When it comes to owning a buy-to let property, the decision as to whether to use an agent or not is a big one.
It is estimated that more than half of landlords self-manage their rental properties, believing it to be the best way to maintain control over who lives there and how well their property is taken care of, whilst of course saving money on management fees.
For some landlords, particularly those who have the time to dedicate to managing and maintaining their rental properties, and who keep up to date with the ever-changing rules and regulations, this can be the case.
However, those who do not have that time or knowledge and believe they can ‘let and forget’, are at risk of missing vital steps at the start of the tenancy process.
This can not only prevent them being unable to regain possession of their property easily in the future, but also land them with a hefty penalty.
What’s more, and contrary to some reports, I believe tenants are more knowledgeable about their rights than ever before, which leaves little room for landlords to be ill-informed.
I was quite alarmed by recent media coverage as part of Generation Rent’s first ever ‘Renters’ Rights Awareness Week’, which flagged act ions private tenants can take against landlords in the case of ‘no-fault’ eviction notices.
Generation Rent claimed landlords are failing to comply on documentation such as Energy Performance Certificates, gas safety and deposit protection, and their poll said that just 23% of tenants remember receiving a Government “How to Rent” guide at the start of their tenancy.
Tenants were also informed that they could be entitled to a whole year of rent back under the terms of selective licensing laws within several local authorities.
Whilst it is true that without certain aspects of regulation being adhered to by a landlord or their agent, tenants have protection against being evicted until any shortcomings are fully rectified.
But it is also important to note that in most cases, landlords only need to evidence that they did serve the relevant information to their tenant within the initial 30-day window, and not if the tenant remembers receiving it or not.
I think it is disappointing, especially after all the hard work landlords and tenants have gone through over the past year to work collaboratively, that such narrative is used in the media.
It creates a divide that suggests landlords and letting agents have no interest in having well-informed customers and are therefore mistreating their tenants.
Language like this is disrespectful to the sector that works tirelessly to provide the much-needed housing for many individuals and families across the country and encourages conflict between the parties when in most cases it is not required.
Whilst there will always be a small number of landlords and agents who deliberately fail to provide tenants with adequate information, the vast majority take their responsibilities seriously.
The last year has undoubtedly challenged the BTL market like never before, with tenants struggling to pay rent, landlords struggling to cover their own costs and both agents and landlords trying to navigate the ever-changing legislation brought in as a result of the pandemic.
I believe that agents have played a pivotal role in helping guide landlords and tenants through these changes, playing a mediation role between parties and offering support when it was needed the most.
With so much emphasis on how tenants can help protect themselves, I believe more landlords should consider support too, and instructing an agent can be a really good way to keep that professional and balanced app roach to managing a rental property.
I wonder how many landlords have ever been shown the true reality of failing to be compliant and how their opinion of management might change if they were shown the list of penalties listed on this page.
Whilst these are the most extreme cases, I think it presents a clear picture that there is more emphasis than ever on landlords to be professional and compliant. There is no margin for error.
Self-management is more challenging now than I have ever known it to be in the 30 years I have been involved in the private rental sector.
Having been asked for many years to produce my own online course for landlords and with everything that has happened in the last 18 months, I have finally done it.
If you are unsure whether to continue managing your property yourself or instruct some additional help, my online course is called ‘To self-manage or not to self-manage’.
It considers both options, helping landlords make the right choice for their personal circumstances, and most importantly, advising landlords to always put a price on their time.
If you are unsure whether to continue managing your property yourself or instruct some additional help, my online course is called ‘To self-manage or not to self-manage’. It considers both options, helping landlords make the right choice for their personal circumstances, and most importantly, advising landlords to always put a price on their time.