Every month at Assist, we take 5 mins to ask a lettings sector expert 5 things. This month, we’ve been talking to Shane Simpson of Brunsfield. The Lettings Negotiator has been giving us his opinion on everything from settling into the Tenant Fees Ban to why London is the best place to live in the UK…
Q. Hi Shane! A recent study looked at the most desirable attributes in rental properties and found that pet-friendly properties, garden properties and properties that are let unfurnished appear to come out on top. Have you found this to be the case? Obviously, different types of tenants are going to have different needs; but what does your experience tell you about tenants and what they are looking for? Do you have any particular advice that you would like to share?
A. I think that the study is probably somewhat accurate in the sense that Landlords are having to be more flexible and appeal to a more diverse demographic to get their unit let. Applicants have really got more choice than ever before with the market being heavily saturated and arguably more supply than demand. I would say that on the whole, the fewer restrictions you have in place the more likely you are to find a suitable tenant.
Q. Thanks! So talking about applicants having more choice, it’s been a few months now since the Tenant Fees Ban came into force. How are you coping? Have you employed any particular strategies to offset the effects? Or do you have any in mind?
A. Here at Brunsfield, we have a multi-armed business model with a highly successful management side to the business and asset/block management business. This has meant we have been able to absorb the costs of the tenant fee ban and enhance procedures across the brand. With an ever-changing market and the fall of the high street being upon us; having a multi-faceted approach to the business ensures we are in a good position should law changes or markets ever change.
Q. That’s great. So as someone who is part of such a forward-thinking and successful agency, I’m interested to get your take on the recent Trading Standards claim which suggested that almost 50% of letting agents are breaking the law. This seems to be mostly in relation to the non-displaying of fees and charges, or not being members of a redress scheme. Does that figure surprise you at all? Do you think more should be done to tackle unscrupulous agents or general bad practice in the industry? Or do you think the standards are too harsh?
A. Our industry is based around the relationship with the client and applicant and complete transparency is vital to be respected within our world. Anyone not adhering to the law tends to get found out pretty quickly. With regards to industry practice, I think we are fairly well policed and rogue traders are finding it harder than ever to compete with legitimate companies.
Q. Honesty is the best policy! What about rental prices then? Sometimes they seem almost criminal! We recently read that London is seeing some of the steepest rent rises in a long time, with some boroughs having seen rent increases up to an astonishing 14%. Do you have an explanation for this? Do you expect this trend to continue?
A. I think this is quite a general statistic and although it may well be true that in some areas rental figures have risen I would suggest that in the areas we work in rental figures are fairly steady with a small increase found.
Q. Ah ok. So quite a sensationalist headline then. Nothing new there! Ok, let’s finish on a cheerier note. Despite the current political uncertainty, rising living costs and general doom and gloom, London has just been ranked favourite city in the world (for generation Z anyway). Surprised?
A. This is not at all surprising. London is one of the most exciting and multi-cultural/ diverse cities in the world. Although political uncertainty can at times be all too prevalent in the media, London remains a city that is vibrant and full of genuine opportunity for people from all walks of life. This will always have a magnetic effect on people.
Thank you so much to Shane for taking the time out of his busy schedule to do this for us. If you want to work with Property Inventory Clerks who truly understand the sector, get in touch with us.