We sat down with Jordan Kennedy, MARLA, our Central Lettings Manager, to find out more about the rental market at the moment:
1. What are the main changes in lettings legislation that landlords and tenants need to consider?
The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 have now passed through Parliament and came into force on 1 April 2019.
This means that from that date onwards the ‘no cost to the landlord’ exemption is no longer available and will no longer appear on the PRS Exemptions Register after 31 March 2020. The Government has said that all affected landlords will be contacted directly at the start of April.
Under the new rules, landlords will be expected to contribute up to £3,500 (inc. VAT) per property to make energy efficiency improvements to raise a property’s EPC rating to a minimum of an E. Any landlord we work with can, of course, talk to us to find out more about this.
Another update is The Home (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, which finished its parliamentary journey in December 2018. Since 20th March 2019 all social and private landlords, including letting agents, in England are required to comply. Known as the Homes Act, landlords and letting agents acting on their behalf will be required by law to ensure that a home is fit for human habitation from the beginning and throughout the duration of a tenancy. If a home is found to be hazardous, and the issue is not resolved, tenants will have the right to take direct legal action in the Courts for breach of contract. **LANDLORDS BEWARE: No HMO licence = UP TO £30,000 fine and landlords could be required to pay tenants up to 12 months’ rent, or be given a Banning Order.**
We deal with reputable landlords and do not foresee this Act causing particular concern to landlords or tenants we work with; of course, we are always here to discuss any issues about the properties we manage and can provide further details on this Act if required.
2. What are the latest trends in property rentals that you’re seeing in the areas we work in?
Here are just a few of the trends we’re seeing across our central London network of Frank Harris branches:
At our Bloomsbury branch we’re about to hit our busiest time of the year when we work with large numbers of international students to find accommodation close to their place of study. Generally our student tenants are moving from overseas to live abroad for the first time – they (and their parents) are looking for a safe area, ideally within walking distance of their University and places nearby to socialise. We’re also seeing a trend for ‘try before you buy’ professional tenants in this area – people who are ‘trying out’ areas by renting for a short time before deciding whether to buy there.
At our Barbican, City and Clerkenwell branch our team works with a range of people at different stages of life. We often help mature professionals who are looking for pied-a-terres close their place of work, as well as retired people who are renting – either to find out what living in the City is really like, with a view to then buying, or renting while they wait for the right property to come onto the sales market.
Our South Bank and Waterloo branch is seeing a noticeable increase in demand for serviced apartments, which often offer appealing lifestyle amenities for busy professionals. There’s a definite trend towards people wanting to rent in a building which offers gym or spa facilities, regular cleaning or maid service, and sometimes a residents’ bar or restaurant. These blocks offer exciting new ways of renting in the Capital and we can only see demand growing in the coming years. We also have a busy seasonal student market, similar to our Bloomsbury office, with many international students looking to pay rent 6-12 months in advance to secure some of the better quality properties available in the riverside apartment blocks we market.
All in all, it’s all pretty localised in terms of tenant requirements, which keeps our busy lettings teams tuned in to their surroundings and certainly keeps them on their toes.
3. What are the main benefits of a landlord instructing a reputable agent to manage their property or property portfolio?
So many! There are currently over 125 (and counting) pieces of lettings legislation for landlords to understand and digest. By employing professional agents to manage their properties landlords can be assured that they will be fully compliant and avoid the risk of serious fines and ongoing worry. Our comprehensive management service takes care of the day-to-day running of the property; from managing statutory testing, transfer of utilities, insurances, carrying out inspections, through to the management of maintenance. Our service also extends to the care of vacant property.
New landlords are often unaware that we will deal with deposit negotiations at the end of tenancies, which can be extremely complex and time consuming for all parties. We also ensure that all maintenance matters are dealt with using reputable, insured, licensed and qualified contractors through our robust selection criteria. Landlords will be saved time and expense when relying on us to instruct contractors.
Our highly experienced property management team can also assist in refurbishments and preparing the property for re-let, which leads to shorter vacant periods. We feel that our service is here to reduce stress, increase freedom and free up valuable time.
On a final note, it’s important for our landlords and tenants to know they can contact us to discuss any matter relating to their tenancy. We pride ourselves on offering a personal, friendly service based on trust and experience and our teams are always happy to help.