Whether for lifestyle or necessity tenants are renting for longer and it Is vital that landlords either stay fully up to speed with changing regulations or find themselves a good local agent.
When I was younger I was firmly told ‘You must buy a house’. And not just any house but the most expensive house possible, even if that meant no social life and living on bread and water. Renting they said, was a waste of money. 'You must invest now, stretch yourself while you're young and when you're 40 and your salary has increased, you can relax'.
For a while I had no choice but to rent, but as soon as I could, I bought.
Now they tell me times are changing and people are consciously choosing to rent. Apparently they don’t have to rent, they choose to rent because of the flexibility it provides.
At the same time the Housing White Paper due to be published tomorrow also seems to signify a move away from home ownership with an increased focus on 'affordable homes to rent' rather than the old 'affordable homes for sale'.
As if to reinforce this change I read a survey last week that said 61% of tenants are renting for lifestyle reasons and only 23% are saving for a deposit. Both figures surprise me and while I’m sure lifestyle is a factor, 61% seems a little on the high side, and 23% a little on the low.
However, whether lifestyle or necessity, one thing is certain, people are renting for longer. And as you'd expect with the volume of information that's now available at the click of a button they're also more aware of the rules and regulations that landlords need to adhere to.
These rules and regulations have changed and increased and become more complex recently for example Right to Rent, and Section 21 and the Deregulation Act 2015.
There are always implications for getting things wrong and often the landlord won't realise there's a problem until it's too late, for example try gaining possession of a property rented out after October 2015 if you haven’t first served the Governments ‘How to Rent Guide’.
So it’s good news and bad news, the good news is that if you have a decent property at the right price, maintain it well and look after your tenants, then your investment should perform well for many years. The bad news is if you cut corners or make a genuine mistake, your investment could become an expensive headache.
Staying on top of what's legal and whats not while at the same time holding down a day job or managing other demands on your time can be impossible and it's then that a good agent can be worth their weight in gold.
A good agent can reduce the risks and help your investment remain stress free. We're currently helping a landlady in Barnet who had twice served notce on her tenants herself but due to errors on the form (and using the wrong form) she's now decided to get our help to avoid another failed attempt.
However, you should choose your agent carefully as a bad agent can cause more stress than going it alone.For example last year I met with a local Enfield landlord whose agent had unsuccessfully served notice on his tenants three times, he’s now hoping for fourth time lucky!