Letting Agents Losing Thousands Of Pounds

Latest research from a property management service for lettings agents, reports that agents could be losing thousands of pounds every year of potential income by not offering a full property management service to their landlord clients.

The report highlights that many agents throughout the UK offer a buy-to-let only service to landlords, and are missing out on the chance to up their annual income on each tenancy by as much as 80%, if they offered a full property management service.

The report says:

– the ban charging tenant fees will result in £400 less income on average per new let for London agents;
– longer tenancies mean there are fewer opportunities to earn income from let-only and tenant find services;
– let-only does not contribute to a business’s capital valuation;
– focusing on full property management can increase average annual income per tenancy by up to 63 per cent in the capital and business valuation by 600 per cent;
– there is an untapped market of almost one million landlords who only use letting agents for tenant find services or do not use agents at all;
– private renting is now the most prevalent form of tenure in London and 36 per cent of landlords who invest in London buy-to-let property live outside of the capital.

Kate Faulkner, a lettings expert and founder of a sector advisory website, writes in the report: “The property market is changing, and while many letting agents may conclude that it’s not a great time for their business, I believe the opposite is true. What this report highlights is the great opportunity available in property management which can improve financials for agents, protect landlords and raise property standards for tenants.

“Those who focus more on let-only could be missing out not only on the chance to grow their business but helping to deliver legally and safely let properties from landlords who lack the time and knowledge to do this themselves.”

New Section 21 Notice Deadline 1st October 2018

All Tenancies created where the rental property is located England are now subject to the Deregulation Bill.  Tenants are now afforded extra protection and are subject to restrictions of use of a Section 21 Notice and protected against retaliatory eviction. In addition to being obliged to issue the New Prescribed Section 21 Notice, no such notice may be given to the Tenant until after month 4 of commencement of tenancy.

Many landlords serve a Section 21 Notice, following which, two months later apply to court only to discover they are ineligible to evict their tenants – Don’t make the same mistake.  Firstly, look at the Court application for possession for Section 21 Notice. If a problem is identified then remedy pre-service of the Section 21 Notice to ensure that eviction thereafter is valid.

The new New Prescribed Section 21 Notice has combined the two previous types of Notices into one Notice that covers both fixed term and periodic tenancies.

However, there are further requirements that landlords and letting agents must comply with prior to issuing a Section 21 Notice under the Deregulation Act 2015.  They must have provided the tenants with the ‘How to rent: the checklist for renting in England’, and that the property has an up to date Gas Safety Certificate and valid EPC.

As with common practice, tenants should be made aware of which tenancy deposit scheme their deposit is protected in and the property’s Energy Performance Certificate, unless it is not required, must also be provided.

A spokesperson for an association of lettings agents, said: “When the changes come into effect, it’s important agents [and landlords] are executing effective Section 21 Notices when necessary.

Illegal Sublet

A high profile story has been running across the broadsheets about the sting’ of an unfortunate owner/’accidental’ landlord of a three-bedroom house in west London.

The ex-wife of Michelin star chef Albert Roux, Cheryl, has not received any rent in spite of rooms in her property being sub-let without her permission, as many as eight tenants are renting out the rooms at a cost of £835 a night.

Because of the stress of the whole situation that started when she decided to rent out the top two storeys of her mews house, Cheryl Roux has now moved out of her home.

The tenants that Roux rented out the rooms to turned out to be ‘rogues’ and she states they have been illegally sub-letting out rooms in the property which has been ongoing since June.

The police have been unable to take action and suggested that her best course of action would be to vacate her own property because of the risk of coming into contact with any form of confrontation; they stated that she can only take action in a civil court.

In statements made to the press Roux said: “I’m clearly a victim of crime but the police do nothing and these crooks are still renting out my home.

“They changed the locks so I couldn’t get in and nailed shut the garage doors. I’m at my wits’ end.”

In spite of Airbnb removing the property listing from its platform, Zoopla continues displaying the property with a spokesperson saying it is a “legitimate listing”, and added: “We have spoken to Hamptons, the agent who are instructed to rent it out, and they have confirmed this.”

Tenants Fined £23,000.00

Three tenants who were found to be guilty of sub-letting a three bedroomed house in Kingsbury and crammed 35 men into the property have been fined more than £23,000.

The 35 ‘sub-tenants’ had been crammed into all of the property’s rooms with the exception of the bathrooms and given mattresses. The kitchen also doubled up as a bedroom and there was even a mattress found under a canopy in the garden without any form of heating.

Two of the guilty party, appearing at the Willesden Magistrate’s Court, were each fined £9,000 as well as £1,470 in associated costs and victim charges, for not obtaining an HMO licence and ignoring Brent Council’s requests for information as part of its investigations.

The third guilty tenant was given a £1,000 fine for not giving information to the council’s officers as part of their investigation into the house along with a further fine of £1,350 in costs and victim surcharges.

Councillor Harbi Farah, cabinet member for housing and welfare reform, said: “No one should be forced to live in the overcrowded, unsafe and unhygienic conditions that the Council discovered these men living in. Poor living standards in the private rented sector are not the norm and Brent Council will track down those responsible, be they owners, agents or illegal sub-letters.

“We will not tolerate the exploitation of tenants by criminal landlords and subletters and we will continue to prosecute anyone we find breaking the law. It’s time that rogue landlords get their house in order or exit the rental market so that those professional landlords who operate in Brent can continue to provide quality, much-needed accommodation.”

Richard Merrick of PIMS, said:”Unfortunately this is a sign of the times, as we have reported over the last six months cases of illegal subletting are rapidly increasing and in some instances on an ‘industrial’ scale.”

40% Of Landlords Switching To Limited Companies

Latest research from a specialist lender claims that over the next twelve months almost 40% of landlords will be mortgaging BTL properties as limited companies, with only 26% of BTL acquisitions being made by individuals.

Those landlords who have a portfolio of four plus rented properties, 42% will be mortgaging a new property via a limited company; however it drops down to 31% of landlords with three properties.

The research states that London’s BTL investors will more than likely be making additions through the use of a limited company.  The specialist lender which commissioned the study says it shows that more and more landlords are switching to become limited companies.

Nearly 89% of the mortgage brokers that took part in the research said that they fully expect to see a very high increase in landlords setting themselves up as limited companies; having the opportunity to claim back mortgage interest tax relief will be the prime motivator.   From those landlords who took part in the survey, approximately 15% were planning to expand their portfolios and 23% of them are intending to buy three or more properties over the coming year.

The survey also states that those landlords with large portfolios are far savvier of the recent lending criteria and application processes that the Prudential Regulation Authority has recently imposed on the sector.

Nearly Half Of Tenants Are Problematic

Recent research claims that 40% of tenants are causing problems for their agents or landlords when leaving at the end of their tenancy, causing an average £210’s worth of maintenance and repair costs.

An interior company surveyed 2,302 landlords who were 18 years old or more who let out at least one property for renting to tenants.  The first question they were asked was how they felt about renting out their property, with an overall majority of 62% replying it made good sense to them as the monthly rent fully covered their mortgage payments and in most cases more.
25% who took part did admit to feeling nervous about renting out their property as having little control over how the tenants would look after their home. However more than one in ten, (13%) adamantly stating that they wished they had never let out their property in the first place.
The respondents were also asked whether they had encountered any problems with their tenants and 40% said they had or were having issues.
The main issues were:

•    58% said tenants were constantly in contact with them about minor issues and when investigated, some were in fact found to be made up.

•    41% said that tenants had taken it upon themselves to make changes to the property without first seeking permission.

•    26% had complaints from their tenant’s neighbours about their anti social behaviour.

•    23% had their tenants damaging their property with the landlords expected to incur the repair costs themselves.

•    18% had experienced late rent payments.
Those landlords, who stated that their tenants had contacted them on minor or imaginary issues, were asked on average how many times a month had this occurred, and it turned out to be four times.

The last question involved the costs incurred by the landlords for repairs, cleaning and general maintenance upon a tenant leaving their property, and on average it was £210.

Tenants Spending More Than £1 Billion On Repairs Every Year

Private tenants across the UK are ‘coughing up’ more than £1bn every year on repairs that landlords should be paying for themselves according to a new survey.

The report found that renters had on average throughout the year spent £217 on repairs that their landlords should have carried out.  The most common repairs were for boiler repairs – 37%, baths/showers – 29% and toilets -26%.

The research also uncovered that many tenants do not find their landlords completely trustworthy and more disturbingly 1% of renters stated that they had discovered hidden cameras in their residence.  Just over one in five of tenants (21%), claim that they have an awful relationship with their landlord who has caused them severe stress levels or physical health issues.

The research, carried out by a serviced apartment ‘start-up’ has also found that 10% of renters have been left in the lurch for more than three months for relatively routine maintenance jobs to be carried out and 20% have had to wait more than a month.   The English Housing Survey‘s figures show that 27% of let homes did not meet the required minimum decent homes standard in 2016; 8% of privately rented homes had various damp issues.

This year councils were given greater powers to tackle ‘rogue’ landlords for housing offences and are now able to levy fines of up to £30,000 for offences such as non compliancy of an improvement notice or failure to obtain a licence.

Magistrates have not been given strict guidelines when sentencing for housing offences, and at times they have been swayed on how much landlords have to pay if they claim they cannot afford to pay a high fine, irrespective of the harmful effect on tenants or how serious the offence was.

The LGA (Local Government Association) which looks after the interests of 370 English and Welsh councils, have long campaigned for the higher fines as they argue it will curtail the number of unfit rented homes and fire safety breaches and this should help provide some assistance for a consistency in magistrates’ rulings.

Councillor Martin Tett, LGA housing spokesman, said: “The majority of landlords are decent, responsible law-abiding citizens who do a great job in making sure their tenants are living in safe and quality housing. Unfortunately there is a minority of rogue landlords who give those good landlords a bad name.

“Councils want to work with landlords, not against them. But with more young people and families renting privately than ever before, we need to see reforms that will maintain and improve housing standards.

“A key deterrent to rogue landlords would be for the government to set common sentencing guidelines which delivers consistency across the courts. It is not right that the level of civil penalty could outweigh that which is handed out by magistrates.

“Many councils are already tackling issues in the private rental sector by bringing in landlord licensing schemes. But they are limited in how widely these can be introduced. We need to see these rules relaxed and councils given more freedom and flexibility in establishing schemes.

“Landlord licensing schemes allow landlords to demonstrate that they are responsible and adhere to ensuring homes are maintained to a high standard. It also protects and provides reassurance to tenants that they are living in a decent, safe and secure home.”