London Property Licensing: the first six months
Six months ago today, we flicked the switch and launched the London Property Licensing website. I remember the moment well. It marked the culmination of months of hard work, research and innovative web-design to develop a new web-based information resource for London landlords and letting agents.
But at that time and with some trepidation, I could never be sure how the service would be received, whether people would find it useful and whether the website could become established as an important new information resource for landlords and letting agents.
With hindsight, I needn’t have feared, as we seem to have hit the mark. From day 1, positive feedback started to flood in. In fact, I’ve not received a single negative comment since the website was launched. Positive coverage in Property Industry Eye, through Property Tribes, Residential Property Investor and Environmental Health News have all helped to raise the profile.
Usage of the website has continued to grow month on month and we’ve exceeded 50,000 page views in the first six months! The twitter feed (@lplicensing) has over 700 followers, there are regular new subscribers to our free newsletter (subscribe here) and we have an active Facebook page (www.facebook.com/londonpropertylicensing) – why not give us a like!
There has also been high demand for speaking engagements from people wanting to find out more, and I’ve been invited to speak at numerous events in Bexley (the Landlord Property Meet), Camden, Knightsbridge, Southampton, Wandsworth, Westminster, plus at the recent Landlord and Letting Show. It has been great to engage with so many people in the property industry.
For the first time, we have established a comprehensive directory of every property-licensing scheme operated by the London boroughs – helping landlords and letting agents to quickly and easily see how the schemes relate to their individual property portfolio.
But the website offers much more than that and we have continued to develop and improve the service offered. The resource section has significantly expanded and further research into HMO Article 4 Directions is currently underway. Throughout the process, the ethos has remained the same – providing simple, impartial and expert advice to help people understand and comply with the law.
With hindsight, the timing for the launch of the London Property Licensing website couldn’t have been better as there has been so much change in the regulation of the private rented sector. In the last six months, we have seen:
- new regulations requiring letting agents to display their fees, redress scheme membership and client money protection status;
- the roll-out of new licensing schemes in Croydon and Islington;
- new requirements for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in all private rented accommodation;
- fundamental changes to the Section 21 notice of seeking possession procedure and
- the Home Office announcing a national roll-out of Right to Rent.
We have also shined a spotlight on housing enforcement action in London, with our research showing 580 landlord prosecutions from 2011 to 2014. Hopefully this will encourage those councils languishing at the bottom of the enforcement league table to up their game and start targeting the very worst landlords who place tenants’ lives at risk and ruin the reputation of the sector.
So what next? Looking ahead, the pace of change in regulatory controls looks set to continue, particularly in the London rental market where several new licensing schemes and HMO Article 4 Directions are on the horizon. This looks set to make the London Property Licensing information resource more important than ever.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people – too numerous to mention – who have given me invaluable support and advice over the last six months – you know who you are!
And finally, it is my intension to keep the London Property Licensing website as a free information resource for London landlords and letting agents – a unique service helping you to understand the rules and comply with the law. I am very grateful to the companies that already advertise on the website and are helping to make this possible.
But I still need to attract more advertisers! Whether you are a letting agent, insurance broker, mortgage advisor, fire risk assessor, or gas servicing contractor, then this is a perfect place to advertise your business direct to London landlords. And with rates from just £40+VAT a month, you won’t find better value elsewhere. That’s my sales pitch over!
I always value your feedback so if you have any thoughts or comments, please do get in touch (here) and I will personally read every response.