In Conversation With… John Coles

John Coles, Director, Evenbrook

John Coles, Director, Evenbrook

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 Coles, Director at Evenbrook.

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Spring/Summer 2014: Sometimes It’s Not What You Know…

David Mackenzie, Director of Asset Management, Young Group

David Mackenzie, Director of Asset Management, Young Group

Currently, articles abound, enthusing about how companies, family offices and individuals are getting into the business of investing in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) in the UK.

Whilst there is usually a lot of excitement around the physical product and getting it to completion, it can sometimes seem that the huge piece of work and pre-thought that needs to happen in setting up the ‘operator’ side of the investment, in a nutshell the Asset Management of the PRS portfolio, is forgotten.

This encompasses everything from algorithmic based pricing, to marketing, release phasing and mix, through to lettings, property management and back office technical support.

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Time to cool off

Compliance Corner

Compliance Corner

As of today, The Consumer Contract (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013  has extended the contract ‘cooling off’ period from 7 days to 14 days. The regulation will only apply to contracts entered into on or after today (13/06/2014).

The introduction of this new regulation means that the following have been superseded and thus do not apply from today:

  • The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulation 2000
  • The Cancellation of Contracts made in a Consumer’s Home or Place of Work etc Regulations 2008

Most importantly, for the Private Rented Sector, the regulation now states that the ‘cooling off’ period no longer applies to Tenancy Agreements or guarantor contracts.

The extended cooling off period is still relevant for Terms of Business for both sales and lettings, unless the contract is signed at the businesses office.

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Government releases “How to Rent” guide

How to Rent: The Checklist for Renting in England

How to Rent: The Checklist for Renting in England

The Government has released its guide, How to Rent: The checklist for renting in England, in a drive to educate the public about renting best practices.

The guide, in an attempt to inform and educate tenants and landlords, has all the important ‘need to know’ rental information in one place.

The Government hopes that, by making the public more aware of their rights, they can help the industry as it strives to stamp out bad practices.

Kris Hopkins, the Housing Minister,  said that “encouraging a new generation of well-informed tenants with easy access to useful and understandable information would help root out the small minority of rogues and raise the game of any landlords who don’t know what is expected of them.”

Young Group believes that educating tenants and landlords is an important step in helping to improve the sector. This guide is a step in the right direction in the fight to help improve the growing Private Rented Sector market.

Young London has produced its own series of information guides to help renters navigate through the process of renting in London. Young London has produced its own series of information guides to help renters navigate through the process of renting. A market of informed renters will demand positive renting experiences which will in turn raise standards and root out bad practice.

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Spring/Summer 2014: Making Customer Feedback Count

Howard Morgan, Managing Director, RealService

Howard Morgan, Managing Director, RealService

When RealService was founded 15 years ago the idea of measuring customer satisfaction within the UK lettings industry was virtually unheard of.

In 2014, customer satisfaction measurement has become a core operational skill for many of the leading owners and managers, looking for competitive advantage, in the Private Rented Sector (PRS).

For years the PRS in the US has been gathering feedback from residents, and measuring customer satisfaction, but this is a practice that has only just started in the UK, where the PRS is still a developing market.

So, what lessons can we learn from the USA and the UK commercial lettings sector? And why bother gathering and measuring customer satisfaction in the first place?

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Spring/Summer 2014: Turn Reputational Risk Into Magic

Michael Oakes, Director of Communications, Young Group

Michael Oakes, Director of Communications, Young Group

Reputational risk has often been quoted as one of the principal barriers to entry when it comes to institutional investment in the Private Rented Sector (PRS), and became an issue of mythical proportions following the publication of the Montague Review.

Happily though, two years on, we’re seeing active heavyweight investment in the industry, which proves that reputational risk should be no more of an issue in the PRS than in any other sector.

After all, every industry has its own risk factors, yet it doesn’t prevent hotels offering rooms for rent by the night, or airlines from taking to the skies or institutions managing pension funds; all potentially risky and brand damaging activities, but none so much so that they’d be considered to be wholly un-investable…

The key to mitigating business risk is twofold: minimising operational risk and maximising brand protection.

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Spring/Summer 2014: Delivering A New Way Of Renting At East Village

Stuart Corbyn, Chairman, Get Living London

Stuart Corbyn, Chairman, Get Living London

As the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics came to a close it was hard to imagine that it had been nearly two years since the eyes of the world were on a corner of the East End during the London 2012 Games. And, while the spotlight on Stratford may have diminished since the summer of 2012, the level of work and regeneration in the area has only increased.

For us at East Village, the new neighbourhood at the former Athletes’ Village, the progress has been particularly significant. Over the past 18 months, what were beds for athletes have been transformed into new homes for Londoners and in November 2013 we welcomed our very first residents.

While the Olympic sports venues are making their own strides towards their post-Games use, having the first residents living in a brand new neighbourhood next to the Olympic Park is arguably the strongest legacy of the London Games so far.

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My Favourite Property: Jillian Hampton

Jillian Hampton

Jillian Hampton, Property Consultant

In this special series I will talk to each of Young London’s frontline team to discover which property they fell in love with the moment they entered.

To kick off this new series I asked Jillian Hampton, Young London’s veteran Property Consultant, to tell me about her favourite property.

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Spring/Summer 2014: Share Perspectives And Insight To Create Added Value

Lesley Roberts, Director of Consultancy

Lesley Roberts, Director of Consultancy

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”  Keeping this in mind I want to look at the tangible benefits of an effective, cross-discipline Private Rented Sector (PRS) operating platform and how this can positively affect the bottom line.

A fully integrated system can reduce communication issues, improve effectiveness and provide a consistently good service to clients and residents.

Recently I found myself in a room full of prestigious property industry professionals, at a Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) PRS Taskforce workshop held at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, and I took a moment during the day to reflect on the varied comments and viewpoints being raised regarding standards in the sector.

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What does the future hold for the Private Rented Sector?

David Lawrenson, Director, LettingFocus.com

David Lawrenson, Director, LettingFocus.com

The Private Rented Sector (PRS) is in a constant state of flux and it is impossible to tell, with an absolute certainty, what is in store for our sector, especially with a general election looming on the horizon.

No doubt there will be many Think Tanks producing reports to pontificate on the sector! But, on a serious note, I am sure we will see a step towards more regulation and I do not believe all of it will be for the betterment of the sector!

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In Conversation With… Gary Trent

Gary Trent, PRS Stakeholder Lead, Valuation Office Agency

Gary Trent, PRS Stakeholder Lead, Valuation Office Agency

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 features 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 Gary Trent, PRS Stakeholder Lead at the Valuation Office Agency.

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Immigration Act takes effect from October

Compliance Corner

Compliance Corner

The Immigration Bill, which has now received Royal Assent and become an Act of Parliament, will take effect from October this year and puts the onus on landlords, or their agents, to check the immigration status of any prospective tenant.

The aim of the Act is to prevent people with no right to be in the UK from renting property in the Private Rented Sector.

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National house building statistics

National house building statistics

National house building statistics

The latest national statistics on house building in England (March quarter 2014) have been released.

The data shows that house building starts are on the increase and are nearly a third higher than this time last year, although they are remain nearly a quarter below their 2007 peak.

While this can be seen as a positive it is still far short of the number of houses that need to be built in England to be to keep up with housing demands from population growth.

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Labour defeated in move to ban lettings agency fees

Government

Government

As PRSupdate reported last week, Labour tabled an amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill that would have banned letting agents from charging fees to tenants.

But, after much debate, the motion was defeated in the House of Commons by 53 votes.

Hours prior to the vote the Government had announced it would put forward its own amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill. Details of the Government’s proposed amendment have not been fully revealed, as it has yet to be tabled, although it is known that it will compel letting agents to publish all of their fees on their websites and prominently in their offices.

The requirement would goes a step beyond the current Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) recommendations, including the ability to fine any agents who fail to comply.

The Government said it would plan to monitor the regime for a year and ‘put the industry on notice’ that it would be ready to consider further steps if it deemed necessary.

Young London, Young Group’s operational business, is fully prepared if these new proposals come into force as it already displays all fees on the its website and provides them to every applicant as part of their viewing pack.

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Spring/Summer 2014: Does Your Property Management & Accounting System Work For You?

Robert Horsford, Managing Director, CML Software

Robert Horsford,
Managing Director,
CML Software

Businesses within the Private Rented Sector (PRS) face the same fundamental challenge as those in every other sector;  the need to create, maintain and enhance shareholder value. It’s a tough challenge and the fundamentals of success lie in the management of business risk and increasing profits.

Part of the business toolkit is the Management Information System (MIS) and the role of the software provider to the PRS is to design, deploy and support a Property Management & Accounting System (PMAS) which supports management in the achievement of these critical business objectives.

The manager of a PRS portfolio requires an unusual blend of critical requirements for their businesses PMAS. Typically, there are several distinct professions operating within a PRS business, each with differing requirements for system functionality.

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