Nuneaton Landlords and Tenants : What does the Tenant Fee Banning order mean for you?

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• Tenant Fees set to banned within 12 to 18 months
• Rents due to rise as those fees passed to Landlords
• Landlords won’t be worse off – and neither will tenants or agents

With our new Chancellor of the Exchequer revealing a ban on tenant fees in his first Autumn Statement on 23rd November 2016, what does this actually mean for Nuneaton tenants and Nuneaton landlords?

The private rental sector in Nuneaton forms an important part of the Nuneaton housing market and the engagement from the chancellor in the Autumn Statement is a welcome sign that it is recognised as such. I have long supported the regulation of lettings agents which will ensconce and cement best practice across the rental industry and, I believe that measures to improve the situation of tenants should be introduced in a way that supports the growing professionalism of the sector.
Over the last few years, there has been an increasing number of regulations and legislation governing private renting and it is important that the role of qualified, well trained and regulated lettings agents is understood.

Great News for Nuneaton Tenants
So, let’s look at tenants .. this is great news for them, isn’t it? Well before you all crack open
the Prosecco, read this…
Although I can see prohibiting letting agent fees being welcomed by Nuneaton tenants, at least in the short term, they won’t realise that it will rebound back on them.

First up, it will take between 12 and 18 months to ban fees, as consultation needs to take place, then it will take an Act of Parliament to implement the change. A prohibition on agent fees may preclude tenants from receiving an invoice at the start of the tenancy, but the inescapable outcome will be an increase in the proportion of costs which will be met by landlords, which in turn will be passed on to tenants through higher rents.

The charity Shelter and Scotland

Scotland banned Letting Fees in 2012. The charity Shelter have been a big voice in persuading and lobbying the Government since it managed to persuade the Scottish Parliament to ban fees in 2012. On all the TV and radio shows at the moment, they keep talking about their Independent Research, which they said showed that,

“Many industry insiders had predicted that abolishing fees would impact on rents for tenants, but our research show that this hasn’t been the case. The evidence showed that landlords in Scotland were no more likely to have increased rents since 2012 than landlords elsewhere in the UK. It found that where rents had risen more in Scotland than in other comparable parts of the UK in 2013, it was explained by economic factors and not related to the clarification of the law on letting fees”

.. yet the devil is in the detail.

Only yesterday Shelter were quoting this Research from December 2013 to say rents never went up following the tenant fee ban in Q4 2012. I have read that research and I agree with that research, but it was published three years ago, only 12 months after the ban was put into place.
I find it strange they don’t seem to mention what has happened to rents in Scotland in 2014, 2015 and 2016 .. because that tells us a completely different story!

What really happened in Scotland to rents?
I have carried out my research up to the end of Q3 2016 and this is the evidence I have
found-

In Scotland, rents have risen, according the CityLets Index
by 15.3% between Q4 2012 and today

scotland-rent-increases

Are you really telling me the Scottish economy has outstripped London’s over the last 4 years? Is anyone suggesting Scottish wages and the Scottish Economy have boomed to such an extent in the last 4 years they are now the Powerhouse of the UK? .. because if they had, Nicola Sturgeon would have driven down the A1 within a blink of an eye, to demand immediate Independence.

So what will happen in the Nuneaton Rental Market in the Short term?

Well nothing will happen in the next 12 to 18 months .. it’s business as usual!

and the long term?

Rents will increase as the fees tenants have previously paid will be passed onto Landlords in the coming few years. Not immediately .. but they will.

As a responsible letting agent, I have a business to run. It takes, according to ARLA, (Association of Residential Letting Agents) on average 17 hours work by a letting agent to get a tenant into a property. We need to complete a whole host of checks prescribed by the Government; including a right to rent check, Anti Money Laundering checks, Legionella Risk Assessments, Gas Safety checks, Affordability Checks, Credit Checks, Smoke Alarm checks, Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007 checks, compliance with the Landlord and Tenant Act, registering the deposit so the tenants deposit is safe and carry out references to ensure the tenant has been a good tenant in previous rented properties. All of which the vast majority of lettings agents take very seriously and are expected to
know inside out making us the experts in our field. Yes, there are some awful agents who ruin the reputation for others, but isn’t that the case in most professions?

.. but business is business.

No landlord, no tenant and certainly no letting agent does work for free.

I, along with every other Nuneaton letting agent will have to consider passing some of that cost onto my landlords in the future. Now of course, landlords would also be able to offset higher letting charges against tax, but I (as I am sure they) wouldn’t want them out of pocket, even after the extra tax relief.

So what does this all mean for the future?….

The current application fee for a single person at my lettings agency is £125 and for a couple £250 .. meaning on average, the fee is around £200 per property.
I am part of a Group of 500+ Letting Agents, and recently we had to poll to find the average length of tenancy in our respective agencies. The Government says its 4 years, whilst the actual figure was nearer one year and eleven months, so let’s round that up to two years. That means £200 needs to be found in additional fees to the landlord, on average, every two years.

In Actual Pound Notes

In 2005, the average rent of a Nuneaton Property was £524 per month and today it is £600 per month, a rise of only 14.5% (against an inflation rate (RPI) of 38.5%).
Using the UK average management rates of 10%, this means the landlord will be paying £720 per annum in management fees.
If the landlord is expected to cover the cost of that additional £200 every two years, rents will only need to rise by an additional 2% a year after 2018, on top of what they have annually grown by in the last 5 years.
So, if that were to happen in Nuneaton, average rents would rise to £709 per month by 2022 (see the red line on the graph) and so the landlord would pay £850 per annum in management fees .. which would go towards covering the additional costs without having to raise the level of fees.

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.. but that is bad news for Nuneaton Tenants?

Quite the opposite. Look at the blue line on the graph). If the average rent Nuneaton tenants pay had risen in line with inflation since 2005, that £524 per month would have risen today to an average of £726 per month. (Remember, the average today is only £600 per month) .. and, even if inflation remains at 2% per year for the next six years, the average rent would be £789 per month by 2022 .. meaning even if landlords increase their rents to cover the costs tenants are still much better off, when we compare to the £709 per month figure to the £789 per month figure.

Conclusion
The banning of letting fees is good news for landlords, tenants and agents.
It removes the need for tenants to find lump sums of money when they move. That will mean tenants will have greater freedom to move home and still be better off in real terms compared to if rents had increased in line with inflation.

Landlords will be happy as their yield and return will increase with greater rents whilst not paying significantly more in fees to their lettings agency. Letting agents who used to charge fair application fees won’t be penalised as the rent rises will compensate them for any losses.
.. and the agents that charged the silly high application fees .. well that’s their problem.
At least I know I can offer the same, if not a better service to both my landlords and tenants in the future in light of this announcement from Phillip Hammond.

If you would like to speak to us more regarding this article please feel free to pop in for a chat (our office is on Bond street) or call 02477 674 545

A Nuneaton buy-to-let opportunity with a 7.09% yield!

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As I’m sure is the case with many of you at the minute, finding a suitable buy to let property in Nuneaton within a certain price bracket is proving somewhat of a struggle. Not because they aren’t becoming available, but because they get snapped up so quickly! A lot of estate agents now have a V.I.P list of property investors who have the funds available, and are given prior notice of a property coming onto the market so that when it does hit Zoopla and Rightmove, chances are they have already been snapped up!

Having said that, I did spot this property on Zoopla this morning, a 3 bedroom Terrace in Abbey Green, on the market with Pointons for ‘offers over £110,000’. The house itself looks like its ready to be rented out as it is. Obviously the option is there to spruce it up a little in the hope of achieving slightly higher rent, but as I have mentioned in previous posts, there is such high demand for rental property in Nuneaton it would take no time at all to tenant the property then give them the option to decorate once they’re in ( specifying what they can and cannot do- in terms of decoration). Being in Abbey Green, it is a 5 minute walk to the town centre and in a great location for commuting links both by car and public transport.

property particulars

If you were to offer £110,000 and it got accepted ( although id most definitely go in at less) and look at charging £650 PCM rent, your yield would be just over 7%, and in my humble opinion, if you can achieve a yield of 7% or more on a rental property you cant really complain at that.

If you are new to the property investment market, or just looking to increase your portfolio, we would be more than happy to give you our opinion on properties and what you could look at getting out of them. Feel free to give us a call on 02477 674545 or pop into our office on Bond Street and we’ll pop the kettle on.

Top Tips- Protecting your Nuneaton Property over Winter

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Well Winter is officially here. The log burner is on and the daily chore of de – icing your car has started. Winter can be a tough time for everyone – but more so for landlords.
The next few months present potential risks to your rental properties, which could lead to costly problems. BUT, if you take some time now to check your properties, it will most likely help with un-expected costs and help ease you through a disaster free winter.

Void Periods

Void periods are a major threat during the cold months. We’ve all been there and got the T-shirt. You jet set off to catch the last of the winter sun and on your return home, the boiler decides it doesn’t want to work!

If you know that your rental property is likely to be empty over the winter, you need to make extra plans to ensure the upkeep. Make sure that you visit the property regularly, crack open windows to get a bit of air circulating and fire up the boiler to make sure it’s still working ok. If you can’t do this yourself, make sure that you arrange for someone else to visit.

If your property is likely to be unoccupied over the Christmas period (maybe your tenants are lucky enough to be taking a long holiday) think about taking the following precautions as expensive items on display are an easy target for thieves.

Invest in theft deterrents such as alarms (visible from the exterior of the property) and motion sensors. Ensure that the locking mechanisms meet the insurance policy requirements (usually 5 lever mortise locks but this may vary from policy to policy).
It’s also worth checking if there are any neighbourhood watch groups operating in the area and advise them of any void periods over the festive season.

Prevention

If you are not covered by a guarantee or warranty it will probably cost more to get stuff fixed at Christmas time (and even if you do have a warranty it will take longer.) So, if the boiler is making a wheezing noise or the washing machine is clanking, have it checked out now.

Inform Tenants

Well-informed tenants are the best protection against winter property damage. Don’t assume that your tenants know how to deal with the cold weather; many won’t. Similarly, you should remember that it is your responsibility as a landlord to make sure they have the information they need.

With any full management package, we put together a ‘welcome pack’, which details the basics; location of stopcocks, boiler manual location etc. Consider putting something like this together for your tenants so that they are well informed (this will also help them settle in).

Remind tenants to periodically turn the heating on (using the timer system if one is available) if they go away over Christmas, in order to ensure that pipes don’t freeze.

Another great way to warm up your property is to bleed the radiators. This releases any trapped air, allowing hot water to fill every part of your radiator and warm the property more efficiently. It may be worth dropping off some radiator keys to your properties and showing your tenants how to use them.

Make sure they know where the fuse box is and that they know how to turn off the gas. Tell them to keep a note of the number 0800 111 999 – they should call this if they smell gas.
Ask friends for names and phone numbers of good plumbers, heating engineers and other trades people. Have some portable electric fan heaters you can use to give your tenants to keep them warm if the heating conks out and no one can come out and fix it promptly.

Getting the Work Done

Only use properly qualified tradesmen who are member of a national body of association. Check what membership of the body gives you and check they really are members by asking for ID. For example, all gas engineers should be listed on http://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/(the new name for Corgi)
If you are a landlord who may have a void property over winter, then feel free to get in touch and let us at QT Homes provide you with a fully reference checked and credit checked tenant in your property before the weather gets even colder, to ensure your asset is protected.
Email me on info@qthomes.co.uk or call on 02477 674545. If you are in the area, feel free to pop into our office by the train station – Unit 1, The Courtyard, 17 Bond Street CV11 4BX. There is free parking and the kettle is always on.

How to switch letting agents in Nuneaton with ease!

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Whether you are receiving my Nuneaton Property newsletter for the first time or are a seasoned reader, you’ll not be surprised to learn that we have started to attract many landlords seeking advice with their residential lettings. Ultimately, they are seeing a better and more professional service from an agent who is firmly established, than they receive from their current letting agent.

We are getting more and more landlords approaching us who are unhappy or dissatisfied with their current agent and have been asking us how to go about moving management of their property to us.

If you have a property in or around the Nuneaton area and are unhappy with your current agent, then why not switch?

There is a general feeling amongst landlords that it is better to wait until their current tenant has given notice to leave the property before they even contemplate changing agents, as it is far more problematic to change agents midway through a tenancy. While this can be true, it is not your hassle as we can do most of the work for you!

Have a look at our 5 step process if you are considering moving from your current letting agent if you are dissatisfied with their service:

Step One: Giving Notice

You will need to find out how much, if any, notice you are required to give your current agent as detailed within the Terms and Conditions you signed at the start of your contract.

When you have determined your notice period, give the required notice in writing to terminate your agreement. If you need any advice regarding this, please contact us. It may help if your notice coincides with your current rent due date as it will make the switching process much more straightforward.

Step Two: Collecting Tenant Details

If you are on a fully managed service then it would be wise to obtain the contact details for your current tenant. Your agent should give you these.

Step Three: The Paperwork

We will arrange to meet you, either at your home or at our offices, where we will go through our terms of business. We will also outline our lettings process and our commitment to providing an unrivalled lettings and management service.

We will provide you with all the necessary paperwork for you to read and complete.

Step Four: Informing Your Tenant

We will arrange to meet your current tenant at their property to explain everything to them. We provide them with a welcome pack which includes a new standing order to pay their rent. We can also advise on cancelling their existing standing order.

Part of this transfer may include a new tenancy agreement for the tenant to sign. This is to protect all parties as all of our tenancy agreements are updated regularly for changes in legislation. We will also deal with any necessary deposit transfer/registration.

Step Five: Your Personal Property Manager

Both you and your tenant will be assigned a dedicated property manager who will be your contact throughout the tenancy, should any matters arise that require our attention.

That’s it. It really is that easy!

If you are looking for an agent that is well established, professional and communicative, then contact us to find out how we can get the best out of your investment property.

Why Nuneaton Landlords need a proper inventory!

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I was having coffee last week with a Landlord from Maple Park who had some issues with a deposit for a property that he managed himself and he wasn’t awarded all the deductions from the deposit.

I explained that all residential tenancy deposits must by law be protected by being lodged in a government-recognised scheme such as the Deposit Protection Service (DPS), which is evidence based.

This means that the decision to either return or withhold a deposit at the end of a tenancy is made by considering any differences between the condition of the property at the beginning and the end of the tenancy.

I went on to tell him that this can only be achieved when a formal inventory has been created. This is as important in respect of unfurnished properties as it is for furnished ones, because a good inventory is not just a list of contents, but also a statement of condition of those contents and the actual fabric of the building.

For example, whilst the lease may have a clause stipulating that the property must be returned in the same condition in which it was initially taken, how can this be proven without a schedule of condition?

There are several other reasons to have an inventory prepared apart from the obvious one relating to identifying missing contents. Perhaps a tenant has broken something and has replaced it with an inferior substitute – possibly one that does not comply with a landlord’s legal obligations, such as a non-fire retardant sofa.

An inventory also prevents tenants from requesting repairs or improvements to things that were actually evident at the time of letting. Additionally, when a tenant knows that every item and its condition has been recorded, they are more likely to treat the property with the respect it deserves.
Of all the costs associated with letting and protecting your investment, the small cost of producing a watertight inventory is probably one of the most important for your own peace of mind. These can vary from a basic written inventory to a photographic or video inventory to accompany the written part. The tenants would sign at the beginning of the tenancy meaning there will be no comeback on you as the landlord once tenancy has ended, and in the event of a dispute you would be covered.

We do provide an inventory for our fully managed properties but the option is there with the ‘let only’ package to purchase a full photographic inventory.
I hope this is of some help. If you would like to call to discuss this or any other rental issue please call me on: 02477 674545