Accrediting Londons Landlords
At LettingFocus, we say the job of being successful as residential landlords lies in the stuff we do each day. It is about the boring detail and it is about our competence in doing the mundane stuff well. Landlords will now have to think about proving their competence via accreditation. And to this end I have offered my help to the London Mayor to try to get accreditation off the ground.
Recently I have spent some time looking at the plans of some bigger investors in the private rental sector.
These players – big pension firms, big housing associations, overseas wealth funds and their top consultant advisors – simply operate on a bigger scale than “buy to let landlords” and the terminology they use is sometimes a little different too. For example, whereas the average buy to let landlord will talk about “fixing things” and “getting things done”, the larger investors will refer to “asset management” and “benchmarking against KPIs”.
Caitlin or Hugo
Also, the buy to let investor may be called Joe or Caitlin and the advisor to the bigger players is more likely to be a Hugo De Percival or a Giles or an Amelia.
But what the players, large and small do, really just boils down to the same sort of things. And it is not really rocket science either. Not only do we landlords not put men or women into space, neither do we save lives each day – in which case our jobs are certainly less important than those of doctors, nurses or ambulance paramedics.
All we do is try to provide accommodation for people. It is a worthy profession but unless I forget to arrange a gas inspection, no one was going to live or die today as a result of my actions.
What is the really hard stuff is doing it right, time after time – and complying with the ever bulging rules and regulations. (As an example, starting from the beginning of this November, all letting ads placed by landlords or letting agents in England and Wales now have to state tenant fees clearly).
The big institutional investors really do exactly the same things as the small buy to let landlord.
They think very hard about where to invest, they mull over the best finance options for buying land, building on it and holding it. They worry about void periods and they may come to sell one day. In between times, there is the real work of delighting customers, dealing with a lot of administrative stuff and boring paperwork, paying constant attention to detail and meeting the myriad laws that now govern the sector.
Some of the bigger players in the sector – the top people in some of the larger property firms and even those in the bigger housing associations (who are now increasingly getting into private rent) often draw down some pretty hefty compensation packages for doing all this.
Sometimes I am surprised at the rewards for this kind of work. After all, none of this is rocket science and the environment us landlords operate in is not fast paced (like retail), nor is it technologically demanding (like software).
Small Landlords and Accreditation
However, the challenge for the smaller landlords especially is real. They must compete with the big players. But all players in the sector must raise their game too – and if this means proving they are competent, then all the better – as your tenant customers will want to see proof of that competence before they become your customer. (I have infuriated one long established property company by suggesting that some big long time property companies who were around back in the 1970s had never previously demonstrated a push to raising excellence in standards. I stand by the claim.)
Accredit – What Is there to Lose?
The London Mayor has set a highly ambitious target of 100,000 landlords to be accredited by 2015 – that is at least 80,000 more than are accredited today by the long running London Landlords Accreditation Scheme (LLAS).
Last week, I had a meeting with the Mayor’s housing boss, Richard Blakeway at City Hall and I offered to help him achieve this target.
I hope London takes up my offer.
And I hope landlords, big and small, will soon realise the value of being accredited and being able to prove their competence in meeting the new London Rental Standard – because it is in the boring things that they do each day, the attention to detail and their understanding of the law, which is what matters in the end. It is this that will increasingly set them apart from other providers.
They will not save a life today or put a man on the moon, but they will give someone a home. And that counts for something.
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