By Terry Rogers

It is time once again to stress the importance of Landlords Insurance in the rental market, as we approach another year of difficulties in the workplace. This at a time when record numbers of properties are coming to our market sector and in many cases the demand for rental property is outstripping the supply, the risks MUST be understood by Landlords and the added security of such Insurance Policies as far as I am concerned are the minimum requirement for Landlords, especially those who are renting property for the first time.

Nobody can be secure.

I am not alone in promoting the values of such Insurance and the common sense reasoning is there for all to see. With a policy that protects both the rent and covers the costs of evicting a Tenant, at a time when redundancies are growing (This BBC News link will confirm) Letting Agents should be suggesting that all Landlords take such a policy as a matter of course as no Letting Agent can confirm that the Tenant that they source for the property will not be one of those who may suffer this fate themselves.

Solutions do exist. 

Of course, any professional Agency will have their tried and tested systems to show how arrears are dealt with and dependent upon the situation surrounding the Tenant (who will always be professionally referenced) could negotiate the surrender of the property on the Landlords behalf and of course with the Landlords approval. But with the best will in the world, and with the best of intentions, no Agent can either stop problems occurring or be able to foresee the manner in which Tenants may react to bad news.

 

Cost is not prohibitive. 

With six month’s rent and legal expenses covered for as little as £100.00 in some cases, and as a Landlord myself, I can see no reason why this peace of mind policy should not be taken, but it is not just new Landlords that should take advantage of the policy, I believe all Landlords should consider doing so no matter how long they have rented their property. This cost when considered against the risk, whilst proving that the risk being covered is not a common problem (No insurance that covers a cost risk of several thousand pounds if claimed upon on a regular basis could still be available at such a low premium) is at such a low cost that it really should be taken against every property let, because when a Tenant neither pays or moves on it is not only the fact that it is such a costly process to the individual Landlord against the property concerned, I have also witnessed just how upsetting and time consuming it can be to the owner.   

Peace of mind. 

It is the comfort factor alone, that income and legal expenses are covered that gives Landlords this feeling that at least they do not need to worry as professionals deal with the situation on their behalf. Instead of having to find a solicitor who not only understands property law (Not as common as you would think in the High Street) but have to be involved at every stage of the process themselves in the decision making, the policy ensures that professionals take all of these decisions on your behalf, as they ensure the matter is dealt with as swiftly as possible, simply because they are the ones paying if the matter is not dealt with in this manner, so yes I advice taking out this peace of mind insurance, perhaps the question should not be why, but rather why not?

By Terry Rogers

Land Registry pays out £26m in compensation for fraud

Help to protect landlords 

It has recently been reported that Land Registry has paid out £26million in compensation for property fraud since 2006. Although this sum covers all types of fraud it is believed that the majority relates to the theft of property titles. Absent landlords are particularly vulnerable to this type of fraud. 

ARLA members are strongly encouraged to advise absent landlords to use the free Land Registry service which allows Land Registry correspondence to be sent to alternative addresses and not to rented properties. Taking this step will ensure that important correspondence is received by absent landlords, and it also prevents correspondence being intercepted and misused. 

To make sure of this service, landlords must complete the Land Registry form: “Updating registered owners contact address”. It is possible to register up to three alternative addresses, including an email address and an address abroad. Landlords need to provide a photograph and documentary evidence of their identity.  The relevant form and an accompanying leaflet are freely available from the Land Registry website. 

ARLA members and landlords may also wish to respond to a current Land Registry consultation on this topic.  Land Registry is researching customer appetite for a homeowner alert service for anyone who feels they may be at risk of property fraud,  or for anyone who would like the comfort of knowing they will be notified if any enquiries are made against their property.Responses to be sent to: commercial.services@landregistry.gsi.gov.uk

By Terry Rogers

One way of monitoring the condition of a let property is to visit on a regular basis for a property visit.  This can be an ideal time to discuss any issues that may have arisen or any future plans, but are the visits to keep the property in good condition or just to have a look at what the Tenant is doing?

Always Arrange an Appointment

Any visits by the Landlord or Landlord’s agent should be agreed with the Tenant. Best practice states that agreement should be in writing although in some circumstances, a telephone conversation may be more personal. Whether it is the Landlord or a contractor to carry out repairs, permission should always be sought from the Tenant in order to gain access to the property, even if it is exterior work!

Shouldn’t This Have a Battery?!

The visits should ONLY be to monitor the condition of the property and, if needed, give advice to the Tenant as to how to best look after the property to avoid any damage. For example, maybe mould is developing around a window, you may advise the Tenant to clean it off and keep the room ventilated.

Also, the Landlord should make reasonable steps to ensure that fixtures and appliances are still in working order, such as smoke alarms. The Tenant should always ensure that any battery is working and should test the alarm regularly but if the Landlord tests it themselves on a visit, best advice can be given to the Tenant.

How Often Should I Visit?

There is no real right or wrong answer as to how often a Landlord should visit their rental property, although trying to visit too often could make a Tenant feel harassed. Castle Estates visit fully managed properties on a Landlords behalf around every 3 months or so. This is to keep an eye on any parts of the property that may deteriorate such as bath & sink seals or window frames becoming rotten.  By reporting back to our Landlords, we can carry out preventative maintenance or advise the Tenants on how best to avoid any costs.

But the Dishes Haven’t Been Washed!

Remember, property visits are only to assess the condition of the property and not how a Tenant chooses to live. Everybody lives differently so some people may be tidier than others but whether belongings are left tidy or not is only a matter of opinion. The best way of looking at the difference is that there may be unwashed saucepans left on the kitchen worktop which is fine, but when a hot saucepan has burnt into the worktop, there should be correspondence between the Landlord/Agent and Tenant as this could help to avoid any disputes at the end of a tenancy.

 

 

By Terry Rogers

As an extension of the Blog that has been running on our main site for most of 2010, we are pleased to confirm that we are now operating regional Blog site’s which we hope will enable us to look at local as well as National issues through these pages. We will be looking to invite speakers from associated property businesses and those with a message that will be of interest to our Landlords and Tenants, as guest speakers and develop a forum for all matters relating to the rental industry both nationally and here in Sheffield and surrounding areas.

Headings            

We will be publishing our pages utilising several headings that will reflect the central theme of the Blog. The headings will be as follows:

Rental Issues

This is the section that covers all points of interest surrounding Letting property, including legislation, where it is being reported in its broadest sense, rather than the effect any legislation has on property or Landlords. It could also be described as the Tenants section, not purposefully, but when I look at Blogs under this heading on the main site information relating to Tenants does appear in this section more often than elsewhere!

Property Landlord advice

This can rightly be described as the main section. This is the main reason the blog was created. Customers for Letting Agents are, by law, our Landlords (Because we act under the law of agency on the Landlords behalf) It is under this section, that the intention was from the start to advice and inform the Landlords of the problems and trends affecting this industry of ours, to keep them well informed and in tune with market trends. Under this section we will write Blogs about legislation, housing opportunities, warnings about property scams, explaining about our Industry and how we operate and the advantages of the services provided through Professional agencies.

 Current Property news

Under this heading we shall be reporting on matters more related to our region and hopefully this will be the same heading that guest speakers will be invited to offer opinion and news. There will of course be National news as well, and National guest speakers, where the message is relevant to our region.

In summary

So welcome to our site! The best way I can summarise the information above, is that we trust what we say will ‘do exactly what it says on the tin’! I hope it will assist you in finding the posts that are more relevant to you and that you find the content interesting, if you do not, please tell us, if you do, please tell us still! If as a group we have an aim, it is to spread professionalism in our industry and hopefully in Castle Estates we will confirm this through these pages and through our activity as Letting Agents.

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