Why you might want to use a letting agent
Are you a part time landlord?
A number of landlords have traditionally got by without a letting agent deciding that they are well equipped to do the job of finding and vetting tenants and managing the property themselves and many will continue to do so.
Many would be landlords may have been put off employing the services of a letting agent by the recent bad publicity surrounding Foxton’s “exorbitant” charges for changing a lightbulb and maybe tempted to tar all letting agents with the same brush. Certainly Foxton’s behaviour has done no favours to those of us in the industry who are striving to provide an honest service that gives landlords and tenants with a real value added experience at a fair price. So why bother with a letting agent in the first place?
The Home Cloud
At Source Investments we believe that there are three primary reasons why using a letting agent such as The Home Cloud can genuinely benefits the landlord. They significantly reduce the amount of personal time that the landlord would otherwise need to devote to his investment. They minimise the ever increasing risk of his or her inadvertently breaking the law, save the landlord money by using their experience to find top quality tenants at the best rental return and by managing the property diligently, pro-actively and with the best interest of our client.
They do all this in a totally transparent way charging a fixed fee with no hidden extras.
Being a part time landlord sounds feasible but as anyone who has done it will tell you it quickly becomes a full time job if things go wrong in any major way. Difficult, dirty, unruly or downright dishonest tenants can quickly become a nightmare. Unreported damage to property can cost way beyond what the landlord can easily recoup from a withheld deposit. A poorly maintained property can likewise escalate in cost if problems are not identified and dealt with in a timely manner.
The Home Cloud – Services
A full level of service as follows covers basically everything that a landlord needs to do
• Access to The Home Cloud Portal – every client has their own account through which they can follow all transactions related to their property or properties.
• Marketing the property through our dedicated Property Marketing Team
• Professional Photography and Floorplan
• Exposure on Rightmove, Zoopla and Primelocation
• Interview prospective tenants and attend property viewings
• Negotiate rent on behalf of the landlord
• Obtain references from tenants employers and previous landlords
• Run credit and immigration checks on new potential tenant
• Organise Gas Certificate, Inventory Check In/Out and Electrical Installation Certificates as requested
• Prepare a Tenancy Agreement Contract and advise on amendments
• Negotiate contract on behalf of the landlord
• Collect all monthly payments in advance by standing order into our Client Account
• Electronically pay all landlords promptly on receipt of payment by the tenant
• Chase rent arrears
• Update the landlord with a monthly account statement
• Fee will be split over the length of the tenancy (no upfront fee)
• Automatically begin to find a new tenant on any notice served
• Register holding deposit with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme
• Check Out arranged and deposit released at the end of the tenancy
• Report on the condition of the property, raising any issues
• Visit the property every 12 weeks during the tenancy and prepare an inspection report on the condition of the property, raising any issues
• Organise and carry out any arising maintenance/repair to the property as requested by the landlord, with the option to use a contractor of their choice
• Obtain contractor quotes
• Settle contractor bills from received rent
• Comply with the Inland Revenue Overseas Landlord scheme
• Project manage any work to the property over £350 at the agreed rate of our project management fee
Even more of a risk is the failure to comply with the raft of legislation that now governs the landlord tenant relationship.
For example following the Royal Assent of the Immigration Bill in May checking of prospective tenants’ immigration status by landlords is set to become mandatory in October.
Its aim is to prevent people with no right to be in the UK from accessing private rented housing. (This requirement applies only to the private not the social rented sector).
Landlords – or their agents – will have to request to see at least one document from a specified list to confirm if prospective tenants have the right to live in the UK. The requirement will mean having to check all applicants – for example, birth certificates of those born in the UK, and passports, but checks might have to extend to much more complicated paperwork or its lack.
If the prospective tenant does not have permission to live in the UK and the property is subsequently let, the landlord could be fined up to £3,000. Furthermore if the tenant’s right to be in the UK has a time limit, checks must also be made either annually or before the expiry date if that is after 12 months. Failure to carry out these subsequent checks will also attract fines of up to £3,000.
There is also an obligation on landlords to report to the authorities any suspicions that tenants might be illegal immigrants.
Landlords should also be aware that they could become liable to accusations of discriminatory practice. There is also a knock on concern that the landlord might breach the immigration law if he or she were to ignore a credit check that reveals that a tenant works full-time even though they only have a right to live but not to work in the UK. At least one notable lawyer has suggested that it seems at least possible such a landlord could be prosecuted in respect of ‘facilitating a breach of immigration law’ in this situation – an offence with a penalty of imprisonment.
If the agent is taking on this responsibly on behalf of the landlord then this must be confirmed by the landlord and accepted by the agent in writing.
As an affiliated member of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) and with professionally qualified staff who are expert in all aspects of the legal and practical aspects of letting and managing properties we provide peace of mind to all our clients that they will not fall foul of this or any of the other myriad of complex legislation.