Category: Rental sector

southsea christmas

As 2017 comes to an end we would like to thank all our clients for their valued business throughout the year and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. This year has seen a number of changes at Dack, welcoming new members to the property management team and the opening of our Residential Sales Department.

As always, we like to take a look back at the events that impacted the property industry this year and the predictions regarding the coming changes for 2018. With further interest rate rises expected, Brexit negotiations to overcome and the cost of living escalating, the property market could see significant changes across the board.

Rental Market 2017

Lettings in 2017 was an interesting year from a tenant’s, landlord’s and agent’s perspective. With the impending proposed ban on agency fees anticipated towards the end of 2018 we are all speculating on how this will play out. It will inevitably have an impact, not just on the lettings market but the sales market too, as some landlords may begin to consider other investment opportunities. Many are assuming costs are to be passed onto the landlords and therefore down through to the tenants via increased rents but until the draft bill is published it is hard to predict what impact this will have on the market. Rest assured that we will keep you updated on any developments as they unfold.

Other regulations are making their way through Parliament next year which, both existing and future landlords should be aware of, most notably the Minimum Energy Efficiency Rating for properties.

Since writing this article there have been further development in this upcoming legislation. Where it was originally only designed to affect new or renewing fixed term tenancies after the 1st April 2018, the Government has ‘moved the goalposts’ with the scope now encompassing any statutory tenancy as well 1977 Rent act tenancies. Any property not currently meeting the minimum standard will require works to bring them up to standard. We are already working closely with a number of our landlords to assist them with potential works but if you are unsure if your property is affected, you can check the energy rating on the EPC Register

Additionally as announced within the Chancellor’s autumn budget, the Government are conducting reviews into both longer term tenancies and a review of the housing courts which will potentially bring benefits to both tenants and landlords alike, cutting through the reams of red tape associated with the housing and legal system which I think everyone can agree, is never a bad thing.

Property Sales 2017

We were proud to open our Residential Sale Department at the beginning of the year and have serviced many of our clients through to a swift completion with many more to come. It has also been an exciting year for the housing market in general. The Government have pledged to improve the house-buying process, which is music to the industries ears, and with stamp duty relief for first time buyers coming into effect we are not alone in welcoming this move. However, looking ahead to next year many are predicting an increase in supply meeting an already elevated level of demand, meaning a higher overall level of transactions. With that being said there are a number of elements of the unknown, that we, like all industries must face.

Naturally many people may be considering a move in the new year for a number of reasons, be that a change of scenery, growing family or moving for a new job. Should you be thinking of selling, take a look at our article published in May this year regarding estate agency contracts to make sure you do not get caught out. We are always available to talk through any potential move to help you make an informed decision regarding your home. Equally if you are a first time buyer and considering taking advantage of the recent stamp duty relief, our partners at MoneySprite wrote a guest article on: giving yourself the best chance of getting approved for your mortgage full of great information and well worth a read.

Should you be considering renting or selling you home and would like a general “ball park” figure for your property, use our free instant online valuation software, however for a more accurate figure, we would always advise getting one of the team out to conduct a free market appraisal. As the year comes to an end we would again, like to say a big thank you to our long stand and new clients alike in wishing them a Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year. We are all back in the office on the 2nd of January and you know where we are if you need us.

smoke alarm

Landlords,

As you may or may not be aware new legislation came into force from 1st October 2015 with regards to smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in rented residential properties and there has been some confusion as to the requirements landlords need to take in order to comply with this new legislation.

Although this legislation has been out for nearly 2 years now I still received phone calls from landlords who are either unaware of the recent changes or are aware of them but have concerns that they might not be complying fully.

With the myriad of information available online it is easy to get confused between legislation and opinion.

So below you will find an easy to follow guide that will hopefully answer some of the common concerns and misconceptions on how to comply with the law and keep your property as safe as possible for your tenants.

Who does it apply to?

The law applies to all landlords renting residential accommodation that are let to one or more tenants occupying all or part of the property as their only or main place to live after the 1st October 2015.

 

What do I need to do to comply?

Smoke alarms

Landlords will have to ensure that a smoke alarm is fitted on every floor of their property where there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation.

Under this law, a bathroom or lavatory is classed as a room used for living accommodation and a room also covers halls, landings and stairways.

For instance, for maisonettes or flats above another premise where the flat is on the first floor but you enter via stairs on the ground floor a smoke alarm will be required in the stairwell.

Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Landlords also have to put a carbon monoxide alarm in any room where a solid fuel is burnt, such as wood, coal or biomass and includes open fires. It does not include gas, oil or LPG.

It should be noted however that we would always recommend having a carbon monoxide alarm fitted where any gas boiler is present as although boilers have to be legally checked on an annual basis for safety, mechanical failure can occur at any in the year between checks and lead to a deadly escape of Carbon monoxide.

Additionally, along with installing the alarms, landlords are then required to ensure that the alarms work at the start of each new tenancy; for example, by pressing the test button until the alarm beeps. This will ensure that the alarms were working at the start of the tenancy should it ever be called into question by the local authority.

With this in mind it is advisable to get the tenant to sign a receipt confirming the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working at the start of their tenancy or ensure it is in the inventory at check-in which is signed by the tenant.

During the tenancy however, it is a tenant’s responsibility to ensure the alarms work and it is their responsibility to change the batteries during the tenancy.

However, should the alarms become faulty during the tenancy landlords are still responsible for replacing them.

In addition, landlords do not need to check the alarms when a tenancy is renewed under the same conditions i.e. for the same premises by the same landlord to the same tenant and It does not include a periodic statutory tenancy which starts following the end of a shorthold tenancy.

Enforcement

Local authorities will be responsible for enforcing the new rules. If the local authority thinks that a landlord has not implemented the new rules correctly they will issue a notice advising the landlord what they need to do to resolve the problem. The local authority must give the notice within 21 days from when they believe that the landlord has breached the rules.

The landlord has 28 days to respond and/or make good what is needed to comply with the regulations.

NOTE: Landlords cannot be held responsible if they can show that they have taken reasonable steps to comply with the rules but cannot enforce the changes, such as if a tenant refuses to allow for the work to be done.

 

What are the penalties for non-compliance?

If landlords do not take action, the local authority can arrange for the required work to be carried out (with the consent of the occupier) to ensure that tenants are protected.

Local housing authorities also have the right to impose a fixed penalty charge of up to £5,000 on landlords who do not comply with the rules.

 

I still have questions?

It’s understandable, as a professional agent we have had 2 years to unpick the muddle of information that was initially proposed, eventually agreed upon and then amended again before it became law and we were then able to fully get to grips with fact vs fiction.

If you have questions or concerns then feel free to give us a call and we would be happy to talk you through the details.

For the landlords that already enjoy the benefit of our fully managed service and are wondering about your properties, don’t worry, although you may not know it; we here at Dacks have been ensuring that your properties have been complying since this regulation came in force.

Southsea

When looking for the best place to rent in Southsea, it may help to ask yourself the following four questions:

1. Would a house suit my needs better than an apartment?

If you’re looking for a larger living space and you’d like to consider houses as well as apartments then you probably need to be focussing your search in areas at least one kilometre north of the seafront. This area of Southsea is largely residential and dominated by Victorian terraced housing which provides excellent space and period character at a reasonable price. There is a good supply of houses to rent in this part of Southsea although a private parking space the exception not the rule. Parking is generally unrestricted but busy.

Areas in the North of the City such as Copnor or North End, will give you quicker access to the motorways and you can avoid the Eastern Road traffic jams in the morning and evenings. There is also generally a little more free parking than in Southsea and there is a little less competition for spaces.

2. How close to the sea would I like to live?
For some people, living in Southsea is all about being as close as possible to the sea. There are lots of apartment blocks along the seafront, many Victorian in character, others reflecting more recent architectural styles and most of these properties are in the rental sector. The eastern end or Eastney tends to be the quieter end of the promenade, less built up and with fewer retail outlets. The western end of the promenade towards Clarence Pier is generally busier and is a short walk to Southsea centre and Gunwharf Quays, making it a very popular choice for those looking to rent in Southsea. A reasonable number of these apartments do have private parking which may be valuable to you given that much of the seafront parking is metered during the day time.

There are some lovely rental properties available in Old Portsmouth, a sought after area full of character but in general the area is dominated by owner occupied property. Just beyond Old Portsmouth is Gunwharf Quays where most properties are apartments within attractive residential blocks. There are a reasonably good number of rental properties available in this highly sought after area, these attractive apartment blocks are a mixture of owner occupiers and renting working professionals, but it is worth noting there are a surprising number of student lets too.

3. Would I like to rent a property in Southsea with a garden?
If you are looking for a rental property with a garden then you’ll probably need to look at a house or a garden flat. Whilst Southsea gardens tend to be smaller than in many other parts of the UK, there are lots of great properties that do have a little garden that provides an outside oasis in the hot Summer weather. Alternatively if, when you see a garden you just see another set of chores then an apartment without outdoor space beyond perhaps a balcony might suit you more and there are plenty to choose from. With that being said Southsea Common is a short walk away from a number of apartments in central Southsea and many tenants are not being as put off by a lack of outside space as we have seen in previous years.

4. Where should I rent to ensure I’m in the right school catchment area?
If schools are important to you then it is worth checking out the catchment areas of your target schools. You can use the City Council’s useful guide herehttps://www.portsmouth.gov.uk/ext/schools/infant-junior-and-primary-schools-information-and-catchment-areas.aspx

Whatever you’re looking for in a rental property in Southsea, at Dack we can help you find exactly what you’re looking for. We manage hundreds of rental properties in Southsea on behalf of their owners and so we know exactly which Southsea rental properties will suit your needs.

rental agreement form

Any contract can seem complex and lengthy; most people (believe it or not!) do not fully understand what they are signing up to.

Below are the main points to watch out for when signing up with an estate agent.

1.The Cost

Does your agent charge VAT? Be mindful if there is just a percentage or fixed fee mentioned. Ask the agent if they are VAT registered. If they are you, will be looking to add 20% to whatever price has been quoted.

Work out the total cost in advance. As a seller, the last think you want is a shock of a bill once you are preparing to complete!.

2.Tie-in periods

All agents will have a contract length, regardless as to whether they are traditional high street or corporate. However, should your chosen agent not be performing as well as you would like, and you wish to change, you will be bound by length of time you initially signed up to.

Most agency agreements last between 8 – 12 weeks, however we have come across some as long as 20! It does beg the question if the agent thinks they need 20 weeks to sell your property, why? and are they the right one for you?

Along with the length of the agreement, be careful of the notice period should you wish to dis-instruct them or instruct another agent to work alongside your current agent. In our experience this is normally 14 days written notice, however we have seen some notice periods of 4 weeks!

Make sure your contract gives you the flexibility to terminate without incurring a penalty, and go elsewhere if you’re unhappy with your agent with reasonable notice.

3. Hidden or additional fees

Check the contract for extra fees, such as additional marketing costs or penalties for ending the contract early. Any good agent will be flexible with their terms and you are within your rights for these to be removed if you don’t like them.

Make sure you are clear of any additional costs. How much is professional photography? Does my property require an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)?

4. Type of contract

There are different types of contracts and each has its pros and cons, make sure you know what they are, and choose carefully:

Sole agency – If the contract gives the agent “sole selling rights” then think carefully before signing. The estate agent in the contract is the only one allowed to sell your home during the length of the contract. You will still have to serve them the agreed notice period should you wish to instruct another agent.

Multi agency – You can use as many agents as you like and only pay commission to the one who sells your property. Agents will argue that the more agents your property is with the higher your chances of securing a buyer, that’s a whole other conversation! but you will normally pay higher fees to sign multi agency. Using this approach depends on what type of property you have, and the state of the market and your situation.

Summary

  • Make sure you review any estate agents contract carefully before signing, be mindful of the following:
  • Review all commission rates
  • Be sure it is clear whether or not VAT is included in the fee
  • Review the type of contract
  • Ensure there are no additional charges
  • Review the length of the tie-in period and the written notice period

Dack Residential Sales are transparent with our costs and Terms of Business. We have had too many clients come to us from other agents who have had unfavourable terms imposed on them. We focus on being clear with you from the very beginning and have a strong emphasis on long term customer relationships. Should you wish to arrange a valuation for your property, please get in contact.

Even if you are with another estate agent and would like a second opinion on your current contract, pop into the office for a confidential chat.

energy efficiency southsea

From 1 APRIL 2018, all landlords will be required to meet new minimum energy efficiency standards.

Those in the residential sector will be required to bring their properties up to a minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of Band E. The crucial thing to note is that you won’t be able to grant new tenancies or renew existing ones if the property falls below that level. And that applies even if your tenant is perfectly happy with things as they are.

The Government is determined to improve conditions for tenants, and landlords have to fall in line, even if it will take a long time for them to realise any financial benefit. If the tenant is paying the fuel bills, they’ll be happier, but with estimated bills to bring standards up to the required levels averaging £1,400, it’s your profits that will feel the pinch.

Like most there is always an exception to some rules and this will be one of those happy times.

You may not need to make the improvements:

  • If your property is listed and the changes will affect its appearance
  • If the improvement would reduce the market value of your property by more than 5%
  • If the anticipated savings over a period of seven years are less than the cost of the improvement measures.

That leaves most landlords with band F or G properties in the position of needing to consider changes to their property’s glazing, draught proofing and loft and/or cavity wall insulation.

What do I need to do know about the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards?

Firstly, review your position.

Work out which of your properties might need an upgrade. There are various arguments ongoing about solid wall properties and the amount of insulation they offer, so it might be worth having an EPC reassessed if you’re in this situation.

Make sure you know the work you need to do to achieve at least and E rating.

All EPC reports will come with a suggested list of improvement to increase your rating but if you are unsure of the best course of action check with the assessor that carried the report or you’re letting agent about the best way forward.

It will also be worth checking you have access rights to carry it out. For example, if you own a flat in a block, there may be restrictions on the work you can undertake.

Check the dates that your tenancies expire. You may be able to schedule works accordingly and renegotiate rent to help recoup some of your outlay.

Do I really need to do this?

Most important thing to do is don’t pretend the problem will go away if you find one of your properties falls below the minimum rating. If you’re found in breach of the rules, fines are steep. The £5,000 you could be paying out would most likely have covered improvement costs several times over.

With everything else landlords are having to deal with, this extra responsibility and cost isn’t welcome, but in the longer term making properties more energy efficient should improve both their resale value and their rentability.

If you would like more advice on this upcoming change and how it will affect your property, feel free to contact a member of our team and we will be able to advise on preparing for your property for ‘E-DAY’.

 

67 Osbourne Road, Southsea, Portsmouth PO5 3LS
02392 896996
info@dackpropertymanagement.co.uk
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