News

Rightmove goes from strength to strength

Rightmove Logo

Here at Hayfield Robinson we continue to strive to expose our landlords property to the widest possible audience and in order to do this subscribe to the UK’s leading property portal, Rightmove.

Rightmove continue to receive nearly 60% of all website traffic from property websites, that’s more than double any other website. New features introduced by Rightmove in 2015 include school catchment area information, which many home movers state as being one of the most important factors in making the right choice of location and property.

While there are a number of competitors to this leading portal, here at Hayfield Robinson we feel to give our landlords the best chance of securing a tenant quickly they must appoint an agent who subscribes to Rightmove.

For more details on the benefits of Rightmove and indeed our services in general, please get in touch via the contact page.

Category : News

A Good Credit Score Doesn’t Necessarily Mean the Ability for the Tenants to Pay!

Securing a gotop tipsod tenant who pays the rent in full and on time is without doubt essential to the success of a residential investment.  Non-payment of rent and the subsequent recovery of possession of a property, and indeed any arrears, can prove extremely costly and time consuming for a landlord.  It is therefore essential that a holistic approach is taken when seeking a suitable occupier and reliant on credit ratings only can prove to be a huge mistake.

Here at Hayfield Robinson we take every care to try and ensure we select the most suitable tenants for our clients’ properties with the credit checks and financial referencing playing only a part in the tenant selection process.  While we are confident that our referencing process, including a credit check, previous landlord reference, bank validation check and employers history are important, we place just as much emphasis on meeting the tenants to gauge their suitability.  You would never hire an employee without an interview.  Prior to tenants taking a property through our agency we will have met the tenants on at least 2 occasions, allowing us to gauge if indeed they are suited to the property in which they are interested and also to its owner.  Getting things right from the outset is key in achieving a successful property management outcome and while it is of course important to secure tenants quickly operating on a “first come first serve” basis can often prove to be a mistake.

For full details on our referencing process, and indeed the services we can offer to residential landlords please contact us either at the office on 01535 600097 or via the contact page of our website.

 

Category : News

Fire Safety – What’s your responsibility as a residential Landlord?

Smoke Detectors PicWould you want your family living in a house with no smoke alarms?

Fire and rescue authorities say new laws making it mandatory for all private landlords to install smoke alarms should be established as soon as possible.  By law, private landlords must issue a gas safety certificate annually for private tenants.  However, it’s not compulsory for private landlords to fit smoke alarms in their properties unless they are rented out as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO).  Because of this, the call for additional fire laws comes as no surprise!  If new laws were enacted, private landlords would have to install smoke alarms in all of their properties.  Cllr Jeremy Hilton, Chair of the Local Government Association’s fire services management committee, said: “Many people will be shocked that most landlords are not obliged to install smoke alarms.  The current laws are outdated and inadequate – and without question lives are being put at risk.  While the majority of private landlords are reputable and voluntarily install alarms, there are a small minority who don’t, needlessly putting lives at risk.”

With the private rented sector seeing unprecedented growth and playing a more significant role in where people want to live, it will come under greater scrutiny.  In the middle of 2014, Labour MP Nick Raynsford called for it to be mandatory for all private rented properties to have working smoke alarms fitted. There has been overwhelming support for the motion with 245 MP’s behind it and just 8 opposed.  This has certainly moved the law a step forward.  He said: “Real progress has been made in the past decade to reduce the number of domestic fire deaths, but much more can be done.  Almost one in five privately rented homes still do not have a smoke detector, putting over 650,000 households at increased risk of death.

Here at Hayfield Robinson we echo the suggestions put forward by MP’s and the fire authorities.  A smoke alarm can be purchased for as little as £5 and with the battery lasting years, it can make all the difference between life and death.  We recommend at least one good quality detector be fitted per floor of a property and that is should be tested and in working order on commencement of the tenancy.  For further advice on practical issues for landlords please feel free to contact us.

Category : News

Will 2014 be the Year of the Landlord?

house newsThe year ahead could be one of the best times to be a landlord in the UK, with strong tenant demand for rental property predicted to continue and property values expected to rise healthily until at least 2016.

Last week Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney predicted that property prices are set to continue rising for the next two years due to high demand for record low mortgage deals and more money on offer from mortgage lenders.

 

Great news for property buyers, however, the market is currently stalling due to a distinct lack of properties for sale, increasing demand for rental properties in many UK regions.

Mr Carney also dismissed fears of another feared housing bubble, saying the UK housing market was only picking up from the low levels it sank to during the financial crisis. He told MPs on the Treasury Select Committee: “Our general expectation has been for a continuation of current momentum.”

Mr Carney’s comments were compounded by figures from the Office for National Statistics, who revealed that annual house price inflation was 5.4% in November last year.  A 10% increase in property prices over the next two years would add about £25,000 (GBP) to the price of an average residential property, which was valued at around £248,000 (GBP) in November 2013.

However, many property industry experts think that the ONS ­figures are too low and property prices are actually rising at a much faster rate.

According to many reports from Estate Agents across the country property prices went up by an average of 15% in 2013.  The continuing growth of the housing market looks set to carry on unabated in the coming months.  Most importantly 2014 will see more property transactions than 2013, with the increase in positive market sentiment inevitably leading to a rise in the supply of houses for sale. This is a healthy sign for the housing market in particular and the economy in general.”

Mr Carney told MPs on Wednesday that the rise in UK property prices showed that housing market activity was catching up after being depressed by the financial crisis.

Lenders are approving the highest number of mortgages since January 2008, but still 25% less than in the years running up to the UK property crash, while property prices remain below their 2007 peak in most UK regions.

Source – Legal 4 Landlords publication – Jan 2014

Category : News

Latest Market Analysis – June 2013

News Report Graph

The latest rental index produced by Homelet, one of the market leaders in tenant referencing, confirms the residential lettings market in the UK continues to go from strength to strength.  The key points reported in their latest report were:

 

  • The average cost of renting a home in the UK increased by 3% during June to £811 per month – the highest average UK rental amount on record.
  • Tenants in Greater London are paying 3% more than May and an additional 4.9% more than in June of 2012.  this puts renting a property in Greater London at 86.5% more expensive than in the rest of the UK.

The increase in average rental amounts appears to be consistent across the UK with 8 of the 12 regional areas seeing the cost of renting a home rise during June

Although the increase in rental amounts shows how the private rental sector is still in demand, it also needs to be remembered that tenant income isn’t increasing at the same rate.  June’s data shows the average amount a tenant in the UK earns increased by just 0.8% to £28,000 per annum.  Many reports confirm that the general property market appears to be recovering, with the Halifax recently seeing their strongest annual increase in more than 2 years in May 2013.  The ability however to become a home owner for many is still a long term plan and as such it is expected to see the private rental sector continue to grow.

Source

Homlet Rental Index – June 2013

Category : News

Most private sector landlords do not support the Government’s proposals to compel them to carry out immigration checks

 

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On the day that the Government publishes its consultation on the proposals a survey carried out by the Residential Landlords Association has found that 82 per cent of landlords oppose the plan for the onus to be placed on them to check that all their tenants are legally allowed in the country. Fines are likely for those found to be renting to illegal immigrants.

The RLA believes that the proposal will penalise those legally allowed to stay in the country as rents will rise due to letting agents ramping up fees to cover the costs of further checks on tenants and the greater risks new laws will bring.

The results come amidst reports that the Department for Communities and Local Government is seeking to dampen down the Home Office proposals out of fear that the measures could become far too burdensome for the sector.

Commenting on the survey results Alan Ward, the RLA’s Chairman said:

“The private rented sector is already creaking under the weight of red tape so it is little wonder that landlords are so clearly opposed to this flagship Government measure.

“Whilst the RLA fully supports measures to ensure everyone in the UK is legally allowed to be here, this proposal smacks of political posturing rather than a seriously thought through policy.

“For a Government committed to reducing the burden of regulation it is ironic that they are now seeking to impose a significant extra burden on landlords making them scapegoats for the UK Border Agency’s failings.”

Category : News

Landlord’s Liability or Tenant’s Task?

Tenancy Agreement Pic

In the face of a challenging property market, more and more of us are becoming either landlords or tenants and choosing to rent our homes, but both parties need to be clear on their responsibilities according to the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).  New ARLA President gives guidance on responsible renting.

Interior upkeep, garden maintenance and insurance are just a few areas where tenants and landlords alike are often unclear where liability rests. Without a good understanding of the responsibilities associated with a tenancy ARLA warns there is the potential for costly disputes further down the line.

Tenants will often be happy to push through with a rental contract so they can move into their new property as soon as possible. But ensuring you understand what is expected of you during the rental period is essential as this may have a bearing on the return of your deposit at the end of the tenancy.

From the landlord’s point of view any clauses and agreements covering non-essential property maintenance and improvements should be agreed in writing beforehand to avoid any disagreements once signed.

With this in mind, the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) is reminding tenants to carefully check their contract before moving in to ensure their stay in a property goes smoothly.

Susan Fitz-Gibbon, President of ARLA, said: “People sometimes forget that renting comes with associated responsibilities and liabilities.  As well as looking after your rental property, always check with the landlord before making any changes or alterations beyond those expressly permitted in the contract.

“Understanding the terms of contract is also important, going through it with a legal expert will ensure obligations by both parties are understood and fulfilled; this process can allow a tenant to enjoy their home without worrying about any disputes when they move in, or about the procedures around, for instance, being away from the property over a certain period of time.”

If you have any questions or queries over the responsibilities placed upon landlords or indeed the expectations of tenants then please feel free to contact either Lee Bilbrough or Donna Lewis who will be more than happy to help.

Category : News

Longer Term Tenancy Proposals to Hit Landlords

Moving House Medium[1]The charity Shelter have put forward proposals for a new fixed-term, five-year tenancy agreements to be introduced for all tenancies in the private rented sector, with rent increases linked to inflation and tenants able to leave the contract at any point with two months’ notice for no apparent reason. This is a privilege that would not be extended to the landlord which would adversely affect the tenant/landlord relationship.

Whilst the Residential Landlords’ Association (RLA) believes that longer tenancies should be used where needed, it does not believe that such a model should be the default position.

Richard Jones, the RLA’s policy director, said, “Whilst Shelter continues to suggest that landlords are actively looking for opportunities to throw their tenants out altogether, the reality is that just nine per cent of tenancies are ended by a landlord, showing that the majority much prefer to keep tenants on than face an empty property”.  “Moreover, with the average length of private tenancies now reaching 20 months, it is clear that the current tenancy model already provides for longer term tenancies when they are needed for families”.

The RLA is now consulting on proposals that would achieve the right balance of rights between the landlord and tenant while maintaining the confidence of mortgage lenders.  Shelter’s proposals would not work, not least given that many tenants, especially younger people, such as students or those who are eventually looking to buy a home of their own, seek a short term tenancy.

Shelter’s calls for contracts with index linked rent rises would be bad news for families who are presently seeing average market rents (outside of London) increase by less than inflation.
It maybe that the best way to prevent rents becoming unaffordable is to support the smaller scale landlords to invest and bring much-needed new property to the private rented sector.  The plan for longer term tenancies could result in landlords being no longer willing to invest.

ARE YOU USING THE CORRECT TYPE OF TENANCY AGREEMENT?  If the worst happens and you end up in court with your tenant it is essential that your documentation is in order.  Please contact us for a free, no obligation review of your tenancy.

Category : News

Do you need an Inventory on an Unfurnished Let?

Throughout the private rental sector, there remains confusion as to whether unfurnished properties require an Inventory or whether it is just an unnecessary expense.

After looking at a number of forums with posts from landlords and tenants, regarding unfurnished property inventories and it was clear to see that there is quite a lot of confusion about what an Inventory actually is – with some believing that it is simply a list of items and that the actual ‘fabric’ of the property is not included, such as:

  •  Walls
  • Floor coverings
  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Locks
  • Kitchen units and worktops
  • Bathroom fittings
  • Electrical sockets
  • Smoke detectors
  • Garden and parking areas

Here at Hayfield Robinson we believe a detailed inventory is essential on all types of letting and should include both the content and ‘fabric’ of the property and also provide a schedule of condition.  This means that even if a property does not contain white goods and is literally as unfurnished as it could possibly be, providing an Inventory has been agreed by the tenants at the outset, a landlord will be able to make fair deductions from a deposit if there is cause to repair, replace, redecorate or clean any items.

Failing to produce an Inventory could severely leave a landlord out of pocket – take for instance this scenario…..

A property which was completely redecorated with all of the walls painted a neutral magnolia colour is rented to tenants without an Inventory being prepared.  During the course of their tenancy, the tenants decide that they are fed up with the neutral pallet of the property and paint every single wall a luminous pink!  On the day that the tenants vacate, the landlord visits the property and is outraged that the tenants have re-painted the property in shocking pink and immediately seeks to deduct monies from their deposit to repaint the walls back to the neutral tone.  Knowing that there was no Inventory to evidence the colour of the walls in the first instance, the tenants dispute the deductions and the case is sent to arbitration.  Of course, the arbitrator’s award in the favour of the tenants as there is nothing to prove the landlords claims.  The cost of redecorating the property therefore has to be funded by the landlord so the lack of Inventory proves to be an expensive mistake!

Of course having an Inventory in place doesn’t prevent a tenant from deciding to re-decorate the whole property in the brightest shade of pink imaginable (or any other colour), but what it can do, is reaffirm to them the clauses in their Tenancy Agreement to seek permission before redecorating and more importantly it provides clear, undisputable evidence as to the colour of the walls at the time that the tenant moved into the property.  Quite simply it is crucial to have a detailed Inventory regardless as to whether a property is furnished or not.

HR L&M Ltd include an inventory and photographic schedule of condition in both our Let Only and Management Services and unlike the majority of other agents this does not attract an additional charge to either the landlord or tenant.  For more details on this or any other of our services please feel free to contact us.

 

Category : News

Rent in Advance or Deposit???

There are a number of common pitfalls encountered by landlords however an unusual complication has recently been removed by the court of appeal who have recently ruled that Rent paid in advance does NOT count as a deposit.
The landmark ruling means that landlords and agents are not obliged to treat rent paid in advance as a deposit which requires protection under the Housing Act 2004.

The Court of Appeal’s decision was in the long-running case of Johnson v Old, where the tenant was offered a six-month tenancy and because she did not have a set income was asked for six months’ rent in advance.

The agreement in the case provided a muddling factor, because it said the rent should be paid monthly in advance, but also said that the rent should be paid six months in advance.
The tenancy was renewed on the same terms before becoming a periodic tenancy where the rent was paid monthly in advance.  When the landlord tried to serve a Section 21 notice to gain possession of the property, the tenant, Anne Old, countered by saying that a Section 21 could not be served because she had paid rent in advance which should have been treated as a deposit and protected.

The tenant’s argument was successful at the first hearing, but was then challenged successfully by the landlord at a second.  The tenant appealed, and with the help of legal aid, the case then went to the Court of Appeal, which gave its decision in favour of the landlord.

The Court of Appeal had applied the test of asking how the tenant would have responded had she been asked to make a further payment of rent for one of the months covered by the six months. It decided that the tenant would have said she had already paid it.

Had the landlord lost the case, with the Court of Appeal deciding that the rent in advance was a deposit, the penalty would have been the return of the six months’ rent in advance plus a penalty of up to three times the amount.

The case was complicated by the drafting of the tenancy agreement, underlining the need for care and clarity.

However, news of the decision will be greeted with relief by landlords and agents concerned about whether they should accept rent in advance.

Steve Harriott, chief executive of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, said: “This is a very helpful clarification of an issue which has been concerning landlords and agents.  The judgement in this Court of Appeal case should assist those landlords and agents who want to ask for rent in advance and who can be reassured that this is not a tenancy deposit that needs protecting under the Housing Act 2004”.

Category : News