Right to Rent Changes

Landlords and Agents: did you know that a new Home Office directive comes into force today?

As of today the new Codes of Practice changes what you need to do to carry out a Right to Rent check. As part of the introduction of a digitial identity service some documents, e.g. hard copies of biometric cards/frontiers worker permits for seasonal workers, will no longer be acceptable. In effect, this cancels the Covid-19 changes made last year.

The Home Office have confirmed that there is no requirement to conduct retrospective checks on any tenants who underwent the adjusted checks last year.

See links below for more information

Agent Alert: new government code in force today … (lettingagenttoday.co.uk)

Right To Rent: Government U-turn follows ARLA Propert… (lettingagenttoday.co.uk)

New Housing Complaints Resolution Service revealed

Yesterday the government announced a new redress system that will cover the whole market, from new builds to private landlords.

“Establishing a single housing complaints service for all residents – no matter whether they rent or own their home – will prevent people from battling with their landlord or builder to resolve issues on their own and make it easier to claim compensation where it’s owed.”

 

www.gov.uk link here

The AIIC call for mandatory independent inventories

After another truly busy student season, and July isn’t quite over yet, I thought I’d add a blog post. As I was wondering what fascinating aspect of the job I could write about I received this in my email. Food for thought!

https://www.landlordtoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2018/7/aiic-continue-to-push-for-mandatory-independent-inventories

I am biased, I chose to be a member of The AIIC as it made sense to me that clerks should not be tied to letting agencies and that landlords are better off not trying to make their own reports, not to mention tenants can better rely on independent schedules of condition. I wonder if anyone other than us clerks ever actually think about this?

How To Rent update

The government updated the How To Rent booklet in January this year.

Link to government website here

I was asked if this means that all tenants should be given a copy of this, after all page 2 does include the sentence “Your landlord must provide you with a copy of  this booklet, so use the checklist and keep it safe to protect yourself from problems at every stage”. The tenant who asked me was wondering if her landlord had broken the rules by not giving her the new version.

PRS_Logo_high-smallI had no idea, so I did a bit of research. Happily the Property Redress Scheme have issued some clear guidance on this so I have been able to reassure the tenant that her landlord does not need to issue her with every update. What landlords must do is issue the most recent version of Right to Rent to all new tenants and to any existing tenants at renewal of a tenancy.

You can read their advice here

 

Let’s Talk About Lights

The Problem of Light BulbsPendent

Somehow the simple light bulb causes a lot of issues for tenant and landlord alike. I often get asked “Who is responsible for making sure that the light bulbs in a rented property are working?”

The answer is as simple as:

  • Between tenancies the landlord should make sure that all bulbs in the property are working
  • During the tenancy the tenant will need to replace all bulbs, fluorescent tubes (and fuses and any replaceable filters) as and when necessary. The landlord should supply any User Manuals, if required.

Wall

But, I hear you cry, what if the fitting is weird, too high, too expensive?

Well, that depends. For example, this wall fitting has normal bulbs and only takes a moment to change the bulb.
Chandelier
This chandelier also has ordinary fittings and bulbs and so the tenant would be expected to replace them, each and every one. Although it gives off adequate light it does look very sad with only half of its bulbs working.

 

IMG_4297Unusual Fittings

But what of this glorious fitting?

Well! For one thing the ceiling was double height and a step ladder should have been needed. For another, that thing looks very heavy and very expensive. This is one that I would recommend the landlord maintains. That would also be my advice if a fitting was in any way difficult to access; if the fitting was unusual or the bulbs in any way unusual.

The landlord would always have the the choice of providing a user manual, and maybe a demonstration of how to change a particular bulb, or to hire a maintenance company to maintain any unusual or difficult to access light fitting.

If you do have an odd light fitting then the best starting point is at the viewing. Ask the landlord, or agent, abut the fitting. Ask them who is responsible for its maintenance. Then, before signing, check in your tenancy agreement. What does it say about that fitting? If in doubt ask the landlord or agent to clarify the situation.

Remember, at the end of your tenancy you are responsible for making sure that all the bulbs are in place and working. Deductions from your deposit can be made for the cost of replacing any bulbs.

Crikey! What a busy time that was!

I know, I should have expected it, but July and August, and even the first week of September, have been really, truly busy. All of my clients have had so much work, from student lets to the largest of houses, it feels as though all of them have been vacated, spruced up and re-let in just 10 weeks!

So maybe this is something tenants and landlords might need to know: your local, friendly clerk may be fully booked in July / August, so remember to book early.

I have had a few queries from new landlords who were uncertain as to whether they needed my services or not. Happily the DPS have a great poster about inventories:

DPS Inventory Tips

DPS Inventory Tips

 

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One of those things!

Just a quick post.

What is this? Can you tell? And if you can, can you tell me why??

Hint: In a ceiling… but I had no idea why. Fortunately  the landlord did 🙂

What is it

Property Scam Awareness Week

STEF-COOKE-LOGO

 

 

April 24th to 28th

Anthony Gold Solicitors and website Property Tribes are running a property fraud awareness week. The aim is to promote public awareness of how to avoid being a victim of property-related fraud.

They will highlight scams including the  ‘sellers’ who do not own the property; agents taking deposits for non-existent tenancies; rent-to-rent and sub-letting scams; and massive returns being promised for investments in property that will never materialise.

To see videos, articles and case histories go to the Property Tribes website http://www.propertytribes.com

The schedule is as below:

Monday: Psychology of scams, with David Wedgwood

Tuesday: Property investment and mentoring scams, with Clifford Tibber

Wednesday: Rent to Rent scams, with David Smith

Thursday: Identity theft scams, with Beth Holden

Friday: Lettings agent scams, with David Smith.

 

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MyDeposits warns about deposit scheme scam!

WarningMydeposits says it is aware of a new scam being used by a fraudulent company imitating mydeposits and targeting landlords and letting agent members of the mydeposits Custodial scheme in England & Wales. Read more about it here:

 

 

Checking Out: From The Top

STEF-COOKE-LOGOWhat Happens During a Check Out?

Leaving a rented property can be an exciting time, moving on to new possibilities. It can also be sad, leaving behind the scene of all those good times. But it is always an anxious time, for landlord and tenant alike.  Will the property be as it was at the beginning of the tenancy? What was it really like at the beginning of the tenancy? Well, that’s why it’s a good idea to get an independent inventory clerk in to do a check in and check out.

We develop an eye for detail, a nose for issues, a list of things tenants and landlords always seem to want to discuss.

So, from the top: What will I be looking for at Check Out?

From The Top: Ceilings

What is on a ceiling? No, not spiders (or I will have to leave)! Light fittings with or withoutLights lightbulbs. I turn on every single light in a property and make note of whether or not it works or not. I also note every missing lightbulb. Even if your light fitting looks like this. There were three of these and one single, solitary light bulb was not working. I am proud to say that yes, I did notice!

When you leave there should be the same number of working light bulbs as there were at check in. If not I will leave a note “Tenant to replace at cost”.

If you think counting light bulbs is a funny thing to do for a living, I also count every light switch and plug socket!

Smoke/Heat/CO Alarms:

  • Every inhabitable floor should have a working smoke alarm.
  • Every room with a solid fuel burning device should have a CO alarm.
  • A heat alarm is not the same as a smoke alarm and can only be used in addition to a smoke alarm, not in place of one.

Following a recent calamity, involving water sprinklers, The AIIC have advised all Clerks not to push the test buttons on mains wired alarms. So, if your alarms are mains wired I will make note of there being an alarm in place and whether there is a power light visible. However, if your alarms are battery operated I will push the Test button and record if they sound or not.

When you move in the alarms should all be in place and work. That is your landlord’s responsibility. If a battery operated alarm needs new batteries during your tenancy, it is your responsibility to replace the, keeping all fitted alarms in good working order. That includes not removing or covering them!

 

Next in this series: Walls. What’s on Yours?