Hello reader, two weeks into lock-down - I sincerely hope you are staying safe and well.
We're doing good: working extremely hard on helping people to move, whilst be extra vigilant in minimising risk to all parties.
Getting lots done remotely - none of us had even heard of ZOOM until a few weeks ago but now it feels like we can't imagine a world without it! Other technology we are really benefiting from is our telephone system, our mobiles seamlessly linked to the office and since isolation, I am proud to say we have not missed a single call.
In terms of our What's App remote viewings... We have been very productive with new negotiations, offers etc. You'll be happy to hear we have been successful in completing plenty of move-ins over the last fortnight and have more applications being processed throughout the weeks ahead.
In this newsletter, I will be giving you an update on the rental collection side of things followed by how we are dealing with the Health & Safety aspects of the situation (including 'Essential' and 'Non-essential' repairs).
As always, updates on other areas will be sent out in due course.
Over 95% of all property rents due in the last two weeks successfully collected
Sam (Head of Lettings and Sales pictured above) is working tremendously hard with our General Manager Scott to collect 100% of all rents due.
The advice to Tenants from us has been clear and precise: allowing the debt to accrue for tomorrow, is certainly not a way of dealing with the crisis today - whilst we fully accept it may not be easy, all rents remain due, this is not a 'Rent Holiday' and late payments are subject to interest plus further costs, which ultimately could result in eviction - we are committed to doing everything we can to avoid getting this stage.
With this in mind, instead of adopting a 'one-size-fits-all' approach (which does not offer the best results in these circumstances), Sam and Scott will speak to each Tenant, be extremely careful in their handling and make proposals based on individual merits, be pro-active in talking to employers if needs be, generating ideas and suggestions - as a team, they have an excellent track record of achieving a suitable outcome for all.
As a result, 8 manageable payment plans have been agreed - for the few others, we are in constant communication with both parties with a view to finding a resolution.
Health & Safety compliance and 'Essential' versus 'Non-essential' property repairs
Your repair obligations as a Landlord have not changed - the guidelines set out by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) still clearly state that Tenants have a right to a decent, warm and safe place to live which is kept in good repair and free from hazards.
Information released last week by the Ministry of Housing states the following: "In these unprecedented times we encourage Tenants and Landlords to take a pragmatic, common-sense approach to non-urgent [non-essential] issues which are affected by COVID-19 related restrictions".
My interpretation; organise for urgent/essential jobs to be responded to without delay and schedule non-urgent/non-essential works to be completed at a more sensible time in future. Gary and Sheralyn in our Maintenance Team are answering all Tenant queries in real time: having a meaningful discussion on a case-by-case basis to better understand priorities and timescales in order to make an effective plan accordingly.
For clarity from us as your Agent: when it comes to Tenant safety we will respond immediately - we will determine if there is an imminent threat to your Tenant's ability to live safely and, if essential, we will act in a reasonable and responsible manner without delay and in good faith with the highest principals - carefully mitigating the risk to all whilst considering and reducing the chance of virus transmission.
Note: I will be sending out a separate newsletter regarding Gas Safeties, EPCs, electrical testing, Legionella Risk Assessments and smoke alarms in due course.
Is there Government guidance on what an 'essential' repair actually is?
The Ministry of Housing identifies essential works as: those which will affect your Tenant's ability to live safely and maintain their mental and physical health in your property. This could include (but is not limited to):
- If there is a problem with the fabric of your building, for example the roof is leaking
- If your boiler is broken, leaving your Tenant without heating or hot water
- If there is a plumbing issue, meaning your Tenant does not have washing or toilet facilities
- If your white goods such as fridge or washing machine have broken, meaning your Tenant is unable to wash clothes or store food safely
- If there is a security-critical problem, such as a broken window or external door
- If equipment a disabled person relies on requires installation or repair
We are experienced enough to know that most of these jobs are reported outside of normal working hours (due to Tenants getting home from work etc). When they call us, we answer the phone - 24 hours a day, 365 days a year - no answerphone messages, an actual human that Tenants can speak to straight away.
Last year, we spoke to 174 Tenants out of hours that faced problems identified as being 'essential'. This year, we have received and dealt with 36 calls between 6pm and 8am - all from Tenants experiencing an issue which impacts on their mental or physical health within the home.
To put your mind at rest, even with isolation being what it is today, we have built systems and have the right people in place to continue working round the clock to ensure that you, as the Landlord, are upholding your obligations when it comes to the safety and security of your Tenant.
Note: I have referred to the Ministry of Housing a few times in this Newsletter, if you would like to read their guidance in full... please click here for a PDF download.
A personal note from me
Over the last few weeks, our industry has had pretty much daily changes in rules and regulations thrown at it. We have had to shift processes/policy constantly to ensure a smooth and compliant service, so that you as our client, receive the best possible experience - even though it's proving challenging, I personally thrive on getting my head around the detail behind the scenes and truly believe that what we do in this lock-down period will determine how successful we will be when 'normality' returns.
In the last fortnight, we have continued to sell and let property, albeit in a very different way - using our time to be extra creative in engaging with all of our customers, doing our best to inform all concerned on the latest developments and put into practice our ideas on how we can help people and keep them moving.
We have carried out What's App viewings, negotiated offers, exchanged/finalised contracts and had several move-ins too. We are doing our level best to generate new applications, ensure upcoming Tenancies go ahead as planned, liaise with all Tenants about rent collections, oversee and act on Health & Safety matters where required and so much more – all whilst being extremely vigilant in conforming to the Government's isolation guidelines.
Through good times and bad, Cavendish Residential has always been here, consistently striving to see our clients through and when we are back after the lock-down... I am confident we will emerge SUPER READY to continue doing what we do best.
As always, I will keep you posted on the measures we have put in place to help protect all parties whilst ensuring your investment is performing well. In the meantime, if you would like more information about our Coronavirus Policy and changes, please email our General Manager Scott (email@example.com) – he will be available to answer any questions.