OK, we are prepared to admit that letting agents are on occasions a dubious lot. Many landlords feel that they don’t get value for their money. With online agencies sparling all over the web, is there a need for the traditional high street agencies?
An online agency will enable you as a landlord to place your listing in direct competition with properties being advertised by other agents. What impression is it making? How does your iPhone camera compare to that of a professional photographer? At an additional cost this of course can be arranged too. Once you get going you probably would have spent on average £200 for your chance to compete.
So you have received your first enquiries. Are you able to call applicants back quickly? Are you available for viewings during the day or in the evenings? If you are then there is not valid reason to pay someone else to stand in cold & damp in the dark, for most part of the year in the UK, waiting for your prospective tenants to turn up.
Finally they have arrived, looked around, thanked you kindly and walked off. What happens next? Potentially not much as people will not want to offend you by criticising your property in your face so you will often be left disappointed with no feedback to work with. Believe it or not, tenants don’t like agents either so they tend to be a lot more upfront. Furthermore, a good agent will be trained to extract this highly valuable feedback.
Unless you are prepared to give away your property at pittance to the first person that arrives, letting a property can take 3-4 weeks. Finally, you scored lucky. What happens next? Most likely the your prospective tenants will negotiate even harder than they would with a letting agent. Without an agent in the middle it will be more difficult to say ‘no’. Plus you might feel that if you negotiate too tough you might ruin a prospective relationship with your future tenant.
Drafting a tenancy agreement and referencing the tenant is not too complicated, but mistakes can be costly. Are you up to date on current legislation, for example, regarding deposit protection? You should be.
If you are still prepared to brave it on your own then you deserve a firm handshake and honest ‘good luck’ for your ‘can-do’ attitude. If any point though you do find yourself in need of assistance The Islington Company will be here ready to help. Let's get letting!
Over the past 2 years we have seen a continuous increase in rental yields across a whole spectrum of properties in Islington and surrounding areas of north and east London. However since the beginning of 2012 we have witnessed an unexpected drop in rental prices and an increase in void periods, a very unusual development in prime north London locations such as Islington.
Landlords and letting agents were promised a phenomenal year in 2012. The rental sector in this part of the Great Britain was supposed to be an ultimate winner. What has happened? Is this a dreadful economic indicator? How should landlords and letting agents react?
At The Islington Company we are staying optimistic and call this an ‘Olympic effect’. It did manifest itself in an unexpected way; however there is still a light at the end of the tunnel. During the end of 2010 and certainly throughout 2011 letting agents and landlords teamed up to make life relatively difficult for tenants.
Tenants not only found themselves paying high and ever growing rental prices, but were also often 'gazumped' and asked to commit to longer than usual tenancy terms. Two year tenancy agreements almost became the norm allowing savvy letting agents and landlords to take advantage of applicants.
Hence with three months to go before our Olympics guests arrive; and with our familiar rental crowd firmly tied into their long agreements, we should not be so surprised with the current rental market.
At The Islington Company we have already noticed a change in the past few weeks. On the other hand, applicants registering now, having learned from the situation in 2011, are looking to move at the end of May/June and even planning for July.
As a landlord with an empty property on a letting agent’s books, you could always drop the price or instruct several agents. Failing that, you could let your property on a short term basis and then capitalise during the Olympic period. This time will allow you to market your property as available in August or September which is traditionally the best rental season.
Furthermore, the upside of having your property available in August or September also means that it becomes locked into this cycle; and over the years you will probably be achieving more as opposed to having your property available in April or May year after year.
By now, you probably have your winter coat, you’ve found your hat and gloves and that recent blast of warm London weather is a fading memory. We’re already into December, the clocks have changed, you’re thinking about Christmas – you’re ready for winter.
You might be ready, but if you’re a landlord, can you say the same about your property?
The Government has launched Get Ready for Winter, a campaign advising the public of the many ways they can prepare.
The campaign’s website includes a section on protecting your home. Last December was the UK’s coldest since records began in 1910 and at The Islington Company we are eyeing the heaters in anticipation of the big freeze. The Association of British Insurers dealt with £900m of property damage claims. Over two thirds of these were for burst water pipes.
If a pipe bursts, do your tenants know what to do? Do they know where the stop-cock is?
It’s common for many tenants of residential property in London to go away for Christmas and New Year. Can you be confident your house or flat will be safe in the meantime?
Property owners are advised to check pipes are adequately lagged and the boiler is robust. Problems can occur when tenants turn on the central heating for the first time.
High flood risk is not something usually associated with residential property in London – however the Government is reminding people to check and sign up for free flood warnings via the Environment Agency website.
Other tips are for residential property landlords to check eligibility for grants and subsidies for home heating and insulation. The Government may have cut funding in some areas but it’s still worth checking with your local council or your energy supplier.
If there is no funding available, there are alternatives. The Government has some useful hints on draught proofing your residential property, which can be done “using simple products from your local DIY store.”
After all that’s been done, at The Islington Company we recommend you insulate yourself by enjoying a nice hot glass of mulled wine…cheers!
The Government should help landlords meet the demand for residential property in London and across the UK by reforming the current tax system, says high-profile housing expert Julie Rugg.
After completing her report, commissioned by the previous Government, she concludes the current system needs to stop viewing the residential property sector as a method of private investment. Instead it should recognise the residential property sector as a business, unlocking the tax advantages that go with it.
“Government policies need to regard landlords as active business people rather than passive investors,” she said.
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) is calling on Chancellor George Osborne to issue a series of tax measures designed to boost the private rented sector. The RLA represents over 15,000 private sector residential property landlords in England and Wales and has released a statement, saying:
“With a taxation system that fails to recognise the sector as a business, there is little incentive for existing landlords to invest in new properties or for new landlords to enter the market.”
Housing charity Shelter has just released a report showing supply is failing to meet demand with up to 5 people chasing each property coming onto the rental market.The RLA cite these figures as evidence of “the difficulties being faced by many for whom the private rented sector is their best hope of finding accommodation.”
Further evidence of the heightened demand for residential property in London is found in new research, showing a 12.2% increase in rents over the past year. The average month’s rent is now a reported £1202, while average tenancy length dropped from 27 months to 22. This is something that raises some concerns about rental properties in Central and North London and is something that we, at The Islington Company are seeking to address.
The RLA will now wait for the Chancellor to deliver his autumn statement, in which he is expected to announce the Government’s plans for stimulating the UK economy. Will that include measures to help landlords create more residential property supply? Watch this space…
The Olympics are less than a year away and for many of London’s residential property landlords, it is time to start looking at the short-term lettings opportunities this once in a (mortgage’s) lifetime event may offer.
Demand for short-term accommodation in London is expected to come from almost half a million visitors during the 2012 Olympics. Transport For London has already said it “is aiming for 100% of spectators to get to the games by public transport, or by walking or cycling”. Landlords with residential property in Central London locations, such as Kings Cross and Islington, or East London and Shoreditch and Dalston, or on Olympic-friendly transport links, such as the Jubilee Line and Docklands Light Railway, can therefore expect to benefit from an “Olympic premium” on short-term rental prices. As a lettings agency not too far from the Olympic Village, we at The Islington Company are advising potential landlords.
How much of a premium? Some experts use the Wimbledon tennis championships as a yardstick, where fans typically pay 40-100% extra for a two-week stay in a conveniently located residential property. Then there are the landlords who rent to the players. Never mind the extra income - imagine being able to say to your prospective tenants, “and this is the shower, previously used by the 2012 Olympic champion”?
There will always be high demand for London’s residential property, never more so than during the Olympics. Landlords are in an ideal position to capitalise on this, but there are pitfalls to avoid. Some London boroughs require landlords to request permission to issue lettings of less than 90 days. Failure to do so risks a fine of up to £20,000. The National Association of Estate Agents is pressing for a review of this legislation but at time of writing the Government has not responded. In the meantime, landlords with residential property in London are advised to seek advice from reputable lettings agencies, such as The Islington Company!