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Western Lettings - Letting Agents Blog

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  • 0141 357 0436
  • J Gallagher
  • May 01, 2018 01:24:47 PM
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A Little About Us

A blog containing news about Western Lettings (an award winning letting agency in Glasgow) as well as useful information and resources for landlords and tenants.

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    Landlords Fined for Breaking Tenancy Deposit Rules

    The Tenancy Deposit Scheme is a government-backed scheme to protect deposits paid by new tenants. It also protects tenants from having their deposits unfairly withheld by offering free and impartial adjudication in cases where deductions are contested. The rules of […] The post Landlords Fined for Breaking Tenancy Deposit Rules appeared first on Western...

    The Tenancy Deposit Scheme is a government-backed scheme to protect deposits paid by new tenants. It also protects tenants from having their deposits unfairly withheld by offering free and impartial adjudication in cases where deductions are contested. The rules of the scheme demand that a letting agent or landlord has to register all tenant deposits with an approved tenancy deposit scheme within 30 working days of the tenancy starting.

     

    However, even though these new regulations were introduced in 2011, it seems that a number of landlords are still flouting them. SafeDeposits Scotland (one of the 3 government-approved schemes) has accessed publicly available documents which show that in the last 18 months more than 200 landlords across Scotland have failed to register tenant deposits in a Tenancy Deposit Scheme. There are likely to be many other unreported cases.

     

    If you discover that this has happened to your deposit, you can take your landlord or letting agent to Tribunal. Landlords can be made to pay up to 3 times the value of the deposit back to the tenant. Since the Tribunal started hearing cases at the end of 2017, it has paid out around £186,657 to tenants. This works out at roughly £900 per case. The largest amount paid out so far is in Edinburgh where a landlord was made to pay out £3937.50. Rented properties in Glasgow accounted for the greatest number of cases heard by the Tribunal with Edinburgh a close second.

     

    The Tenancy Deposit Scheme is a very important piece of legislation for tenants and it is still evolving. In August this year, there were several further amendments which are due to come into force on Monday 11th November 2019

    1. If the tenancy is less than 30 working days then there is no requirement for a landlord to lodge the deposit in a tenancy deposit scheme.

    This will only apply where the full amount of the deposit received by the landlord/letting agent is returned to the tenant within 30 working days.

    2. Tenancy Deposit Schemes are required to notify tenants if their deposit has been lodged late.

    When a deposit is registered later than the 30 working days allowed, tenants have always had the right to take their landlord to the First-Tier Tribunal.  However, this amendment forces tenancy deposit schemes to inform tenants if their tenancy deposit was lodged late. In addition, they must make them aware of their right to take it further via the First-Tier Tribunal.

     

    Whilst the majority of landlords and letting agents are operating within the law there is still a significant minority who are not. In some cases, this will be entirely deliberate but in most, it will simply be due to ignorance of the legislation. This is where choosing an accredited letting agent can make a difference. An accredited letting agent will adhere to strict guidelines, promote best practice at work and always operate their business in line with the latest legislation.

     

    Western Lettings is an award-winning, highly accredited letting agency in Glasgow (Scottish Letting Agent RegisterARLA PropertymarkLASSALCLATPOS). We specialise in property letting and property management and are registered with SafeDeposit Scotland.  If you want to find out more about our services, please get in touch or give us a call on 0141 357 0436

    The post Landlords Fined for Breaking Tenancy Deposit Rules appeared first on Western Lettings.


    Does Choosing an Accredited Letting Agent Matter?

    Letting a property can sometimes be scary if you are a first-time landlord. All the rules and regulations that need to be followed to get your property ready to let can be daunting. You may also be worried about being […] The post Does Choosing an Accredited Letting Agent Matter? appeared first on Western...

    Letting a property can sometimes be scary if you are a first-time landlord. All the rules and regulations that need to be followed to get your property ready to let can be daunting. You may also be worried about being able to find good tenants who will pay their rent on time as well as apprehensive about how much time will be needed to deal with any problems that arise. This is where a good letting agent can help.

    But how do you make sure that the letting agent you choose will do a good job and provide the level of service you expect? If you have no recommendations from friends or family to rely on, checking reviews is often the first port of call. This can be very informative but always be careful not to confuse reviews such as Google reviews with testimonials that you can find on some websites. Proper reviews cannot be hand-picked or altered by the owner of the website. While it is unrealistic to expect every rating to be 5*, you should be on the lookout for agencies with a high level of customer satisfaction.  However, even a letting agent with a host of great reviews is not always a cast-iron guarantee of how professional they are.

    Letting Agent Accreditation

    Accreditation is something that is easily overlooked when you are looking for a letting agent. However, this can be a big mistake because it can be one of the best ways of ensuring that the agent you choose runs their business in a professional manner with properly qualified staff. Accreditation is known to promote good standards and improve best practice.

    As a minimum, by law, all Scottish letting agents need to

    1. Join the Scottish Letting Agent Register

    Letting agents not on this register or awaiting approval will be deemed to be committing a criminal offence if they continue to practice. If convicted they can be fined or even face a prison sentence.  Letting agents need to re-apply every 3 years, to keep their registration up to date. This is a public document and you can search the Scottish Letting Agent Register to check if a letting agent is on it.

    2. Adhere to the Letting Agent Code of Practice

    The Letting Agent Code of Practice has a list of rules that all letting agents must comply with. They set out the standards expected of letting agents with regards to how they manage their business and provide their services. It includes specific rules about the handling of tenants’ and landlords’ money.

     

    However, there are additional types of accreditation for letting agents.

    1. ARLA Propertymark (Association of Residential Letting Agents)

    ARLA Propertymark is a professional regulatory body for letting agents. It aims to provide support and guidance to property professionals across the UK. Members of ARLA operate to professional standards higher than the law demands. The two main advantages for consumers of using an ARLA agent are

        1. Your money is safeguarded by Propertymark’s Client Money Protection Scheme so is protected if your agent goes out of business or misappropriates your rent, deposit etc.
        2. The availability of redress for breaches in agent conduct.

     

    2. LAS (Landlord Accreditation Scotland)

    LAS is a voluntary Scheme for landlords and letting agents. It runs training courses and events for members to share information based on current Scottish legislation and best practice within the industry. This keeps letting agents up to date on key issues and provides suggestions on how to best implement any required changes.

     

    3. SAL (Scottish Association of Landlords) & CAL (Council of Letting Agents)

    SAL is the largest dedicated national organisation supporting landlords and letting agents in Scotland. Like LAS it provides support for landlords and letting agents in Scotland. CAL is an umbrella organisation of SAL and provides letting agents with additional advice and support.

     

    4. TPOS (The Property Ombudsman Scotland – Lettings )

    Member of the TPOS scheme must adhere to the TPO Code of Professional Practice for Residential Letting Agents in Scotland

     

    At Western Lettings, we firmly believe that a letting agent that is highly accredited isn’t just a nice to have but a MUST HAVE. It demonstrates a letting agent that is willing to work hard on improving its services and one that is serious about keeping up with the latest changes to legislation and best practice. We believe that a highly accredited letting agent is much more likely to provide a professional, principled and efficient service for their landlords and tenants.

    Western Lettings is an award-winning, highly accredited (Scottish Letting Agent Register, ARLA Propertymark, LAS, SAL, CAL, TPOS) letting agency in Glasgow. We specialise in property letting and property management. If you have a property to let and need some help, please get in touch. You can also call us for a chat about our services on 0141 357 0436.

    The post Does Choosing an Accredited Letting Agent Matter? appeared first on Western Lettings.


    Is it Better to Let a Furnished or Unfurnished Property?

    There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Furnished and unfurnished properties both play an important role in the lettings market. Tenants’ circumstances vary and a property that is perfect for one tenant can be completely wrong for […] The post Is it Better to Let a Furnished or Unfurnished Property? appeared first on Western...

    There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Furnished and unfurnished properties both play an important role in the lettings market. Tenants’ circumstances vary and a property that is perfect for one tenant can be completely wrong for another. Which option is best for you as a landlord will depend on a number of factors.

    • Whether your property is currently furnished
    • The length of time you are planning to rent your property
    • The type of property you are letting
    • Where your property is located
    • The type of tenants you are hoping to attract
    • The rent you hope to achieve for your property

    Furnished Properties

    Smaller properties in city locations are more likely to be let furnished. This is because the rental market for this type of property will generally be younger in age. Properties like this will attract first time renters who have just left home and young professionals who are not looking for somewhere long term to stay. Moving into a fully furnished flat is usually a good option for this type of renter. They will not need to supply their own furniture and will be able to move straight in with minimum fuss and effort.

    Advantages

    • Attractive to younger tenants who don’t want the expense or hassle of having to buy furniture
    • Usually easier to let as the market for this type of property is bigger
    • Well-furnished flats can usually command a higher rental value
    • If your property is already furnished you don’t have the hassle of emptying it and paying for storage

    Disadvantages

    • Furniture is subject to wear and tear and you will need to replace items as and when required
    • Properties with worn out or scruffy items of furniture may actually be more difficult to rent than an unfurnished property
    • A detailed inventory of the contents of the property will need to be undertaken before and after every tenancy
    • You will need to take out proper contents insurance to cover the cost of your furniture

     

    Unfurnished Properties

    Larger flats and houses are more likely to be let unfurnished.  However, the actual definition of an ‘unfurnished property’ can vary. In general, they will have as a minimum, carpets or flooring, curtains or blinds, kitchen fittings, white goods (fridge, freezer, washing machine etc.) This type of property tends to attract more mature tenants with or without families. This is because this type of tenant is more likely to have acquired their own furniture over the years and will want to use it to furnish and personalise their new home.

    Advantages

    • Attracts tenants with their own furniture so you don’t need to buy furniture
    • Less hassle for you as a landlord as you don’t have to worry about furniture wear and tear
    • You don’t have to pay to insure your furniture
    • You have a significantly reduced liability for council tax during void periods
    • Tenants may be more likely to stay in your property for longer
    • Preparing your property between tenancies is easier

    Disadvantages

    • It can take longer to let this type of property depending on the area

     

    Before making any final decision on whether to let your property out furnished or unfurnished, it is also a good idea to spend some time investigating the demand for each, in your area. Go online and check out how properties, similar to yours, are being let in your area. This is where employing a good local letting agent like Western Lettings can really help. They will have experience of the advantages and disadvantages of both options. They will be happy to use their intimate knowledge of the letting market in your area, along with your own particular circumstances to help you decide on the choice that is right for you.

    If you are looking to let your property and need some help, Western Lettings is an award-winning letting agent in Glasgow. We know the local property market inside out can help you decide on the best way to let your particular property.  We also provide full property management services. Please get in touch or give us a call on 0141 357 0436

    The post Is it Better to Let a Furnished or Unfurnished Property? appeared first on Western Lettings.


    Latest Changes to Landlord and Tenant Legislation 2019

    Private landlords and tenants in Scotland have had to deal with a lot of regulatory changes in the last few years e.g. the new Private Residential Tenancy, The Tenancy Deposit Scheme, etc. This has continued into 2019 with even more […] The post Latest Changes to Landlord and Tenant Legislation 2019 appeared first on Western...

    Private landlords and tenants in Scotland have had to deal with a lot of regulatory changes in the last few years e.g. the new Private Residential Tenancy, The Tenancy Deposit Scheme, etc. This has continued into 2019 with even more new legislative changes for landlords and tenants to be aware of. Below is a short summary of some of the key changes that came into force on 1st March 2019 as well as some information about other important changes that are on their way.

     

    1. Smoke, Heat and CO Detectors

    The Housing (Scotland) Act has already made it mandatory for private landlords to take steps to protect tenants from fire, smoke and carbon monoxide. This includes installing a minimum number of mains-powered, interlinked smoke and heat alarms as well as a carbon monoxide detector if the property has a carbon fuelled appliance e.g. boiler, open fire, heater. However, in Feb 2019 some new changes to the legislation were published. These stated that from 1st March 2019, landlords are now permitted to fit either

      • Tamper-proof, long-life interlinked lithium battery alarms

    OR

      • Mains powered interlinked alarms

    Any properties fitted with mains powered alarms can continue using them until the end of the manufacturers permitted lifespan. After that time landlords can choose to replace them with lithium battery or mains powered alarms.

    The new legislation also demands that

      • The expiry date should be visible on each alarm
      • Alarms can be linked with wires or wirelessly (by radio communication)
      • Smoke alarms should conform to BS EN 14604
      • Heat alarms should conform to BS 5446-2
      • Multi-sensor alarms should conform to BS EN 54-29 or BS EN 14604

     

    2. The Repairing Standard

    The Repairing Standard is a basic level of repair that all private rented properties must meet. It includes things such as a property being water and wind tight with safe installations of gas, electricity, heating, etc. From 1st March 2019, the Repairing Standard will include the Tolerable Standard. The Tolerable Standard is the minimum standard a property must meet to be deemed fit for human habitation. This is a significant change. It means that any work that needs to be done in order to comply can now be raised by a private tenant in an application to the First-Tier Tribunal.

     

    3. Common Repairs

    It is a landlord’s responsibility to make sure that their property meets the Repairing Standard. However, coordinating and carrying out repairs in common areas of tenements and flats is often difficult. Trying to get the consent, monies and even access to all parties can sometimes prove impossible. From 1st March 2019, a landlord will not be in breach of the Repairing Standard if they have made reasonable attempts to comply but cannot because a majority of owners in the tenement refuse consent for the work.

     

    4. Holiday Lets

    The Repairing Standard will no longer apply to tenancies of less than 31 days where the purpose of the let is for a holiday.

     

    5. Minimum Energy Efficiency Requirements

    A consultation was held by the Scottish Government in the summer of 2017 on this issue. Its aim was to look at minimum energy efficiency standards for private rented housing. This is because 28% of private rented property currently falls into the 3 lowest Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) bands of E, F and G. This has resulted in the following:

    • From 1st April 2020, a new tenancy will require the property to have an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) of at least band E.
    • By 31st March 2022, ALL properties will need to have an EPC of at least band E.
    • From 1st April 2022, a new tenancy will require the property to have an EPC of at least band D.
    • By 31st March 2025, ALL properties will need to have an EPC of at least band D.

     

    Keeping up with the latest changes to legislation is a very important part of being a landlord. Western Lettings is an experienced letting agent in Glasgow and is always on hand to offer help and up to date advice to all our landlords and tenants. If you would like more information about our range of landlord services we would love to hear from you. Please get in touch or give us a call on 0141 357 0436.

    The post Latest Changes to Landlord and Tenant Legislation 2019 appeared first on Western Lettings.


    Is My Tenancy Deposit Protected?

    In March 2011 the Tenancy Deposit Scheme Regulations (Scotland) came into force. Since this date every letting agency in Scotland that receives a tenant deposit is now required by law to register with their local authority and join a tenancy […] The post Is My Tenancy Deposit Protected? appeared first on Western...

    In March 2011 the Tenancy Deposit Scheme Regulations (Scotland) came into force. Since this date every letting agency in Scotland that receives a tenant deposit is now required by law to register with their local authority and join a tenancy deposit scheme. If they fail to comply they can face fines. The purpose of the schemes is to keep tenants’ money protected and ensure that they get back any money they are owed at the end of their tenancy.

    Which tenancy deposit schemes are approved in Scotland?

    In Scotland there are three tenancy deposit scheme providers to choose from:

    At Western Lettings we register deposits from our tenants with Safe Deposits Scotland.

    How do I know if my deposit has been registered with a scheme?

    Once you have paid your deposit your letting agent must register your deposit with a tenancy deposit scheme within 30 days. They should then send you details of the scheme your deposit is registered with. At Western Lettings we will email you information about the scheme we use, Safe Deposits Scotland and send you a DAN (Deposit Account Number). The DAN will allow you to login to their website and claim back your deposit at the end of your tenancy.

    If your letting agent hasn’t given you any information about a tenancy deposit scheme, you can check yourself to see if your deposit is registered. You do this by visiting the websites of the approved tenancy deposit schemes (listed above) and entering a few basic details about you and your tenancy.

    What does my tenancy deposit cover?

    When renting a property, most landlords or letting agents will ask for a deposit. A tenancy deposit acts as a guarantee against:

    • Damage to the property (excluding general wear and tear)
    • Missing or broken items
    • Unpaid rent
    • Outstanding gas, electricity, phone bills etc.
    • Additional professional cleaning that is required if the property is left in a poor condition

    If any of the above conditions occur, your deposit will be used to pay to make things right e.g. for extra cleaning to be carried out, damaged items to be fixed or missing items replaced etc. As long as you are a careful tenant, pay your bills on time and leave the property in the same condition as when you moved in, you will get your deposit back in full.

     

    How do I go about getting my tenancy deposit back?

    Different letting agencies have different procedures for this. At Western Lettings we will arrange a tenant check-out appointment at the end of your tenancy. We will go through the inventory that you were given at the start of the tenancy, checking for damaged or missing items. We will also check that everything has been left clean and tidy, ready for the next tenants and take final meter readings that we can forward on to your new address. Once this is complete, you can use your DAN to login to the Safe Deposits Scotland website and make a repayment request. If Western Lettings believe there are reasons to make deposit deductions we will always try to reach an agreement with the tenant first. If this is not possible and all attempts to reach agreement fail, we will make our case to the representatives of Safe Deposits Scotland.

     

    Why are tenancy deposit schemes important?

    According to the Office for National Statistics, the private rental market now makes up 15% of all households in Scotland. With such high numbers in rented accommodation it is extremely important that deposits are kept in a safe place for the duration of the tenancy. Government approved tenancy deposit schemes protect against landlords or letting agencies going bankrupt and tenants losing all of their money. In addition, they greatly improve transparency and give tenants more opportunity to challenge deductions which they believe to be unfair.

    If you are a landlord and need help with letting or managing your property, Western Lettings would love to hear from you. We are an ARLA licensed, multi-award winning letting agents in Glasgow. Give us a call on 0141 357 0436 or get in touch to find out more about our range of landlord services.

    The post Is My Tenancy Deposit Protected? appeared first on Western Lettings.


    Festive Opening Hours

    Western Lettings would like to wish all of our clients a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year when it comes!   Important information – Office opening hours over the festive period are as follows: Christmas Eve 09:00 AM […] The post Festive Opening Hours appeared first on Western...

    Western Lettings would like to wish all of our clients a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year when it comes!
     
    Important information – Office opening hours over the festive period are as follows:
    Christmas Eve 09:00 AM – 12:00PM 
    Christmas Day – Closed
    Boxing Day – Closed
    Thursday 27th December open as normal 09:00 AM – 17.00 PM
    Friday 28th December open as normal 09:00 AM – 17:00 PM
    New Years Eve – Closed
    New Year’s Day – Closed
    Wednesday 2nd January  2019– Closed
    Thursday 3rd January 2019 re open as normal 09:00 AM – 17:00 PM

    The post Festive Opening Hours appeared first on Western Lettings.


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