Caution Needed in the Rent Setting Debate

Ian Fletcher, Director of Policy at the British Property Federation

Ian Fletcher, Director of Policy at the British Property Federation

In May the British Property Federation (BPF), like many other organisations, heard alarm bells ring when Ed Miliband, realising the voting potential of ‘Generation Rent’, set out a range of rental reforms that included the possibility of what looked like ‘rent controls’.

Recognising the pressing need for more rental accommodation and the disquiet of many of those forced to rent, Miliband proposed that a Labour government would introduce three-year tenancies, ban letting agent fees, and put a ceiling on rent increases.

The latter part of the proposals caused particular unease amongst the property sector, which feared that a ceiling on rents posed a very serious threat to the health of the UK’s emerging Build to Rent sector.

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In Conversation With… Phil Buckle

Phil Buckle, Director General of Electrical Safety First

Phil Buckle, Director General of Electrical Safety First

We are regularly in conversation with a plethora of leading figures in the property, investment, finance and charity sectors, many of whom are guest authors for PRSupdate. The purpose of this feature is to get them to discuss the topics and issues that are currently affecting the Private Rented Sector.

If you would like to take part in an In Conversation piece then please do get in touch with us.

Today we are in conversation with Phil Buckle, Director General at Electrical Safety First.

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The Importance of Referencing

The Importance of Referencing

The Importance of Referencing

It is best practice for an agent, on behalf of their client, to carry out a thorough reference check to reassure the landlord that they are doing everything in their power to reduce the risk of letting to an unsuitable tenant.

Referencing is used as a tool to check the suitability of a tenant generally before a Tenancy Agreement is drawn up and signed. A thorough investigation is carried out to confirm the tenant’s identity, income, financial status in terms of affordability, employment status and rental history in an attempt to expose any issues that could be a concern for the landlord.

The necessity for tenant referencing stems from the need of the landlord to mitigate any risk of possibly letting their property to a tenant who could cause them an issue at a later date. Also, with the Immigration Act potentially taking effect from October, the onus is now on landlords, or their agents, to check the immigration status of any prospective tenant.

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The Importance of an Inventory

The Importance of an Inventory

The Importance of an Inventory

As an award-winning property management agency we realise how important it is to compile a comprehensive and clear inventory at the start of every tenancy.

A detailed inventory will make sure the resident is aware of the condition that the property is expected to be in when they vacate (after taking into account fair wear and tear incurred during the tenancy).

What goes in to an inventory?

An inventory is a full and detailed report which outlines the contents of a property including all furniture, fixtures and fittings, crockery and kitchenware. There will also be a record of the condition of each room that will detail the location and extent of any visible knocks, marks, chips, stains, scratches or damage.

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10 Golden Rules for Dealing with a Disappointed Customer

10 golden rules for dealing with a disappointed customer

10 golden rules for dealing with a disappointed customer

No matter the size of your business it’s likely you will have to deal with a disappointed customer at some point.

While the old adage “you can’t please all of the people all the time” springs to mind when dealing with an issue this should never be used as a reason to shy away from the issue at hand. What many fail to grasp is that for every issue raised there could be 100 people who have faced the same problem but decided to stay quiet and to simply take their business elsewhere.

While it’s easy to play the blame game the best course of action is to remain professional and have a proactive approach to problem solving. Dealing with an issue should be seen as a great opportunity to learn and in doing so; save a deteriorating relationship, protect existing customer relationships and maybe even generate some new referrals too.

As the Head of Service Delivery I have complied these 10 golden rules on how to handle an issue raised by customer:

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European Standards for Safety of Internal Window Blinds

British Standards Institution

British Standards Institution

In February 2014 the British Standards Institution (BSI) published a forty page document outlining the new Standards of safety requirements to address certain risks posed to children by internal blinds and corded window coverings.

The Standards apply to blinds which have cords or chains fitted with a hazardous loop that could create a danger in premises where there are children aged between 0 and 4 years who are likely to have access or be present.

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Immigration Bill Factsheet

Government

Government

Since the Immigration Bill received Royal Assent on 14 May, and became the Immigration Act 2014, letting agents and landlords have been awaiting further details.

In simplified terms the Act will require landlords, or their agents, to carry out checks on the immigration status of any prospective tenant.

More detailed information pertaining to the ins and outs of the act have been thin on the ground – there isn’t even a confirmed date for when the Act will come into force – and this has left landlords and agents confused.

At the start of August, The Home Office released their ‘Factsheet: Tackling illegal immigration in privately rented accommodation‘. The “factsheet”, far from being the comprehensive list of answers that was expected, is in fact a vague collection of information that has created more questions than it has answered.

We continue to wait for the government to release further information and hope that any new releases will answer the many questions that have been left unanswered.

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The Property Ombudsman Launches New Codes of Practice

The Property Ombudsman launches new Codes of Practice

The Property Ombudsman launches new Codes of Practice

The Property Ombudsman scheme has issued a revised Codes of Practice for sales and lettings agents in an attempt to further improve standards across both industries.

The Codes, which came into affect on 1st August August, are said to reflect developments in industry practice and legislative changes.

The Ombudsman applies the Codes of Practice when reviewing consumer complaints to ascertain if a registered agent has breached the required standard, which might result in the Ombudsman directing the agent to pay an award (up to the value of £25,000). The Ombudsman will refer serious Code breaches to TPO’s independent Disciplinary & Standards Committee, which has the power to fine or expel agents and engage with regulators such as Trading Standards and the Competition and Market Authority.

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Private Rented Sector Properties with Low EPC Rating to be Banned

Move to ban rental properties with low EPCs

Move to ban rental properties with low EPCs

In less than four years landlords will have to have made sure that all of their Private Rented Sector stock has been made energy efficient.

After April 1st 2018, as part of a requirement laid out in the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s two consultations on the Private Rented Sector Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard Regulations, a landlord will not be allowed to let out their property if it does not have a minimum EPC rating of an ‘E’.

The consultation also refers to April 1st 2016, from this date tenants will be able to request their landlord to carry out reasonable energy efficiency improvements to improve the properties EPC rating. The landlord can not refuse to carry out the necessary works if requested.

The consultation is currently seeking industry input on how to implement these regulations, which are part of the Government’s plans to reduce carbon emissions.

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Can You Trust House Price Index Data?

Can you trust House Price Index stats?

Can you trust House Price Index stats?

A House Price Index… is it worth the paper it’s written on?

It seems that every month the property industry, and the general public, is bombarded with another statistic relating to average house prices. The headlines usually heap a lot of importance on these statistics, either stating that it highlights the impending burst of the “property bubble”, its continued inflation or using it to show people are being priced out of the market.

But each House Price Index uses different measurements and covers different sample sizes, areas and date ranges. Many can indicate a national average property price that varies greatly from the consumers experience.

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Private Rented Sector Tenant Satisfaction on the Rise

Satisfaction with Private Rented Sector homes on the increase

Satisfaction with Private Rented Sector homes on the increase

The recent English Housing Survey ‘Households Report’ has provided some good news for the much maligned Private Rented Sector. The report (published by the Department for Communities and Local Government) has highlighted that 84% of Private Rented Sector tenants say they are either ‘very satisfied’ or ‘fairly satisfied’ with their homes.

While this represents only an 1% increase on the previous survey, it helps to counter the column inches that the press gives over to the criticism of landlords and lettings agents.

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In Conversation With… John Grimes

John Grimes, Managing Director, Drummond House Developments Ltd

John Grimes, Managing Director, Drummond House Developments Ltd

We are regularly in conversation with a plethora of leading figures in the property, investment, finance and charity sectors, many of whom are guest authors for PRSupdate. The purpose of this feature is to get them to discuss the topics and issues that are currently affecting the Private Rented Sector.

If you would like to take part in an In Conversation piece then please do get in touch with us.

Today we are in conversation with John Grimes, Managing Director at Drummond House Developments Ltd.

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Changes to Capital Gains Tax Target Non-Resident Sellers

Peter Sarney, Director, Felton Pumphrey

Peter Sarney, Director, Felton Pumphrey

The imposition of Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on the disposal of UK residential property for non-residents came as a surprise to many people as the UK government seeks to level the playing field between those who are tax residents in the UK and those who are not.

Unlike many other countries, that tax gains on the disposal of residential property situated in their jurisdiction, the UK has not generally charged CGT on gains made by non-residents. The result of this is that a gain would either be fully taxable in the country of residence or escape taxation entirely.

The UK government considers this to be unfair and has proposed legislation to tax the gains on residential property of those who are non-resident in the same way as gains made by those who are resident.

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Number of Amateur Landlords on the Increase

Rajiv Mehta, Asset Manager – Investment, Young Group

Rajiv Mehta, Asset Manager – Investment, Young Group

According to a new report the level of amateur (part time) landlords, those who use their investment property to supplement their other income, have reached the highest ever levels.

The National Landlords Association (NLA) claims that amateur landlords now make up more than 70% of the Private Rented Sector and that they typically own around four properties.

Due to the current strength of returns seen in the rental market 25% of these amateur landlords are intending to add to their property portfolio with 40% planning to use buy-to-let financing to fund their lettings portfolio.

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8 Simple Rules for Providing Amazing Customer Service

Samantha Richardson, Head of Service Delivery & Training, Young London

Samantha Richardson, Head of Service Delivery & Training, Young London

Good customer service should be the lifeblood of any business as getting it right is what will keep people coming back to you time and again.

At Young London we have taken this to heart and customer service is central to everything we do. Feedback from our residents and landlords forms the basis of how we measure our success and reward the team.

But how do you go about providing amazing customer service?

Well it might be surprising to hear but providing good customer service isn’t as difficult as many would think! At Young London we have our 8 simple rules for providing ‘Amazing Customer Service’:

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