Welcome to the October 2008 edition of the LandlordZONE Newsletter.
Fire Safety Order – October 2008 Issue 33
Welcome to the October 2008 Issue,
We’re living through some unprecedented and scary times: if you are a landlord or running a business it’s now about survival.
Regardless of whether your properties are in negative equity, and it only really matters if you are forced to sell, it’s about reducing your costs and keeping the rental income flowing.
Just like the stock market, property prices are depressed and still falling, but they will return.
When they do, opportunities will abound for those with the resources, but I would recommend the adventurous investors sit on their hands for now.
In the meantime, routes to survival:
- Consider managing your property yourself and save on agent’s fees. If you do use agents make sure you know exactly what you sign up to and negotiate hard on fees and renewals costs.
- Know your local market and the demand / supply balance and price your rents conservatively to avoid the voids and retain your tenants longer.
- Select your tenants very carefully and avoid panic lettings—a bad tenant can be far more expensive than a void—do tenant checks and follow a good screening system.
- Treat your tenants well and deal with them in a professional manner as you would want to be dealt with yourself—remember you are providing a consumer service.
- Don’t delay or penny-pinch on repairs—tenants rent to avoid the worry of repair bills—don’t disappoint them.
- Go through hell and high water to get the best mortgage deals—research and consult brokers and finance companies—there are deals out there.
- Make sure your landlord insurance is adequate—accident claims can be horrendous – and consider rent guarantee and legal cover, especially if you are highly geared.
- Make sure you meet all your legal obligations, especially the new ones such as Licensing, Deposit Protection and EPCs—fines can be high.
- If you do find yourself in financial difficulties, hanging on in there, if you can, is preferable to crystallising losses now. Always keep your lender informed and get help and advice. Consider a second job, taking in lodgers, and cut spending to the bone—short-term pain is preferable to long-term debt.
Two reports on the Private Rental Sector (PRS) have been published recently: The Law Commission’s long awaited: Encouraging Responsible Letting, and The DCLG commissioned report from the University of York—Review of the Private Rental Sector.
Despite press comments to the contrary, I see these reports as being positive for landlords: they confirm the basic efficacy of the current legal regime, they call for voluntary as opposed to more statutory regulation and they acknowledge the importance of the PRS.
A small proportion of rogue landlords cause problems, but the resources to tackle these are and will remain in short supply.
Tom Entwistle, Editor.
This month’s Topic – Fire Safety Order
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 may not mean a lot to most landlords, and indeed most landlords will not be directly affected by it.
However, if you are involved with HMOs, multi-occupied residential buildings such as some types of student accommodation or commercial lettings such as shops, offices or workshops in multi-unit buildings, then you need to be aware of this.
The new Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order came into force October 2006, and any business or affected domestic premises owners failing to comply face serious legal consequences including hefty fines or, in the event of a fire-related fatality, imprisonment.
However, despite this threat a surveys show that around 35 percent of businesses in England and Wales are still unaware of how the new reform will affect them, whilst nearly 50 percent of those surveyed have admitted they are uncertain as to how they go about making sure they are compliant.
Content for this month’s newsletter has been supplied by Darren Baird DMS, MIFireE, MIFSM of Total Fire Service (Services) Limited.
All their fire safety consultants are from extensive fire service backgrounds with industry recognised qualifications.
Initial TFS consultations and on-site advice about meeting your legal requirements under the FSO are totally free.
Despite the fact that in theory landlords and business owners can do their own risk assessments, a professional service such as TFS takes care of a lot of the time consuming paperwork and uncertainty of DIY.
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