Foxtons has implemented a 'fee-freeze' in response to the recent Tenant Fees Act, ensuring that any extra costs are not passed on to landlords. London landlord Howard Simler owns a number of buy-to-let properties in the north west of the city, providing him with a source of retirement income. We talk with Howard about the Fees Act, as well as the challenges and opportunities presented by letting out London property in 2019.
The Tenant Fees Act came into effect on June 1st 2019, restricting the fees that can be charged to tenants by landlords or letting agents. With most letting agents relying on tenant fees as a major contributor to their operations, the Act was expected to force agents to try to cut their costs and reduce service quality, or simply to pass on those costs to landlords through increased fees.
The Fee Freeze
The scale and efficiency of Foxtons' lettings business have allowed us to offer landlords a 'fee freeze'. At a time of vastly increasing regulation for landlords, this takes the pressure off property investors who are already feeling the pinch. The Tenant Fees Act had been widely expected to lead to increased rents, as landlords sought to recoup the extra fees charged by many agents.
The fee freeze is just part of our commitment to providing the best possible service for landlords like Howard Simler, who started to invest in properties close to his home a few years before retiring. We asked him how he viewed the Tenant Fees Act.
"I support any legislation that protects tenants, which is why I choose to work with a company like Foxtons, which has a strong compliance culture," he explains. "I think the Tenants Fee Act seems to be fair and might further increase demand. From the figures I've seen, demand for rental property in London already seems to be growing more than supply, which is good news for tenants and landlords if you're working with the right agent."
Mr Simler recently attended the Foxtons Compliance Summit for our landlords, one of a series of events being held at our Chiswick Park HQ. This provided an expert overview of compliance issues and taxation, as well as updates on the London market.
Mr Simler noted that the content around HMOs was particularly useful, having previously been in ownership of an HMO without realising it was classified as such.
"There were so many useful things that were covered and I’m still working on implementing it," he stated. "It’s definitely useful to have an agent who can help you stay on top legislative changes and compliance issues.
"Foxtons are really good for landlords, but also fair to tenants. When it comes to disputes about deposits or damages, Foxtons are very even-handed. We present them with the evidence and Foxtons are objective and neutral."
Working with Foxtons
Now managing a portfolio of eight properties close to his home in the north west of London, Mr Simler explained his approach to investing in property and his observations on the market over the past seven years.
"My wife and I looked for properties that we ourselves would be prepared to live in, and did them up to a standard that we would be happy to live in. I think you should give people a good deal, and a quality property will also be easier to let. It's important to realise that your tenants are customers of yours and that you should respond promptly to them."
We finished by asking Mr Simler about his experiences of buying and letting properties through Foxtons over the past seven years.
"I was impressed with Foxtons from my first contact with them," he remembers. "I see the company as energetic, efficient, customer-oriented and very professional, and my recent visit to the Foxtons head office only reinforced that view.
"We also bought that first flat from a Foxtons agent, so I went on to buy and let a number of flats through the company. I’ve been happy with them and very much welcome the freeze on Foxtons' fees for landlords."
Foxtons are looking forward to working with more landlords like Howard, who provide exceptional service for their tenants and expect the same level of service from their agents, along with fair, consistent fees.