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					The Magazine of The ScoTTiSh aSSociaTion of LandLordS




landlordfocus
                                                    issue 3 | scottishlandlords.com




                                                         Tenancy deposits
                                                         WhatÕs in store for us?

                                                         The big issue
                                                         Local authority work
                                                         on homelessness




  Dundee
  going
  strong
  City looking good
  for the private
  rented sector                                                      In association with




 finance | Policy | Local housing allowance | Update | helpdesk | Training
 Welcome                                                                                             online
                                                                                                      www.scottishlandlords.com




                                      Funny students, serious issues
                                                                                best returns so we look after them.    outlines some of the initiatives.
                                                         judith                   We are part way through our
                                                                                autumn series of local branch
                                                                                                                         Whether you are now a loyal
                                                                                                                       reader of Landlord Focus or this is
                                                         dunn                   meetings. It’s always great to get     the first time you’ve picked it up,
                                                         editor                 out and about, speaking direct to      we do aim to provide articles and
                                                                                members. Last week I met the first     information to interest and inform
                                                                                class to take part in the SAL Port-    you. Our articles are all specific


                                      I
                                         ’m delighted to introduce the          able Appliance Testing course. I’m     to Scotland – we believe this to be
                                         new issue of Landlord Focus,           glad to report a 100% pass rate for    crucial with the political and legis-
                                         the magazine of the Scottish           these Glasgow members.                 lative landscape differing so from
                                      Association of Landlords (SAL).             At the time of going to press we     the rest of the UK. We support our
                                      Autumn’s here and for my letting          have just had the unwelcome news       members from all over Scotland by
                                      business we are just over student         that the Scottish Government does      campaigning, lobbying, informing,
                                      move-in time. There is usually            plan to go ahead with a tenancy        assisting and advising you as you
                                      something we can laugh at. This           deposit scheme here, against the       run your huge variety of property
                                      time it was sending my plumber            wishes of many organisations           businesses. From those letting a
                                      to repair the “toilet that did not fill   involved in the consultation. John     single city flat to the managers of
                                      after we flushed it”.                     Blackwood, our policy and par-         the largest portfolios – we’re here
                                        He reported that it was an easy         liamentary affairs specialist offers   for you. 
                                      repair – simply turning the water         his comments. We invite member
                                      back on at the mains. The resi-           feedback on this and the other is-     With best wishes
                                      dents, in their first time away from      sues we face together as the regula-   Judith Dunn
                                      home or halls had “accidentally”          tions become ever more onerous.
                                      turned it off. Same young tenants           Soon 2012 will be with us and         Please email us on info@scot-
                                      the next night “had no heating or         Scotland’s local authorities will be   tishlandlords.com if you have
                                      hot water” – turned out they had          expected to have met tough targets     any comments or ideas for your
                                      turned that off at the control panel      on homelessness figures, including     magazine. Updates to information
                                      too, having carefully watched my          engagement with us, the private        will always be emailed to mem-
                                      demo of how everything worked.            rented sector. Landlord Focus          bers and available on our website
                                      Still, students in HMOs give our          looks at the progress to date and      www.scottishlandlords.com




Landlord Focus
Scottish Association
                                      Contents: Issue 3
of Landlords
22 Forth Street                       05 Finance                                                                           renting out his own flat and is
Edinburgh EH1 3LH                         Experts offer their views on                                                     now a successful developer
0131 270 4774                             property finance
landlordfocus@scottishlandlords.com                                                                                    25 Keeping track
                                      06 Policy                                                                            Get utilities bills to the right
Editor Judith Dunn                        Deposit scheme that’s good for                                                   place with iammoving.com
Design Gavin Munro                        neither landlords nor tenants
Advertising Kirstin Norrie                                                                                             27 Landlord training
07989 227994                          09 In focus: Dundee                                                                  The training needed for a
kirstin@kirstinnorrie.co.uk               Private rented sector                                                            professional approach
                                          prospects look good in the city
Printed by Scottish County Press.         by the Tay                                                                   29 Update
Views expressed in Landlord                                                                                                Rental law, holiday lets, the
Focus are not necessarily             10 Local authorities                      19 Seascape South Ayrshire                 proposed building regulator
those of the Scottish Association         How councils are planning to              One charity’s frustration with
of Landlords.                             meet homelessness targets                 the local housing allowance        33 Helpdesk
www.scottishlandlords.com                                                                                                  Tenants’ insurance,
                                      15 Cannabis threat                        20 Membership information                  blocked sinks,
Cover Photograph:                         When your rented property is              The benefits of belonging to           TV licences
VisitScotland Angus & Dundee              turned into a drugs farm                  an organisation that puts your
                                                                                    case and fights for your rights    34 AB Group
                                      16 Carbon monoxide                                                                   Cannabis
                                          Spreading awareness of the            23 Landlord story                          farming – the
                                          dangers to tenants                        David McLennan started by              warning signs
                                                                                                                                 issue 3 | Landlord focus | 3
landlords...

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                                                                                                                                    Finance




Subject
of great
interest
Members report that suitable
finance is becoming harder
to find. Landlord Focus
asked Edinburgh mortgage
broker Gonalo Mateus
and Kennedy Foster, policy
consultant, Scotland, for the
Council of Mortgage Lenders
for some answers



W
           ith the low base rate, why are
           buy-to-let (BTL) rates 5% or
           more with huge arrangement
fees?
  Gonçalo Mateus (GM): Much past
BTL lending, particularly in 2007, was
reckless therefore some BTL mortgage         The Bank of        Where are rates going over the next six,       to rise too. This is not expected in the
books have defaults and repossessions        England holds      12 months and what will they be in five        rest of 2009 but probably during 2010.
above the average.                           the fate of all    years?                                         Interesting to note that the low rates are
  The funds banks borrow are more            borrowers in its     GM: Rates will be the same for the next      why repossessions have not yet reached
expensive than before. To balance lend-      hands              12 months, even if the base rate rises         the predicted high levels.
ers’ mortgage books, the higher funding                         (something I don’t believe will happen
costs, the lack of competitiveness in the                       any time soon). In five years, the bank        Will the current 75% loan to value
BTL market and the need to recapitalise                         base rate will be higher for sure, as with     (LTV) maximum for BTL become the
after huge losses; these all consequently                       the expected recovery of the economy           norm?
affect the rates.                                               the Band of England will need to control         GM: This is caused by the housing
  Kennedy Foster (KF): There is a really                        inflation and keep savers happy.               slump. Lenders were and are afraid
good crib sheet on this on the British                            However, the rates will be fairly similar.   of negative equity. BTL properties are
Bankers’ Association website: www.                              When the recapitalisation of the banks         thought more difficult to sell in case of
bba.org.uk/content/1/c6/01/66/09/                               has happened, the profit margin on a           repossession, and they can incur losses
Cost_of_Funds_BankFact_-_FINAL.pdf.                             mortgage should return to the more             when sold. This will be the norm for a
Basically, lenders are having to pay more                       normal level of between 0.15% and 1%           while until the property market stabilises
for their money and this is reflected in                        whereas currently with London Inter-           and prices rise again.
the rates they are lending out at. Lenders                      bank offer rate so low, the spread is now        KF: Likely to be yes because the lend-
do not want people to be able to break                          between 2% and 5%.                             ing criteria have tightened so much as a
out of the agreed fixed rates. Supply                             This will affect the rates in five years     consequence of the shortage of funding
and demand have become much more                                as the banks will reduce their profit          last year. Again, there are some signs of
equal now, whereas before demand was                            margins as they will no longer need to         easing such as recent indications that
outstripping supply.                                            recapitalize, maintaining the same rates       HSBC has some additional money to
  I believe this will change but it is not                      or slightly higher but probably with           be loaned into the home buyer market.
going to happen overnight and I am not       no-one would       lower arrangement fees.                        Property prices appear to be stabilising
going to predict the future. What I can      make a five-         KF: I will not be making a forecast          and that has an impact.
say with confidence is that I would be       year interest      but and no-one would make a five-year
very surprised by a sudden return to the     prediction Ð       interest prediction – obviously there is       What can be done to ease lending?
conditions existing in 2007 where credit                        no way rates can go down. What will              GM: Not much more can be done, we
was so very cheap and in such ready          obviously there    happen will depend on the Bank of Eng-         are seeing some easing but the lenders
supply. Any improvement will be a            is no way rates    land’s measures taking effect. If inflation
gradual easing.                              can go down        begins to show a rise then rates are likely    Continued on page 25

                                                                                                                               issue 3 | Landlord focus | 5
 Policy



Sledgehammer to crack a nut!
The proposed Scottish tenancy deposit scheme is more trouble for landlords and little help to tenants


 john blackwood
 Policy and Parliamentary
 aFFairs



T
       he report on the Scottish Gov-
       ernment review of the private
       rented sector states: “A significant
minority of tenancy deposits appear
to be withheld, whether legitimate or
not.” It goes on: “Evidence from the
statutory schemes in England and Wales
suggests that between 40% and 50% of
complaints by tenants are unjustified
and the landlord had acted reasonably
by withholding their deposit. If this
figure was similar in Scotland, then it
would suggest that the actual amount
of wrongly withheld deposits may be
between £2.2 million and £3.6 million
per annum, due to between 8,000 and
11,000 tenants.”
  The research estimated that landlords
in Scotland have around £64 million            What our members say about the introduction of a tenancy deposit scheme
in tenancy deposits, so as a proportion,        i couldnÕt believe the news        as a landlord with property        8-10% and not charge a de-
SAL hardly thinks that this is a signifi-      when i heard it! What was that      in england as well as scotland i     posit. this way iÕll get to keep
cant problem. We have always argued            all about when the minister         know that many landlords donÕt       the extra income and not need
against such a scheme on the basis that        addressed salÕs conference          use the schemes south of the         to use a deposit scheme. i hear
further regulation of private landlords        and said he recognised that         border and nobody does any-          landlords can sell this to their
would be disproportionate and actually         the majority of landlords did       thing about it.                      new tenants as Òno deposit re-
do little to safeguard tenants from being      a good job and then goes and        John Muir, Arbroath                  quiredÓ offers in their adverts
ripped off by unscrupulous landlords.          introduces yet more costly leg-                                          which is attractive to many
  Despite all of this, in September, the       islation that only good landlords    looks like i will follow what      people who donÕt have all the
Scottish Government announced its              will sign up to?                    many english landlords already       money upfront.
decision to press ahead with introducing       Ann Brown, Livingston               do Ð put up the rent by around       Gill Hastings, Inverness
a national tenancy deposit scheme. So
now landlords in Scotland will soon face
yet another set of regulations affecting                           out the sector altogether. As we know,        schemes that we know a minority will
our landlord practice.                                             landlords in England have been operat-        never sign up to? Sadly the ultimate
  Our concern is that once again we will                           ing under a tenancy deposit scheme            victim is the tenant who in order to let
see legislation to tackle the minority of                          since 2007. Although a formal review          from the good landlord will have to
landlords who operate unlawfully or at                             of the scheme has yet to be undertaken,       pay higher rents and probably opt for
best operate bad practice, to the cost of                          SAL understands that only 75% of ten-         the alternative: rent from the landlord
those of us who pride ourselves in pro-                            ants’ deposits are covered, indicating        who is unregistered, not signed up to a
viding a good landlord service and take                            that rogue landlords are still operating in   tenancy deposit scheme and probably
our legal responsibilities seriously.                              England and Wales and tenants’ deposits       not interested in carrying out repairs
  SAL fears that as with landlord regis-                           are, in those cases, still unprotected.       but who, without these added costs, can
tration, little will be done to enforce the                                                                      charge a lower rent.
legislation. Despite the good intentions                           Tenants are the victims                         SAL members are only too aware that
of politicians and tenants’ lobby groups,                          The fear for the future of the private        there is bad tenancy management out
the risk is that tenants’ deposits will                            rented sector in Scotland is that good        there and that some rogue landlords
not be any better protected by such a                              landlords will see yet further regulation     are only too willing to rip-off tenancy
scheme.                                       What matters to      as a sledgehammer to crack a nut. They        deposits.
  At the risk of sounding cynical, SAL        tenants is what      may opt to leave the sector altogether,         However on listening to our tenants’
argues that the way to tackle bad land-       the rent is going    leaving the way open for rogue opera-         tales of past experiences, we know that
lord practice is to enforce the legislation   to be and where      tors seizing their opportunity to prey        what really matters to them is what the
we have rather than introduce yet more        they want            on vulnerable tenants and continuing          rent is going to be and where they want
bureaucracy on law abiding landlords.                              to avoid any form of regulation. In           to live. It is those factors that will make
Landlord registration offers an appro-        to live – not        tough economic times how can we               them decide on where to set up home
priate vehicle not only to tackle rogue       protection for       justify spending more of our own and          – not that their tenancy deposit is pro-
landlord practice but also to force them      their deposit        taxpayers’ money on introducing more          tected by a tenancy deposit scheme. 
6 | Landlord focus | issue 3
                                                                                                                                        in focus:
                                                                                                                                        dundee




Dundee lettings are booming
                                                                                                                                                       hans Musil
What do the next few months
hold for the lettings market
in ScotlandÕs fourth largest
city: Dundee? Landlord Focus
offers some pointers


H
        eld back by the current national
        credit crunch and on-going
        housing slump, many movers
who would usually have bought their
own properties in Dundee are now
renting.
  “There are two universities and a
teaching hospital in Dundee so there is
no shortage of tenants,” explains proper-
ty management agent Nick Horan from
Belvoir Dundee. “This in turn means
there is a significant shortage of all types
of rental property in Dundee – especially
one and two bedroom flats.
  “We have tenants waiting and we
get more enquiries for these types of
property every day,” he continues. “For
example, despite all the building going
on, one of the universities called us this
week to say that all their accommoda-
tion was full and that they had 300
students they were going to send us this
weekend.”

Looking to invest?
With a lettings market characterised by
more tenants looking for accommoda-
tion than there are properties available       number of new purpose-built student          Dundee and the          experienced any significant voids yet.
to house them, what properties should          flats may start to have an adverse effect    Firth of Tay from         “I am gradually moving my portfolio
Dundee landlords invest in to best cash        on the letting of older HMO [house in        Dundee Law              from furnished to unfurnished lets and
in on the growing demand?                      multiple occupation] properties,” says                               this doesn't seem to be having any ad-
  “The general rental market has               Richard. “However, there is evidence                                 verse effects. Feedback so far seems to be
remained healthy, with good qual-              that some students shy away from these                               positive in that they can put their own
ity tenants being available for well           properties, feeling that they are too                                mark on the property and make it feel
presented properties,” says landlord           institutionalised – effectively student                              more like home.” 
Richard Burnett. Areas currently in            residences by another name.”
demand by tenants are the West End and           Landlord Maria Di Ponio of MDP
Ninewells, as well as properties close to      Properties shares her experiences of hav-     At a glance
the universities and accommodation in          ing a property portfolio in Dundee...         Dundee ... at a glance             What is the average
the waterfront developments. “Broughty           “I feel that the lettings market in Dun-    by Belvoir lettings expert        rental return for a one/two-
Ferry is also still an easy area to let in,    dee is a strong as ever if you are willing    Nick Horan                        bed? Anywhere between
having performed consistently well for         to provide good quality properties with                                         £400 and £700 for a two-
many years,” adds Richard. However             all the modern essentials.                     Which areas are cur-            bed, depending on location.
as with many property professionals,             “Tenants have raised expectations           rently in demand by ten-          A one-bed would achieve
the banks so necessary for business to         now. This is a good thing all round and       ants? Central, West End           £300 to £450 on average
prosper are reluctant to lend, much to         hopefully, along with landlord registra-      and Ninewells                     per month
the frustration of landlords.                  tion and accreditation, the quality of
  Nick of Belvoir Dundee adds, “We find        rental housing will improve and with           What sort of properties          Which area is likely to
that furnished and unfurnished proper-         this, public opinion of our sector in         are letting easily? One and         show the most growth?
ties are popular in Dundee but we tend         general.                                      two bedroom flats and                Probably the East End
to find that smaller properties attract          “I mainly let to young professionals        small houses
tenants who want their accommodation           and my properties are all tenement flats.                                                     Which area
furnished, whereas tenants looking for         These seem to still be very popular and        and, to what sort                            is likely to
larger properties just want white goods.”      each ad is still receiving an acceptable      of tenant? Students,                           slow down?
   So, is the high demand for lettings in      level of enquiries. I do find that tenants    young professionals                            Possibly
Dundee likely to continue?                     are perhaps taking slightly longer to         and small families                             Hilltown
  “In the centre of town the large             decide on a property but I have not
                                                                                                                                   issue 3 | Landlord focus | 9
 local
 authorities




Help for
the most
vulnerable
Targets for moving towards a new homelessness
regime in Scotland have been missed but many
councils are engaging with the private rented sector


I
   n 2005, ambitious plans to revolu-          The Scottish Government has put
   tionise homelessness legislation in       forward proposals to the Treasury – so
   Scotland were unveiled by the Scottish    far without success – which may encour-
Government. By 2012 all unintention-         age more building of PRS homes. These
ally homeless people in Scotland would       include tax breaks for real estate invest-
be entitled to a permanent home. This        ment trusts and venture capital trust
would abolish the “priority need” test       schemes, and for smaller scale landlords,
which has been central to homelessness       temporary reductions in VAT to 5% for
assessment since the 1970s, under which      housing repairs and renovations.
most single people and childless couples
have no right to permanent housing.          Vulnerable and risky                         Edinburgh Coun-     such strategic development work is
  The half-way point in the process has      So, what are Scottish councils doing to      cilÕs Waverley      ongoing, and there is scope to help shape
been reached and figures from the Scot-      engage with the sector and encourage         Court offices.      local activity in relation to the PRS. SAL
tish Government show that in 18 of our       landlords to let their accommodation to      The authorityÕs     is happy to work with councils and put
32 local authority interim targets have      a tenant group often perceived as vulner-    private sector      across the views of our members.
not been met.                                able and financially risky?                  engagement,           Aberdeenshire Council has been work-
  If targets are to be met, services to        Key areas where local authority may        including Let-      ing with the PRS for some time and
prevent homelessness and measures to         become involved are;                         wise, is widely     it recently launched an accreditation
increase the supply of affordable housing    • Information to landlords, tenants and      acclaimed as best   scheme in partnership with Landlord
need to be stepped up. A major house-        agents;                                      practise            Accreditation Scotland. The council is
building programme by local authorities      • Practical services to landlords and                            considering options to further use the
and registered social landlords was          agents – forums, seminars, conferences,                          PRS for those in housing need.
central to this vision, but imminent         landlord days, discounts from suppliers;                            Glasgow’s Rent Deposit and Support
government spending cuts, cuts already       • Landlord accreditation schemes;                                Scheme (GRDSS) is a charity funded by
made to housing association grants and       • Reassurance to landlords through                               city council and the Scottish Govern-
a shortage of finance because of the         contact points for housing benefit/local                         ment. It helps those who are homeless or
credit crunch has left serious doubts that   housing agreement (LHA)enquires,                                 potentially homeless access high quality
this can be achieved.                        tenant referencing services, vulnerable                          private rented accommodation, working
  Graeme Brown, director of Shelter          tenant support and dispute resolution/                           with landlords in the private sector. Ini-
Scotland, the homelessness charity,          mediation;                                                       tially a six-month short assured tenancy
warns that: “The responsibility placed       • Using private lets as temporary accom-                         is offered, renewable for a further six to
on councils is not being matched by          modation, in particular, private sector                          12 months if all goes well. About 240
progress on the building of the 10,000       leasing (PSL) schemes (see panel, right),    Where the ten-      tenancies are created each year and there
new affordable homes to rent that Scot-      and as settled, longer-term accommoda-       ants are unable     are plans to expand the scheme.
land needs.”                                 tion, particularly through rent deposit      to pay me a           Most tenants are vulnerable and have
  This makes the contribution of the         and guarantee schemes (see page 13).         deposit, if the     support needs (provided by GRDSS)
privately rented sector (PRS) all the          There are numerous examples of good        tenancy has         and in most cases LHA is paid directly
more important. The sector provides 8%       practice, but there are also councils for                        to the landlord. Tenants are encouraged
of the housing stock, almost as much as      which looking at the whole of the hous-      been running        to save for a deposit, but generally, if the
the social rented sector does at 11%. In     ing market is relatively new and engage-     well, thereÕs no
Edinburgh the PRS is 17% of housing.         ment with the sector minimal. For most,      reason to end it    Continued on page 13

10 | Landlord focus | issue 3
Quick guide
Private Sector Leasing Schemes
To increase their provision of       ods, management and advertis-
homeless accommodation, coun-
cils are increasingly looking to
                                     ing fees are taken into account
                                     this can level out. Many DIY
                                                                              Are Rolling Out The
lease properties from private
landlords. They let these on to
                                     landlords with good management
                                     would not normally expect to lose      Red Carpet Out For You!
homeless applicants until a set-     15% so it may not offer such a
tled housing solution can be         good deal. As with all business               Landlord Focused
found. Such schemes are usually      decisions, do your sums before         Residential Property Management
formal and can be run in-house       deciding whether PSL is for you.
by the council, by the voluntary       The cost of PSL to the public
sector or by a commercial firm.      purse is high, though it works out          Professional Service at
  For landlords there is the         cheaper than bed-and-breakfast              Very Competitive Rates!
advantage of a long contract,        and is more appropriate for fami-
usually three to five years with     lies. The schemes are financed                  No Let No Fee!
a guaranteed rent, often in ad-      wholly or partly through housing
vance. Void periods, if they arise   benefit. The average cost per
have no effect on income. In ad-     month for a two-bedroom proper-
                                                                                Satisfaction Guaranteed!
dition, day-to-day management is     ty can be around £900 including
taken over by the leasing scheme     rent to the private landlord plus    For Expert Property Management Visit:
and at the end of the leasing pe-    service and management charg-
riod the property is reinstated to
the condition it was taken on in,
                                     es. This raises important issues
                                     of affordability for those who are   www.abacusproperty.co.uk
                                                                               0131 661 5769
apart from normal wear and tear.     employed on low incomes, who
  The downside is that rents are     will face significant challenges
typically 10-15% below market        escaping the poverty trap while
levels, although when void peri-     staying in the PSL home.             You Can Count On Abacus!
                                                                                                  issue 3 | Landlord focus | 11
16 LANDLORDfocus
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12 | Landlord focus | issue 3
                                                                                                                                  local
                                                                                                                                  authorities


Continued from page 11                                                                                            Quick guide
tenancy is going well, this has not been                                                                          Rent deposit
an issue for landlords when deciding
whether or not to extend a lease.                                                                                 guarantee schemes
  Glasgow landlord George Mont-                                                                                   Schemes are designed to help
gomery, who lets seven properties                                                                                 low income households to obtain
through GRDSS commented, “Where                                                                                   a tenancy in the private rented
the tenants are unable to pay me a                                                                                sector. Since 2004, following
deposit, if the tenancy has been running                                                                          recommendations from the
well there’s no reason to end it.”                                                                                Homelessness Task Force, all local
  Sandy Middleton, who lets six proper-                                                                           authorities have had a duty to
ties said: “I look for three things; the rent                                                                     provide access to such schemes,
is paid, the place is looked after and the                                                                        and about 28 are in place in some
neighbours are happy. I see no reason not                                                                         shape or form.
to continue with a tenant if it’s going well.”                                                                      They can be run by local
                                                                                                                  authorities, voluntary organisations
Support service                                                                                                   or private companies.
Orchard & Shipman, the property                                                                                     Schemes do vary, most give
services company, manages PSL schemes                                                                             landlords some financial security
on behalf Edinburgh, Midlothian, East                                                                             against damage or theft and some
Lothian and Scottish Borders councils                                                                             cover non-payment of rent:
with just under 2,000 short to medium                                                                              Some act as independent
term lets to people in housing need. The                                                                          bodies, safeguarding the money on
scheme is the largest in Scotland – the 14                                                                        behalf of the tenant and landlord.
other PSL schemes, mostly managed by             Flats at Shettle-   of mind that the tenant is supported.        Although not strictly about
local authorities, have about 500 tenan-         ston in Glasgow.      Over the past four years Falkirk Coun-     improving access, they could lead
cies between them.                               The Glasgow Rent    cil has worked with the PRS through a        to increased confidence in the
  The schemes use housing benefit to             Deposit and Sup-    landlords’ forum, delivering informa-        sector, making it more attractive
help fund rental, service and manage-            port Scheme is a    tion and training on new legislation and     as an option for both tenants and
ment costs. Landlords are paid the               charity backing     private sector tenancy law and develop-      landlords.
agreed rent, typically 10-15% below              the vulnerable      ing a voluntary landlord accreditation        Others provide the deposit
LHA levels, quarterly for the term of the        homeless            scheme. It is committed to developing a      money to landlords directly and
agreement, usually three to five years.                              PSL scheme. Clackmannanshire Council         should any of the deposit not
Andrew Morrison, director of policy                                  have recently partnered with SAL to          be returned, a loan covering the
and business development said: “PSL is                               provide various landlord services. An-       amount withheld is then repaid by
hugely attractive to landlords as their                              nouncing this, Susan White from Clacks       the tenant to the scheme.
properties are managed professionally                                Council said: “We are delighted that SAL      A bond guarantee covering
and their income is guaranteed”                                      has come on board to help us improve         the equivalent of a monthÕs rent
  Orchard & Shipman’s most recent                                    support to local landlords in this unique    may be given to the landlord and
initiative, Letfirst, aims to prevent home-                          venture”.                                    should any part of the deposit
lessness by increasing the availability of                             For landlords housing these clients,       need to be withheld, a claim is
accommodation in Edinburgh for those                                 there are still a number of key areas of     made against the fund.
on benefits and without access to a de-                              concern:                                       Some schemes also provide
posit. Landlords are offered six months’                             • Many are private individuals, often        a tenant-finding service, guide
guaranteed rent, minimal void periods                                with only one or two properties financed     landlords on their rights and
and professional support to the tenant. If                           via buy-to-let mortgages. For all land-      responsibilities, provide tenancy
the tenancy works, it can be renewed as                              lords but for them especially, receiving     support and ensure benefit
most tenants are looking for long-term                               rents on time is crucial and direct pay-     claims are vetted by trained staff,
homes. The management fee is 15%.                                    ment of LHA in most cases rather than        minimising delays in benefit
Letfirst targets landlords with one and                              exceptionally would do much to encour-       payments.
two bedroom properties as this is where                              age landlords to house homeless clients.       There are numerous examples
most of their demand is.                                             • More needs to be done to encourage         of well organised, successful
  Orkney Islands Council has measures                                the Department of Work and Pensions          schemes, but overall the
in place involving the PRS. Recent                                   to relax the rules on direct payment and     contribution of such schemes has
developments include Orkney Lets,                                    local authority housing benefit depart-      been considered modest and the
where landlords can advertise vacancies                              ments should deem more claimants to          Scottish Government established
free. It also run an in-house rent deposit                           be vulnerable, allowing direct payment       a working group which has been
scheme to prevent homelessness. It pays                              from the start of the tenancy.               looking at various options for a
the deposit to the landlord and the ten-                             • Rent deposit schemes where landlords       national scheme. It is anticipated
ant repays what is in effect an interest-        PSL is hugely       receive the deposit up-front rather than     that a discussion paper will follow
free loan to the council.                                            as a guarantee bond are also preferable      early in 2010.
  First signs from an evaluation just            attractive to       to many landlords.
begun of Dundee’s Homefinder Rent                landlords as        • The need for a landlord to have a des-
Deposit Guarantee Scheme are positive.           their properties    ignated point of contact for all enquiries
Funded by Dundee City Council and                are managed         to councils is increasing. 
managed by Dundee Cyrenians, it offers           profession-
landlords an initial assessment as to the                             What is your experience?
suitability of the applicant, reference          ally and their      How is your local council doing?
checks, all lease documentation, a bond          income is           Any comments please email
guarantee for a month’s rent and peace           guaranteed          info@scottishlandlords.com

                                                                                                                           issue 3 | Landlord focus | 13
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14 | Landlord focus | issue 3
                                                                                                                                 cannabis
                                                                                                                                 threat




Risks of
being
grassed
up…
Criminals are renting
properties to convert them
into cannabis farms


C
        annabis growing is big business
        and organised criminals are doing
        this right here in Scotland. We
have reports of this from members in
Perth and Glasgow including one mem-
ber’s story as below.
  The main problem is that the person        basis, and will often void the policy.         See p38 for       I arranged a routine inspection – my
who views the flat, pays the deposit and       It is worth noting that even with a         insurers advice   husband and I both went to the prop-
so on can seem completely respectable.       successful claim, insurance companies         on this.          erty. Nothing seemed amiss. Periodically
Many of us judge potential tenants posi-     do not pay for the removal of growing                           when I was in the area I would check the
tively from the first impression. These      equipment or soil – classed as the ten-                         exterior of the house, front and back,
can be a “front couple” who are not          ant’s contents. They will also not pay for                      for any signs of extra ventilation having
necessarily the people who come back to      damage to the doors if the police, with                         been added or covered windows.
grow the illegal drug.                       an arrest warrant, have forced them.                              Out of the blue about 10 months into
  Properties can quickly be converted to       Therefore, it pays to protect yourself                        the tenancy, I had a call from the police
suit large-scale production of cannabis.     with thorough tenant vetting and regular                        asking me to go to the property to make
This can even include removal of walls       inspections.                                                    good the door that they had smashed
and damage to the electricity installation      If you are a landlord suspicious that                        when they raided the house and found
and supply.                                  this could be happening in your prop-                           a cannabis farm in the attic. I had not
  Claims executive Andrew Higgins of         erty, it is advisable to contact the police                     checked the attic during my inspection –
Alan Boswell Insurance explains: “The        first before taking any action.                                 why would I?!
most shocking fact about landlord’s                                                                            I was glad that I had not found the
properties being used for professional       GLASGOW CASE STUDY:                                             farm as I might have been in danger.
drug growing is that a house can be          Anne Halsey SAL director                                          It transpired that neighbours had no-
completely stripped so it is unrecog-        and West of Scotland branch                                     ticed a large amount of compost being
nisable as a home, and two crops of          representative                                                  taken into the house but no work being
cannabis can be harvested in six months.     Some time ago, a SAL member email                               done in the garden and, having become
Before a landlord has even noticed a         mentioned the cannabis farm problem                             suspicious, had contacted the police.
problem, the tenants are out, leaving the    and gave a contact for more information                           I gave a statement to the police. One
landlord to restore the property ready       from the police who provided guidance                           man was found in the attic – not one of
for the next tenants.”                       to landlords.                                                   the tenants. Fortunately, although the
  Damage can be substantial. The insurer       This advised landlords what to look                           electricity meter had been bypassed and
states that the average claim amount to      out for as pointers that they may have                          a few small bits of damage had been
date is £17,777. The largest claim paid      been approached by tenants who want to                          done in the upper hallway, the house
out since January 2008 was £49,000 and       operate cannabis farms from the rental                          was not badly damaged. The police
the largest claim to date was £74,088 in     property.                                                       had cleared the attic before we were
2003.                                          When I saw this advice, I realised that                       given back the house so our losses were
  Boswells adds that a huge problem for      I had tenants who fitted the description      The police kept   not great although we lost a couple of
landlords with claims like these is that     the police gave – they were young, paid       telling me that   months rent while we got access back
they often state on the proposal form        upfront in cash and were renting a four-      we were lucky     to the house, tidied up the damage and
that they take up financial and employ-      bedroom house. The tenants I had were         as they had       re-advertised.
ment records, but they have not done so      a young family with children but the fact                         This could have been a lot worse. The
in the case of the cannabis growers.         that they paid in cash to the bank, not by    seen massive      police kept telling me that we were lucky
  This is classed as a material fact, and    standing order, and that they were rent-      damage to         as they had seen massive damage to
insurers will decline the claim on this      ing a house made me suspicious.               some properties   some properties. 
                                                                                                                           issue 3 | Landlord focus | 15
 co awareness
 & home reports



Tenants
& CO:
the risk
Landlords need to know the
dangers of carbon monoxide
                                               neer’s card to see the photo matches the                         the leaflet from the news section of www.


A
        charity that supports victims and      person in front of them and that the card                        scottishlandlords.com. 
        their families who have been killed    is in date. Turn over the card and make
        by or are suffering the long-term      sure the engineer is allowed to work on                          CO alarm giveaway
health effects of carbon monoxide (CO)         the appliance they have called about as                          CO detector manufacturers are kindly
poisoning is calling on landlords to provide   not all engineers are allowed to work on                         offering free CO alarms to the first five
detectors in their rental properties.          all gas appliances.                                              readers to email.
   Announcing Carbon Monoxide                    The provision of CO detector alarms is                           To win a Fireangel CO alarm please
Awareness Week from 16th Novem-                required for landlord accreditation and                          email nhickman@fireangel.co.uk. Find
ber 2009, Lynn Griffiths president of          should be considered best practice for all                       out more about Fireangel products at
the charity CO-Awareness explained:            landlords in all their rented properties.                        www.fireangel.co.uk.
“Carbon monoxide is the most common                                                                               To win a Kidde CO alarm please email
poison in the UK today. The best thing         Action:                                                          gerald.jones@kiddesafety.co.uk. Find
any landlord can do is to ensure that          • Fit CO detectors in your properties if     carbon              out more about Kidde products at www.
both their service providers and tenants       they are not already there; and              monoxide is the     smoke-alarms.co.uk. Please include your
are aware of the dangers of exposure to        • Give your tenants a CO awareness           most common         full contact details and type ‘Landlord
carbon monoxide”.                              leaflet and the contact details of           poison in the       Focus CO alarm’ in the subject box.
  The company/engineer that the land-          CO-Awareness.                                UK today.
lord employs to carry out their work on          Tenant leaflets and information                                 CO Awareness Week event:
gas should be registered with Gas Safe.        are available free to landlords from         Tenants must        Thursday 19 November 2009 at the
CO-Awareness advises all landlords and         LynnCoAwareness@aol.com or call              be aware of         The Merchants House of Glasgow,
tenants to make sure they check the engi-      07715 899296. You can also download          the danger          West George Street, 10.30-12.30 pm.




Market slowdown blurs the picture on home reports
Mixed view of effects of                       from solicitors who believed that the
                                                                                             ScotlandÕs house price data
                                               home report would damage the property
new regime on prices                           market by discouraging people from            Quarter            Average Price (£)    Number Of Sales


H
          ome reports came into use on         putting their properties on the market        2007 (Q4)          158,360              N/A
          1 December 2008, mainly to           because of the additional cost. With          2008 (Q1)          150,257              27,501
          address the issue of potential       the housing market and economy as it
buyers paying for many surveys on prop-        is, it seems to be difficult to point with    2008 (Q2)          155,691              31,026
erties they did not subsequently buy           certainty to any adverse impact the home      2008 (Q3)          160,155              25,042
under the “offers over” system. Currently      report might have had on Scotland’s
there are far fewer properties for sale at     house prices and market.                      2008 (Q4)          153,623              19,240
“offers over” with the market slowdown           Some SAL members report that lenders        2009 (Q1)          140,318              11,800
so it is tricky to assess their true impact.   require a second valuation, paid for by       2009 (Q2)          145,553              16,231
  Jim Gibson, chairman of RICS Scot-           the buyer, and some say that the reports
land said: “While there was some cyni-         do not always give enough useful infor-       Energy Savings Trust data indicates that between 6,000
cism over the introduction of the home         mation. Others like the convenience of        and 8,000 home reports have been lodged every month
report, as there often is when systems         downloading them before a viewing.           with a total of 62,311 from 1 December 2008 to 13
change, the large majority of feedback                                                       September 2009.
from vendors and buyers is very positive.       Please tell SAL about your experience         The full RICS briefing note on home reports that was
Home reports make things far more              on this topic. MSPs are keen to have          prepared for MSPs is available in the news section of
transparent for all parties and ensure         feedback and the issue was recently           www.scottishlandlords.com
both sides have realistic expectations.”       discussed at the cross-party group on                                           Source: Registers of Scotland
  There was much criticism of the system       housing.

16 | Landlord focus | issue 3
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18 | Landlord focus | issue 3
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                                                                                                                                      seascape
                                                                                                                                      ayrshire




LHA problem?
What LHA problem?
The new housing benefit system for people on very low incomes works for neither tenants nor landlords

 GeorGe rose
 landlord liaison oFFicer
 seascaPe




T
        he standard response by poli-
        cymakers to landlords’ protests
        against the new local housing
allowance (LHA) system of direct
housing benefit payments to tenants
seems to be that there is no problem.
There are claims from many that this is
decreasing the supply of much-needed
rental properties and, as a result, incr-
easing homelessness as more and more
landlords suffering rent arrears refuse
to let to benefit claimants. The DWP,
however, is claiming that the system is
working well. Both sides are adamant
that they are right.
  I think that I am in a unique position
to claim impartiality in this debate – I
work for Seascape – a registered charity
that operates a deposit guarantee scheme
in South Ayrshire.
  It’s my job to help those in housing
need find a suitable private let so the
vast majority of our clients are benefit
claimants. We therefore have the tenants’
best interests at heart and work to sup-
port them in their new tenancies. So far,                            Seascape’s deposit guarantee covers          government meet its 2012 target to make
the evidence that the new LHA system is                            rent arrears as well as damage caused          homelessness a thing of the past.
failing both landlords and the homeless                            during a failed tenancy but we have              This is not to say I think that all ten-
situation is quite compelling.                                     managed to keep our claim rate just            ants on housing benefit cannot be trust-
  The notion that paying housing benefit                           below 15% of all our tenancies.                ed to manage their own finances as the
directly to the tenants is supposed to                               This is only because we build a              government hoped they would – after
empower them is having a seriously                                 personal relationship with our tenants         all, how many normally law-abiding
adverse effect and it is sad to witness.                           from the outset and meet them weekly           citizens could be trusted to avoid falling
As Seascape’s landlord liaison officer I                           to help keep them on the right track           into tax arrears if the Inland Revenue
am finding it increasingly difficult to                            during the initial tenancy. We also aim,       suddenly decided we should receive our
persuade landlords and letting agents                              wherever possible, to claim vulnerability      wages gross rather than have our tax
to let to LHA claimants because of the                             for our tenants so that the payments go        deducted at source?
high risk that they will lose the first eight                      directly to the landlord. We are largely         The government has seriously under-
weeks of rent if the tenant decides to dip      Paying housing     successful although a number of our            estimated the temptation for tenants on
into it rather than forward it on.              benefit directly   tenants do not meet the vulnerability          very low incomes to dip into their rent
  One agent advises that 45 out of 50                              criteria and some of our applications          money and, when such a tenant does
of their landlords who previously took          to the tenants     are knocked back for lack of supporting        this, it is almost impossible for them to
benefit claimants will no longer accept         is supposed to     evidence.                                      make up that shortfall again, putting
them, because they have either experi-          empower them         There is, in our experience, a serious       them into arrears and a serious risk of
enced rent arrears or been warned off by        Ð its having       lack of clarity about the way vulner-          eviction.
fellow landlords. One landlord whom we          a seriously        ability is assessed, not just locally but        We can only hope that the LHA system
deal with directly is currently leaving six                        nationally. It is clear that changes need to   will be overhauled before too much
of his 14 properties empty as he says it        adverse effect     be made to improve the system. Maybe           more damage is done to the private
is not worth the hassle of taking on any        and it is sad to   then landlords will make their proper-         rented sector and the tenants it was sup-
more LHA tenants.                               witness            ties available again and in turn help the      posed to help the most. 
                                                                                                                                issue 3 | Landlord focus | 19
 Membership
                                Welcome to SAL                                                                            Enjoy your
                                                                                                                          free copy of
                                                                             its own legal system and devolved parlia-    Landlord Focus
                                                   stePhen                   ment, we at SAL took on the challenge
                                                                             of becoming Scotland’s national land-        magazine!
                                                   Peasnall                  lords’ organisation. To date, SAL is the
                                                   chairman                  only grouping of landlords that offers
                                                                             members a specialist Scottish landlord                     On becoming
                                                                                                                          The Magazine of The ScoTTiSh aSSociaTion of LandLordS




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                                                                                                                                                                                   Tenancy deposits




                                A
                                                                                                                                                                                   WhatÕs in store for us?

                                                                                                                                                                                   The big issue




Fighting for
                                                                                                                                                                                   Local authority work
                                                                                                                                                                                   on homelessness




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                                        welcome your interest in joining       With branches throughout Scotland,           Dundee
                                                                                                                                        tion to the
the rights of
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                                                                                                                           finance | Policy | Local housing allowance | Update | helpdesk | Training




                                landlords throughout Scotland.               issues of common concern through             Landlord Focus, which

landlords                         Our success so far as an association
                                stems from a group of landlords from
                                across Scotland getting together to
                                                                             your local branch meetings and training
                                                                             sessions, co-ordinated by your branch
                                                                             representative.
                                                                                                                          offers news, views and fea-
                                                                                                                          tures on a variety of topics
                                                                                                                          of interest to landlords in
in Scotland.                    establish a landlords’ organisation that
                                truly reflects the needs of landlords
                                                                               While our campaigning successes are
                                                                             well documented,we still have a lot of
                                                                                                                          Scotland.
                                                                                                                            Our policy and parlia-
                                operating in Scotland.                       work to do. We need you to help us by        mentary affairs department
Don’t delay,                      In 2001, recognising that Scotland has     joining today.                               ensures that members’ views
                                                                                                                          and concerns are expressed
join today!                            it is hard to believe that this time last year we were
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                                   n addition to our free helpline, elec-
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                                through our broker, Alan Boswell.
                                  SAL arranges a variety of discounts
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20 | Landlord focus | issue 3
                                                online
                                                 www.scottishlandlords.com                                             Telephone
                                                                                                                        0131 270 4774



                                                                                                                 Landlord training
                                                                                           all of the            programme and
                                                                                           paperwork for
                                                                                           the tenancy
                                                                                                                 legal advice helpline
                                                                                           was signed

                                                                                                                 B
                                                                                                                         y becoming a member, you can
                                                                                           up using SaL                  be secure in the knowledge that
                                                                                           resources. We                 if you need free, unlimited ad-
                                                                                           felt confident        vice, you can call our landlord helpline,
                                                                                                                 staffed Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm,
                                                                                           and our new           with evening surgeries available on re-
                                                                                           tenants were          quest.
                                                                                                                   SAL offers the only landlord legal
                                                                                           impressed             advice helpline dedicated to Scottish
                                                                                           as well as
Benefits of unity                                                                          amazed at
                                                                                                                 housing law. This, combined with our
                                                                                                                 coveted landlord training programme,
                                                                                                                 delivered through our sister organisa-
                                                                                           how detailed          tion Landlord Accreditation Scotland,


S
       AL organises branch meetings         opportunity to network and attain              it was ...            gives Scottish landlords a head start in
       throughout Scotland. Our 12          additional skills, regardless of how many                            keeping up to date with new legislation
       branches meet in major towns         properties they own or how long they
                                                                                           thanks for all        and good practice models.
and cities from Inverness to Dumfries,      have been in the business.                     your help               The members-only area of our website
offering support to landlords in both         National Landlord Day is the largest                               allows members to download and adapt
urban and rural Scotland. With mem-         gathering of landlords in Scotland and         Sandrina Gilligan,    all the documents required for their
bers from Shetland to Stranraer, land-      offers some unique opportunities to hear       Ayrshire member       letting business and offers many other
lords can always benefit from member-       from the leading experts in the field of       landlord              handy resources. With ever-changing
ship wherever they live.                    residential letting. Members benefit from                            legislation, can you afford not to join?
  SAL events offer all landlords the        free and discounted fees for all SAL events.                         John Blackwood, Director



TO JOIN, PLEASE FILL IN THIS FORM AND SEND IN WITH YOUR CHEQUE FOR THE FEE MADE PAYABLE TO SAL, to: Membership
Department, SAL, 22 Forth Street, Edinburgh EH1 3LH. Alternatively, join online with your credit or debit card at www.scottishlandlords.com

 Membership application form
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                                                                                                                               issue 3 | Landlord focus | 21
      LANDLORDS URGENTLY REQUIRED!!

        REAM are currently experiencing a shortfall of available property for letting
        and are urgently seeking owners considering letting out their property for the
        next year or two until the sales market picks up.

        With over 200 properties under their managed belt, REAM have a wealth of
        experience in the letting industry and only specialise in letting property.
        Predominantly their market is in unfurnished properties throughout
        Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife and the Borders. They have a few furnished
        properties available at this time and are seeking to expand their range into the
        City Centres.

        Anyone considering letting out their property should give Maureen Wallace a
        call, the Managing Director of REAM for a very informal discussion – a special
        rate is offered to clients signing up on production of this advert. Quote code 03

                                Ream Ltd. Letting Agents, Edinburgh
             REAM LTD, THE MATRIX, 66A NEWHAVENand Fife, Scotland   ROAD, EDINBURGH EH6 5QB
              Registered Office: The Matrix Business Centre, 66a Newhaven Road, Edinburgh EH6 5QB
        t: 0131 561 8285         f: 0131 561 8263          e: maureen@reamltd.com          w: reamltd.com

22 | Landlord focus | issue 3
                                                                                                                                        landlord
                                                                                                                                        story




‘My strategy? Provide good
accommodation and
communicate with tenants’
Frank Gilbride continues                                                                                           funds from this allowed me to start a
our series on successful                                                                                           small property development company.
                                                                                                                   I bought flats and shops and converted
member landlords sharing                                                                                           them.
their Ôproperty journeyÕ.                                                                                            For instance I converted a bakery into
This time he speaks to                                                                                             an office and two-bed flat and I also con-
David McLennan                                                                                                     verted a hairdresser’s into a two-bed flat.

                                                                                                                   What’s the most important lesson you


D
        avid McLennan, 49, is a successful                                                                         have learned?
        property investor/developer and                                                                            Cashflow is king. Mortgages need to be
        landlord. His property journey                                                                             paid, so you need the rent coming in.
began in 1985 when he decided to rent                                                                              Voids can make a huge dent if you are
out his one-bed flat as he and his girl-                                                                           not prepared and budget for them.
friend were moving into a bigger flat
together. He soon caught the bug and                                                                               Greatest challenges?
from there went on to run successful                                                                               At the moment it’s trying to refinance
letting agencies in Edinburgh and build                                                                            in this market. My bank told me I was a
up his own property portfolio.                                                                                     gilt-edged customer and then told me to
                                                                                                                   go elsewhere to remortgage. It’s not the
What is your background?                                                                                           business it once was.
I was born and raised in Edinburgh. I left     concept was that I contacted the parents
school with five O grades and joined the       of all the first-year students coming to                            Worst experience ?
civil service. I left after three years and    Edinburgh University and offered to                                 When a friend of a tenant died in a house
then joined then police where I stayed         source a flat for them which would pay                              fire after candles set light to curtains. It
for five years and after I left I fell into    for itself, the idea being that the student                         was the property I had converted from
property.                                      would buy it with the parent acting as                              a hairdresser. I was later told that if
                                               guarantor and then pay the mortgage by                              the redevelopment had not been done
How did you get into property and              renting out rooms to friends or fellow                              properly, the fire would have claimed the
become a landlord?                             students.                                                           whole building.
In 1985 I had my own one-bedroom flat            The hope was that when they had fin-
on the Meadows in Edinburgh. After my          ished their studies, they could sell the flat                       What are your biggest frustrations at
then girlfriend and I decided to move          having paid little or no rent during their                          the moment?
into a bigger flat, I decided that I did not   time at university. It was very successful.                         The industry seems to be so pro-tenant.
want to sell it. So I advertised for people    I made my income from the sourcing fee                              The amount of legislation and bureauc-
to rent my flat and I got a huge response.     for finding the property and also a pro-                            racy that has been brought in such as
I realised there might be a business           curement fee from the Bank of Scotland,                             HMOs [licences for homes in multiple
opportunity here, so I kept hold of the        the mortgage provider.                                              occupation] and landlord registra-
names and addresses of the people who            This gave me the funds to start buying                            tion is frustrating especially as there
had been inquiring about my flat and           properties and I started buying shops                               doesn’t seem to be any will to chase bad
then matched them up with landlords            and converting them into flats. In total                            landlords.
with one-bed flats.                            I converted 17 shops into flats in the          The amount of
  That was how my first lettings agency,       Edinburgh area. I cashed in on the Edin-        legislation and     What’s your strategy to ensure you
Flatfinder, was formed. I initially ran it     burgh property boom by just rolling and                             survive the credit crunch?
                                                                                               bureaucracy
from my flat and did all my work on the        flipping these developments and I also                              To provide good quality accommodation
kitchen table. I then moved to a small         started to put together my own portfolio.       that has been       and make sure there’s constant commu-
office and shortly afterwards relaunched         The business continued to do well             brought in is       nication with tenants on repairs. Make
the business as Greyfriars Property Serv-      and at one time we were managing 300            frustrating espe-   sure good tenants are kept happy by
ices. Greyfriars quickly became a huge         properties for landlords. But I sold the        cially as there     responding promptly to their requests.
success after I moved to a bigger office       business in 2000 when I got divorced.
                                                                                               doesnÕt seem
at George IV Bridge and started taking           I took time out after selling the busi-                           What are your long term goals ?
on staff.                                      ness, and then got back into property           to be any will      Sustain the present portfolio as long
  During this time I devised a scheme          when I bought a piece of land and man-          to chase bad        as possible and use property as my
called the Faraway Scheme. The basic           aged to get planning permission. The            landlords           pension. 
                                                                                                                                 issue 3 | Landlord focus | 23
      The Money Centre expands its product range and services to offer….


      ‘The Complete Solution for Landlords’
     W
              ith the financial markets taking a very sudden turn        To assist our customers we have diversified into selling
              during 2008 The Money Centre, known as one of              insurance products via The Money Centre (Financial Services)
              the UK’s largest buy-to-let and commercial brokers,        Ltd trading as Living Trusts, to mitigate such risks.“
              quickly realised that with their market knowledge
     and property investment expertise they could be offering their      Additional services via recommended suppliers includes:
     customers so much more than just a mortgage.                             Property insurance
                                                                              Property sourcing
     By rebranding to become ‘The Complete Solution for                       Estate management
     Landlords’ The Money Centre have extended their own
                                                                              Innovative property management and letting solutions.
     product range by incorporating The Money Centre (Financial
     Services) Ltd t/a Living Trusts along with bringing new
                                                                         The Money Centre are also offering a FREE portfolio and risk
     recommended suppliers on board to offer a full range of
                                                                         review to ensure landlords are making the most out of their
     landlord essential services, some of which are exclusive to
                                                                         investment.
     The Money Centre clients.

     Many investors are struggling to refinance due to the lack of       For further details call The Money Centre on 0800 374 611,
     mortgage availability and falling property values. The              or email enquiries@themoneycentre.net
     constant lowering of interest rates has been heaven sent for
     some landlords on tracker rate products but many could be
     facing a very different set of problems. Managing Director          The Money Centre (Financial Services) Ltd t/a Living Trusts is
     and Co-founder, Mark Alexander, said: “We are seeing some           an appointed representative of Home of Choice who are directly
     of our landlords become much more cash flow positive, but in        authorised with the Financial Services Authority.
     the event of a financial crisis they may struggle to refinance or
     sell their properties to release equity. If their income were to
     cease due to events such as redundancy, illness or even
     death, their families could be left in financial difficulty.




24 | Landlord focus | issue 3
                                                                                                                                   keeping
                                                                                                                                   track



We know where you live…
Make sure utility bills go to                 tion tool for letting agents, property man-
                                              agement companies and private landlords.
tenantsÕ new addresses                        It allows the property manager to notify
                                              all utility companies and local authorities


F
        ed up with lengthy calls to council   of a change of tenancy electronically,
        tax and utility call centres when     making the process of closing or opening
        you have a change of tenants?         accounts simple, quick and effective.
Then iammoving.com is definitely for            The property manager benefits from
you, writes Anne Tyler, of member agent       the iammoving.com relationship built
Gladstones.                                   over a period with every local council
  We have used this system for the past       and energy company, meaning that if
few months and we believe it has made         there are any billing issues relating to a
a marked difference to the time taken to      change of tenancy they will be resolved
advise a change of tenancy and accuracy       by iammoving.com and the agent will
of the related invoices.                      never need to be involved – hence no
  So what is iammoving.com all about?         need for long-winded follow-up calls for
  It is an online change-of-address           lost letters or faxes. Simple! 
service giving home movers a secure
and convenient way to notify more than         Since utilitell.com started to be pro-
1,500 companies ranging from local            moted in mid-2008, more than 400
councils, water and energy companies to       letting agents have signed up to use the
DVLA, TV licensing and Boots advantage        tool with more than 22,000 change of
card that they have moved address.            tenancy notifications sent each month.
  After feedback from the rental sector       For more information on the utilitell
iammoving.com launched www.utilitell.         service, please contact iammoving.com
com, an online change of tenancy notifica-    on 01244 505805.




Mortgage availability – and other questions of interest
Continued from page 5                         transparent and improve the grim view          More              GM: When clients ask for a no-deposit
                                              the analysts have of BTL mortgages.           information:      deal. The only legal way to do a no-
are playing hardball. What could help         Landlords need to have in place the           www.fsa.gov.uk;   deposit deal is expensive. The customer
is if the government, through Northern        resources to pay the mortgage should the      www.cml.org.uk    would have to use bridging finance for
Rock, RBS, Lloyds Group and Mortgage          tenants default on rent. The best way to                        six months and then remortgage using a
Express, launched competitive products,       ensure this is checking affordability.                          BTL mortgage. However, the cost of the
making other lenders follow suit.               KF: All mortgage lending will continue                        bridging may negate the discount given.
  KF: It will be interesting to see the FSA   to depend on individual circumstances                             The best way is to have the deposit,
consultation on mortgage market regu-         and some of those who reach any maxi-                           raised through savings, remortgage of
lation which should be published by the       mum numbers of loans with lenders                               the residential property or BTL property,
time this magazine comes out (www.fsa.        should still have options with commer-                          secured loan, and so on. If a client comes
org.uk). Potentially mortgage product         cial finance.                                                   to me and asks for other ways or systems
regulation may have an effect.                                                                                of doing this, I will be blunt and advise
  LTV and loan-to-income restrictions         Where can landlords look for finance                            that we do not deal with illegal schemes
may be brought in as well as the pos-         just now?                                                       and it is in the best interest of the client
sibility that BTL mortgages will enter the      GM: The lenders’ criteria policies                            not to pursue those routes. The end
regulatory regime that they are currently     are tougher than before and changing                            result of utilising many no-deposit
outwith. There is also a possibility of       almost daily. For many properties, such                         schemes available can be prosecution for
using insurance to balance the risk for       as HMOs, finance can only be secured                            fraud by the lender.
borrowers seen by lenders as higher risk.     through commercial mortgages. There-                              KF: I hate to be asked questions which
                                              fore, the best option is a good mortgage                        attempt to lay the blame for the current
Is it true that landlords now need an         broker with knowledge of the BTL market                         crisis solely at the door of the lenders.
employed status as well as rental in-         and access to different ways of funding.                        There are others to share any blame and
come? What will happen in the future?           KF: As ever, you need to look round                           remember that irresponsible lending was
  GM: No, it is not true. Whether you are     for the best deals out there, approach                          not as prevalent in the UK as the US.
employed or self-employed (with two to        existing lenders as well as new. The lack     The best option   My worry is that we need to be careful
three years self-employment) you have         of wholesale funding is the problem,          is a good         that there is not an over-reaction to the
access to the same products. However,         not always that any particular lender is                        past 12 months which results in over
                                                                                            mortgage
self-certification BTL mortgages are hard     unwilling to lend.                                              regulation and does not actually help the
to find nowadays. I actually agree with                                                     broker with       sector in the long term. 
the disappearance of self-certification       Now please answer the question you            knowledge of      Nothing in this article is given or intended
as it will make the BTL mortgage more         most dislike being asked at present           the BTL market    as personal investment advice.
                                                                                                                             issue 3 | Landlord focus | 25
        “I should like to place my appreciation of the work           “I would like to thank you once
        put in your team in advising me and finding a                 again for all your hard work- the flat
        tenant so quickly for my property. I approached a
                                                                      now looks splendid and we couldn’t
        number of letting agents before deciding on JVR
        and it was your professionally yet friendly manner
                                                                      have turned it around in such small
        together with your clear price structure, which was           time frame and at the cost without
        ably explained to me, which persuaded me to use               you. Your efforts are truly
        your firm” Mrs F, Longniddry                                  appreciated” Mr R, Edinburgh




                   C.K. STRACHAN LTD.
                                            Fire Safety Solutions
                                        Full installation and commissioning
                                               of fire safety detectors

                                          Arrange a maintenance contract
                                                 with every install

                                        All detectors come with a ten year
                                             manufacturers warranty

          Telephone: 07958 266009 Email: ck.strachan@yahoo.com
               Unit J 1 Muirhall Road, Larbert, Falkirk, FK5 4RF
26 | Landlord focus | issue 3
                                                                                                                                          landlord
                                                                                                                                          training



Landlord
training
SAL members can refresh
their professional skills
free at LAS training courses


T
       he landlord training programme
       for SAL members is now delivered
       by sister organisation Landlord
Accreditation Scotland (LAS). You do
not need to be an accredited landlord
to attend training and the three core
standards modules are available free of
charge to SAL members. See www.land-
lordaccreditationscotland.com for dates
and venues.

Core standards training
The programme (Level 1) comprises
three independent sessions. Landlords          Session 2:                                                           Training for landlord peer groups
and agents can attend any or all of the        Tenancy Management                                                   A group of landlords or letting agents
sessions, in any order.                        •   Communication with the tenant.                                   can approach LAS to develop a training
                                               •   Equality issues, complaints and disputes.                        session or a series of training sessions to
Whom do you contact?                           •   Pre-letting procedures.                                          address specific local issues.
Landlords or letting agents may find           •   Complaints handling.
themselves faced with:                         •   Dealing with disputes.                                           Letting agent (and landlord)
• Unexpected demands.                          •   Dealing with anti-social behaviour.                              training and services
• The sudden emergency in the middle                                                                                LAS have developed services for letting
of the night.                                  Session 3:                                                           agents and landlords. These include:
• Changes in legislation.                      Tenancy agreements and notices                                       • In-house letting agent training: you can
• The list is endless ...                      • Different types of law (contractual,                               buy in the core standards training or the
What is the right (and legal) thing to         statute and common).                                                 specific course for letting agents, Rep-
do? How do you remain assured you              • Contractual tenancies.                                             resenting Landlords Responsibly, to be
are pursuing the best course for both          • Types of tenancy.                                                  delivered in your own or the LAS office.
yourself and your tenant? Through              • Assured tenancies.                                                 • Specific in-house letting agent train-
attending LAS training sessions, you           • Short assured tenancies.                                           ing: LAS officers assess the training
can be sure that your knowledge                • Introducing the model agreement.                                   required by the business and check
and awareness of changes in the                                                                                     documents and procedures. A training
private rented sector are up to                Executing the short assured                                          audit can be carried out. Agents can
date.                                          tenancy agreement.                                                   gauge gaps in their knowledge and
                                               • What happens when notices are served?                              these can be addressed through tailored
We offer:                                      • Grounds for repossession of assured                                training.
•   Core standards training sessions.          tenancies.                                                           • Business health check: LAS officers will
•   Individual landlord training               • Notice to quit.                                                    spend a minimum of half a day with an
•   Training for landlord peer groups.         • Notice of proceedings for possession.                              organisation or landlord to review poli-
•   Letting agent training and services.       • Recovery of possession of short assured        For further        cies and procedures. Recommendations
                                               tenancies.                                      information on       are made on how aspects of your opera-
Session 1:                                     • Unfair terms in consumer contracts            the training pro-    tions can be amended and enhanced.
Property condition and                         regulations.                                    vided by Landlord
property management                                                                            Accreditation        2009 content of the letting agent
• Minimum property conditions.                 Individual landlord training                    Scotland, please     training Representing Landlords
• The tolerable standard.                      Building on the core standard training          contact Elspeth      Responsibly
• The repairing standard.                      sessions, a member of LAS staff can             Boyle, Develop-      •   Agents’ responsibilities.
• Providing clear statements and detailed      look over specific aspects of your practic-     ment Manager, at     •   Risk assessments.
inventory.                                     es for example your lease, moving-in and        the LAS office on    •   Compliance issues.
• Repairs and maintenance.                     moving-out procedures and recommend             0131 553 2211        •   Fees and premiums.
• Carrying out repairs.                        where changes or improvements could             or email elspeth@    •   Marketing and advertising.
• Energy efficiency, insulation and heating.   be made. The minimum amount of time             landlordaccredita-   •   Repairing obligations.
• Health, safety and home security.            that can be bought-in is one hour.              tionscotland.com     •   Dealing with disputes. 
                                                                                                                                    issue 3 | Landlord focus | 27
         0131 665 4653 • CONTACT@ARCSERVICES-SCOTLANDLTD.CO.UK
                  Arc Services Scotland Ltd is a an established reactive maintenance company
             specialising in both the private rented and social housing sectors. We cover all aspects
                 of maintenance both reactive and planned. We cover the following disciplines:

■ Gas/Heating repairs and installations                   ■ General Building repairs
■ All Domestic Plumbing repairs and Installations         ■ Full Joinery service
■ Drainage clearing service                               ■ Glazing service
■ Roof repairs                                            ■ PIR & PAT Certification
■ Bathroom installations                                  ■ Gas Safety Certification
■ Shower Repairs/installations                            ■ Energy Performance Certificates
■ Electrical repairs                                      ■ All Fire safety Certification and testing


                                      WINTER SAVER DEAL !!
       As most boilers have been on limited use over the warmer months we recommend a service before
          they are used heavily over the winter period to minimise any costly repairs that may crop up.
    A service and appraisal on your boiler £50 and if your gas safety is due we can add this in for an extra £15
                          when carrying out the service. All prices are excluding VAT.

                              We cover East, West and Midlothian and the Borders.
         Our service is backed up by a professionally staffed office with a unique and specially designed
                  data management program to allow job allocation and tracking to ensure each
                   and every job is progressed quickly and effectively through to completion.
               We carry out all safety certification work for the rental market and offer a complete
                                        Landlords/Letting Agents service
       Letting Agents - Our software system allows us to produce daily and or weekly updates on all jobs
      undertaken so that you have the updates and job status before you are asked. We also advise tenants
                  by way of a job report card left in the property if the tenants are not present.
                  Landlords - No job is too small and our pricing structure is highly competitive.


                                  0131 665 4653
                       CONTACT@ARCSERVICES-SCOTLANDLTD.CO.UK
                      ARC SERVICES SCOTLAND LTD,
  UNIT 4 BLOCK 4, INVERESK INDUSTRIAL ESTATE, MUSSELBURGH, EH21 7UL
 Update                                                                                               for the latest news check out
                                                                                                       www.scottishlandlords.com



                                                                                                                           Solutions for
Modernising rental law                                                                                                     landlords
                                                                                                                           A fresh approach to all aspects of
                                                                                                                           property ownership is offered by
                                                                                                                           the Property Network Scotland,
The Housing Bill aims to                 Issues under consideration which       • Allowing councils to charge              a group of professionals com-
update and standardise                   may be of particular interest to       landlords a fee for adding details of      mitted to customer satisfaction
                                         private landlords are:                 an agent to the registration.              for all domestic or commercial
rented sector legislation                                                                                                  property related services. Every
                                         Landlord Registration                  HMO Licensing                              member company has been rec-


T
        he draft Housing (Scotland)      • Giving councils powers to obtain     • Changing the definition of an            ommended for membership by
        Bill aims to safeguard social    information about people con-          HMO to include some short term             another member then vetted, to
        housing for future genera-       nected with a property, to enable      and holiday lets; and                      maintain the highest reputation.
tions and improve value for ten-         or assist them to exercise their       • Where planning permission is             From finding the right home or
ants and taxpayers by reforming          functions;                             required, making it a requirement          site, raising finance or carrying
the right to buy and introducing a       • Increasing maximum fines for         for the grant of an HMO license.           out repairs, the Property Net-
legislative framework for a mod-         landlord registration offences in                                                 work Scotland has the solution.
ernised Scottish housing regulator.      line with HMO licensing;                To view the consulta-                     Call 0844 873 3487 or see
  Also included are proposals to         • Including information in the reg-    tion document relating to the              propertynetworkscotland.com
support responsible landlords and        ister on refused and deregistered      private rented sector, go to
help to maintain good physical           applications and on those awaiting     www.scotland.gov.uk/Publica-
standards in private sector housing.     approval;                              tions/2009/07/06160610/0

                                                                                                                            Considering adding
                                                                                                                           to your portfolio?
                                                                                                                           The stamp duty holiday
                                                                                                                           for all property costing
                                                                                                                           less than £175,000
                                                                                                                           has been extended
                                                                                                                           until the end of 2009



                                                                                                                           Regulator to give
                                                                                                                           peace of mind
                                                                                                                           The Construction Licensing
                                                                                                                           Executive (CLE) has been set up
                                                                                                                           to give greater peace of mind to
                                                                                                                           those looking to employ a trades-
                                                                                                                           man and has been developed
                                                                                                                           by Scottish Building, SNIPEF,
                                                                                                                           SELECT, the Scottish Decorators’
                                                                                                                           Federation and National Special-
                                                                                                                           ist Contractors Council.
                                                                                                                            Learn more, or find
                                                                                                                           lists of CLE tradesman at
                                                                                                                           www.clescotland.com




Changes to holiday lets tax                                                     Get appliance testing off PAT
The tax treatment of furnished           and inheritance tax will also be       The first set of dates for portable     some this could mean an opportu-
holiday lettings(FHL) changes            withdrawn.                             appliance testing (PAT) courses         nity for considerable cost savings.
from 6 April 2010.                        FHL rules now apply only to UK        are filling up and we will add more     Please bear in mind when costing
  Income from holiday lets will          properties but they will include all   dates until we have met the de-         this for your own business that
be treated like any other rental         properties within the European         mand. Attending the one-day train-      you would still need to buy (about
income and losses can only be set        Economic Area from next April.         ing will give members the required      £300) or hire (about £60 a week) a
against rental profit rather than         This is a complex area, so as with    knowledge to carry out their own        PAT testing machine to carry out
general income as at present. Other      other tax matters, seek professional   PAT testing and, depending on the       the tests on your appliances.
reliefs in place for capital gains tax   advice if in doubt.                    number of properties you have, for       More information on our website

                                                                                                                                issue 3 | Landlord focus | 29
 update


                                                                             Credit crunch sees
Help with energy questions                                                   lending fall further
                                                                             Figures from the Council of
                                                                             Mortgage Lenders show that


P
        rivate landlords and their                                           new buy-to-let lending fell for
        tenants could benefit from                                           the seventh consecutive quarter,
        the Scottish Government’s                                            though the small fall may signal
Energy Assistance Package, funded                                            that the decline is beginning to
by the Scottish Government and                                               slow. There were 21,600 new
delivered through the Energy Sav-                                            loans in the second quarter of
ing Scotland advice network, man-                                            2009 after 22,400 in the first.
aged by the Energy Saving Trust.                                               The overall value of gross
It can help make energy inefficient                                          advances was £1.9 billion after
properties easier to heat.                                                   £8.9 billion a year earlier.
  If landlords pass the information                                           For more information visit
about the package to their tenants                                           www.cml.org.uk
and suggest they call an advisor
from an Energy Saving Scotland
advice centre, tenants will be
able to find out if they qualify for
assistance.                                                                  Member resources:
  By calling the freephone number
0800 512012, or visiting www.                                                more deals planned
energyassistancepackage.com ten-                                             Work will begin soon on new
ants can find out about the offers                                           members’ resources and on ex-
that may be available to them,                                               panding the deals available to
from advice on how to save energy                                            SAL members from suppliers of
and increase their income, to free                                           goods and services.
insulation, or for some, even a new                                           Any suggestions? E-mail
heating system.                                                              info@scottishlandlords.com




          Ian Naismith
                2 Brodie Place, Stonehouse
                   Larkhall, ML9 3NN                        LANDLORDS
                                                           LANDLORDS
            Domestic and Commercial EPCs            Look No Further For Professional
                                                   Look No Further For Professional
                                                          Property Management
                                                        Property Management
                Discount for SAL members
                Also distributor for utilities   • • Experienced Team With
                                                   Experienced Team With
                   (Utility Warehouse)               Extensive Local Knowledge
                                                   Extensive Local Knowledge
              Please mention SAL magazine        • • Personal Tailored Service
                                                   Personal Tailored Service
                  when you contact me
                                                 • • Prominent High Street Presence
                                                   Prominent High Street Presence
                   07711 266558                  • • Free Rental Valuations
                                                   Free Rental Valuations
              enquiries@glasgow-dea.co.uk
                www.glasgow-dea.co.uk            • • Competitive Rates
                                                   Competitive Rates
                                                    To Arrange Free Appointment
                                                  To Arrange A A Free Appointment
                                                    Tel: 01307 463657
                                                   Tel: 01307 463657
                                                    Fax: 01307 467667
                                                   Fax: 01307 467667
                                                       Visit www.letangus.co.uk
                                                     Visit www.letangus.co.uk
                                                       We cover all areas of Angus and Tayside
                                                    38-40 East High Street, Forfar, Angus DD8 2EG

30 | Landlord focus | issue 3
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                                                Our aim is to provide landlords with an honest,
                                           professional and standards driven service backed up with
                                               excellent customer service. Our service includes:

                                                                    • Full inventory
                                                                   • Move out report
                                                • Maintenance analysis reported back to the landlord
                                                            • Minor maintenance service
                                                                  • Window cleaning
                                                 • Specialist kitchen, bathroom and carpet cleaning
                                                            • Removal of unwanted items

                                               Our full and comprehensive service is available across
                                                 Central Scotland including Glasgow, Edinburgh,
                                                           Stirlingshire, Perthshire and Fife

                    Unit 9, Carsebridge Court, Cooperage Way Business Village, Alloa, FK10 3LQ
                                Tel: 01786 343444 E-mail: tracey@sg-procleaning.com

                                                                                                        issue 3 | Landlord focus | 31
 Helpdesk                                                                               online
                                                                                         www.scottishlandlords.com



                                                                                                           Blocked drains
                           Flood damage                                                                    Recently my tenant reported
                                                                                                           that the kitchen sink was
                                                                                                           blocked and not draining prop-


                           R
                                   ecently the property I let     Unfortunately this is a common           erly. On inspection, it appeared
                                   was flooded. As a result, my   problem where tenants fail to take       that the blockage was external
                                   tenants had to be              out separate contents insurance for      to the property. Surely the ten-
                           re-housed and considerable dam-        their own belongings.                    ant should be liable to pay for
                           age was caused to the structure          As you know, your insurance            this as it is due to their use of

Tenants’                   of the property which thankfully
                           was all covered by my insurance
                           policy.
                                                                  policy will not cover such claims
                                                                  but it is advisable that you include
                                                                  a clause in your tenancy agreement
                                                                                                           the property?

                                                                                                           Importantly, the landlord
insurance,                   However the tenant has now
                           come back asking me to pay for
                                                                  advising tenants to take out insur-
                                                                  ance cover for their own belong-
                                                                                                           has a duty in the repairing
                                                                                                           standard under the Housing

unblocking                 damage caused to his belongings
                           which, of course, are not covered
                           by my policy.
                                                                  ings. Without this, they have no
                                                                  claim. You are not liable for loss or
                                                                  damage to their property.
                                                                                                           (Scotland) Act 2006 to ensure
                                                                                                           that the drains are in working
                                                                                                           order. However, under com-
sinks,                                                                                                     mon law, and perhaps your
                                                                                                           tenancy agreement, the tenant
                                                                                                           has a responsibility not to cause
energy                                                                                                     blockages.
                                                                                                             The primary responsibility
certificates,                                                                                              will be on the landlord to main-
                                                                                                           tain the drains but you may be
                                                                                                           able to recover costs from the
the TV                                                                                                     tenant where the blockage can
                                                                                                           be proven to have been caused

licence …                                                                                                  by the tenant.


You ask, we
answer                                                                                                     TV licences
                                                                                                           I let furnished flats which of-
                                                                                                           ten have televisions. In such
                                                                                                           cases, is it my responsibility as
                                                                                                           the landlord to purchase a TV
                                                                                                           licence?

                                                                                                           If you let your property and you
                                                                                                           provide a TV for tenants to use,
                                                                                                           it is usually your responsibility
                                                                                                           to make sure that the address
                                                                                                           has a valid TV licence. However,
                                                                                                           you can state in your lease that
                                                                                                           the tenant is responsible for
                                                                                                           purchasing a licence.
                                                                                                             The Television Licensing Au-
                                                                                                           thority states that both you and
                                                                                                           your tenant are responsible and
                                                                                                           either of you could face pros-
                                                                                                           ecution and a fine up to £1,000,
                                                                                                           for failure to pay the annual
                           EPCs when renting rooms only                                                    licence fee.
All helpdesk queries to:                                                                                    For further
Landlord Focus             I am an HMO landlord renting           only required for dwellings, not         details, go to
Scottish Association       rooms under separate tenancy           parts of a dwelling.                     www.
of Landlords               agreements. Do I need to get an          If the area let was a self-contained   tvlicensing.
22 Forth Street,           energy performance certificate         unit, then an EPC would be               co.uk
Edinburgh EH1 3LH          (EPC) for every room?                  required. If the lease is for a bed-
0131 270 4774                                                     room and shared facilities then
                           The Scottish Building Standards        an EPC is not required. To down-
Email                      Agency produces a fact-sheet for       load a copy of the factsheet, go to:
landlordfocus@             landlords setting out the require-     http://www.sbsa.gov.uk/pdfs/EPC_
scottishlandlords.com      ments for EPCs. Simply, EPCs are       FAQ2.pdf
                                                                                                                issue 3 | Landlord focus | 33
 ab Group
 insurance




Cannabis – the growing danger
                                              used for this purpose?                        See p15 for        insist on payment via your bank;
 robert Graver                                From information taken from our claim
                                              files, the following characteristics stand
                                                                                           background details
                                                                                           of the spread of
                                                                                                                • Be wary of short lets without under-
                                                                                                                taking rigorous vetting of the prospec-
                                              out which may suggest that a property        cannabis farms in    tive tenant;
 alan boswell insurance                       could be used as a cannabis farm             rented homes         • Ensure you inspect the premises regu-
                                              • Short term let of three or six month                            larly, if possible with internal viewing;
                                              duration;                                                         • Do not allow sub-letting;
The dangers if your property                  • Rent is paid in cash, sometimes in full                         • Consider employing a letting or man-
is used as a cannabis farm                    or for a significant period of the let;                           aging agent to manage tenant vetting
                                              • Not vetting tenants sufficiently;                               and provide an inspection service on
– and the warning signs                       • Accepting a telephone number from                               your behalf to identify any misuse of the
                                              the prospective tenant purporting to be                           premise early on;


O
         ver the past year there has been a   last landlord as a reference;                                     • Take a copy of photo ID for appli-
         surge in the number of landlords     • No background checks undertaken                                 cants, for instance passport or driving
         making insurance claims, because     other than seeing the passports of pro-                           licence;
tenants have destroyed properties whilst      spective tenants;                                                 • Ensure their identification is genuine;
using them to grow cannabis.                  • Not getting bank details checked as                             • Watch for telephone, water, gas, and
  Alan Boswell Group landlords'               rent is paid in cash;                                             electricity accounts in different names;
insurance specialists have dealt with ap-     • Promised references not being                                   • Require more than one type of identi-
proximately 50 of these claims in the last    provided;                                                         fication for joint applicants;
year and it is evident landlords insurance    • Lack of visits to the property under-                           • Check prospective tenants’ current
is vital.                                     taken and, if done, external only or                              address;
                                              limited internal only;                                            • Obtain prospective tenants’ mobile
What is the issue?                            • A pungent smell is produced which                               numbers and car registration numbers;
An increasing number of residential           may be noticed through the walls of                               • Carry out reference and credit checks
landlords are suffering claims because        adjoining properties;                                             on all prospective tenants;
their properties are being used by the        • Window blinds, blacked-out windows                              • Lastly, be vigilant – taking these simple
tenants to grow cannabis.                     or curtains always drawn to prevent                               steps may result in your premises being
  The cultivation process of cannabis         anyone seeing what is going on;                                   safe from the damage caused by this
causes damage to the property for             • Sub-letting being allowed, with no                              practice. 
various reasons including:                    control of sub-tenant activities;            Be vigilant —
• Fires starting because the tenants          • No particular location issues, some                              For further details of the above and
bypass the electricity meter;                 very respectable premises/areas have         taking these         any other insurance cover you may need,
• Holes being made in walls to pass           been involved;                               simple steps         please contact the Alan Boswell Group
cables through;                               • No managing or letting agent em-           may result in        on 01603 216399 or email
• Large quantity of water leakage from        ployed to manage the property or vet the     your premises        landlords@alanboswell.com.
buckets and pipes; and                        tenant details.                              being safe from      Or if you prefer, visit our web site
• Tenants starting fires to cover their                                                                         www.alanboswell.com/landlords or write
tracks before police raids.                   What can I do to prevent this happening?     the damage           to us at The Landlords Dept, Harbour
                                              Take the following reasonable precautions:   caused by this       House, 126 Thorpe Road, Norwich,
How will I know if my property is being       • Do not accept payment of rent in cash,     practice             NR1 1UL.

34 | Landlord focus | issue 3
www.belvoirlettings.com




Supporting you
every step of the way
Building a strong portfolio requires solid foundations and the secret of solid
foundations is good support. With many years experience, knowledge and
expertise we can make sure you’ve got all the support you need.
For further details call or email one of the offices below:
Aberdeen 01224 645707                                                                    Glasgow 0141 337 3395
aberdeen@belvoirlettings.com                                                             glasgownorth@belvoirlettings.com
Dundee 01382 228437                                                                      Kilmarnock 01563 546811
dundee@belvoirlettings.com                                                               northayrshire@belvoirlettings.com
Edinburgh 0131 447 2020                                                                  Paisley 0141 848 0333
edinburghsouth@belvoirlettings.com                                                       paisley@belvoirlettings.com
Falkirk 01324 623523                                                                     Stirling 01786 464607
falkirk@belvoirlettings.com                                                              stirling@belvoirlettings.com




Belvoir Property Management (UK) Ltd is authorised by the Financial Services Authority      Let. us do all the work!
Does your property stand out
for the wrong reasons?




                                                                    The switchover to digital TV has started.
                                                                    If your property is not ready to receive a digital TV
                                                                    signal, you could find that nobody wants to move in.
                                                                    Make sure it is ready for the digital TV switchover.

                                                                   For more information visit digitaluk.co.uk/propertymanagers
                                                                   or call 08458 455 455*.




 *Calls are free for BT customers within inclusive calling plans. Call charges from other providers may vary. The standard business hours for Digital UK’s contact centre are 9am to 7pm
                                  Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm on a Saturday. Opening hours will be extended during the switchover in each area.

				
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