So what, precisely do you do?
I am told the question “What do you do?” Is a favourite of HM the Queen at Buckingham Palace garden parties and I hope one day to find out. Until then, it is a fair question for our customers to ask.
For our tenants the answer is simple. “We aim to provide you with a hassle free tenancy so you can enjoy your new home”. To do this we try our best to match tenant, property and landlord. For our landlords, the short answer is “we aim to save you more money than we cost you”. In order to achieve this, a managing agent must understand the bewildering plethora of laws and regulations which, once understood can save landlords money and potentially disastrous litigation.
There are over 40 Acts of Parliament listed in the RICS Code of Practice and we must have a working knowledge of them all. We have just acquired a property repossessed by the bank. The rent was not legally payable to the previous landlord, all because a basic requirement of the Housing Act 1988 had not been complied with by the former agent that drafted the contract. We are not solicitors so we have law experts on call should we be unsure of a legal issue that needs addressing.
Then there is taxation and for once, we can advise landlords to smile at the mention of HMRC. The tax man is generous to landlords but unless you are aware of the tax breaks, it is not the job of HMRC to point them out. For example, the Landlords Energy Saving Allowance offers tax relief on capital improvements that will help energy efficiency. On a furnished let it is possible to claim 10% deduction for wear and tear. There is also a tax allowance for maintenance.
As a Managing Agent we are not allowed to give tax advice but as with the law, we have accredited, insured experts who can. The same is true for a landlord wishing to expand their portfolio. Our Financial Service Advisers can structure finance which allows us to recommend properties that are the best fit for the portfolio objectives.
Overall our objective is to save our landlords money whilst ensuring a smooth tenancy for both landlord and tenant. In order to do this a Managing Agent is a bit like an iceberg without the Polar bears. Four fifths of what we do goes unseen by the visitor to our offices. We rely on our established network of partners in law, taxation and financial services.
That is the answer to the question “So, what do you do?” Hopefully in time, our work will come to the attention of the right people and I will find myself in the garden of Buckingham Palace being asked the question by HM, whereupon my mind will go blank and I shall be reduced to a mumbling wreck. Which hopefully will amuse the Queen a bit more than the real answer.