A warm welcome to the March edition of the Lenwell newsletter
Despite the increases in VAT, national insurance and fuel duty and the disappointing economic news that the last quarter of 2010 saw negative growth of minus 0.5%, 2011 has started brightly in the lettings market with demand continuing to outstrip supply and activity at our branches at healthy levels.
Spring is at last with us and gardens and hedgerows are beginning to wake up with a blaze of colour as the daffodils, crocuses and other Spring flowers come into bloom. I always feel that the arrival of Spring heralds a feeling of optimism and certainly, despite the general economic picture, the market remains positive in regards the private rental sector. This is borne out by a number of the articles in this edition.
Also in this edition Lucinda Newell takes her own inimitable look at energy efficiency and the benefits of improving the quality of our housing stock.
Improving the Green Rating of Rented Properties
Landlords overseeing residential properties should consider measures to improve the energy efficiency of their properties, according to the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA)..... to read more click here
Tenant Demand Hits 2 Year High
Tenant demand for privately rented property hit a two-year high during the fourth quarter of 2010, according to the latest Private Rented Sector Trends report from Paragon Group.
The quarterly snapshot of developments in the PRS and buy-to-let market showed the proportion of landlords reporting growing levels of tenant demand was at its highest level since the final quarter of 2008….. to read more click here
The Lucinda Newell Column
To be seen pottering along the highways and byways of Luton in her Mini Clubman, her trusted Scottie Malcolm at her side, our super sleuthing property rental expert Ms Lucinda Newell is on the case on your behalf!
I recently had a tenant leave one of my properties after a number of years in occupation and, since the legislation had changed and I now needed to commission an Energy Performance Certificate, I thought I would find out a little more about these mysterious documents that some of my friends, admittedly over a glass or two of sherry in the local, had referred to as a waste of time.... to read more click here
New Buy to Let (BTL) mortgage products with up to 85% Loan to Values
The range, launched by Kensington, is a clear indication that confidence is returning amongst lenders with over 1600 new products launched in 2011 alone and nearly 10,000 mortgage products available in total.... to read more click here
A few words of warning from the Association of Residential Lettings Agents about a rise in criminal activity involving lettings and the internet.
Foreign criminals have been using copies of UK lettings' sites - a process known as "scraping" - to persuade consumers to part with their deposits.
The websites are highly professional in appearance and use industry logos to convince overseas tenants of their legitimacy.
"Tenants must double check the validity of the websites they are using by checking websites such as ARLA and then contact the agent on the details listed there if they have any doubts at all," warned Ian Potter, Operations Manager at ARLA.
"Unfortunately, criminals who are operating from abroad can misappropriate company brands and industry logos to convince consumers that they are dealing with a legitimate lettings organisation."
ARLA members have noted a particular upsurge of fraud from companies posting on the website Gumtree and claiming to be letting properties in Sydney. In the past, this has also been seen in for properties in London and major UK cities for Student Lettings amongst others.
The illegal sites essentially hijack a UK agent's website appearance and offer access to properties and rental opportunities. Consumers who have paid in deposits into the accounts of the representatives of these sites have been left out of pocket and without access to the property they have been promised.
ARLA have noted an increase in the trend of website scraping in the past six months. We urge any concerned tenant to always use a licensed letting agent - they can call to confirm the identity of that agent through ARLA.
Top Tips to avoid being caught out:
- Get a friend, contact or relative to check the property exists and is available.
Do not pay monies if you or a reliable contact has not visited the property with an agent or the landlord.
- Ask for copies of tenancy agreements and any safety certificates such as Gas Electricity or HMO Licence.
- Do not be pressurised into transferring large sums of money. Transfer funds to a Bank Account having obtained the details by contacting the landlord or agent direct after the above steps have been followed.
- Victims of any fraud must also inform the Trading Standards Board as well as the police, particularly in cases where money has been lost.
Whilst we are not aware of any such activity affecting the areas covered by Lenwell, we strongly endorse ARLA’s tips and urge everyone to be vigilant about ensuring they are dealing with a bona fide, qualified lettings agency like Lenwell.