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RichieP
06-06-2005, 13:40 PM
I've spent some time reading some of the threads here, and the advice given. I'm going to be leaving London soon and want to let my flat. I used to be a housing officer so have some knowledge of tenancies, rent arrears, court proceedings etc.
Any advice from you more experienced people?

When asking for references, I will ask for employer, landlord and bank references. What do I ask an employer?

What if a prospective tenant has no previous landlord and is moving out of home?

Thanks in anticipation for any help.

ngadef
06-06-2005, 14:37 PM
I'm a housing manager to

But when it came to letting my house
I mess up & it's still ocsting me

My advice is don't bother
Get an agency to manage it for you

But if you must look at the FAQs on this site
There are all sorts of forms & tings

Particularly forms for tenant references

Paul_f
06-06-2005, 21:35 PM
If you use an agent make sure it's one who is a member of ARLA/NAEA/RICS only. NALS members give some protection but not nearly as much as the other three.

RichieP
08-06-2005, 07:51 AM
I was hoping for something a bit more positive than that. What can agents do that I cant, if someone refuses to pay rent? They still have to follow the same legal procedure.

P.Pilcher
08-06-2005, 08:24 AM
You say you are leaving London thus, it is assumed you will be unable to visit your property in order to manage it or admit potential tenants to view. Thus we expect you will need an agent and Paul F has made a very valid recommendation as to the type of agent to seek.

Much browsing of this board and it's predecessor will indicate the problems that some landlords have with some agents and the sort of questions to ask to ensure that you do not experience similar problems with the agent you select.

I live about 30 miles from my rental proertiies and I find it convenient to use an agent to find me a tenant for a one off fee, then I take over the tenant and manage the property myself.

P.P.

Jennifer_M
08-06-2005, 08:33 AM
RichieP what an agent can do that you might not be able to do is regular checks on the property, organise repairs quickly, answer the tenant's questions whenever they have some and sort out the forms if there's a need to renew an agreement or ask tenants to leave.

You are asking questions such as "What do I ask an employer for references" which shows that you don't really know what to do with the "easy" part, let alone if a problem arises.

What people have suggested would allow you time to learn about letting your property, have some experience, and also save you long drive (assuming you are staying in the UK) everytime the tenant has blocked his toilet.
In the end the decision is yours but the experts have given you their opinion.

Tax Accountant
08-06-2005, 10:21 AM
In many cases, I live far from the properties I let. In that case I use agents to lacate the tenant and then have the rent paid by Banker's Standing Order. If there is any repairs problem, I simply source a local company and use them to attend to all the problems.

If you wish to source a tenant yourself, you could do as many of the following as you could:

(1) Get references from the previous landlord, personal acquaintance, employer and bank. As to the employer, ask for the salary level, length of service, whether the service is permanent or temporary and the character reference. As to the Bank, how long the person has been with the bank and whether the person is satisfactory for payment of rent in the sum of £x.

(2) Look at the bank statements for at least previous 6 months.

(3) If possible, verify that rent was paid on time to the previous landlord and also that all utility bills have been settled.

(4) Secure a guarantee from the parents or other suitable third parties.

(5) If possible, pay a surprise visit to the tenant at the current address and look at the state of the property.

(6) Check to ensure that the tenant has no previous CCJ's or other adverse record.

(7) Look at Council tax records to verify that the tenant has been staying at the address he has stated to you.

I would be the first one to admit that it is easier said then done to attend to a lot of the above matters.

I would suggest that you could find a better tenant yourself if you are willing to put out yourself.

However, in your case it may be better to play safe and hand it over to the agents. Learn by experience and then see if you are cut out to do it yourself next time around.

Ramnik

RichieP
09-06-2005, 12:34 PM
Thank you for your reply. Nice to get an answer to the question I asked, rather than a sanctimonious one.

I have the time to vet any prospective tenants and am more than willing to pay for credit checks etc. I'm only a couple of hours away, have relatives who can do repair work and a plumber and electrician who I know well.

Just wanted a bit of friendly, helpful advice. Nice to get some.

oaktree
09-06-2005, 14:36 PM
I wouldn't pay too much heed to whether the agent (should you decide to use one) is a member of ARLA or the NAEA; they can provide just as bad service as anyone else and often do. They can disappear with your money the same as any non affilliated agent too. RICS are a different kettle of fish, they do have some teeth and willingly use them.

Better to go by recommendation from friends, colleagues, local landlords associations etc to find out who the best people to deal with are in the area
...and before anyone launches into the "how dare you impune the names of these wondrous associations" I would just say

Kings Royal
Anthony Gover
Blenheims PM
Des Res
Chandler & Co
Westminster PM
..etc etc etc

Tax Accountant
09-06-2005, 15:44 PM
Richie,

You have to read all the replies in the spirit in which they have been offered, especially bearing in mind that all the advice offered is free. Sometimes the answers appear to be rather strongly worded or addresses different issues, but you should take these in your stride. Look at all the replies and take the best bits from these which suit your circumstances.

If it helps, I would say that I prefer to find my own tenants and to manage my own properties whereever possible. If nothing else, it saves you a lot of commission charges. In my experience, a lot of agents do very little work, if any, once a tenant is in place. If the property is in good condition and the tenant is good, there is very little use of an agent. If things go wrong, there is not much else that even an agent can do. The buck will always stop with you.

I would offer the following suggestions to be a good and successful landlord:

(1) Ensure the tenant is good. Don't be tempted to overlook some things which don't look right. After all, if a tenant is honest and has nothing to hide, he/she will definitely give you all the assistance in verifying their status as a good tenant.

(2) Ensure that your property is well maintained. Provide good furnishings. attend to repairs in reasonable time. Take time to keep contact with the tenant at least every 3 months, if not monthly.

(3) If possible, take out a maintenance contract for gas servicings/ repairs/ safety certificates. Also take out a contract for emergency repairs, eg, plumbing, drainage etc.

(3) Ensure the agreement allows the rent to be paid by banker's standing order.

(4) Remember, it is better to get less rent than the market value. This will ensure that your property will appeal to more potential tenants and you will have better chance to retain your tenants for longer periods.

(5) ONCE YOU FIND A GOOD TENANT, DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO RETAIN THEM. It costs a lot less to retain an existing tenant than to find a new one, not to mention the voids, to do up the property again, to pay fees to find a new tenant, and even then you don't know how the new tenant is going to turn out.

Ramnik

RichieP
09-06-2005, 16:24 PM
Thanks.
I also don't really think an agent is woth 15% of my rental income. This would leave me just covering the mortgage, and no money to put by for reserve. I'm willing to go a couple of months with no tenants until I find the right person, rather than take someone I'm not sure about.
My flat is certainly well maintained and will continue to be so. I can't be doing with these dodgy landlords who treat tenants badly so I won't be like that.

Paul_f
10-06-2005, 16:25 PM
I wouldn't pay too much heed to whether the agent (should you decide to use one) is a member of ARLA or the NAEA; they can provide just as bad service as anyone else and often do. They can disappear with your money the same as any non affilliated agent too. RICS are a different kettle of fish, they do have some teeth and willingly use them.

Better to go by recommendation from friends, colleagues, local landlords associations etc to find out who the best people to deal with are in the area
...and before anyone launches into the "how dare you impune the names of these wondrous associations"
In that case all I can say is you don't know anything about NAEA or ARLA!

oaktree
13-06-2005, 14:38 PM
In that case all I can say is you don't know anything about NAEA or ARLA!You're being very naive if you really think that an agent belonging to the NAEA or ARLA is in anyway more likely to be honest than anyone else. Your carefully edited quote missed off the by no means exhaustive list of NAEA/ARLA agents who absconded with several hundreds of thousands of pounds of landlords money in the last few years. Some protection :rolleyes: ARLA behaved disgracefully when Kings Royal of Brighton went bust. www.spla.co.uk/spla/docs/spg00.htm

My ex boss went bust owing over £400,000 to landlords and tenants. For 12 months I, another ex employee and several landlords tried alerting the Compliance Officer. Did they do anything? of course not until after he had gone then they fined him £118 (which he didn't pay) at a disciplinary hearing (which he didn't go to) Did they respond to clients complaints that they had let things go on too long before taking action? No again, so please don't tell me that I know nothing of the NAEA because I won't join in with the banner waving and back slapping.

I was a member of the NAEA for several years. I finally lost patience when, amongst other things, after several letters/faxes/emails over 13 months they still couldn't get my new office address correct never mind deal with any of the important issues raised.

I'm all for regulation and I'm sure many members of the NAEA or ARLA are as honest as the rest of us - but its no guarantee.

SteveP
15-06-2005, 21:46 PM
Paul,
I do think Oaktree has a fair point, and although I might wave RICS banner a bit I am not involved with agency work so have no personal interest in that part of the property industry.

However, the same things could happen with an RICS member....it is just less likely, the fine (plus costs normally) would be larger and significantly loss of RICS membership (because it has high status and a near monopoly of some parts of the industry) would likely hurt badly where loss of ARLA/NAEA may not. I may be wrong but I also think that RICS are much more vigilant in checking that members are complying with regulations.

Finally RICS are constantly improving regulation, for example you can expect to see an independent ombudsman that people can take complaits to in the near future as they have been piloting in Scotland and RICS have just had a review of regulation carried out by Sir Brian Carsberg http://www.rics.org/AboutRICS/RICSProfessionalRegulationandConsumerProtection/carsberg_biography.htm and that will inform future improvements.

I must also say that Oaktree has to accept that not many of us Chartered Surveyors do lettings, there are not very many now that even do estate agency, so as far as the bulk of the market goes ARLA/NAEA is probably as good as they are going to get. So it is good advice to think RICS/ARLA/NAEA. The bulk of poor letting agents are unregulated.

It is a shame that there are no private forums here because it is obvious that you both believe effective regulation is important, as I do. So these matters are well worth discussing. RICS have forums that cannot be accessed by non members and they have proved a very effective means for members to communicate with each other and the Institution, and because only members and staff see the discussions people are prepared to discuss issues that would be taboo in public.

I have never actually compared the regulatory regimes of the three, but I imagine as RICS members are experts in all areas of land/property/contruction and therefore need more robust rules to cover all of the eventualities, a comparison might prove tricky. Might be worth having a go though?