Posts with tag: letting agents

Free online landlord course for new tenancies as Government eases restrictions

Published On: June 4, 2020 at 8:07 am


Categories: Landlord News

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The Deposit Protection Service (The DPS) and safeagent have created a free, online course to enable landlords to start tenancies off on the right footing, as the Government has eased restrictions on moving house during lockdown.

The DPS’ aim is to increase its focus on offering online resources in order to be able to continue to share information and guidance. The new, interactive e-module, Starting a residential tenancy, was produced in partnership with safeagent, the country’s leading, not-for-profit letting agent accreditation scheme, and covers tenancies in normal circumstances.

Designed to highlight best practice for landlords, the module covers:

  • Tenancy agreements
  • Receiving and protecting deposits
  • Check-in and check-out inventories
  • What makes a good tenancy agreement
  • Types of deposits
  • Information landlords must by law supply to tenants

The module is the second in a suite of four created with safeagent, which together form part of an accredited award.

The DPS highlights: “On 13th May the Government lifted restrictions on house moves, so long as people observed safety and social distancing measures including maintaining a two meter distance from others not in the same household and frequent hand washing.”

Matt Trevett, Managing Director at The DPS, said: “Our latest online module with safeagent provides detailed information on the best way to initiate a successful tenancy.

”It’s vital that the industry keeps working together to share knowledge and support each other during these difficult times, so we’re pleased to be able to continue to engage with landlords and letting agents on tenancy best practice now that the Government has eased restrictions on moving house for renters.”

Isobel Thomson, Chief Executive Officer at safeagent, said: ”Our eLearning modules in collaboration with The DPS enable lettings agents to ensure that they are meeting their responsibilities to tenants and creating the optimal start to a tenancy.”

Learners can also complete a test to check their understanding and will receive an eCertificate upon completion of the module, said The DPS. 

Landlords can access the module, Starting a residential tenancyon the safeagent website. New learners will need to create a login and access the course via The DPS Training Hub.

Communication and record keeping key for resolving agency complaints

Published On: May 11, 2020 at 8:12 am


Categories: Lettings News

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With the potential for a rise in compliance-related complaints due to the impact of coronavirus, communication and record keeping are key, says PayProp.

The lettings automated payment platform highlights that, with new rules protecting tenants from unfair treatment while safeguarding themselves and landlords, agencies will need to prioritise good communication and record keeping.

New rules, new compliance risks

With some tenants having difficulty paying rents and landlords finding it harder to make their monthly buy-to-let mortgage repayments, the government is doing what it can to help. The notice period for evictions has been extended from two months to free and many landlords and tenants have made informal agreements to reduce or defer rent payments temporarily.

Changes to law and rent payment schedules can create space for miscommunication and misunderstanding. This could then lead to a rise in disputes between landlords and tenants as well as complaints against agencies, PayProp says.

Neil Cobbold, Chief Sales Officer at PayProp, comments: “With emergency measures in place and many people’s personal finances affected, there could be more disputes between tenants, landlords and letting agents in the coming months.

“Agencies, therefore, need to keep up to date with the latest government guidance, while communicating clearly and recording all information factually. By resolving disputes calmly and effectively, letting agents can provide a very valuable service to both landlords and tenants.”

Legislative changes to look out for

Cobbold adds that agents will need to be mindful of ongoing legislation changes to reduce the chances of complaints being made against them or their clients.

Last month, the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act was extended to cover existing as well as new tenancies. This means that more renters can now take direct legal action if their properties are not up to scratch.

If a landlords’ property fails to meet appropriate standards, they could be ordered by the courts to pay potentially unlimited compensation, carry out compulsory improvements, or both.

On top of this, the Tenant Fees Act is being extended in June to cover tenancies that started before 1st June 2019.

Cobbold explains: “Alongside managing the challenges posed by coronavirus, there remains a significant responsibility on agents to be compliant and help their landlords to meet their legal obligations.

“Receiving complaints not only causes reputational damage – many of the latest pieces of lettings legislation carry significant financial penalties for non-compliance.”

How can agencies minimise the risk of complaints?

Good communication and record keeping will be crucial in the coming months to keep clients happy and reduce the likelihood of complaints.

In practice, this will involve recording changes to payment schedules, maintaining a full and transparent paper trail and keeping all parties up to date with the latest information, Pay. Technological solutions that automate these processes will be particularly valuable at this time, PayProp suggests.

Cobbold concludes: “Poor communication and record keeping are regularly cited as the most common reasons for complaints made against letting agents in The Property Ombudsman’s annual report.

“With the administrative complications caused by coronavirus, this is highly likely to be the same in 2020. That’s why it’s so important for agencies to make sure they do well in these areas in order to protect their businesses and enhance their reputations.”

£730m Lost Through Avoidable Void Periods in 2019

Published On: February 21, 2020 at 10:49 am


Categories: Landlord News

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In London alone, £730m was lost due to avoidable void periods, lasting 24 days on average last year. 

Void periods are one of the worst challenges faced by landlords as they can have serious financial consequences, but many landlords feel totally unable to avoid them. The onus falls on letting agents to do more to minimise the risk of their clients getting stuck in extended periods without tenants.

Prop-tech letting firm, Home Made says that many of these void periods in London were very much avoidable, and places the blame squarely at the feet of inefficient letting agencies. They point out that there is a serious lag time between tenants handing in their notice and traditional letting agents finding new tenants.

In a study recently conducted by the firm, they found that there is a three week gap on average between letting agents first beginning their efforts and actually finding a new tenant. On top of this, they have also found that it takes an average of SIX DAYS before a letting agent even advertises a property after the previous tenant served notice. 

Asaf Navot, founder and chief executive at Home Made, commented: “Empty rental properties are hurting everyone. Landlords are needlessly losing value on their investments and tenants are missing out on the home of their dreams.

“Our research shows that inefficient agency models are one of the driving factors keeping London homes unoccupied.

“Landlords are paying agencies for a service and if they are not delivering, they need to hold them to account.

“We’d urge landlords to ask their letting agent for transparency at every stage, from the date their property will be available online, through viewing volumes and feedback, all the way to move-in date.

“At Home Made we make this information readily available for landlords to track so they can ensure that every detail from appealing imagery to negotiating contracts is handled efficiently and as if the property were our own.”

Home Made also released the following figures from their study:

London boroughs with the shortest void periods in 2019

Hounslow15 days
Camden17 days
Islington18 days
Lambeth19 days
Richmond Upon Thames19 days

London boroughs with the longest void periods in 2019

Havering37 days
Bexley33 days
Barnet32 days
Brent32 days
Barking & Dagenham31 days

More landlords are needed in Cornwall

Published On: February 7, 2020 at 10:05 am


Categories: Lettings News

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Cornwall Housing Private Lets is searching for landlords as part of an initiative to reduce the number of rough sleepers in the county. 

Working in partnership with Cornwall Council, Cornwall Housing has been awarded funding to set up as a letting agency with enhanced social values. Targeting vulnerable people, who need additional support to access, and stay in the private rental sector (PRS), the initiative aims to increase the number of safe and secure homes in the county.

Their next step is to build partnerships with landlords in the area. The aim is to create transparent relationships in which all parties; landlords, tenants and Cornwall Housing all benefit and are treated fairly.

They hope that the initiative will be able to provide housing for rough sleepers, former rough sleepers and those at risk of rough sleeping. 

Nick Cross, Managing Director of Cornwall Housing said: “This is a unique offer to any private landlord and will help to fulfil our duty to help homeless people and to prevent homelessness in Cornwall. Both tenants and landlords will benefit from having access to our tenancy sustainment support. Whether you are a seasoned landlord or new to the sector our Private Lets team will tailor the tenancy to suit each opportunity.”

With pre-assessed tenants ready to start an agreement, homeowners can have the confidence that the Cornwall Housing team has the knowledge and expertise for a seamless and well-supported experience with minimal risk. This service will have no upfront costs and the option for a free tenant finder service for self-managing landlords.

Homes of all sizes are needed in Falmouth/Penryn, Penzance, Truro, Newquay, Camborne, Redruth, St Austell, Bodmin, Liskeard and surrounding areas.

Interested landlords should speak to the Cornwall Housing Private Lets team on 01872 224556 for properties in the west of the county or 01208 265616 in the east, or by email at

For any tenant’s looking to rent a property contact the team at Further information can be found at

Rightmove has ‘failed miserably’ to see estate agents’ point of view

Published On: November 18, 2019 at 10:18 am


Categories: Lettings News

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A new video interview with estate agent Simon Shinerock has been released, in which he claims Rightmove has ‘failed miserably’ to show empathy for estate agents and see things from their point of view.

This statement comes on the back of reports that multiple members of the Federation of Independent Agents are considering cancelling their Rightmove subscriptions due to fee increases.

Simon Shinerock is the Chairman of Choices Estate Agents. The interview was conducted by industry commentator Christopher Watkin and focuses on Rightmove’s relationship with the estate agency industry.

A lack of empathy for the industry’

Shinerock states that Rightmove has failed to see estate agents’ point of view in a number of ways. The example of his own website is used in his interview with Watkin.

“I have a website, I want to promote my website, they do everything possible to stop the traffic going from Rightmove to my website,” he says.

“Why can’t they offer me an open market search on my website? Why can’t they develop my business?”

Market leader that has brought little creativity to property’

Shinerock also criticises the property portal for its lack of creativity. He highlights that Rightmove’s offering has not changed much at all since it launched, but now agents are charged a huge amount more for the same product.

He describes Rightmove’s proposition as ‘purely passive’.

“How come Rightmove – the so-called leader in the portal business – has done nothing on social media? You could almost say they are anti-social media,” Shinerock argues.

“As a company, they are holding the industry back to some degree because of their dominant position.”

Agents should be suspicious of Rightmove

When discussing the portal’s relationship with the estate agency industry, Shinerock tells Watkin that agents are right to be suspicious.

“Right from the beginning when Rightmove was free, I was super suspicious of them. That suspicion has carried on entirely through our relationship with Rightmove,” he says.

He also voices his worries about the portal’s plan for an instant transaction function on its commercial platform. He believes that if Rightmove puts an instant transaction function on its residential platform, it could decide to disintermediate agents.

Watkin suggests this could see Rightmove becoming the estate agents themselves, even though they have promised they’d never do that.

The full video can be viewed here.

How letting agents are using technology to manage compliance

Published On: November 7, 2019 at 9:32 am


Categories: Lettings News

Tags: ,,,

There are ways in which letting agents are using technology when it comes to compliance, and Gas Tag believes this relationship has never been more important.

Gas Tag conducted research into how letting agents are using technology, uncovering that the most letting agents are saving time, improving accuracy and proactively identifying challenges when it comes to compliance.

The results highlight three key areas in which several leading law firms involved with the research are excelling:

Automated milestones and notifications will save time

Automating notifications and milestones is increasingly becoming a way for agents to ensure landlords are aware of the compliance status of their properties.

Mike Hookway, property management director at London agency Portico, says that setting up reminders allows ‘plenty of time to open discussions with our clients and arrange the necessary visits to satisfy any legislative requirements’.

“The ability to rely on system generated alerts is intrinsically linked to the time-saving aspect of our service proposition for clients,” he says.

Emily McNally, associate safety compliance consultant at Chestertons, adds: “We can run reports as necessary to ensure we are meeting deadlines, meaning that properties remain compliant.”

John Roche, COO of Gas Tag, points out that automating the reminder and notification process can reduce administration work for agents, making their compliance processes more streamlined.

“Notification and milestone systems like this have become essential – agents have the peace of mind that everything is in hand and can focus their attention on other parts of the business,” he says.

Combination of inhouse systems and specialist apps is effective

Letting agents are also looking to integrate specialist compliance technology with their existing management software, according to the research. Bespoke systems can allow agents to manage properties their own way, while also benefiting from specialist products used across the industry.

Emily McNally of Chestertons says that they have their own IT operations system to log information so that it can be seen company-wide. Mike Hookway says that Portico’s bespoke IT system has reduced the need for manual work, allowing the agency to reduce the time required to stay compliant.

Roche adds: “There is also huge value in identifying industry specialist apps and solutions which can be plugged into an agency’s existing system to provide additional support.”

“Collaboration and integration between agencies and technology products is absolutely crucial in keeping costs down and becoming more efficient.”

Central documentation and online record keeping are crucial

One of the biggest challenges, according to agents, is the pressure to serve the correct legal documentation before, during and after a tenancy.

Emily McNally states: “Quick turnaround times and the ever-growing requirement for safety certificates to be in place prior to a tenancy starting or serving notice can put time pressure on matters.”

Lisa Simon, head of residential at Carter Jonas, says: “We now issue certificates digitally. This means that we can prove service and also maintain a centralised digital system to store all documentation for both parties.”

Mike Hookway also adds that cutting corners is simply not an option when it comes to the safety of landlords and tenants. Technology is helping the agency follow the right steps.

Roche concludes: “Digital evidence and audit trails can help agents to protect consumers while ensuring they’re operating on the right side of the law.

“Looking towards 2020, agents’ relationship with technology will be key to streamline processes, make efficiency gains and most importantly, maintain a true reflection of their compliance.”