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To Manage or Not To Manage: That is the Question
So the difficult bit is over:
- You’ve purchased your buy-to-let flat;
- You’ve emigrated and have found great tenants for your old house;
- You’ve inherited mum’s old bungalow and spent weeks redecorating it in preparation for renting
Your tenants are lined up, the contracts are signed & now you’re on your own. You’ve opted for a let only service, so now all that remains is to sit back and watch the rent get paid monthly into your bank account…
But what happens if …
• Your tenants keep calling you at unsocial hours with questions regarding the heating or electrical system,
or appliance maintenance?
• Your tenants default on paying their rent?
• The property neighours complain about the loud noise and parties every night?
• The law changes and you don’t realise your obligations have changed with it?
• Your gas or electricity safety certificate expires?
• Your tenant slips on the stair carpet because it has come loose and they are hurt?
• There is a dispute regarding the return of the tenant’s deposit at the end of the tenancy?
Unfortunately there is so much more involved in the management of a property than a lot of Landlords consider at the beginning of the tenancy. If a Landlord doesn’t opt for our management service, they will need to organise all of the above and deal with the issues in the correct manner, or they could face court action, hefty fines or even imprisonment. Of course, if the property is managed then the onus is on us and we will ensure everything is dealt with correctly, timely and in accordance with property law!
If you take a look through our Landlord Obligation Booklet you will see that there is a lot more to property management than just collecting the rent! So the safest bet is to utilise the services of a Managing Agent, who knows the rental laws (and there are a lot of those) inside and out and will take care of all aspects of the management process, some of which include:
• Being available 24 hours a day for emergency assistance but knowing if the issue is the obligation of the landlord or the tenant!
• Obtaining public liability, fire, theft and other insurance on rental property.
• Arranging for regular maintenance and necessary repairs of the property.
• Assuring that tenants comply with rental policies and procedures.
• Supervising repairs and maintenance work.
• Conducting inspections of the property on a periodic basis and dealing with the issues as they arise (such as condensation or energy efficiency) rather than waiting until there is a major problem.
• Establishing and maintaining an organised system of collecting rental payments and security deposits.
• Arranging annual gas & periodic electrical safety checks, as applicable.
• Arranging energy performance certificate, and finding out if grants are available for necessary improvements.
• Liaising with utility companies and arranging meter readings and settlement of final accounts from previous tenants and at the end of tenancies.
• Arranging any cleaning and garden maintenance necessary to put the property in order before or after the tenancy.
• Settlement of regular outgoings such as ground rent, service charges, maintenance charges.
Managing a property can be time consuming, and requires great organisation. In this day and age many people just simply do not have the time it can require to manage a property correctly. This is particularly relevant to our Landlords who live abroad, or a significant distance from the rental property. Often, if you are not in a position where you can regularly see your property it can be difficult to make decisions or know what is required, or even be able to reach a qualified local electrician or maintenance contractor to rectify a problem immediately, without paying costly call-out charges for trades-people you don’t know from Adam!
“Your property management team allow me to not have to worry about any aspect of the property. I know that if anything comes up, it will be dealt with in a prompt efficient manner and that there will be no surprises for me as a landlord”
Dan Peppett, Managed Landlord
It can really be useful to have a management team in place to offer honest, realistic advice in terms of any work that needs to be done, and who can also arrange and oversee any maintenance issues as they arise. Further to this, Sewell & Gardner’s management team are one of the only available teams to offer support 24 hours a day, meaning our overseas Landlords are not woken up in the middle of the night trying to rectify a burst pipe on top of a time difference!
In terms of rent and deposits, Sewell & Gardner will collect the rent for you and pass it on via bank transfer in a timely fashion (usually within 3 working days). If for any reason a tenant defaults on the rent, we have a set chase-up procedure in place and will make the necessary phone calls, write the correct letters and, if the rent does not materialise, we shall organise your rent guarantee insurance claim from the policy provided free of charge to our Landlords*. We also handle the tenant’s security deposit protection under our Tenancy Deposit Scheme insurance, as well as organising the end of tenancy check-out, quotations for works, negotiating any deductions, and (where applicable) organising the adjudication through the insurance scheme. All of this work is exceptionally time consuming and will require full tenancy notes and inspection reports from the start and end of the tenancy and all of the way through too! Most Landlords do not have the facilities or the inclination to keep the kind of records required for this purpose (whereas we do) and this can end up costing hundreds of pounds at the end of the tenancy!
A common concern of our Landlords is that such a thorough service must cost an awful lot, when this really isn’t the case. Take for example, a standard two bed flat with a rental income of £1100pcm: This would cost around £1.80+VAT per day to fully manage…! With laws tightening surrounding the obligations of Landlords as well as keen interests to maintain a property to a high level can you really afford not to choose the full management service?
*Subject to terms of business
Reagan “Lettings Pixie” Bradley
The Times & Sunday Timnes Newspaper
UK property manager of the year 2013