How PlanetRent keeps your tenants happy and well informed

Tenants need as much information as possible and PlanetRent is here to help

Good relationships between landlords and tenants almost always come down to good communication. If you know what is expected of you and when you are more likely to fulfil your obligations. And that goes for both sides of the lettings coin.

We blogged recently about the lack of knowledge among many tenants of what they can expect from their landlord and what s/he is likely to need from them. According to a recent National Landlords Association (NLA) survey, an eye-popping four out of five tenants say they want better information on the roles and responsibilities of landlords and letting agents, because they don’t understand how the rental process works. This can cause headaches for landlords who end up involved in disputes with tenants that could have been easily avoided by communicating effectively from the outset.

Now everyone can be a professional landlord with our PlanetRent app. PlanetRent gives tenants a first-class welcome – even if you use different agents in different parts of the country. Our tenants portal is designed to give all tenants a high-quality lettings journey that makes the whole process of renting a home simple and transparent right from the start. All they need to do is log on to do all this and more:

  • Pay  initial move-in rent and deposit online
  • Enter reference info
  • E-sign and store contracts
  • Pay rent by direct debit
  • Access property documents
  • Find details of utilities and meters 
  • Access details of Boiler Service Agreements
  • Look at photos and floor plans
  • Log repairs, watch progress, and rate the contractor
  • Get help and support

For landlords, Planet Rent means all tenant records and documents are instantly accessible and stored online in one place. The app takes all the hassle out of collecting deposit and rent monies and means service agreements, repairs and contractors can easily be logged and progress tracked until the repair case is closed.

A happy tenant is likely to stay in your property for longer, pay their rent and bills on time and give you a lot less grief than one who feels their voice isn’t being heard. So if you want a smart way to treat renters as customers, download the app today and give your tenants their best lettings experience yet.

PlanetRent is brought to you by The Ringley Group which has more than 20 years of expertise in managing thousands of properties.

New Government, new approach?

Will a new Government herald a new era for the PRS?

New figures from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, published earlier this week, show a sharp drop in the supply of rental homes. The latest RICS Residential Market Survey for November shows surveyors reporting a fall in landlord instructions that is twice as low as that reported in November 2018.  

With tenant demand on an upward trend, the RICS predicts that this will lead to rent increases of around 2% in the next 12 months and around 3% each year for the next five years.

Industry commentators see this as a direct result of a range of tax and other policies that have continued to hammer private landlords, forcing many BTL owners out of the market. This is leading to a severe lack of homes in some parts of the country and – if the RICS figures are to be believed – renters are now facing a double whammy, with poor supply pushing rents up even higher.

With the uncertainty surrounding Brexit now likely to be resolved by the end of January, the new Government needs to turn its attention to domestic issues. Setting out changes to improve the climate for landlords and encourage new investment in the PRS would be a good place to start.

We know the city has been holding back on numerous loan approvals for our build to rent clients awaiting Brexit certainty, so we are pleased to note the pound bouncing back to give the investment community the assurance they need. 

The progressive taxes that have been levied on landlords aimed to ensure that when competing to buy a property they were not favoured over other purchasers. This was ill thought out.

Buy-to-let landlords are housing providers themselves and have been the backbone of the rental market since the institutions left decades ago due to rent control and the government stopped building.  With so many Housing Associations reporting that they have become developers not rent providers, the UK needs private landlords – who, by and large do a good job.   Fingers crossed for the forthcoming 2020 budget.

Why the ‘landlord vote’ could make all the difference at the polls

Who will be walking through this door on Friday morning – and what impact will they have on the PRS?

With just one day left until the General election, private landlords could have a decisive role to play in choosing the next government.

According to data obtained by The Times from HMRC, (source: Landlord Today) in 124 UK constituencies, the number of people declaring income from property in 2017/18 was “the same as or larger” than the overall majorities of those candidates elected in 2017. Of these,14 are in London, 12 are in the South East, 11 are in the East Midlands, 11 are in the North West, 10 are in Yorkshire and The Humber, nine are in the South West, eight are in the East of England, six are in the West Midlands and three are in the North East.

Of these seats, 55 were won by the Conservatives in the last election, 39 were won by the Labour Party in 2017 and seven were won by the Liberal Democrats. In Scotland, 25 seats could see landlords decide the final results. The same is true for nine seats in Wales and six in Northern Ireland.

In these areas, the “landlord vote” could become very important tomorrow. So for anyone who is still undecided which box to put their cross in, here’s a reminder of the main parties’ policies on the PRS.

  • The Conservatives have pledged to scrap Section 21 notices for landlords, introduce a ‘lifetime’ deposit that moves with a tenant, ban the sale of new leasehold homes and restrict ground rents to a peppercorn rent. 
  • The Labour Party has promised to introduce a new range of tenants’ rights, including open-ended tenancies, government-funded renters’ unions, and will scrap Right to Rent checks. It has also said it will consider introducing rent controls in certain parts of the country and giving councils powers and funding to buy back homes from private landlords.
  • The Lib Dems will introduce a new Rent to Own scheme for social housing where rent payments give tenants an increasing stake in the property, owning it outright after 30 years.
  • The SNP wants to incentivise councils and individuals to bring empty properties into use, making them available to rent or buy.
  • Neither the Green Party nor the Brexit party has any specific pledges centering on the PRS.

Whatever your political persuasion, one thing is certain. Whoever finds themselves in No 10 on Friday morning, there are plenty more changes to come for landlords and their tenants. So let’s hope any new direction is carefully considered. The impact on landlords as well as their tenants must be taken into account if there is to be a positive outcome for the housing market as a whole.

PlanetRent: helping landlords and tenants build better relationships!

If your tenants are calling you out to change their lightbulbs, you need PlanetRent – now!

Here’s something you might not expect. According to research from broadband and utilities provider Glide, more than a fifth of renters expect their landlord to fix their broken Wi-Fi  – and more than a third think they should be responsible for changing their lightbulbs for them!  The study surveyed 1,000 tenants who are either currently renting a property, or have previously rented, to find out which issues they expect their landlords to be responsible for dealing with.

Other surprising findings were that one in seven tenants (14%) said they would leave a dispute over how to split bills with flatmates for their landlord to sort out and almost a quarter (23.2%) admitted they would leave a dispute over parking up to the owner of the premises to resolve.

 Of course, landlords are legally responsible for dealing with certain problems that arise both inside and outside rental properties on their tenants’ behalf. Obviously, where and when those responsibilities pass over to the tenant is not always clear.

By downloading our PlanetRent app we make the tenant journey absolutely transparent – so both landlords and tenants know where they stand.

For the landlord:

  • we highlight along the journey what the landlord has to do / what their responsibilities are. For example, since the tenant fee ban came into force,  it is now their responsibility to pay the inventory fee, and the system has been restructured to show this.
  • PlanetRent provides service level agreements, so tenants know how fast repairs will be carried out.
  • we automatically provide the How to Rent guide and deposit leaflet – which the landlord HAS to provide to each tenant when they move in or they get fined. This outlines all the tenant’s rights, responsibilities and obligations.

For the tenant:

  • we automatically tell the council about a new tenant so they can recharge council tax to the correct person.
  • we make the tenant’s cleaning responsibilities clear from the outset.

PlanetRent is lettings, automated. We make the tenant journey quick and simple and make it easy for landlords to remain compliant with all their responsibilities. So why not download the app today – its free!

Landlords: deposit-free renting starts with PlanetRent

planetrent logo

The total number of new deposits being taken from renters has dropped by 17% compared to 2018, according to Landlord Today. This is thought to be the result of longer tenancies and also the fact that the Tenant Fees ban that came into force in June, caps the number of weeks rent that can be taken as a deposit. 

The average deposit paid by renters has also fallen from £1,366 to £1,299 in the last 12 months. But deposit payments are still 7% higher than in 2015. This is a big chunk of money for people to find, on top of the other costs involved in moving into a new property. So deposit alternatives and even no-deposit renting are becoming increasingly popular with landlords wanting to give their properties extra kerb-appeal for renters.

If this is a route you fancy taking, our PlanetRent app makes it really easy to offer deposit-free renting to your tenants. We use deposit-alternative provider Reposit, which is FCA regulated and offers landlords insurance to cover them in case tenants default on paying for end of tenancy breakages etc and damages can’t be recovered.

Using PlanetRent is as easy as this:

·         Set up your properties, ticking the box to offer deposit-free renting

·         Invite tenants to enter their referencing information

·         We feedback the decision and offer a deposit alternative

If tenants want to go ahead, they pay one week’s rent and the landlord gets eight weeks rent protection.

If you use an agent you can invite them to the app so you can offer deposit-free renting via their website/shopfront – and if you self-manage, PlanetRent gets rid of the paperwork and the risk for you.

So why not click here to download details of how it all works and get started today – it’s free!

Why landlords should fit carbon monoxide alarms – even in homes without solid fuel

Around 60 people die each year in the UK from carbon monoxide poisoning

Yesterday, we blogged about the importance of ensuring smoke alarms are in good working order. Since 1 October 2015, as well as installing smoke alarms in their rental properties, landlords have also been required by law to install carbon monoxide alarms in any room where solid fuel is used. Failing to comply with the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 could mean being faced with a fine of up to £5,000.

The Gas Safe website explains that carbon monoxide is produced by the incomplete burning of natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), oil and solid fuels such as coal and wood. This happens when a gas appliance has been incorrectly fitted, badly repaired or poorly maintained. It can also occur if flues, chimneys or vents are blocked. Carbon monoxide replaces the oxygen in your bloodstream which leads to the death of cells and body tissue. Even small amounts of the gas can cause poisoning, and long term effects can include paralysis and brain damage.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a silent killer. Every year it leads to around 60 deaths in the UK. Another 4000 end up in A&E being treated for symptoms including:

  • headaches
  • dizziness 
  • nausea 
  • breathlessness 
  • collapse 
  • loss of consciousness

While homes heated by gas and oil are not covered by the regulations, we would still recommend, as best practice, that all landlords install alarms to keep their residents safe.

When you are fitting alarms, don’t forget to keep a record of when and where they were installed, alongside dates when checks were made that they are in good working order – and include both smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in the inventory.

If you’re not sure what you need to do to comply with the regulations, click here for a useful government leaflet that explains landlords’ obligations in full.

Don’t forget to test your smoke alarm!

This could save your life – so never remove the batteries.

In the same week that the fire service reported that a worrying number of smoke alarms in rental properties don’t work, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has told the government that sprinklers shouldn’t be seen as the answer to all fire safety problems in blocks of flats.

The architects’ body supports the use of sprinklers in high-rise flats, describing them as a “highly effective means of life protection”. But they also point out that installing sprinklers “should not be used as a means to compensate for other essential life safety measures or to justify reducing minimum standards.”

As well as sprinklers, RIBA says centrally addressable fire alarm systems should be required in new and converted multiple occupancy residential buildings.

We wholeheartedly agree with Jane Duncan, chair of the RIBA Expert Advisory Group for Fire Safety, when she says “It is over two years since the Grenfell Tower tragedy, yet far too little has changed”.

The English fire regulations are not fit for purpose, she says. It’s not right that we should lag behind both Scotland (where sprinklers will soon be required in all multiple occupancy residential buildings) and Wales, where sprinklers have been required in all new and converted residential buildings since 2013.  

So we join RIBA in calling on the next government to maintain a strong focus on fire safety and give absolute priority to the radical overhaul of the building regulations that is so badly needed.

To that, we would add a plea to all landlords, property managers and residents to check their smoke and fire alarms regularly. This is as important for BTL landlords and their tenants as it is for leaseholders.

And it’s especially important at this time of year when we are all plugging in our Christmas lights and using more candles and open fires. So if you have battery-operated alarms, check and change the batteries regularly. No matter how annoying it is when they go off by mistake when you’re making toast, don’t ever be tempted to remove the batteries – that alarm could save your life.

Never lose track of repairs with PlanetRent

Now you can keep track of all your repairs from your phone

 Planetrent offers a fully-automated photo-reporting repairs process, including recommended target response times – all of which you can edit.  The system caters for the accidental landlord with just one or two properties as well as big companies with thousands of homes on their books.  Oh, and it is free!

 Planetrent’s repairs process connects tenants with contractors that the landlord has pre-assigned to different types of repairs or groups of repairs, quickly and simply. Via the app, landlords are able to monitor tenants and nominated contractors while they work out repair arrangements between themselves, sign off jobs and upload ‘before and after’ photos.  They can then view the repair rating that the tenants give when the work is done. 

 By using PlanetRent, the landlord remains aware of the repair and its progress against their service level agreement at all times. Contractors get an exclusivity period to ‘pick up the job’ so the landlord can reassign the repair to an alternative contractor if necessary. He or she can also monitor contractor performance both by tenant ratings (which are automatically triggered) and by speed of resolution against target.

Getting your contractors onto the contractors portal is simple too: just one click triggers a contractor invite. Contractors can accept jobs, add their comments, photos etc from their phone and submit quotes.  

You can use Planetrent as your full repair archive, as well as for rent collection and cash management. So if you would like to feel better-protected check out Planetrent today. You can chat with us online to find out more or get started right away.