Archive for the ‘Rental property’ Category

Like many Letting Agents this morning I want to scream out in frustration at the unhelpful and sensational news articles that the likes of the BBC are streaming.

Letting Agents fees have not been banned. Yet.

Letting Agents fees to tenants will continue until legislation is passed. There will be a consultation before this happens. This will take time.

The whole thing has come about in the first place because of greedy agents charging a fortune.

Once again the  unscrupulous actions of the few is having a disproportionate affect on the reputations of many.

I know locally a letting agent (no names mentioned but sounds like an unpopular scavenging animal at the start) who charged over £750 in upfront tenant fees for the agent and for the life of me I cant see how that is fair!  Yet most of us agents charge simply 50% of the cost of the tenancy agreement, the cost of the references and a small administration fee. Most reputable agency charge between £200 – £300 plus VAT to cover this.

It will hurt responsible letting agents to loose this fee. Why? Because the cost of referencing is a genuine cost, as is our time in drawing up tenancy agreements. The costs of running a company mean that this cost will have to be placed onto the Landlord and most landlords will put up the rental.

Phillip Hammond has confirmed plans (and note these are plans, not legislation implemented from today!) to ban letting agents’ fees to tenants in England. The details of this important announcement are still very unclear but the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) will consult with ARLA and other associations ahead of bringing forward legislation.

This industry does not need a BAN – it needs a regulatory cap. 

“So now is the time to speak out” 

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Sally Asling from Surrey Letting Agent, SurreyLets, answer to this heading is “Its time for all agents and all Landlords to use their voice and to speak up but until there is a consultation and until there is an outcome, its business as normal”

“Following today’s Autumn Statement the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond has confirmed plans  (and note these are plans, not legislation implemented from today!) to ban letting agents’ fees to tenants in England. The details of this important announcement are still very unclear but the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) will consult with ARLA and other associations ahead of bringing forward legislation.So now is the time to speak out”

“The banning of fees will end up hurting the most, the very people the government intends on helping the most.”

Asling continues  “The Letting agents fees should not be abolished, but I agree they need regulating. Some agents charge ridiculous fees, but most agents like ourselves charge a nominal fee for a service. Our tenants pay to be references, they pay 50% of the Tenancy Agreement and a small administration fee and all of this is normally capped at £300.00 per tenancy. I don’t know what service in life you get for “free”, from lending arrangement fees, car hire fees and even banking fees. If these fees are abolished they will be passed directly to a Landlord without question and I know this will impact what the landlord needs to charge through rental increases to make it a viable option. Landlords are not charities, they are investors. Without Landlords in the Private Rental Sector this country has a deeply dire and worsened Housing Crisis – yet instead of the government helping resolve the problem a supply of housing, it is driving Landlords out of buying to let, increasing the number of empty homes and hurting those it is trying to help”

The following article has been taken from the ARLA News Board.

Since the announcement ARLA MD, David Cox has spoken with DCLG who have confirmed that a consultation on banning letting agents’ fees will be launched in the New Year. Details of what the consultation will contain have not been finalised and the Government has asked for ARLA to bring forward the industry’s views. DCLG also confirmed that this will require primary legislation through an Act of Parliament. This will give agents time to plan for the ban to come into force; in whatever form it takes.

So Landlords and Agents please have your say here!

ARLA is extremely disappointed that this announcement has been made without a strong basis of evidence. We’re asking the Chancellor and the Housing Minister for a meeting at the earliest opportunity in order to ensure that they fully understand the damage that this will cause to housing standards and the impact it will have on the cost of renting.

We need the Government to explain why measures have been brought forward without prior consultation which undermine the work that we and other partners are doing as part of the DCLG Affordability and Security Working Group.We do not believe that these measures will tackle rogue landlords who will continue to operate outside the existing boundaries of housing legislation.

On news of this announcement there are a significant number of common concerns – most notably the loss of income to support the vital services that Letting Agents provide. This includes the increased legislation, the burden of which has grown significantly over the last 18 months, with little to no investment in policing these new laws.

Commenting on the decision to ban letting fees to tenants ARLA Managing Director, David Cox said:

“A ban on letting agent fees is a draconian measure, and will have a profoundly negative impact on the rental market. It will be the fourth assault on the sector in just over a year, and do little to help cash poor renters save enough to get on the housing ladder. This decision is a crowd-pleaser, which will not help renters in the long-term. All of the implications need to be taken into account.

Most letting agents do not profit from fees. Our research shows that the average fee charged by ARLA Licenced agents is £202 per tenant, which we think is fair, reasonable and far from exploitative for the service tenants receive.”

“These costs enable agents to carry out various critical checks on tenants before letting a property. If fees are banned, these costs will be passed on to landlords, who will need to recoup the costs elsewhere, inevitably through higher rents.

“The banning of fees will end up hurting the most, the very people the government intends on helping the most.

We are telling our members to continue with business as usual. When the consultation is launched, the industry must present a united voice and all agents need to work with ARLA to make our collective views heard at the very highest levels of government.

We welcome your views on this announcement to help support and inform the arguments that we are making in the media. To make your views known please email communications@arla.co.uk

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SurreyLets are pleased to bring to the Lettings market for the first time, a wonderful family home within a few moments walk of the superb village centre of East Horsley.p1020001

This property is a well presented and deceptively spacious four bedroom modern family home and is perfectly situated for a busy family due to its proximity to all the local amenities such as the village shopping facilities, train station with fast links to London, sports clubs and village green spaces.

The accommodation is spacious and well thought out and comprises of: A newly fitted modern kitchen with a range of white goods, spacious contemporary lounge which leads in open plan style to a formal dining area, a conservatory which is an ideal playroom, a study and a downstairs WC. Upstairs the property boasts a beautifully presented master bedroom with a newly renovated en-suite shower room, three further double bedrooms and a beautifully presented family bathroom. Externally the property offers a double garage, beautifully styled front and rear gardens (gardener included) and off road parking for many vehicles accessed by electric gates.

rloungediningPeaceful, traditional, semi rural and undoubtedly affluent. The villages of East and West Horsley make up “The Horsleys”, one, or two villages depending on your viewpoint, are situated at the foot of the Surrey Hills nestled in beautiful open countryside and yet just 48 minutes to London. Beautifully middle class, yet traditionally village like, the Horsley have a wealth of charm, character but most of all its community spirit is still intact. This is the Surrey affluenza belt, connected to motorways and London Waterloo by train, yet swaddled in green belt.

The Horsley’s are an area that attracts the corporate relocated overseas families who make use of the international schools: The ACS in Cobham and the International School of London ISL in Woking being firm favourites of international families. Locals move to the area for the outstanding state schools, The Raleigh Primary School and The Howard of Effingham School both being on the doorstep. Those looking at private schooling have Glenesk primary, Cranmore School and St Teresas.east horsley 1

The Horsleys are a typical family orientated area. Saturdays lots of children enjoy sporting activities. Horsley Football Club, The Cricket Club and The Tennis Club are just some of the sporting activities on hand, although the community run clubs offer a plethora of clubs from cycling, running and rambling. Locally families tend to shop on a Saturday in the village enjoying a traditional butchers (Conisbees), bakers (The Bakery) and coffee shop (Quaich) all of which are owned and managed by members of the community and who care and invest in community. The village also has a popular well used library which runs many half term and holiday children’s activities and reading clubs.

The Horsley have some superbly attended churches, St Marys Church offers a traditional service at 9am and a contemporary service at 10.45 in the village hall where there is a live worship band and outstanding youth ministry. St Martins Church also offers service choices and is well attended.

Commuters take advantage of Horsley Station and its fast southwest train service to London Waterloo taking just 47 minutes, stopping for a quick coffee at The Stockyard station coffee shop. Of course the commuter road links are excellent too with the A3 being a 5 minute drive away taking you to London or Portsmouth, and less than 10 mins to junction 10 of the M25, meaning that (subject to flowing traffic!) the airports of Gatwick and Heathrow are under an hours drive away.

The Horsley really do offer something for everyone. I have lived here for 25 years and I am biased, but if you would like more information, I would be delighted to chat to you. Call me, Sally Asling on 01483 282470 or send me a mail to info@surreyletsonline.co.uk

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rent-increaseAccording to ARLA  (Association of Residential Letting Agents) The supply of rental homes has risen “astronomically”, from the lows seen earlier this year.  The jump in availability is likely to have contributed to average private sector rents remaining unchanged in September, ending a near six year run of rising prices, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

But despite rents being flat month-on-month, they were still 2.3% higher than they had been a year earlier, meaning they are rising at nearly four times the rate of inflation.

Across Surrey, the fact that rents have been holding steady in September is likely to be due to the increase in supply, giving landlords less scope to hike their rents.Its a known fact that if a landlord keeps rentals the same then tenants will stay but they more than often leave when the landlord puts the rental up.

 

All areas of the UK saw rental increases during the 12 months, with the South East leading the way with a hike of 3.5%. Sally Asling, Lettings Director at online letting agency  SurreyLets comments  “At SurreyLets we are aware of continual rental increases year on year for tenants, however most investor Landlords look at the cost of replacing a tenant which can often offset and rental increases should the tenant leave due to a rental increase. Therefore our rental increases whilst modest are still within, if not more than,  the average increases seen in the South East.”

However despite more stock being available than earlier in the year, there is still an overall shortage of properties available,  therefore potential tenants are likely to face an increase in competition for properties and more rental increases.

Whilst across Surrey,  agents have seen who had been Landlords have been holding off committing to further Buy-To-Let investment following a multitude of tax disadvantages coupled with Brexit  continue to invest. Additionally the fears that  landlords would exit the sector in the face of a wave of tax hikes had not yet come to pass.

Landlords are facing a raft of tax changes including the higher Stamp Duty rate introduced in April, a reshuffle of mortgage interest tax relief next year and an end to the 10% annual ‘wear and tear’ allowance for those letting furnished properties.These tax rises have prompted concerns that the UK could face a significant shortage of rental homes.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) recently warned that 1.8m new rental properties were needed just to keep pace with growing demand. SurreyLets director, Sally Asling concurs.

“Whilst ARLA have reported an increase in stock, there is still a shortfall in stock given the demand. In the key areas we cover which is predominately the affluent commuter belt areas in East and West Horsley, Effingham, Bookham and villages in the Guildford to Leatherhead corridor, we are seeing an increase in rental demand as families looking to secure a home in the areas, to benefit from the  outstanding schooling, are finding themselves priced out of the sales market. In these areas property prices have gone up a further 7% in the last year despite the market being quite stagnant following Brexit. There is no sign of the housing market dropping in value in these sought after villages, and families are struggling to get on the housing ladder. These families often seek employment in the city and need the quick commuter links, but like to live in these affluent villages. Rental is a viable solution but it has put an overwhelming strain on the private rented sector where there is a shortage of property available”

If you are thinking of letting your property in any of the areas above and would like a free, no obligation market appraisal of your property, we would be delighted to assist you. Our experienced staff can discuss all the options available to you and offer as much support as you need to guide you through the lettings process. Please contact Sally Asling, Lettings Director, SurreyLets on 01483 282470 or by email info@surreyletsonline.co.uk

 

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Having just undergone complete refurbishment to a high specification – this Bookham property is a rental delight.

kitchen

Dawney Road Bookham – Beautifully Presented Throughout

SurreyLets are delighted to be marketing this brand new family home in Dawnay Road Bookham.

Situated in a quiet residential road in Bookham, yet still convenient for the High Street and local schools (and within catchment of the Outstanding Howard of Effingham secondary school), this detached family home offers beautifully designed well thought out accommodation.

The open plan Kitchen which adjoins a second reception room is a wonderful light, bright and airy space with huge potential for a variety of uses.

The property accommodation comprises of: Hallway leading to the formal Lounge, a Study, a beautifully fitted Kitchen with generous eating and family area and Bi-fold doors opening the area outwards which is perfect for summer days and entertaining, this room adjoins another reception room which could be used as a snug.

Leading off from this is a modern utility room and downstairs WC. Upstairs the property offers a generous master bedroom with a beautiful en-suite, a guest double bedroom with en suite and further double bedroom, a single bedroom and a family bathroom. Externally the property offers a garage, garden and off road parking for several vehicles.

Must be seen to be fully appreciated.

TO LET   £2,750 pcm
Dawnay Road, Bookham

Detached Family Home
Four Bedrooms
Three Reception Rooms
Utility Room
Garage / Utility room
Catchment for Howard of Effingham
Brand New
Three Bathrooms
Stunning Kitchen with Dining and Family Areas
Study
Private Rear Garden
Convenient Location

VIEWINGS BY APPOINTMENT

kitchen2

Stunning Open Plan Space

SurreyLets are a leading local Letting Agent in the Bookham and Effingham area offering a wide range of specialist Lettings and Property Management Services. SurreyLets are an online Letting Agent offering Full Property Management, Tenant Finding, Rental Collection and a comprehensive range of Landlord services across Surrey

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epc2
There are new changes coming into force for Landlords with regard to the EPC rating of a property.

 

As from the 1st April 2018 there will be a requirement for any properties rented out in the private rented sector to normally have a minimum energy performance rating of E on an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). The regulations will come into force for new lets and renewals of tenancies with effect from 1st April 2018 and for all existing tenancies on 1st April 2020. It will be unlawful to rent a property which breaches the requirement for a minimum E rating, unless there is an applicable exemption. A civil penalty of up to £4,000 will be imposed for breaches.

Poor energy rating is classed as those EPCs with F and G ratings

There are separate regulations effective from 1st April 2016 under which a tenant can apply for consent to carry out energy efficiency improvements in privately rented properties. Click here for this Guide.

SurreyLets like all letting agents need to have a copy of the properties EPC to market a property. These new guidelines will start affecting rental values. Sally Asling, Lettings director at SurreyLets states “Its clear that over time the rentable value of the property will be affected by the EPC rating. We are not there yet, but as consumers become more aware of impact of the EPC rating, lower rated properties will find tenants negotiating on the rental to compensate them the difference in energy savings that a higher rated property would provide”

The Regulations apply to domestic private rented sector properties in England and Wales to all properties let on an AST agreement  (Assured Shorthold Agreement)

Prohibition on letting
A domestic private rented sector property is substandard if the EPC rating is F or G, unless an exemption applies. The legislation prohibits a landlord from letting out a substandard property. If there is an EPC in place which shows that the property is an F or G then it must not be let; otherwise the landlord is liable to penalties. This is subject to any available exemptions. Energy efficiency improvements must be carried out to bring the property up to an E rating at the minimum, unless one of the exemptions is applicable.

If a landlord lets and continues to let the property in breach of the regulations, however, the breach does not affect the validity or legality of the tenancy itself, so the rent still continues to be payable.

So what does SurreyLets suggest you do to get the best EPC on your property?

  • Replace any non-double glazed windows and or old sealed units with modern A rated windows The rating doesn’t matter unless you have a document showing the “U-value.’ If they are good new windows have a document showing the U-value rating ready for the assessor. Otherwise if the windows have a datestamp on them telling saying they are post or during 2003 they will get a good rating. Secondary glazed is obviously better than sing glazed also, which is what may need to get done in conservation areas where your not allowed to upgrade the windows
  • Fit seals to external doors to help keep the chill out, change any wooden doors with new PVCu doors (Again keep the u-value information to show the assessor) also note that if the door is more than 60% glazed it won’t count as it will just go down as a window.
  • Fit a decent jacket around your hot water tank or replace with a fully lagged tank -Spot on. The maximum the assessor can record is 160mm of insulation around the tank, makes a small difference.
  • Ensure that lofts and wall cavities are insulated to at least the latest standard of 270mm 
  • If replacing your boiler is getting old plan to replace and fit to an energy efficient, condensing boiler. 
  • Fit TRV (Thermostatic Rad Valves) to all radiators 
  • Fit zone thermostats 
  • Change old style electric storage heaters (if fitted) with the latest fan assisted heaters which have significantly better energy rating  (although electricity for heating will always have a very negative effect on your EPC. Oil, LPG and Mains gas always are better.)
  • Get cavity wall insulation installed or get dry lining with insulation (keep the proof you have had it done by invoice
  •  Use energy saving light bulbs such as LEDs. 


Implementation

From 1 April 2018, the regulations will apply on the granting of:

A new tenancy to a new tenant
A new tenancy to an existing tenant, i.e. any extension or renewal to an existing tenant. This includes a statutory periodic tenancy which comes into existence at the end of the fixed term shorthold.
From 1 April 2020, the regulations will apply to all privately rented property in scope of the regulations.
Enforcement
Local authorities will enforce compliance with the regulations.

For more information about how the new EPC regulations will affect you as a Landlord, or for more information regarding renting your property, please contact the Specialist Letting Team in Surrey at SurreyLets on 01483 282470

 

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This is a  rather technical blog but I hope for some it will give an insight into marketing property via the portals and how we as agent need to lorightmoveok at key data to get the best marketing from the portals for our clients as we can.

 I often spend time with Landlords explaining that its not just about “putting a property on a property portal” but about ensuring your are using the portals marketing to the best advantage. So, I thought Id share a little bit about what we as agents see, and what we do to ensure the properties we are marketing are receiving the fulness of the capabilities in the tools that we have.

Sometimes, we have to throw out the flowery spiel and write attention grabbing headlines to get the desired result. We need to attract the real property seekers from the thousands of viewers out there.

Anyone that doesn’t believe property is a national obsession needs to work with me for a day looking though the “behind the scenes” data that we get from Rightmove and other property portals.

In the last 28 days, the properties that SurreyLets have on the market have been viewed 65,608 times. Really!  Are there that many people looking to move to the area?  Unlikely. We have to understand we are a nation of property obsessed people who constantly browse Rightmove to see what they can get, who is selling what and to seek comparable as to how much their house is worth or how much it might rent for.

Whats important to us as agents is the click through rate, this is what generates us our enquiries.

Out of the 65,000 clicking on SurreyLets  properties we had just over 300 calls and about the same in email leads. Looking through the diary and the applicant register this was around 40 viewings which in real terms is around 6 – 8 actual lets resulting from the advertising. So how did the headline number of 65K mash down?

We can see the “Click though rate” of every property, and if we are doing our job properly we need to be addressing any “lower than average” click though rates. So, if your property is performing poorly,  I may change the initial description weekly.  To improve the click though rate on your property to ensure maximum performance and viewing opportunities I amy do any number of things.   Just changing the front photo can vastly improve the click though rate, as can the headline, the price or just rotating the pictures. Its my job to keep enhancing your property so its performance is at the best it can be.

Leaving the agreed description, agreed photograph and order the pictures are seen in the same, will not help your property get found. It stops standing out.

Who knows what turns someone on or off! A beautiful minimalist modern kitchen may tick someones box, but the shabby chick country cottage may be another persons tick box. If its the first image they see that they don’t like, bang goes the click though – we have lost that persons interest.

At what point do you tune out?  For some its the price, others its the map view of the location, for others its the picture. Many click floorplan first and click out at the square footage. We are all different.

So if one week the click though rate is not good, by simply changing the picture I can change the click through rate. It may not be the “best” picture or the Landlords favourite, but it may pick up the enquiries.

Over the last 10 years, Rightmove has invested in additional search technology to introduce new ways for potential buyers and tenants to view your property listings, for example, via our email alerts and online publications.  This is where we try now to increase the number of extra view details to your report. Its our job to ensure the details are friendly for when they are sent out in the many forms of media.

‘Extra’ detail views

Here’s a list of the features that generate ‘extra’ detail views for your properties. These are things we can do to maximise marketing of your propertyFeatured Property (top of search results page)

Property Email Alerts (email updates)
Twitter
Send to a Friend
New map search
RSS Feeds
Company Edition
Local Edition
Bookmarked properties
The Rightmove Property Widget
IE8 Webslices
IE8 Accelerators
Search Engines
Property links posted on Social Networking sites

Landlords, when you instruct SurreyLets to market your property, you can rest assured that we know how important finding the right tenants to rent your property in the right timeframe is for you. We will be constantly looking at the incoming data to ensure we are reaching the people who are looking. We do not just put your property on the portals and be forevermore reactive – we proactive use all media available to us.

If you are a Landlord and would like to know more about our Letting Services available to Landlords in Surrey then please call for a free, no obligation discussion on 01483 282470 or send us an e-mail info@surreyletsonline.co.uk

 

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