Too busy to keep up with compliance?

How good are you at keeping up with lettings and property management compliance? If you’re heading up a small lettings agency or slim-line team of property managers, it’s easy for new laws and legislations to get overlooked.

Don’t just take my word for it. The Fixflo Report 2016, which surveyed over 300 letting agents, found that 1 in 10 are still not sure what is required to provide an ‘adequate response’ to a tenant’s request for repairs. The same report uncovered the worrying statistic that 8% of the letting agents it surveyed were completely unaware of the changes to the Section 21 evictions process.

Not keeping up with compliance is costly in more ways than one. As well as fines for both the landlord and the agent, there’s the reputation damage that comes with being a law breaker (or from being ‘vague’ when it comes to professional matters).

It can be truly frustrating to tick another box, photocopy another document or make one more call but compliance is part of the wider initiative to drive up standards in the private rental sector. The processes are often designed to protect you – the agent or manager – as much as the landlord and tenant, so dot your i’s and cross your t’s.

A thought-provoking article recently published online by The Guardian discussed whether online agents would drive down lettings fees levied to both landlords and tenants. Although that is another matter in itself, the journalist in his rumination did touch on the idea that more landlords are turning to traditional high street agents to ensure their buy-to-lets are legally compliant. It builds on the fear that a cheap online service is inferior – even shoddy. The British Airways versus the no-frills airline is how it was reported.

There is an opportunity for small, local agents to offer landlords a watertight compliance service coupled with the personal touch only a high street agent can give. Managing a property within the law is an Achilles’ heel when it comes to landlords. There’s already grumblings from HMRC that they’re going to be scrutinizing the tax affairs of small private landlords with more vigor, so the threat of fines due to non-compliance should be enough to get them scuttling off to a local agent.

If you feel a full, professional and legally-compliant management service could be your strongest selling point, make time in your diary to scour the trade press and read communications from The Property Ombudsman and other industry bodies. You could even create a regular newsletter for landlords and tenants on compliance matters – showing them how abreast of laws and legislations you are. It gives clients confidence in your staff, exudes an air of pro-activity and creates peace-of-mind.

If you’re worried that you don’t have time for compliance, it’s time to look at partnering with someone who does.

ARPM

Simon Duce is the Founder and Managing Director of ARPM Outsourced Lettings Support - a business designed to help small and start-up letting agents/property managers offer a full suite of property management and tenancy administration services through outsourcing.

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