An interview with Clive Janes– Landlord, Letting agent

Clive Janes is a landlord and a Letting agent. He is the owner of CRJ Lettings agency in Chichester, West Sussex. We got in touch with Clive after reading his article “Do landlords need letting agents?”, in which he describes the role of letting agents in the current state of the rental industry. In this interview we talk to Clive about the benefits of rental insurance, What goes into qualifying a tenant? How to determine a fair rent for a property? And more.

Q: What is rent protection service? Has it been well received by landlords? Do you think that this should become a standard practice in the industry?

It’s an insurance product for £25pcm whereby tenants are referenced by a specific referencing company who establish their ability to pay the rent and maintain the property to a good standard. Upon acceptance should those referenced tenants fail to pay their rent the insurance product kicks in whereby it will pay the rent to the landlord and cover the legal expenses to evict the tenant. I take out a 12 month policy on my own properties and recommend others do the same before establishing whether the tenants are reliable rent payers looking after the property. I’ve not had to claim against the insurance fortunately, but it’s peace of mind that should that day ever come the landlord’s losses would be covered.

Q:As a letting agent have you had more success with property websites or with a more direct approach of finding new tenants from your network on social media? Perhaps a mix of both?

Social media trials relatively new. Seems mainly to appeal to lower end of the market i.e. rooms/studios/1 bed flats. In England, 90%+ of tenants are found online via the property portals, the number 1 being Rightmove. Very often if the property is presented well and at the right rental price, the portals will help find tenants ready to view within days. I have also had happy tenants who wish to move but would like to remain under my management contact me to ask if I have properties that would suit their new criteria.

Q: What are the things that you look for in a tenant before qualifying him/her? Is it different for every landlord?

Different landlords/agents have different target markets i.e. students, sharers, housing benefit claimants. The majority of my tenants tend to be professionals or families, where one or more of the adults are in full-time employment and thus have payslips that confirm their salary will cover the rent. Some more subtle qualities you should look for when initially talking to them and meeting them at a viewing i.e. did they arrive on time, are they personable and presentable so you could have a good agent/tenant relationship?

Q:Do you think that from a legal prospective being a landlord has become a lot more complicated? If so how?

There is more ever-changing regulation you need to be aware of and even if using a letting agent a landlord cannot completely dissolve responsibility from. Most is reasonably logical and easy to follow but I am surprised on occasion when meeting an existing landlord who knows nothing of the need to have a gas safety certificate each year and to protect a tenants deposit in one of the approved schemes, which is well documented and has been required for many years. A good letting agent should make a landlord aware of what the requirements are and demonstrate that it is being taken care of.

Q:What are your thoughts on rent regulation? Do you help landlords determine a fair rent for their property?

Careful consideration towards the correct market rent should be undertaken. The market will decide what is correct and there is little point in being greedy only to have an empty property. A well-presented property, managed correctly and priced reasonably will rent quickly to happy reliable tenants. The tenancy agreement will specify the rental amount agreed between landlord and tenant. I rarely advocate increasing rents when you have good tenants who are paying their rent on time and looking after the property, as to maintain these tenants long-term will provide a better overall return than trying to squeeze a little extra rent from people, which will most likely cause them to move on quicker. Many of the landlords I choose to work with are of a similar mindset, whereby they understand a good landlord/agent/tenant relationship will provide the best long-term return from their investment.Thank you for talking to us Clive

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  • On January 27, 2015