Landlords of domestic properties have a responsibility under Health and safety legislation to carry out risk assessments for the Legionella bacteria which cause Legionnaires' disease, as an absolute minimum. Most domestic rented properties will be low risk, but as it is a potentially fatal disease it is important that properties are checked regularly.
What is Legionnaires Disease?
Legionnaires Disease is a pneumonia like illness caused by the Legionella bacteria and can be fatal. The infection is caused by breathing in small droplets of water contaminated by the bacteria. The disease cannot be passed from one person to another.
Legionella bacteria are found in the natural environment and may contaminate and grow in water systems such as cooling towers, hot and cold water systems, humidifiers and spa baths. They survive low temperatures and thrive at temperatures between 20 - 45°C if the conditions are right. They are killed by high temperatures above 60°C.
What is the Landlord's responsibility?
Landlords are responsible for making sure that the risk of exposure is properly controlled. There is therefore a duty to assess the risk of exposure and if need be implement appropriate control measures.
Landlords must consider the risks from legionella that may affect anyone you employ and any members of the public, including tenants, and take suitable precautions.
The responsible person should record the risks and precautions and review the assessment annually.
What does the landlord need to do?
Detailed guidance is provided in HSE Guidance referred to below. As an agent and /or landlord controlling premises, it is your responsibility to identify any risks of legionella. A risk assessment will need to be completed by a competent person professionally qualified to carry out this assessment. Obviously, the larger the premises the greater may be the likelihood of there being a risk of Legionella bacteria being present. PWR Lettings will shortly have their own qualified assessor to provide the necessary risk assessments on behalf of its clients.
What happens if the landlord does not carry out his/her obligations?
The consequences can be serious. As a landlord you are legally required to manage properties so as not to expose tenants, residents and visitors to risk. Heavy fines or even imprisonment can be imposed especially if someone were to unfortunately die. You can be prosecuted even if there is an exposure to risk without anyone actually becoming ill.
For further information please visit the Health & Safety Executive website at: www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires.
This Month's Top Dog award is given jointly to Heather and Matthew Ashlee. As they were the only two nominated for outstanding performances and as both had performed equally well in the month of June it was decided that it should be given jointly. We are fortunate to have the Ashlee's both in our employment as they have both proved to be reliable and efficient members of staff.
Matthew has never hidden his passion for PWR since he joined in 2004 and we are delighted to be able to reward him for his diligence and commitment. Matthew made a fundamental contribution to grow the business in the fledgling years of PWR but now he works tirelessly behind the scenes to make certain that PWR are compliant in all aspects of the business. Matthew not only runs a tight ship on the accounting side but he makes a significant contribution to the training of others, ensuring that from the onset that they do things correctly. He is vital to the smooth running of the business and has fast become a major linchpin in the PWR team.
Matthew has many strengths but his ability to quickly indentify and recognise areas which need improvement, whether that be in the business as a whole or just recognising training needs in individuals, has proved him to be a valuable asset. During the month of June, Matthew, in addition to his own day to day workload, successfully covered the accounts clerk workload for two weeks and took on the implementation of new legislation to ensure that we are up to date and compliant with the law.
As well as his day job, Matthew has undertaken for the benefit of the company an accountancy course. He is now certificated in AAT Level 1 and 2 in accountancy and will commence his final course in September to be a qualified Member in Practise. Matthew does a fantastic job on a daily basis, often having to rectifying others clerical errors to ensure that PWR's high standards are maintained, whilst sustaining a very high standard of his own, we are very proud to have this trustworthy and extremely reliable individual as part of our team.
Heather has been a welcome addition to the team, since she joined PWR just over a year ago. Heather was a pleasure to teach from the onset as she not only learnt quickly, but the fact that she has adhered to everything that she was initially taught has made her an even better employee. Like her husband, Heather is a conscientious and extremely efficient member of the team. She has flourished since the split in departments and has embraced her new role within the lettings department. As Heather is such a steadfast member of staff, who maintains very high standards daily, it is difficult to recognise an excellent performance, but in the In the month of June Heather excelled herself. Not only did Heather let more properties than she ever has individually let, she has processed all the applications and conducted all the sign and pays and move ins at the Nottingham office.
Heather is a fundamental member of the PWR team, who is fast becoming the linchpin of the Nottingham office. Undeterred on a daily basis, she single handedly holds the fort filtering and dealing with calls, while her colleagues are out gaining new business. Coming from the north of England and living in Mansfield Heather knew nothing of Nottingham in 2013. She has been self-motivated to really get to know the area in which she works. Not only has Heather put her own time in to expand her knowledge of the city to increase her ability to let property, she has taken undertaken and passed the PWR legal and procedures test to expand her knowledge of the lettings business as a whole. Heather has enjoyed the confidence that this knowledge has given her and has agreed to undertake the Technical award in Residential Lettings level 1 this year.
Our husband and wife team have impressed everyone this month with their diligence and hard work to ensure that PWR's standards are maintained and that tenants and clients receive an excellent service. They are both helpful and reliable individuals who we are proud to have working for us.
It's hard to believe that it's been over a year since the first of the class of 2013 started. Last year was a particularly demanding year for training, as we had 3 members of staff leave to go on to do different careers and a few short term employees which didn't quite make the grade. The expansion of our business saw the need for 5 new recruits and a full restructure within the departments. I am pleased to say that we made good choices in employing the people that we have today. They have all moved on so much since their initial training and I am proud to see them all flourishing in their respective roles. Simon and I started this business back in 2004 with the intention of providing our clients with a high level of customer service and for the people who worked for us a place where they enjoyed coming to work.
I am delighted to say that not only have we seen an improvement in our service standards since our launch in 2004, but since 2013 there has been a renewed enthusiasm from the people who work with us to achieve this goal. Often the first year passes by without us realising, as the right people slot so easily into the unit, making us think that they have always been with us. We have loyal and dedicated members of staff who on a daily basis work hard to fulfil both PWR's and our clients expectations and we are very proud to have such devoted people on our team. We are pleased to have been able to pluck people from roles that they were failing in or didn't enjoy and placed them in positions in which they thrive. It is an absolute thrill to see them thriving in roles in which they are best suited to.
Many of our staff have been home grown and it is wonderful to see the new recruits, who knew little or nothing when they first started, be confident and efficient enough in their given roles to deal as effectively with scenarios as their long standing counterparts would be. The depth of our training ethos has meant that we have been able to promote from within, giving people the opportunity to be elevated in status and responsibility and we are thrilled to have a second tier of employees on which we can rely. The start of 2014 has seen us recruit a further 3 members of staff as we see the growth of our sales department and we hope to expand further still by 2015, giving other people the opportunity of working in an environment in which they can succeed.
It can sometimes feel that cracking the Enigma Code is easier than deciphering what a lender will allow you to borrow against a given rent roll from a property. Choice Business Finance's Julian Lawrence offers us an insight into the dark art...
Lenders call it stress testing but to you and me it's the "What if/when interest rates rise" scenario. Banks, Building Societies and Specialist Property Lenders use notional interest rates, pay rates plus a margin, stressed rates, call it what you will, to check that if Bank of England Base Rate or LIBOR rises to x% that the rent coming in from a property is enough to cover the (potentially rising cost of) interest on an associated loan and a capital payment each month if required whilst still leaving a surplus to cover insurances, repairs, improvements and voids beyond that they think its nice if profits are retained in a rainy day fund to cover any unforeseen costs.
Some of you may know the "bolder" lenders will want the rent to cover the interest only on a loan 1.25 times over using an assumed interest rate of 5%. Other more cautious lenders ask for 1.9 x cover on the full capital and interest cost of a loan at the rate they intend to charge you. In simple terms it can mean one bank will lend you circa 80x the monthly rent, others 140x - you may well ask what does lender A fear that lender B doesn't know?!
As for the amount of debt against a property, known as loan to value again this can vary from 65% to 85%. Of course there is that little bit of small print that states "the lower of purchase price or value" so your talents in having PWR source cheap property isn't always recognised at the Bank!
The FCA and the Government are ever keener to ensure you can afford any debt you take on so do expect increased scrutiny when applying for any type of finance going forwards, the key is to plan ahead and speak to your residential or commercial mortgage broker in plenty of time, more so if you intend to purchase at auction.
There were several nominations for The Top Dog award for the month of May but after hearing about Clares performance last month, the decision was unanimous to give her the award. Her enthusiasm for letting and taking on property is infectious and she has made a significant contribution to the Mansfield team. Clare has constantly hit high levels of letting property, but last month she surpassed herself, not only did she let 14 of the 38 properties let in the Mansfield office but managed to convert a significant number of new instructions after only two months of doing Market Appraisals.
In addition to this performance, Clare has built good networking links with local business and other sources of referral to gain business. Although Clare had been working in the Residential Lettings and Property Management Industry for some time, she had been in roles which she didn't really enjoy or wasn't really suited to. When she came to PWR only a year ago, she was initially recruited on her experience to be a Property Manager.
The restructuring of the Mansfield office gave Clare the opportunity to be involved in the letting aspects of the business and as her performance was so good, we gave her the chance to join the lettings team.
During her time with us, Clare has been on a huge journey, making significant self-improvements and changes to ensure that she is a valued member of the Mansfield team. It has been a pleasure to watch Clare develop in an area which she now absolutely loves, to see her brim with enthusiasm as she bounces through the door in the mornings and involves everyone in the joy of gaining new business. Clare has definitely found her niche in the lettings department and is a delight to have in the office.
Congratulations to Laura and Harpal who both performed extremely well in the month of April.
Laura impressed everyone with her determination to equal Adam's unbeaten record number of lets set back in 2006. As well as achieving her goal of letting 17 properties in one month, she did a remarkable job of processing the front end of the extensions for two and a half weeks with only a couple of days training. Laura has progressed rapidly over the last few months. She has brought in extra instructions through the thankless task of chasing old landlord's and generated applications through conducting viewings. Laura has shown true grit and determination to get back into her role at PWR, after her long stint in hospital only a few months ago. She continues to grow in confidence and ability and is a valued member of the Mansfield lettings team.
Harpal made a very smooth transition into the lettings role, when the Nottingham branch split into departments earlier this year. She has obviously found her niche. The voting panel agreed that as Harpal showed a fundamental improvement during April that she deserved the reward of Top dog, letting 10 out of the 28 office during the month. Harpal has displayed a real commitment to making the lettings team a success by embracing her new role completely. She has shown a real commitment to generate more business and has adopted a positive enthusiastic attitude towards her work, it is really nice to see the bright smile once again firmly planted on her face.
As the controversial Immigration Bill has now received Royal Assent, becoming the Immigration Act, a Nottingham based property consultancy has voiced its concerns that this is further red tape for letting agents and landlords.
PWR Property Consultants, with offices in Nottingham and Mansfield, has warned that although this latest move will hopefully drive some rogue tenants and landlords out of the market, there will be yet another cost for those in the industry when it comes to processing this information.
The new legislation will mean that both letting agents and landlords will need to ensure that all tenants have a "Right to Rent" going forward. As a result, extra checks on prospective tenants looking to rent a property will need to be made before they are allowed to move in to ensure that they are not living in the UK illegally.
Simon Perkins, Partner at PWR, said: "The hope is that by requiring private landlords to check the immigration status of tenants, it will prevent those with no right to live in the UK from accessing private rented housing.
"There is huge concern against letting agents and landlords, that many will not be equipped to correctly interpret the complex documents that even border officials have difficulties understanding. Those who fail to understand these documents could be left with a hefty fine"
Landlords Hub has previously suggested that these background checks could even be dangerous for landlords. However, officials maintain that rather than relying on their own knowledge and experience, landlords can use the services of an approved Letting Agency to carry out background checks.
A Nottinghamshire specialist letting agents are eagerly awaiting the outcome of a vote in the House of Commons today, after an attempt to ban letting fees is announced.
PWR Property Consultants, with offices in Nottingham and Mansfield, deals with both sales and lettings, and will be directly affected by the impending decision in Parliament.
The proposed amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill obligates letting agents to make their fees fully transparent for prospective tenants to gather intelligence in order to make an informed decision, yet this could ultimately be increasingly costly to the tenant.
Simon Perkins, Partner of PWR, said: "If these fees are banned, then letting agents will be forced to recover this loss of income from somewhere else, which could, in turn, prove even more of an expense to the tenant, through potentially higher rents as a consequence"
The planned revision of the Bill is backed by Labour Party Leader Ed Milliband, who is calling for support from both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in order for the adjustment to follow through.
The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) commented it was "deeply concerned" by the anticipated change.
Understanding ARLA's concern, Simon Perkins added: "We at PWR work extremely hard to provide our clients and tenants with the best possible service in the area and will continue to do so regardless of any changes in Parliament"
PWR Property Consultants has announced My Sight Nottinghamshire as its chosen charity for 2014. The charity, which looks to promote independence for visually impaired people of all ages, was chosen as part of PWR's campaign to provide one local cause with a fundraising boost throughout the year.
The leading specialist in lettings, sales and property management, which has offices based in Nottingham and Mansfield, launched its campaign in March 2014, inviting members of the public to nominate a deserving Nottinghamshire charity with a short summary of why they should be chosen. Entries were put through a short-listing and judging process by the PWR team.
My Sight is the only charity dedicated exclusively to improving the lives of people living with sight loss in Nottinghamshire. The charity provides emotional support, practical advice and a range of award-winning accessible sport and leisure activities for thousands of blind and partially sighted children and adults across the county. PWR will now work with the charity to develop an ongoing programme of fundraising support and team volunteering for the year.
Simon Perkins, partner at PWR Property Consultants, said: "We were overwhelmed by the amount of nominations we received in response to the campaign. My Sight Nottinghamshire received lots of support, which clearly demonstrated how important its services are for blind or partially sighted people in Nottinghamshire.
"As a business, we are always keen to give our support to the local communities within the region. We look forward to working closely with My Sight Nottinghamshire throughout 2014 and planning some exciting new fundraising ideas."
Julie Scarle, marketing and communications manager for My Sight Nottinghamshire said: "We are absolutely delighted to be named as PWR's charity of the year and are so grateful for the support we received from our service users and supporters who took the time to nominate us during the campaign.
"PWR's fundraising support over the next year will help us to continue our services and assistance for visually impaired people in Nottinghamshire. We look forward to working with the PWR team and creating new fundraising initiatives for 2014."
Lillian Linthwaite, (83) from Edwalton who nominated My Sight Nottinghamshire in the campaign, said: "Losing your precious eye sight is a terribly frightening experience and My Sight Nottinghamshire is a real life line, I simply couldn't live without it and the advice, support and services it provides.
"It's a wonderful charity with a great team of staff who always go the extra mile to help, it really deserves this funding boost and I'm proud I could support it and give a little bit back in recognition of all the help it's given me."
A city lettings agent is celebrating its 10th year in business with a black tie dinner to thank its clients and investors.
PWR Lettings, a Nottinghamshire based company, will commemorate the milestone by announcing its charity of the year at the formal event, following its campaign in the local media.
Starting from humble beginnings, with offices in both Nottingham and Mansfield, the company will host the event with a champagne reception for 100 valued guests.
Simon Perkins, owner of PWR Lettings, said: "We are delighted to be not only celebrating our first working decade, but to be doing so with valued clients and investors, who without them, we would not be standing here today"
The anniversary brings the company's growing success into the spotlight, seeing the expansion from just ten managed properties to in excess of 1300 properties, through its client focused, tailor-made service.
Simon added: "We have come a long way since 2004, letting over 20 properties every week, we at PWR Lettings, are proud to provide our specialist property service as members of the RICS and ARLA."