports that there are approximately 50 deaths per year and over 1100 hospital admissions annually as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning in the UK. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a tasteless, colourless and odourless gas that is produced by incomplete combustion. A common source of CO in a domestic property would be a faulty appliance such as a boiler.
Statistics show that residents of privately rented accommodation account for a much greater proportion of annual carbon monoxide incidents than could be expected. A report by the Gas Safety Trust into carbon monoxide risks per housing sector showed that the likelihood of an incident in privately rented accommodation was significantly higher than that associated with any other housing sector. According to statistics gathered since 1998 residents of rental properties are on average three times more likely to suffer a CO related incident.
Although landlords are already obliged to have a yearly check carried out on any gas appliances, this alone cannot guarantee protection from carbon monoxide. The installation of a CO detector is quick, easy and cheap, and ensures your tenants are protected from what is often referred to as the ‘silent killer’.
Current advice from the Health and Safety Executive already states that a CO detector should be installed in rental properties, but this has always been down to the discretion of each landlord or letting agent. From October 2015 it will become law that that any high risk room, i.e. those containing a heating appliance, must have a CO detector installed.
What happens if you don’t act on these changes?
Failing to comply with the legislation planned to come into force from the 10th of October 2015 will leave you open to a penalty of up to £5000.
What does this mean for you?
As a private landlord, a professional landlord, or a letting agent, you must consider the effect this legislation will have on your portfolio.
Building regulations already require that properties constructed after June 1992 have a mains powered, interconnected smoke alarm system installed to BS5839-6 2013 Grade D. Therefore, many landlords may find their smoke alarm provision already meets the new requirements.
There has previously been no legislation requiring landlords of properties let to single family units and built prior to 1992 to have smoke alarms. However, these properties will now be subject to the new legislation, meaning smoke alarms will need to be installed by October.
HMO’s are already subject to tighter legislation in accordance to The Housing Act 2004, and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
It is likely, however, that Landlords of all of the above property types will need to consider their carbon monoxide detector provision in light of the new regulations.
Gov.uk have posted an article regarding potential changes to installing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms within their rented properties:
Landlords will be required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties, under measures announced by Housing Minister Brandon Lewis today (11 March 2015).
The move will help prevent up to 26 deaths and 670 injuries a year.
The measure is expected to take effect from October 2015, and comes with strong support after a consultation on property condition in the private rented sector.
England’s 46 fire and rescue authorities are expected to support private landlords in their own areas to meet their new responsibilities with the provision of free alarms, with grant funding from government.
This is part of wider government moves to ensure there are sufficient measures in place to protect public safety, while at the same time avoiding regulation which would push up rents and restrict the supply of homes, limiting choice for tenants.
Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said:
In 1988 just 8% of homes had a smoke alarm installed – now it’s over 90%.
The vast majority of landlords offer a good service and have installed smoke alarms in their homes, but I’m changing the law to ensure every tenant can be given this important protection.
But with working smoke alarms providing the vital seconds needed to escape a fire, I urge all tenants to make sure they regularly test their alarms to ensure they work when it counts. Testing regularly remains the tenant’s responsibility.
Communities Minister Stephen Williams said:
We’re determined to create a bigger, better and safer private rented sector – a key part of that is to ensure the safety of tenants with fire prevention and carbon monoxide warning.
People are at least 4 times more likely to die in a fire in the home if there’s no working smoke alarm.
That’s why we are proposing changes to the law that would require landlords to install working smoke alarms in their properties so tenants can give their families and those they care about a better chance of escaping a fire.
Ensuring the safety of tenants
Other measures to support the private rented sector include investing £1 billion in building newly-built homes specifically for private rent, giving tenants support against rogue landlords and publishing a How to rent guide so tenants and landlords alike are aware of their rights and responsibilities.
The proposed changes to the law would require landlords to install smoke alarms on every floor of their property, and test them at the start of every tenancy.
Landlords would also need to install carbon monoxide alarms in high risk rooms – such as those where a solid fuel heating system is installed.
Those who fail to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms would face sanctions and could face up to a £5,000 civil penalty.
This would bring private rented properties into line with existing building regulations that already require newly-built homes to have hard-wired smoke alarms installed.
And it’s in line with other measures the government has taken to improve standards in the private rented sector, without wrapping the industry up in red tape.
New regulations will be laid in Parliament to require landlords to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties, and are expected to come into force, subject to Parliamentary approval, on 10 October 2015.
The allocation of funding to fire and rescue authorities to offer free smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to local landlords will be announced shortly.
The government’s Fire Kills campaign will be encouraging people to test their smoke alarms when they change their clocks to British Summer Time. The ‘Tick Tock Test’ campaign will run on radio, online and in the press from 16 to 29 March 2015.
See Fire Minister Penny Mourdant’s speech to the Local Government Association fire conference.
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!”
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
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.
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.
Another interesting read from Property Industry Eye:
Eric Walker, managing director of Northwood, was scathing about Labour’s proposals, including the pledge to make it illegal for agents to charge fees to tenants.
He said some agents would not be able to survive such a move. “Contrary to the universal misconception that agents are raking it in, many make small profits indeed and this policy may push some over the edge.”
He went on: “If agents are forced to scrap fees from tenants, then inevitably, landlords will end up paying more which in turn could increase the rent the tenant pays.
“Couple this with the proposed draconian rent-capping idea, then of course some landlords will reconsider their position.
“It is of sinister concern that rent caps would be introduced at a time interest rates are predicted to rise, which spells disaster for many landlords.
“The lettings market is fine. It’s regulation and consumer protection which should be Miliband’s priority, not State controlled pricing.”
Carole Charge, director at lettings chain Leaders, said: “Labour’s three-year tenancy proposals are unrealistic. Without the right to regain repossession of their property, most investment landlords would not take the risk and pull their property from the market.
“The picture painted by Labour of tenants being forced out of their homes is not accurate. Reliable statistics show that the majority of tenancies are ended by the tenant rather than the landlord.”
Dorian Gonsalves, director of franchising at Belvoir, said his firm would be “dead against” the changes proposed.
“The existing Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement can already run for a longer period, and changes to this could have a devastating effect on the supply of available rental properties.
“Ultimately, tenants would bear the brunt of fewer rental properties, higher rents and no alternative housing solution being provided by the Government.
“Experts have warned of the dangers of making changes to the existing AST or forcing landlords out of the market, which clearly some of these proposed changes by a Labour Government are likely to do.
“Tenants already have the choice of not paying letting agent fees. They can rent privately and this may be attractive to those tenants who prefer a lower standard of service, with no consumer redress and a landlord who may or may not respond to maintenance issues.”
Carol Pawsey, lettings director at Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward, described Labour’s proposals as “disastrous”. She warned that rent caps could lead to “many” landlords quitting the market.
The National Landlords Association said the proposals were “completely unworkable”.
Richard Lambert, its chief executive, said: “Were they to become government policy it would strike a devastating blow to investment in housing of all tenures and further constrain supply at a time of real housing crisis.”
The Residential Landlords Association said Labour had quite simply got it wrong. Vice-chairman Chris Town said: “All the evidence clearly shows that rent controls of the kind proposed would critically undermine investment in new homes to rent and are not needed, given that official statistics show rents increasing by much less than inflation.”
The British Property Federation also savaged the rent controls proposal. Director of policy Ian Fletcher said: “It makes no sense.
“Good landlords will be getting a perverse message that if you are providing a premium product the most you can expect is the ‘average’, whilst bad landlords with sub-standard accommodation can find another justification for charging over the odds.”
Source: Written by Rosalind Renshaw on behalf of Property Industry Eye http://www.propertyindustryeye.com/ban-fees-tenants-kill-agents-warning/
Iris O’Connell, Managing Director at iConn Property Management writes;
A huge congratulations to our Accounts Coordinator, Samantha Douglas who tied the knot to Shaun Burgess this month! We hope you had a fantastic day, and we wish you lots of happy years together!
Tanya MacLeod, Property Manager at iConn Property Management writes:
This article from the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) is a very interesting and informative read.
With millions of Britons planning to holiday in the UK this year the Gas Safety Register are again urging the public to stay safe from the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from charcoal and gas barbecues, as well as potential risks from camping equipment and gas appliances in holiday accommodation.
The Gas Safety Register have produced leaflets, posters, web banners and article copy to advise people how to stay safe while on holiday, attending a music festival, sporting event or any one of the hundreds of things the Great British public get up to in their leisure time.
BBQ’s have been linked to several campsite deaths caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous substance which is created when fossil fuels such as gas and solid fuels like charcoal and wood fail to combust fully due to a lack of oxygen. You can’t see it, taste it or smell it but it can kill quickly with no warning.
If you’re planning on using a BBQ, whether it’s a disposable one, gas or charcoal make sure you keep yourself safe and don’t put yourself at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Follow these top tips for BBQ safety:
- Never take a smouldering or lit BBQ into a tent, caravan or cabin. Even if you have finished cooking your BBQ should remain outside as it will still give off fumes for some hours after use.
- Never use a BBQ inside to keep you warm
- Never leave a lit BBQ unattended or while sleeping
- Place your cooking area well away from your tent. Always ensure there is an adequate supply of fresh air in the area where the BBQ is being used.
- Only use appliances in accordance with the operating instructions
- Remember the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning – headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, collapse and loss of consciousness. If concerned, seek medical advice.
If you’re using gas camping equipment follow these extra tips to help you stay safe:
- Check that the appliance is in good order, undamaged and that hoses are properly attached and undamaged. If in doubt get the hoses replaced or don’t use it
- Make sure the gas taps are turned off before changing the gas cylinder and do it in the open air
- Don’t over-tighten joints
- When you have finished cooking, turn off the gas cylinder before you turn off the BBQ controls – this means any gas in the hose and pipeline will be used up
- Read the manufacturer’s instructions about how to check for gas escapes from hoses or pipework, e.g. brushing leak detection solution around all joints and looking for bubbles.
- Never take a gas stove, light or heater into a tent, caravan or cabin unless it is a permanent fixture, installed and maintained correctly.
Take care this summer and don’t put yourself or your family at risk.
For more information or advice please visit www.GasSafeRegister.co.uk/bbq or call 0800 408 5500.
Sam Douglas, Accounts co-ordinator for iConn Property Management writes;
I came accross an article from LetRisks which I think may be an interesting an useful read.
Important safety alert
In a recent claim a landlord suffered over £100,000 worth of damage to his property and loss of rent following a fire from a faulty fridge freezer. This case highlights the number of potentially dangerous brand new appliances in rented property and the action that letting agents can take to protect their landlords and tenants.
Over the past few years there have been hundreds of fires involving white goods, particularly fridge/freezers, tumble dryers and dishwashers, with more than a dozen blazes deemed “serious”. According to recent press articles, almost half a million potentially dangerous dishwashers are still being used in households because their owners cannot be traced. As an example, a batch of faulty Bosch dishwashers, made over a seven-year period, are at risk of catching fire. Just one in four has been traced.
Although manufacturers issue product recalls, via national advertising, letters and phone calls to consumers there are difficulties in tracing the purchasers, particularly if tenants have moved address or landlords have appointed an agent.
The Electrical Safety Council (ESC) found that the average success rate of recalls is just 10-20%. With 266 electrical product recalls in the last six years and manufacturers often producing hundreds of thousands of units, there are likely to be millions of dangerous products threatening safety every day. Following a survey, they claim that 2 million adults have purposefully ignored a product recall notice, a third won’t return an item if it seems too inconvenient and a fifth would not go without a luxury product such as a television or hair straighteners.
LetRisks has put together a checklist to help you protect landlords and tenants:
- Register your contact details with the manufacturer for any new appliances when purchased. This is not just for marketing purposes – it may save a life.
- Property management staff and inventory clerks should record the make and model numbers of each of the landlords appliances and check them against the Product Recall information websites (see below).
- Ensure that appliances are checked regularly: The law surrounding Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) simply requires you to ensure that their electrical equipment is maintained in order to prevent danger. New equipment should be “supplied in a safe condition”. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides guidance on how to maintain equipment including the use of PAT.
- Remind tenants to check that any electrical appliances are safe and refer them to the Product Recall information websites. It is a condition of most tenancy agreements that the tenant must not bring on to the premises anything that might be a fire hazard.
- Retain forwarding addresses for tenants and arrange for mail to be forwarded, if possible. It may include product recall information.
- Use the Product Recall information websites (see below)
- Electrical Safety Council (ESC): www.esc.org.uk/recall. You will need to enter a model number, brand name or description of a particular item. If the product has been recalled, the website will advise on next steps.
- RecallUK is the primary product recall site that lists all UK product recalls, for all product types, announced in the last few weeks: www.recalluk.com/default.aspx
- White Goods Help – Archives for Safety Warnings & Appliance Recalls: www.whitegoodshelp.co.uk/category/safety-warnings-recalls-houshold-appliances
- Arrange appropriate insurances, for both the structure of the building (that includes fixtures and fittings), and contents. Make sure that the insurance is suitable for let property and includes Property Owners Liability. Even if you are letting an unfurnished flat, we recommend that you arrange cover for limited contents (covering carpets, curtains and white goods) which will also come with cover for liability to the public and injury to tenants.
Vicky Owen, Office Manager for iConn Property Management writes:
I recently came across an article online regarding the recent census and the meaning behind the findings, I think it is a really useful tool for Landlords to understand for their current or furture investments:
The 2011 census highlighted that the cost for private tenants in renting unfurnished properties (including the cost of rent together with fuel and power) has increased by 60% in the last 10 years, whereas their gross incomes have only increased by 31% in the same period.
The pressure to pay rent and meet all other outgoings has intensified and Shelter reported earlier in January that 1.4 million people in Britain are falling behind with their rent or mortgage payments.
According to a recent YouGov survey the number of people struggling to pay their rent or mortgage each month has increased by 44% over the past year, to 7.8 million people.
Their research also revealed that over the past year:
- Almost a million people used a payday loan to help pay their rent or mortgage.
- 2.8 million people used an unauthorised overdraft to help pay their rent or mortgage and of those 10% did so every month.
These uncomfortable statistics highlight the need for letting agents and landlords to carry out thorough checks on applicants when letting a property, including:
- Obtain a credit check – Individuals with good credit histories are generally good tenants.
- Obtain landlords and employment references.
- If you have any doubts on the applicants ability to afford the rent, ask them to provide further proof, for example copies of payslips or a minimum of 6 months bank statements.
- Arrange insurance cover for legal expenses and rent protection should the tenant default on the rent. LetRisks offers a wide choice of innovative solutions for protecting landlords against unpaid Rent to suit a variety of landlord pockets. Legal Expenses of up to £50,000 to obtain possession comes as standard with all policies and we can help recover unpaid rents.
Sam Macdonald, Lettings Negotiator for iConn Property Management writes:
ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents) supplies lots of answers to common questions which tenants might need to know.
This link takes tenants direct to their website: https://www.arla.co.uk/information/tenants/rights-of-access/
Here is one of the questions I spotted earlier which I thought would be useful to know:
What About Rights Of Access To The Property, What Are The Rules?
A landlord, or his agent, or someone authorised to act on his behalf has a right to view the property to assess its condition and to carry out necessary repairs or maintenance at reasonable times of the day. The law says that a landlord or agent must give a tenant at least 24 hours prior notice in writing (except in an emergency) of such a visit. Naturally, if the tenant agrees, on specific or odd occasions to allow access without the 24 hours prior written notice, that is acceptable. [A clause in the tenancy agreement which tries to diminish or over-ride a tenant’s rights in this respect would be void and unenforceable.]
We are pleased to announce that iConn are sponsors of the ‘Kent Student Law Society’
They are one of the largest societies on the University of Kent’s Canterbury Campus and represent students who study Law.
iConn are pleased to announce they are the proud sponsers of the Herne Bay Harriers Under 11s football team!
The team are just starting a new session under the coaching management of Shaun Burgess and Ian O’Sullivan and have gone from the bottom of the league winning no games to finishing 4th last year. Training every Thursday at Herne Bay High School their 1st game for the season is away against Chartham Sports FC on Sunday 16th September at 2pm.
The team is Captained by Aaron Launghton and their goalkeeper Josh Tickner got picked to play for Crystal Palace after his trial.
We wish them all the best for the season!
Iris O’Connell, Managing Director for iConn Property Management writes:
We are pleased to welcome the new member of our team….. Elvis!!
He’s all shook up in his new heartbreak hotel fish tank but I’m sure he will settle in soon.
Feel free to pop in to say hello!
Vicky Cranthorne, Office Manager for iConn Property Management writes:
For new students for 2012:
Hope you are all enjoying your summer; Just so you are all aware what is required from you in order to collect keys for your student property in September, I have included a tick list for you to use to check, below.
Obviously, if you have already collected your keys you can just ignore this message.
Key collection is available from the 1st September 2011 from our office 26a Castle Street, Canterbury, Kent CT1 2PU.
Our office hours on a Saturday are 9am – 1pm. If you are going to arrive later please contact me, in advance, and we will see if we can arrange something for you.
- If your property keys are issued by your landlord you will be emailed separately to confirm this but you must still attend the office before going to the property to collect your welcome packs
- If your tenancy is starting after the 1st September your keys will be available from the date on your tenancy agreement.
If any of you have any questions or queries please contact me.
Each tenant must have a signed guarantor agreement in place.
NO KEYS RELEASED TO ANY TENANT
RENT AND ADMIN FEES
There must be no arrears on ANY tenants account.
This includes Summer rent, Admin fees and September rent.
NO KEYS RELEASED TO ANY TENANT
Can be signed in the office on key collection
NO KEY RELEASED FOR INDIVIDUAL TENANT
STANDING ORDER FORM
Complete in office on key collection.
Those without one already in place will be asked to pay their September rent or prove payment. (see above note for Rent and Admin)
NO KEY RELEASED FOR INDIVIDUAL TENANT
Photocopy will be taken on key collection.
NO KEY RELEASED FOR INDIVIDUAL TENANT
Vicky Cranthorne, Office Manager at iConn Property Management, Canterbury writes:
When reading the paper this week I noticed an advertisement to remind residents in our area to re-tune their TVs as changes are being made to the transmitter on the 27th June 2012.
Thought this information may be useful to some of you too:
Full details are on the website: http://www.digitaluk.co.uk/how_do_i_switch/connections__and__retuning/retuning_instructions
Vicky Cranthorne, Office Manager from iConn Property Management writes:
Our friends from Propertyads have provided us with their top tips for Landlords – Hope you find them useful.
Top tips for landlords considering buy-to-let properties
Buy-to-let properties can be an excellent way to supplement your income or your pension, and a little research and a bit of clever property market know-how can help you make the most out of your buy-to-let property. So if you’re considering adding a little extra to your pocket each month, here are our top tips for potential landlords looking at getting into buy-to-let properties.
1. Investigate the best area for good investment Before you buy a property, you have to think about what kind of tenant you want, and where you want to buy. Your rental property doesn’t even need to be in the same city! For example, buy-to-let properties in Sheffield and Canterbury, student cities, are a great investment. Each year new students arrive to study, and each year they need additional accommodation. Investing in a student area is an excellent idea when you’re looking for almost-guaranteed income. Much like student rental properties, investing in a business-oriented city near a financial district such as Canary Wharf in London will be a costly venture, but will also help you to secure a tenant relatively easily.
2. Decorate for demand to cater to your tenants Decorate and furnish your home according to your ideal tenant’s requirements. If you’ve bought a buy-to-let property in Canterbury, for example, make sure that each bedroom is furnished with a bed and a desk to allow multiple students to rent out the rooms. A large living room and plenty of storage space in the kitchen are also preferential, so make sure you don’t clutter it up with unnecessary décor.
3. Plan for empty flats As a landlord with a buy-to-let property, it’s important that you make financial provision for empty flats. If you’re unable to find a tenant you will still need to make mortgage repayments. Make sure you have access to funds if you need to do this. Another option would be to sign with a rental agency that guarantees rentals for your flats so that you’re always covered, or take out an insurance policy that insures you against non-payment of rent during a rental agreement.
4. Write in increases to your tenancy agreements and set up a direct debit Make sure that you write in annual increase agreements in your tenancy contracts to make the most out of your rental property. Setting up a direct debit agreement will guarantee the rental income on a particular day (instead of collecting funds on different days each month when the tenant remembers to pay)
5. Protect your property with insurance Landlord’s insurance can help you protect yourself against unpaid rental, theft by tenants, or damage to a property due to tenant negligence or weather damage. A good insurance policy is a good investment when you’re in the landlord market to make money out of your buy-to-let property – especially if it is situated in a different city to your own residence
If you are looking to grow your portfolio or first time invest into the property market in the Canterbury area please contact us for free independent advice.
We have worked with iConn for a number of years during which they have let our properties in the Canterbury area. We are enjoying excellent service form the agent and the team members with speedy responses to our queries, prompt appointments and viewings and an efficient execution of referencing and contract provision. The staff are always friendly and polite which makes it a pleasure to do business on this basis.
We came to iConn from an agent that was always asking us to reduce rent and offering incentives to the tenants; because of this attitude we always felt that the agent was working for the tenant rather that us. We were pleasantly surprised with the complete reversal in the attitude to us with iConn. They are most professional in their attitude, but always there to help and give us advice, and nothing is too much trouble. They keep us up to date with emails and phone calls; the money side of the company is always professional and correct, which was not so our previous agents. We have never had a year when our houses are not let. Thanks to iConn we can relax and definitely get our ‘moneys worth’.
I moved to iConn after many years with another letting agent and was immediately impressed by their professionalism and set up. The team are friendly, engaging and helpful. When on the very odd occasion I have had to rise an issue or concern regarding my tenancy, it is soon resolved in an effective and efficient manner. Their communication is good and overall service is excellent. It is a world apart from the service I had received from my previous agent. Overall I am extremely content with their service, professionalism and overall letting package. I am clear they are well ahead of their competitors and have recommended them to family and other landlords as a very satisfied customer and landlord!
iConn and their predecessors have marketed our property for six years. They have always given us sound advice and Vicky Cranthorne in particular has always gone “the extra mile” to help. The new e-mail Bulletin has regular updates on matters of interest to landlords and tenants as well as more light-hearted items, which make it palatable.
We have been using iConn Property Management Ltd for the past three years. We have always found the staff incredibly helpful with all enquiries we’ve had.
They provide a very professional and friendly service. If ever we have a problem or issue it is always resolved in a matter of hours where other agencies in the past have taken much longer even to acknowledge the issue. Having built up a rapport with the staff, it makes it easier for all when looking for a new property as the team already know our likes and dislikes.
We have always received a quality service from iConn. They care about you, your situation and how you want to live, they don’t just forget about you when you sign the contract. We would recommend them to anyone looking for a Property Management / Lettings company
We have used iConn Property Management since September 2007 and have been very grateful for their continued support and reliable service. We have been successful in always having our property let throughout this period. iConn have been nothing but professional in ensuring that our flat is always occupied; from advertising, organising tenant viewings, and finally agreeing contracts, iConn have also proved very helpful in organising routine maintenance and upkeep on the flat. iConn have taken the trouble out of renting our property. With a husband in the Royal Navy, two small children and living more than 100 miles away from the property their service has proved invaluable. I would have no hesitation in recommending iConn to others.
I was unhappy with their services of another agent and came across iConn. I spoke with Iris O’Connell and was very impressed with her professionalism and experience and took the decision to instruct iConn as the new Agent for the property.
In comparison to a similar level of service received elsewhere, I can honestly say that I am very confident that iConn work hard to ensure that my flat is occupied and well maintained and always seem happy to go that little bit further. I am secure in the knowledge that my flat is in “safe hands” which affords me the luxury of having a rental property that I don’t really have to worry about. They keep me regularly updated on both my flat and industry requirements/standards and endeavour to go further by providing handy hints and tips via newsletters etc. Any items that are required are fully investigated and I do feel that they try to get the best deal for me when it comes to any maintenance costs. Their fully managed service provides exactly that: a very high standard in managed service requiring very little input from me.
I couldn’t be happier with the service I receive and furthermore, the level of service has not waned or declined at all and remains at the same high standard as when I first instructed them.
I would give them the highest possible rating based on the fact that 1) I receive an impeccable service 2) I have had no reason for complaint 3) my flat is kept in good condition by tenants 4) I receive a good deal of relevant communication in a timely fashion 5) my flat is regularly occupied despite quite a high turnover of tenants 6) a pretty seamless service between rental and maintenance departments 7) they don’t have a call centre.. if I need to speak to someone about my flat I just call iConn and speak with someone that actually knows the property and finally 8) they answer their phones quickly and if the individual I need to speak to isn’t available I know that someone else can help or that the person required will get back to me in a timely fashion.
iConn definitely receive my seal of approval (and I can be a fussy customer!)
iConn has been my letting agent for the last 7 years and undertakes a full management service for me. I have been impressed with the efficient manner in which they have undertaken this role and the professional way they handle issues. As a ‘distant’ landlord, I rely on effective communication, timely resolution of issues whilst keeping me fully informed of developments. In each of these aspects I rate them highly. During the tenure of my agreement with iConn thus far, the accounting aspect has been first rate with rental income invariably paid on time and any missing sums urgently pursued. I very much value the relationship and look forward to it continuing for many more years.