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Are you ready for your next step as a Letting Agent?

Better Letter letting agent partner opportunityAre you an employed Letting Agent who’d like more independence, but still to retain the security of working with an established firm?

Maybe you’re an experienced PRS landlord with the property management experience to support less experienced landlords?

Or perhaps you’re a quick learner, a self-starter who’s looking for a career change?

The Better Letter has known Oxford and Oxfordshire for over 20 years

We are an established company and we want to expand – but we can’t do it alone. That’s why we are looking for partners to cover our territories outside of Oxford City. Partners who share our values:

Better Letter Values

1. Transparency

We may not charge the lowest fees, but that’s because we don’t cut corners. We make all our fees clear to our landlords and tenants up front. No hidden charges, no sneaky surprises.

2. Reliability

Over 20 years, we have built a network of reliable, honest tradespeople who support our clients and provide repairs and maintenance swiftly and at a reasonable price.

3. Responsibility

We keep abreast of the ever-changing legislation that affects landlords, so we can advise our clients and protect them from falling into illegal practices unwittingly (as so many accidental landlords do!).

Being a Better Letter

So what is involved in becoming a part of The Better Letter family?

There are three territories on offer:

-    Banbury (6,831 rental properties in the area)
-    Witney (7,930 rental properties in the area)
-    Abingdon (8266 rental properties in the area)

The above numbers are an indication of the total number of properties rented in the area by all agents and landlords – so they give you a good idea of the potential in each market. And these numbers were recorded in the 2011 census – before the recent rental boom – so numbers now are even higher and growing every day.

Each territory is available to you to trade as a Better Letter partner for a low entry fee of £1000 +VAT.

What do you get?

For your £1000 +VAT commitment, as well as the benefits of working under an established name, you get:

-    Full training
-    Most sales costs covered (inc. rightmove, ‘To Let’ boards, photography, floor plans, etc**)
-    Your financial admin taken care of
-    50% commission on the profit from each let
-    Your £1000 refunded IN FULL on your 10th let

There’s also the opportunity for high-achieving ‘Better Letter’ stars to move to a favourable 80/20% split on the profit from each let*.

So if you are interested in becoming a Better Letter, contact me personally and we can discuss any questions you might have about joining us. I’ve been running The Better Letter in Oxford for over 20 years, so no-one can answer your queries better than me!

 

Simon Fisher signature

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simon Fisher, MD The Better Letter

*Subject to a monthly minimum fee to The Better Letter.

** Does not include mileage, business phone costs or non-branded stationery. Full details will be outlined in the partnership agreement.

New research shows UK tenants want assurance

Deposit Protection SchemesTenant Deposit Protection has been in law since 2007, but recent research shows that only 50% of tenants have received confirmation that their deposit has been properly registered.

So it’s no wonder that many tenants are unhappy, fuelling a culture of mistrust between tenants and landlords.

As all Better Letters know, happy tenants will often take good care of your property, report minor faults before they become big problems, and respect the terms of a reasonable AST.

So if you’re new to being a landlord, or thinking of becoming a landlord, what do you need to know about Deposit Protection Schemes?

 

You don’t have to lodge it, but you do have to register the deposit:

Since 2007, it has been illegal for landlords or their agents to fail to register tenant deposits. They must register them with an officially recognised Deposit Protection Scheme (DPS) and then, if there is cause to claim against the tenant’s deposit, that claim must be properly submitted to the DPS for approval.

There are two basic types of scheme: you can retain the deposit yourself (or your agent will), and register the deposit. In this case you are going down the insurance route, and to that there is a cost attached.

Or you can lodge the deposit with a DPS scheme and then apply to withhold specific sums, if necessary, to cover any repairs or replacements above regular wear and tear at the end of the tenant’s term.

Although you may have appointed a property manager to look after your property, you – the landlord – are ultimately responsible for making sure your legal obligations are met. So make sure you get confirmation from the letting agent that your tenant’s deposit has been properly lodged – and that your tenant has also received formal confirmation. Good practice, which we use, is to send the tenant the prescribed confirmation forms available from your DPS, and to have your tenant sign on receipt, so that you have a record.

 

There are three official Deposit Protection Schemes:

The UK Government recognises only three DPS for England and Wales (see here for more information). Make sure that you or your agent use one of these schemes.

 

There are penalties for not registering a deposit

Should you not correctly register your tenant’s deposit, your tenants can take you to court and there are several possible outcomes:

  • Best case scenario: you will be ordered to return the deposit, or place it in a recognised DPS within 14 days;
  • You may alternatively be ordered to pay up to three times the value of the deposit to your tenants.
  • You may also find yourself unable to evict tenants when the tenancy ends.

We register all our tenants’ deposits, and we also facilitate access to a DPS for independent private landlords through our online ‘DIY Landlord’ services. With over 20 years’ experience of letting in and around Oxford, we’ve learnt that transparency, clarity and good communication are the keys to good relations with your tenants – and Better Letting.

If you’re looking for a property management company that will protect your interests, and those of your tenants, or if you’re a letting agent looking to join a reputable company, call me directly and find out what my company can do for you.

Simon Fisher signature

Simon Fisher

 

Want more from The Better Letter?

Landlords >> for top tips, industry news and property information to help you manage your existing buy to let(s) and build your portfolio follow our Better Letter LinkedIn Company Page

Tenants >> Like our Facebook Page to be informed of new rentals, tenants news and views plus help with any tenancy queries.

Partner Opportunity >> If you are interested in becoming a Better Letter then head over to our website's Partner Opportunity page which will give you all the information you need.

And what to do if yours isn’t up to scratch

20Jul16 Retaining LandlordsOne thing we pride ourselves on at The Better Letter is our landlord retention – once landlords sign with us, they stay on our books for years – one of our first clients came on board in 1995, and she’s still with us today!

So how do you give clients the kind of service that makes them want to stay with you for over 21 years?

 

Stay on top of current legislation

The wide-ranging and ever-changing legislation that affects landlords can be one of the biggest headaches in property management – and many landlords don’t realise this until they find themselves on the wrong side of a badly written AST, or even the wrong side of the law!

If you (or your Letting Agent) can’t keep up with the latest regs on everything from smoke alarms, to immigration checks, to the correct procedure for serving notice, then the outcome can range from the expensive and irritating (ie, problem tenants you can’t get rid of), to life-changing (a spell in prison!).

Here at the Better Letter, my associates and I keep on top of every new piece of legislation that comes our way – as you can see, reading through my past blogs! We make sure our landlords have the best advice and we can take care of any headaches that may arise.

 

Respond swiftly and well to maintenance issues

There’s nothing worse than entrusting the care of your tenants to an agent, only to find out that an essential repair you authorised months ago is still to be taken care of – what is the point of having a property management service at all, if that is the case!

I have built relationships with a network of trusted tradespeople over the last 20+ years of working in property. All our clients know that we can respond appropriately to all maintenance issues – even the middle of the night emergencies.

 

Keep fees reasonable

The cheapest letting agents are by no means the best – if they’re having to undercut all the competition to get new landlords on the books, it doesn’t reflect well on their ability to retain existing clients!

But one of the biggest complaints from PRS landlords is poor fee practices like ‘double dipping’ (charging landlords and tenants for the same job). Often this is the way that property managers with unrealistically low fees make up the difference.

We also never add a commission, or any kind of mark-up onto trade costs when we arrange for maintenance or repair work for you. Other letting agents have been known to add up to 20% in ‘commission’ or ‘management fees’ for each and every job! It’s worth checking the small print before you sign up with anyone else.

If a landlord feels cheated or taken advantage of, they won’t stay on your books for long. That’s why we keep our fees simple and transparent.

 

Know your area

I’ve been managing property in Oxford and the surrounding area for over twenty years now. I know the market inside out.

An experienced letting agent who knows the target market for your area can get your property let faster, to appropriate tenants. We also have the experience to sniff out the good tenants from the bad (not to mention the downright ugly… in living habits, at least).

 

What if I want to change Letting Agent?

If you’re looking for a letting agent – or if you’re not getting the best service from your current letting agent - come and talk to me about what I can do for you. No cold calls, no pressure; just a cup of coffee and a chat about your current circumstances and what level of service would suit you best.

 

Great deals for new clients:

This month, if you register a property to let with us (or if you introduce us to someone who does), BOTH the landlord and the introducer can choose from one of the following rewards:

Ferrari Thrill Experience

Ferrari Thrill ExperienceTaste life in the fast lane as you drive one of the most desirable cars in the world with this Ferrari Thrill experience. You'll get behind the wheel of a stunning Ferrari for an adrenaline-pumping series of laps around a purpose-built track at one of several locations across the UK.

 

Fortnum & Mason hamper

FandM HamperA Fortnum & Mason hamper is the gift that never disappoints. Every one of their hampers, gift boxes and baskets is a treasure chest of delicious and delightful things, filled with specially chosen luxuries for every occasion. Simply lift the lid for the excitement to begin.

 

Ultimate Pamper Day

Pamper DayThis is the perfect chance for you and a lucky guest to relax and enjoy some time for yourselves at one of over 25 fantastic Virgin Active Health Clubs across the UK. Enjoy the fantastic spa facilities together, including sauna, steam room and pool, plus you'll each be treated to 75 minutes of rejuvenating spa treatments.

 

Safe Bets, Up and Comers, and the Gambles that might pay off

Best Property Investments in OxfordOxford is a well-established property hotspot with attractive properties, a vibrant culture, two great universities, beautiful countryside all around, and great transport links to London, Birmingham and Manchester.

So if you’re thinking of investing outside of London, what do you need to know about Oxford?

I’ve been successfully letting property – and advising landlord investors – in and around Oxford for over 20 years now, so I’ve got a few tips on where you might want to put your money down:

 

Solid Investments

Your blue chip locations – for both rental return and capital growth – are North Oxford and, in particular, Summertown.

With strong demand from academics and professionals, Summertown has grown into a lovely community thronged with delis, chi-chi bakeries, specialist bookshops and family-friendly venues.

With such an attractive area and great housing stock, prices are high and you’ll need a decent deposit to get in, but the rents are comparatively high and the capital growth is strong.

If you’re more driven by rental income than capital growth, then vibrant, lively areas in East Oxford are popular with students and offer higher returns for lower investment than North Oxford.

The areas around Iffley Road and Cowley Road in particular, with their proximity to the city centre and wealth of independent shops and cafes, offer a great student experience – and a great rental return.

 

Up and Coming

It’s getting trickier to find an up and coming area in Oxford – so much of it has already up and come!

But there are still areas on the outskirts of Oxford that are ripe for investment.

Kidlington is benefitting from the new Oxford Parkway railway station at nearby Water Eaton, providing easy commuting into Oxford City and London.

The Oxford Parkway station now also links up to the recently opened Bicester Village Station. This will give the area around Bicester Village a direct link to London and Oxford, with two trains per hour to Marylebone, and travel time to London as little as 46 minutes. This is expected to raise prices here considerably. There are several new developments in this area where it may still be possible to buy off plan.

And with the new Westgate/John Lewis development in Central Oxford, the city is about to become an even more desirable place to live, work – and commute to, as many will be priced out of living in the city in coming years.

 

Ideal for new landlords

If you are new to Buy to Let investment, flats – rather than houses – are a good first time buy.

New builds come with definite advantages – low maintenance, brand new wiring and plumbing. They probably won’t need serious attention for some time.

Older purpose built developments may come at a lower price, and can be a solid investment, but you will need to make some extra checks before you buy: the service charges may be higher, particularly in buildings with lifts, or buildings that have not had ongoing maintenance work attended to for some time (building up a backlog of essential works).

In developments more than 25 years old, check to see if they have a sink fund for major works – for example, when (as it will) the roof needs replacing. If they don’t have a substantial reserve, they’ll be looking to you for a large contribution when the work becomes critical.

Wherever you buy, try to find out how many other rentals are in the building; It’s harder to rent in a development that is saturated with rentals.

 

Gambles

Didcot has long been considered one of the less fashionable spots around Oxford, but it has notably improved in recent years, with the opening of a new arts and entertainment complex within the Orchard Centre, and the demolition of the Didcot Power Station (once voted ‘Third Worst Eyesore in Britain’ by readers of Country Life) scheduled for later this year.

In 2015, Didcot was designated an official ‘Garden Town’, meaning extra Government funding is now available to develop the town in an attractive and environmentally friendly way.

So with great links to more expensive areas like London, Oxford and Reading, and three major Science and Technology Parks adjacent, Didcot could be the next big thing in Oxfordshire property.

If you’d like to know more about the questions you should be asking, wherever you’re investing in the UK, have a look at my previous article, Building Your Property Portfolio.

Or if you’re looking at Buy to Let investment in Oxford and you’d like some impartial advice (I only let, I don’t sell),you’re welcome to call me directly for a chat on 07767 830 736.

Simon Fisher signature

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simon Fisher

Managing Director
The Better Letter Ltd

 

Want more from The Better Letter?

Landlords >> for top tips, industry news and property information to help you manage your existing buy to let(s) and build your portfolio follow our Better Letter LinkedIn Company Page

Tenants >> Like our Facebook Page to be informed of new rentals, tenants news and views plus help with any tenancy queries.

Partner Opportunity >> If you are interested in becoming a Better Letter then head over to our website's Partner Opportunity page which will give you all the information you need.

If you’re thinking of becoming a landlord, read this first:

How to become a landlordI’m often asked for advice from landlords – but only usually after they’ve found themselves in over their heads!

Many independent landlords who have had bad experiences with rip off letting agents can be forgiven for thinking they don’t need any help with property management. After all, how hard can it be to receive the rental income into your account each month, and maybe ring a plumber or an electrician if the odd thing goes wrong?

It’s when more complex – often legal – matters arise that private landlords I know will come to see me for help and advice. Problem tenants that won’t leave; rent that never arrives; poorly written Tenancy Agreements that provide little protection.

Here’s some of the things you should consider before becoming a landlord:

 

What’s my plan for maintenance and repairs?

At the Better Letter, we have an established network of trusted tradespeople who we can call upon, whatever happens in one of our properties. We’ve built these personal relationships over 25 years of managing properties in Oxfordshire, so we know the people who will be doing the work for us, and we can negotiate reasonable rates.

If you are one of the increasing number of ‘accidental landlords’, you may not have the time or resources to put this kind of network of arrangements in place, and should consider finding a good lettings agent to work with you.

 

Am I prepared for the legal responsibilities?

From smoke alarms to ‘Right to Rent’ paperwork; from Section 21 regulations to Health and Safety legislation, professional property managers like The Better Letter must keep abreast of all the latest ever-changing legislation.

A keen administrative mind, and confidence in dealing with contracts and other legal paperwork is essential to acting as a private landlord – or letting your property through someone who has both.

 

How will I handle problem tenants?

Unfortunately, all landlords will experience a problem tenant sooner or later – and if they haven’t been vetted by an experienced letting agent, it will probably be sooner! If there is a problem, have you put plans in place for issues like credit control, proper serving of legal eviction notices, or court proceedings?

 

How can The Better Letter help?

I’ve been letting properties in Oxford and the surrounding area for over 25 years now, and that experience and expertise is much more useful to you before you start your property journey, rather than waiting until you run into problems.

If you’d like some advice on renting out your property, just call and we can have a cup of coffee. No sales team, no cold calls. Just call the office and ask for Simon Fisher, and I can tell you about our services and the great deals we have for new clients.

 

And speaking of deals...

This month, if you register a property to let with us (or if you introduce us to someone who does), BOTH the landlord and the introducer can choose from one of the following rewards:

Ferrari Thrill Experience

Ferrari Thrill ExperienceTaste life in the fast lane as you drive one of the most desirable cars in the world with this Ferrari Thrill experience. You'll get behind the wheel of a stunning Ferrari for an adrenaline-pumping series of laps around a purpose-built track at one of several locations across the UK.

 

Fortnum & Mason hamper

FandM HamperA Fortnum & Mason hamper is the gift that never disappoints. Every one of their hampers, gift boxes and baskets is a treasure chest of delicious and delightful things, filled with specially chosen luxuries for every occasion. Simply lift the lid for the excitement to begin.

 

Ultimate Pamper Day

Pamper DayThis is the perfect chance for you and a lucky guest to relax and enjoy some time for yourselves at one of over 25 fantastic Virgin Active Health Clubs across the UK. Enjoy the fantastic spa facilities together, including sauna, steam room and pool, plus you'll each be treated to 75 minutes of rejuvenating spa treatments.

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