Wednesday, 24 January 2018

It's not all about the money for landlords

THE UK is home to an estimated two million private landlords owning approximately five million properties. Some manage their own, while those in the know go with a reputable letting agency.

But what of landlords’ relationships with their agents? With the changes to buy-to-let legislation and a ban on tenant fees coming soon, what’s in store for both sides of the coin?

Research by Reposit — a “deposit alternative” start-up business — found that half (50 per cent) of the UK’s landlords are expecting their agent to pass on the costs of running their property after the Tenant Fees Bill becomes law next year.

The bill sets out to make renting fairer and easier for tenants by allowing them to see up front what a given property will cost them in the advertised rent level without any additional costs.

The bill will also introduce a lead enforcement authority in the lettings sector and cap security deposits at six weeks’ rent.

The research by Reposit also showed that letting agent fee increases are one of the most common unexpected costs among landlords, alongside repairs and renewal fees, and that a third of landlords have experienced paying costs they weren’t expecting.

But the research also revealed something perhaps unexpected — that increased fees are not the main reason landlords leave an agency.

Of the 41 per cent of landlords who told Reposit they had left their agent in the past, only 11 per cent said it was over raised fees.

Rather, customer service (61 per cent) and bad property care (26 per cent) bothered them more, leading them to change agency.

What was also noteworthy in the report was the finding that increased costs of being a landlord (including the recent hikes in stamp duty and reductions in tax breaks) are forcing over a quarter of landlords to consider a cheaper agency to manage their property.

Which begs the question — is this not counterproductive, if bad customer service is a landlord’s number one irk?

Reposit’s research was conducted among 600 landlords. It also highlighted how the UK rental market is heavily London and South East-biased, with 52 per cent of all landlords operating in these two markets. The next largest buy-to-let market is the North West.

Reposit also reckons it’s a middle-aged activity, with the firm’s research showing that more than three-quarters of landlords are aged over 45.

That said, there are few plucky young investors, with 1.6 per cent of landlords aged between 18 and 24.

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