Government pledges to keep renters safe

On Friday, we were delighted to see the announcement from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government that it is going to carry out what it describes as a “wide-ranging review” of health & safety in the private rented sector. Local councils can already take action against landlords that don’t keep their rental properties up to scratch but the rules haven’t been updated for over a decade and, in our view, closer scrutiny of rented homes is overdue.

Poorly maintained and unsafe properties are not the norm – and we pride ourselves at Ringley that all our tenants can be safe in the knowledge that their homes meet all current health & safety regulations. However, as the government said last week, a minority of landlords are renting out unsafe, sub-standard accommodation and this has to stop. To misquote the old saying, a few bad apples give all of us a bad name so we hope this review will help tackle the problems faced by tenants who find themselves living in poor quality housing. If we end up with minimum standards for common health and safety problems in rental accommodation, then three cheers for that!

The other important issue being considered is whether  all landlords should be obliged to fit carbon monoxide alarms in their properties. At the moment alarms are only required in homes with solid fuel appliances such as log burners – which are notorious for the potential to build-up carbon monoxide.

In the UK, carbon monoxide poisoning in the home accounts for 50 recorded deaths per year, and as many as 4,000 medical visits, according to the Department of Health, with almost 1% of households exposed to high carbon monoxide levels each year. This is roughly quarter of a million homes – and that’s 250,000 too many. This gas is a silent killer, with symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning ranging from headaches, dizziness, weakness, upset stomachs, nausea, chest pains, and in extreme cases, loss of consciousness and even death. A blanket requirement to fit alarms across the board really could save lives.  In the meantime, we would advise all our tenants to invest in a carbon monoxide alarm. They are not expensive and you can buy one almost anywhere from Argos to Amazon. Why run the risk?


How long will you wait to get your deposit back?

Nearly a fifth (18%) of tenants renting from private landlords say they have waited more than three months to get a deposit back, according to a survey carried out by the Nationwide. The average waiting time was found to be almost two months and the mortgage lender also revealed that 4% of those asked had experienced a delay of more than six months.

Not good enough says a leading deposit protection scheme. In fact, the money should be returned within 10 days of the tenant requesting it after they move out of the property.

The survey of more than 2,000 private tenants reveals that 35% had previously lost some or all of their tenancy deposit and as we commented in this blog earlier in October, 18 to 24-year-olds are particularly likely to have money deducted from their deposit to cover end of tenancy cleaning costs.

At Ringley we are proud of the relationships we build with both landlords and tenants. We work hard to ensure all our landlords treat tenants fairly and with respect. Sometimes there is a good reason for withholding deposit monies but if you have a problem – and believe your money is being withheld for no good reason  –  please contact us as soon as possible. If we don’t know, we can’t help.

Paul Wootton, Nationwide’s director of specialist lending, believes solutions to the problem for tenants could include transferring deposits from one tenancy to the next, providing appropriate short-term loans or offering a guarantee. What do you think?

‘New’ Proptech tool is old news– we were there first!

Here at Ringley, a story published in Letting Agent Today has really got our backs up.  Inventory services provider No Letting Go has just announced their new proptech tool. It automatically sends a copy of an inventory to a tenant, allowing them to check it in their own time and upload images showing issues they want to put forward. The aim is a good one: to significantly cut pre-tenancy admin for letting agents and landlords. “We’re convinced that this service represents the future of check-in reporting and authorisation” says Nick Lyons, chief executive and founder of No Letting Go.

Well we’ve got news for Letting Agent Today. Ringley has been providing this service for our landlords and tenants for years via QuickInventory – a platform that we developed ourselves and which has saved countless hours of unnecessary admin both for us, our clients and their tenants.

Our proprietary software incorporates SignFast e-signing technology, allowing tenants to sign and return inventories in exactly the same way as No Letting Go’s supposedly groundbreaking tool.

The press can’t always be expected to know when a product promoted as innovative has been around for some time but at Ringley we are secure in the knowledge that we were there first!

What’s the cost of renting versus buying?

 You can now find out how much it would cost to rent a house in different parts of the country over a ‘lifetime of renting’ – assumed to be 50 years – thanks to a new Proptech tool designed by furnishing company Thomas Sanderson. This clever piece of software also compares the average cost of buying a property now against those lifetime renting costs.

So how does it work? Well, it’s really easy – just go to and enter your chosen postcode or city. The app will work out how much it would cost to rent a house in that area for a total of 50 years.  The software brings up a map of the area that you have chosen, showing different average rents for different postcodes. If you then click on your chosen postcode, you can see the difference in lifetime rental payments and the cost of buying a home in the same area.

Ringley is based in London NW1, so we thought we’d do some comparisons of our own. The results were staggering. A lifetime of renting in our area would cost a tenant £2.25M, while the average house price currently just tops £1M – a difference of 111%!

The app also shows the 10 most expensive locations for renting as well as the 10 most affordable. Areas that will eat up your rent the quickest are London – no surprises there – Surrey and Berkshire. In contrast, the most affordable part of the UK is Scotland. It’s all maybe a little predictable but still an interesting exercise for renters, especially if you’re thinking of moving.

Longer tenancies – what do you think?


Longer tenancies have been in the news lately, with some build-to-rent providers offering tenants the option of a three-year contract instead of the standard six month or one year AST. The government picked up on the trend and recently consulted on the idea that all landlords offer longer rental periods to tenants. But is there really a demand in the market for longer contracts?

Some tenants say they would welcome the move, especially if they have children in local schools and an easy commute to work – after all, who needs the disruption of moving if they don’t have to? Others, particularly younger people with no family commitments, often prefer the flexibility of being able to move around without being tied into a long rental agreement.

According to AXA, six out of 10 renters are happy with tenancies of 12 months or less. A survey carried out by the insurer reveals that more than two thirds of tenants would still opt for a shorter tenancy even if they were given the choice. However, according to the survey,  long leases such as those commonly used in mainland Europe, would be attractive to a quarter of renting families as opposed to single renters and those without children.

A recent poll of 2,000 tenants by online letting agent MakeUrMove also found that only 7.2% of tenants would prefer a tenancy lasting three years. Around a third of those polled said they would like tenancies to remain at 12 months and a further 20% would like tenancies to last no longer than two years.

So three years doesn’t seem a particularly popular choice. However, some 29% of tenants did say they would prefer a tenancy to last significantly longer than three years. Over two in five surveyed (43%) had already spent more than five years in their current rental property.

Ultimately, it seems that the government’s Tenant Fees Bill, now making its way through Parliament is a far more popular proposition than multi-year leases. Six in ten renters say they have had to pay the types of fees to landlords and letting agents that the Bill seeks to outlaw, says AXA. These are mostly fees for starting, ending or renewing a tenancy agreement. And a quarter of tenants say they have had to pay for the pleasure of having a credit or reference check done against them too.

Will your job be safe in an AI world?


There’s a lot of noise around artificial intelligence at the moment. Automated supermarket check-outs are commonplace and driverless cars will soon be taking over our streets. However, according to AI expert and former president of Google Kai-Fu Lee, property managers can rest easy because, alongside therapists and fiction writers, management professionals are likely to remain irreplaceable – at least for the foreseeable future!

The reason these jobs are safe says Lee, is that AI can’t yet conceptualize or plan and lacks any sense of caring or empathy – all skills that professional property managers use on a daily basis.

Good property managers not only understand the ins and outs of the blocks they manage and the legal and regulatory framework within which they operate, but they also have essential human interaction and communication skills. They are able to motivate, negotiate, and persuade; effectively connecting with residents on behalf of landlords and freeholders. According to Lee, the best managers are also able to establish a strong workplace culture and value system within their own organisations through their actions and words.

Routine maintenance, cleaning, gardening and even reporting service charge expenditure to the annual AGM may all be carried out by robots in the future but, says Lee, “While AI may be used to manage performance, managerial work will continue to be carried out by humans”.  Good news all round for both residents and their property advisers we hope you’ll agree!

Is wearable tech on offer from your landlord?


We’re all used to seeing on-site gyms as part and parcel of the offer in smart apartment blocks but now build-to-rent housing developer Moda is taking personal fitness for residents to a new level. With the recent announcement from the World Health organisation that we are all sitting around too much and not getting our recommended one and half hours a week of exercise, this could be good news for anyone living in a Moda block who is worried they are turning into a couch potato.

In the first tie-up of its kind in the housing market, the company has just announced a partnership with a new health and fitness platform called Hero. The aim is to give residents access to a training club in their block that will use wearable tech and 3D body scanners to measure their fitness and create tailored exercise and diet regimes for them. Moda customers will also have access to personal advice from Premier League coaches and nutritionists. And just in case block managers are feeling left out, Hero will also provide ‘mental health first’ training for Moda’s on-site management staff.

This may be a property first but it certainly won’t be the last tie-up we’ll see between a developer and an outside provider. Block operators are ever-more savvy about what will encourage residents – particularly in the build-to-rent market – to sign on the dotted line. Increasingly flat owners and renters are buying into a lifestyle and providers are keen to set the pace. What will they come up with next? At Ringley, a quick office poll came up with some interesting ideas. Our money’s on smart flats where you can activate heating and appliances from your phone, free health screening, pet-friendly blocks and – to attract the growing number of families now renting their homes – on-site childcare, including a babysitting service. Watch this space to see if we’re right!

Why tenants increasingly love corporate landlords

Why tenants increasingly love corporate landlords

The corporate landlord is an emerging concept. Born from the rising demand for quality rental accommodation in the ever-transformative digital age, corporate landlords are changing the expected norms of the lettings industry. In recent months, awareness of this emerging sector has grown with more and more tenants looking for a different way to rent, but what exactly is a corporate landlord, and why do tenants seem to love them so?

  • Better facilities and finishes

Not only are more people now renting than ever before, but the expectations of what rental accommodation should provide its tenants has also gone up. Traditionally, it was often acceptable for landlords to provide what might be referred to as the bare minimum standard of accommodation. Almost everyone has their own version of this story: walls covered in mould; bathroom tiles falling off the wall; single-glazed windows covered in condensation; or all of the above.

Things are changing though, and the tenants of today simply won’t accept poor standards in the way they used to. As such, those landlords who were offering substandard accommodation are finding themselves with vacant properties, watching their tenants move out in favor of safe, warm, well-maintained homes that include premium facilities, and an all-round higher level of finish.

Many private rental landlords have been known to consider tenants a necessary evil, so it’s no surprise that corporate landlords who are building properties based on tenant requirements are winning the day.


  • Increased renting means homes need to feel more like home

People are generally renting for a much greater portion of their lives. What used to be homes for 20 and 30-somethings are now homes to those in their 40s and, increasingly, above. However, this does not mean that the natural human desire to have a house which really feels like a home of one’s own lessens. Instead, it has sent people on the hunt for a new type of rental accommodation.

Traditional rental properties are incredibly restrictive in terms of how free tenants are to personalise their environment; we’ve all heard stories of tenants who have been fined for nothing more than blu tack residue left on the wall.

Corporate landlords understand the need to make a house feel like a home, and this is often reflected in the service they provide. They will often be more flexible when it comes to redecoration for example, especially for those tenants who have signed longer-term contracts.

Looking forward, we can expect to see corporate landlords being a lot more accommodating when it comes to tenant demands. For example, landlords who allow tenants to bring pets into their rental homes are a rarity. As corporate landlords continue to tempt more and more tenants over from the private rental market, we expect to see an increasing number of them allowing their tenants to keep pets.


  • Demand for city centre space

When the majority of jobs are found in those cities which have the most severe housing shortages, the inevitable is going to happen. On top of that, jobs in big cities pay, on average, more than those in the suburbs.

These two facts converge to result in an incredibly short supply of city centre accommodation. Corporate landlords, those who can afford to acquire large plots of premium land, can take advantage of people’s desire to live in the heart of the city, avoiding a long daily commute and still benefiting from a high-quality home that doesn’t bankrupt them at the end of each month. Smaller private landlords simply cannot match this offering.

  • Community and friendship, company.

Corporate landlords offer tenants a ready-made community to move into. For young professionals, maybe new to a city, this can be incredibly appealing. With busy lives, the opportunities to connect with people outside of work are minimal, clever corporate landlords are helping their tenants form bonds and relationships that go far beyond those of mere housemates. On-site activities, bars, karaoke, games room, etc turn a building into a bustling, vibrant community.

  • Tech-inclusive living

The rise of the Digital Age has bought with it exciting new property and lifestyle innovations. Corporate landlords are taking advantage of this desire for integrated technology, offering cutting-edge technology to their tenants from the get-go.

Such innovation can be found in the form of smart goods like fridges and televisions, internet-enabled lighting and utilities meters, tenant-facing apps to handle contracts and report maintenance, and even smart keys, allowing tenants to unlock their doors and grant others access directly from their smartphone.

  • Work/Balance

Finally, and looking a little further into the future, corporate landlords are also starting to experiment with the idea of so-called corporate living, where tenants live and work in the same building, often owned by a large employer such as Facebook or Google. It’s essentially a hybrid of co-living and co-working and some are tipping it to be the next big thing.

There are questions being asked as to whether tenants will want to live and work in one place, alongside all of their colleagues, but it proves how vibrant the conversation of the shared experience currently is.

Corporate landlords have the ability to blend premium property with affordable prices, providing a tenant experience that goes above and beyond that which the private rental sector can offer. Because of that, we can expect to see more and more tenants falling in love with properties offered by corporate landlords.