Posts tagged letting agent
Another relevant article from ARLA regarding the Government’s Right to Rent Scheme:
The Right to Rent scheme – which reguires landlords or agents to check ID of all prospective adult occupiers – is being rolled out across England from 1 February 2016. Where an adult occupier has a time limited right to remain, landlords and letting agents will need to conduct follow up checks. These need to be made 12 months from the initial check or at the expiry of the individual’s right to be in the UK, whichever is the later.
ARLA have been part of the Landlord panel throughout development of Immigration Act 2014 and Immigration Bill 2015 and have delivered a series of events across England to support letting agents in complying with the legislation.
Right to Rent FAQ
We have worked with Home Office and UK Border Agency to answer the questions that are widely asked by landlords and letting agents.
What happens where I have a US citizen and her family moving to the UK? They are not visiting prior to arrival and need to agree a residential tenancy, ship their furniture and occupy on arrival?
Prior to any agreement for residential tenancy, the landlord or letting agent should conduct Right to Rent checks. In such a scenario as above, if the US citizen had a relevant visit visa and therefore a ‘limited’ right to reside in the UK (specifically in the implementation phased area), their visa will substantiate that. In practice, this will generally mean that the new tenancy agreement is subject to a condition that the Right to Rent checks are satisfied once the US citizen arrives in the UK.
I’m a law abiding agent organising a tenancy for a family moving from Australia in December. I meet all requirements of all legislation that I am asked to comply with. They will arrive at 7pm on a Friday evening. In reality, how do I deal with this?
As above. Prior to any agreement for residential tenancy, specifically in the implementation phased area, the landlord or letting agent should conduct right to rent checks before the prospective tenants are entitled to occupancy and the prospective tenants will be able to substantiate their right to reside through provision of their visas.
How should I carry out a check on someone who wears a headscarf or veil?
Individuals should be asked to show their face to check that it matches their facial image on their documents. Scarves which cover the hair need not be removed. Those conducting the check should offer the opportunity for the prospective tenant to show their face in a private area and/or in the presence of another female.
I have to use sub agents around the country to find my tenants and never see them face to face, how can I comply?
This is a very problematic area as the whole aim of the scheme is for a landlord or a delegated agent to do a quality face to face check. The 2014 Act only allows for a landlord to delegate to an agent. It does not allow for that agent then to delegate the checks and liability to yet another agent. The other alternative is that the first agent sets up a contractual relationship with the second agent in terms of the Right to Rent check. Contact the ARLA Legal Helpline 0330 124 1212 for advice.
What happens with company lets where we don’t know who the occupiers are? We let to the company who allow the current CEO etc to occupy on terms that are generally longer than three months?
In these circumstances, the agreement is with a corporate body and not directly with a ‘tenant’ (albeit the body can be a tenant). The body will have control over who may stay at the property, i.e. a form of licence and they will be the liable party. Employers already conduct right to work checks and are subject to civil penalties if it is found that they are employing illegal workers.
What happens if in Jan 2015 I take over responsibility for a property in the pilot area which is already let? If the landlord hasn’t got evidence of checks to pass to me, do I conduct checks at that point? And if he does pass evidence to me, I still won’t have seen the original myself.
It depends on whether the tenancy (letting) was agreed before or after the implementation date of 1 December. If after the implementation date, it will be the person who granted the residential tenancy who is liable for a penalty where checks were not carried out and an illegal immigrant is found living in the property. That is, the previous landlord in the circumstances set out above. Where the new landlord has no evidence that checks that should have been conducted ever were, they should conduct fresh checks on the sitting tenants/occupants.
What if I have student occupiers from overseas arriving on different dates?
A check needs to be carried out on each adult occupier. If tenants are arriving from abroad at a later date than other occupants, they will need to pass a Right to Rent check before taking up occupancy.
If I acquire a property with occupying tenants and the date that they took up their tenancy with the previous landlord precedes 1st December therefore no checks were needed, do I now need to carry out ID checks because I have acquired the property or do I need to obtain and retain evidence from them that their tenancy started prior to 1 December 2014?
No, you do not need to carry out retrospective checks on tenants. It would be best practice that you would obtain evidence and details of the existing tenancy that has been taken over.
What are the Home Office doing to inform landlords directly?
The Home Office have been working with a wide variety of partners to publicise the requirements of the scheme to landlords and tenants. Within the Minister’s implementation panel meetings ARLA has stressed the importance of raising awareness of the scheme with landlords, householders with lodgers and with tenants. The greater the number of tenants who expect checks, the easier it will be for agents to carry them out.
If I discover a prospective occupier with no right to rent in the UK and know their current address, an address that I am not responsible for, can I be liable for penalty if I do not make a report to the Home Office?
No, you would not be subject to a civil penalty for not making a report to the Home Office against an individual you have not rented to. You would only be liable for a civil penalty if you rent to a tenant where they have no right to rent in the UK (in the implementation phased area) and you knowingly did so.
How does this affect existing Housing Law? What are the implications for existing housing law in reality?
Landlords and lettings agents may wish to consider reviewing and amending the stock of contracts, terms and conditions that they use in day to day business. When updating your landlord Terms of Business don’t forget to include Right to Rent checks.
What if the landlord wants to discriminate against a prospective tenant?
Whether or not a person needs and has permission to stay in the UK and has a right to rent is a matter of fact that can be verified. Only the listed documents should be used to reach a decision. Checks should be performed without regard to race, religion or other protected characteristics or equality.
How do I know that the Home Office reference number that I have been given relates to the person in front of me? Can you give me a copy of the photo ID for the person that is the subject of the Home Office appeal?
The reference number will relate to an individual known to the Home Office and checks will be conducted against the details held on that individual. All positive results will be recorded and monitored so as to identify any instances where we suspect fraudulent activity.
If a guarantor’s visa expires mid tenancy does a check on renewal status still apply?
If the guarantor does not live in the property there is no stipulation from the Landlords Scheme perspective for the landlord to carry out a repeat check when their visa is due to expire. Though of course from a commercial angle they may want to do this – but that is your choice to mitigate against any risk. Of course if the guarantor lived in the property they would be subject to a repeat check just prior to their visa expiring.
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.
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
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
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).
Samantha Hooper, Lettings Negotiator at iConn Property Management writes;
Autumn season has arrived and we have been experiencing a lot of rain over the last few days! At this time of year, our tenants start drying clothes inside their homes, which later down the line can result in damp / condensation build up in the property. Here’s a few tips on how to avoid this common problem!
Open bedroom windows when you go to bed at night; a 10mm gap will do. If it really is too cold to do this, wipe the condensation off the windows first thing in the morning, but please do not put the cloth you used on the radiator to dry as this will create more condensation.
Ensure full use of extractor or ventilation fans. Where these are not provided, open a window after bathing or showering to give the steam and damp air a chance to escape. Wipe windows, walls and mirrors to remove condensation (a microfiber cloth is the most efficient means of doing this), and dry the shower tray or bath. Keep the door closed while the bathroom is in use to prevent the steam escaping to other parts of the house.
When cooking, cover pans. Use exactor or ventilation fans where provided. If you do not have an automatic kettle, take care to ensure it is not left boiling. These precautions will help to reduce steam and therefore moisture in the air. Keep the door closed while the kitchen is in use to prevent the steam escaping to other parts of the house.
Where there are chimneys, do not block them up. If a wall appears to be damp, do not put furniture right up against it; allow some circulation of air.
Make sure that any ventilation bricks or openings in the building are not obstructed.
Keep glass as clear of condensation as you can. Wipe away any moisture that has formed using a soft cloth. Leave open any ”trickle” vents in double glazed units. Get into the habit of opening windows to keep moisture content in the air down and to air the property when you can.
Avoid drying clothes on radiators. Tumble dryers should be vented to the outside, unless fitted with a condenser.
Provide a reasonable level of heating (no less than 10°C in an unused area, or 16C if in use); cold rooms are susceptible to condensation. Remember, the best way to heat a room and avoid condensation is to maintain a low level of warmth throughout the day rather than to turn the heating off while you are out and put it on at a high level when you return home.
Portable gas and paraffin heaters can create a significant amount of damp and condensation within properties. Please do not use these types of heaters unless you have permission from your landlord or property manager.
Mildew may be removed from clothes by using a dry cleaning process.
Remove and kill mould by wiping the affected area(s) with a fungicide which carries a Health and Safety Executive approval number, precisely following the manufactures instructions. Alternatively a mild bleach solution will have the desired effect, but do test on a small area first.
Do not disturb mould by vacuuming or brushing as this can give rise to respiratory complaints.
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!
Iris O’Connell, Managing Director at iConn Property Management writes;
We are pleased to announce that our Property Manager Tanya MacLeod has recently passed all four units of the NFOPP Level 3 Qualification for the Technical Award in Residential Letting & Property Management, and our Lettings Negotiator, Sam Macdonald is also on her way and passed the first unit towards her qualification last week! Well done to both of you!
Sam Douglas; Accounts Coordinator at iConn Property Management writes;
We have recently noticed that Canterbury City Council have changed the rules regarding Council Tax exemption for students! Canterbury City Council are now charging students for council tax from the date that their university course expires, up until the end of their tenancy.
For more information, please contact the Council on 01227 862 300 or email them: firstname.lastname@example.org
Amy Chilvers, Lettings Negotiator at iConn Property Management writes;
Well done to our Lettings Negotiator, Sam Macdonald who did her bit for charity this month and ran the Race For Life in aid of raising money for an amazing cause, Cancer Research UK. If you would like to make a donation, please feel free to donate online and show your support!
Tanya MacLeod, Property Manager at iConn Property Management writes;
Canterbury City Council have introduced some changes to the collection of waste in Canterbury recently.
The Canterbury City Councils website states;
Changes to your waste collection service
In the summer we will be making some changes to the waste collection service. We will be picking up your food waste every week and collecting glass every two weeks. To complement the new service we will be giving you some new bins and boxes.
Once we’ve delivered your bins, your first collection will take place on your next scheduled recycling day. That week, put out your blue lidded bin (glass, tins, cartons and plastics) with your red insert box (paper and card) inside along with your food waste caddy. If you have a garden bin, put that out too.
Here is some useful information taken from the Canterbury City Council’s website which may help you with the new system;
What goes in my bins?
Black household waste bin
Your black wheeled bin is for household and food waste, and items which cannot be recycled.
You can recycle the following items in your clear sacks:
- Cans, aerosols with nozzles removed and aluminium foil.
- Paper, magazines, newspapers, catalogues and phone directories.
- Wrapping paper (remove Sellotape).
- Cardboard food boxes and egg cartons (flattened).
- Toilet or kitchen roll inner cardboard.
- Plastic drinks bottles, shampoo bottles, and washing up liquid bottles.
If the wrong materials are found in the sack, it will not be collected.
Please remember to flatten boxes, wash and squash plastic bottles and remove lids, empty and rinse food containers, put materials loose in your clear recycling sack and tie securely. Secured bundles of cardboard and newspapers will be collected if placed beside recycling sacks.
Green lidded bin
You can place the following items in your green bin:
- Grass cuttings, hedge clippings, dead plants and weeds.
- Cut flower and shrub prunings.
- Bark, leaves and small twigs.
- Branches (Up to 4cm thick).
We will not empty bins which contain the following:
- Stone, concrete, timber or builder’s waste.
- Glass, plastic, metal, paper or cardboard.
- Plant pots, soil or turf.
- Household rubbish and food waste.
You can also find more information regarding this matter on their website, https://www.canterbury.gov.uk/bins-recycling/
So many thanks for all your very professional advice and tremendously helpful information.
With thanks, and my best regards
Mr Gerard O’Sullivan
Sam Macdonald, Lettings Negotiator at iConn Property Management writes;
Here’s some great advice from The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) regarding buy to let properties:
Think of buying to let as a medium to long term investment.
Seek advice from an ARLA letting agent on local market demands.
Get your sums right. Will the rent cover borrowings and costs, after allowing for void periods?
Decorate, fit out and furnish to high quality standards, especially kitchens and bathrooms, to attract the best tenants and let quickly every time.
Use an ARLA member as your letting agent. They have Client Money Protection, hold Professional Indemnity Insurance to required standards, have staff trained to ARLA’s competency standards and are kept up to date with the latest legal and regulatory requirements.
Let personal taste cloud your judgement. Be sure the property you choose meets market requirements
Purchase anything with potential maintenance problems like a lot of woodwork or large gardens. It will add nothing to the rental value and cost a lot to keep up.
Think that the running of an investment property to let can be left to friends or relatives in your absence. Tenants require a full management service.
Use off-the-shelf tenancy agreements from HMSO or law stationers, or forget to issue the right notices or fail to have a proper inventory and condition report made before a tenant moves in. Leave all documentation to a professional agent.
Furnish with second hand furniture or cast-off soft furnishings. These will probably contravene the Furniture and Furnishing Regulations.
If you require any further information regarding renting your property, please feel free to contact us on 01227 765008.
Sam Macdonald, Lettings Negotiator for iConn Property Management writes;
REMINDER!! Student Tenancies for 2013-2014 – Your administration fees are due to be paid by the 1st May 2013… remember to budget for this in the next month
Sam Macdonald, Lettings Negotiator at iConn Property Management writes;
Who think they could demolish this little mini mountain of chocolate loveliness…??
Well unfortunately these eggs are reserved…
So far we have 36 eggs ready for collection on the 25th March 2013.
If you would like to contribute please drop your egg(s) to our office at 26a Castle Street, Canterbury CT1 2PU.
Please help us spread the word by sharing the post
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.
This was our first experience of using iConn Ltd to rent out our home and it was a seemless and problem-free experience. The personnel were knowledgeable, professional and responsive to our numerous questions! Most importantly, they were proactive and arranged good quality viewings which resulted in several offers within a week of taking on the property. I would not hesitate to recommend that other prospective landlords use iConn and am delighted that we chose them to work with.
Iris O’Connell, Managing Director for iConn Property Management writes:
Within the industry we are used to regulations being changed and updated but none so much as the requirements of the EPC (energy performance certificate).
I have detailed the amendments below for your information and future reference.
Changes to the EPC rules
Changes to the rules from 9th January 2013, include
- Agents must ensure that an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) has been commissioned before they can market a property for rent.
- From 9th January 2013, when a building or building unit is offered for sale or rent, the energy rating must be stated in “commercial media” (includes adverts and the internet) where one is available.
- There is no longer a requirement to attach the front page of the EPC to any written materials.
- The EPC must be ‘made available’ in copy form to prospective tenants at the earliest opportunity and at the latest, before entering into a contract. When the letting is finalised, the EPC must be given free of charge to the tenant.
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 at iConn Property Management writes:
Our new lettings list for July 2013 – June 2014 is now available, click on the image below to view in full
Early signs show a busy student market for this year so are not expecting these properties to be on the market for long.
Iris O’Connell, Managing Director of iConn Property Management writes:
I am writing to advise you of a Government initiative which takes effect from January 2013.
In order to detail and explain the initiative clearly, I have taken abstracts from literature from The Department of Energy & Climate Change for your information.
The Green Deal is a government initiative to improve energy efficiency in UK households; its aim is to encourage people to make their homes more energy efficient in a cost effective way. The scheme will be available to home owners and tenants (with the consent of their landlords) and has also been extended to businesses.
The scheme lets customers pay for some or all of the improvements over time through their electricity bill. A home assessment will be undertaken by a Green Deal assessor who will create a report recommending the best improvements to minimise the utility bills in your home. If you are interested, you will be able to choose a Green Deal provider who will offer you a quote for a Green Deal Plan and access to the finance. The financial package is not a loan; although interest is added to the final total. The debt is attached to your property rather than you or the tenant, so it will not be means tested, therefore credit checks will not be undertaken.
In order to have any improvements undertaken, the improvements must be eligible under the Green Deal and recommended for your house following your home assessment. These measures will be expected to be able to show real savings over the repayment period. This is the Golden Rule of the Green Deal which states that the expected savings made from the home improvement must be the same or greater than the total cost of implementing the improvement itself. This rule protects the property owner, ensuring that they are not paying back more money as a result of the Green Deal scheme than they are actually saving on their energy bills.
Once the home improvements have been undertaken, the Green Deal will be paid back in installments attached to the electricity bill. The repayments will be affordable to everyone as they will be based on the savings made by the household as a result of the new home improvements.
In order for the home improvements to be beneficial, the Golden Rule states that you should not be paying more money on your repayments than you are saving on your utility bill. For example, if you have had new insulation fitted, and this gives you a saving of £25.00 on your heating bill each month, then you will be expected to pay less than £25.00 on your repayments.
Additionally, the length of time for the repayments should not exceed the expected lifetime of the home improvements itself. For example, if solar panels were to be installed and they have an expected lifespan of 30 years, then the repayments should not last any longer than 30 years.
Your tenant needs your permission before taking out a Green Deal. If your tenant wishes to take out a Green Deal Plan, they will first need your agreement to both the improvements and the financial aspects of the plan, If you do not agree to all, some or any of the assessors recommendations; the tenant is not permitted to proceed.
Click on the link for the official brochure provided by The Department of Energy & Climate Change for a comprehesive guide:
If you require any further information, please feel free to contact me.
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.]
What do we do about house bills?
Often students will ask us how much their bills will be, it is very hard to say as obviously your bills are based on your usage….so if you have the lights on a lot, a telly in each room, heating on constant and nice hot baths everyday your bills are going to be higher then the house that are more conscientious of their usage.
Our advice would be to all sit down when you arrive and work out a budget to all put in a pot each month. You will need to consider your gas, electric, water rates and TV license payments then any additional extras you would all like…telephone, internet, Sky TV, regular window cleaner or gardener?! Work out how much this will cost you on a monthly basis and then divide it by the number of housemates. Then as the bills come in you can review and adjust your costings accordingly. It’s a good idea to pay the same amount for your gas and electric each month as although you may not use the heating in the summer months your winter bills will be higher so it will even out over the year instead of being caught with a large bill at the end of winter. If you do want to pay more on a pay as you go basis then remember to always take meter readings as the bills comes in. Companies will often estimate your usage and so if you haven’t been there they may be charging you for more usage, if you call them with your actual meter readings they will adjust the bill and you will only ever pay for what you have actually used.
When your tenancy starts either your landlord or iConn will take meter readings for your gas and electric meters. If we complete your inventory we will notify the utility companies of your details and the bills will begin to arrive at the property in your name. If your landlord completes your inventory, either they will notify the companies or they will provide you with the details of who to call to complete this yourself.
Remember that you are responsible for bills from when your tenancy starts so just because you pay half rent over the summer months does not mean that bills will not accumulate over the summer months. Obviously your gas and electric bills will be minimal if you are not in occupation but other utilities like the water companies have a standard charge for the year and so there bill will still be payable.
If you are all students in your household you will be exempt from Council Tax. We will notify the council of your details but they will write to you separately when you arrive to confirm your details.
The Television Licence Fee is the responsibility of the tenant. You can arrange payment of a new license or transfer an old one by telephoning 0300 555 0281 or online at
Some properties have Sky Dishes installed; however they will not be activated. If your property does not have a Sky Dish and you wish to have one installed, you must get permission from the landlord first by contacting us. Once permission is granted, you are responsible for any installation costs, ongoing bills and any contract you have with sky. You can contact Sky on 08705 800 874 or apply online www.sky.com
Most properties have telephone lines / internet connection already installed but they may not be activated when you arrive as the current tenants may take their line with them. Due to data protection we are not allowed to organise the connection of the phone line for you. Telephone lines are installed by BT and you can arrange connection/activation with them by calling 0800 800 150 or online at www.bt.com/Choices . This also applies to internet/Broadband connections. There are many different providers some include, BT Internet, AOL, Tiscalli and Freeserve.
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 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.
I have used iConn as my letting agent for over ten years and during that time I have been delighted with the level of service I have received. Over those years I have been consistently impressed with the professionalism and expertise shown by all iConn staff. I take the view that iConn has a very clear philosophy which includes providing a service second to none. I would recommend iConn to anyone with property to rent without reservation.