Five minutes with….
In 2017, we relocated to Newcastle City Centre and are thrilled to report that it has been a huge success. Thanks to the big move, we have been looking to expand our team and we are thrilled to have recently recruited an additional Property Manager, Lauren Attle.
What attracted you to the lettings industry?
My family have always enjoyed buying properties from auction, renovating them and then going on to re sell them. This, alongside living in several houses in different locations allowed me to develop a real interest in property.
Letting industry breakthrough
Late last week, it was announced that all letting agents in the UK must, by law, be part of a Government approved Client Money Protection scheme (CMP). The new legislation, which will come into force next year, is a huge coup for the industry, and something we very much welcome.
The best time to let your property? Now!
It goes without saying that we’ve had a long, cold winter and some might say we are pretty much skipping Spring all together and heading into a long hot summer (or so we hope!).
Given the extended period of cold, grey days, more tenants have delayed looking for their next home. As the weather is improving, with lighter and brighter evenings, people will start to get moving, and now really is the time to put your property on the rental market.
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.