Who are you?
I’m the managing director of Fixflo and before starting Fixflo I worked as a property lawyer in London and New Zealand.
What does Fixflo do?
Fixflo is an online rental property repairs management platform that is trusted by over 1000 letting agency offices across the UK and by agencies spanning from Sydney in Australia to Florida in the USA.
What is changing with Section 21?
There are wholesale changes to the Section 21 process for all new tenancies in England that start on or after 1 October 2015. The changes include limits on when a Section 21 notice can be served, the form of a Section 21 Notice and a fundamental change from being purely procedural to being affected by the acts or omissions of landlords and agents.
So how can an agent affect the validity of a Section 21 Notice?
First, there is a set of prescribed information that has to be provided to a tenant before a Section 21 Notice can be validly served. Although at the date of this interview the detail is still to be confirmed, this is expected to include the provision of a valid gas safety certificate and EPC, as well as existing requirements relating to deposit protection and HMO licensing if applicable.
In addition there is a prescribed process for managing repairs including sending an “adequate response” to a tenant within 14 days of receipt of a complaint from them about the condition of their property.
What happens if an agent doesn’t serve an adequate response?
There is a complex process which sits behind the law but the upshot is that if the tenant complains to the local authority and they issue a “relevant notice” then no Section 21 Notice can be served for six months.
How would this affect the agent?
Agency is still fundamentally a local business. Telling a landlord that your administrative error or poor record keeping resulted in a situation in which they couldn’t get their property back for at least six months is likely to mean you lose your client and that your local reputation would be damaged.
What should agencies do?
It’s really simple. Get a robust and clear repair reporting process in place with easily accessible reports of every response that you provide to a tenant. The change in law means that having repair requests and correspondence split between inboxes, in-trays and even worse scraps of paper has become a serious business risk.
How does Fixflo help?
From 1 October 2015 we are upgrading the Fixflo system including enhancing messaging for tenants to reflect the expectation that all repair requests will be made in writing and the easy compilation of what we are terming a “Section 21 Pack”.
Who can access this upgrade?
The upgrade is available to any agency in the UK that uses the Fixflo system.
It is being made available at no additional cost to all Fixflo clients in the UK with active accounts as at 1 October 2015 and as a member benefit (so at no additional cost) to ARLA members irrespective of when their Fixflo account is activated.
How can I find out more?
Visit www.fixflo.com to find out about the Fixflo system and call 020 7183 1222 to book a 20 minute remote demonstration of the system.
Find out more about the change in law at www.fixflo.com/Section-21