5 best practice principles to keep property managers on the right side of the law
PROPERTY is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the business with good reason. When it comes to a sector that combines people’s homes and their livelihoods, it makes sense to legislate - to protect both tenant and landlord.
While the list of legislation property managers need to be aware of is too exhaustive to go into here, making a few best practice principles the cornerstone of their strategies is the best way to position yourself on the right side of the law on a general level, before nailing into the specifics. In no particular order, here are our top five best practice principles:
By making processes as visible as possible – particularly when it comes to charges - agents will keep both tenants and legislators happy. This is particularly relevant for service charges – the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1985 specifically decrees that service charges must be both reasonable and delivered in a timely fashion.
2. Clear communication
Taking the time to put in clear lines of communication will make the entire tenancy run more smoothly. Consider online repair reporting portals such as Fixflo to allow tenants 24/7 contact and you’ll increase their trust. Clear communication will also pay off when it comes to repairs – if tenants have a direct portal of contact, they can report all repairs and maintenance issues before they get too serious. In addition to minimising damage, this will also keep landlords and agents on the right side of the Homes (Fitness for Habitation) Act, which directs that homes must be kept habitable.
3. Respect for data
Data has become a focal point with the advent of the GDPR, which relates to the collection and storage of personal data. It’s vital that agents check they’re compliant with all aspects of the GDPR. While we’re on the subject of data, providing tenants with a comprehensive welcome pack which includes an EPC, ‘Right to Rent’ and all necessary gas and safety certificates is also hugely important, otherwise landlords will be unable to serve tenants with a Section 21 notice when they need to.
4. If in doubt insure
When it comes to property, insurance is a manager/landlord’s best friend. As well as advising landlords to look into Landlords’ Insurance, managers would do well to invest in insurances, like client money protection insurance, themselves. Client money protection insurance is an insurance policy that covers any client money an agent might hold. Since 2015, it’s been a legal requirement that agencies disclose whether or not they have this insurance, so even if you don’t have it, you need to be aware of it.
5. Give it some gas
Annual gas safety inspections aren’t just legal requirements; they could be a matter of death. It’s worth noting, however, that an amendment to the Gas Safety Regulations was made in 2018. The amendment’s most significant impact is giving landlords greater flexibility on gas safety renewal dates to take into account potential problems in gaining access to a property. Although the amendment grants landlords a little leeway on dates, it’s still imperative that gas safety checks are carried out in a timely fashion. When it comes to gas, it’s lives as well as livelihoods at stake.
For more information on any of the principles we’ve touched on or details of the most significant new legislation for landlords, why not download our FREE e-book ’https://hubs.ly/H0g3fmb0.