Industry news

Tenants are leaving it late before finding their next home


ew data from a property company has revealed the incredibly short time span in which tenants expect to find and

move into their new home. The new data from TheHouseShop, which

combines both private landlord and agency listings, shows that almost one in three tenants (31.2 per cent) aim to move into their new home less than two weeks after they first make an enquiry to the landlord or letting agent online. Almost two thirds of renters (63.8 per cent)

need to move into their new home less than one month after making their first enquiry. Co-founder of, Nick

Marr, says tenants need to ensure they are thoroughly prepared if they expect to meet these tight deadlines: “For tenants who are expecting to actually move into their new home less than two weeks after they first make contact with the landlord - they will need to ensure that they are responsive, organised and thoroughly prepared.” “When a tenant makes an enquiry about a

property online, it can often take two to three days before they receive a reply – especially if the property is being advertised directly by a DIY landlord who will usually have a full-time job to worry about, as well as their Buy To Let business. “Even if the landlord replies to the enquiry

instantly, the landlord and tenant will need to arrange a time for viewing that suits both parties, conduct tenant referencing checks, sign contracts, manage deposits etc. before the new tenants can actually move in. Leaving just two weeks to get from start to finish is definitely achievable, but leaves little wriggle room to handle delays.”

PEAK Interestingly, the data shows a clear and consistent peak in the number of last minute enquiries (i.e. where the tenant states they need to move in in under two weeks) during the month of September over the past three years. This fits perfectly with the seasonal boom in the student lettings market as students desperately try to secure accommodation before courses start in October. When looking at the locations of the last-

minute enquiries for September only, TheHouseShop discovered that the vast majority were concentrated around big university towns like Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Durham/Newcastle. Younger renters are increasingly seeking

properties to rent direct from private landlords to cut out letting agents and avoid hefty fees.

Banning orders to be introduced next April

New rules to ban rogue landlords from letting or managing property are due to be introduced in early April if the Government obtains Parliamentary approval for the regulations in the New Year. Plans to introduce banning orders were first

announced as part of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 to root out criminal landlords. A new database (or register) of criminal landlords and agents will also be created under the Act and this should go live on the same day – possibly the 6th April. The register will be held by the DCLG and

updated by councils. Private landlords who receive banning orders will automatically be listed on the register. The Government has already introduced civil

This could explain the particularly high volume of enquiries on marketplace – which allows direct communication between its private landlords and tenants. Using the same data, they have identified that

the best time for landlords to advertise their properties is roughly one month before the date the property will next be available, as this will match the expected move-in time frame for the majority of tenants actively searching online. The move-in date is often an incredibly

important factor for tenants, as arranging interim accommodation to plug a gap between properties can be tricky, time-consuming, stressful and, most importantly, costly. As well as the cost of the actual

accommodation, renters who find themselves stuck for a short time between properties also have to take into account the cost of removals (as most will have to move their belongings twice), and of storage. However, void periods where a property sits unoccupied are also a huge concern for landlords and can result in a significant loss of income. Taking the average UK rental value for

October 2017 of £909 per month (source: HomeLet Rental Index), a void period of just two weeks would cost a landlord £424.20 in lost rent. This can have serious consequences for Buy To Let mortgage holders, many of whom are working with tight margins. Using the example of a £200,000 Buy To Let

mortgage, over a 25-year term, with a 2.5 per cent interest rate – the landlord’s monthly payment on an interest-only deal would total £416.67. A two-week void period (worth £424.20 based on average UK rents) would be roughly equal to a whole month’s mortgage payment and effectively wipe out the landlord’s profit for that month.

penalties of up to £30,000 and extended rent repayment orders in a bid to tackle criminal landlords – moves also introduced under the Housing and Planning Act. In December, DCLG released details of the

offences that will merit a banning order. These include the following: • Illegally evicting or harassing a residential occupier;

• Using violence to secure entry; • An offence under section 36 of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998;

• An offence under section 32 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005;

• Letting to someone disqualified from renting because of their immigration status, whether as a landlord or agent;

• a range of fraud offences under the Fraud Act 2006

• any specified violent and sexual offence under Schedule 15 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003;

• Harassment and stalking; • Offences under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014; and

• Theft, burglary, blackmail and handing stolen goods.

The Residential Landlords Association welcomed the principle of banning orders and the database of criminal landlords when they were announced and has long argued that those landlords who wilfully breach their legal obligations should face the consequences. However, the RLA believes those landlords who

find themselves subject to an order or included on the ‘rogue’ landlord database through a mistake that was unintentional, should have a formal route to be released from an order and from being listed on the database where appropriate. Currently, only councils are proposed to have

access to the register, but the RLA has raised concerns that the reputation of membership bodies (for landlords and agents) could be undermined if they are not able to check if new or existing members are on the register. | HMM January 2018 | 25

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