Important Information on Houses with Multiple Occupancy
From 6 April 2006 mandatory HMO licensing came into force across England. The Government hopes that this new legislation will raise the standard of accommodation for people living in HMO's. Which HMO's need a licence? Under the national mandatory licensing scheme an HMO must be licensed if it is a building consisting of three or more storeys and is occupied by five or more tenants in two or more households. Local Housing authorities have discretionary powers to widen the remit of licensing to also include other smaller HMO's if they think that enough of them in an area are badly managed. IF YOU ARE UNSURE WHETHER AN HMO NEEDS A LICENCE CHECK WITH YOUR LOCAL HOUSING AUTHORITY
What is a Household?
• Couples married to each other or living together as husband and wife (or in an equivalent relationship in the case of persons of the same sex). • Relatives living together, including parents, grandparents, children (and step children), grandchildren, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces or cousins. • Half-relatives will be treated as full relatives. A foster child living with his foster parent is treated as living in the same household as his foster parent. Therefore three friends sharing together are considered, three households. If a family rents a property that is a single household.
When do I have to apply for a licence?
Mandatory licensing came into force on 6 April 2006. HMO landlords are encouraged to apply immediately for a licence to avoid the penalties, which were introduced on 6 July 2006; Failure to register for a licence. Failure to register for a licence is a criminal offence and can result in a fine of up to £20,000. For more information on HMO's contact your local housing authority and visit the government website.
Fire and Furnishings Regulations
Since 1 January 1997, all furniture provided in furnished rented accommodation - houses, flats and bedsits - must meet the fire resistance requirements of the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations, 1988.
What products do the Regulations cover?
Any of the following: which contain upholstery:
• beds, mattresses and headboards
• sofa beds, futons and other convertibles
• nursery furniture
• scatter cushions, seat pads and pillows
• garden furniture intended for use in a dwelling
• loose and stretch covers for furniture
The regulations do not apply to:
• sleeping bags or loose covers for mattresses
• bed clothes (including duvets) and pillow cases
• carpets and curtains All furniture and loose and stretch covers must carry a permanent label attached showing the item complies with the Regulations.
Properties cannot be let through Lamborn & Hill when containing noncompliant furniture. If you require advice or further information about whether furniture complies with the Regulations, you should consult our office. The responsibility for compliance with the Regulations rests with the person letting the accommodation - this can be estate agents, letting agents, landlords or property managers.
What are the legal requirements for selling a property?
From May 2010, a HIP (Home Information Pack) is no longer a mandatory requirement to sell a property. However, properties in England and Wales still require an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) to be ordered before marketing can commence and the completed EPC must arrive within 28 days of ordering. The EPC is an assessment of your property’s energy efficiency, which must be carried out by a qualified Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA).
Gas and Electrical Safety
The General Products (Safety) Regulations 1994 require that all goods must satisfy general safety provisions. The law requires that all electrical appliances are safe and strongly recommends that they are tested.
In 1995 there were 27 deaths from electrocution within the home and 39 in the workplace; 23,756 people suffered electric shocks and an alarming 7,500 fires were caused by faulty electrical appliances and leads.
The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 and The Plugs & Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994 state offence. When an unsafe appliance is found in rented accommodation, Trading Standards check that the landlord or agent has taken all reasonable precautions to avoid supplying an unsafe item. In the event of an incident in a property involving electricity the landlord must be able to demonstrate that his supply and appliances are safe, he can only do this if it is tested professionally. Duty of care demands that this is done on a regular basis, particularly at the point at which the property first becomes available to let.
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1994 state that all let and managed property MUST be annually tested for safety. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in a substantial fine or even, in the worst cases,imprisonment. Only GAS SAFE registered businesses using ACOP's qualified engineers can carry out work on gas appliances and piping. All landlords have a DUTY OF CARE to ensure their tenant's safety. To this end battery operated smoke alarms are advisable. Once a landlord has supplied an alarm the tenant becomes responsible for the battery.
Lamborn & Hill uses only full qualified contractors to carry out both gas and electrical safety tests. These firms not only carry the right qualifications but have Quality Assured standards and Professional Indemnity Insurance. Our Contractors' Safety Inspectors are all qualified to the latest industry-recognised gas and electrical standards. As legislation increases and qualifications evolve, these engineers keep pace beca use training is on-going. Safety Inspectors regularly attend manufacturer courses to enhance their knowledge of - for example - specific boilers, old and new.
Professional Property Presentation
Guild member agents will prepare and supply compelling property details, photography, vendor interviews and For Sale Boards which may not be readily available for the private seller. Often these are included in the agency fee and so are effectively supplied free of charge to the vendor until and unless the sale is successfully completed.
A professional agent will add value via escorted viewings, open houses, and help mitigate the potential for difficulties that often arise from direct contact between vendors and buyers. They will also help qualify the financial ability of all links in the chain and their respective legal positions – which is very difficult for a private inexperienced party to assess.
Handling the Sale
There is tremendous value in employing an expert third party negotiator, who will act as a neutral arbiter – someone who can take ‘insulting interest’ and professionally negotiate this to a mutually agreeable conclusion avoiding any confrontation.
Over 50% of the market is driven by death, divorce or debt. All these motivations require a subtle mixture of firmness and sympathetic understanding. How many potential sales or value would be lost without this expertise? Buyer Qualification
People are understandably protective about access to their homes; just try to imagine for a second the difficulties in simply and reliably qualifying all applications to view, and managing these into your diary.
Again your independent agent will readily offer advice and assistance with the provision and appointment of EPCs, solicitors, mortgages, conveyancers, insurance, removals, tenant references, and even notification of utility changes. Often these will be local firms of repute and if they are known to each-other, this can also speed up and simplify the completion process. Extraordinary Value All of these services are normally delivered on a ‘no sale, no fee basis’: an independent estate agent invests his / her own money in your property with no guarantee of any return. There are few other professional businesses that give this level of support and commitment so readily to the general public with no guarantee of any remuneration.
Important factors to consider when selecting how to buy or sell a property
• How will the property be valued, and will this be accurate?
• Who can recommend the most appropriate mix of marketing, and secure the best rates?
• How do I ensure my property stands out in an increasingly crowded market?
• How will I find the ideal buyer for my home?
• Who will accompany the viewings, and also assess and screen potential buyers?
• Who will manage the potentially difficult negotiations?
• What happens if the local market changes?
• Who would step in to quickly resolve any unforeseen problems?
• Where can I get appropriate advice and guidance, and also ready access to any related services?
• Who is most likely to offer me excellent value for money?
• Who has common interest in my financial well-being and also my local community?
Here are some key aspects of the property transaction that are provided efficiently and effectively by the independent estate agent, and important services that might be lost if vendors marketed their properties via a portal only.
This requires a detailed understanding of local market conditions and a Guild Agent will review seasonal aspects, local pricing, relevant contacts, new developments, and social influences such as access to transport links.
Cost does not necessarily equal value when it comes to home improvements e.g. a loft conversion versus a swimming pool, and houses on different sides of a given road can vary in value e.g. school catchment areas, or river frontage. House price indexes and Land Registry data would never show or reflect this. The potential demand for a property can quickly fluctuate, for example if a number of similar properties come on the market at the same time, or there are repossessions in the immediate neighbourhood.
A good agent will carefully evaluate prices achieved versus prices asked to ensure that the property is marketed in the most effective way, and advise of the likely result to be achieved.
The agent will also include your own motivations in assessing the most appropriate price, such as any time constraints. Property valuations can become emotive issues for owners and an independent assessment is crucial to getting this right. Local Contacts
An independent estate agent will liaise with developers, builders, solicitors, investors, buy to let professionals, HR and relocation companies, hotels, and also his / her own extensive database built up over many years – all of which will accelerate the marketing and enhance the likelihood of a successful sale.
Guild Members constantly evaluate clients who are upsizing and downsizing, exploring and interpreting motivations for sale, and carry the ability to ‘look round a corner’ and knit together complicated deals that often deliver surprising value to the chain e.g. resolving accommodation for dependents. Advice on Preparing Property for Sale
The public are not always aware of how to maximise a property’s appeal, and good advice and preparation can literally add thousands to the price. An experienced agent will also offer you guidance on the alternatives and most appropriate method of sale, which might include private treaty, auction, tender, or offering an ‘open house’ for viewings.
It is not in a seller’s best interests to sanitise the exposure of their property to one internet portal, as:
• High street locations are traditional focal points for people on the move
• Multiple channels and agency networks help maximise awareness and interest
• A London presence is extremely important for all sellers
• You also want access and exposure for your property to the International network (in an increasingly global marketplace)
• Inter-agent referral systems can be a very efficient way to match buyers and sellers; significant advantages can be secured from using these ‘networks of professionals’
• The agent can secure outstanding value from media partners such as local newspapers and thereby save the seller unnecessary costs
The entrepreneurial drive of good estate agents leads to the 'creation' of an estimated 50% of all sales - transactions that would not have happened if it had not been for the lateral thinking and 'deal making' abilities of the agent concerned. The 'jigsawing' of people to property is a great skill that requires enthusiasm, drive, expertise and excellent communication skills. This cannot be provided without training, experience, local knowledge, and significant expertise.
Preparation for Marketing
There are legal and commercial requirements for property sales that are provided by the agent, such as a relevant EPC, floor plan, local searches, and due diligence. It is difficult to see how a private seller could access these as efficiently and effectively without the assistance of a professional advisor.