newbie landlord wants to know, HMO costs, are these normal?

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    newbie landlord wants to know, HMO costs, are these normal?

    Dear fellow Landlords,

    my flat had recently had minor HMO works to make it compliant; letter plate had to be replaced by BS 13724 one, maindoor had to have intumescent strips and smoke seals fitted made smoke proof, bedroom doors had to fully self close, needing adjusting the latch keeper and fire blanket had to be relocated in the kitchen. .

    The letting agent had let me know the work required, sending me the Council's schedule of work required. l agreed to it, but then got the first invoice. The first part is billed 'removing existing door lock as fitting incorrectly £293' I enquired about this and got told by the tradesman that it was because after fitting the intumescent strips and fire seals the door wouldn't close properly so the lock had to be adjusted and the bill included all other requirements and materials. Fair enough I thought, but then the property manager said no, theres another invoice for the materials and labor of ensuring the 3 bedroom doors close properly, and that amounts to £320. I feel robbed. Isn't it proper procedure to inform me of the costs before just having that automatically debited from my rent? Especially at these hyper inflated rates. Other costs are fire risk assessment which cost £298 and annual servicing of fire extinguishers which cost £32.94. are the above costs normal and should l ask for itemised receipts? I feel like I am getting the pi** taken out off because I am an inexperienced landlord. Making it worse is that the service and response rate from the letting agent are 90% non existent. Google reviews show they only have 2 stars out of 5. I am considering threatening contact with ombudsman or ARLA (the letting agent said they were members) if they don't refund some of the costs. Please advise. Thanks in advance for your help.

    #2
    Did you get quotes from other tradesmen or just ask the Agent to manage it? If the latter then I'm not surprised you're paying a premium

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      #3
      They are the agent's tradesmen. They took my call last time when they didn't know it was my number and l politely enquired about their costs but they no longer take my calls, messages and emails even though l am asking them to do further work in another property's flooring and bathroom, which he said would be interested in, in the only call that he answered from me, the first call. The workman said he would get back to me later that day to show me the cost breakdown of the work he did. nothing. its been a week now.
      l should of been informed of the costs no matter what no?

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        #4
        Isn't ARLA or Ombudsman the first to contact, and if no success go to sheriff/ small claims court. someone suggested launching a bankruptcy petition, which will force them to pay. whats that?

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          #5
          Dealing with agent's tradesmen is your first and primary mistake.

          They usually charge double of tradesmen you hire yourself, mainly because the agent gets a cut of the costs.

          I've had agent managed property before where any repair bills done by tradesmen from agent (which is deducted from rent) easily double those I get if I go direct to reputable local tradesmen.

          Don't bother go direct to the tradesmen recommended by the agent, they know not to damage the relationship they have with the agent of which they would get more jobs from, it is more of a symbiotic parasitic relationship built on your property.

          Built up a few trusted tradesmen yourself and call them out instead of using those from the agent, it will work out a lot better in the longer run, I myself have 1-2 gas engineers / plumbers, electrician whom I trust to take care of issues at market rates.

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            #6
            Do l have any say in the reduction of the hyperinflated costs. an external door at homebase or howdens cost £65 and £75! and l was charged £293 'removing existing door lock as fitting incorrectly £293'. and £320 for adjusting bedroom doors and moving a fire blanket to the kitchen. ARLA or ombudsman first point of contact if no success?
            since only 2 students acan live there just now as the HMO licence still has to be received, can't l , the landlord also live there? so 3 ppl including me will be in the flat.

            Comment


              #7
              You do not seem to be talking about an external door, but rather a fire door to an internal escape route. Correctly fitting a fire door is not cheap. I didn't comment on that before, as I didn''t see any mention of fitting a fire door in your costings. One of the thing things reported on Grenfell is that internal fire doors had been done on the cheap and they did not actually comply with the 30 minute protection specification. I would say £293 was good value, or cheap, for a properly fitted fire door.

              I'm not clear what the scope of the fire risk assessment was (whole block or single flat) so I'm not sure whether that is reasonable or not.

              £32.94 sounds like a bargain, given I imagine the callout charge would normally be over £50.

              It is not clear how much work was needed on the bedroom doors, but, for example, fitting a closer would be around £70 per door.

              The prices may be marked up, but nothing like "hyper" inflated.

              The materials costs in these sorts of things can be a relatively minor component.



              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Mable View Post
                since only 2 students acan live there just now as the HMO licence still has to be received, can't l , the landlord also live there? so 3 ppl including me will be in the flat.
                If there are only two students living there it isn't an HMO (other than for council tax purposes), so the HMO regulations don't apply.

                If the students are renting the property on an AST, it's a criminal offence if you move in, although it still wouldn't make it an HMO if you did move in, as long as you own the property.

                The problem isn't the costs of doing the work, it's how you have chosen to operate with your agent. If you want them to get quotes for work before carrying it, you should tell them.
                Most agents just sort out problems as they arise and pass on the cost of resolution, because, being realistic, when something has gone wrong, it's not usually possible to quote for fixing it, because it needs fixing "now".
                This is a different kind of work and should be handled differently, with costings approved up front.

                Depending on where you are, those costs don't sound too bad in themselves.
                When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

                Comment


                  #9
                  leaseholder64,

                  Sorry for misunderstanding, the external / front door just had to be made smoke proof, so smoke seals and fire strips were added. as a result of this the door didn't lock properly so lock had to be removed and adjusted. cost £293. bedroom doors had to be adjusted. l have attached the council's requests. l am pleased that it has passed, but the demands were not labour intensive, Edinburgh Council said it could be done in a day and HMO Scotland said it was not demanding work. l will try to get a quote from them, to see what they say. the fire risk assessment was done for a 3 bedroom flat with one living room. the property agent told me l got it real cheap, as she has 'paid over £300' for fire risk assessments for other HMO flats. The boss said to me that l will get the full invoice next week, when l receive my deducted rent, and l can discuss with her if anything unacceptable. Do l have any power to bring this to ARLA or ombudsman or even small claims court if the costs are unacceptably high? l noticed in the contract it does have it as me passing full maintenance to them. attached. sounds like l had given up my rights, but the SAT l was sent doesn't even have the students signature, the tenants, the agent never signed it either and most important l was not in Edinburgh to sign it.

                  on a side note the letting agent can no longer be reviewed on google, it could just last week, getting 2 stars out of 5 with a mounting series of complaints. The only native speaking person who worked there, was a helpful and knowledgeable British Asian, he left for a bigger property agent, he himself said that the staff there are not qualified except the boss and that he would only move back if he got paid at least as much as he is getting now, twice the amount he said.

                  thanks to all fellow Landlords, please advise newbie landlord. Thank you

                  Comment


                    #10
                    l tried to put the attachments earlier but was suspected as spam hopefully attached
                    Attached Files

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                      #11
                      other 2 attachments. l tried to contact the letting agent's boss, but like most of the time cannot be reached, l may email her about the big discrepancy of works required by the council and what l paid. please advise on next step
                      Attached Files

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                        #12
                        sorry the attachments have been reduced in size so cannot make out first 3 attachments, anyone know how to upload eligible attachments? l hope the link shows the council's schedule in full size
                        https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/163u-GZVAEuOGFVjIxIRUvLggF_bJnpnH?usp=sharing

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Mable View Post
                          sorry the attachments have been reduced in size so cannot make out first 3 attachments, anyone know how to upload eligible attachments? l hope the link shows the council's schedule in full size
                          Mable, read the 'demands' from the council. They are extremely low. Not sure what others think, l recommend you contact the tenants and tell them not to pay the agent this month. This will be helpful if the con jobs still haven't been paid to the workers. Then get it sorted, if not sorted, contact the Ombudsman

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