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Letting agents still unaware of Section 21 changes

A minority of agents remain unaware of their duties when it comes to tenant repairs requests, something which could invalidate landlords' ability to serve a Section 21 eviction notice in the future.

The Fixflo Report 2016, which surveyed over 300 letting agents, found that 1 in 10 are still not sure what is required to provide an 'adequate response' to a tenant's request for repairs.

Legislative changes introduced as part of the Deregulation Act last Autumn require landlords or their agents to provide several prescribed documents at the start of a tenancy as well as statutorily defined responses to repairs requests.

If these processes are not carried out properly, then it could impact on a landlord's ability to regain possession of their property.

Fixflo found that 8% of the letting agents it surveyed were completely unaware of the changes to the Section 21 evictions process.

"It is worrying that almost a year after the legislation came into force, agents are still unaware of the changes to possession proceedings and [this] highlights how vital is it for both landlords and tenants [to] use a properly trained and qualified agent,” says David Cox, managing director of the Association of Residential Letting Agents. 

"This report demonstrates how important it is for agencies to have robust procedures in place for property repairs and maintenance."

Fixflo's third annual report on the rental sector analysed data from over 250,000 repairs lodged through its system over the past year.

There was a 235% increase in expenditure on pest and vermin related issues in the capital, with an average spend of £160 in London and £68 in Yorkshire.

The number of maintenance issues reported by tenants out of hours increased from 33% in 2015 to 40% this year. 

Meanwhile, 47% of the letting agents surveyed said they know of a landlord who changed agencies due to a repair-related issue. 

Other findings include:

- The busiest time for repairs to be reported is at 10am
- Most repairs are reported on Mondays
- Polish is most common foreign language repairs are reported in
- The average rental property requires over three repairs per year
- It takes an average of 94 minutes of staff time to manage a repair
- 93% of repairs are completed within a week

“The demands on property management continue to increase with the legislation that has come through the door over the past 12 months," says Rajeev Nayyar, Fixflo's managing director.

"With 40% of maintenance issues being reported outside of office hours by an increasingly diverse tenant base, property managers really are the unsung heroes of the industry.”

Earlier this month it was announced that Fixflo has been invited to join the Mayor of London's International Trade Mission to New York and Chicago.

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    As I keep saying, agents do not undertake enough training to ensure their staff know what to do.

    Even though I retired from the industry over two years ago I have several examples of crass incompetence by agents.

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