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  • Property-a-holics

    "Landlord communication" problem revealed



    A new report by property commentator, Kate Faulkner, has revealed the diverse demographic of landlords, and how that makes it difficult to communicate with them, especially concerning new regulations.

    The report, ‘Who are the individual landlords providing private rented accommodation?’ was written with the support of the TDS Charitable Foundation, which works to advance education about housing rights and obligations.

    Kate found - surprise! surprise! - that the media preconception of landlords being greedy profiteers waiting for the money to roll in each month without providing any kind of service for the tenant was completely inaccurate.

    The research found that:

    >  A large majority of landlords were over 55's who had let out the family home. Others did not expect to profit financially from buying a rental property and were just doing it in order to help out family or friends.

    >  That 40% of landlords were "accidental".

    >  That 1 in 5 landlords did not do any research before letting out a property.

    >  That landlords are diverse as the homes they rent out and may be a professional such as solicitor, vet, teacher, ex-military or retired.

    >  That landlords provide a great choice of housing style to tenants.

    The report also found that the vast majority of landlords were uninformed about their legal obligations and the fact that there are 145 Government statutes and regulations that they must adhere to in order to be compliant.

    Now Faulkner is calling for those in the PRS such as lenders, legal companies, letting agents, tenant organisations and local authorities as well as government to collaborate to give landlords the tools and incentives they need to let property safely and legally.

    She said: “We would like to see the PRS working together to promote trusted and consistent sources of information about preparing a property to let legally, about changes in the law, property maintenance and, of course, where to turn for independent, qualified advice.

    “However, because landlords are such a diverse group of people, and with many self-managing their properties, it makes it extremely difficult to communicate with them, unless they actively seek out information for themselves.

    “Even if they do their own research about rules and regulations, it can be still be confusing and the report suggests experienced landlords struggle too. This is why they need a clear source of information they can turn to.

    “In addition, to encourage best practice, we would also like to see the government introduce incentives for landlords to stay within the law, such as tax breaks or special deals which reward those that are renting legally and safely.”

    Source story 



    Here at Property Tribes, we have always been aware of the landlord who is not even aware of the fact that they are a landlord because they have a busy professional career. Indeed, that is one of the reasons we started Property Tribes, to reach out to these 97% of 2 million landlords in the U.K.

    It's a shame Kate did not mention the importance of landlord communities in terms of educating landlords and promoting and sharing best practice, as I believe we have an important role to play in that regard.

    It is also disappointing that she did not mention the important role of landlord associations who work tirelessly to engage landlords and advise them of their legal obligations.

    Both landlord communities like PropertyTribes, P118, and LandlordZone, along with the various landlord associations are great communication channels to reach landlords and have been used extensively to engage landlords over such issues as Section 24.

    This has been acknoledged by Shawbrook Bank, who believe in supporting landlord education through such channels as Property Tribes:



    I also take this opportunity to thank all our sponsors and partners who "power" our discussions and therefore landlord education, enabling Property Tribes to remain a free to use community resource.

    I believe there is more a problem with Government not understanding the social web or wanting to work with proven landlord education channels, as we are a great way to engage these hard to reach landlords.  

    However, the biggest problem we ALL face is what I call landlord apathy!

    Related content:

    Landlord apathy will be the death of all of us!

    The Private Rented Sector "360 Degrees" - Independent report by Kate Faulkner 

    Landlord statistics

    Book of the Month for July: “The Landlord’s Friend” by Paul Shamplina and Kate Faulkn

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    We started Property Tribes (PT) 7 years ago with the idea that we, as Landlords, can’t know it all and have to keep learning just to get it right.

    This has not changed.

    However, after the first year of running PT,  it was clear to me, given the back end stats, that it was being used more by people trying to reference stuff that comment on it.

    It was also quite clear that these people were representing the majority, not the minority - bearing in mind that 95% of the content is driven/given by 5% of the people using the site*.

    It was even clearer that given the pages they were looking at, the timescale spent on them and the associated click through/s, these people were in ‘cure mode’ not ‘prevention mode’.

    Given that, it was not hard to see the pattern that those using PT the most were/are not professional Landlords. That doesn’t mean they are not professional people, it’s just that they have a separate profession other that being a Landlord.

    It’s not rocket science to see why, therefore, that they are in "cure" mode. i.e.  they are passive until a problem occurs then they become knowledgeable - usually through a Google search, due to being "forced" to learn the hard way.

    This notion can be backed up by the stat that of the two main Landlord bodies in the UK (RLA,NLA) they only represent (collectively) 2% of the Landlords in the UK - this is not good.

    Having said that this is also no reflection on the above associations, they do very good work - and needed to boot. It’s a reflection on the true status of the average Landlord in the UK.

    The average Landlord in the UK is not a bad person. They, on the whole (and backed up by Kate Faulkners report), are not in it to squeeze the last drop of cash out of a tenant - Landlords in the UK, as a whole, are not the bad people that the media would have them. They are hard working people that have bought/inherited/accidentally owned other properties, and have rented them out - and they have the desire to do it right, but they don’t know how as the PRS is a moving target at best.

    Landlords in the UK are not bad people. Landlords in the UK have supported the rental market when successive governments have failed to address social housing and house building programmes.

    Point of fact: If it wasn’t for the PRS there would be very little housing to rent.

    This is not a debate on ‘is it right’ this is a debate on ‘we’re here what can we do?’.

    The usual media outlets in the UK are playing a game that they cannot win, because ultimately it’s the tenant that will lose. Denigrating Landlords may be fun for the media, but it comes at the cost of tenants lives. If Landlords leave the PRS, who’s going to house those that want to rent?

    So we have a situation where we have the PRS being propped up by non professional Landlords and successive governments that have destroyed social housing - and media outlets that denigrate the PRS.

    To quote a term ‘fustercluck’.

    But it’s not.

    The government won’t do anything and the media won’t do anything - they’ll just bitch.

    We will.

    PT, 118, Landlordzone, RLA, NLA will.

    A number of years ago V and I came up with a fictitious character called ‘John Moore’, he’s not an avatar (i.e a member on PT) but a made up person who we use to guide our content generation. He’s a Lawyer, his wife a teacher, kids/cats/and dogs, 3 rental properties two of them were accidental. He represents the average Landlord in the UK, he’s a Lawyer first and a Landlord second.

    We wanted PT to squarely aimed at him.

    The PRS, in the UK, needs to extend the as much information that it can to ‘John Moore’.

    John Moore needs to go from cure to prevention. This is not to turn him into a better person, but to turn him into an informed Landlord.

    The PRS is in a fight with not only natural market/business forces but extremely uneducated/biased/flawed governments and media outlets.

    It’s never been more important than it is now that ‘on-line’ knowledge bases are, not only accepted, but are given the right acknowledgement that they deserve - after all we are the first port of call for Landlords that are are suffering a lack of knowledge.

    Kate Faulkner has highlighted the fact that landlords are misunderstood, she has also highlighted that the PRS HAS to ‘come together’ - and she’s right.

    For 7 years I’ve watched and helped Landlords with the same problems, they never change - they can’t. All Landlords have the same linear journey - pre acquisition, acquisition, ownership, disposal.

    What needs to happen now is all of the ‘services’ aligned to those 4 parts of the journey to get a coherent/collective message out - repeatedly.

    John Moore cannot miss this. John Moore will see it. John Moore will become more knowledgeable. The PRS will win.

    * I take this opportunity to thank ALL members who so generously share and contribute to Property Tribes. You are greatly assisting the landlord education and awareness process and, as such, will ultimately create a better experience of the PRS for our valued clients i.e. tenants!

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    [Image: 4995468760_6be86655d4_t.jpg]
    general operations director, site owner and moderator - propertytribes.com

    I thought I would talk a bit more about the phenomenon I call "landlord apathy".

    When everything is going well, most landlords have no interest in their properties.  In fact, they forget about them and carry on with their busy professional and family lives.

    It's only when something goes wrong that they suddenly become engaged in solving the problem.

    Nick explains this in some detail in his post and why prevention is ALWAYS cheaper and less stressful than cure.

    Most amatuer landlords are not aware of Section 24 and, if they are, they think they will worry about it when the time comes.

    So much about being a successful landlord is future planning and risk management, but the typical "John Moore" landlord doesn't even know that he needs to know this stuff.

    Around 38% of the calls to the Landlord Action helpline are from landlords who have never heard of tenancy deposit protection!  It's been law for 8 years and STILL they are not aware of it. This is what we are up against.

    These "John Moore" landlords do not understand that they are running a business.  

    They leave it to more active landlords to fight their battles, because they don't even know a battle needs to be fought.

    They live in beautiful oblivion.

    But when something goes wrong, such as a tenant stops paying the rent, they become outraged!  They feel dreadful injustice that they have had to endure this.  Yet it is all part of running and managing a property business.

    The apathy surrounding Section 24 is truly magnificent.  Landlord apathy is countered by one thing and one thing only - when they feel pain in their wallet!  By then it is often too late or very expensive to find a solution.

    We welcome all suggestions of how to engage and find these landlords and we welcome your support in doing so.

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    I've even taken to telling my gas engineer about C24

    Obviously he didn't know anything about it and why would he.

    He was horrified by what I told him and has undertaken to mention C24 to his LL clients most of whom will be sole traders.

    He was greatly concerned that he could well experience a reduction in LL business if C24 drives many LL out of business.

    So perhaps that is a way of networking LL, use the tradesmen you use to impart knowledge to LL?

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    This is a good discussion but when I began to type my reply it was too long to add to this thread. I have put up a new post here;

    Warning!  Pulling no punches!

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    Follow me on Twitter @landlordtweets

    A perfect example of landlords not engaging with information.

    According to Oxford city council, an eight-week consultation was held on the draft policy document through its website, to gain opinion on mandatory licensing of ALL landlords, not just HMO properties.

    It publicised the consultation with a press release and social media, also sending direct invitations to comment to residents groups, landlords, letting agents, the county council, students, Shelter and Public Health England.

    Despite this, just 58 responses were received and not all respondents answered every question. About a quarter of respondents were homeowners in the city, with 38 per cent renting.

    The new licensing conditions are now set to be passed, meaning all landlords will need to pay a licence fee of £400.

    Full/source story

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    Actually this is a perfect example of local authorities ignoring what they know and carrying on regardless, going through the motions with no real consideration whether they have enabled those affected to respond in a meaningful way.There is case law on this, see below.

    I have posted the following on a discussion on Landlordreferencing.co.uk where Summerset Council has introduced Additional Licensing and the owner of the site, Paul Routledge, who owns 100 properties in the area was totally unaware of the consultation and has now been hit with a huge bill. If a landlord, who is very internet savvy and has staff who are constantly searching for landlord stories, did not know about the consultation who did? Are we saying that it is the responsibility of landlords to monitor their councils web sites? I accept that many landlords do put their heads in the sand but since this is a well known fact surely the onus is on the councils to make certain that they have made every effort to engage with those landords? It's about realistic expectations and, in my opinon, it is not realistic to assume that 58 responses are sufficient to meet their legal obligations to consult. The fact that even those who tried to respond did not all complete the survey tells us a lot about the content of the survey.

    We need to stop councils paying lip service to consultation, hiding behind lack of funding for poor consutlation - introducing licensing has a big impact on the business of a landlord and no other business would roll over and allow this without a fight.  Can you imagine Marks & Spencers being told to tint all their windows to stop the sun glaring into the eyes of passersby? 

    I know a landlord who has been letting in Oxford since 1972 and has NEVER received any kind of communication from the council!!

    The Cabinet Office Principles is a guide on consultations for public authorities it states:

    "the governing principle is proportionality of the type and scale of consultation to the potential impacts of the proposal decision being taken, and thought should be given to achieving real engagement rather than following bureaucratic process"

    In a recent case Moseley v Haringey the Supreme Court found:

    • The degree of specificity regarding the consultation should be influenced by those who are being consulted;
    • The demands of fairness are likely to be higher when the consultation relates to a decision which is likely to deprive someone of an existing benefit.

    In my opinion the introduction of a licence fee where previously a landlord could let without this cost is “depriving someone of an existing benefit”

    “The Supreme court held that the local authority's consultation exercise relating to the introduction of its council tax reduction scheme was unlawful because the consultation documents failed to refer to any other options which it had considered for addressing the shortfall in funding caused by the government's scrapping of council tax benefit. The Supreme Court held that alternative approaches should be set out even if only to explain why they were not appropriate. Public bodies should therefore consider including realistic alternatives in the consultation documents so as to allow consultees an opportunity for intelligent consideration of the proposals and to respond in a way which enables them to participate meaningfully to the decision making process.

    Public authorities should also have regard to the form of the consultation in the light of the characteristics of the consultee group. For instance whether it is appropriate to conduct the process in hard copy as well as on-line and how consultation materials can be accessed in compliance with the public sector equality duty.”

    I have not seen any consultation, on the introduction of more licensing, which has specified any alternatives that are available or have been considered and dismissed let alone an explanation of why the council has chosen to introduce licensing to deal with the issues they perceive will be addressed by licensing landlords. Therefore, using the above case law they should be challenged.

    An online survey does not allow consultees an opportunity for intelligent consideration of the proposals and to respond in a way which enables them to participate meaningfully to the decision making process.” Therefore if this is the method that they used, it usually is, this should also be challenged.

    I hope that this helps because if you are successful in your challenge you will open the door for similar challenges to take place all over the country and most councils will not allow this to go to Judicial Review once they realise that you have case law to support your claims.

    Keep it simple stick to the two main points supported by this case law

    The consultation process was unlawful and failed on:

    1."the governing principle is proportionality of the type and scale of consultation to the potential impacts of the proposal decision being taken, and thought should be given to achieving real engagement rather than following bureaucratic process"

    2. "alternative approaches should be set out even if only to explain why they were not appropriate."

    Mary Latham Landlord

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    Follow me on Twitter @landlordtweets