Forthcoming changes and their implications in law will be one of the topics addressed at a free half-day seminar for residential property landlords in Kent.
The Landlords' Residential Lettings' Update 2018 is being hosted by Caxtons Residential – a division of Caxtons Chartered Surveyors - on Tuesday 6th November at The Holiday Inn, Maidstone Road, Chatham ME5 9SF.
In recent months landlords who own and let residential property in Kent have been preparing for, or dealing with new and impending regulations and legislation that they must comply with, or risk being on the wrong side of the Law or HMRC.
This, and the ever-present issues of balancing the books and being a landlord make it even more important to keep up to date with changes in the sector.
In order to address these issues and help landlords keep abreast of variations to their legal, Health & Safety and insurance obligations, Caxtons want to engage with
Speakers include Rex Cowell, a property litigation specialist solicitor, Jason Oldham ACCI from Morrison Insurance Solutions and Eamonn Evans DipNDEA, DipDEA, GDA, an EPC and Health & Safety expert who works across the South East.
The final panel session, made up of all the speakers, gives the audience an opportunity to ask the questions that are important to them and will be followed at 1230 by a sandwich lunch where delegates and speakers will be able to chat on a 'one-to-one' basis.
Places are restricted and will be allocated on a 'first come, first served' basis, so call now to reserve yours.
Tamsyn Muller was full of excitement and expectation having been offered an unconditional place to study for a postgraduate degree at the University of Kent at Canterbury.
Being well organised, she found and secured accommodation in Tyler Court, university accommodation that was being marketed by Caxtons Student Lettings department in Canterbury. She paid an administration fee, completed her tenancy agreement form and was just waiting for the day she would move in.....
However, soon afterwards, the University of Kent contacted Tamsyn to say that, due to an administrative error, she had been accepted without being interviewed – which was against protocol. An interview was organised for the third week of August and unfortunately Tamsyn was told that the university had decided not to offer her a position on the course.
This was an obvious blow and not only did it throw her plans for 2018/19, but meant that she would no longer be relocating to Kent and didn't need the accommodation she had organised.
She immediately contacted Caxtons Student Lettings in Canterbury to let them know of the situation and offered to send documentation as evidence her tale of woe. She requested they withdraw her tenancy form and put the
This is when Samantha Collins, who works in Caxtons Student Lettings, took the problem to Duncan Reeves, the head of the department, and questioned just what they could do for Tamsyn, who had experienced enough misery already.
The outcome was that Tamsyn's admin fee was refunded in full and the property was put back on the market without further ado. She was so delighted that she wrote:
That is truly amazing news, I'm so grateful for all the help and understanding I've received from you and the Canterbury office
And the moral of this tale – some Letting Agents have big hearts.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (DHCLG) has announced new measures for the lettings and property management sectors.
Caxtons Chartered Surveyors is a full service property company based in Kent providing property expertise across the South East - including residential lettings and management.
Alan Stewart, director and a Fellow of the Association of Residential Lettings Agents has heard it all before.
"Banning orders against rogue landlords and letting agents who commit offences came in to force as part of the 'Housing and Planning Act 2016' and local authorities will be able to share that information. However, there are so many rules and regulations designed to catch these offenders that just aren't being enforced.
"At Caxtons we hope that if and when the latest proposals become law they are rigorously policed and applied. As an accredited letting and managing agent we already have codes, laws and regulations that are being flouted by some 'fly-by-night' agents who set up with no qualifications or knowledge of the sector. We know that letting agents are already in breach of the existing code that requires us to display charges prominently in offices and online. But nothing is being done to challenge them or let potential tenants and landlords know."
The new proposals are, in general, welcomed by the sector and comprise a compulsory Code of Practice covering all letting and managing agents to ensure that:
Sadly, bringing the proposals on to the statute book will require Parliamentary time, which is in short supply particularly with Brexit looming. And the finer detail of the Code is yet to be finessed by working parties made up of user and regulatory groups.
Housing Minister Heather Wheeler said "Most property agents take a thorough and professional approach when carrying out their business, but sadly some do not.
"By introducing new standards for the sector, we will clamp down on the small minority of agents who abuse the system so we can better protect tenants and leaseholders who find themselves at the end of a raw deal."
It is hoped that the proposals, and the promise that penalties in the form of criminal charges, will be enforced where mal-practice is uncovered.
"This move will reinforce our message about using reputable agents and I believe the non-compliance figure for displaying fees was over 90% with little or no repercussions. The provisions are already contained in the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and it appears that these will be amended and strengthened in the Draft Tenant Fees Bill, which is now working its way through the Parliamentary process." says Alan.
Having completed their examination of the draft Tenant Fees Bill, members of the DHCLG Committee are supporting change to apply stricter regulation to tenancy deposits including smaller deposits, what fees will be permissible, and diligent enforcement of the regulations.
Recommendations include capping tenancy deposits at five weeks' rent, rather than six and returning holding deposits if tenant referencing fails the required criteria.
Industry experts are concerned that the latter will lead to additional problems for tenants and agents. If agents are unable to retain holding deposits and the potential tenant fails referencing checks it may lead to agent bias in selecting only the best tenants to avoid expense associated with failed referencing.
The HCLG Committee Report says the Bill will
...increase letting agents' incentives to compete for landlords' business resulting in a more transparent market with lower overall fee levels and a higher quality of service
and that a fee ban will
....reduce the risk of unfair practices in the form of double charging ... thus making the sector more competitive, more affordable and of a higher standard.
Where leaseholders are concerned, they will be able to challenge unfair fees and service charges and there will be support for leaseholders who want to sack management companies who charge a lot for doing very little.
When interviewed, Sebastian O'Kelly, a prominent campaigner for a fairer deal for leaseholders, recently said he would hope the new regulator is "Somebody who is completely outside the leasehold system, so none of that terracotta army of lawyers and surveyors who depend on the leasehold system and its inefficiencies for their livelihood. It needs a very robust independent regulator who will kick this murky corner of property into line."