LSL Property Services plc have published their Buy-to-let index for February 2012 and it shows that rents dropped by .1% from the previous month. LSL owns the UK’s largest agent network including Your Move and Reeds Rains.

The average rent in England and Wales fell to £731 per month. However, on an annual basis rents grew by 3.3%. There is a very mixed picture emerging from the Buy-to-let index which shows that rents grew on a monthly basis in half of the regions of England and Wales. London saw the greatest increase – 6.2% which equates to £64. Other regions to record monthly increases were Wales and the North West. However, there were falls in the East of England and the South West.

Most of our landlord insurance clients bought their properties some years ago and should have seen steady growth in rents. For example the LSL Buy-to-let index shows average monthly rents of less then £660 in February 2010. Three years later and the figure is £731. The question for landlords and potential landlords is, can it continue? If the Government’s plans to stimulate the house sales market bear fruit will this make buy to let investment less attractive?
Many of our clients’ tenants are renting because they have found it impossible to raise the deposit and qualify for a mortgage. If it becomes easier to buy a house will the landlords start to struggle? We should welcome your views from the sharp end of the marketplace.

We often warn landlords about their responsibility to make sure gas appliances, fittings and flues provided for tenants are safe. This involves a proper program of maintenance and servicing carried out by a Gas Safe engineer. Linked with this is the need to have every gas appliance and flue inspected by a Gas Safe engineer every twelve months and a requirement for a copy of the record to be provided to the tenant. A question was recently raised about what to do if the tenant will not give you access to carry out the annual gas safety check. Your tenancy agreement should always allow you access for this. If the tenant refuses to let your engineer come in you have a very serious problem on your hands. You need to be able to demonstrate that you have taken all reasonable steps to undertake the gas check so you should issue the tenant with a written notice formally requesting access and explaining why it is needed. You also need proof that you have tried to gain access and been refused. Keep copies of all the evidence. We strongly recommend that any of our landlord policy holders in this position seek legal advice immediately because gas safety issues are very serious.