Should you use a letting agency?

Should you use a letting agency?

So, you’re thinking of becoming a landlord. But should you go it alone or engage a letting agency?

According to Property Checklists, there are over 400 rules and regulations governing a rental property and the relationship between a landlord and tenant. I haven’t counted them but I’m not surprised by that number. Property rental is a heavily regulated area and only going to get more so. And fall foul of the rules and procedures and it could cost you dear.

Of course, some landlords successfully go it alone but if you’re not sure whether you need the help of a letting agent, here are just some of the things we can help with.

Before you buy to rent

If you’re thinking of buying to rent, you should take advice from a local letting agent first. They’ll know what you can expect to get in terms of rental income and what the demand in your area is for different property types. This is a critical part of rental success which is often overlooked and a good letting agent will be able to recommend the best types of property to buy.

Getting your property ready

home safetyBefore you rent your property, there are a number of legal requirements that you have to comply with which include:

  • Protecting a tenant’s deposit within 30 days of receiving it
  • Installing smoke alarms on all floors and carbon monoxide detectors in any rooms with fuel-burning devices. Furniture should be flame resistant
  • Arranging a gas safety inspection if your property has gas and providing your tenant with a copy of the certificate
  • Ensuring the property has a valid EPC (Energy Performance Certificate), a copy of which again must be given to the tenant
  • Providing your tenant with a “How to rent” guide setting out landlord obligations and tenants’ rights
  • Ensuring any appliances at the property are safe
  • Updating the utilities
  • Ensuring you have a formal tenancy agreement. Although this is not a strict legal requirement, you would be extremely unwise to enter into a tenancy without one.

Failure to comply with the above could leave you facing a substantial fine or worse.

Finding and vetting tenants

finding tenantsThe next step of your rental journey is obviously to advertise your property in a way that attracts the right kind of tenants. Then you’ve got to show people around. This all takes time and a certain amount of know how.

In my last blog, I mentioned the importance of vetting prospective tenants and I can’t re-emphasis this enough. There are very strict and quite onerous Right to Rent checks which have to be carried out. You’ll also need to carry out financial checks but you may also have to check with their previous landlord or ask for a guarantor. At EweMove, we visit potential tenants in their current home to get an idea of what kind of tenant they’ll be.

But apart from finding prospective tenants, you’ll probably also want to find them quite quickly so you’re not left with a rent void but at the same time, you want someone who’s in it for the long haul, so you don’t find yourself looking for new tenants in 6 months’ time.

A good letting agency will have the resources and connections to achieve all of that in quite a tight timeframe.

Once your tenant moves in

Of course, as a landlord, your role doesn’t stop once your tenant moves in. You’ll need a proper inventory and a property check when they arrive but what about ongoing repairs and problems?

Our fully managed letting service which operates 24/7 (yes really) means you won’t get woken up in the middle of the night if something goes wrong or have to get involved in the day to day detail.

It also means you can be confident that your property is being well looked after and any works required are being carried out to an appropriate standard. Even after a tenant leaves, at EweMove we’ll organise the return of the deposit, checking the property, switching over utility bills etc.

Becoming a landlord can be a fantastic opportunity but it does involve a fair amount of ongoing hard work. Of course, you can go it alone but it’s really important that you take into account all of the above and whether you have the time and the know-how, before you decide to do so.

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi-award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 or via email to dorking@ewemove.com

 

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Are you paying for your children to live elsewhere?

Are you paying for your children to live elsewhere?

 If you are, you’re not alone

Back in March this year, research from Santander revealed that nearly 1 in 10 first time home buyers rely on grandparents for their deposit. And that’s 4 times more than the numbers who did so just 5 years ago.

In fact, 32% of first time buyers will use a family loan of some sort to help with the deposit and separate research by Legal & General and Cebr revealed that this year alone, parents will contribute £6.5billion towards a first time purchase by their child or children.

first time buyer Research has also revealed that most first-time buyers expect to pay a deposit of 32% of their annual salary, with some even expecting to spend as much as half their annual salary. And first-time buyers also expect to have to save for at least 5 years before they can buy.

Home ownership for the young has fallen

To add to an already worrying picture, research by the University of Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin University recently found that for 25- to 29-year-olds, home ownership has fallen by more than half in the last 25 years, from 63% in 1990 to 31% most recently.

And that means you may have to foot the bill 

Of course, these statistics highlight the continuing problems with a lack of affordable housing and low wages, which put many properties out of reach for young first time buyers. So it’s no surprise that buyers are turning to their family for help.

Bank of Mum and Dad But the Bank of Mum and Dad may now have to dig even deeper, as according to more recent research by Legal & General and Cebr, parents will be funding £2.3 billion of rental payments in 2017 and helping 9% of the UK’s renting population. That’s an average of £415 for every rental payment.

Add those statistics up and it’s estimated that parents will contribute some £8.8billion this year alone in helping their children to either rent or buy.

Good and bad news

The good news is that first time buyers remain resilient and optimistic. 10 million UK adults plan to buy their first home in the next five years. But the Social Mobility Commission is concerned about the impact these figures will have on those with lower incomes or with families who can’t afford to help, leaving their children unable to buy or even rent.

The answer?

There’s no doubt that there’s an urgent need for more affordable housing, different options when it comes to buying or renting and more flexible finance options. But resolving the problem is of course far more complex than that.

In the Social Mobility Commission’s State of the Nation 2016 report, they recommended a raft of measures including that the government should set a target of 3 million homes to be built over the next decade. They also recommended the sale of public sector land for new homes and permitting the development of green belt land.

Other suggestions included urging the government to rethink its starter home initiative, the introduction of tax incentives to encourage longer private sector tenancies and the redevelopment of the worst estates.

But meanwhile, back at the coalface…

Help to BuyWhich, if any, of these recommendations the government decides to implement of course remains to be seen and there’s certainly no quick fixes. So, with 10 million young adults planning to buy in the next few years, and others hoping to rent, it looks like the Bank of Mum and Dad may have to stay open for quite a while longer.

 

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi-award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 / 01372 701 702, or via email to dorking@ewemove.com

How secure is your home?

How secure is your home?

Some basic home security measures to improve your security

how secure is your home Earlier this month, the Co-Op published the results of their survey into home security. It was a survey compiled with the help of a panel of ex-convicts and the headline findings were that:

  • “89% of ex-cons say [smart] connected homes will put thieves off
  • Ex-cons say 44% of thieves are opportunists so avoid tricky break ins
  • 20% of adults update their social profiles when they’re going on holiday”

So with that in mind, and if you’re thinking of just nipping out to pick up some milk without locking up, this blog is all about the things you need to do to improve your home security.

Doors and windows

home securityThis may seem an obvious starting point but in the majority of burglaries, the burglar gains access via a window or door. So here are 8 things you need to think about when it comes to gaining access to your home:

  • If you’ve just purchased a new home, consider having new locks fitted. There’s probably a master key or copies out there somewhere.
  • Consider the quality of your locks, doors and windows. It can take less than a minute for burglars to gain access and with most locks, all that’s needed is a crowbar or something that the burglar has found lying around, like a garden tool.
  • Deadlock bolt locks are best but take advice from a locksmith registered with The Master Locksmiths Association. Also make sure your doors are solid and silly as it may seem, dust your locks. A dusty deadlock tells a would-be burglar that you don’t use it!
  • Don’t just concentrate on your main entrance either. Make sure all your doors are solid and secure with sturdy locks.
  • Don’t leave a spare key outside. Such as under the mat or the plant pot. Again, most burglars know exactly where to look and it may invalidate your insurance.
  • Windows are also a weak spot, particularly if they don’t have locks. It takes less effort to force a window than a door and most neighbours don’t hear the sound of breaking glass. Locked PVC windows are the best deterrent.
  • Open windows are an open invitation to most burglars. The weather may still be mild but think twice before leaving all the windows open at night. According to the Co-Op survey, 55% of us do!
  • Lock your doors. Again, it’s easy to do – leave the front door unlocked while you nip next door or are in the garden at the back. But think twice because it makes you an easy target. 24% of householders leave their doors unlocked whilst at home, and over 44% have admitted to leaving their garden gates open. Don’t let it be you.

Smart Security

CCTV and motion activated lights are two of the best burglar deterrents. But according to the Co-Op survey, only 14% of UK adults say they’ve installed CCTV cameras and only 24% of UK adults say they’ve installed lights.

Fit a British Standard approved alarm system. Better style, with the all the smart technology now available, make security part of whatever systems you choose.

And if you’re going to be away, something as simple as asking a neighbour to park their car on your drive is sometimes enough to act as a deterrent.

Social security

home security It’s so easy to do and you probably already know you shouldn’t.  You go away on holiday or for the weekend and post photos on social media of the lovely time that you’re having. Photos of you at the airport or poolside, with a beautiful sunset.

But burglars have embraced technology just as much as you have and by posting those photos, you’re telling the world that your house is empty.

Similarly, think twice about leaving your family calendar on display. Can your holiday dates been seen from a window or if you were burgled – would one quick glance tell your unwelcome visitor when to return.

Inside security

Burglars are looking for small items that are easy to remove and won’t look bulky as they leave – like jewellery.  If you do have items of value, avoid hiding them in obvious places, like in your sock drawer or the bottom of a wardrobe. They’re the first place a burglar will look. Instead, consider investing in a safe.

These days, it’s not just your valuables that burglars are after. Personal information such as bank details, passports or even important or personal information on your computer (think wedding photos or work details) which can be ransomed make equally rich pickings. Keep laptops out of sight and remember your cyber security too.

Sleep tight

But don’t lie awake at night worrying about the chance of a break in. Only 2% of households are broken into each year. And if you’ve taken the proper precautions, you’ve minimised the chance of it happening it to you.

Oh, and there’s one last thing you could consider. It’s one of the Co-Op’s top ten deterrents – owning a barking dog! Good luck with that one.

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 / 01372 701 702, or via email to dorking@ewemove.com

How to evict your tenants

How to evict your tenants

Help – how do I evict my tenants

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about retaliatory evictions by landlords. But there may come a time in your career as a landlord when you genuinely need to evict your tenants.

There are strict rules about how to do so and which procedure you use will depend on the particular circumstances of your tenant and tenancy.

You may have heard all sorts of horror stories about evictions. However, although it’s not an overnight process, provided you comply with the rules, it should be reasonably straightforward.

Which procedure do I need to follow?

This will depend on the type of tenancy agreement you have in place. The most common type is an assured shorthold tenancy. These are either periodic tenancies which run from month to month (or week to week) or fixed term tenancies which run for example, for a period of 6 months or a year (but it could be longer). If you’re in any doubt about what type of tenancy you have in place, you should check with a professional.

Having established what type of tenancy you have, you must follow the procedure which applies to your tenant:

I want my property back when the current tenancy agreement comes to an end

In these circumstances, you will need to follow what is known as the Section 21 notice procedure. If the tenancy started after April 2007, you can only use a Section 21 notice if you put the tenant’s deposit in a deposit protection scheme.

Using this procedure, you cannot evict until any fixed term tenancy has ended and you must give two months’ notice. However, exactly how much notice you need to give will also depend on the rental period as the notice period must end on the last day of the rental period. This, therefore, could be longer than two months.

The precise form of this notice can vary, but it must be in writing and must specify the date of required possession. It’s very easy to get the date wrong so again, if in doubt, get professional advice. If the tenant doesn’t move out as a result of the Section 21 notice, you’ll have to go to court to seek a possession order.

If your tenants don’t leave by the date set in the Section 21 notice, you can then use the accelerated possession service but only if you are not claiming rent arrears. If you are, you’ll have to apply for a standard possession order.

My tenants have breached the terms of the tenancy and I want my property back

This situation normally applies where the tenant hasn’t paid the rent, is late paying the rent or has sub-let the property in breach of the tenancy. You will need to follow what is known as the Section 8 procedure which allows you to regain possession during the fixed term of your tenancy. But if the reasons you are relying on involve rent arrears, the notice can only be issued after a certain amount of rent is unpaid.

The Section 8 notice procedure requires you to give your tenant between 2 weeks and 2 months’ notice, depending on what terms of the tenancy they have broken. The section 8 notice must be properly completed with the terms you allege have been broken.

Whatever procedure you use, you will need to apply and complete forms at the court in the area in which the property is. You may need to complete a different set of forms depending on when the tenancy was issued.

You will also need to make sure the tenant is given the correct paper work in the correct time frame. This is known as service and again, strict rules apply about how and when you can serve your tenant with the papers and what you have to give them. If you are in any doubt, check with a professional or risk your application being dismissed. You will then need to complete a proof of service document (certificate of service).

You can issue and serve a Section 21 and Section 8 at the same time in respect of the same tenant. However, you must make sure you comply with the different procedural requirements and notice periods of both.

Exceptions

Squatters

Section 21 and Section 8 are the most common type of evictions but there are exceptions. If you are trying to evict squatters who have entered without your permission and where there is no, and never was, a tenancy agreement in place, there is different, quicker procedure you can use. Again, strict rules apply.

Your tenant lives with you

If your tenant has an excluded tenancy or a licence, the procedure is different and you simply have to serve them “notice to quit” within a reasonable time period. Again, check with a professional if you’re not sure whether this applies to your situation.

Tenancies which began before 27 February 1997 may have additional protection from eviction.

What happens next?

Once you have issued and served the correct notice, the court will fix a hearing date for a judge to decide what should happen. Both you and the tenant may have to file a statement of evidence for this and you or your representative will probably need to attend. Check with the court. It’s important to bear in mind that your case will be dismissed if you haven’t followed the correct procedure.

What can the judge do?

  • The judge may make an order for possession requiring your tenant to leave by a set date, usually 14 or 28 days after the court hearing.

If they don’t leave by that date you will need to apply to the court for a  ‘warrant for possession’ and an eviction notice will be sent by the court to your tenants. Do not attempt to evict them yourself at this stage. If your tenants still don’t leave your property, you’ll need to arrange for a court bailiff to evict them.

  • The judge may make a suspended order for possession, allowing your tenants to stay provided they comply with some set conditions i.e. to pay the rent. If they don’t comply, you will have to return to court.
  • The judge may order your tenants to make payments to you (a money order/ judgment). This may be in combination with a possession order and could include rent arrears or legal costs.

A word of caution

It’s a crime to harass or try to force your tenants to leave your property without following the correct procedure. Not only do you risk your application for eviction being dismissed by the court but your tenants may even be able to claim damages from you.

As you can see, evicting tenants is a potentially complex area. The above is only a rough guide and should not be treated as legal advice. I would always recommend you get professional advice and or assistance before you try to evict your tenant.

Perhaps even more important is to make sure that you have all the right paperwork in place when you first grant your tenancy. In that way, you can minimise the risk of anything going wrong and make sure that you’re in a strong position if it does.

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 / 01372 701 702, or via email to dorking@ewemove.com

Getting more energy efficient

Getting more energy efficient

A reminder about MEES, EPCs and cold showers!  And how we can all do our bit 

Remember MEES?

Back in April I blogged about the new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) which come into force next April (2018).

In a nutshell, if you’re a landlord, you won’t be able to renew or grant a new tenancy of longer than 6 months if your property has an EPC rating of ‘E’ or lower. If your EPC is lower than that, you also risk a substantial fine.

The new standards have been designed to help the UK reduce carbon emissions. But of course, they should also help tenants – more efficient heating and insulation means cheaper energy bills.

And don’t forget EPCs

This year also sees the 10th anniversary of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), a certificate that measures the energy efficiency of a property. It includes a survey that looks at heating systems, insulation and the effectiveness of windows and doors in blocking draughts.

An EPC will normally include recommendations for improvements too, such as switching to LED lighting, installing better loft insulation, a new boiler, double glazing or having external wall insulation fitted.

Improving energy efficiency – landlords  

The fact that EPCs are now 10 years old means the oldest ones are no longer valid. Renters and buyers need to check the date carefully in order not to be caught out.

Technology and energy efficiency have come a long way in the last 10 years. For properties with older EPCs (and combined with MEES) this should provide a real incentive for landlords to push up energy efficiency standards. And that has to be good news for tenants as well as the wider population.

Doing your bit too

The long summer holidays can cause energy consumption to spike, particularly when you throw in some of the not so seasonal weather we’ve had lately.

Extra time spent in the kitchen cooking, watching TV, playing computer games and perhaps even putting the heating on (yes, I know who you are), all take their toll on your heating bills.

So, to help you do your bit this summer, here are 5 easy steps to help keep you energy efficient this summer:

  1. Take showers not baths and try and turn the temperature dial down too.
  2. Opt for salads for lunch rather than using the oven to cook meals.
  3. Dry clothes on the washing line, not in the tumble drier (if it stops raining for long enough) and keep windows open rather than running the air conditioning or a fan.
  4. Don’t leave appliances switched on or on standby and try and limit TV or computer game time. I know, easier said than done when the weather is bad.
  5. Try using a “smart meter” which allows you to keep track of exactly how much gas and electricity you’re using and which appliances you’re using the most. Check it daily with the kids and then try and get the reading down by using less energy!

And of course, don’t forget to check the date on your EPC. If it’s one of the older ones, it might just be time to ask your landlord to make a few changes before winter kicks in!

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 / 01372 701 702, or via email to dorking@ewemove.com

 

Are your tenants afraid of you?

Are your tenants afraid of you?

The rise of retaliatory evictions

More than two out of five (41%) private tenants have waited longer than they usually should for their landlord to carry out a repair, according to a recent report by Citizens Advice.

Why? Because they’re afraid of being evicted, having their rent put up or being blacklisted.

The report goes on to explain that there is still an entrenched culture of fear among private tenants. Last year alone, Citizens Advice helped people with more than 16,000 problems around private rented sector homes in poor condition.

Your responsibility as a landlord

Private landlords in the private sector have a legal responsibility to fix problems in a reasonable time – usually a month or less, or 24 hours for the most serious cases.

If you fail to carry out the necessary work within a reasonable time, a court can order you to carry out a repair and / or award financial compensation.

The reality

57% of tenants who took part in the survey told Citizens Advice that they didn’t want to force the issue with their landlord for fear of repercussions.

30% of tenants said they’d carried out repairs themselves and 14% had paid for repair work themselves. One family had spent £10,000 of their own money fixing a range of issues in their home, including a broken heating system, after repeated complaints to their landlord failed.

The most common issues are broken fittings, faulty electricals and leaks, all of which can make life miserable as well as potentially dangerous and unhealthy for tenants.

Current protection for tenants

  1. Assured shorthold tenancies starting before 1 Oct 2015

If your tenancy started before 1 October 2015, there’s no special protection that prevents you as a landlord from evicting a tenant who complains about repairs. That said, new rules are set to come into force late next year and these should provide your tenant with more protection.

  1. Assured shorthold tenancies starting on or after 1 October 2015

New rules now apply to newer tenancies which could protect your tenant if they complain about repairs or conditions in your property and you respond by issuing a section 21 notice.

The new rules mean a court can refuse to order eviction if all the following apply:

  • your tenant complained to you or your letting agent in writing (by letter or email)
  • you issued a section 21 notice after they complained
  • your tenant complained to the local council because you didn’t take steps to fix the problem
  • the council sent you a notice telling you to make improvements or the council would carry out emergency work.

The new rules may also apply if your tenant complained about the repairs to the council because they didn’t have a postal or email address for you.

Service of an improvement notice

If the council serves you with an improvement notice or notice requiring remedial action, the section 21 notice you’ve served on your tenant becomes invalid.

That means that if the improvement notice is served before the court hearing, your case will fail and the court won’t order your tenant to leave.

Service of improvement notice after court hearing 

If the council doesn’t serve you with an improvement notice before the court hearing, the court can order your tenant to leave. And the court can’t overturn an order to evict if the council’s notice comes later.

How long does an improvement notice affect your ability to evict?

A section 21 eviction notice will be invalid for 6 months after you’ve received an improvement notice from the council.

The new rules don’t apply if your tenant:

  • only complained verbally or you served a section 21 notice before they complained in writing
  • complained to the council but the council took no action or only served you with a ‘hazard notice’

The new rules also won’t help if you can prove to the court that:

  • the tenant caused the problem they’re complaining about
  • you’ve genuinely put the property up for sale – sales to friends, family or business partners might not count
  • the property has been repossessed by your lender and the property will be sold with vacant possession (this will not apply if the tenancy started before you took out the mortgage)

The new rules don’t apply to the section 8 court procedure for non-payment of rent.

The way forward

eviction Citizens Advice is calling for better protection by rolling out independent complaints bodies – or Alternative Dispute Resolution schemes – across the private rented sector. Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Renters should be able to ask for repairs to their home without fear of retaliation…renters [need] protection from retaliatory action, so they feel confident reporting a problem in their home and don’t feel like their only option is to dip into their own pocket.”

Steps you should take as a landlord

It should go without saying that if you’re a landlord you should always carry out work as quickly as possible. Try to imagine what it would feel like if it was your family living with the issue that’s been reported.

But actually, there’s more you can do:

  • Make it clear to your tenants that you won’t retaliate and encourage them to report issues. That might mean making a point of asking them on a regular basis whether everything is okay. If you don’t want to be that involved, make sure you have a good letting agent, and encourage them to keep an open dialogue with your tenants. You or letting agent needs to be proactive to show that you take your responsibilities seriously and will ensure repairs are carried out quickly, with no repercussions.
  • Make sure any repairs done are not done at unsociable times and make sure you give your tenants reasonable notice. It’s your property but it’s their home after all.
  • Don’t leave repairs unfinished and make sure someone (you or your agent) follows up with the tenant afterwards.

At the end of the day, your tenants are likely to stay longer and treat your property better if they feel that you care about both your property and them. And that’s got to be a good thing for everyone. If you don’t treat them well and carry out repairs quickly, you may find yourself falling foul of the new legal provisions.

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 / 01372 701 702, or via email to dorking@ewemove.com

What’s important to landlords?

What’s important to landlords?

Getting more out of your rental property

Despite what some might describe as repeated attacks by the government on the landlord lifestyle, the number of landlords in the UK increased in 2013 -2014 by 7%, reaching 1.75 million (HMRC). And in 2014, two million private landlords owned and let some five million properties in the UK (Paragon). In short, the Private Rented Sector (PRS) is still a growing and successful sector.

The reason, of course, is that it still represents an exciting opportunity and a great way to earn a residual income. But contrary to popular belief (and as I know having been a landlord for some time), it’s not all about the money. So, what is important to landlords, what do you struggle with, and perhaps most importantly, as a letting agent, how can I help?

Maximising your yield

maximising the rental yield It may not be all about the money but it goes without saying, that profit will always be important. It’s not rocket science to suggest that in order to maximise your yield, you need to keep a keen eye on expenses and get the best possible rent for your property. And a good letting agent can help with both of those.

Letting agent fees

Letting agents often make big promises about what they can deliver but let’s start by taking a careful look at their fees.

It’s tempting to choose the agent with the cheapest headline tariff. But. And it’s a big but, make absolutely sure you know what extras will be charged on top of the basic fee or “Full Management” tariff. They can be deceptive.

Will you have to pay extra for:

  • set up fees,
  • inventory fees,
  • fees to lodge deposits,
  • estimates for repairs, and / or
  • finding a tenant?

What happens if your tenant leaves in the first 12 months? Will you be charged again by your agent to find a new tenant or is that included in the upfront fee?

In other words, don’t be fooled by an attractive headline fee only to find that the final bill adds up to a great deal more than those agents who you thought were more expensive!

What’s the best rentable value?

Whether or not you know the area in which you’re hoping to buy (or let), the insider knowledge of your letting agent can be invaluable.

Your agent should know the state of the rental market – has a significant employer in the area relocated elsewhere? Is it a popular area for students or young workers making it suitable for multiple occupancy? Are there plans for improved infrastructure that could make this a desirable commuter area? Has a planning application been submitted for a development which may make this a very unpopular place to live?

Don’t just rely on your own knowledge or research of similar rental properties in the area. Instead take advantage of your agent’s knowledge and experience to make sure you buy a property with the best possible rental value.

Ensuring you get the best tenants  

As a landlord, you want to avoid two things – long periods of time when your property is empty and unreliable tenants who leave the property in a mess or don’t pay their rent.

That means, the quality of your tenant vetting process is vital. Check at the outset what your chosen agent’s vetting process is and that it’s robust. If it isn’t (or they haven’t really got one), walk away. You’ll end up with the first person who turns up and that’s rarely a good thing.

All agents should credit check the tenant and the guarantor, as well as asking for references. And all references should always be checked out thoroughly.

Then ask your agent whether they visit prospective tenants in their current accommodation. Because that can be a very good indicator of how they may treat your property.

An easy life

As I said, being a successful landlord isn’t all about maximising profits. Most landlords I know genuinely care about their tenants and want to be sure that they are living as comfortably as possible. But that doesn’t mean they want to spend every second minute following up tenant complaints, checking properties and making sure they’re compliant.

In short, most landlords want peace of mind and the knowledge that their tenants are happy and their properties and tenancies are legally compliant.

And that’s where a good letting agent can add real value. For example, at EweMove, we’ll manage all statutory compliance aspects of letting your home, from your Energy Performance Rating to your tenancy agreement and your inventory.

We’ll also make sure that we’re there when you or your tenants need us. We’ll keep you updated if there is a problem and we can recommend trusted suppliers.

In fact, we recommend that it’s a good idea to agree in advance what sort of issues you always want to be involved in and what issues you’re happy for us to resolve without bothering you. Although of course, we’ll always keep you informed – you just may not want a call from us at midnight on a Saturday night!

What’s important to you?

I’d love to know what you value most from your letting agent and what’s important to you. Please feel free to leave a comment or get in touch.

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 / 01372 701 702, or via email to dorking@ewemove.com