Letting Agent Regulation and Avoiding the Void Periods
Letting agency regulation is looking more likely and why private landlords need to ensure they let properties fast by David Lawrenson of www.LettingFocus.com
In last weeks’ blog I talked about trust and how one mortgage lender’s recent move could destroy trust in all lenders – or at the very least ensure all people taking out a mortgage and their brokers now read the small print very carefully indeed.
Of course, trust is a thing that the people of Cyprus are also waking up to over the last few weeks. And also, perhaps, they are learning to adopt a more enquiring mindset – the kind of mindset that questions how safe and reliable their banking system could really be when banking formed such an elephantine proportion of the country’s GDP. It’s not as if there are not precedents here: Iceland also had a ludicrously bloated banking sector, and we know what happened to that (though some local authority finance bosses in the UK did not seem to have learned the lessons that time as they happily invested council monies in Icelandic banks right up to when the wheels came off, seemingly oblivious to the risks).
Letting Agency Regulation
Closer to home and still on the subject of trust, we seem to be moving closer to more regulation of the letting agencies. Lots of people have long called for this but the Coalition government rejected more regulation when they were elected. Finally, at last, they seem to have realised that more regulation is indeed needed.
The fact is that lots of tenants and their landlords don’t trust letting agents. There are many excellent letting agents (about 50% of my 1,000 and counting tweeter followers are letting agents), but there are some rogues too – and at present about 40% of letting agents do not have access to any form of redress system for their clients.
One specific recurring issue is the question of letting agency fees. Years after Foxtons lost the High Court case over unfair repeat letting agency fees charged to landlords, there are still issues about transparency of charges.
In a “Guardian” piece in October 2012 “London Councils Failing Private Tenants and Landlords” (look it up online) I showed how most London councils provided no information at their websites to advise tenants and landlords in the private rented sector to ask letting agents about letting fees and to get a clear statement about what those fees are.
This has not changed.
As I have said many times at this blog, it is no good the government lecturing the private rented sector and introducing a myriad of new laws and regulations, if at the same time they fail to provide even the most basic information at council level. They simply have to do better.
Council Tax and Avoiding the Void
One thing that local government is always very good at is collecting tax. No sooner have you completed on a purchase of a property and the local council will already have issued a Council tax demand. Indeed, cheapest sildenafil uk this will be one of the first items of post you will see when you get the keys, open the front door for the first time and finish clearing away the usual tonne of pizza flyers.
Unfortunately, for landlords, we are now seeing most local authorities rapidly moving to get rid of the usual 6 month council tax exemption for unfurnished and unoccupied properties – this in an attempt to collect more tax, following central government’s squeeze of local finances.
Landlords should be acutely aware of this – the cost of having a property empty between tenants, has just got (or is about to get) a lot more expensive in most boroughs, so landlords really need to “avoid the voids” and get properties let fast and the council tax put in the new tenants name.
Landlords using letting agents should ensure they are not slow at getting properties let. If they are, they will need to get another agent who can act with more speed.
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