Lettings: Why use an agent?
Posted on 18 May 2017
The Tenancy Deposit Scheme has commissioned a report into buy to let regulation. The report concludes that the legislation surrounding letting property is too complex and there is too much variation between local authorities. It calls for letting laws to be simplified and better enforced.
The report found that a landlord in England must comply with around 150 rules and even more if they are letting a property to a tenant in receipt of benefits. There was no mention of what the figure is in Northern Ireland, but I would not be surprised if it was something similar.
The amount of legislation surrounding the renting out of a property has increased dramatically over the last 10 years or so: this is generally a good thing. Tenants should be able to live in a safe environment, but some of the legislation can be unnecessarily complicated and some is enforced in such a way that it can appear to be a stealth tax on landlords.
The Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) legislation in Northern Ireland is a good example. The legislation itself is eminently sensible and is designed to keep tenants safe. It is let down, however, by charging landlords quite a hefty annual fee to register their HMO property and to demand that 5 years fees be paid upfront.
A good managing agent will guide a landlord through this legislation and make sure that their property complies with the law. The report makes a good point that the typical landlord is employed full time and struggles to keep up with the constantly changing legislation.
It goes on to claim that a two-tier rental market is being created with legally compliant properties being available at a premium rent over cheaper, but sub-standard and sometimes illegal or even dangerous properties. This is something we have seen happening in Belfast in recent years and tenants recognise this. Good tenants who are prepared to pay a little more for good quality properties will always prefer a property that is let and managed though a reputable property management agency not least because this protects their interests as well as the landlord’s. Others will risk renting property advertised on unregulated internet sites and it is these circumstances, generally speaking, which will cause a landlord more issues than those prepared to rent through an agency.
The reasons for a landlord choosing to use a property management agent to let and manage their property are myriad, but ensuring the peace of mind that they are legally compliant must be very near the top of the list.
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