As I write this blog, I’m on a train down to Devon to do a talk at the ARLA Propertymark Devon Regional Meeting.
One of the many hats I wear in my role as Director / Brand Ambassador for Hamilton Fraser Group is overseeing ‘Education’. For me, this has become one of the most important tools for landlords and letting agents, and yet one of the most common excuses I hear from landlords is “I didn’t know.”
We enter education from a young age and then later, may take the path of further education which best suits our skillset or interests. No matter what we do, we are always learning. For example, when we start a new job, more often than not, we’re given training and guidance.
The problem with the Private Rented Sector is that for many, ‘landlording’ started off as a lucrative hobby, not a job. As the sector has grown, it has become entirely necessary to put some policies in place to protect the consumer and raise standards, just as a business would have in place for its employees and/or customers. However, legislation has come so thick and fast that many landlords have struggled to keep up and have not recognised the need to educate themselves.
Landlord Action, Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Insurance, My Deposits, Client Money Protect, The Property Redress Scheme, Landlord Zone and Tenant Verify all come under the Hamilton Fraser umbrella. That’s a lot of brands with thousands of landlords and letting agents in our databases.
Our content team and heads of business, like myself, are forever writing guides, blogs and creating supporting tools, which provide vital updates and information. But, whether a landlord has one or ten properties, they must make the time to read these and learn if they wish to succeed.
If you are a landlord that likes managing your rental property yourself, building a relationship with your tenant so that they are encouraged to stay longer and treat your property as a home, that is fantastic. HOWEVER, the latest count I read, was there are now 176 rules and regulations relating to letting a property, so my advice is learn learn learn. I tell all the landlords and agents I train to go online at the beginning of the day, before they get stuck into work mode, emails and calls, and just read what is going on in our industry.
As well as news, my very good friend and colleague Kate Faulkner has written a Landlord Compliance Toolkit, I suggest you go on the site, subscribe and you will get the document emailed as a PDF.
I would also advise landlords to join a landlord association such as NLA or RLA, who have now since merged and offer great value for money. They provide the latest news, advice lines, campaigns, lobbying, market trends and sign posting of recommended suppliers, as well as an advice line. Being part of this community of professional landlords means collectively we have a stronger voice. This I have seen first-hand while sitting on the Fair Possessions Coalition in response to the Government’s intentions to abolish Section 21. Along with many other organisations and associations in the industry, we’ve come together. We need more of this going forward.
Landlord Redress will be mandatory in the not too distant future. Personally, I think this will be positive move which will force landlords to be accountable, responsive and more compliant when renting out a property. And yes, this will require more learning because it means the consumer, your customer, will be able to make a compliant about your service.
It’s tough enough working full time, being a parent, running your own house etc. So, if you simply do not have the time to be a professional landlord, find a tenant, deal with all the compliance paperwork, arrange an inventory and handle regular communication with your tenant(s), I strongly advise you to use a managing agent. When choosing who to use, make sure they belong to a redress scheme, hold Client Money Protection and belong to a trade body such as ARLA or NALS.
More and more ‘battle-hardened’ landlords are saying to me “Paul, I can’t be dealing with all the changes, I’m struggling to keep up, I have passed my properties over to an agent for full management.”
What many landlords don’t realise is the cost from let only to fully managed is not a huge jump if you put a price on the time you spend carrying out the work yourself – read more about this in my book The Landlords Friend. Divided over 12 months, most landlords who opt for a fully managed service agree that it is not a lot to pay for a peace of mind and reassurance that you are compliant.
The Government want landlords to be more professional, which is great, but we have 1.8 million landlords and of these, not even 10% belong to Landlords Associations. Whilst we do not know the number of properties manged by agents, we do know there are a lot of landlords DIYing.
I’ve tried to reinforce the importance of self-learning and provided some links for where to find more information. But the main point I’m making is that the argument from landlords saying, “I didn’t know about that’, doesn’t wash any more.
This is a business, approach it like a business, rather than a weekend hobby. No more excuses, please.