The Tenants Fees Bill is due to come into force in April this year. Its aim is to reduce the costs of renting property for tenants by making major changes to the fees that a landlord or letting agent can charge.
Under the new legislation, a tenant will no longer have to pay fees as a condition of the grant, continuation, assignment, termination or renewal of a tenancy.
If you are a private landlord dealing direct with your tenants you need to establish good ones from bad, the ones that will look after your property and pay the rent on time from those who will cause you stress and leave you with unpaid rent or other debts.
That’s easy to say, of course, but how do you actually go about sorting the good from the bad.
I recently learnt of a private landlord who had a tenant who suddenly stopped paying the rent.
After four months the landlord consulted a solicitor who informed him that a successful eviction process could take a further nine months. Obviously not receiving income for such a long period of time would be detrimental to the landlord, especially as, in this case, he had a mortgage to pay on the property.
New government funding was announced this month allowing councils to bid for a share of a £2 million fund to enable local authorities to increase enforcement action against rogue landlords.
Government figures estimate that there are more than 4.5 million residential properties in the private rental sector in England. 82% of renters say they are happy with their accommodation.
Rents may be about to rise in the UK as demand continues to increase but fewer properties are coming onto the letting market.
So says a new joint report, the ‘Residential Real Estate Demand Monitor – Rental’, prepared by Reapit and Dataloft which suggests rents may rise as there simply isn’t enough supply to meet demand.
The facts are that viewings are up 13.3% year on year and lease sign-ups are up 3.5% but supply has dropped by 6.9%.
The BBC recently carried out a survey via their Affordable Living UK Facebook group to find out whether tenants of private landlords felt they were receiving a positive or negative experience.
Here is a summary of the major conclusions.
• Flexibility. We live in a gig economy and many people rely on short term employment or freelance work. The flexibility of being able to move to a new home in a new area at relatively short notice is a positive boon to many young people.
It was reported in July that the government is planning to introduce new compulsory three year contracts whilst allowing tenants to walk away from the tenancy before the end of the term if they wish.
Unsurprisingly most landlords have expressed anger at the proposals.
At present, some 80% of tenancies in England and Wales are assured shorthold tenancies of six and twelve months. Within that timescale, a landlord can currently ask a tenant to vacate the premises, sometimes at short notice.
Let’s start with a couple of definitions:
MEES – Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard.
EPC – Energy Performance Certificate.
Since October 2008, landlords in England and Wales offering property for rent have been required by law to provide prospective tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate for their property. The certificate must be provided free either when or before any written information about the property is provided to prospective tenants or a viewing is conducted.
I expect you have heard of property developer, entrepreneur and TV presenter Sarah Beeny. As she explained in a recent interview in The Daily Telegraph, she knew that she wanted to go into property development from a young age.
While friends and contemporaries were studying hard at university, Sarah was checking out the property market and by her mid-20s had an established property development business. A chance meeting and conversation at a hen party resulted in a successful screen test and when her first TV show Property Ladder appeared her career really took off.
I am often asked why a landlord should employ an agent when letting property. To my mind the answer is a combination of saving you time, aggravation and quite possibly substantial amounts of money.
It all begins with finding the right tenant. You may well be quite happy to advertise your property, arrange and conduct viewings and make follow up calls to ascertain whether the person liked the property and if not why not. Once you find someone who is interested there are the referencing and tenant checks to carry out.
I read some research recently that showed the number of landlords in the UK had grown by 27% in the last five years.
It was London based estate agent Ludlow Thompson who produced the figures showing the number of landlords had risen for the fifth consecutive year and that on average they own 1.8 investments each.
My goodness but it has been chilly recently!
Apparently last year’s insurance claims for boiler faults from landlords showed an increase of over 5%. The sub-zero temperatures brought on by the Beast from the East are sure to see this rise again.
So you have bought a property and need to get it ready to let. How far should you go with a refurbishment? There will be several factors to be considered.
Who is going to do the work? If you can do it yourself, so much the better as this will keep costs down. Otherwise you will need to get some quotes from professionals.
It is the start of a New Year and the time for considering how you can improve things in your life. If you are a landlord, you might consider these questions:
Are you happy with the service you get from your current letting agent?
I know that this is a contentious issue for both tenants and landlords. It is estimated that 90% of independently adjudicated cases are awarded to the tenants and it is often the case that a landlord has unrealistic expectations of what constitutes fair wear and tear.
At the end of October the government launched a consultation looking into ways of making the house buying and selling process faster, cheaper and less stressful.