Spring Statement Prediction
It has been indicated that the Spring Statement will simply be limited to an economic update and a response to the latest forecasts.
We are not expecting property to play a large role in the Spring Statement, however, we are expecting an update on the property tax regime. In the Autumn Budget 2018, Hammond announced that Lettings Relief would be limited to properties where the owner is in shared occupancy with the tenant. Interestingly, Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has suggested that the move is causing smaller landlords to exit the market. When reviewing our business data, we have seen no evidence of this, suggesting that this is not the case in the North East and that the economic update will further clarify our findings.
Right to Rent scheme breaches human rights law
Rules aimed at preventing illegal immigrants from renting properties are “discriminatory” and breach human rights laws, the High Court has ruled. The “right to rent” scheme, which requires landlords to check the immigration status of tenants, was introduced in England in 2016. Judges said it would be illegal to roll it out in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland without further evaluation (for the full story please click here).
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.”
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.”
The key to success? Belief in doing what you love
Here, we sit down with Donna Cheney, GFW Letting’s Regional Operations Manager, to discuss her thoughts on the role of women in business, reflecting on her own career paths and success.
You hold a senior position in GFW Letting which is a fantastic achievement; can you tell us how you got to this stage in your career?
“To be honest, establishing a career in the lettings industry was accidental. When I graduated, I joined a recruitment firm and was actually offered the job I was recruiting for (!) which was a lettings negotiator for a national lettings firm. Within two and a half years, I was promoted to branch manager and, after running that successfully, I was given a further two branches to manage that were under performing. In total, I spent 13 years at the company, before joining GFW letting as Regional Operations Manager.”
As women in business, do you feel you’ve been given an equal opportunity to succeed and progress your career?
“I have never felt like my gender has affected my career development. Achievement throughout my career and getting to the position I hold today is completely down to me, and my work ethic and determination as an individual, not a woman. Gender doesn’t define your success, a strong skill set and ambition does.”
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career and what has this taught you?
“Becoming a branch manager was a huge challenge. I went from being a colleague to managing colleagues overnight and my relationship with them had to change, which was tough. I had to believe in myself and believe that the people around me trusted that I was right for the job. It made me realise that a team is everything. Leading by example and treating everyone as equals, male or female, with mutual support and respect is so important. Without that, you simply can’t move forward and be effective.”
What is the best advice you’ve been given and would like to pass on?
Donna: A manager once said something to me that has always stuck: “You have 24 hours in a day. For eight hours, you sleep (so have a good mattress), for another eight (balancing out weekends) you spend with your friends and family so love them unconditionally, and the rest, you work, so do something you love!”
If you’d like to find out more about our letting service, get in touch with Donna Cheney on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0191 284 7171.