If you missed Belvoir’s Rental Index Live last month, hosted by Paul Shamplina and a panel of Belvoir franchisees from across the UK, don’t worry!
Below are the key questions asked by LandlordZone members during the webinar answered by the panel.
Belvoir has constantly watched the rental market over the past 11 years on a quarterly basis to produce a unique rental index, focusing on regional landlord and tenant trends across the country.
This resource is made freely available to landlords via the Belvoir website (www.belvoir.co.uk) and is well worth a read to see how rents are performing in your area.
Q: What is the best way to track a tenant who has left with arrears?
A: If you have utilised Money claim online or have a court order for the payment then you can seek an attachment of earnings (if they are still working) – Charlotte Baker, Belvoir Melton Mowbray & Bingham.
Q: What are the best ways to recover rent arrears after eviction?
A: Contact next of kin which you should have from when they applied for the property and politely ask where they might be?
Maybe you have post that you need to forward on. Once you have their new address you can use enforcement companies to recover the debt if you have a CCJ or court order instructing them to pay. We have used tracing agents in the past which has been successful.
They will try every six months or so to find the new address. If the person is not working and moved away though you may be unlikely to be successful in getting the money back but at least if you have secured a CCJ against them using money claim online a future landlord may not be caught out.
Rent Guarantee protection (good ones that have covered during the pandemic) have been so useful to our landlords when we have a non payer – they work with the tenant to get the payments back on track or if that’s not possible undertake the eviction process and costs while paying rent to the landlord – Charlotte Baker, Belvoir Melton Mowbray & Bingham.
Q: With rent arrears after the tenant has left, should the tenant, guarantor or both be pursued especially if you need to go to court?
A: You should be actively chasing both in writing and setting some deadlines. Read the notes on the MCOL webpage for the next steps to recover your money – Davinder Gharial, Belvoir Hitchin, Welwyn & St Albans.
Q: I have a mixed portfolio with a few HMO’s. The HMO’s are rented to students in Hatfield. We have had several instances where students want to move out of one HMO into another because they did not know the others in the HMO at the start or because they want to go home, etc. The original AST was a Joint and Several with all 5 put together. Now when one moves out with only 5 months left to the end of the contract, basically at the start of the summer term, we find another student to move in. The question is … Does the new tenant have to have a minimum 6 month contract which now extends into the void maintenance period and possibly into the next student year, or is it possible to ASSIGN the remainder of one person’s term to a new tenant?
A: There are several solutions. The safest option will be to issue a new tenancy and treat the change of occupiers as a new tenancy with new gas safety, new EPC, new deposit protection etc.
Unfortunately, this does not always work with students where there is a strict annual turnover, and the new group would have a right to the minimum 6 month right of occupancy.
If this is an issue, the original group of tenants can remain as the tenants for the whole term and the new individual can essentially become their lodger.
The lodger has far less security of tenure and the minimum term does not apply. This does, however get over the short term issue, though the departing tenant needs to happy to agree to this and remain liable for rent when they are no longer in the property – Nathan Crombie, Belvoir Brighton & Hove.
Q: Are you finding the EPC software and general regime not fit for purpose? The software used by EPC assessors which they all have to use to carry out the check.
A: This is a technical question with respect to the software used by Domestic Energy Assessors (DEA) to calculate EPC ratings.
As an estate agent, we subcontract out the commissioning of EPCs to suitably qualified 3rd party contractors, so we have no direct experience of use of the software.
But I am aware of the concerns that have been reported with respect to the accuracy of the assessments and that the software was recently updated to eliminate some potential flaws in the calculations which should have resulted in improvements to the ratings of some properties.
I appreciate that any inaccuracy in an EPC rating can have significant consequences to a landlord it would be our standard approach to challenge any EPC rating that was just below MEES before suggesting to a landlord that they undertake potentially costly upgrade work.
For example, there are several assumptions that a DEA will make in assessing the construction of a property which affect the rating as will the potential for them to take inaccurate floor measurements, so it is always worth challenging these so that the DEA discloses the assumptions and measurements that were used – Dave Roberts, Belvoir Wigan, Haydock & St Helen’s.
Q: I have heard that Joint and Several contracts for HMOs will be banned. We will be required to provide individual lets for each room … Do you have any information on this?
A: I have heard some comments in the past suggesting that this might be the case but so far, I have not seen firm proposals on this or timescales for it being implemented.
I tend to listen out for changes that impact Scotland and Northern Ireland so the situation might be different in England and Wales – Andrew Jack, Belvoir Edinburgh & Belfast.
Q: Is licensing the right way to go now that so many councils are looking at this possibility particularly for HMOs?
A: HMO licencing has been in force in Scotland and Northern Ireland (and all other areas of the UK) for many years and it has had a significant impact on raising standards and improving tenant safety so in this regard it has been a very positive step for the private rented sector and the vast majority of HMO landlords have been happy to comply.
But we need to be careful that the HMO licence renewal process and the constantly changing requirements don’t become an easy source of additional revenue for the local authorities who are responsible for issuing licences.
Changes to licencing requirements need to be reasonable, proportionate and implemented for the right reasons. I understand some Council areas have moved or are considering moving towards a licencing system for all rented property (not just HMOs) and whilst for a small number of landlords this may be necessary to force them to comply our experience of dealing with private landlords over many years shows that most of them willingly comply with legislation aimed at improving standards and protecting tenant safety without the need for a formal licencing scheme.
Private landlords are crucial for the UK to be able to meet its current and future housing requirements so introducing unnecessary additional cost and bureaucracy could potentially turn investors away from property and further reduce available supply of rental property at a time when demand from tenants has never been higher – Andrew Jack, Belvoir Edinburgh & Belfast.
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