Every month, we take 5 mins to ask a lettings sector expert 5 things. This month we are lucky to have not one, but two property experts give their time and insight, Adam and Abs Hassan, ‘The Property Twins UK’, founders of Prime Living Property Management Services.

Q. Hi Abs and Adam! According to data from referencing firm LetRef, the number of fake or fraudulent rental applications is on the rise, what advice would you give your clients to avoid being fooled by potential tenants?

A. Great question, it is indeed true that there is a rise of fraudulent rental applications. The first thing is to trust your gut – if you feel something ‘shady’ regarding a tenant, it’s always best to be on the safe side. As they say, there’s no smoke without fire.

Secondly, we recommend not short-cutting the referencing process. In particular, it is best to be both thorough and firm with regards to receiving correct identification documents and proof of affordability. If there are documents missing or some doubts surrounding affordability, we recommend finding different tenants or requesting additional documents and/or guarantors.

Lastly, rental insurance is relatively cheap in comparison to the cost of acquiring ‘bad tenants’.

Q. Great advice! Moving on, there have been ongoing talks of removing the controversial section 21 eviction notice, what do you think the implications will be for landlords if the government do decide to abolish section 21?

A. We think this could be a very significant impact on the way landlords approach their lettings. Firstly it’s worth pointing out that there is a perception that landlords use (or threaten to use) section 21 notices frivolously to discourage tenant requests, or to somewhat wield power over the tenant. However, the far majority of landlords would love to keep hold of pleasant, long-term tenants. Such landlords would even be willing to relax rental increase and fulfil requests to keep good tenants happy where they are.

The majority of landlords use section 21 because their tenant has been in arrears. This can be a much quicker and cheaper solution than the lengthy (and at times unfruitful) Section 8 process.

Landlords have had to face the implications of increased licensing, the Tenant Fee Ban and notably Section 24.  We think this is another blow to the private rental market that will further encourage established landlords to sell up and deter new property investors entering the market. It appears the government is actively trying to remove smaller landlords and instead encourage institutional investors. This is something we find very disheartening for aspiring, hard-working individuals in what is a slow-growing economy.

Q. Interesting, thank you. And on the topic of laws, with the newly implemented Tenant Fee Ban still hot topic, what advice are you giving to your clients amidst the new legislation?

A. We have advised various clients on this topic. The main consensus is that there is little, or simply no grey areas – so please do not try finding them! There are only a handful of legal fees/charges that can be legally enforced. The best way to claw-back any lost revenue is to simply increase the rent charged.

There are significant fines for any unwarranted fines placed on tenants. Therefore, we recommend checking with a specialist that your new and existing tenancies are fully legal with the fee ban. This is for both new tenancies starting 1st June 2019 and existing tenancies from 1st June 2020.

Q. Thank you! We’ve heard that you are both on a mission to change the perception of the property industry, what are some of the stereotypes you are looking to change?

A. There is a stereotype of the unethical, money-hungry estate/letting agent that will opt to provide excuses rather than solutions. These agents do not look upon their clients with a sense of responsibility. Instead, they look upon them as mere commission-cheques waiting to be cashed in at the quickest opportunity. This stereotype is sadly still a reality within this industry – and it’s something we absolutely loathe.

A professional agent’s role is to advise and protect, even if it means losing the business for what is best for the client. It comes down to personal integrity and honour.  We want to do our very best to set a new example for the property market.

Q. That’s a really good one! Thank you to both of you for your time. Final question, Abs, you recently shared an unbelievable story with us for ‘when inventories go wrong’ do you have any other wild tales of what’s been left behind in properties?

A. Our very first, and still our most long-standing client asked us to assist with a refurbishment and letting of a lovely house in north London. This property was occupied by some questionable individuals before our time. We gathered these suspicions by hearing neighbours’ stories of arguments, fights and even police being called on multiple occasions. In addition to that, one of the bedrooms had something that was not originally provided with the tenancy – a fully installed stripper’s pole. It seems that the property was not solely used for domestic use!

Needless to say, the house was completed renovated and we’ve had the pleasure of managing the professional tenants for many years. And yes, the pole was removed and is now installed as a memento in our office – just kidding!!

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Huge thanks to Abs and Adam for taking time out of their schedules to do this for us. You can further connect to The Property Twins via their Facebook page. And of course, if you want to work with an inventory clerks who truly understand the sector, get in touch with us.