Five Minutes with Donna Cheney…
We asked our Regional Operations Manager, Donna, a few questions so that you could get to know her a little bit better.
How did you get into the letting industry?
I worked in recruitment for about 9 months after I graduated university in Newcastle, and was recruiting for a national property company. They called me and offered me a Lettings Negotiators job as they were impressed with my recruiting work!
What is it that you love most about your job and working in a letting agency?
I love the pace of lettings. It is a very fast paced industry, and highly time pressured, but I thrive in that environment and enjoy seeing quick results from our work. In my current position I love working with the people that I do – I enjoy coaching and developing people to be the best that they can and achieve what they want to in their careers.
Three people you’d love to have dinner with?
Brian Cox as I am fascinated by space and astronomy
Hugh Jackman as I find him very pleasant to look at!
Michelle Obama as I think she is a highly intelligent woman with a great deal to offer the world
I am afraid I am a bit of a Keeping up With the Kardashians fan… a bit of mindless entertainment on a Sunday evening!
What’s your passion outside of lettings?
I love the outdoors and am lucky to live so close to the coast and the beautiful Northumberland countryside and love walking.
Electrical Safety Testing: Are You Doing Enough?
As a landlord, there are several laws you must adhere to surrounding electrical safety. For instance, landlords must ensure that all electrical installations are safe (such as light fittings, wiring and sockets) and they also need to ensure that all portable appliances supplied by the landlord to the property are safe. A portable appliance refers to anything in the property that has a plug, including kettles, washing machines, fridges, lamps etc.
A landlord has a legal duty of care to ensure the safety of tenants. As recent high-profile cases of tragedies caused by appliances highlight, there really should be no hesitation as far as a landlord is concerned to have the necessary tests done.
There is nothing written in black and white, however, about regular testing of appliances, or how often it should be carried out unless you are a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) landlord where a Periodic Inspection is required every five years, by law.
Common sense should prevail though, and landlords should ensure a fully qualified electrician carries out regular safety checks. The generally accepted timescales are to have a portable appliance test carried out annually and a Periodic Inspection every five years. The cost to carry out such tests, and regularly, is insignificant compared to the risk if anything was unsafe to use.
A Portable Appliance Test costs approximately £60, with a Periodic Inspection around £100. The electrician who conducts the testing should provide copies of certificates once they are completed and in the case of Portable Appliance Tests, anything that does not pass should be immediately removed and replaced with a new item. For Periodic Inspections, the electrician may recommend works for anything that does not meet the current safety standards, and a landlord should always ensure that they have any remedial works carried out as soon as possible.
Penalties for landlords not ensuring their electrics are safe can include a £5,000 fine per non-compliant item, 6 months’ imprisonment or possible manslaughter charges if the worst happened and a tenant died because of unsafe electrics. Is it really worth the risk?
For further information, the below two guides provide an easy to understand explanation of the current legislation and how it applies to landlords.
Letting Team Awarded ARLA Approved Propertymark Qualifications
We are delighted to announce some big news within our letting team – Donna Cheney, our Regional Operations Manager, and Nichaela Robson, our Property Manager, have achieved the Propertymark Qualifications NFoPP QCF Level 3 Technical Award in Residential Letting and Property Management.
Talking about the qualification, that’s approved by the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), Donna said: “We are both thrilled to pass this specific qualification because it aims to promote better regulation and higher practice standards in the UK Private Rented Sector and we are strong advocates of raising standards right across the industry.”
The Technical Award counts as a real stamp of professionalism and is a nationally recognised commitment to raising standards across the property management sector so it’s great for GFW Letting to boost qualified team members.
Nichaela Robson, our Property Manager, added: “It’s been great working towards this qualification and although a good personal achievement it is also a mark of trust, integrity and expertise for both tenants and landlords who are already working with us or planning to do so.”
Tax Changes Every Landlord Needs to Know About (April 2017)
Mortgage interest relief that buy-to-let landlords were previously exempt from is now no more, following the changes in tax law that came into effect on April 6.
Before the change to legislation, landlords could claim tax relief to their mortgage interest payments which, in basic terms, meant that you could offset the cost of the buy-to-let mortgage interest from the rental income when totalling profits. If a landlord collects £25,000 a year in rental income, but pays a mortgage interest of £23,000, the profit would be £2,000.
So what’s changed?
The new rules, which will be phased in over the next 4 years, means that you can no longer deduct all of your mortgage interest off how much rental income you get. By 2020, the maximum amount you can deduct will be 20%.
For a small 1 or 2 property investor, the change may not make a significant difference, but a large investor landlord is likely to notice a big difference, so seeking the best advice and making sure you are on the best possible mortgage deal is a must.
If you’re an investor landlord, you’re likely to be in the higher taxpayer rate bracket and this is where the change will be felt the most. Those landlords in this bracket will likely see their profits greatly reduce. So, as an example, if you had a £150,000 buy-to-let mortgage on a property worth £200,000, with a monthly rent of £800, this would currently have a net profit of around £2,160 a year. Under the new system, the net profit would drop to £960.
What should landlords do?
- Perhaps it’s worth considering looking at re-mortgaging to see if a better deal can be sought to mitigate the change in the tax system.
- You could place your property portfolio in a limited company structure. You would then pay corporation tax (which is lower) rather than income tax on your profits. A drawback is that your mortgage options will narrow, as fewer providers will lend to a company.
- The most important step to take now is to seek advice from an accountant or financial adviser. They can ensure you are fully up to speed with what your tax obligations are and help you budget accordingly.
If you are a landlord and would like more advice, please contact our team on 0191 284 7171 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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