Happy New Year! – What’s in Store for Lettings?

And what is in store for the year ahead for Lettings Agents and Landlords? According to our trusted friends at Estate Agent Today a new property management portal is being launched with the aim of revolutionising the lettings industry – Apropos, designed by DJ Alexander Ltd – claims it will establish new standards of transparency, fairness, and convenience for the benefit of both landlords and tenants.

A statement from joint managing directors David and John Alexander says: “The number of properties in the private rental sector has more than doubled in the last 15 years and now accounts for over 20 per cent of all housing stock in the UK, around 5.5m households.

“Across the UK millions of people rely on or contribute to the PRS yet the current process often leaves many feeling let down. With over 40 years of experience in the market we fully understand the frustrations of both landlords and tenants.

“Over the last two years we have completely re-engineered the property management process. We firmly believe with Apropos we can deliver a vastly improved level of service that will reassure landlords and ultimately make tenants feel more comfortable and secure in their homes.”

“Our new platform uses a standardised system to ensure that no matter where in the UK the service is delivered, the experience and ease of use remains the same” says the company.

“Apropos will provide 24-hour access for tenants and landlords to input and access data. Both tenant and landlord can view all relevant information and monitor responses and actions directly. This ensures that all participants know exactly what is going on at any time.”

We appreciate that there are a number of agents who do not provide a 24/7 service but L&R Lettings since it launched has been delivering a second to none service in terms of transparency, fairness, quick responses, contractor confidence and an informal, productive approach to both how we communicate with landlords and tenants. Our aim has always been to ensure that the landlords investment is protected and managed and tenants are encouraged to believe that their home will be maintained to a good standard.

If DJ Alexander Ltd has a hands on approach with customer satisfaction guaranteed then this can only be a good thing. L&R Lettings already offers this.

With regard to the zero deposit scheme we are now advised that around 850 letting agents are now signed up to Zero Deposit’s FCA-regulated deposit replacement product, designed to reduce financial pressures on renters, while also offering greater security to landlords.

The insurance policy is underwritten by Munich Re which the tenant acquires for a one off payment at the equivalent of one week’s rent, no matter the length of the tenancy, plus an annual admin fee of £26.

Under the terms of the scheme, tenants remain accountable for any damage or unpaid rents, with any disputes over claims by the landlord handled by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS), which has an exclusive partnership with Zero Deposit.

Jon Notley, CEO and Co-Founder of Zero Deposit, commented: “Tenancies covered range from lower value lets in the regions through to high value London apartments. The product is appealing to all segments of the market with every age and property type covered.

“Tenants hugely appreciate the financial freedom our product offers, while agents and landlords are attracted to the genuine protection and credibility of our fully FCA regulated guarantee, with all of the safeguards that brings.”

Whilst we appreciate that this scheme is attractive to tenants it still does not guarantee outstanding rent or provide a better service to landlords who find themselves requiring legal services to regain possession of a property whose tenants fail to pay their rent and are advised by local government agencies to remain in the property until a court order is provided to gain possession. A deposit of 6 weeks rent equivalent is not just for damage to the property but can provide some assurance of rent arrears. Zero deposit with an insurance policy looks like a nice little earner for insurance companies but if your tenant does not have the funds to pay for a deposit one has to question their ability to pay full rent.

And in other news, as reported by the BBC, wildlife enthusiasts have been drawn to a Norfolk police station to see Waxwings who have been spotted eating berries from a rowan tree outside the building in Long Stratton. These rate birds which are not native to the UK are recognisable for their distinctive red and yellow feathers, and have been visiting the UK during the winter months.

“They are a scarce winter visitor but do on occasions appear in larger numbers,” said Peter Hayman, from Rare Bird Alerts. “It just depends on the availability of food and/or weather within their winter range”.