THE PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR LANDLORDS
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Many landlords require assistance with the management of their properties; this might be due to a lack of time and/or expertise. Some will be happy to do their own management, but might need assistance at the time of holidays or illness.
Alternatively it might be worth thinking about a home cover insurance, to cover those times the landlord/agent/manager can’t be there.
Whatever reason for using outside help, there are several points that need to be considered.
Choosing an agent/manager
It is most important to find a manager/agent who is reputable; knows about the law and isn’t going to let you down, or go out of business. Remember the landlord is always responsible, even if the manager/agent gets it wrong.
It is strongly advisable to have an agent belonging to a recognised scheme:-
- Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA)
- The National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS)
- National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA – now part of ARLA)
- Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
If a letting agent has the logo or trademark name of any of these, you can be sure it is bound by certain rules and regulations that the professional body instructs its members to abide by in the course of their work.
Fit and Proper Person.
Note that anyone managing other people’s property should be deemed to be a ‘fit and proper person’.
A Fit and Proper person cannot have:
- Unspent convictions relating to violence, sexual offences, drugs and fraud;
- Breach of any housing or landlord and tenant law;
- Found guilty of unlawful discrimination;
- Has been banned under HA 2016;
- Has not lost their Right to Remain in England;
- Has not been declared insolvent or bankrupt.
Note that if they are on the Database of Rogue Landlords they cannot manage other people’s property. Currently the database is not open to the public, so it is advisable to get a manager to state in writing they are a fit and proper person according to the rules at that time.
Client Money Protection
Any agent belonging to any of the above will automatically have access to a Client Money Protection Scheme. It is intended that all agents will have to belong to some kind of scheme, but currently we don’t have a timescale for this.
Property Redress Scheme
All agents now have to belong to one of the two Redress Schemes:-
- The Property Ombudsman
- The Property Redress Scheme
It is critical the contract between the owner/landlord and manager clearly sorts out who does what. It is a big problem when there are gaps in the contract, meaning neither party are going to do a particular action, and sometimes worse is if both parties agree to do the same thing.
Either way it is the tenant who suffers. Ensure all parties know who does what, and what penalties are there if the manager doesn’t fulfil because the owner/landlord is always ultimately responsible.
Note that with the advent of the Tenants Fees Act it is not allowed (after March 20th 2019) for the tenant to be charged fees for most matters – consequently landlord, managers and agents will have to find other ways of covering these costs; so unless the rent rises, profits will decrease.
Please note that it is not possible to charge extra rent at the outset of a tenancy. In future rent will have to be apportioned over the whole duration of the period, i.e. equal payments of rent.