Posts with tag: letting agents

UK Lettings Market Slows Down for the Summer

Published On: August 16, 2018 at 9:23 am


Categories: Lettings News

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Following a buoyant June for market activity, the latest Property Activity Index from Agency Express reveals a slowdown across the UK lettings market in July.

This matches data from across the sales market for the same period, also from Agency Express.

Nationally, the number of properties to let dropped by 2.7% between June and July, while the amount of properties let was down by 1.4%.

However, the index’s historical data shows that the decline in properties to let was much lower than the figure recorded in 2017, when new listings were down by 9%.

Observing activity across the 12 regions included in the index, four recorded growth in new listings to let, while five saw increases in the number of properties let.

The North East sat at the top of July’s leaderboard. Following a slowdown in June, the region bounced back, with new listings up by 15.2% and the number of properties let up by a robust 34.2%. Agency Express’ historical data also shows that this increase is the largest for the month of July since 2015.

Other prominent performing regions included:

Properties to let

  • South East: +6%
  • East Anglia: +5.2%
  • North West: +4.1%

Properties let

  • North West: +16.3%
  • East Anglia: +10.2%
  • East Midlands: +3.1%
  • Scotland: +1.7%

The greatest declines in July’s Property Activity Index were seen in Yorkshire and the Humber. The number of properties to let was down by 11.8%, while the amount of properties let fell by 19.8%. This drop in activity marked the region’s largest monthly decrease for July since the index’s first records in 2012.

London followed suit, with fewer rental properties hitting the market than the previous month, down by 13.3%.

Stephen Watson, the Managing Director of Agency Express, comments: “This month, we have seen slower movement throughout the UK lettings market, but declines are expected during the summer holiday period.

“While we do expect to see some increases in August, we don’t envisage a real pick-up in activity until September.”

Does your Letting Agent Belong to a Valid Redress Scheme?

Published On: July 31, 2018 at 8:55 am


Categories: Lettings News

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Landlords, you may have recently heard about the imminent phasing out of ‘Ombudsman Services’. Here is the latest on the issue, from official dates to the importance of the schemes.

From August 6th 2018, Ombudsman Services will no longer be providing dispute resolution services to companies operating within the property industry. Subsequent to this date, it will be made compulsory for letting agents and sales agents belong to one of the two remaining redress schemes:

Why is belonging to one of the two remaining schemes important?

If letting agents fail to switch to one of the two remaining schemes, this will result in the prevention of access to free dispute resolution services, therefore meaning that the company will be illegally trading.

What does this news mean for landlords and tenants?

This news serves to emphasise the significance of having access to an effective redress scheme. It ensures full consumer protection for tenants and landlords in addition to property investors and sellers. This is integral with regards to increasing standards throughout the property industry.

If either a tenant or landlord feels they have been the recipient of unsatisfactory service, that their legal rights have been infringed, that the Code of Practice has not been adhered to, or that they have been unfairly treated by a member of The Property Ombudsman (TPO) in any way, they are able to receive free, impartial and independent dispute resolution support in order to resolve their dispute.

It is suggested by Benham and Reeves Residential Lettings, that landlords and tenants should inquire about which redress scheme the company belongs to and, to ensure that on the relevant website, the company is a member.

Benham and Reeves Residential Lettings is currently a member of TPO. They claim that due to this being a Government approved scheme, their clients are far less anxious about the impact of the move. Instead, this will instil confidence in them that they will be receiving full access to an independent adjudicator in the unlikely event that they are unhappy with their service.


AIIC still Hopeful that Mandatory Independent Inventories will Become Law

Published On: July 27, 2018 at 9:27 am


Categories: Law News

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The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC), which has been campaigning since 2016, is still hopeful that the Government will introduce some form of mandatory independent inventories legislation in the near future.

The rental trade body believes that mandatory independent inventories for all private rental properties would provide greater protection and higher professional standards in the sector.

An independent inventory, which is commonly compiled by an inventory clerk, details a property’s condition at the start and end of a tenancy, which protects tenants from unreasonable deposit deductions, as well as protecting landlords’ property investments. They also provide landlords/letting agents with the means to pursue deposit deductions for cases of genuine damage and poor property upkeep.

Independent reporting is crucial, the AIIC argues, as it ensures impartiality and the existence of a professionally compiled set of documents. If a deposit dispute does occur, an independent inventory could become crucial evidence for both parties.

If you do decide to create an inventory yourself, we have a fantastic guide to help you make it as thorough as possible:

As part of its ongoing campaign, the AIIC has petitioned and lobbied the Government, conducted educational talks in London, and held a series of meetings with deposit protection and property redress schemes.

The Chair of the AIIC, Danny Zane, says: “We’re knocking on all of the relevant doors to make compulsory inventory reporting a reality in the private rented sector (PRS).

“The importance of impartial check-ins and check-outs taking place at the start and end of each tenancy cannot be underestimated. As rents rise and subsequently push up the value of average security deposits, it’s vital that the tenant’s money and landlord’s investment are offered the required protection.”

He continues: “Of course, even tenancies using zero deposit schemes can end in dispute or with property damage when the tenancy ends.

“Wider adoption of independent inventories will contribute towards fewer deposit disputes, while these documents remain invaluable in the event that a disagreement between landlord and tenant is referred to a deposit protection scheme.”

The organisation believes that, as the Government increases regulation of the PRS, mandatory independent inventories must be one of the final pieces of the puzzle.

A ban on upfront letting agent fees charged to tenants, as well as a six-week cap on security deposits, are due to become law next spring at the earliest. The AIIC insists that legislation around mandatory independent inventories would complement these policies.

Zane argues: “In order for the deposit cap to be truly effective, landlords and tenants need to be sure that the money is protected, not only by a deposit protection scheme, but by an impartial inventory, which provides full details of the property’s condition.

“Moreover, if rents rise due to the ban on fees, as expected, then typical damage deposits will increase as a result. This means landlords will need to be able to call upon an inventory to prove deductions. At the same time, higher sums of tenants’ money will be at risk and so they will need the assurance that it’s protected by impartiality.”

Over the coming months, the AIIC says that it will continue to campaign for mandatory independent inventories by raising awareness and meeting with relevant stakeholders.

Which? to Tackle Tenancy Agreements to Improve the Private Rented Sector

Published On: July 25, 2018 at 8:07 am


Categories: Tenant News

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Tenancy agreements may be the next big change for the property market. Which?, the consumer watchdog, has been investigating the private rental sector (PRS), and has stated that a review is needed of tenancy agreements used by lettings agents.

The experiences of more than 2,500 tenants in England have been tracked by Which?. It looked into the processes of how they searched for rental accommodation, how they lived in it, and how they moved.

A housing lawyer was brought in to assess certain tenancy agreements, which they revealed to contain unclear language, as well as unfair clauses. For example, one stated that the tenant would be liable for costs that are actually a landlord’s responsibility, and another banned them from changing gas or electricity supplier.

The Government should provide an effective alternative dispute resolution scheme, the findings claim. The issue tenants have with being required to pay a deposit for a new tenancy, whilst also waiting for their previous one to be returned, is another matter that needs addressing.

Which? Chief Economist Rocio Concha has said: “Our comprehensive look at the experiences of tenants exposes the failings in a rental sector that has failed to keep pace with changes in society that have made renting a long term reality rather than just a stepping stone for millions of people.

“The Government must tackle the issues we have identified in our report head on, to ensure the rental market delivers for consumers.’

The watchdog also found evidence of issues ranging from poor property conditions to anxiety about reporting such problems. There is also a lack of awareness around landlord responsibilities and tenant rights, with some letting agents failing to provide necessary information.

Which? believes that all landlords should be registered with local authorities, and a database made publicly accessible, such as the rogue landlords and letting agents now in place within London.

Almost £1m in Six Months: Tenancy Deposit Theft Total

Published On: July 18, 2018 at 9:26 am


Categories: Lettings News

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According to recent analysis from deposit-free renting firm Dlighted, rogue landlords and letting agents have been reportedly convicted of theft, stealing almost £1m tenancy deposits in six months in 2018.

According to Ajay Jagota, Anti-deposit campaigner at Dlighted, dishonest landlords and criminal letting agents have been convicted of stealing £911,391, reports state. This amount was reported stolen during the first six months of the year.

This analysis has revealed that courts have discovered a number of letting agents to be guilty of illegally pocketing tenant’s deposits this year.

Rhian Falvey was jailed for two years following the payment of more than £30,000 of tenant money into her personal bank account, generating bogus invoices and credit notes on the firm’s electronic systems to avoid being caught.

Jagota said: “Cases of deposit theft are clearly and demonstrably becoming more and more common and my worry is that the coming Tenant Fee ban will make things even worse.

“The government’s own impact assessment suggests that letting agents are going to be hundreds of millions of pounds out of pocket, forcing many firms out of business. With billions of pounds of renter’s money just sitting there, the temptation to use that money to bail our struggling businesses could become too great for many agents.

“This is a significant amount of money we’re talking about – close to £4.5bn. Not only is that money missing from the UK economy, there is literally no way at all of knowing for certain how much of is just missing.

“It doesn’t have to be this way.”

Jagota advocates the use of his company’s deposit-free renting solution that helps tenants to rent for zero deposit by using deposit replacement insurance to give landlords and letting agents over £600,000 of cover against property damage, unpaid rent and legal fees.

He continued: “Deposit replacement insurance gives landlords and letting agents significantly superior protection against rent arrears, property damage and legal costs while allowing them to let properties longer and faster.

“Deposit free renting makes renting cheaper for tenants, easier and more profitable for property professionals and cuts crime. The case for it is compelling.”


Welsh Tenant Fees Ban will Lead to Increased Costs for Landlords, Says NLA

Published On: July 13, 2018 at 9:18 am


Categories: Landlord News,Tenant Fees Ban

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The proposal for a tenant fees ban, much like the one currently being discussed in England, is now being considered in Wales.

Members of the Welsh Assembly are being urged to reconsider this ban. Concerns that mirror those brought up in England have been voiced; mainly that such a ban will lead to an increase in costs for landlords.

Chris Norris, the Director of Policy Practice for the National Landlords Association (NLA), gave evidence to the Welsh Assembly committee on the possible impact that the Welsh Fees Bill could have. He highlighted: “The PRS [private rental sector] has a limited elasticity in the landlord’s or owner’s ability to absorb costs; supply in the PRS isn’t unlimited.”

The effectiveness of enforcement was also brought into discussion. Chris Norris questioned the extent to which the Bill would actually achieve its aims. This reflected the points made in his earlier statement about the Welsh Bill last month, when it was first introduced by Housing Minister Rebecca Evans AM: “Whilst tenants and applicants deserve to be treated fairly, and not unduly charged, it is disappointing that the Welsh Government seem to be adding to the enormous amount of change with which landlords in Wales are being expected to contend.

“With all of the uncertainty surrounding the introduction of the new Standard Contract from 2019, and ongoing debate about fitness for habitation in the private sector, the NLA would like to see the Welsh Government focus on getting the fundamentals right before moving onto new challenges.”

Chris Norris was asked by Assembly Member Jenny Rathbone AM about the possibility of increased difficulties for vulnerable renters due to landlords feeling the need to cherry pick their tenants. He responded: “From an admin perspective, you see a relatively straightforward process… or a more expensive, complicated process…

“It is reasonable to suggest that people will favour the simple case if you’re not allowed to recoup the cost of doing [a] longer, more burdensome process… guarantors would provide twice the work, therefore, if the cost is the same, would be easier to choose the prospective tenant without a guarantor”.

Rathbone also enquired as to why tenants should be paying fees to letting agencies, when landlords are the ones benefitting from the services, such as referencing. He responded: “There are some charges for which both the landlord and the tenant are beneficiaries” – avoiding pre-screening, referencing, and particularly checking-in – and where there’s a risk of harm for both parties if the process isn’t followed properly through poor service “there’s an argument for sharing that cost”.

In relation to security deposits, the NLA has stated that it does not believe that there should be a cap. Chris went on to say: “The security deposit never becomes the landlord’s money. The security deposit always remains the tenant’s money.

“The legislation already protects that… it’s not in the landlord’s interest, or the agent’s interest, to ramp up the security deposit that they can’t use as operating capital, because it becomes a barrier to getting people in the homes.”

A written response from the NLA to the Welsh Assembly on the Tenant Fees Bill can be viewed here.