Each month, we take 5 minutes to ask a lettings industry expert 5 things. This month we are lucky to be talking to Hayley Hand, multiple property owner, experienced landlord and Director of Urban Jump.
Q. Hi Hayley. Thank you so much for taking the time out to talk to us. I know you’re busy: so I’ll just jump straight in. As an experienced landlord, and somebody who has invested a huge amount in property over the years: what are your thoughts on Robert Jenrick’s latest suggestions? So just in case you hadn’t heard; the housing secretary of state has basically just said that ‘ugly homes’ have no place in his vision for the UK. I was thinking about this and can see his point, in the sense that the majority of new developments do seem to come at the expense of beauty or design, – but do you think this is something that might actually change in this country? Or do you know of any places in the UK where you have seen this for yourself? Do you think that the notion is realistic or feasible is basically what I’m asking?
A. I would have to say I think at this stage, that the lack of housing stock in the UK is more of an issue than how ugly a development is! As a landlord I am much more interested in the location of the development, the demand for the type of housing being built and the eco features that make it more economical to heat and light for tenants.
Q. Yeah. So prioritising functionality and practicality basically. I thought it all sounded a bit pie in the sky to be honest. Now I can’t talk to a landlord without mentioning the Tenant Fees Act can I?! What do you think of the notion that the impact of the Tenant Fees Act will actually be most felt by tenants themselves, as a result of Landlords raising rents to cover their costs? Do you think it was just a bad idea all round?
A. I think the blanket ban has resolved the issue for tenants, in that Letting Agent’s cannot now charge many of the fees they previously could to tenants. But the Agents haven’t wanted to lose a good proportion of their income – and so many have increased the landlord fees that they charge. As a result, myself and many others landlords are becoming much more challenging about what these fees are, whether they are value for money (even more so given the changes coming in regarding tax relief on mortgage payments for buy to let mortgages) with many switching to self-managing, which isn’t always a good idea all round if they do not understand the laws and obligations which need to be covered.
Q. Interesting. I hadn’t thought about it from that perspective actually. So talking about tenants coming out on top; what are your personal thoughts on Labours plans to introduce a right to buy scheme for private tenants? I understand that the vast majority in the property sector (quite understandably) are dead set against the proposals?
A. I just can’t possibly see how they could implement this kind of proposal. Many landlords including myself have properties for investment and pension reasons, so to have another have the ability to take my asset and change these plans without my consent is ludicrous.
Q. That’s what the NLA said too. I mean I think the proposal was directed at irresponsible or negligent landlords, but even so. It’s still your property isn’t it?! So I understand you’ve got quite a mix of properties.. including Air b&b. Now I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this form of rental. Its been suggested recently that landlords seem to be abandoning ship a bit on this one and reverting back to the more traditional long-term lets?
A. I mean, it probably depends where your property is located and what kind of landlord you are. I do both, but Air B&B can be much more time consuming and is very much subject to getting good customer reviews. It’s a judgement call as to whether the cost to kit out a holiday let, and the associated council tax costs are worth the additional income from weekly lets. I think also there are a few horror stories about Air B&B’s being used for illegal activities and suffering major damage.
Q. Yeah, I’ve heard that too. So it really is a tricky one. Whilst we’re on the subject of horror stories; I read a story recently that I think is ongoing actually. A tenant has reportedly suspected for a while now that there is gas leaking in to her property (which she claims is toxic). The agent has stated that all safety procedures have been followed and that the property is safe. They have also claimed that Environmental Health and Property Standards have completed independent reviews on top of this; and that their reviews support the conclusions of the contractors. What do you actually do if your property is involved in a situation like that? Lets just say that you and/or the agents have genuinely done everything you can, but the tenant is still claiming against that and is speaking to the press on top of that, – what do you do? Do you have any horror stories like this you could share with us?
A. Well firstly, for peace of mind, I would also ask the Gas board to check the property for any leaks and ensure the CO2 alarms are in place and working. Sometimes in these instances there’s more to the story and the real issue isn’t the gas, – but an issue with repairs or suchlike. As for my own personal horror stories, I’ve been quite lucky really in general. But I have had tenants change their mind after moving into my property and then try and find faults that didn’t exist. In this instance it can be very draining to deal with them: not to mention the costs involved in sending contractors out for false repairs. In this particular instance, I engaged with the Letting Agent who had found the tenants for me and moved the property to being managed by them.
A massive thank you to Hayley for taking the time out of her busy schedule to do this for us. You can further connect with Hayley over at Urban Jump. And of course, if you want to work with an inventory clerks who truly understand the sector, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.