Posts tagged using an agent

Rogue Landlords & Agents faced with jail – iConn Property Management, Canterbury

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‘Letting Agent Today’ have released this informative article concerning tougher sentencing and guidelines for rogue landlords and agents:

 

A body representing over 370 local councils in England and Wales wants more powers to control the private rental sector, letting agents and landlords – and says magistrates should have the right to jail the worst offenders.

The Local Government Association claims that all too often the sector has been, in its words, “ripping off tenants” and says that councils’ own licensing schemes have not rooted out rogue landlords who then “have shrugged off paltry fines” when taken to court.

The LGA now wants tougher sentencing guidelines for magistrates and a wider range of penalties. It also says it backs the government’s call for a blacklist of rogue operators – but wants to know how this will be funded.

The association has put forward a series of recommendations including:

– the introduction of sentencing guidelines on housing offences as a priority to ensure consistent and appropriate fines. It also says the Housing Act could be amended to bring in a new range of penalties from a fine up to a community order or custodial sentence;

– a blacklist of persistent offenders would be useful to councils to support the issuing of licenses to landlords and other enforcement work, as long as the administrative burden and cost of compiling a list does not fall on local authorities;

– the ‘fit and proper person’ test for landlords should be strengthened to provide a clear framework to remove the uncertainty for councils and landlords and to provide a robust basis for accepting or refusing a license;

– the government should amend the notice period and compensation arrangements for Article 4 planning powers so that councils can respond effectively to local concerns over concentrations of houses in multiple occupation;

– councils should be given ‘power to direct’ surplus public land to improve the quality of the private rented sector through large scale investment.

Source: https://www.lettingagenttoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2015/9/councils-want-jail-terms-for-rogue-landlords-and-agents

Agent shut down whilst fears are aired regarding missing money – iConn Property Management, Canterbury

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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/

 

Gas safety: getting it right – iConn Property Management, Canterbury

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Here at iConn we’re proud to say that we are an ARLA agent. Here ARLA explain the importance of staying gas safe in this useful article:

 

What set’s ARLA agents apart from the competition is their high standards, professionalism and credibility. Gas Safety is a crucial thing for agents and landlords to get right if you’re to protect your tenants, avoid a PR disaster and worse, a potentially fatal accident.

Annual gas safety checks need to be carried out every 12 months by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Landlords or their agent must keep a record of the safety check for two years and issue a copy to each tenant within 28 days of the check being completed and issue a copy to any new tenants before they move in.

As part of their contracts with letting agents, many landlords will assign responsibility to their agent to fulfil the gas safety obligations of the contract, so it’s vitally important that you have a good grasp on when each of your properties anniversary falls. It is a criminal offence if you don’t comply with your legal duties under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and the HSE can issue a formal caution or decide to prosecute.

Help is here
One way for agents and landlords to dramatically minimise the risk of forgetting to schedule a gas safety visit or boiler check is to sign up to Gas Safe Register’s free reminder service. They will they email or text you when it’s time to get your appliances checked. This is a FREE service for landlords, agents or tenants to service their boilers on a yearly basis.

Gas Safe even provide a service for lettings agents or landlords with multiple properties, which allows you to do bulk uploads of properties. Once you’ve uploaded them once with basic details including the month which a check is due, they will do the rest! All you need to worry about is choosing a Gas Safe registered engineer of your choice when the time comes to complete the work!

So what are you waiting for – STAY SAFE and take a load of your mind and make – get proactive and !

If you’re not sure of your obligations under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, HSE has free leaflets and a free Gas Safety Advice Line offering telephone help – 0800 300 363.

They also offer some great advice here: http://www.hse.gov.uk/gas/domestic/faqtenant.htm

See link for the gas map tool and reminder service:- http://www.staygassafe.co.uk

 

Source: http://www.arla.co.uk/news/march-2015/gas-safe/

 

 

Congratulations to the staff at iConn – iConn Property Management, Canterbury

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well done

 

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.

Ban on agency fees rumbles on – iConn Property Management, Canterbury

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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).

 

Source: http://www.propertyindustryeye.com/will-ban-letting-agent-fees-vows-labours-shadow-housing-minister/

Agents to suffer if ban on tenant fees are implemented – iConn Property Managment, Canterbury

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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/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How to avoid Condensation & Damp, iConn Property Management Canterbury

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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!

BEDROOMS

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.

SHOWER/BATHROOM

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.

KITCHEN

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.

LIVING AREAS

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.

GENERAL

Make sure that any ventilation bricks or openings in the building are not obstructed.

WINDOWS

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.

LAUNDRY

Avoid drying clothes on radiators. Tumble dryers should be vented to the outside, unless fitted with a condenser.

HEATING

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 HEATERS

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.

REMEDIES

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.

 

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Staff success! iConn Property Management Canterbury

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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!

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Student V Council Tax, iConn Property Management, Canterbury

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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: council.tax@canterbury.gov.uk

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Be safe this summer! iConn Property Management, Canterbury

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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.

AMY

Support Cancer Research UK!! iConn Property Management Cantebrury

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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!

http://www.justgiving.com/cancerresearchuk

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New member of the iConn Team!

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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:  amychilvers@iconn.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tenants! Get ready for your departure, iConn Property Management

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Competition Time!! Win £200 cash, iConn Property Management

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Mr O’Sullivan, Tenant guarantor with iConn Property Management

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So many thanks for all your very professional advice and tremendously helpful information.

With thanks, and my best regards

Mr Gerard O’Sullivan

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Buy to Let information, Canterbury Letting Agent

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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:

 

DO

Think of buying to let as a medium to long term investment.

DO

Seek advice from an ARLA letting agent on local market demands.

DO

Get your sums right. Will the rent cover borrowings and costs, after allowing for void periods?

DO

Decorate, fit out and furnish to high quality standards, especially kitchens and bathrooms, to attract the best tenants and let quickly every time.

DO

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.

DON’T

Let personal taste cloud your judgement. Be sure the property you choose meets market requirements

.DON’T

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.

DON’T

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.

DON’T

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.

DON’T

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.

 

 

 

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A tip for tenants, iConn Property Management

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Sam Macdonald, Lettings Negotiator at iConn Property Management writes;

After a long winter, tenants should definitely make the most of the sunshine while its here! There is nothing better than the fresh smell of your clothes that have come straight from your washing line!  ‘Sun drying’ can also help you save money and energy!

5 reasons why you should dry your washing outside:

  1. Your clothes and bedding will smell fresh a daisy.
  2. Sunlight is a natural sanitizing and bleaching agent, therefore will get rid of insects, bacteria, and other germs.
  3. You will save money on your electricity bill as you don’t need to use a dryer.
  4. Drying on the line is kinder to your clothes, they last longer and the elastic in your socks is less likely to disappear!
  5. Drying your clothes on a radiator in the house can cause damp and mould to your property.

 

 

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Current student lettings market, iConn Property Management Canterbury

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Sam Macdonald, Lettings Negotiator of iConn Property Management writes;

 

Information to landlords – iConn have noticed a rapid change to the student market this year which has been an accumulation of increased University accommodation, high University fees and a considerable reduction in UK and International students applying for places; which in turn has produced an unexpected high level of properties left on the market.

Normally at this time of the year most of our student properties have been Let for the next academic year.

We have been in discussions with other local agents whom are experiencing the exact same scenario and are looking at ways to attract those students that are still looking for accommodation.

What we are proposing to do is to reduce our administration fees for the students; making it more affordable for them at the start of the application process.   A further option is to adjust the rental figure in order to become more competitive.

There will of course still be students that have not secured a property as of yet and those students that will come through the clearing process later in the year once their course has been confirmed.

We do not want to alarm you at this stage; however the purpose of this letter is to forewarn you of the situation and to agree a plan of action now in order to secure a tenancy going forward.

We would normally advise our Landlords to increase their rental income but with the high level of stock still on the market, an alternative solution must be found in order to secure you revenue for the next academic year.

If you would like any further information regarding this, please feel free to contact our office on 01227 765008.

 

New Member of the iConn Team

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Iris O’Connell, Managing Director of iConn Property Management writes:

I am pleased to announce that we have a new Property Manager.

Tanya Macleod has worked for over six years in the Lettings and Property Management industry and specialises in Property Management.

She has previously worked for a well known large Agent in Canterbury and brings with her a wealth of knowledge.

Going forward, if you have any maintenance queries, please contact Tanya in the first instance tanyamacleod@iconn.co.uk

 

 

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Important Safety Alert! iConn Property Management

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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

March 21, 2013  By Leave a Comment

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.

 

D.Kellond – Landlord with iConn Property Management, Canterbury

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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.

D.Kellond

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Changes to the EPC Rules – Update from January 2013

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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.

 

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The North wind doth blow and we shall have snow….

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Vicky Owen, Office Manager for iConn Property Management writes:

As most of Canterbury was covered with snow this week, which caused some disruption in Canterbury but also some great snowmen! its a good time to think on the winter repairs that may need attending to. Our referencing company LetRisks send us a monthly newsletter in line with trends they recieve on claims, they have really interesting article on inspecting flat roofs which is worth a read: Click on the link below for the full article:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Census Information and Findings – For Landlords

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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.

 

Christmas Fault Reporting for iConns Managed Properties

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iConn’s Day Out Spreading Some Christmas Cheer :) – (Canterbury Letting Agent)

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Iris O’Connell, Managing Director for iConn Property Management writes:
Christmas is a time for giving and every year the staff at iConn donate their time to spread some Christmas cheer in the local community.
The staff at iConn teamed up with the Body Shop and had a fantastic time visiting three homes for the elderly in the Canterbury area delivering to them gifts of chocolates and Body Shop goodies along with providing hand massages for the elderly residents. iConn would like to thank the Managers, staff and residents of Saxon Lodge in Bridge, Highfield Care Home in Bekesbourne and The Red House Nursing Home in Canterbury for allowing us to come and visit your homes and for allowing us to spend time with all your wonderful residents.
We would like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year.
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Student Lettings List for 2013-2014 for Canterbury is released

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Social Media for Property Advertising – iConn Lettings, Canterbury

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Vicky Owen, Office Manager at iConn Property Management writes:

Over the past few years the way we advertise and market properties to rent has evolved dramatically! Prospective tenants have replaced peering in the window fronts of local agents with anytime internet search sites giants like Rightmove, Primelocation and Findaproperty.

In a age where Internet is King – with nearly 98% of our sucessfully let properties coming from an internet enquiry, it is important for us to keep up with our prospective tenant habits.

We now take “Featured Property” slots on the three largest property portals – www.rightmove.com; www.primelocation.com; www.zoopla.com meaning that our clients properties are advertised at the top of the page, seperating them from the competition, highlighting them first and giving their properties a head start.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now we see another change to the media market with the use of social media sites becoming more popular and opening companies out to interactive, on the spot feedback; the biggest being Facebook and Twitter… even the mighty property portals now provide links for people to “Like” or “Share” their properties on their page!

We have now signed up to PropertyPlace which is an app on these sites created to advertise properties which has over 10,000 monthly users showing the evolution of these social sites to a place of advertising potential.

Our social media sites are growing by the day, with our company Facebook page having nearly 350 likes, our Twitter account has over 600 followers coupled with our blog following and our LinkedIn sites and the new Google+ page – we are bringing our properties to a new market.

Although this highlights the benefits to our Clients as this new advertising potential unfolds, there is a huge benefit to the prospective tenants – social media is instant, with property portals taking up to 24 hours to update their new listings – social sites provide an exclusivity in a fast moving rental market. It provides interaction for the customer not only with the company that is advertising but also with their friends: liking a property or commenting on a post spreads their activity to all their friends who then comment with advice or provide feedback for that person.

The secret to this social media growth is connectivity, interesting and relevant posts and recommendations. Please take a moment to explore our sites and by providing recommendations or getting involved and interactive with us helps us to broaden our auidence which in turn benefits our clients and tenants.

Click on the links to join in:

 

 

 

 

You can link with our personal Linkedin Profiles here to:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Landlord advice regarding The Green Deal – from iConn Property Management, Canterbury Lettings

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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.

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Common Questions from Tenants (Canterbury Lettings)

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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.]

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