Month: September 2013

From law to letting

Law graduate turned letting agent, Holly Armstrong, and her team of young professionals are showing why being transparent about fees is so important in an unregulated letting industry and how a strong background in law can help agents stay ahead of the game.

In recent months, the lettings industry has attracted negative press attention regarding tenant charges, which was supported by the charity Shelter. Now, in a crackdown on ‘rip-off’ letting agent fees, the Advertising Standards Agency, has called for all letting agents and private landlords to publish their fees by November 1st in any form of property advertising. It is a move that is welcomed by GFW Letting, the new urban letting division of the George F. White Group, headed up by law graduate Holly Armstrong. The GFW Letting team are championing a more transparent, knowledgeable and trustworthy service across the board.

If you have ever been hit with a series of unexpected charges when renting property, you will know that these seemingly unaccountable charges, are having a huge impact on the finances of people already priced out of the sales market. Millions of people now choose to rent, in order to give themselves the freedom and flexibility they need to live the lives they choose, as well as a more cost effective option.

After experiencing poor levels of service for herself and knowing only too well what a big financial commitment renting is for the millions out there who choose to do so, Holly, decided GFW Letting needed to offer something different – a regulated, transparent and personal service for its clients, charging a flat-fee rate to both landlords and tenants, without additional charges hidden within contracts.

Both Holly and her team have the qualifications to back up their claims and are equally passionate about providing an end to end service to every one of their clients. Holly and fellow law graduate, GFW Letting Property Manager, Stacey Hogg, completed their law degrees at Northumbria University before starting their careers at rural property specialists, George F. White.

With a background in everything from housing and property law, to contract law, litigation, legislation and policy, Holly and Stacey have a strong understanding of client care from both a legal and ethical point of view. As part of the George F. White Group, GFW Letting, is also a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), a regulated industry body.

Speaking about the driving force behind the company ethos, Holly said: “We are passionate about what we do and we know that being upfront and honest and only charging for the work that’s been done, is essential. The private rental sector is experiencing an exciting growth trajectory but in order to continue in the right direction, transparency around fees is so important and vital in ensuring that landlords and tenants trust us as letting agents.

“Renting is a big financial commitment to all concerned and we believe it’s not fair to our tenants to hide additional charges. The simple truth is, at GFW Letting, we only charge a flat-fee rate for the service we provide and our tenants will never face hidden extras, no matter what the monthly rental fee is.”

GFW Letting Lettings Manager, Fran Mulhall is also a member of the Association of Residential Letting Agents, ARLA, and has a duty to her clients to stay on top of the ever-changing legislation within the letting industry. Letting residential property covers complex areas of the law with stringent rules and regulations that can face severe fines and even imprisonment if they are not adhered to.

Fran’s advice to landlords is not to get caught out. Disagreements between tenants and landlords can be long and bitter and the potential legal implications of ‘DIY letting’ or using a poorly informed letting agent can be costly. With up to date legislative advice and comprehensive legal documents that are designed to outline both the tenants and landlords roles, landlords can stay ahead of the game when it comes to the letting industry and according to Fran, it’s vital that they choose a regulated letting agent to help them manage these requirements.

Fran said: “As a member of ARLA, I have continued lettings professional development, which enables me to offer a better, all-round service to each and every one of my clients.”

“One of the core values of GFW Letting is its transparency about fees and the service on offer. I personally am delighted to be a part of a team that is passionate about connecting quality properties with the right tenants without stinging clients with large fees, disproportionate to the amount of work that has been carried out. We charge a flat-rate referencing fee and this is how it’s meant to be.”

With their background in law and registration to professional industry bodies, the GFW Letting team are passionate about providing the highest quality service to their clients. It’s a breath of fresh air in an unregulated industry and GFW Letting is demonstrative of a team who have the instinct and knowledge to provide a fair, transparent and honest service.

DIY letting can be costly

According to the Residential Landlords Association there are more than 100 rules and regulations that relate to letting out a property.

Keeping on top of the ever changing legislation is difficult for landlords and this can have serious repercussions, which was found in the recent Court case, Superstrike vs Rodrigues.

The ruling found that, having passed its fixed term end date, becoming a statutory periodic tenancy (SPT), the deposit should have been protected and the necessary prescribed information served.

Farmer takes on urban letting challenge

Making the move from rural farmer to urban landlord may seem like a daunting prospect, but for one County Durham farmer, the process was made easy by the bespoke service on offer from GFW Letting.

Consett based David Anderson sought the help of the GFW Letting team, who were able to let the luxury buy-to-let two bedroomed apartment situated at the award-winning Staiths South Bank development in Gateshead, in just a few weeks.

Mr Anderson, an existing client of George F. White, wanted to find tenants who would treat the property like their own home and appreciate the high quality fixtures and fittings throughout.

In today’s unregulated lettings market, choosing a knowledgeable agent who keeps abreast of the ever changing legislation is vital. The personal service, advice and guidance provided by the team at GFW Letting made this possible in such a short space of time, marketing the property quickly using the most widely used online channels, to ultimately find two professional tenants, Rheanne Falzon, a nurse at Newcastle RVI and Katie Langhorne, a police community support officer at Northumbria Police.

Speaking about his experiences working with the team at GFW Letting, Mr. Anderson, said: “Having rented rural properties out through George F. White, I was keen to use GFW Letting for our riverside apartment. I had heard of other unfortunate experiences with letting agents from friends but as a long standing client of the George F. White Group, I knew that any company connected to the Group would be one I could trust.”

“I am delighted with the service and support I received from GFW Letting – as a busy farmer working from my base in County Durham, I was able to carry on with my day-to-day life, whilst the GFW team took care of the rest.”

Built on the solid foundations of rural property specialist, George F. White, GFW Letting brings established experience and expertise to provide a service tailored especially for what is currently a booming urban rental market in the North East. Regulated by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) the company offers a structured and skilled service to landlords and tenants alike operating on a clear and transparent fee structure.

Fran Mulhall, Lettings Manager at GFW Letting, said: “The number of people choosing to buy-to-let is increasing and because of this surge, there’s been a lot of negative press in the past month or so in connection with fees charged by letting agents. What we recognise at GFW Letting, is that it is a huge commitment putting your trust in a company to find the right tenant for your investment. We pride ourselves on our personal, end-to-end service, always acting in the best interest of our clients and we’re clear and transparent about our fees to ensure our clients know exactly what they are paying for. It’s great working with landlords such as David and helping to find the right tenant for them in a short space of time, taking away some of the stress involved in the lettings process and helping all concerned get on with living.”

David added: “The Staiths South Bank property has had a great deal of time and money spent on it to create a modern, comfortable home in what is a prime city centre location – ideal for young professionals looking for riverside living with excellent transport links. Support from the GFW Letting team has been crucial in finding discerning tenants who treat the property with the level of care and respect it requires – Rheanne and Katie are the ideal tenants. Fran and the team at GFW Letting took everything in hand and ensured that the whole process ran seamlessly; in just three weeks the tenants had moved into the property. Fran’s guidance has been absolutely indispensable and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend GFW Letting to any other landlords.”

New tenant Rheanne, said: “Renting property suits our lifestyle and as soon as we saw the Staiths South Bank property to rent, we didn’t hesitate to get in touch with GFW Letting to arrange a viewing. Thanks to Fran and the team at GFW Letting, the process was sorted quickly, with no hidden costs, and the transition from one home to the next was incredibly smooth.”

Holly Armstrong, Director of GFW Letting, said: “Our business launched to offer a new service to the urban residential lettings market. We are extremely proud of the principles of our business model which are wholly centred on transparency, professionalism and the rapid renting of quality property to discerning tenants.”

GFW Letting welcomes new plans for empty homes

A new Government and Empty Homes Charity initiative is encouraging landlords to get empty homes back into society and could rejuvenate up to 50,000 homes in the North East – a scheme which is welcomed by GFW Letting.

Landlords have faced financial penalties for keeping properties uninhabited due to recent changes in the Newcastle and Durham Council Tax schemes, which has caused Council Tax demands for 150% for second homes that have lain empty for over 2 years.

With an ever growing population and the lack of affordable new properties being built, the solution may be to bring back the estimated 50,000 properties in the North East that are uninhabitable.

The National Empty Homes Loan Fund (NEHLF) is a new scheme launched to bring back empty homes into the property market.