How to change property management company

ChangePropertyManagement1.jpg

Thousands of leasehold flat and apartment owners are far from happy with the way their block is managed.

Some are paying excessive service charges. Others are handing over vast sums to their property management company for maintenance work they don’t feel is being carried out to the expected or required standard.

Thankfully, it doesn't have to be this way, as under the Right to Manage regulations, it is possible for leaseholders to break away from such companies.

At Garness Jones Residential, our specialists regularly advise unhappy property owners across Yorkshire who find themselves in this difficult situation.

What is the Right To Manage?

Under the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002, the Right to Manage (RTM) gives leaseholders the right to remove the company managing their property and take over the management of it from the freeholder themselves.

This is done by setting up a special company – known as a Right To Manage (RTM) company.

RTM is an important right which was introduced to empower leaseholders, giving them a way to wrestle back control from bad landlords or managing agents. It is only available for leaseholders of flats and apartments, not houses.

A building can be part-commercial, but if more than 25% is non-residential, you cannot apply.

Serving notice on your property management company

As a leaseholder, you are likely to have a majority stake in the overall value of the property. So, it’s probably in your interests to be responsible for managing the block where it sits.

You don’t need the landlord's permission to do so. You don’t have to obtain a court order. And you don’t need to prove any mismanagement because your Right To Manage is unaffected by whether the property has been managed poorly or effectively.

However, if you are thinking about exercising your right, don’t take the decision lightly. If the takeover is to be successful, a fair amount of work must be done before serving notice.

Should you wish to press ahead, here are 5 essential steps to follow:

1. Assess the level of concern by calling a meeting of fellow leaseholders (some properties may be rented)

2. Find out who’s willing to assist in a challenge - the move must be supported by more than 50% of leaseholders to go ahead.

3. Form a Recognised Tenants' Association (RTA) – giving you the right to be consulted by the freeholder about any major issues.

4. Set up an RTM company with fellow leaseholders.

5. Exercise your Right To Manage by serving a formal notice on the landlord.

What happens next?

The landlord may challenge the notice, but a valid application tends to see the RTM awarded to leaseholders.

After a period of notice, the property management responsibility will transfer to the new RTM company.

Once RTM has been acquired, the freeholder is entitled to become a member of the RTM company.

Although the Right To Manage process is fairly simple, complying with all the necessary rules and regulations can be a bit daunting.

At Garness Jones Residential, we can help take the stress and hassle out of changing management company by acting on your behalf.

We currently provide leasehold management services for blocks and developments of varying sizes.

Some of the larger well known buildings we manage include Queens Court Apartments in Hull (a building the BBC occupy part of), City Exchange Apartments in Hull, Raywell House in Raywell and St Mary’s Manor in Beverley, East Yorkshire.

For help or advice about the Right to Manage process, please call 01482 564564 – we’ll be more than happy to help.

The improvements you can (and can't) do after buying a leasehold flat

Home improvements graphic.jpg

Moving in to your own home is always an exciting time. Wish-lists and grand plans are often drawn up before the keys have even been handed over.

There’s nothing wrong with thinking big. We love it! But if you own a leasehold flat in a shared accommodation complex, it’s important to understand which improvements you’re allowed to make under the terms of your lease.

Here’s a quick look at the most common alterations that you can (and cannot) do without asking the freeholder/management company for permission…

Re-decorating

Leaseholders are usually responsible for looking after the areas of the building they own or lease – including any internal plumbing, wiring, flooring, plasterwork and painting or decoration of their flat.

If you want to replace the carpets or completely redecorate it is unlikely you need to ask the freeholder/management company for permission. Get creative, crack on and let your imagination run free!

Knocking down walls

If you’re keen to get your lump hammer out and alter the internal layout of your apartment, you’ll probably need to ask the freeholder/management company for permission because it’s classed as a structural alteration. Some leases do allow internal walls to be removed without consent, so check your terms carefully before doing anything. If you’re unsure, ask the freeholder – it’s usually a safe option.

In theory, the freeholder/management company has the right to refuse the work – but reasonable requests are often permitted, especially if they can be approved by a structural engineer beforehand. In most cases, the reason for making this check is to determine whether the wall is loadbearing and ensure any work complies with the appropriate Building Regulations.

Fitting a new kitchen or bathroom

Ripping out and replacing a tired or dated kitchen is a guaranteed way to improve the value of any home. The same goes for a bathroom. Not only does it make your home more luxurious, it’ll usually increase the asking price if you decide to sell and move on.

Thankfully, it is very rare the lease requires you to seek permission to overhaul your kitchen or bathroom, but it’s worth checking. – Then simply draw up the design of your dreams and transform your home from drab to fab!

Updating a front door

We agree changing your front door is one of the quickest ways to create a good first impression and make your home more welcoming.

However this area can be a tricky one because leases are not always clear about who’s responsible for the front door of a leasehold flat in a shared complex. There may be situations where the door is owned by the leaseholder, but on other occasions the freeholder/management company may be responsible for ownership. The second being, many leases do not allow the appearance of the building to be altered. As you could imagine if everyone had different style and colour doors it could look quite an eyesore. In our experience, studying the terms of your lease is the best way to find this out. If you’re still in doubt, contact the freeholder to discuss what you want to do and why - we usually find a suitable agreement can be reached in most cases.

Installing new windows

For most modern apartments, the windows and all their parts (units, seals, handles and glazing) are the responsibility of the leaseholder - unless stated otherwise in the lease.

For older leases, this may differ slightly because (in the days before double glazing) the freeholder/management company was usually responsible for the frame and the leaseholder was responsible for maintaining the glazing – to prevent freeholders/ management companies being bothered by broken glass issues.

No matter which category your home falls in to, you cannot usually install replacement windows unless they are made to the exact specification detailed in your lease. Obviously, they must also comply with Building Regulations.

In our experience, the reason for this is to maintain high standards and keep a uniformed look to the shared building – which helps the homes within it to maintain their value.

 

Hassle-free block management for landlords

In our role as leasehold management agents for shared apartment blocks and developments of various sizes, we know how important it is for freeholders and property owners to reach an amicable agreement which is in both their interests.

Whilst this is not always easy, we believe it’s the best way to maintain long-term relationships and ensure communal areas remain in tip-top condition.

If you’re a Freeholder or a Leaseholder, who wants to learn more about the block management services we provide, please get in touch or call 01482 564564 for an informal discussion – we’ll be happy to help.

What does a good letting agent do for landlords?

Letting-agent-graphic.jpg


Renting out a property may seem like an easy way to make money, but it can often be extremely complicated.

If you’re a newcomer stepping into the ‘buy-to-let’ market for the first time, you might be tempted to rent your property out privately yourself - maximising profits by saving the fees you would have paid to a letting agent.

But unless you’re experienced at letting out properties (and know the complex laws and regulations involved), we wouldn’t advise going it alone.

At Garness Jones, we believe the role of a good letting agent is to make the life of a landlord easier.

Here’s how…

10 essential services a good letting agent should do

1: Market your property

Before choosing which agent to use, the ones who are in the frame should visit your property to carry out a free rental assessment and determine its potential market value. Once you’ve agreed on the rent and chosen which letting agent to use, their first job is advertising the property, with highly viewed specialist websites a must for your property.

Taking a selection of impressive photos and writing an engaging description that encapsulates your property’s best features, as well as details on locality, is essential to bring it to market in the most appealing way.

2: Work hard to find suitable tenants

A good letting agent shouldn’t just market your property or properties and hope for the best, they should know the complexities of the local rental market like the back of their hand.

This means they should be taking a pro-active approach to letting your properties and if they don’t move quickly be suggesting reasons why and different approaches that can be taken to ensure you are not losing out. They should be as concerned as you if they are stood empty too long.

3: Show potential tenants around

A good agent who’s worth their salt will show prospective tenants around your property, explain its best features and outline the benefits of living in the area and nearby amenities. Often the location and nearby facilities are just as important as the property itself.
If interest is shown or an offer is made, they should inform you immediately. From then on, they should act as a go-between to ensure the arrangements are suitable to both parties.

4: Sort out a Tenancy Agreement

When a prospective tenant has been found, and an agreement reached on costs with the landlord, a good lettings agent will draw up a legally-binding contract for the two parties to sign, minimising the amount of stress and hassle for the property owner.

5: Evaluate potential tenants

The last thing any landlord wants to worry about is whether or not the people who’ve just rented their property are able to pay the rent next month. That’s why vetting a tenant is one of the most important duties a letting agent undertakes. Get it wrong (or fail to do it) and the joy of finding a new tenant can sometimes turn into a nightmare.

At Garness Jones, this service is paid for by the prospective tenant and includes:

  • Identity, immigration and visa confirmation

  • Obtaining references – employers and/or landlords

  • Financial credit checks

  • Affordability assessment

6: Conduct an Inventory Check

At the beginning and end of a tenancy, a full list of contents (and its condition) should be compiled during an inspection by the letting agent, usually in the presence of the tenant. Some agents offer an ‘Inventory Check’ as standard, whilst others charge extra for this service.

7: Collect the rent and chase up late payments

If your letting agent doesn’t collect the rent from your tenants each month, you should be asking why. A good agent will also chase up any late payments (or deposits and fees) on behalf of the landlord.

8: Sort routine repairs and maintenance

If you’re paying a premium for a letting agent, the management service should include a regular inspection to make sure everything’s okay. Should any routine maintenance or general repairs need to be carried out, a good agent should be trusted to sort it. This is particularly useful for landlords who don’t have the time to deal with tradesmen and for property owners who live away.

9. Help you be 100% compliant

If you’re a landlord who cares about your tenants, you need to comply with more than 70 pieces of legislation (including health and safety) – and have the ability to deal with emergencies at all hours of the day.

If you don’t want the stress or hassle of dealing with this, enlist the help of a reputable lettings agent and they’ll take care of it your behalf. In most cases, a decent agent will be a member of a registered body like the UK Association of Lettings Agents (UKALA) or the Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA).

10: Make your property more marketable

Sometimes a property struggles to attract tenants because it’s dated, badly decorated or in poor condition. A good lettings agent should be honest with you and let you know if your property falls into this bracket. If they don’t, they’re not worth their salt.

At Garness Jones, we advise all our landlords about the impact that shabby interiors can have – putting off tenants and lowering potential rent values. If we think a better finish will make your property more marketable, we’ll tell you.

Are you paying a lot, but getting very little?

Let’s be honest, we know there are loads of landlords who think letting agents are paid too much to do too little.

In our experience, property owners only have this mentality if they’re used to dealing with substandard agents.

If you’re one of these people, we would urge you to get in touch and experience the Garness Jones difference - our dedicated lettings team are committed to the quality, long-term customer care needed to be a successful landlord.

What are a tenants’ responsibilities for repairs and what are their rights?

Garness Jones lettings.jpg


There’s nothing better than having somewhere to relax, unwind and call home.

As a nation of property lovers, it’s probably no surprise that there are various UK laws designed to protect the rights of tenants and landlords. 

In our experience, this legislation helps occupiers to keep their home looking lovely by letting them know exactly where they stand.

What are a tenants’ responsibilities?

Whether you have an oral or written tenancy agreement, your rights centre upon a law which implies that all dwellers must use a rented home in a ‘tenant-like’ way.

A tenants’ main responsibilities are to:

  • Keep your home reasonably clean

  • Not cause any damage to the property

  • Make sure visitors don’t cause any damage

  • Use fixtures and fittings properly – for example don’t block a toilet with unsuitable items

  • Carry out minor repairs - change light bulbs, fuses, batteries in smoke alarms

  • Keep chimneys and ventilation free from blockages

  • Tell your landlord about any repairs that are required

  • Provide access for any repair work to be done

What are a tenants’ responsibilities for repairs?

Any damage caused to a property by a tenant (or their guests) are the tenant's responsibility – whether the damage was malicious or accidental.

In either case, the tenant will have to pay for repairs. If they don't, the landlord is allowed to deduct money from their tenancy deposit.

In our experience, it’s a good idea to report any major damage to the letting agent or landlord and never carry out repairs without doing so unless your tenancy agreement says you are allowed to!

The landlord may want to carry out the repair work themselves and pass the costs on to you, or they may simply agree to you fixing the issue yourself.

Under no circumstances should a tenant have to pay for normal wear and tear to a home – this is the landlord’s responsibility.

What are a tenants’ responsibilities for appliances?

Tenants are responsible for repairing any appliances which they have installed, such as a shower or satellite TV.

If your landlord supplied electrical appliances, they are usually responsible for maintaining them – unless this is stipulated in your Tenancy Agreement.

The same applies to any gas appliances, which must be supplied in a safe working order.

A landlord is NOT responsible for fixing appliances or furniture owned by a tenant.

What are a tenants’ responsibilities for the garden?

Depending on your Tenancy Agreement, you may be responsible for keeping the garden tidy and in a reasonable order. If you are, this should have been made clear beforehand.

What are a tenants’ responsibilities for visitors?

If you invited or allowed a visitor into your home, you have a ‘duty of care’ to ensure they and their belongings are reasonably safe. 

What is a landlord responsible for repairing?

In general, a landlord is responsible for:

·       A property’s structure and exterior features

·       Heating, boiler and hot water

·       Gas appliances – ovens, fires, pipes, flues and ventilation

·       Sinks, baths, basins and other sanitary fittings - pipes and drains

·       Electrical wiring and sockets

·       Common areas - staircases and doors in blocks of flats

·       Damage caused by attempted repairs

If in doubt, check your Tenancy Agreement for your rights

Should you be in ANY doubt about your repair responsibilities, it’s important to check your Tenancy Agreement – as it will usually detail who’s responsible in very clear terms.

If you live in a block of flats and cause damage to another tenant’s flat (by leaving the bath to overflow), you’d obviously be responsible for the repair bill.

But you may be pleasantly surprised to find that your landlord is responsible for repairing or replacing faulty appliances they’ve provided - such as a fridge, freezer, washing machine or dishwasher.

In some instances, tenants read their Tenancy Agreement and discover they are allowed to decorate - so long as certain colour schemes or neutral colours are used.

In our experience, a detailed and robust Agreement is the key to a successful relationship between the occupier and landlord. It should always state who is responsible for what repairs and, if it is the landlord, it should say when or how often certain repair types (such as cleaning communal areas) will be carried out.

To protect the rights of tenants, landlords MUST carry out the repairs which the UK law says they are responsible for – even if the agreement says something different. This prevents terms being included in an Agreement which passes on statutory repair responsibilities to tenants - such as a leaking roof - as it would not be enforceable by law.

We look out for you, not just your landlord!

At Garness Jones, we aim to build a positive relationship between you, us and your landlord, to make sure every repair issue is handled as fairly, quickly and effectively as possible.

If you’re a tenant who needs an emergency or urgent repair, or are in a Garness Jones property and are unsure what may or not be your responsibility, call us on 01482 564564 – we’ll be happy to help!

More information on renting and rights and responsibilities can also be found on the Government site  https://www.gov.uk/private-renting

 


What to do if your home isn’t Letting.

It can be frustrating if you’re wanting to let a property but it seems to be stagnant on the property market. Most letting agents recommend that if your property has been on the market for over 2 months, there are a few things you can do to increase the chances of letting it before taking any drastic action.

Consider the audience for the property

Potential applicants create very quick assumptions on a property, especially regarding if they like it or not. Therefore, it is important to take into account the applicant’s perspective and ensure that your property is how they would like to view it. This may mean having to tidy up around the house and having a deep clean, as well as cutting the lawn, making the place look as presentable as possible. If your home is bright, clean and modern it is more likely to let than a property in poor condition. Although your house isn't a show home when it comes to letting, try and make it look like one as much as possible, minimise noise and maximise space so the potential applicants can picture themselves living there, and consider restyling if your property is outdated. Taking into consideration if the property is furnished or unfurnished will also affect the renting price as well as if the people wanting to move in have their own furniture, it is important not to be stubborn and get too attached to the property and take the interests of the person wanting to let over your own.

Your letting agent

It is important to make sure your letting agent is as enthusiastic and passionate to let your property as you are. Finding a letting agent with the desire to let your home can have a massive impact on the number of viewings your property receives. If you feel they could be doing more to push your property, ask them what else they could do to let your home and try new ideas. Asking them for viewing feedback is a great way to come up with ideas for adapting your home to try and improve its chances of it letting. Asking about potential parking permits and if the length of time rented needs to change could also give your property a better chance to let as 6 month contacts are often less attractive than longer contracts. Your letting agent can also help to keep the pricing of the property you are wanting to let competitive within its location to ensure you get more viewings, as a small reduction in rent is better than receiving none at all.

Cosmetic issues

We’re not suggesting you give your house a full facelift, but a lick of paint here and there can make a huge impact on the appearance of your home to potential applicants and gives the property a fresh lease of life. Your letting agent will be able to advise you on what minor home improvements can be made to avoid wasting your time and money on unnecessary repairs or adjustments.  

Website

How your property looks online can have a huge impact on a potential applicant’s decision to view it. If your property looks dull and uninspiring, it can come across as off-putting; so make sure the photos on the website do your property justice.

Consider the lighting in the rooms and the time of day photos are scheduled to be taken. On an overcast or rainy day, the photos are likely to make the house seem darker than what it is in reality. Taking photos on a clear or sunny can avoid this.

Having a great selection of photos including different bedrooms, living spaces, the front of house, and the garden can draw the attention of the potential applicant and encourage them to get in touch and arrange a viewing. However, try not to over clutter the images on the site, you want to give a snapshot of the house not a full inch by inch album.


Following these tips before taking a hit on reducing rent, should enhance your chances of letting your property significantly! For more information on how we can help you let your property, take a look at what services we can offer here: http://bit.ly/2O2VFNO

Where to live in Hull?

Where to live in Hull?

Hull is a fantastic place to live. If you read our previous blog on why you should invest in Hull here, you will see the many great reasons to move here. From being the 2017 city of culture, the expanding job market, low property prices, rising rental demand and the national and international connections, the only thing left to do is decide which area of Hull you should move to…