• Autumn Statement 2016 - lettings agent fees to be banned.

    Posted in Letting on Nov 24, 2016

    Following yesterday's announcement that letting agent lettings fees are to be banned for ingoing tenants we are providing you with the following information from the BBC website to keep you fully informed.

    Please bear in mind, this announcement yesterday is simply that, it is simply an announcement and no dates or detail have been released as yet.

    Rest assured as and when we hear anything from our sources we will inform all of our customers and clients.

    Currently we do not expect this to effect any of our current packages or deals that we have with our landlords.

    Yesterday's announcement...

    Lettings agents in England will be banned from charging fees to tenants "as soon as possible" under plans announced in the Autumn Statement.

    Tenants can be charged fees for a range of administration, including reference, credit and immigration checks.

    Chancellor Philip Hammond said shifting the cost to landlords will save 4.3 million households hundreds of pounds.

    The move could spur competition as landlords, unlike tenants, can shop around for the cheapest agent.

    In Scotland, lettings agency fees to tenants have already been banned.

    In England and Wales since last year, lettings and managing agents have been legally obliged to clearly publicise their fees.

    Fees vary widely, with costs in some big cities much higher than elsewhere.

    Tenants face charges when agents draw up tenancy agreements along with the possibility of a non-refundable holding deposit paid before signing up to the deal. 'It is incredibly expensive'

    Natalie Lightman says it is "incredibly hard" to find a place to live in London, but eventually she found a "cosy but expensive" flat.

    "Then I paid £150 just for the privilege of putting down a deposit," she says.

    In total, she paid upfront costs of £2,000 before setting foot in the flat, of which the letting fees were a part.

    "Banning fees is a good idea as it will drive up competition," she says. "A lot of people cannot afford these costs."

    But Julie Turner, who is a landlord, says the extra costs faced by landlords will lead to higher rents.

    "We do not make a profit on our property we rent out because there is the service charge and insurance and mortgage, and there is a new tax law coming in," she says.

    "If the administration fees come back to the landlord the rent will have to increase. It is not being greedy, it is just we need to cover our costs." Choice

    Charities have said that these primarily upfront fees have risen in recent years.

    The latest English Housing Survey shows fees typically cost £223. However, Shelter research in 2012 found that one in seven tenants pays more than £500.

    The charity said renters had no choice over the agent they dealt with after finding a house or flat. Landlords, on the other hand, were able to choose between agencies to act for them when renting out their property.

    Many tenants are angry that, with more competition for decent places, they are forced to pay to guarantee somewhere to live. Some argue that the fee for drawing up a tenancy agreement far outweighs the actual cost to the agent.

    Overall, along with rent in advance and a deposit, the average upfront costs faced by renters using a letting agency are more than £1,000 nationally and over £2,000 in London, according to Shelter.

    The industry has argued that administration has a cost and has argued for stronger consumer protection through regulation of the sector, rather than a ban.

    David Cox, managing director of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (Arla), said: "A ban on letting agent fees is a draconian measure, and will have a profoundly negative impact on the rental market.

    "It will be the fourth assault on the sector in just over a year, and do little to help cash-poor renters save enough to get on the housing ladder. This decision is a crowd-pleaser, which will not help renters in the long-term. All of the implications need to be taken into account.

    "Most letting agents do not profit from fees."

    Agents saw some of the biggest falls in company share prices in early trading, with Foxtons down 11%, Countrywide down nearly 6%, and Savills also falling slightly.

  • Best Agent, Best Offer!

    Posted in Letting on Oct 12, 2016

    We Won! Best Agent in Bristol - 2016

    We are delighted to have been awarded a silver medal for "Best Agent in Bristol".

    Here at LifeStyle, we really endeavour to provide excellent customer service as well as almost unchallenged, competitive management fees.

    LifeStyle are "Independent", a term we often talk about. We are proud of this, because we are direct competition for bank-owned agencies that are only interested in selling ancillary services.

    LifeStyle are a family run, independent, that manages over 1000 properties for Landlords and never struggle to fill properties for landlords.

    We have a large piece of the market-share for North Bristol and we whole-heartedly believe this is down to our company ethos and the competitive rates that we offer. LifeStyle are not here to make quick-big money. We charge competively and provide excellent service so that you remain a loyal customer.

    Giving back to Landlords!

    We are over the moon at the award but we must stay grounded. We are only here because of you - the Landlords. As such we would love to give back with this limited-time offer:

    Let Your Property For Free

    With any of our managed services, we will Let your property for FREE!. That's right! FREE of any of the initial service charges. We will only charge for the management fee, that gets billed when we collect the rent.

    Giving back to Tenants!

    We do appreciate that it can be expensive renting a property. The costs involved in reference checking and administrative costs can make the whole process difficult. So we'd love you to take us up on the following offer:

    *10% OFF of referencing & administration fees (please quote FB10 to qualify)

    *offer valid until 31st October 2016

  • Awarded Best All Round Agent

    Posted in General, Letting on Jul 24, 2015

    LifeStyle are ecstatic to have been awarded "The Best All-Round Estate Agent" by the Bristol Post, for their Best Letting Agent in the Bristol area.

    We are genuinely pleased to be recognised for the hard work and determination that we endeavour to show all clients and provide a friendly, knowlegable, end-to-end service.

    LifeStyle have been serving the bristol area for over 25 years now and we have always prided ourselves on going the extra mile. Short-term wins have never been in our business model and strive to offer fair rates - so that we earn "little and often". Its common for us to provide services to children of existing clients and sometimes grand children. It's a real pleasure to watch a family grow and shows a real "human" side to the business.

    Thanks to all those involved in the award. We are chuffed!

    The LifeStyle Property Team

  • Deposits must be registered

    Posted in Letting on Jul 21, 2015

    Landlords could face huge fines if they have failed to register old deposits, under new legislation, the Deregulation Act 2015, which came into force on 23rd june 2015.

    Landlords should have registered deposits received from April 6th 2007 with an Approved Scheme and suppliynformationonpayees.

    Property and landlord specialists at Kirwans, say that lawyers and letting agents need to be fully aware of their obligations in light of the new retrospective laws.

    Landlords who have failed to act, could face county court action and fines of thousands of pounds if the situation is not rectified. They could also be prevented from recovering possession of their property under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.

    Danielle Hughes from Kirwans says, "This legislation has a retrospective effect and has the potential to put landlords in a very vulnerable position. Landlords who have not protected deposits have only days left to begin taking steps to address the issue and make the necessaryarrangements. "Shelter's website offers a database check on which tenants can determine within three minutes whether or not their deposits have been protected. It's thatsimple. No doubt savvy tenants will already be checking the position and waiting with baited breath in the hope that their landlord falls foul of the requirements.

    "We'd advise landlords with tenants living in their property at any time from and before April 6th 2007 to carry out a historical review and take immediate action; or face potential fines,countycourt action and potentially be unable to remove tenants from property."

    The Deregulation Act 2015 confirms that some deposits taken by landlords before April 6th 2007 may also need to be registered. This is because landlords are to protect deposits and serve the prescribed information at the beginning oefach new tenancy.

    This includes at the end of a Fixed- Term Assured Shorthold Tenancy.

    Should the tenant remain in the property following expiry of a fixed term, the tenancy becomes what is known as a "Statutory Periodic Tenancy". This is seen as a new tenancy agreement in law.

    If a deposit was taken before April 6th 2007, but the tenancy ran on as a statutory periodic tenancy after that time, landlords will still need to fulfil the new criteria.