An Update on Viewings

Published: 01/11/2020 By Felicity Blair

The last few months have proven to be such a merry-go-round in more ways than one so I thought it an opportune moment to provide an update:
The 300 or so properties that we now manage seem to have come through the first lock-down (and related furlough period) relatively unscathed with only 4 properties having had short-term re-negotiations, and to date, all bar one of these have now had the balances paid up to date. Presently though, as we have been through another lockdown (and thankfully another generous furlough scheme), there is far more property available on the market than is usual for a November. This seems to be the result of:

  • Tenants leaving London
  • Tenants wanting a garden or space to work from home
  • Tenants splitting up, having different priorities
Fortunately, for November, there are also just enough tenants still looking around to take up the properties available. However this is not a time for putting rents up, it is a time for being more than usually amenable and accommodating: if tenants want a room painted or new blinds – just say ‘yes’.

Demand and availability is very finely balanced and slightly skewed towards the latter, and Harris, Andre and James are working exceptionally hard to ensure that movers choose our properties rather than those of our competitors. I know they are all very good at this because we received a call from RIGHTMOVE last month, who bestowed an unsolicited BEST LETTINGS AGENT award on the Roy Brooks Team.

Roy Brooks Lettings team is in the top 5% of Lettings agents in SE15 and SE22. In fact, we are the ONLY agent for these postcodes who enjoys this status! RIGHTMOVE monitor agent performance, taking into account factors such as ‘click-through rate’ (reflecting on how well photographs and write-ups entice a mover to ‘read more..’), and the speed at which a property goes from TO LET, to LET AGREED.

It is a reflection on the Roy Brooks team’s very quick response to market changes that they have won this. Well done to the team. We are very proud of them. And there is much they, and you, have had to take on board recently.
Please be aware we have protocols on place to protect you, your tenants, your properties and our staff. Though we are in another lockdown,  estate agents continue to work within government guidelines which includes temperature checking of staff, observing tenants who need to self-isolate and carrying adequate PPE to appointments and observing relevant protocols. As long as we continue to do this we can continue to:

  • Show properties
  • Prepare homes to move into
  • Assist tenants in moving home
The show goes on!
Section 21s (though they are up for review) still stand and at present you can issues this notice to reclaim your property however the required notice period which until May was 2 months, is now 6 months, and in the event that eviction proceedings should be required these cannot be set into motion until the end of the 6 month period. This 6 month period is due to stay in place until March 2021.

Furthermore, if the court should have already granted an eviction, bailiffs have been requested not to impose (with a few exceptions) this during the national lockdown. Combined with the current ‘winter pause’ whereby evictions will not be imposed between 11th December and 11th January, this means that most evictions cannot be enforced until 12 January 2021 at the earliest.

(Exclusions include anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse, fraud, and illegal occupation.) The government also intends to introduce an exception for extreme pre-coronavirus rent arrears, and will provide more detail on this shortly. 
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Within the prescribed Covid-19 protocols, landlords (or their appointed agents) must make every effort to abide by current gas safety regulations in the carrying out of annual safety checks. In addition, the electrical safety regulations came into force in June 2020 requiring that new properties or new tenancies as they arise acquire an Electrical Safety Certificate. 
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This had been running exceptionally healthily until 2 months ago when the banks withdrew 90% mortgages with the net result that buyers who liked the £500k flats they were viewing were told by their brokers to start looking at £400k flats instead. Inevitably, they found them rather less appealing and went off the idea of buying at all. More and more stock came on the market at prices that would have worked in June, but these are now seeing price drops of £50k to £80k from sellers who just ‘want to move on!’.

For Landlords who are in this for the long term, there are now some real buying opportunities out there in case you are interested in expanding your portfolio. News of the vaccine seems to have given a fresh boost to scene. A list of recommended BTL opportunities will follow.