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Are you up to date with Legislative Changes in Residential Lettings?

Friday, January 30, 2015

After we had audited a clients’ portfolio, who had recently transferred his properties from another agent, we discovered several anomalies which did not comply with current legislation. The landlord was shocked to hear of the changes that had been made in the last two years and was grateful for our expertise to eradicate any concerns.
 
I told our new landlord that there are amendments in residential lettings legislation quite frequently, but they are not always publicised in detail in the wider media. His previous agent was not affiliated to any government body and therefore this may have been why they weren’t aware of the legislative changes. As we are both members of ARLA and RICS we become privy to the mandatory changes which come into force on a regular basis. 

Prior to his previous agent our new client had always managed his own portfolio, often seeking guidance from his local agent on how to do things correctly so that he compiled with statute. Despite this, we still found things had been missed or not executed properly. I explained that he could have found himself in a difficult situation, had his tenants known their rights and been savvy enough to enforce them. 

Some of this investor’s properties didn’t have an inventory and he explained that he really didn’t understand the importance of an inventory & schedule of condition when his property was unfurnished. I explained that not having an inventory on a property, would have proved not so necessary in times gone by when the landlord was able to decide what he wished to claim for. However, government changes have meant that the law is more and more on the tenant's side and that means that a landlord needs to be more prepared than ever. I went on to say that without an inventory the schemes which protect a tenants deposit will not refund anything to a landlord, as without proof of what the condition of the property was like before a tenant moved in, they cannot make a judgment on damages.

The launch of the deposit schemes not only meant that each deposit needed to be registered, but they each had to have prescribed information served upon them in the correct form and in accordance with the scheme being used. The worrying concern for our landlord was that without the prescribed information being served within 30 days of the commencement of the tenancy and also being served again when each of his tenancies became statutory periodic, he would not only be unable to gain possession of his property, but his tenant could claim up to 3 times the deposit as compensation, even though they still resided at the property or even after they had left the property. 

I explained to the landlord that over the last few years, it has become quite involved to ensure that a deposit is protected correctly without leaving him open to a failed possession case or compensation to the tenant and that many agents didn’t consider that a statutory periodic tenancy was in fact a new tenancy. It is only case law that has brought these types of issues into question, which are now being used as a precedent by the local county courts. 

In this particular case, our new landlord's portfolio had some tenancies that had never had prescribed information served upon them and others had fallen into statutory periodic and had never had new prescribed information served either for the new tenancy. Recent case law has now also confirmed that even tenancies prior to 2007 when the deposit protection legislation came into force, should be registered with a scheme, otherwise the landlord cannot serve a section 21 notice and get lawful possession.

Without doubt, residential lettings is a legislative minefield and if you or your agent is not aware of how to execute things properly, it could cost you dearly. We have helped many landlords over the years and would welcome the opportunity to set you on the right track too.  We have a wealth of experience in both of our offices and would be happy to give any landlord who has not received a service of this standard, the guidance and reassurance that they require to solve any current or ongoing issues.

Why not come in and see us at our Free Landlord Clinic or just give us a call, we’ll be happy to help.

Landlords, how do you choose a letting agent when there are so many on the high street?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Any agent can take photos and upload them onto a website portal or attend a viewing with a prospective tenant. But how do you differentiate a good agent from a bad one?  We believe that high levels of customer service coupled with knowledge and understanding are key to proving our worth to both landlords and tenants.
 
Would you be satisfied with your agents answers to these 5 questions and confident in their replies?  
 
1.    What are the options for a landlord who holds a deposit taken in 2002 which has never been placed in a deposit scheme? (tenancy has been statutory periodic since 2003)

2.    How many of your agent's staff have the ARLA qualification or more than 10 years experience in Residential Lettings and Property Management?

3.    Does your agent ensure that the relevant insurance and systems of safe work are in place for  their contractors who work on your property?

4.    How often does your agent  pay rents to you and what do they do if a tenant falls into arrears?

5.    How involved does your agent get at the end of a tenancy and do they use external inventory clerks who do not know the property or you ?  

We  have provided the answers to landlords when other agents have failed. We have recently taken on a Landlords portfolio and were shocked to learn that basic legislation had not been adhered to. It also proved that they did not have a wealth of knowledge in their organisation, as they didn’t know how to deal with rent reviews or a landlord and tenants rights for tenancies which commenced prior to the 15th January 1989. 

We pride ourselves on knowing the law and endeavour to protect our landlords from the pitfalls that  changes in legislation and case law can bring and we train all of our staff not only in the practicalities of the job, but we also provide them with the knowledge to protect your interests.

Every day contractors enter the properties we manage to carry out repairs and we therefore ensure that all of them are correctly vetted  and without the correct paperwork in place, including public liability insurance and health & safety requirements  we don't use them.

I am sure that as a landlord, you will agree that timely rent payments are very important and therefore, we endeavour to pay all rents within 7 days of funds clearing in our account through our bacs payments twice a week. When there becomes an issue and a tenant fails to pay, we have dedicated staff who are experienced in dealing with such matters, who make every effort to make contact with the tenant at work, home and in person, often outside office hours, to ensure that they are resolving arrears situations quickly and you are made aware.

We think it is important to carry out checkouts with the tenant face to face on the last day of the tenancy, as any problems that may arise can often be discussed and agreed there and then rather than leaving them to a chance difference of opinion after the event. Indeed, this coupled with thorough inventories prepared at the outset by experienced staff, has led to over 95% of all our checkouts being completed to the satisfaction of both landlord and tenant without having to go to adjudication.

If you have problems with your current agent or are looking for guidance on an existing concern, please contact us, or why not come in and see us at our Free Landlord Clinic, we’ll be happy to help.

PWR proves to be the calm amongst the chaos as we score a perfect 10 from our tenants

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Moving house can be a traumatic and stressful time for most as it is usually coupled with a scenario which can range from the sublime to the ridiculous. Although each tenant’s situation varies considerably, PWR try to ensure that the transition into their new home is a joyful occasion. Emma Barnes of PWR Lettings, who handles all the applications at the Mansfield office has had a particularly memorable month this month. Every day we get people whose situations are difficult and they look to us to be the calm amongst the chaos affecting their lives.

Until you undertake the required checks on a property you can’t determine whether or not there is a fault and when these defects are too large to rectify quickly, the move-in date has to be put back until they can be resolved. For a tenant who needs to move quickly this can be a devastating blow and it is here why PWR is a good choice to rent through, as we will go to the nth degree to find these people a home.

This month PWR have housed a couple who were relocating from abroad when they were told that urgent electrical works were needed to be done to the property that they were due to move into, in order to comply with the regulations. PWR found them a new home within 24 hours of us receiving the distressing  news and they are delighted with the high standard of customer service they have received.

Over the years PWR have seen happy tenants turn into new landlords, but very few of our landlords turn into tenants. This month one of PWR's landlords has needed to do just that, as they had sold their own property and hadn’t completed the build on their new house. These landlords have been delighted with PWR, as the service that they have provided took all the strain out of their temporary move into rented accommodation.

You can’t of course, please all of the people all of the time, as the old saying goes. When processing an application, it can sometimes be subject to the constraints of the slow return of an applicant’s references from their employer, but when someone is relying on you to get them into a property when they need to move, how hard an agent is working to achieve this is fundamental. PWR have recently scored a perfect 10 in all aspects of their service from one happy new tenant, which is testament to our knowledgeable staff and standard of service.

National Divorce Week Has Annual Impact On Lettings’ Claims PWR

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

With 118,140 divorces being registered in England and Wales during 2012 (the last year for which figures are available), and this week being dubbed as ‘National Divorce Day’ among legal professionals, one Nottingham lettings agent is seeing a real impact on the lettings market as a direct result.

According to The office for National Statistics, 42 per cent of marriages in England and Wales end indivorce, so it stands to reason that this will have a knock on effect on the rentals market- something that Simon Perkins, partner at PWR Lettings sees each year in January.

The agent with offices in both Nottingham and Mansfield, has seen a 10 per-cent increase in the amount of properties entering the buy to let market, and puts this down to the fact that many more homeowners are going through separation after the festive period.

Simon said: “Already this year, we have seen the festive period have an impact on the demand for one and two bed properties, and have had an influx of both families and individuals registering for these. At this time of the year, we also see an increase in the number of ‘accidental landlords’ entering the market due to a series of circumstances, and in many cases, they are unaware of what is expected of them as a landlord. This can result in void periods, fines, or in the worst case scenario, a lengthy prison sentence.”

Simon continued: “Going through a break up can be a very stressful time, especially if children are involved, and the last thing anyone needs is a property to maintain, legislation to adhere to, and payments to chase. We offer both a fully managed service and tenant find services for any first time landlords coming to the market as a result of a break up, and we can provide them with professional advice.”

 

Rob finds his niche

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

For many of us the job that we undertake on a daily basis is not something that we dreamed of and the idea that we will find our vocation in life is something that will never probably materialise. Whereas there are those who get to do their chosen career on a daily basis, knowing that they are doing what they were destined to do.

Although the recipient of December’s Top Dog award started out in the lettings industry in a totally different role we feel that he has eventually found his niche. In the 18 years that we have had the privilege of knowing Rob West, we have never seen him so happy and enthused by his career. We recruited Rob when we worked for a corporate many moons ago and where he quickly demonstrated the ability to be efficient and steadfast in his position as a property manager.

Throughout the time Rob has worked with us at PWR he has taken on different roles to support the demand and growth of the business. Without complaint he has endeavoured to be the best that he can be, he has acknowledged his weaknesses and with guidance has been triumphant in his current post as lettings manager.

When we first started PWR in 2004 and the focus was purely on taking on and letting property, an area which Rob had never previously entered, we saw the same glimmer in him then that there is in him today. Rob’s enthusiasm for letting property was obvious from day one but the demands of the business and his expertise in Property Management were required on a daily basis so prevented him from doing what he was best at full-time.

We are delighted to have been able to give Rob the opportunity to flourish in an area in which he thoroughly enjoys. Since departmentalising the business, Rob has gone from strength to strength. Not only has he embraced all the ideas bestowed upon him, he has implemented the necessary changes and routines to make the Mansfield lettings a real success. Rob has overcome any frailties which previously held him back and formed a team which is motivated and enthused daily.

Finding his calling within the lettings team has undoubtedly changed Rob, but it is the fact that this change has made such a fundamental difference to the people with whom he works and the branches performance as a whole that is the most impressive. Through constant support and guidance of his staff, Rob has created a place where there is mutual respect and admiration amongst his colleagues. In doing this he has enabled his staff to have roles which they love doing on a daily basis as well.

We are thrilled to give Rob this award in recognition of his performance and commitment to PWR as a whole.  Many managers humbly go about their business without receiving recognition from their peers and so it is pleasing to see that Rob’s colleagues have attributed him this accolade and that their comments echo our own.

 

 

Lettings Agent Issues Landlord Warning As Immigration Act Comes Into Effect

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

As The Immigration Act 2014, which came into force on December 1st, continues to spark confusion among landlords UK wide, one Nottingham based property consultancy is warning landlords about the implications of not meeting their legal obligations.

PWR Lettings with offices in both Nottingham and Mansfield has been inundated with enquiries from worried landlords, who are unsure of what is required of them legally, and is offering free advice to those with concerns.

Simon Perkins, Partner at PWR, said: “The Immigration Act 2014 was piloted in the West Midlands from December 1st, with a view to it being rolled out nationwide next year.  Despite this, many landlords remain in the dark about their responsibilities.”

Under the act, potential tenants will need to be vetted to check if they have the right to live in the UK.

If this investigation isn't carried out and it is revealed later down the line that the tenant is in breach of the Immigration Act, then a landlord will face a fine of up to £3,000.

Simon added: “Here at PWR Lettings, we are particularly concerned about the DIY or first time landlord.  These groups of people may not be aware that The Immigration Act even exists, and be hit with a costly fine.  If the potential tenant has a UK passport then these checks should be an easy job, but if they do not hold this or an equivalent, then it will prove to be a tough task – something that will require advice from a professional agent.

“We are inviting any landlord unsure of their obligations to get in touch with us for free and impartial advice.”

Richard's management skills highly commended

Monday, December 8, 2014

It takes several traits to be an effective manager and many find this considerably hard to master, with some never quite finding the knack to be as effective as they should be. Over the years both inside and outside the lettings industry, Simon and I have had the misfortune of witnessing people placed in positions of authority; that should never have been given the opportunity to be so and the effect on the staff which they have managed has been somewhat catastrophic.

A managerial position is something that the ambitious strive to be in, mostly because of the monetary gains and the kudos associated with a position of authority, but it is only the destined that flourish in the managerial position when they are actually placed in the role. The recipient of November's Top Dog award made it very clear from the outset that he was an ambitious individual who had designs on being in a position of authority one day.  Although we recognised in Richard very early on that he had the potential to be a good leader, his ambition somewhat outweighed his foresight for what was required to be an effective manager in the beginning.

Richard has been on the brink of winning the Top Dog award for sometime, as the positive effect of his presence at the Nottingham office was evident from the start, but it is the recent change in Richard that has impressed all that voted for him the most. For all that know him, Richard is an individual who without a doubt is keen to impress and has always aimed to attain a first class level in everything that he does. Throughout his time at PWR he has been resolute in seeking the answers both personally and professionally to rectify any weakness and the fact that he has developed a humility which has allowed him to be more proficient in his new role is indicative of his persona as a whole.

Since accepting the position to manage the property management department in January this year, Richard has to be highly commended. He has not only taken on board every bit of coaching and criticism bestowed upon him; he has naturally set aside his own ambition and replaced it with a desire to work to understand the needs and desires of others. Although Richard is still in his infancy in his role as manager and has not mastered all of the attributes needed to be a strong leader,  it has to be said that he has many of the core skills to be exceptionally good in his role.

It goes without saying that Richard's flexible and adaptable approach to dealing with unexpected and uncomfortable situations has created respect amongst his colleagues, but it is his innate desire to ensure that everyone around him are comfortable and effective in their own roles that has made him such a worthy recipient of the award. Richard not only guides and supports his staff on a daily basis, he goes to great lengths to recognise the endeavours  of others and reinforces their achievements through praise wherever possible. As a result of showing admiration and respect for the work of his colleagues, Richard has gained respect in return; something that is not easily achieved and something which he now sees has to be earned and is not just a given for people in positions of authority.

We are very proud of Richard, he has come a very long way since joining the company at the tender age of 16 and has throughout his five years with PWR, developed into a key member of the PWR team. Richard has embraced the guidance given him, absorbed the knowledge available to him and now bestowed the same ethos onto his staff.   He is a prime example of what we want for the young people who join our company to become and we thank him for that.

Landlord Clinic 'Just What The Doctor Ordered' For Nottinghamshire Landlords

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Nottingham based property consultancy is celebrating the success of its free ‘Landlord Clinic’ today, after landlords labelled it ‘just what the doctor ordered’.

PWR Lettings, with offices in Nottingham and Mansfield, began the drop in sessions a few months ago, with both landlords and investors being invited to attend its offices between 11-1pm each Tuesday for free advice.

Simon Perkins, Partner at PWR, said: “We are delighted with the resounding success of our landlord clinics, and feel that it is important to offer expert hints and tips to those new to the lettings market, and indeed those more seasoned investors. The property market is constantly changing in terms of legislation, and it is vital that landlords stay on top of their obligations to avoid either the financial or legal pitfalls associated with property management.”

The sessions covered topics including, what is required for the Tenancy Deposit Scheme cover at the end of the fixed term of a tenancy?, what is required by the landlord for electric safety testing in residential rented properties?, and what action can I take if a tenant suddenly stops paying their rent?.

Adam Kingswood, Nottingham Branch Manager said: “We had a local landlord visit our free clinic to seek advice on how to extend his tenancy agreements for a number of his properties, which he had let and managed himself. The tenancies were currently rolling month by month statutory periodic tenancies.

“It is vital to consider the tenancy deposit scheme cover and deposit 'prescribed information' for the scheme, as part of a tenancy extension, so after giving this particular landlord the advice regarding this procedure, what his particular tenancy deposit scheme states and what the market rents were for his properties, he approached his tenants about extending their tenancies and then tailored Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreements, were prepared for him.”

Simon added: “PWR have experienced ARLA qualified staff and are a regulated firm, so we offer expert honest advice, we would encourage any landlord with a property dilemma to get in touch with us.”

Adam goes above and beyond the call of duty

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

This month's worthy recipient of the Top Dog award is given to Adam Kingswood. Adam is a remarkable young man, who on a daily basis goes above and beyond what is expected of him in his role. For the majority of people who work in the demanding and hectic world of residential lettings their working day finishes at 5.30 and starts at 8.45 but for the few it is an ongoing and integral part of their lives.

It is not just the fact that Adam chooses to work longer hours to ensure that the job gets done that has secured him the accolade this month, as many of our loyal staff would no doubt do the same if it was warranted. It is what he is doing inside and outside of the office hours that makes him stand out. Adam’s relaxed approach to networking with people who have property, backed up by his understanding and knowledge about all aspects of the business has resulted in him successfully bring in new landlords which has seen the number of units occupied in the Nottingham office grow from 130 to 437 in just 4 years.

Adam is undoubtedly a natural networker who has a real passion for property, but it is his loyalty to PWR that makes him special. He truly believes in what PWR represents and never misses an opportunity to promote us, whether that be during his normal working hours or when he’s attending networking events in the evenings and early hours or just down at his local at the weekends. Adam never needs to be asked to do the extra things needed to bring in the business, he just does it because he wants to and because he knows that the business will benefit greatly from it and because PWR is part of him.

Adam is a tremendous advocate for PWR and we are extremely proud to have had the opportunity thus far of developing someone with such a thirst for excellence since joining us in 2005. We were impressed from the outset by Adam’s determination to learn all he could about residential lettings and property management and we had no doubt that should he choose a career with us that he would grow to become a fundamental member of the PWR team.

Adam’s career ambitions were not always property related, as for a short while he had aspirations of joining the fire brigade. However, It did not take Adam long to fall in love with property and over the years he has developed a genuine passion for the business. Although it was obvious from the beginning that he was determined to progress in the business, we have always been impressed by his contentment to progress when we felt he was ready to do so and not run before he could walk, a noteworthy trait for an ambitious young man.

Adam is a deserved recipient of the award as everyday he strives to be the best he can be. For an individual who has been so successful in getting his team to perform above expectations month on month he still maintains an air of humility. He recognises his weaknesses and daily strives for self-improvement. In the nine years that we have had the privilege of working with him he has maintained the drive and enthusiasm to not only succeed as an individual but to make PWR one of the market leaders in Nottingham.

NLA Upturn Report Highlights Need For Professional Advice Claims PWR

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

As the National Landlords Association (NLA) declares that three in 10 landlords (31pc) say they will look for additional buy to let lending or to re-mortgage in the next three months, despite struggles to obtain finance, a Nottingham based property consultancy is advising investors to seek professional advice.

PWR Lettings, with offices in Nottingham and Mansfield has backed recent reports, which claim that with rental returns continuing to outstrip the dismal returns from banks and building societies that many landlords are seeking to invest in further acquisitions, especially in HMO’s.

The findings from an NLA survey show that 31 per cent of landlords will look for additional buy-to-let lending or to re-mortgage in the next three months with a view to making further property acquisitions.

Simon Perkins, Partner at PWR, said: “It is a startling fact that a sixth of the population – around 10 million people – now live in accommodation rented from private landlords, and this is fantastic sign for the residential landlord.  This upturn is of course a very positive sign, but with this upturn will come an increase in the number of landlords failing to comply with their legal obligations, and an increase in the number of inexperienced landlords who end up with inadequate protection.”

Many mortgage lenders now perceive buy-to-let to be less risky than standard mortgage products and are currently offering hundreds of different buy-to-let mortgage products at historically record low borrowing rates for both fixed and variable deals. Yet, the NLA survey found that many investors are concerned that they will not be able to gain access to finance, due to tighter restrictions.

Carolyn Uphill, Chairman, NLA said: “A significant number of landlords are having trouble accessing finance and expanding, which is a major concern because the private sector is vital in meeting the ever increasing demand on housing at the moment.”

Simon continued: “Many of the landlords we encounter are frustrated with regards to securing finance, and this is where PWR can help.  We can offer unrivalled advice to the landlord regarding when and where to buy, the finance options available and full property management if required.”

For more information, please visit www.pwrlettings.co.uk