Monthly Archives: February 2013

You are browsing the site archives by month.

By Craig Smith

It only feels like 5 minutes ago since we were marking our first anniversary of blogging and only 10 minutes since we actually started! The fact is we have now been blogging for 2 years and have no plan of stopping any time soon!

Looking Back

As another year goes by we have seen yet more changes in the industry as a whole and as the saying goes; ‘you learn something new every day’. Well we certainly hope that some of our posts have helped to fill the quota! This year we have covered everything from the Localism Act toCoronation Street. OK, so we weren’t exactly gossiping about the characters but more about the gas safety awareness issue raised in one of the storylines.

Over the past 12 months we have seen changes in the gas safety legislation which has caused some of our Landlords to spend some considerable money/effort in having their properties rectified. The gas business is yet another industry where regulations are constantly changing and where something might be perfectly acceptable one year and not the next.

Recently, we have even published some of our blog posts in our local newspaper to help to spread the word more locally about some of the issues we come across. We’ve had a good response to this as we do so of the comments we receive online and it is always nice to know that people not just read but also understand the messages we are trying to distribute.

Moving Forward

As another blogging year comes into view, so do further changes to the way the lettings industry works. Rules and regulations are changing on what feels like a weekly basis which certainly keeps us on our toes!

One such thing is a question due to be asked in Parliament later this month as to whether there should be a mandatory register of residential letting agents. Whilst you might be thinking how good an idea this is or isn’t there are still a lot more details to be confirmed if this were to go ahead. Would the register be kept by the local councils or would it operate on a national scale? Would there be a fee to pay for Landlords to join? How would the register of Landlords be managed to wean out the rogues?

There are some schemes like this already in place in localised areas so we can only presume that any future plans would be very similar to this.

Likewise, there are still a lot of questions that are yet to be answered concerning the Green Deal. (You might remember our recent post about this.) Although this might not apply for another couple of years, plans still need to be made so that Landlords are prepared for what is around the corner.

So here’s to our next year of blogging!

By Craig Smith

In Scotland it is illegal for a letting agent to charge a prospective tenant any fees during the move-in process. Whether it is for credit checks or an administrative fee, it isn’t allowed.

Reasonable Charges

Since the law changed inScotlandwe have always been wondering when it would have a knock-on effect here inEngland. Well, it looks as though the time is now as some local governments are starting to tackle rogue Landlords and agents that charge higher fees.

Before we go any further into this, I would just like to point out that from what we hear from some of our tenants, we are not the cheapest agent in our town for tenants’ fees but nor are we the most expensive. The fee charged to a tenant looking to move into one of our properties covers the costs of the referencing/credit checks, the time to prepare the legal documents and also the check in appointment. If we charged much less, we wouldn’t be able to do half of that list and the tenancy would more than likely go pear-shaped further down the line because we weren’t able to do our job properly! And don’t forget, we’re not running a charity here.

We have heard from tenants who come into our office stories of other agents in the area who seem to charge for anything and everything. Personally, I have never looked any further into this so cant comment one way or another. The one thing I will say is that both tenants and Landlords need to be careful as some ‘rogue’ agents will charge a lot of hidden fees.

Law Surrounding Fees

It is generally well known that if you are going to charge for any service that you offer, you need to make your customer aware before providing the service. You wouldn’t want to eat in a restaurant where the prices weren’t included on the menu, would you?

We have a good legal team here at Castle Estates who always advise us on the latest changes in law so that we know what we are doing is the right thing. Whether you are a Landlord or tenant of ours, you will probably remember seeing a list of our charges in the paperwork you signed before agreeing to do business with us. (If not, double check as they will be in there!)

Tackling the Bad Guys

The government is getting worried as there are a lot more people in the private rental sector than ever before, more than 3½ million in fact. It is no wonder then that there are more and more stories of rogue Landlords trying to rip off their tenants and these are the people the government is looking to tackle.

There is still call to have a register of all Landlords and/or agents who are able to let property. Whether or not this will eventually come about is yet to be decided in parliament and it would be interesting to know if this would be on a national or a local scale.

I believe that it should somehow be linked nationally to prevent any Landlords ‘getting away’ without facing up to their responsibilities. Where we are based, we are only 25 minutes from theShropshireborder so what would stop a Landlord who has properties in both counties being labelled a rogue in one and not the other?

This does look to be moving forward now as this is due to be raised in parliament later this month. So sit tight and lets see where this goes!