With so much of today’s property hunt taking place online, there’s a real opportunity for scammers to capitalise on unsuspecting tenants. Thankfully, users remain vigilant and sham lettings are well documented. If you’re on the property hunt, here are the common rental scams to avoid.

Gumtree Landlord Scam

This trap is aimed at those living overseas who seek accommodation in the UK. A landlord will publish an ad on Gumtree featuring accredited NLA (National Landlords Association) logos. They will discuss the property in question with the individual and request payment before they move to the UK. Upon arrival to the country, the landlord is nowhere to be seen.

This is a popular scam in the lettings sector. It can be entirely dismantled by asking to see the property first. If you’re looking to rent a room or flat, you have the right to view it before paying any kind of deposit. If you’d like to find out whether a landlord is a member of the National Landlords Association, you can do so here.

The Fake Property

This is a dangerous one which is really tough to notice at times. This scam involves the landlord going a step further than just advertising a property. The scammer will have access to an empty property which they’ll show you around. Unfortunately, the building isn’t actually theirs to rent out. By the time you come to move in, the property’s already occupied.

It can be really difficult to actually recognise this until it’s happened. It’s always important to be suspicious if the landlord is pressing for you to pay a security deposit/first month’s rent immediately.

Unsatisfactory References

Now this is a clever scam, which again is pretty difficult to spot. A tenant will go through the motions of renting a property and everything will appear legitimate. Coming to the reference check stage, the prospective tenant will sign a contract which says that if the references aren’t acceptable the deposit will be returned minus a fee for reference checks. This sounds reasonable – besides, you’ve got good references so don’t mind signing. Unfortunately, they’ll be deemed as unsatisfactory by the landlord. When you receive the deposit back, it’s a fraction of what you initially paid. If you’ve been bitten by this, it’s illegal and you have a right to be frustrated. Seek assistance immediately.

Going After the Guarantor

This is a particularly nasty one. The landlord will claim there’s no need for a security deposit. It sounds like a perfect situation – you just need to have a guarantor. When the tenancy comes to an end, the guarantor will be hit with a wave of unnecessary charges for repairs. This scam highlights the importance of inventory services.

Illegal Charges

Dodgy landlords are big fans of adding illegal charges to the tenancy agreement. Be wary of anything you sign your name to. If the charge is in your tenancy agreement and you sign it, you’re agreeing to pay. If you’re unsure whether a charge is necessary, do your research before signing. If a landlord tries to charge you for something which isn’t in the tenancy agreement, you don’t need to pay.

It’s Not All Dodgy Landlords

It’s a two sided coin – tenants can scam landlords too. One of the most common includes a tenant who asks to pay a deposit via Western Union or some other similar service. They pay too much ‘by mistake’ and ask the landlord to send the extra funds back. By this time, the landlord’s made the payment and the original payment has bounced. This leaves the landlord out of pocket and red faced. If you find yourself caught up in this, don’t pay any additional funds back until the initial payment clears/bounces.

What to Look Out For

It’s important to be vigilant when it comes to lettings scams. Here are a few warning signs to look out for:

  • Free listings – scammers love sites like Gumtree which allow free listings. Always be extra wary of rentals advertised on these websites.
  • Multiple ads for the same property – these can sometimes have slightly different descriptions or pictures.
  • Poorly worded ads – does it read like it was written by someone who isn’t fluent in English?
  • Unnecessary description of landlord – often scams will make the landlord sound respectable and fair. If this feels a little unnecessary, consider why this information is being communicated to you.
  • Lettings agency with little online presence – sometimes scammers will create their own lettings agency to appear legitimate. Google the company and see what’s online about them.
  • Very low price – it’s the age old saying; if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Pushy landlord – if the landlord is pushing you to pay money immediately, there’s likely to be an issue.
  • Pictures – are the pictures different to the property? Do the pictures look fake or unnatural?
  • They ask for money up front – Never pay anything before a viewing!

Unfortunately, scam landlords give the profession a bad name. The truth is, scammers are few and far between though tenants are not always aware of this. This is why it’s even more important to get your inventories right. By turning to No Letting Go for our inventory services, you remove any possibility of deposit disputes and also reassure tenants of your legitimacy. Find out more about our services here.

It has been reported today that Countrywide Group estate agency is to close around 60 of its UK offices in the coming weeks.

In a comment to Estate Agent Today, Countrywide said: “Following consultation with colleagues, we have made the decision to close 59 branches within the retail arm of our business. This is part of our ongoing ‘Building our Future’ strategy.”

The company go on to cite that this is a strategic decision to ensure the right people are in the right places to meet customer needs. Countrywide have clearly stated they want to avoid redundancies wherever possible though it can be deduced that there’ll be a loss of staff following such a drastic change to the business.

These closures are the crescendo to what has been a year of speculation and concern surrounding the future of some brands and offices. Chief Executive of Countrywide Group, Alison Platt, brought speculation to the forefront of workers’ minds in October 2015 when she succinctly told investors the company was moving in the direction of “fewer, stronger brands”.

The leaked list of closures sees a dramatic loss of offices across England, Scotland and Wales with the most damage being seen across the Midlands and Southern England. Below you can find a list of offices reported to be closing:

South Coast:
Palmer Snell in Lyme Regis.

Yorkshire:
Bridgfords in Bingley, and Ripon.

Manchester and Lancashire:
Bridgfords in Hale, and Bramhall.

South Central:
Mann in Bitterne, Cosham, Godalming, Haslemere and Hythe,
Gascoigne-Pees in Grayshott,
Watson Bull & Porter in Shanklin.

South East:
Geering & Collyer in Canterbury and Folkestone,
King & Chasemore in Eastbourne, Lancing and Littlehampton,
Freeman Forman in Mayfield.

Midlands North:
Ian Peat in Bingham,
Bairstow Eves in Derby,
R A Bennett in Solihull,
Dixons in Tamworth.

South West:
Stratton Creber in Mawnan Smith,
Fulfords in Shaldon, Topsham and Torquay.

Wales and West:
Entwistle Green in Crewe, Frodsham and Prenton,
Beresford Adams in Denbigh and Flint.

Midlands East:
Abbotts in Billericay, Clacton, Dedham, Felixstowe, Haverhill, Leigh-on-Sea, Sudbury, Wickford and Witham,
Bairstow Eves in Halstead, Ipswich, Leigh-On-Sea and Tiptree.

Midlands Central:
Taylors in Kettering and Olney,
Wilson peacock in Newport Pagnell.

Scotland and NE:
Countrywide in Ayr.

Midlands West:
R A Bennett in Bourton-on-the-Water, Chipping Campden, Cirencester, Stow-On-The-Wold, Thornbury, Wootton-Under-Edge and Yate,
Taylors in Churchdown, Evesham, Portishead, Shirehampton, Swindon West and Warndon.

Are you reading this, concerned about your future within the Countrywide Group? Is your office set to close down? A No Letting Go franchise is a lucrative business opportunity whoever you are and whatever background you come from. The inventory market is exciting and it’s growing! Getting involved in this market is not only fun but rewarding too. We’re looking for people who strive for success to join our established, market leading inventory services. Find out more about our franchise opportunities here.

With the country voting to leave the EU last week a lot of people have turned their attention to the property market, and just how Brexit might impact buying and renting. It’s still too early to make any firm statements, but some analysts are starting to make some predictions about the rental market and what we should expect over the coming years.  An opinion that seems fairly common at the moment is that rental supply will remain at similar levels as Britain prepares for life outside the EU.

Brexit and Housing Supply / Demand

A report has found that two thirds of letting agents are not expecting supply, demand or rental costs to change that much in the immediate aftermath of Brexit. In the future demand may start to fall, as prospective international tenants choose to go elsewhere, but for the most part prices should stay around the same levels we’re seeing today. Elsewhere a quarter of the agents surveyed say that Brexit will cause upward pressure on rental costs, as landlords will be looking for a greater return on their investments.

Brexit and Buy-To-Let Mortgages

Buy-to-let mortgages have been getting increasingly difficult for landlords to obtain, with lenders continuing to reduce the amount that they are prepared to lend in relation to rental income. However there is some hope that Brexit may actually help the sector, as house prices could fall faster than rent and landlords’ yields would rise. That wouldn’t help their existing properties but it could provide some much-needed relief if they wanted to add to their portfolio.

Brexit and Housebuilding

Other industry experts say that housebuilding levels will take a hit, and that some property deals that were in the pipeline are now being cancelled following Brexit. If this is the case and fewer homes are built around the country then it could force landlords to continue with their current portfolio in the short term. However, overseas buyers could be tempted into the market thanks to a weaker pound, and anyone who trades in US dollars has much value to gain from capitalising on the exchange rate.

As things stand it’s too early to say for definite what kind of impact Brexit will have on property, but it will be a very interesting time for the sector. In the meantime if you’re a landlord or letting agent in need of inventory services then make sure you get in touch with No Letting Go today.

While it certainly provides an important and popular service, Airbnb is nonetheless proving to be something of a headache for quite a few landlords. A growing number of landlord inventory services in the UK are expressing concern over just how many tenants up and down the country are turning to Airbnb as an easy approach to illegal sub-letting.

By effectively allowing anyone with an Internet connection to advertise their dwelling in part or in full as available for rent by others, Airbnb has transformed the way the world approaches seeking and selecting temporary accommodation.  The only problem being that in a growing number of instances, tenants who do not have the right or the permission to do so are using Airbnb to sub-let the properties they are living in, as a means by which to make a profit. In doing so, they are not only breaching the terms of their tenancy agreements, but may also be invalidating any and all insurance of the building and putting the landlord in a position where they themselves may be in breach of their own mortgage terms.

A Growing Problem

Far from a rare or unlikely scenario the average landlord may find themselves facing, evidence suggests that cases of illegal sub-letting by way of Airbnb and similar services are on the up across the United Kingdom. The vast majority of landlords and largely every rental inventory service in the country is aware of at least a handful of instances where properties in their area or under their control have at one time or another been illegally sub-let by tenants.

On the whole, Landlord Action reports that over the course of the past year alone, illegal sub-letting by rental tenants has increased more than 300%.

A recent episode of ‘Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords’ on Channel Five put the subject well and truly in the spotlight, focusing on a landlord from West London who believed she had found the ideal rental tenant. Looking to let out her property for a period of three years, she found a young doctor who appeared to be an ideal match for her London home.

Nevertheless, it was sometime later that she discovered that her home wasn’t in fact being used as a residence by the doctor, but instead as a boutique hotel advertised via Airbnb. A rather extreme example, but one that nonetheless illustrates the kind of extent to which Airbnb and the trust of thousands of landlords are both being abused.

“We have had concerns for some time now regarding the protection of properties which are being uploaded and offered as holiday lets via Airbnb. We continue to receive a growing number of instructions from landlords who want us to start possession proceedings against tenants who have sublet their property via Airbnb without consent,” commented Paul Shamplina on behalf of Landlord Action.

“As well as damage to properties, landlords have received complaints from block managers with regards to being in breach of their head lease and unhappy neighbours in relation to anti-social behaviour, and that’s before considering issues regarding HMO licensing and possible invalidation of insurance and mortgage terms.”

Proactivity on the part of the landlord is largely viewed as the only realistic preventative measure against this kind of abuse, including regular property inspections and meticulous vetting of prospective tenants.

Are you a landlord, agent or tenant stressing over the inventory process? Find out how No Letting Go can remove the strain here.

What do millennials think about the current housing situation? With this infographicOpen Property Group help us better understand the risks and challenges facing the ‘Generation Rent’.

Generation Rent - Landlords vs Millennials

If you’re a landlord, tenant or agency feeling the stress of inventories, contact No Letting Go to see how we can remove the strain.

Technology has already done a lot to transform domestic living, just as the Internet has changed the way the world works in almost every respect.  Nevertheless, we have really only just begun to scratch the surface of what’s to come – perhaps much sooner then you realise.

The Internet of Things

Far beyond a means by which to access entertainment, do business and communicate with others, the Internet is slowly but surely working its way into everyday life.  You can already switch your home lighting and hot water on and off from anywhere in the world, but aside from these kinds of minor conveniences, the Internet of things still has quite a way to go.

But as far as the fair few visionaries are concerned, it really won’t be long before living lives as we live them today will seem borderline archaic.

The Intelligent Home

Why? Well, it all comes down to the fact that while technology as it stands today is impressive enough, it is for the most part passive. By contrast, years down the line we can expect to see more intelligent technology entering our lives in our homes than ever before. Roughly translated, technology will play an active role in enhancing and simplifying our lives, without having to be prompted.

In the home of the future, everything from lighting to heating to hot water to entertainment and so on will be intelligently automated and manageable with little to no human interaction. Our homes will actively and constantly monitor, record and analyse the way we live our lives and our day to day habits, ultimately enabling them to pre-empt our needs, our wants and our regular activities. The kind of technology able to read and accurately interpret facial expressions and body language already exists – it is only a matter of time until it enters our homes.

Enhancing Every Day

Imagine never having to set an alarm as the home around you already knows exactly where you need to be and when. Imagine a home that accesses transportation and meteorological data for the day ahead, in order to offer accurate journey times, suggested routes and even a sensible outfit in accordance with weather conditions.

Or how about a bathroom mirror that doubles up as a daily health tracker and vital signs monitor? You simply go about your bathroom business as normal, but at the same time are effectively given something of a physical check by your home’s technology, with the data being stored, tracked and shared with your GP when necessary. You are prompted to take any required medication and provided with helpful suggestions in accordance with your current goals – weight loss, weight gain, improve fitness, better sleep, better nutrition and so on.

Your kitchen will know which food items are about to expire and advise you on creative ways of using them, ordering essentials will be as simple as providing a voice response when prompted by your refrigerator and intelligent cooking appliances will make it absolutely impossible to come up with anything that isn’t truly outstanding.

The home of the future isn’t about allowing our lives to be taken over by technology, but rather utilising the incredible technology available to us to enhance and simplify everything we do.

If you’d like to check out or subscribe to the Innovate UK YouTube channel.

You can also follow @InnovateUK on Twitter here.

As of February 1st this year, landlords up and down the United Kingdom found themselves lumped with a pretty sizeable load of newly-assigned responsibilities. For the first time, and for the indefinite future to say the least, it is now entirely the responsibility of landlords to ensure that their tenants are in fact legally entitled to rent their properties. Known as the ‘Right to Rent’ rule, no longer are landlords able to in any way turn a blind eye to the legality of their tenants’ residency in the United Kingdom.

Unsurprisingly, the change ruffled more than a few feathers across the country. Many a landlord and national inventory company alike responded quite strongly to the newly-imposed responsibilities, suggesting that it paves the way for landlords to be punished unfairly when dealing with dishonest tenants. Nevertheless, it’s a change that’s only just come into effect and isn’t going anywhere in the near future, so it’s crucial to comprehensively understand what responsibilities now fall with landlords.

Guidelines for Tenants

One plus point from the landlord’s perspective is the fact that the government has recently published an updated How to Rent guide, which was created to help tenants better understand both sides of the deal. It may assist in the on-going battle against unscrupulous landlords, while at the same time helping tenants understand their obligations.

Whether working alone or in conjunction with landlord inventory services UK, the change basically makes it the duty of the landlord to check their tenants’ right to rent before allowing them to move in. It’s a means by which to enhance the government’s efforts to gain better control over illegal immigration, making it difficult for illegals to find places to live. And in any instances where landlords are found to be housing illegal immigrants without having carried out the necessary checks, they will be liable for fines of up to £3,000 per occupant.

Making assumptions or taking the word of tenants at face value will no longer be sufficient. Instead, landlords are required to make the necessary checks, demand that the required identification be produced and maintain meticulous records for future inspection.

In this video Paul Shamplina – from Landlord Action – gives clear directions on the new Right to Rent immigration checks.

Checking Documents

In terms of going about the document checks, it’s crucial for landlords to know both what it is they are looking for and how to keep the necessary records.

For example, all forms of ID produced to prove residency status must be approved documents, such as passports, visas and so on. No form of ID can be accepted if it isn’t recognised.

In addition to this, the documents must in every instance be the originals – photocopies are strictly prohibited. Landlords must then keep photocopies for their own records, but these should be taken from the original documents only.

If there is any doubt whatsoever as to either the authenticity of the documents or that the image is a true likeness of the individual, additional checks must be carried out before allowing tenancy. Documents should be cross-checked in detail.

All copies must be signed by both parties, dated and stored in a safe place, in case required at a later date.

The Home Office is also providing a telephone helpline to help landlords and tenants understand how these measures apply to them and how to carry out the right to rent checks. You can use this service by calling 0300 069 9799.

If you’re finding tenancy inventories a headache, see how No Letting Go can remove your strain.

New Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Legislation 2015 for England, comes into effect on 1st October which means that landlords of residential properties must have smoke alarms fitted on every floor and carbon monoxide alarms in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance. To support landlords and letting agents, No Letting Go has launched an inspection and installation services across its 50 regional offices. These regulations cover all private rented properties not just new tenancies which are let on assured shorthold tenancies and is retrospective.

Nick Lyons, CEO of No Letting Go, says “with the enormous and somewhat challenging task agents and landlords now have with which to meet the requirements of the new legislation, we have launched a fully insured and audited inspection and installation service both as a standalone service or combined with our current inventory or check out , to help agents and landlords across the UK comply with the legislation.”

By providing this service No Letting Go will test, register and record all existing alarms, replace batteries and/or install new alarms where necessary. All information will be recorded in a report and on our web base system, accessible 24/7 providing a full audit trail to ensure agents and landlords meet these latest legislative requirements.

Check for details of your local office here, call our head office on 0203 1264 409 or e mail us at alarmcompliance@nolettinggo.co.uk.

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) – the government approved deposit protection scheme for landlords, agents, and tenants in the UK – today announced the value of deposits protected has grown by £100m from last year, to over £1.3bn and a 25% increase in deposit disputes, to 11,900.

The TDS figures show that 19.2% of all disputes raised resulted in 100% pay-outs to tenants; 19.8% of all disputes raised by landlords or agents resulted in 100% pay-outs to them; while in the remaining 61% of cases saw the disputed money split between the parties.

Most of the disputes in England and Wales were about cleaning (58%), followed by damage (52%), redecoration (32%), gardening (17%) and rent arrears (10%).

It is worth noting the average amount of money disputed in cases across England and Wales was £831 – Our average inventory costs only 10% of this value; isn’t it worth considering a professional inventory service?

You can avoid the trend of increasing tenancy disputes with leading inventory provider No Letting Go: with an incredibly successful track record, we are the largest and most respected property inventory company with over 40 offices throughout the UK.

Call us today for enquires 01322 555128.

You can read the full TDS Dispute Service Annual Review 2015 here.

On 11 March 2015 Housing Minister Brandon Lewis announced that landlords will be required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties.

The draft legislation says:

A relevant landlord in respect of a specified tenancy must ensure that

  • during any period beginning on or after 1st October 2015 when the premises are occupied under the
  • a smoke detector is equipped on each storey of the premises on which there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation (this includes bathrooms, toilets halls and landings)
  • a carbon monoxide detector is equipped in any room of the premises which is used as living accommodation and contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance; and

(b) checks are made by or on behalf of the landlord to ensure that each prescribed detector is in proper working order on the day the tenancy begins if it is a new tenancy.

With just three weeks to go, the draft Regulations have still not been approved by Parliament and, on Monday 7th September, the House of Lords threw them out and demanded it should debate them.

A week later – on Monday 14th September – Parliament has finally approved the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015.

The deadline is October 1st and local authorities will fine landlords who fail to comply up to £5,000.

Aside from the impending legislation, as part of our standard service No Letting Go now offer smoke detector and carbon monoxide testing at the point of inventory and checkout. We always strive to provide the best service possible by raising our standards and ensuring the health & safety of all our clients, that’s why we recommend that you buy and install alarms in your properties.

For more information call: 01322 555128 or email: info@nolettinggo.co.uk

Updated on 15/09/15

Photo source: wikipedia.org – nest.com