Guaranteed rent schemes: How they work for landlords
PUBLISHED: 13:27 05 February 2018 | UPDATED: 14:58 02 May 2018
Redbridge Estate agents Sandra Davidson’s hassle-free service guarantees rental income for your property, whether it is occupied or not. Here they share details of the Guaranteed Rent Scheme and how it can help you avoid the regular stresses associated with managing a let.
What is a guaranteed rent scheme?
The agent will lease the property off the landlord for a fixed term (usually one to five years), and become the landlords tenant. Once the property is up to a certain specification, and the appropriate documentation is in place, the rent starts being paid within seven days, whether the property is occupied or empty. Rent will be paid 365 days of the year, and it only stops when the property is in satisfactory condition at the end of the agreement and the keys are handed back.
Rent is guaranteed whether the property is occupied or vacant, and the agent also takes care of utilities, Council Tax, and any minor repairs. The only thing the landlord needs to look out for is the payment each month.
Will you get market rate for their property?
At Sandra Davidson, the landlord’s rent is paid net, with zero percent commission. The net figure might be slightly lower than a tenant would pay a landlord on a working professional let, but once you deduct letting management fees and other costs associated with a working professional tenancy, many of our landlords find they are better off using the scheme. They don’t have to worry about arrears and the stresses of managing the property either.
What if the tenant needs to be evicted?
We take care of legal expenses, eviction costs, arrears – that’s our headache. We offer peace of mind for the landlord - they don’t have to go through lengthy eviction processes. If a landlord wants their property back for whatever reason, it will stipulate in the lease how much notice they’ll have to give.
What benefit does a landlord get by going through an estate agent as opposed to the local authority directly?
A landlord can approach their local authority directly, but they all operate different schemes.
With local authorities, a lot of the time, the types of residents that move into those properties may be vulnerable, or they may have different circumstances. As such, there can be a lot more effort involved to manage that tenancy as opposed to your typical working professional tenant. Once you start factoring in the time, energy and money on managing the council’s tenant directly, it all adds up.
One other issue with renting directly to London councils is that they may have a clawback clause in any agreement. For instance, and it’s very common, after a housing benefit tenant is moved into a property, they may then decide for whatever reason that they need to move to a different area. Often the benefit system may not talk to the housing system – and their rent continues to get paid for the first property.
It all comes out in the wash eventually that the first property hasn’t been occupied, and the resident has moved elsewhere. The council can then go back to the landlord and say: “Our tenant moved out three months ago, you owe us X amount.”
If you don’t manage your property day in, day out, you will come up against these issues.
Landlords we deal with often mention the lack of communication when going with local authorities as a pain point, so we try and be as communicative as possible.
We also have an online portal for landlords where they can login to their dedicated area and follow up on what’s been happening to their property, get rent statements, and view the latest property inspection reports.
Do landlords have a say who lives in the property?
In our case, as far as the landlord is concerned, we are their tenants. We inform them of the types of residents who will staying there (eg local authority, housing association) for building insurance purposes. Any tenant moved into the property would always be within the terms of their local authority’s landlord license (if the council runs such a scheme).
Your agent will carry out a schedule of condition at the start of the term, taking a photographic and written report of the condition at the time it is handed it over to them. This is then compared to a schedule of condition at the end of the term to ensure it is handed back in the same condition it was given to the agent (subject to reasonable wear and tear of course).
What protections does the landlord have against the property becoming an unlicensed HMO for example?
Regular visits are vital. We carry out formal inspections every month and spot checks every couple of weeks. When on a visit, a good housing manager will look out for a number of things:
- The register of people who should be residing there, and checking the right people are living in the property.
- Make sure that residents are abiding by the rules that are set out in that particular property and using appliances and fixtures in the right way.
However, housing managers are not just there to make sure tenants are holding up to their side of the contract. Their job is also to find out if there’s anything else that may be a problem for the residents and that is affecting their ability to live in the property - for example leaks and problems with the heating. It’s got to go two ways; you can’t provide substandard occupation for your residents, however, if there are any signs that people aren’t using the property correctly, there needs to be protocol in place to deal with any issues that arise. Check with your agent what they have put in place.
What do you think separates you from other agents in the area?
Many of the landlords we speak to have experience with agents that might offer a guaranteed rent scheme, but only when the property is occupied. When residents move out, that property may be empty for a week, and during that time the rent is stopped. Less scrupulous agents might also try and make their money on the back of that contract by carrying out works without approval and charging it to the landlord.
A good agent will ensure that every penny spent is authorised with the landlord prior. If there is an emergency, or out of hours incident, we do try our best to get hold of the landlord, but if we don’t, we can fully justify why we did what we did, and because we use our own in-house maintenance teams, it’s very reasonable. If you try and call someone out of hours, you’ll be paying a premium. With in-house teams, you don’t have that, and it means we have very short response times, so we can deal with emergencies in a matter of hours, not days.
We don’t just cover Redbridge either. Properties we manage are as far-reaching as Uxbridge St Albans, Bromley and Croydon to neighbouring Tower Hamlets, Barking & Dagenham and Havering. If a landlord has a portfolio spread out across Greater London, with Sandra Davidson you will have one point of call.
How can a landlord be sure that the agent will still be trading throughout the length of their agreement?
Sandra Davidson has been serving the people of Redbridge and beyond for more than 25 years. We manage a substantial portfolio of properties ranging from studios to larger hostels and hotels, and have never missed a payment to a landlord. Our two offices, one in Ilford’s Green Lane and one in Roding Lane South, just off the A12 and North Circular, are also open for landlords to pop in and raise any concerns they may have.
It’s always the same people; everyone is up to speed regarding your case, and there is always someone at the end of the line.
For more information on Sandra Davidson’s Guaranteed Rent Scheme, call Bob Kareer on 0208 551 0211 or visit sandradavidson.com.