Category Archives: General News

Busy Summer for Student Landlords

Agent Assist, the nationwide tenant eviction and rent recovery firm, is advising landlords to capitalise on the opportunity to make renovations to their properties over the summer in order to maximise their yield returns over the forthcoming academic year.

The summer months represent a perfect time for landlords to make alterations to their properties to make them more attractive to students searching for suitable accommodation.

Student accommodation can be a lucrative sector for landlords, with strong levels of demand, full occupancy levels and good prospects for rental growth.

Graham Kinnear, Managing Director at Agent Assist says: “Summer is usually the slow season for student landlords and the perfect time to make alterations to their properties. Many landlords think renting to students is an easy way to making money but the reality is that students are a very discerning group nowadays and landlords should always look to upgrade their furnishings to attract the best tenants and yields.”

“Items such as flat screen TVs and Wi-Fi connections that only a couple of years ago were considered a luxury are now considered essential items and those landlords who historically could get away with furnishing a student house with second hand furniture they no longer wanted themselves will nowadays be highly unlikely to be able to attract a good quality tenant group.”

Throughout the summer months, landlords should also carry out necessary safety checks to electrical appliances, gas appliances, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure they are functioning properly.

Agent Assist is also urging landlords to undertake their necessary homework in order to maximise their earning potential and avoid future arrears.

Stephen Parry, Commercial Director at Agent Assist says: “All tenants should be thoroughly referenced by a reputable tenant referencing firm to ensure they can afford their monthly rent payments and students are no different.

“We advise that student applications are supported by a Guarantor, often their parents, to ensure that the financial covenants of the tenancy can be met. Whilst it is relatively easy to obtain a judgement against someone for money owed it is very difficult to secure those funds from someone who is in full-time education and without any income.

“In our experience parents and guardians are normally quite willing to act as a guarantor for their offspring in these circumstances.”

Mr Kinnear adds: “The student market can be a great source of income for landlords with properties in university towns, and basic pre-planning can ensure that the experience is a positive one for all parties.”

Revenge Evictions

There is a growing interest in the behaviour of landlords following increasing suggestions by tenants that landlords are electing to evict their tenants if they complain about repairs required at their properties.

Graham Kinnear of Agent Assist states that the number of complaints levied by tenants is certainly on the increase and the expectation level of accommodation is possibly the highest it has ever been in the minds of tenants.

The difficulty of course is that with the housing crisis that exists today, many landlords have a choice of tenants wanting to rent their property and accordingly the incentive to present the property in excellent order has been somewhat diminished.

In the main, landlords take a pride in the property they let out. It is after all, for most, an investment they are keen to preserve and maintain but there are some landlords who take a more short term view and are reluctant to spend money on repairs and maintenance.

A national housing charity recently reported that the number of calls it had received from tenants afraid of being evicted from their homes has doubled in the last year alone and stated that 9% of the tenants it asked said they had not reported a repair issue for fear of being evicted.

Stephen Parry, Commercial Director at Agent Assist states “Tenants should be aware that they have a responsibility under the terms of the tenancy agreement to report promptly all repair requirements to the landlord. Failure to do so could make any future repairs more invasive and costly and the tenant may be held liable in some way for failing to report.”

What is really required is better communication between landlords and tenants, clear guidance for tenants on what repairs and maintenance the landlord is contractually responsible for and which the tenant should undertake as part of their tenancy conditions.

In addition a greater supply of homes to rent would increase competition for tenants and therefore landlords would have no option but to improve the standard of their property or it would lie empty as tenants would have the opportunity to rent somewhere better.

There are calls for legislative changes to address the landlords current ability to bring a tenancy to an end without reason but we at Landlord Assist feel a far more workable solution is to pursue schemes which will increase the amount of property available for rent. This in itself will improve standards, improve choice, improve tenant mobility without discouraging landlords from entering the Buy to Let sector.

Spiralling prices impact Buy to Let

There appears to be growing problems in the Buy to Let sector according to tenant referencing and eviction specialists Agent Assist.

Spiralling house prices in most parts of the UK have meant Buy to Let investors are making a tactical retreat from the market as the yield that they can earn on an investment property is diminished.

Graham Kinnear of Agent Assist comments “We have seen notable price increases in most areas of the UK and in many of those areas, rental prices have not increased. The result is a reduced profit margin for the landlord. This in conjunction with an expectation of increased interest rates means that landlords are not buying property in the quantity that the market requires”

Whilst it is accepted that there is an undersupply of property, the rents have remained broadly static in many areas. Partly because of the Local Housing Allowance rates set by the local authorities but partly simply on an affordability basis for tenants.

Property investment is a long term and illiquid investment and one that landlords are unlikely to undertake without hope of profit.

Stephen Parry, Commercial Director at Agent Assist states “It is difficult to suggest schemes which would help landlords without fuelling the market further. In some respects I would like to see a stamp duty or other taxation reduction to encourage more to Buy to Let. This would increase supply of property and choice for tenants and through this increased competition increase the standards of accommodation on offer. The flipside of course is that a buyers incentive such as this could fuel further house price growth and remove the profit element for the investor”

Kinnear concludes “Whilst there are a number of possible short term measures which could be adopted we at Landlord Assist feel that the only real way of regulating house price growth as far as buy to let is concerned is by increasing the supply of property. This would have the effect of regulating prices and would address the acute shortage of rental accommodation that is currently available.

Agent Assist provides tenant referencing and tenant eviction services to landlords and letting agents throughout the UK and can be contacted on 08707 662288 or via their website www.agentassist.com

TENANT NUMBERS CONTINUE TO RISE

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The rented sector has continued to grow not simply as a result of the choices being made by households but due to the lack of available mortgage funding, inability to raise a deposit and job insecurity. Continue reading

LANDLORDS FALLING PREY TO FRAUD

Landlords are being warned to beware of No Money Down deals for acquiring property as they may constitute fraud.

Historically some firms offered no money down deals and in effect inflated the price at which the property was being sold to create the virtual equity that a lender required. Landlords are advised not to do this as there are, in doing so, misleading the mortgage lender and the land registry and could be in big trouble if their transaction is ever audited. Continue reading