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Month: April 2018

GFW Letting in the news

As reported in a number of North East business publications recently including Bdaily, BQ, North East Business Insider and North East Times, GFW Letting has doubled in size, following strong growth in the region.

The letting agent appointed a new Regional Operations Manager, Donna Cheney, who has developed the business steadily, and rapidly, since she came on board. Donna has grown the business by 18% and doubled its employees, creating a fully experienced, and highly regulated, specialist team of 10 property experts who work with landlords’ needs in mind. In the last year alone, the business has increased the number of properties under management by over 10%.

Commenting on GFW Letting’s success, Donna said: “As well a buoyant property market – now is a good time for landlords to purchase buy to let properties because the demand is so high – GFW Letting offers something a bit different to others in the industry. Our service is highly personalised and tailored to a landlord’s specific needs. We adopt a very customer focused approach which sets us apart from those larger agencies which are highly departmentalised, avoiding the pitfalls of intermittent service, and smaller, one-man band businesses who don’t have the manpower to provide a comprehensive, fully regulated service to a wide range of clients.”

The business has expanded its services across the region, with offices now in Alnwick, Barnard Castle, Wolsingham, Bedale and more recently, Newcastle City Centre. The City Centre location is brand new, and ideally located to help expand the agent’s professional landlord portfolio.

Donna added: “Regulation is a key concern in the letting industry, with many poorly regulated agencies putting landlords and tenants at risk. Regulation is a huge priority for us – we’re focused on ensuring all members of staff receive continued training and undertake specific exams so that they can meet regulation requirements. Recently, three team members have just passed their Propertymark Level 3 legislation exams. Very few agents do this, or provide continued training to their employees, but GFW Letting does, so that it can provide the best level of service it can.”

Tenant Fees Bill: a fairer playing field for all is needed

MPs are currently debating the proposed Tenant Fees Bill, that’s due to be made law next year. The Bill recommends tighter regulations on tenancy deposits, holding deposits and default fees, proposing that all payments, apart from rent, default fees, security deposits of up to six weeks and holding deposits of up to one week, are prohibited.

As a member of ARLA, we are fully in favour of regulation – and behind the aim to safeguard tenants by ensuring renting costs and fees are affordable – however, we do feel that a complete ban on fees is unfair and counterproductive. For example, not allowing agents to retain the holding deposit when a tenant fails the referencing check will only serve, in the long term, to negatively impact tenants, not protect them, as these costs will have to be picked up somewhere else down the line and most likely by tenants, through rental increases, for example.

MPs are also debating how much security deposit a tenant should legally be required to provide. The current draft Bill states six weeks, but the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee believes this should be reduced to five. We generally charge four weeks’ rent as a damage deposit but there are definitely circumstances where we feel a higher deposit is warranted. For instance, where there are pets in a property, and we are concerned that the legislation will prevent a landlord from doing this, which puts them at greater risk of financial loss from damage, as in some circumstances, even six weeks rent would not be considered enough to safeguard the landlord in case anything goes wrong.

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Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) Changes: what you need to know and why

This month, we are focusing on the changes in MEES legislation, which were effective from April 1. Here, our Residential Lettings Consultant, Simon Harrison and Senior Project Manager, Rob Hamilton answer some key questions…

In a nutshell, what’s changing?

“It’s now law to ensure a property that’s let out, for residential or commercial use, must meet a Minimum Efficiency Standard,” explains Simon. “A sub-standard property is one that fails to meet an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of E.”

“EPCs have always come with a list of recommendations to help you improve the energy efficiency of your property.” adds Rob. “Until now, there has been no policy to enforce these changes, meaning the EPC was only advisory. However, this is no more. The new MEES regulations mean landlords will be unable to let out a property, or renew an existing tenancy or lease, if the property fails to meet the E rating. Those landlords with properties with an F or G rating will have to carry out improvement works, benefiting the property’s utility costs, the tenant, and the environment.”

How does this affect landlords of residential and commercial property?

“It affects them quite seriously,” says Rob. “A tenanted property cannot be lawfully re-let to new or existing tenants until sufficient measures are taken to improve the performance of the building to an EPC rating E or above. There are instances when the building may be exempt from these regulations; such as if the building is listed, or a temporary structure, but it is always best to check with a qualified assessor.”

“If a landlord does let out a home or business premise that is rated below the minimum standard,” explains Simon, “Then they will face civil and criminal charges for signing a new tenancy or renewing an existing one. Given that one in 10 privately rented properties currently fail to meet the new efficiency rules it’s important that landlords seek advice and are guided through the changes so that it doesn’t negatively impact their investments.”

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