Posts tagged tenants advice
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.
For any emergencies that may arise outside of normal office hours or over the Christmas/New Year period, when the office is closed, please contact the following contractors:-
For plumbing/heating/maintenance faults – Cherrywest Property Maintenance – 07568140153
For electrical faults – TS2 Contracts – 07793809322
For locks/keys – Acme Locks – 01227 785551
Happy Christmas to you all and best wishes from all at iConn Property Management
Protecting your student property over the christmas holidays – iConn Property Management, Canterbury0
Here Policy Expert offers a few pointers for students for keeping your accommodation safe this Christmas;
Whether you live in university halls or a private student property, visiting home at Christmas or Easter can leave your student digs exposed to thieves. Here’s what you need to consider before driving home for Christmas.
Although it’s important to take responsibility for your own things at university, you can still get contents insurance to cover yourself in worst-case scenarios. Some home insurance policies also cover student contents, so check with your parents’ insurance provider first. Stand-alone student contents policies are also available from some insurers. Leaflets from student insurance firms are usually circulated during the first week of term but you can also try looking online.
If you have any concerns about your security while at university, ask for advice from your parents, halls mentor or university services.
Many universities offer students the chance to take a room for just 30 weeks a year. This time period only takes term-time into account and most students return to their family home over Easter half-term, summer and Christmas holidays.
Over these holiday periods, you may be asked to completely vacate your room. This could mean removing everything from contents to furnishings depending on your contract. They’ll also ask you to clean your room. Sometimes universities rent these halls to visitors over the empty period. Therefore it’s important to make sure you check underneath and behind any furnishings for anything that may of dropped down the back.
When you pack up your things, be sure to wrap everything carefully to prevent breakages and get rid of any food-stuffs from you room and communal areas. Clean your room thoroughly using appropriate cleaning products that the university should be able to recommend or loan to you.
Holidays are also a good opportunity to get rid of things you no longer need. You may be able to give quality items to friends or donate them to local charity shops. If not, your uni or local shopping centre should provide recycling facilities. The earlier you start this process the better, don’t leave it to the last minute when there are sure to be end of term parties and nights-out to enjoy.
You may not want to take all your possessions home with you, if not – see if you university provides a secure storage facility. If they don’t have such a facility, you could try a a well-known self-storage company in the local area who uses high-quality security features. Prices may vary, but you might be able to store some of your stuff near your halls for a reasonable price.
If you’re allowed to leave items in your halls over the festive period, be sure to take valuable items like laptops, phones, cameras and jewellery home with you. Also, make sure you lock all windows and doors carefully and unplug all electrical items. If you must leave valuables behind, try to make sure they’re hidden out of sight to help avoid opportunist thefts.
After your freshman year you may want to move into a private property. Your landlord will outline how you should leave your property over holidays. Generally it’s considered best to shut off water while you’re away. You will also need to empty your fridge and throw away food that will go out of date. Cancel any regular deliveries to your house like milk and newspapers and make sure you get any other orders sent to a relative or friend’s address.
Your landlord should have bought buildings insurance (which may or may not cover the property when it’s empty). Comprehensive cover should pay out in the case of accidental damage, damage by tenants and also provide emergency home cover. Their policy may also contain a vacancy clause with regulations for how long the property can be empty for. They may have some contents insurance in place if they have furnished the property for you, however this will not cover your personal items in the house. It’s wise to buy your own contents insurance to make sure all your possessions are covered.
You can take other steps to secure your property. Tell your landlord or letting agency the dates the house will be empty and request they check up on it. Alternatively, ask a trusted friend or neighbour to keep an eye on the property wile you’re away. Automatic lights that are set on timers and burglar alarms can help deter night-time opportunists.
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.
Rosalind Renshaw from Property Industry Eye reveals all:
The Right to Rent scheme – by which landlords or their agents must check the immigration status of tenants and evict any tenant who does not have right to live in the UK – is likely to go live nationally by next April, and possibly much sooner.
There could be a phased roll-out across England from this autumn onwards.
Landlords – and presumably their agents – who do not comply face fines or prison sentences of up to five years.
The eviction of illegal tenants will be abrupt, and without having to go through court.
It would follow the issuing of a notice by the Home Office when an asylum application fails, confirming that the tenant no longer has the right to rent.
The Government is expected to enact new criminal offences as early as next month. Normally, measures enacted in September come into force the following April. However, in view of the crisis in Calais, sources say there is speculation that ministers could decide to bring implementation sharply forward.
Greg Clark, the communities secretary, said the legislation will also create a blacklist of persistent rogue landlords and letting agents to allow councils to know where to concentrate their enforcement action.
“We are determined to crack down on rogue landlords,” said Clark.
There will also be measures to prevent the letting out of sub-standard properties.
The new measure looks to be controversial.
The pilot scheme in the West Midlands has been running only since December and awaits evaluation.
In the pilot, there is no criminal penalty, with civil sanctions of up to £3,000.
Also in the pilot, landlords are able to assign Right to Rent responsibilities to their agents, and it is thought that this same system will continue in the national scheme.
The new clampdown is already raising fears that landlords and agents will simply discriminate against certain types of prospective tenants – including those with a right to live in the UK.
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said that the pilot has shown serious shortcomings, with British people who have foreign accents finding it difficult to find somewhere to rent.
Lawyer and policy director of the Residential Landlords Asociation David Smith told the BBC’s World at One that there was evidence that landlords in the pilot were reluctant to let their properties to anyone without a valid passport.
He said: “This means that huge segments of the population, including genuine UK national who do not have passports – of whom there are many – are being excluded.”
There are also accusations that the Government is guilty of a knee-jerk reaction to the Calais crisis.
However, David Cox, managing director of ARLA, said: “ARLA believes that the measures announced by the Government today are a good first step and we welcome the proposals in principle.
“The plans will help to weed out the minority of rogue landlords who exploit vulnerable immigrants for their own financial gain and, with the introduction of a new five year imprisonment penalty, will help to deter other such unscrupulous individuals from entering the private rented sector.
“The proposals also build upon the Right to Rent checks as imposed by the Immigration Act 2014.
“We will be organising training sessions for our members to ensure they are fully prepared and understand the new rules and we urge all letting agents to ensure they are ready for the impending roll out.”
Rightmove have published this little article giving you a few tips on protecting your property against theft during the summer months;
According to Halifax Home Insurance, opportunistic thieves ramp up their activity during spring and summer, resulting in a 10% increase in domestic burglaries and a 40% increase in outdoor thefts. One of the reasons for this is because more of us leave windows and doors open while we are out in the garden, or while we nip to the park to enjoy the sunshine.
There is also a marked increase in thefts due to larger numbers of us going on holiday and leaving our houses empty, unsecure and unguarded. We also start bringing out valuables such as bicycles and lawn furniture, and leave them outside, which then tempts would-be criminals.
To protect your property against thieves this summer, the home security specialists at Yale recommend that you try to avoid leaving expensive outdoor equipment such as barbeques lying around your garden. Wherever possible, ensure they are kept in a shed or garage, secured with a sturdy weatherproof padlock when not in use.
Love your shed
Many of us believe our garden shed contains nothing but old junk, but astonishingly, a quarter of people with a shed said it would cost more than £750 to replace the items stored in them, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by Yale.
Even more surprising then, is that the research showed that 1 in 6 people with sheds do not bother to secure them, even though it may contain high value items such as bicycles, lawnmowers and power tools.
It’s worth securing these types of items using additional padlocks or anchors and cables, which can be looped through bike wheels or lawnmower handles to provide an extra level of security if an intruder does manage to gain entry.
Bicycles are a great way to get around during the summer months. They are convenient and great exercise, but unfortunately thieves are quite fond of them too! In fact, according to the Crime in England and Wales Survey, performed by The Home Office, 53% of bicycles are stolen from a semi-private area such as a garden, garage or shed.
So to avoid becoming a victim of cycle theft always lock your bicycle to something immovable, even when it is at home in your garage or shed. Fix your bicycle to an object that it can’t be lifted over, and something that cannot be broken, cut or removed. For maximum protection use two locks of different types (a D-lock and robust chain and padlock is ideal).
Keep an eye out
The majority of garden thefts occur at night, as opportunistic burglars operate under the cover of darkness. To deter shady burglars, invest in good security lights at the front, back and side of your property.
For added protection, CCTV systems allow you to keep a careful eye on your home and its boundaries while you are away. Recorded footage can also be stored on a PC, or supplied to the police in the event of a break-in.
These few simple steps can help you to enjoy the summer months, safe in the knowledge that your home and valued possessions have been left protected.
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.
The office of iConn will be closed for the May Bank Holiday.
The office will be closed on Monday 4th May 2015 but will re-open on Tuesday 5th May 2015 from 9am.
As usual we have arranged an emergency call out service for all our managed properties. Please note; for tenant find properties, please contact your Landlord directly as normal.
For managed properties; faults should be reported as follows:
For Plumbing, Heating/ Electrics and Security faults please contact One Call Property Services on 07515369200
For locks and keys please contact Acme Locks on 01227 785551
Please also refer to our website for emergency details under the Tenant/Student Tab for when
the office is closed. http://www.iconnproperties.co.uk./emergency_contact.php
Please note that if you have a British Gas Homecare service contract in place, you should call them in
the first instance on 0800 365100
Agent shut down whilst fears are aired regarding missing money – iConn Property Management, Canterbury0
Here is an interesting article written by Rosalind Renshaw on behalf of Property Industry Eye. This article gives you all the more reasons for using an ARLA qualified Letting agent like iConn Property Management. We are an affiliated agent with the relevant and essential ‘client money protection Insurance’ in place, providing our Landlords and Tenants peace of mind;
Landlords and tenants are feared to have lost thousands of pounds after the sudden closure of a property firm.
Sweet Property Services has shut down with a Notice of Forfeiture on the door saying that the landlord of the building in High Street, Rochester, Kent, has re-entered the premises.
As a consequence, says the notice, the lease has been forfeited and the premises secured. The firm is said to have entered liquidation, although details are unclear.
Landlords have told their local paper that rent has not been passed on, with concerns that tenants’ deposits may not have been protected.
A spokesperson with The Deposit Protection Service told Eye: “I can confirm that Sweet Property Service have never protected a deposit with The Deposit Protection Service.”
The Property Ombudsman confirmed to Eye it has received a number of complaints about the agency, run by Richard Sweet and which was more recently known as My Sweet Property.
A TPO spokesperson said: “The TPO has been informed that the agent has gone out of business and is in possession of the administrator details. It is assisting complainants in progressing their complaints.”
Had deposits been lodged with the Deposit Protection Service they would have been safe.
The spokesperson said: “Problems such as insolvency proceedings affecting letting agencies are relatively rare, but we of course sympathise with anyone experiencing complications.
“We can reassure both tenants and landlords that our custodial scheme offers the best protection against issues arising from insolvency proceedings. With the funds directly held by the DPS as an independent custodian, the deposit remains protected, notwithstanding such proceedings.
“Under both our insured and custodial schemes deposits remain protected and responsibility for these deposits can be transferred to the appropriate party.
“As a result, a tenant’s access to a deposit that he or she is entitled to at the end of a tenancy is unaffected.”
According to the local paper, one tenant said she had been trying to contact Mr Sweet and his daughter Courteney for over a month without success.
She said: “I, like other tenants, have been emailing these agents for confirmation that my deposit has been lodged with the Deposit Protection Scheme (DPS) and to question why some of my rent has not been paid to my landlord and about the sudden name change.
“Every time I was answered with ‘everything is fine and the paperwork is in the post’.
“It now looks as though Sweet is offering a new online service and this needs to be looked into. Firms should not simply be able to set up shop again.”
Her landlord claims he is £5,000 out of pocket. David Newton said the property had been rented out because his father had dementia and had gone into care: he had needed to rent out the family home to pay for his care.
Mr Newton said: “I have been left distraught and am owed at least four months’ rent.”
Source: Property Industry Eye http://www.propertyindustryeye.com/fears-over-missing-money-as-yet-another-agent-shuts-down/
Rightmove reveal a few handy tips in order to prevent losing your deposit at the end of your tenancy:
As a young professional, moving into your first rented property is an exciting time; exploring your new local area, buying a variety of brightly coloured decorative items for your various rooms and ‘investing’ in homely goods (slow cookers, smoothie makers etc.). You’ve made it! You have your own home!
Sadly though, the sting comes at the end of your tenancy, when it comes to getting back your deposit…
Many landlords and letting agents have had problems with tenants in the past so those contracts you signed, without scrutinising, at the start of your tenancy can sometimes come back to bite you at the end. So here’ some things to think about before you jump in, to ensure you glide happily into your next home:
Before you move in
At the start of your tenancy, go around your property with the landlord or letting agent and go through each point on the inventory, with particular attention to damages. Only sign the inventory when you are happy that everything is included. If they claim they will repair something which is broken, as it is not on the inventory, then follow the conversation up with an email so you have a paper trail. It is also worth recording the meter reading.
Take photographs of all rooms before you unpack (to show the condition in which you received the property) and of any particular issues or broken objects on check-in, preferably with a camera which displays the date, to prove when it was taken.
During your tenancy
At any point during your tenancy, if anything is broken or damaged which you cannot repair, such as damp or electrical faults, tell your landlord or letting agent as soon as possible. If you talk to them via phone, follow it up with an email so that, again, you have a paper trail. And, again, take photographs of any damages.
On check-out, get out your contract and inventoryand read it thoroughly before you begin. If it states in your contract that you should professionally clean the property, do so and retain the receipt – as if the landlord disputes the standard then you have evidence. Adhere to any other conditions, such as defrosting the kitchen’s white goods, if it is in your contract.
You should leave the property in the same condition as you moved in, but your contract will state, and it is legally projected, that ‘fair wear and tear’ is completely expected and acceptable. Things which don’t class as ‘wear and tear’ and which you should sort out are, for example, damp around the grouting of sash windows, limescale around the bathroom and general dirt and grime. This should have been maintained by you throughout the tenancy and is therefore not acceptable to leave behind.
Before you leave, and preferably when you have moved out your belongings, take photographs of all of the rooms, as you did when you moved in. Also, take pictures of any problems or damages, which you will have, hopefully, discussed already with the landlord or letting agent. Remove all rubbish and belongings from the property, even if you don’t wish to take them on with you, and check your meter reading again.
It is definitely worth requesting to go over the check-out inventory with the landlord or letting agent. If they allow that, you can look at any issues together and any reductions from your deposit won’t be a surprise.
If, after following this advice, you do have any problems with retrieving your deposit, you can log an issue with the tenancy deposit scheme with which yours is registered, who will give you advice, guidance and, if it comes to it, mediate a fair communication between yourself, the landlord and the letting agent with all of the evidence you have – so the paper trail and photos you have will be handy – to decide what portion you will get back.
Moving house is a busy enough time, so taking a little time before, during and at the end of your tenancy to protect your deposit is well worth it to save you the hassle and bad taste left afterwards.
Don’t get stung! Get back your deposit and enjoy your new home.
iConn ensure all deposits are protected with an appropriate scheme. If you have any questions regarding the above, or cannot locate your inventory and wish to have a copy emailed out to you in preparation for your check out, please do not hesitate to contact the office on 01227 765008.
If you wish to speak to a member of our lettings team to discuss, please call either Amy or Nadine on 01227765008.
As usual we have arranged an emergency call-out service for the Christmas & New Year period. The service will operate between the following:
1pm Wednesday 24th December to
9am Saturday 27th December
1pm Wednesday 31st December to
9am Friday 2nd January
During this period, faults should be reported as follows:
Plumbing / Gas Heating / Electrics /Security – One Call 07515369200
Please also refer to our website for emergency details under the Tenant/Student Tab for when the office is closed.
Please note that if you have a British Gas Homecare service contract in place, you should call them in the first instance. 0800 365100
Best wishes from everyone at iConn Property Management
Our offices will be closed from 1pm for a staff training afternoon tomorrow; if you have any emergencies please contact One Call Property Services on 07515369200.
For more information visit our website: http://www.iconnproperties.co.uk/emergency_contact.php
Landlord immigration checks – pilot scheme takes effect from 1st December 2014 – iConn Property Management, Canterbury0
‘Nearly Legal’ has informed us all that pilot areas for the landlord immigration checks came into force from the 1st December, under the requirement of the Immigration Act 2014. These areas include Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton. Other areas are expected to be announced in 2015.
Giles Peaker writes:
The equipment will apply to all tenancies, leases below 7 years, sub-lets or lodging arrangements granted on or after 1 December 2014 in the affected areas. Existing or renewed agreements where the tenancy/lease/lodging etc. is continuous from before 1 December will not be affected.
Councils are exempted (including discharge of homeless duty via private sector), as are other social landlords (where they have already been required to consider prospective tenant’s immigration status before allocating them the property) and hostels and refuges ‘which are managed by social landlords, voluntary organisations or charities, or which are not operated on a commercial basis and whose operating costs are provided either wholly or in part by a government department or agency or a local authority’.
Here at iConn we’ll continue to monitor the situation and keep you all up informed as and when we know more, especially concerning Canterbury and the surrounding areas!
Here are a few key tips to ensure your home is ready for winter!
Protect your pipes from freezing: Insulate your pipes with pipe insulator to prevent them from freezing and potentially bursting
Check drains and gutters: Remove all debris and blockages from your guttering to prevent the water from draining away and in extreme circumstances causing flooding
Clear paths from debris: C lear any leaves and debris from your paths to prevent any accidents; wet weather and frost can lead to extremely slippery pathways
Keep your garden tidy: To ensure your property isn’t damaged in bad weather and especially high winds, make sure any garden furniture is stored away if possible, and branches cut back where necessary
Bleed your radiators: Bleeding your radiators is a great way in which to ensure they are working to their full potential
Organise a kit for emergencies: Put together a box full of matches, candles, a torch, batteries and blankets in preparation for any power cuts
Paul Lang, Maintenance Coordinator for iConn Property Management writes:
Some advice for student tenants regarding their utility bills and what to do when things are not right;
SENARIO ONE: If we are the managing agent for your property.
We have notified the utility companies on your behalf. When you first move into your property you are provided with an inventory which contains meter readings which were taken at the beginning of the tenancy. These meter readings are provided to all the utility suppliers registered for your address via our office as your opening readings. Some utility companies will take a while to update there information but you should start to see bills arriving this month.
SENARIO TWO: If your Landlord provided you with your inventory and completes your maintenance.
You need to confirm with your Landlord if they have notified the utilities on your behalf, if they do not then you will need to call the utility companies yourself and set up your new accounts. Use the start date on your tenancy agreement as your opening account date and provide them with meter readings. These should be on the inventory provided by your landlord but if not then call your landlord direct to confirm them and what companies are the suppliers.
SENARIO THREE: If your bills are included in your rental price.
You need do nothing further as the accounts for the property will remain in the landlords name.
ADVICE FOR ALL:
If post arrives that is not addressed to you then please either drop it into our office or back in the post box with “Return to sender – Not at this address” on the envelope. This is normally due to a cross over of information being received by the companies and by returning to the sender it should stop them from writing to the address again.
If the post is in the correct names but the dates or readings are wrong you will need to call the company and confirm your details with them. Use the date on your tenancy agreement as your start date (even if you did not occupy for summer months your tenancy started on this date and so you are responsible from the tenancy start date) then provide them with your meter reading from your inventory as your opening reading. You may want to provide them with a more recent meter reading at the same time. This is advisable as most companies base their bills on “Estimated” usage and if you have not been in the property they may be overcharging you, by providing a recent reading they will only generate the bill for your exact usage. Once you have confirmed these details with them they will then amend your details and resend you the correct bill.
Water bills – these are normally calculated at a set cost for the year regardless of occupation or usage. You should receive two bills for your water supply, one is the water IN and one is for the water OUT. You can arrange with them to pay on a yearly, quarterly or monthly basis dependent on your preference but again the account will be from the start date of your tenancy. Some properties may be on water meters and the companies will come and read these every few months and will adjust your payment schedule accordingly.
Council Tax – The Canterbury city council are notified through our office of all our student properties. They will sometimes write to the address with a yellow exemption slip for you to complete with your student details to confirm that you are entitled to the exemption. These forms are also in your welcome packs. This is standard procedure and once you have returned this to them they will send you a new bill with a zero balance to show that you are exempt. You must be aware that if your courses do not start till later in the year there is a chance they will charge you for the period between the start date of the tenancy and the course start date if necessary and if someone living in your property is not classed as a student then the exemption will not apply. They may be entitled to a reduction but the full exemption will not be allocated.
TV license, Telephone lines, Internet access, Sky or Digital Television Services – are not classed as utilities and you will need to set these type of accounts up directly with the companies you are choosing for supply.
At this time of year the utility companies do receive an excessive amount of notifications because of all the student tenancies in Canterbury which turn over in July and August. We do keep a record of the notification from our office as proof but, because of the large numbers of notification, the companies sometimes miss things or set up accounts incorrectly. It is no problem for us to re notify them for you but, if a bill is arriving in your name it is more advisable for you to call them direct, as once an account is set up the companies will sometimes not speak with us because of data protection. If bills are arriving in your name or some companies have your details but other do not it is evident that our notification has been sent and that some companies have not updated their details yet, so you may wish to call them to confirm your details or call us and we will re send the notification.
I hope this information is useful to you but obviously if you have any further queries then please do not hestiate to contact us and we can confirm the best way forward.
CALLING ALL TENANTS!! For those of you who aren’t a fan of gardening, why not instruct our very reasonable gardener Pete from General Gardening Services to organise this for you? Or even obtain a quote!? Call 07814863228 for more information
Rightmove, on behalf of The Money Advice Service, explain all:
You needn’t get stuck with a high energy tariff – changing supplier could save you up to £200 a year.
Rising bills can mean a big chunk of your household budget goes on essentials such as gas and electricity.
Simply switching your supplier could mean big savings without much effort.
Yet two-thirds of people have never switched their energy provider which the regulator, Ofgem, reckons could save households about £200 a year.
That kind of saving could make a tidy contribution towards, say, redecorating a room in your home.
Most people can switch energy suppliers – even if you have a prepayment meter with debts of up to £500. If you change your mind, you have a 14-day cooling off period.
Here’s how to switch:
1) Check your bill from your current energy provider to see your usage in kWh
2) Make sure your provider won’t charge you to break your existing contract
3) Use comparison sites approved by Ofgem’s Confidence Code
4) Compare the latest deals and choose the best one for you
5) Consider different suppliers of duel deals for your gas and electricity
6) Choosing an online tariff and paying by direct debit could save you extra money
Another interesting read by Rosalind Renshaw on behalf of Property Industry Eye:
The checking of prospective tenants’ immigration status by landlords and agents is set to become mandatory in October.
It follows the Royal Assent of the Immigration Bill last week – just days before the Home Secretary ordered an urgent investigation into an immigration documentation scam at the weekend.
Although the checking requirement – which will almost certainly fall upon letting agents who act for landlords – was highly controversial, it forms part of what is now law.
Its aim is to prevent people with no right to be in the UK from accessing private rented housing. The requirement specifically applies to the private rented sector, not the social sector.
Landlords – or their agents – will have to request to see at least one document from a specified list, yet to be published, to confirm if prospective tenants have the right to live in the UK.
The requirement will mean having to check all applicants – for example, birth certificates of those born in the UK, and passports, but checks might have to extend to much more complicated paperwork or its lack.
If the prospective tenant does not have permission to live in the UK and the property is subsequently let, the landlord could be fined up to £3,000.
If a tenant’s right to be in the UK has a time limit, checks must also be made either annually or before the expiry date if that is after 12 months. Failure to carry out these subsequent checks will also attract fines of up to £3,000.
There is also an obligation on landlords – or agents – to report to the authorities any suspicions that tenants might be illegal immigrants.
The landlord’s responsibility to make the checks and face the fines can be transferred to a letting agent, but that must be done specifically in writing – suggesting that agents will have to revisit their standard contracts, terms and conditions.
They will also need to see if their current referencing checks cover immigration status.
Agents and landlords should also be aware of some of the issues surrounding their new responsibility, not least that they could become liable to accusations of discriminatory practice.
There is also concern as to how far the responsibility extends. Lawyer Simon Kenny, of Moore Blatch, says: “If, for example, a landlord notes from the tenant’s visa that he has the right to live in the UK but not to work, does he breach these rules if he is also aware through credit referencing that the tenant works full-time?
“It seems at least possible such a landlord could also be prosecuted in respect of ‘facilitating a breach of immigration law’ in this situation – an offence with a penalty of imprisonment.
“Guidelines are expected to say that a passport will be the main method of checking a prospective tenant’s immigration status.
“There is also likely to be an online checking facility, where the immigration status of a prospective tenant can be found, together with a free telephone checking service.
The Home Office may also confirm that the new system will be piloted in one area before being rolled out across the UK.
A good blog which outlines the main issues is at the link below this story.
However, it was written before any mention could be made of the latest scam, by which immigrants who speak no English can buy, for £500, a certificate saying they have passed a language test.
The false documentation could open the door to British citizenship but as yet there is no advice as to how letting agents or landlords could detect false paperwork.
Home Secretary Teresa May has ordered an urgent investigation.
Rosalind Renshaw from Property Industry Eye writes:
The lettings industry and the Labour party remain on a collision course ahead of next year’s general election.
Labour has repeated its vow to make letting agent fees illegal, while agents are stepping up calls for wholesale regulation of the industry.
Speaking after Tuesday evening’s failed bid by Labour to have fees banned, Paul Weller, managing director of lettings chain Leaders, said: “Fortunately common sense has prevailed, but the vote was a wasted opportunity.
“The vote should have been on banning all unregulated agents from practising.
“This would have enabled Parliament to tackle all the problems at the heart of our industry in one motion: 40% of letting agents are not members of a professional body so it is clear that self-regulation is not enough.
“What is needed is legislation that ensures that – as a minimum requirement – all letting agents are qualified, have client money protection and operate to an agreed code of conduct for the whole industry.
“The issues go much further than agents charging fees to tenants. We need to rid the industry of rogue agents who charge extortionate fees, who do not protect their clients’ money and in some cases abuse it, who put their tenants’ lives at risk in unsafe properties and who provide a sub-standard service with little regard for the law.
“The best action politicians can take to protect tenants is to properly regulate letting agents. We have been calling for this for decades.”
Ian Potter, outgoing managing director of ARLA, said: “Fees are not arbitrary or unnecessary – they represent a business cost that those tabling the amendment failed to recognise.
“ARLA’s call, as ever, is for wholesale regulation of the market to ensure fair and transparent practices for all consumers, landlords and agents alike.”
Darren Harley, of EweMove, said: “Whilst we agree that there are far too many lettings agents across the country who don’t disclose their application fees too readily, banning all fees to tenants isn’t the way to promote fairness. It will simply drive up fees to the landlords which, in turn, will drive rents up.
“Ewemove charges no application fees, and only ever charges tenants once a property has been offered to them. We believe this is a much better system because it ensures more applications per property, and we can find the very best tenant for the landlord every time.
“Yes, the agent earns slightly less under this model, but it’s not all about the agent.
“Regulation of the industry is clearly required.
“We’ve all seen the reports from Shelter and other organisations, declaring the unscrupulous practices of a few rogue agents. I really don’t believe that those horror stories are the norm in the UK, but I do think that things can be improved, and a professional standard would be the way forward.
“The most obvious route would be compulsory membership of ARLA, and ARLA’s standards being strengthened.”
However, one person who took to Twitter to complain about the way the vote went was London Evening Standard columnist and landlord Victoria Whitlock.
She said: “Am disappointed MPs bought that bunkum that tenants would have paid more if letting agent fees were banned.”
The tireless Stella Creasy, Labour shadow consumers minister, was back on Twitter yesterday claiming: “An agency has contacted me to argue fees to tenants justified because they ‘give them a bag for life & mug’ upon arrival. Yes really.”
Meanwhile, shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds put the industry on warning by making it clear that the whole issue has not gone away.
She said: “Generation Rent needs proper protection against being ripped off.
“A Labour government will ban letting agent fees on tenants.”
* There were just three rebels when it came to Tuesday evening’s vote on letting agent fees – one Tory and two Lib Dems who refused to toe their party line.
Phillip Hollobone, the Tory MP for Kettering, and Lib Dem MPs Julian Huppert (Cambridge) and Ian Swales (Redcar) all voted to ban letting agent fees.
Of the Lib Dems, 38 voted against a ban, and 16 were missing. Among the absentees were Nick Clegg, Vince Cable, Danny Alexander, Andrew Stunell, Sarah Teather and Jo Swinson.
There were 242 Tory MPs who voted against the ban, with 58 absent from the vote. Absentees included David Cameron and George Osborne.
Labour’s attempt to ban letting agent fees was defeated by a majority of 53 (281 to 228).
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/
Prices have been increasing by the ‘Big Six’ energy providers with the price of gas and electricity going up at three times the rate of inflation. With this in mind, now is the best time to switch by considering a cheap fix to fight future price hikes, according to MoneySavingExpert.com.
According to Lucinda Beeman from ‘Your Money.com’,
Research by the regulator found that an estimated 21 million Britons do not shop around for their energy provider, despite the potential to save hundreds. One in four bill payers felt that shopping around for energy would be too much of a hassle, while almost half (45 per cent) said they do not think they would save much money – a misconception, according to Ofgem’s research – as Londoners save an average of £50 a month, Welsh residents save £44, and those in the North East save £43. Dermot Nolan, chief executive at Ofgem, said: “We shop around and compare prices for many things in life, yet we often don’t think to do the same when it comes to our energy bills. Previously people found it difficult to compare tariffs, but the recent reforms have changed things for the better. Edward Davey, Secretary of State for Energy, added: “Having made the switch myself, I would encourage anyone who hasn’t already done so to check whether their current supplier is giving them the best deal – and if it isn’t, switch.
In line with the above, MoneySavingExpert.com has created a comparison page, which can help you find the cheapest deal going forward. Visit http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/cheapenergyclub and you’ll be able to find out whether you are overpaying or not, and more importantly, find the best tariff to suit you.
Money Saving Expert; http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/cheapenergyclub,
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!
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.
Iris O’Connell, Managing Director of iConn Property Management writes:
I am pleased to introduce a new member staff who will be working alongside Sam Macdonald in the lettings team. Amy Chilvers is our new Lettings Negotiator and has previously worked in Lettings & Property Maintenance for over 18 months.
If you have any tenancy queries, you can contact Amy on: firstname.lastname@example.org