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.

  • Moderator2
    replied
    One of your images was removed from post #18 since this contained the property address and the address and bank account details of a tradesman.

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  • Mable
    replied
    Dear Fellow Landlords, I was very uncomfortable with the fact that I was charged £293 for 'remove existing front door lock as fitting incorrectly' so asked the letting agent persistently and waited for a month and got the invoice yesterday. In the first invoice sent ~ 19October18, all things that were charged £0 eg 'double bed frame loose, screw fitting loose...£0','Supply and fit toilet seat for bathroom.......£0',' supply and fit candle bulbs for light fitting in bedroom and kitchen.. £0', etc now cost £25, £38, £26 respectively, the other things are also colour coded in attachments. I was never informed or authorised the things costing '£0' in the first invoice. besides the 'double bed frame loose, screw fitting loose' l had been informed by the letting agent that the bed infact had no problem, because after moving it to another part of the room it was fine, we concluded it must have been the unlevel floor level in flat. Also for ' supply and fit candle bulbs for light fitting in bedroom and kitchen' and changing batteries in smoke alarms, aren't the tenants responsible for them? It is a SAT agreement. I am considering asking for refund for all the items I was not initially informed about and charged at hyperinflated prices for. It is full management and l don't live in Edinburgh but I had informed them at the start that any work needing done must have me notified initially, also none of the works are considered safety hazard or priority. We have passed the council HMO requirements but are still awaiting the licence, but the letting agent said they have good news for me, that they have filled the 2 spare rooms with two tenants, so there are now 4. I am not sure if this is legal, so if I do change for a reputable property manager, won't the 2 new tenants have to be evicted until the licence is received?Please advise. Thanks in advance.
    Attached Files

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  • AlexR
    replied
    I apologise for adding to an older thread.

    I agree with Leaseholder64 . A fire door needs to be prepared once purchased and routering arranged , transporting, measuring, cutting, fitting locks, closers etc and are not a trivial tasks.I also believe parking can be difficult in some areas of Edinburgh. By their very definition HMOs have risks attached . I have entered a bedroom in a HMO and found a lit unattended candle. People put clothes on heaters or smoke out of windows. In short the fire precautions need to be 100%. A fire assessment is also required to cover the landlord particularly where students are involved - without it you run the risk of prosecution in the event of an incident that is deemed preventable.

    In my area Agents are reluctant to take on HMOs, and if they do they charge a higher fee because they are more difficult to manage. The returns on a three bedroom flat are potentially doubled if is it is a HMO as opposed to a family let and accordingly the risks and management costs are higher. In this case the agent is taking on this work because the OP is working away and the agent seems to be looking after her interests in her absence. I have arranged fire doors in my own property and I had difficulty finding suitable workmen to do the work - at any cost! You can always change agent if you wish but bear in mind that they seem to have tried to help here and if you alienate them they will not be working in your best interests when finding and managing tenants.Also the law in Scotland is different to that in England and as such, you may find agents may have to operate in a different way in your area .

    I would advise any new landlord to go on an approved introductory course, attend landlord meetings and network with other landlords. You may find that owning and letting property is a business and not a hands-off investment .

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  • jpkeates
    replied
    I've never had a charge from a letting agent to do anything as low as £20 (ever).

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  • leaseholder64
    replied
    Moderator1 , Moderator2 : Please consider merging this with https://forums.landlordzone.co.uk/fo...e-these-normal of which it appears to be continuation.

    Leave a comment:


  • Mable
    replied
    In my invoice statement, my letting agent has charged £293 for "Removing existing door lock as fitting incorrectly" l complained to the boss about it couple of times. Today, she said she would find out exactly what the charge was for, she added that it was something else as well and will find out for me tomorrow. Either way I was not informed of a door lock problem at the start. The contract is for 'full management' but they were informed that any costs should be reported to me before any work is carried out. They had verbally agreed. To add salt to injury, they charged me £20 for a battery change to a smoke alarm in a bedroom. l was informed yesterday by the letting agent that the smoke detector was 'beeping' and if they can send out a tradesman to change the battery. l replied hours later that there was no need to send out a tradesman to change a battery, and tenants could do it. They replied today that a tradesmen had been sent as the ceiling is 'high' (~3m?) and l have been charged £20. l understand those charges don't bankrupt me, but it feels like l am being robbed. What are the normal costs to change batteries in smoke alarms set by letting agents? any suggestions?

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  • Turnbull
    replied
    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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  • Mable
    replied
    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

    Leave a comment:


  • Mable
    replied
    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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  • Mable
    replied
    l tried to put the attachments earlier but was suspected as spam hopefully attached
    Attached Files

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  • Mable
    replied
    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

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  • jpkeates
    replied
    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.

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  • leaseholder64
    replied
    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.



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  • Mable
    replied
    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.

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