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Letting Solutions receive the "Best in County" Award at the Estate and Letting Agents Awards 2014

Letting Solutions have received the received the BEST IN COUNTY award in West Lothian at the prestigious Estate & Letting Agent Awards 2014.

The award was announced by Phil Spencer, the TV property expert at a lavish luncheon & ceremony at the Hilton Park Lane London attended by 700 of the UK’s top estate and letting agents and suppliers to the industry.

The awards, celebrating their 11th year are known throughout the industry as the ESTAS.  The ESTAS determines the best estate/letting agents in the country through research carried out amongst customers who are asked a series of questions about the service they have received from their agent, 32,000 questionnaires were completed by customers during the competition. 

Phil Spencer, who has hosted the ESTAS every year since their inception in 2004 said
“The ESTAS are about making people happy, putting a smile on their face and making a genuine difference to peoples’ lives.  An agent’s role is about guiding people through one of the most stressful times in their lives and that’s not an easy job.  In a world where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to make contact with a real person in a company isn’t it so refreshing that you can phone almost any estate or letting agent in the UK and get straight through to a real person.  The ESTAS help agencies to focus on customer service levels and that’s why agencies keep coming back”.

Agents were shortlisted in 18 regions around the UK.  National Grand Prix Awards were also announced for the Best Single Agent Office in sales and lettings.

Simon Brown who owns the ESTAS also addressed the audience “winning one of these gleaming ESTAS this afternoon proves that your people can be trusted.  In fact just taking part shows your commitment to your customers and to be shortlisted, as all of you here today have, means you already have the trust factor.”
Susan and Brian Callaghan, Joint MDs of Letting Solutions said “We are absolutely thrilled to be recognised at this year’s ESTAS. It means so much to us as we know it’s our customers who have judged our performance.  We take our levels of customer service very seriously because we know clients have a choice.  We have always been very proud of the personal service we provide and this is great way to demonstrate how good we really are. We would like to thank all our landlords for their support".

Alex Chesterman, Founder & CEO of headline sponsor Zoopla Property Group said “This is our fifth year of sponsoring the ESTAS and we are delighted to be once again supporting this key industry event. The ability to collect and act on customer feedback is essential to the success of any business and rewarding those who provide the best service in the industry, as these awards do, is perfectly aligned with our business. Congratulations to all those shortlisted this year.”


UK set to become more like Europe in terms of renting homes, new research suggests


One in five of 23 to 27 year olds in the UK have no desire to own a home, suggesting that the country will become a nation of renters within the next generation, according to a new report. The attitudes of younger people are changing towards home ownership with 46% believing that the UK is becoming more like Europe where renting is the norm as fewer people are prepared to make the financial sacrifices needed to become a home owner.

The research from leading lender, the Halifax, also shows that 86% of potential home owners refuse to sacrifice the quality of accommodation they currently live in to reduce the amount of rent they pay in order to save for a deposit.

The report, produced for the Halifax by the National Centre for Social Research, shows that since 2011 attitudes towards renting have changes and the majority of current 20 to 45 year olds renting are unable, or choose not to buy. This means that the profile of the housing market will change significantly in the longer time with home ownership reducing as fewer and fewer people make their way onto the property ladder.

‘With attitudes softening towards the social implications of renting, and the number of people who say they will never own a property increasing, we may be heading towards the point where the aspiration to own a nice home will be replaced by the aspiration simply to live in one,’ said Craig McKinlay, mortgages director at the Halifax.

‘It seems that people are now beginning to accept a lifetime of renting and this would not only change the way the property ladder looks in the future, it could even bring into question whether or not it will exist at all for some people,’ he added.

The proportion of people who don’t want to raise children in a rented property has reduced by 10%, with the proportion of people worried about renting having a negative impact on their retirement also decreasing by 10%.

The cycle of renting is also perpetuated by the fact people who predominantly grow up in rented accommodation are themselves more likely to rent than buy.

Some 49% of people that don’t want to own have grown up in rented accommodation. Of those who don’t want to own, 36% think that the nation should lose its obsession with homeownership and that people would be happier as a result.

While unemployment has reduced and the availability of higher LTV mortgages has significantly increased over the last year, low incomes and saving for a deposit remain among the greatest barriers to ownership, the research suggests.

For those who choose to rent before they buy, rather than living longer in the family home, saving for a deposit can be an even greater feat. The cost of renting a home in the UK is now on average £1,488 a year higher that owning, with the gap between these costs being driven by average annual rents increasing by over £1,200 since 2009, while the cost of owning has remained relatively unchanged over the same period.

Craig McKinlay says ‘For those who do want to own, consideration needs to be given to set realistic timescales and ways in which this can be achieved. Researching the market and accessing the support that is available for first time buyers could make a real difference in realising the dream of owning your own home,’ he added.

An increase in the number of people renting could also lead to a more transient population, able to move geographical areas quickly and easily. While this has advantages in terms of labour mobility and national economic growth, instability in being able to project longer term demand is likely to affect the number and nature of new build properties.

This could lead to fewer homes being built than is necessary, exacerbating the current housing shortfall which can only be addressed by a continued supply of new homes. Developers will also need to adapt their models to reflect the changing shape of the housing market. If we see an increase in renting, we could also see more focus on build to rent developments.

Alun Humphrey, National Centre for Social Research senior research director says ‘The home ownership profile of the UK is currently in a transient phase. If an increased supply of housing keeps prices stable and any economic recovery is felt, in real terms, by those for whom homeownership is currently out of reach, then we may see levels of homeownership start to catch up with those of previous generations’


It’s official: students make great tenants!


Research by Total Landlord Insurance, show that the average claim value for properties tenanted by students is the lowest of all demographic profiles quantified, with only 9.6% of claims coming from student properties.Contrary to belief, students do in fact make very reliable tenants.

Landlords with student tenants make the second fewest insurance claims. Last year the average claim value for student properties was £2,090.18, nearly a third  less than that of DSS (Department of Social Security) tenants which was £6,072.97.

In 2013, a survey by the National Landlords Association found that students were the least likely to skip rent payments and offered the highest yields.  The latest figures from Total Landlord Insurance further support the theory that students make great tenants.

Eddie Hooker, CEO of Total Landlord Insurance says “Arguably, there are two reasons for this. Students tend to live in properties for nine months of the year and then move out, giving landlords the summer months to carry out necessary maintenance work for the following batch of students. Something that other residential landlords might not get the opportunity to do as frequently.

Secondly, students usually have their parents as a guarantor when renting a property which, as well as covering unpaid rent, usually extends to other conditions such as damage caused to the property.  Therefore, any problems that arise can often be settled outside of an insurance claim.”

Total Landlord Insurance says properties that are checked regularly and have routine maintenance carried out are less likely to need to claim because smaller problems are fixed before they escalate. Students tend to occupy their homes more frequently than a full-time employed person, for example, and therefore are more available to notify a landlord as and when issues arise.

Scottish Housing Bill covers both the private and social residential rental sectors


Housing (Scotland) Bill introduced to the Scottish Parliament in 2013 will end the right to buy in Scotland . The Scottish Government claims that this will prevent the sale of up to 15,500 social houses over the next 10 years.

The Scottish Government believes that as a result of this, pressure on social housing will be alleviated. Currently there are 185,000 people on waiting lists for council and housing association houses, and it is argued that the country can no longer afford to see badly needed homes lost from the social sector.

The Bill will also increase flexibility for social landlords in the allocation and management of housing. This will allow landlords to make better use of their stock, give them more tools to tackle anti-social behaviour and provide further protection for tenants on Short Scottish Secure Tenancies.

Other measures in the Bill will:

  • Introduce a regulatory framework for Letting Agents;
  • Enhance local authority powers to improve the quality of houses in the private sector;
  • Make changes to mobile homes site licensing, to improve the rights of the 3,300 households living permanently in mobile or park homes;
  • Establish a private rented sector tribunal which will provide tenants and landlords with access to specialist justice to resolve disputes more effectively.

The Bill is presently being scrutinised by Parliament and the plans is that it will be passed in the summer of 2014.

The Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee is leading on the scrutiny of the Bill. The Committee issued its call for evidence in December 2013 , inviting individuals and tenants' groups to submit their views on the provisions in the Bill.