Old News and Business Reviews

How’s your first quarter stacking up?

As March draws to a close, I am sure that many of my contacts in the lettings industry will be taking stock and comparing 2018’s Q1 performance with that of 2017. Number crunchers will be awaiting the final KPIs to put their reviews together. Directors (and everyone else) will be pushing for every last penny to be accounted for, and those move-ins due on the 29th/30th March will be eagerly monitored to avoid any slippage.

This year, the end of the quarter coincides with the Easter break. For those manning the ship on the holiday weekend, any potential tenancy hiccups should be ironed out well in advance, before people start heading for the hills. Gas certificates, inventories, reference results, outstanding maintenance, guarantor deeds, signed ASTs, et cetera – everything needs to be sorted. This isn’t just to avoid any unnecessary stress for tenants, landlords or you personally. It’s to ensure that your first quarter’s financial results are as healthy as possible

If you aren’t already using LegalforLandlords, there’s still time to get an account set up and try our services. There’s no obligation, of course, but if you like what we do, we could help you get across the end of the quarter hurdle much more easily.

And then there’s April

Phew! Quarter 1 is sorted. April’s ticking along nicely, so you can relax* and take time to review the long-term to-do list.

You’ve already sorted GDPR compliance, I’m sure, and that pesky tenant fee ban is, most likely, at least a year away, but what about EPCs?

The good news in EPCs

The incoming Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) require an EPC rating of ‘E’ or better for privately rented domestic and non-domestic properties. From 1st April 2018, this applies to new tenancies for both new and existing tenants. In two years’ time, it will extend to all tenancies even where there has been no change.

There is potential, here, to go above and beyond your competitors’ offering and provide a valuable service to your landlords. Whilst the number of EPCs issued with ratings of F and G has fallen over the last 10 years (133,669 in 2008 to 57,082 in 2017), the fact remains that over 6% of EPCs effectively rate properties as a ‘fail’ when it comes to renting them out.

It’s, therefore, well worth checking your portfolio to identify those properties which need work doing now, rather than waiting until the tenant gives notice. In fact, why not take this opportunity to contact all your landlords with either a ‘good news’ message (your property is compliant) or a ‘call to action’ (here’s your current EPC, you need to do x, y, z and we can help)?

Having dealt with landlords for the past 10 years, I know that most tend to expect any communication from their agent to be some form of bad news: a bill, a tenant giving notice or a maintenance issue at the property. But here’s an opportunity for a quick email or letter with positive news for about 95% of your clients!

An hour or two spent on your CRM, the EPC Register, or sifting through your files, could not only garner additional work for your contractors and DEAs but will also reduce the chance of lengthy void periods when the properties come back up for let. That’s good news for your landlords and a positive impact on your bottom line!

The EPC system isn’t without its flaws, but the reports do, of course, make recommendations to improve the energy efficiency of each property, so the exercise is easy. There’s no guesswork when the EPC states exactly what is needed. And don’t forget that with older EPCs there’s a good chance some improvement works have already been completed. It could just be a case of commissioning a new EPC on the property rather than arranging major works.

As ever, I would recommend anyone wanting more information to visit the UK Government website for full guidance, including what to do if your ‘potential’ EPC rating is below ‘E’. Of course, there’ll be plenty of you who have already done this exercise, but you’ll notice that the title of this post does include the words old news!

And don’t forget that if you have any legal queries about your tenants, our team are happy to provide free legal advice. Call us on 0800 840 7133.

Whatever you’re planning for April and for quarter 2, we’re here whenever you need help.


*If you can’t remember what relaxation is, you’re not alone. Comfort yourself that you’re doing okay if you spotted the asterisk through the tears of laughter.