Online marketing made simple with PlanetRent

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PlanetRent helps you market your home quickly and cheaply

 Private landlords can now market their properties directly on Zoopla and Rightmove thanks to PlanetRent. Our new automated lettings platform means you can promote your rental home on the UK’s two most popular portals on a pay-as-you-go basis.  

Landlords can find it costly to advertise their properties on Zoopla and Rightmove but by using PlanetRent, marketing your home with these portals is set up for you. Our new platform also allows you to easily create your own personalised website to showcase your properties.  Real-time reporting and updates on offers made are included in the software.

And for landlords who prefer to use letting agents, PlanetRent works on the premise that you own your properties and so should be in control of your own data. You can then invite the letting agents or contractors you use, and make PlanetRent central to your marketing.  

PlanetRent also helps cut down costly void periods by making it really quick and easy to remarket a property before it becomes vacant. Tenants are automatically prompted towards the end of the tenancy and are encouraged to renew. To make life easier for landlords and renters, PlanetRent has cut down the renewal process to just three clicks and allows all parties to transact remotely – a big advantage in our new socially distanced world.

If a tenant does choose to move out, they are automatically sent the necessary end-of-tenancy process and given advice on how to get their deposit back, plus the requirements for them to assist in viewings, repairs, and the remarketing process.  The marketing process is automatically triggered too.

 All landlords who use PlanetRent have access to free property listings directly on the PlanetRent platform as well as social media feeds to their social media account. 

While the for-sale market has been hit by the expectation of falling prices and mortgage lenders tightening their lending requirements, the rental market has proved resilient. So with Rightmove reporting 23,000 new rental listings coming to the market since the first day of reopening in May, make sure you don’t miss out. By using PlanetRent, marketing your property on the UK’s most popular portals is just a few clicks away.

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New code of practice for agents is on its way

Soon agents will need to abide by a new code for the property industry

In future, anyone using a letting or estate agent or a property manager will be able to judge their performance against a new code of practice and a new and improved system for dealing with complaints. This is because a new code for property agents is being drawn up by a high-level industry group being led by Labour Peer Baroness Hayter.

The expert group includes ARLA and NAEA Propertymark, Trading Standards and sales and lettings industry trade bodies, as well as professional bodies such as the RICS and IRPM plus the courts and the Property Ombudsman. 

The new code was one of the recommendations of the Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA) working group that issued its report last July. As well as a new code of practice, the report called for:

  • an independent regulator,
  • licensing for all agents,
  • mandatory qualifications, and
  • a powerful new form of redress for consumers.

According to Estate Agent Today, “the new Code of Practice is likely to be a single, high-level set of principles to be applied to all residential property agents; there will also be a number of other more detailed sections developed that are specific to various aspects of the residential property agent sector, such as sales, lettings and management. “ 

The aim is to produce a draft code to go out for consultation later this month. Once finalised – hopefully by the end of the year – it will be handed over to the new industry regulator, once that role has been established.

At Ringley we welcome the prospect of a proper code of conduct for property agents – something our industry has been lacking for many years. Property professionals will benefit from clear guidelines and consumers will be clear what standards they can expect from agents. Rogue operators should have less chance to thrive and the new system for consumer redress, once established, will also give our customers the confidence that property agents will be held to account if they don’t meet the standards expected of them.

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Why we say NO to cancelling rents!

Cancelling rents would be disastrous for landlords and investors says Ringley

Cancelling rents for private tenants without reimbursing landlords would be “stealing from people’s pension pots” says Ringley Group MD Mary-Anne Bowring in response to demands for more radical policies to help renters.

More than 4,000 Labour party members recently signed an open letter backing cancelling rent as a policy. The letter argued Labour’s five-point plan to help renters, which included extending the evictions ban by at least six months and giving tenants two years to pay back rent arrears, did not go far enough. Meanwhile, the London Renters’ Union and others are calling for rent strikes, claiming renters are having to choose between food and paying rent.

The government’s ban on evictions has been extended until August 23rd, which has calmed fears that thousands of tenants could lose their homes if the ban wasn’t extended.

However, Mary-Anne firmly believes that cancelling rents in the private sector would punish hundreds of thousands of pensioners, as well as risk halting the current appetite from UK pension funds who are investing billions into creating new high-quality homes for rent. The most recent English Private Landlord Survey estimates there are at least 1.5m landlords in England alone. Of those, nearly half said they invested in rental property to supplement their pension and approximately one-third are retired.

This means if a rent cancellation was to be introduced, at least 500,000 retired landlords would see their rental income wiped out entirely. This would also dramatically reduce rent revenues for pension funds, many of which have suffered losses from retail and office investments and rely on income from property to match their liabilities.

No one can doubt or deny that millions of renters are facing major financial difficulties or anxieties but cancelling rents is not the answer. Some renters may need more financial assistance from the government but cancelling rents or getting the government to pay would be hugely damaging,” warns Mary-Anne.

 Both private and institutional landlords would lose rental income unless the government stepped in to pay private residential rents, which could cost the taxpayer billions and is completely unacceptable.

That’s our take on Labour’s proposals. What do you think?

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Gas safety during the Coronavirus outbreak

Make sure your properties are fully compliant by reading the Gas Safe guidelines

Last week we blogged about an important legal case, which centred on gas safety certificates. In Trecarrell House Ltd v Rouncefield the Court of Appeal found that not providing a gas safety certificate before a tenant moves in does not prevent a landlord from serving a Section 21 notice as long as the certificate has been given at some point during the period of occupation. 

Good news for landlords and clarification of a legal point that wasn’t particularly clear. Compliance with the gas safety regulations is a legal obligation for landlords, and to make this absolutely clear, the HSE has a handy guide to gas safety on its website, which focuses on the special circumstances of the coronavirus outbreak. The advice is really helpful so we thought we would share it with you.

Landlords should all be up to speed with their legal duty to repair and maintain gas pipework, flues and appliances, do annual gas safety checks and keep a record of each safety check. But the HSE recognises that it may be difficult to carry out these checks at the moment because, despite the lifting of lockdown restrictions, some tenants are still shielding or self-isolating. So landlords must use their common sense and weigh up the risk to the safety of the household and the public presented by a potentially faulty gas system, versus the risk to tenants’ health from possible infection.

The Gas Safety Register has drawn up guidelines for landlords that include a set of scenarios to help you decide how best to tackle your compliance obligations. The law is flexible and where it’s not possible to carry out a gas check, it should be acceptable to document that you took reasonable steps to do so. However, the advice also clearly states that landlords should not simply suspend all gas safety checks for the duration of the pandemic. We could find ourselves living with Covid-19 for many months and ignoring health & safety issues risks endangering tenants unnecessarily.

So if you’re worried about making sure your gas safety certificates are up-to-date, read the guidance – it’s very comprehensive and well worth five minutes of your time. And as we said last week, to make compliance even easier why not use our cloud-based platform PlanetRent to ensure all your rental properties are fully up-to-date with current legislation. It’s very user-friendly and you can access it via a mobile phone or tablet, as well as your laptop. It’s pay-as-you-go and there’s no subscription to pay, so download it today and make renting easier for you and your tenants.

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Ringley welcomes new smart meter roll-out

Smart meters are coming your way

With the lockdown easing, the roll-out of smart meters in homes across the country is back on the cards. The Government has set out new plans for the installation of the meters to help homeowners cut their energy bills and carbon emissions.

 The hope is that by installing smart meters in every home – which show energy consumption for gas and electricity and track expenditure – savvy consumers could save up to £250 a year on their bills. The meters show exactly how much gas and electricity is being used and track expenditure, helping consumers reduce their consumption. According to the Government, this could slash countrywide carbon emissions by as much as 45 million tonnes – the equivalent of taking 26 million cars off the road for a year.

Until early March, around 19,000 smart meter installations were taking place each day until the  pandemic put a stop to the roll-out. Now energy suppliers are being given an extra six months to ensure they have taken all reasonable measures to install smart meters in households and small businesses – making up for the reduced contact they have had with customers. New secondary legislation put to Parliament last week, will see a consultation with industry set strict future annual targets that could result in fines if missed.

As a managing agent, we welcome this news. Unless a block has a concierge service or on-site staff, it can be extremely difficult to arrange attendance to carry out meter readings, so smart meters, which automatically send readings to utility providers are a huge improvement.

New build developments are a particular problem because utilities start off on commercial rates – at 20% VAT – with very high usage during construction. When utilities are then transferred post-occupation to block management, it is no easy feat to get the utility companies to stop charging for energy on estimates based on the construction stage despite usage falling significantly.

Cashflow is a careful balancing act in the early days of new-build properties and the faster smart meters come in the better, to protect residents’ hard-earned cash.

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How PlanetRent takes care of compliance

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Yesterday’s Court of Appeal ruling in Trecarrell v Rouncefield is an important one for landlords. In this case, a tenant appealed against a Section 21 repossession order on the grounds that a gas safety certificate hadn’t been provided before they moved into the property. However, the Court of Appeal ruled in the landlord’s favour, determining that a gas safety certificate can be provided at any time before a section 21 notice is served.

This is an important case because if landlords can’t serve a Section 21 notice at any time during the tenancy, their right to repossession will be limited. While Section 21 is still available to landlords, this case means it can still be used in the way it was intended.

Of course in an ideal world landlords wouldn’t get themselves into a situation where a tenant has reason to take them to court. But we all make mistakes – and compliance is time-consuming. Not serving a gas certificate could be the result of something as silly as misfiling or forgetting to send an email.

To give landlords peace of mind that they need never fall foul of the rental regulations again, we’ve developed a great new cloud-based lettings platform that takes all the hassle out of compliance.  PlanetRent has a simple dashboard to help you manage compliance for one property or a whole portfolio.

Not only does it tell you what needs to be renewed but you can throw away the filing cabinet! PlanetRent will organise what is required for each property, flagging up what is safe and what is missing or expiring soon. Even better, delivering what needs to be sent to tenants is automated both as part of the lease-up and move-in tenant journeys and mid-tenancy. Documents are renewed and are clearly visible to your tenants 24/7 on their own portal that comes FREE with PlanetRent.

PlanetRent is compliance automated. And it also deals with contracts, rent collection, deposits, repairs, even marketing. Our new platform is pay-as-you-go with no monthly subscription to worry about. So why not take a closer look today – we challenge you to tell us what we’ve forgotten!

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How PlanetRent takes the pain out of rental deposits

Want to offer deposit-free renting to your tenants? PlanetRent can help.

Are you charging the right deposit? With the Tenant Fees Act now in place for all tenancies, security deposits have been capped. This means landlords can only charge the equivalent of five-weeks’ rent for assured-shorthold tenancies with an annual rent of up to £50,000, or six-weeks’ rent for tenancies with an annual rent of £50,000 or more.

To avoid any mistakes, why not go ‘deposit free’? Our new cloud-based lettings platform PlentRent is connected to Reposit, whose FCA-regulated product provides up to eight weeks rent/damages cover for the cost of one week’s rent. This cost also includes referencing. By using PlanetRent to manage your lettings, you can offer tenants the choice of a Reposit or a traditional deposit if they prefer.

Another key feature – and one which landlords really do find appealing, is that PlanetRent ensures the deposit repayment process is non-adversarial. Both landlords and tenants can see proposed deductions and supporting invoices on their portals and each can accept or dispute deductions line by line to narrow down any issues arising.

PlanetRent also automatically sends out a How to get your deposit back guide to renters, so they know exactly what they have to do and when. PlanetRent really does make renting easier and more efficient for you and your tenants. There’s no subscription and you can simply pay-as-you-go. so why not check out PlanetRent and take the pain out of rental deposits today.

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All evictions are equal – or are they?

Which type of evictions should be dealt with first when the ban is lifted?

Evictions for anti-social behaviour and domestic violence should be given top priority when the evictions ban is lifted. This is what the National Residential Landlords Association said earlier this week and the NRLA is calling on the courts to push these cases to the top of the list, alongside evictions for rent arrears, when the ban is lifted at the end of August.

This has become a serious issue because cases of domestic abuse and problems with anti-social behaviour have rocketed during the lockdown. Research from the University of Bristol reveals that more than a third of victims of domestic abuse live in private rented housing. And Landlord Today reports that there has been a 66% increase in calls to the Domestic Violence Helpline during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In normal circumstances, where domestic violence is found to be happening in a rented property, landlords will often end the tenancy agreement and offer a new one to the victim independent of the abuser.  At the moment, due to the ban, this isn’t happening and this lends even more weight to the NRLA’s call for the courts to deal urgently with these evictions when repossession cases can be heard again at the end of the summer. 

At Ringley, in our opinion, the problem will be made far worse by the Government’s proposal to axe Section 21 – which is what we have always considered as the polite method for landlords to use to evict difficult tenants.

Section 21 made it easy to evict a tenant at the end of their tenancy agreement with no questions asked.  We have always supported this simple, non-confrontational way to end a tenancy and we see no signs that any of the proposed alternatives will be as straightforward or as effective. What do you think?

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How PlanetRent makes rent collection easier

Help your tenants pay their rent on time with PlanetRent

The evictions ban was extended earlier this month until 23 August. Great news for renters facing financial hardship but, as we blogged last week, not so good for landlords with no other income to fall back on.

The National Residential Landlords Association is rightly highlighting the problems being faced by landlords whose tenants were already in significant rent arrears before the Coronavirus lockdown. They now have two more months without rent, plus the time it will take to repossess their properties once the ban is lifted. This could be financially devastating for landlords whose rental homes provide the entirety of their income and who have no savings to fall back on. Given that a third of Brits have less than £600 in savings, the outlook for many landlords following the extension of the ban is pretty bleak.

In response the NRLA is calling for:

  • a clear statement from the Government urging tenants who can pay their rent to do so;
  • support for tenants in the form of a boost to the Local Housing Allowance, developing interest-free hardship loans for tenants;
  • providing compensation to landlords who have existing possession orders from the courts but can’t evict tenants until the ban is lifted;
  • ensuring the courts process legitimate possession claims quickly once they open again; and
  • giving priority to possession cases that that began before the lockdown, to those related to pre-pandemic rent arrears, and cases of tenants committing anti-social behaviour or domestic violence.

Our new automated lettings platform PlanetRent is designed to help landlords reduce the likelihood of rent arrears. Here’s how it works. PlanetRent collects rent from joint tenants individually – which improves the collection rate – and then jointly from other tenants if one should default.

Landlords can turn on Collect my rent by direct debit, allowing PlanetRent to sort out the paperwork and send tenants a direct debit mandate when they e-sign their tenancy agreement. Not only do direct debit payments mean that landlords can collect the rent straight from the tenant’s bank account but they have the advantage of apportioning payments to a regular date. Some tenants may worry that their landlord can take money out of their account whenever they want. But in fact, customers who pay by direct debit are fully protected by the Direct Debit Guarantee.

PlanetRent automates and simplifies rent collection, There’s no subscription and we have a great pricing model. Our new platform is pay-as-you-go, so why not check it out today and help your tenants pay their rent quickly, easily – and on time!

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How PlanetRent supports pet-friendly rentals

Are you a pet-freindly landlord? PlanetRent can help generate the right tenancy agreement – fast.

Are you a pet-friendly landlord? If not, maybe it’s something you should consider because at least 44% of us own a pet. During the pandemic there have even been reports of a puppy shortage as more and more of us decide to share our home with an animal.

For the rental sector, that’s a big potential pool of tenants and one that the Government is actively encouraging landlords to dip into. In January, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced the overhaul of model tenancy contracts to remove restrictions on well-behaved pets to ensure more landlords cater to pet owners wherever possible.

But despite being a national of animal lovers, there is a widespread attitude in the buy-to-let sector that pets are a problem. At the last count only an estimated 7% of buy-to-let landlords were advertising their property as suitable for pets, making it hard for animal lovers to find the right home.  Institutional landlords in the build-to-rent sector have a completely different attitude. All the operators we deal with at Ringley actively encourage pets. They think being pet-friendly encourages tenants to stay longer and promotes community engagement.

With this in mind, we’ve made it really easy for landlords to generate a pet-friendly tenancy agreement via our new automated lettings platform PlanetRent. Landlords can use the platform to generate tenancy agreements in a matter of minutes, making them fast, accessible and easy to use.

Of course, we understand that by being pet-friendly, landlords may be opening themselves up to bigger bills for repairs and refurbishment at the end of a tenancy. Pets, like people, can behave badly, so reference checking is vital and PlanetRent can make this quick and easy too. So why not try it today and consider taking a more pet-friendly approach to potential tenants. It could make your home easier to let and give you a much bigger pool of potential tenants to pick from.

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