I am often quoted as saying “‘we are Landlords 1st choice 2nd time round”- that’s because landlords unfortunately, are quite often swayed initially by low fees, local market presence, flashy offices, magazine ads etc. but these aren’t all necessarily signs of a quality service and when things go wrong, their requirements change to reviews, awards and associations and that’s when we are hard to beat. NB. Although we do have lovely offices 😊!
It was finally acknowledged in the Sunday Times “Landlord Quiz” in the home section on February 4th this year, that there are now 150 laws and 400 regulations in the rental property sector, so if you want to manage your own properties, Good luck to you, but I would strongly suggest, you at least liaise with a properly regulated agent for the letting of your property. Remember, good agents are more likely to keep you in the loop of what is happening and what is required by a landlord in this highly competitive and regulated market place. With huge fines (and prison sentences), on offer for Non-Compliance, it is often simply a commercial decision to use a specialist to save you money. I was horrified to hear that if someone dies of Legionella whilst in your rental property and it is identified that the infection was caused by your water system and you haven’t done the Legionella Risk Assessment (Legal requirement from May 2013. Under the 1974 Health and safety Act. Amendment L8 “Legionella Risk Assessment), that you can be fined by the government up to £20,000! Now I too agree that the likelihood is small (although 380 people apparently died of Legionella disease in 2013 in the UK). However, when I rang our legal helpline, I was not expecting the reply I got. “£20,000, that would be very lucky.” “Pardon?” I said. “Well think about it logically” They said “The act specifically mentions landlords as “Businesses” therefore if some one was to die in your property and you had not taken any precautions specifically required by law. That is “Corporate Manslaughter” and you could be sued for £Millions!” If we are managing your property, we do the Risk Assessment for you (and do not charge extra for this). If you are managing your own property(s) and we are marketing it for you. On the acceptance of a let we send you a “Confirmation of Let “outlining your responsibilities and in addition we supply a “Legionella” Risk Assessment form and a guide of how to fill it in. We want our clients to be able to sleep at night in the knowledge that their agent is looking after their best interests.
So the first thing to mention is; that whoever you are dealing with, to either let your property and/or manage it, you need to be confident that they have your best interests at heart. Why? Well at least this bity is very simple and most landlords forget all about it!
Because it is your name that goes on the tenancy agreement not that of your agents and if anything is found to be either; not quite right, non-compliant, or downright illegal, it is the landlord who is going to be prosecuted NOT THE AGENT! Only if they manage your property their address will be on the agreement, but only as a “Care of Address), It is still your name and therefore, it is you that are responsible in law!
Of course, if it was serious you would have redress, but if your agent is not accredited, i.e. they are just an ordinary Ltd company (which only limits the liabilities of the directors of that company), so not independently regulated with the correct insurance cover, indemnity, public liability, client money protection etc. Then what is to stop them from simply going out of business and leaving you high and dry? We have seen this happen so many times.
We are not the only decent letting agent in Newcastle, Durham or for that fact, the North East, there are good agents who are able to help you. They will be part of a regulated body (NALS, ARLA), they carry Client Money Protection insurance, as well as the other policies and they will know what they are doing. However, at the last count there were nearly 200 agents in Newcastle alone and most of those do not present such credentials. Yes, they may even be a little cheaper to use, but not always. Although in the long run, having read this short article. I will leave that decision entirely up to you.
Well that is one law taken care of, only 149 more to go and of course another 400 regulations! Good Luck at least you now know the facts to make your decision.
If you require any further information or just want to chat about your letting needs, please feel free to call me at my Durham Office on 0191 212 6970 and I will be happy to discuss.