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.

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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.

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12 COMMENTS

  1. Problem is not lack of knowledge, but the way of thinking. Landlords lose humanity and take last buck it off tenant, because overall conditions are shit and they have more rights that tenants.
    Most tenant just don’t have money to fight back and are scared.
    Start educating tenants and landlords will be forced to apply changes for better accommodation.

    • Absolutely. You have to keep up-to-date and be apart of the discussion. The long run accidental landlords should be exiting over the next few years because it simply isn’t worth it.

      But we are also getting legislation that is making a pigs ear of everything. You must have gas safety – but tenant can refuse you. Thereby ensuring you are breaking the law and on the other hand allow them their right to ‘quiet enjoyment’.

      Also landlords should help tenants to become educated also to help them understand and work with them. Ultimately everything you do is for your tenant and making their time in the property as stress free as possible, so that they stay longer because they’re settled.

      • Agreed Handson – Landlords have a responsibly to inform and educate tenants also. The Gas Safety issue is major, we are seeing big problems at Landlord Action, especially when the landlord wants possession, but is struggling to use section 21. I believe there is a court of appeal case on this, we’ll wait with baited breath.

    • You have some fair points Aleksandr, but you can not generalise, I know many landlords that haven’t put rent up for their tenants in 3 years and are certainly not greedy. They have great relationships with their tenants, who are the customer. I totally agree that tenants need to be better informed of their rights, but I think the government have recognised this, and in the next couple of years all landlords will have to join a redress scheme on a mandatory basis, which will allow the tenant to have redress if they’re unhappy with services and condition of the property.

      • Requiring landlords to join a redress scheme is pointless unless it will be policed. That is the real problem – the lack of policing all the new regs combined with tenant’s lack of knowledge. In fact, the additional burden of legislation upon landlords in recent years has caused some to cut corners or simply ignore it which will make things worse for tenants. If tenants were educated about the standards required of landlords the best redress would be for them to demand higher standards or move if a landlord doesn’t improve. Agents are also a huge problem as there are less really good ones than average or awful ones. They should be required to educate tenants and their landlords but currently many do the least possible and rarely pick landlords up on unacceptable practices for fear of losing their business.

  2. Absolutely agree! Gone are the days of an easy peasy sideline income! It’s 2020 (almost) it’s time to step up! Get self educating or be sensible and seek professional assistance.

    • Exactly – Landlords up your game, or if you do not have time, get a credible agent to fully manage. Land-lording is different now, from what it was 10-15 years ago. Legislation has gone through the roof!

  3. Many great points there Paul. Although I’m over in Canada we see the same thing with constantly changing legislation and rules affecting how we can manage our tenants and properties. If you’re not keeping up and constantly learning you are definitely falling behind.
    Being a member of a local landlord group or two isn’t even much of an option these days, it’s a necessity to help you stay up to date!

    Bill
    TheEducatedLandlor.com

    • Apologies, as I realise this is somewhat old post, but I felt the need to add.

      As what we have found, knowing how our Tenant was supplied with a moving in folder which contained absolutely everything about the property and more, including both a printed out ‘how to rent’ guide, then with a later message asking how they’re doing: but also included said how to rent Government link, with mention of how its been update, but did they read any of this?

      All our evidence points to a big No!

      I’m not generalising by calling all Tenant’s lazy, but did they actually want to read all said literature that only goes to benefits themselves, when they’ve just moved in, and they want to do is just put their feet up after work etc.

      As in our case, when the (new) kitchen tap popped off, and water flooded everywhere 🙁

      Yet, the Tenant’s did not know anything about the many isolating Valves installed, or where the water stop cock itself is located: even though our useful moving moving in folder had clear full instructions, of which, included step by step PICTURE ACTIONS for both – but they did not even bother to read or look at the pictures!

      Since, we’ve had more issues that only point to their laziness in not updating themselves with Tenant like behaviour.

      Then comes the boiling point, when they caused £1000+ of damaged – simply all because of their sheer incomplete &/or laziness, well both tbh.

      Then being somewhat upset, and put out with the old what us, we didn’t do that excuse – when receiving a red letter, with full support backed by the fantastic RLA (all Landlord’s must join), stating how all evidence points to the fact that they have caused and are liable for said damaged.

      Oh, their relentless efforts in trying to defend and deflect blame from them; was a sight to witness.

      Yet, as they also caused damage to the joining Council owned property, as once the Council became involved, they soon changed their tune and realised what they’d caused, which is nice knowing they didn’t believe us for one moment, with this by far being the most damaging to our relationship going forward.

      So, yes, it is obviously on individual case.

      Yet, all onus or legislation, should not just be aimed at the Landlord, as the last few years of changes – has only helped to create a bigger beast of a farce!!

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