Hello and a warm welcome to our May newsletter.
May is set to be possibly the most significant month of 2010 with the General Election scheduled for the 6th and the UK facing major changes in economic policy irrespective of whichever party achieves power, in order to reduce the country’s current huge debt burden.
Lucinda Newell has been out on the “campaign trail” and her views from the hustings are in this edition.
Our editor has also undertaken an interview with Richard Sharp who is Lettings Manager at our Luton office so now we know what he gets up to both on and off the job!
In addition, we have some helpful advice for anyone experiencing problems with their rental property – Landlord or Tenant!
And finally, we are both delighted and excited in equal measure by the news that we have been nominated again for this years’ Lettings Agency of the Year Awards!
Following our success at last year’s Estate Agency of the Year awards in association with The Sunday Times where we took the Silver award in the medium Lettings Agency category, we are delighted to announce that we have been nominated in four categories in the 2010 awards.
As well as the Best Lettings Agency category we have also secured nominations in the Online and Technology, Property Management and Customer Service categories!
Competition in the lettings marketplace is so strong that an entirely separate awards event has been organised for 2010 and provides an opportunity to benchmark our performance against the very best in the industry.
The four categories in which we have been nominated effectively cover every aspect of our business and the team here at Lenwell hope to be celebrating further recognition of our dedication to delivering the finest range of lettings services when the award winners are announced in June.
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!
This is such an exciting time! As soon as Gordon Brown went and saw the Queen on 6th April and called the General Election for the 6th May, I couldn’t wait to see what the various parties and candidates had to say.
Of course locally in Luton South we have the added intrigue of the sitting MP, Margaret Moran, stepping down after being embroiled in the expenses scandal by claiming for a second home in Southampton. Claiming for the cost of eradicating dry rot on a house that is actually further way from Westminster than her constituency was clearly unacceptable although as a dear surveyor friend of mine said at the time “Dry rot can spread very rapidly and over long distances” “Not over 100 miles” I replied!
As well as the usual prospects (or suspects as many prefer to call them these days) of Labour, Tory, Lib Dem, Green, UKIP and the BNP we will also have at least four independent candidates standing in Luton South including seventy year old Esther Rantzen of That’s Life and ChildLine fame. I must admit that I think dear old Esther was cajoled into standing when the expenses scandal was at its peak and, in reality, I’m not quite sure what she is actually standing for or proposing.
As someone who has an interest in both home ownership and the residential lettings sector, I have been very keen to see what the parties have to offer.
Of all the major parties, Labour appears to be offering very little new in terms of housing policy, primarily restating its already introduced stamp duty changes and a continuation of the Home Buy Direct scheme.
The Tories have said that they will make the increase in stamp duty threshold to £250,000 for first time buyers permanent whereas the current position is that this recently introduced change lasts for just two years. Significantly, they have also said they will scrap Home Information Packs and provide a gifted deposit scheme for qualifying social tenants to make it easier to buy their own homes. The Tories also propose raising the threshold for inheritance tax to £1 million, taking an estimated 4 million household estates out of this tax altogether and perhaps helping change the old maxim of the only certainty in life being “death and taxes” or, in this case, both!
The Liberal Democrats have also seemingly made some significant manifesto announcements in regards the housing market, particularly in terms of “green issues”. They propose a variation of the current boiler scrappage scheme in providing up to £400 towards both double glazing and boiler replacements. This “Eco-cash back” scheme is however only proposed for one year so we will only have a small “window of opportunity” (please excuse the pun but I couldn’t resist it!) to take advantage. The Lib Dems have, like the Tories signaled that they would scrap Home Information Packs. They also propose an additional 1% “Mansion Tax” on properties above £2million presumably by way of an increase in stamp duty to 6% at that level. Fortunately Chez Newell is somewhat more modest.
So, it seems that every day my letterbox is filling up with more canvassing leaflets and the streets are being dressed with boards urging me to vote one way or another. No doubt the printers and board suppliers are seeing this election as a sure fire way out of recession.
Dear Malcolm has already taken a dislike to several of the candidates who have knocked at my door and has enthusiastically chased them down the path barking his own opinions loudly. Perhaps if one of them proposed a reduction in the cost of dog food or free biscuits they might win him over but then again, perhaps not!
Come on Malcolm - Walkies!
I love to hear from my readers so let me know your thoughts - email me at email@example.com
How to avoid problems when renting property.
More than three million people now rent their homes privately in England alone and, according to the Consumer Association, problems are common.
Last month a poll suggested that a third of tenants are renting properties that have out-of-date gas safety certificates and complaints about letting agents now make up nearly half the problems dealt with by the Property Ombudsman.
In a recent article on the BBC website, a range of questions were asked by tenants. Questions that, in the main, would have been easily dealt with if a professionally qualified and accountable letting agent had been involved. Many of the issues arose because the required documentation had not been prepared and put in place.
It must be remembered that a tenancy is a two way agreement with obligations on both the landlord and the tenant and the legal agreement should clearly set out the position on such matters as notice periods and maintenance responsibilities.
Many of the problems cited in the BBC article seemed to arise as a result of landlords and tenants simply not having read or understood the agreement between them. Whilst there may be some urgency on all parties to complete a letting as quickly as possible, both landlords and tenants should ensure that they are fully conversant with their obligations under the agreement.
For example, a well prepared inventory can be invaluable and will protect both the landlord and tenant in the event of a dispute over the condition of a property and its contents which is one of the most common areas for conflict.
A professional letting agent will ensure that the tenants deposit has been lodged and protected under one of the Government approved schemes which will provide independent adjudication in the event of a dispute.
Of course there are still things that can go wrong but having the right documentation in place and the services of a professional letting agent will make resolving them much more straightforward.
At Lenwell we are members of the Property Ombudsman Service, the Association of Residential Lettings Agents, the National Association of Estate Agents and The Dispute Service. In addition, we also achieved ISO9000 accreditation in 1994 and have maintained the quality standards required ever since. We believe that our commitment to high quality service and professionalism is your best guarantee of avoiding problems when renting.
Meet the team – Richard Sharp
After Lucinda’s meeting with Rob Wellstead last month, we thought it would be an interesting idea to feature members of the Lenwell team from time to time and to find out a little more about them.
This month the editor has interviewed Richard Sharp who is Lettings Manager at the Lenwell branch in Luton. This is what we found out.
Name: Richard Sharp
Position: Lettings Manager Luton
Qualifications: BA Honours degree and ARLA qualified
How long have you been involved with residential lettings?
I joined Lenwell in June 2007, I had worked previously for a number of other agents and have managed to clock up a decade of experience in handling residential lettings in Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire.
Describe a typical day at Lenwell?
Whilst there is no such thing as a typical day, my role involves me in making sure that the team are focused and organised on delivering the highest levels of service and performance for our clients and customers. The day always starts with a team morning meeting and conference call. During the day I monitor deal levels, progress properties that have been let, draw up agreements, co ordinate appointments, manage the negotiators, compile our advertising and check the proofs, monitor and analyse the competition and book appointments and valuations. Basically I try and keep on top of everybody and maintain an assertive and cheerful demeanor.
What do you regard as your greatest achievement to date?
Visiting the Galapagos Islands for a week whilst traveling in South America and getting the opportunity to swim with sharks and giant turtles.
Very simple and, whilst it may seem possibly dull, my ambitions are to raise a small family, marry my fiancé Ayah and be happy. We have our first baby on the way and my major personal focus at the moment is in making sure it arrives safe and well and is well provided for.
Funniest or weirdest moment?
Whilst working in Milton Keynes I had arranged for two ladies to view a flat. Unfortunately, the keys I had did not work and we couldn’t get in. The property was a raised ground floor flat so I ended up putting each of them in turn on my shoulders so that they could see through the windows. Ultimately they decided not to proceed and all I had to show for my efforts were a pair of dirty shoes from where I had stood in the flower bed!
What person in the world do you most admire and why?
My step father. My biological father passed away when I was just ten and my mother later remarried. My step father has helped look after my younger brother and myself like his own and twenty years later my mother and he are still happily married.
What hobbies and interests do you have outside of Lenwell?
I enjoy a number of sporting interests including Thai boxing, weight training and scuba diving.
Do you have a claim to fame?
I once shot seven clay pigeons in a row (this was out of ten having missed the first three!).
Where is your favourite place in the world and why?
The Red Sea. The diving there is amazing and the weather is brilliant.