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How social media can put your home at risk; the importance of an HMO licence; and professional Airbnb sub-letters exposed

Buy to let landlords rarely have an easy time of it running their business in a difficult private rental sector.

If there is one thing that might help you keep on top of the current themes and issues, it is likely to be a regular update on the latest news.

Bearing that in mind, here is our pick of some of the topics making the headlines.

Social media is putting your home at risk of being burgled

Before you are tempted into using social media to showcase the property you want to let, spare a thought for the valuable secrets you might be disclosing by posting pictures to the world at large.

A story in the Daily Mail newspaper recently warned that pictures of home interiors maybe a giveaway to potential thieves and burglars of the valuable contents of the property. Even a seemingly innocent shot of the front door to the place might reveal the make, model and standard of the lock that is fitted – saving burglars precious time in breaking into and entering your let property.

You know that potential tenants might be looking for somewhere to rent that has access to a back garden. But think about how those carefully shot photos of the garden and the back of the property might also point the way to vulnerable entry points – windows and sliding doors, for instance, which might often be left ajar.

Professional Airbnb sub-letters exposed

Reporting on a BBC Inside Out documentary, a story in Property Reporter on the 28th of October illustrated how things might go horribly wrong if your sub-letting tenants are acting to all intents and purposes as professional Airbnb hosts.

It relates the case of one landlord who suffered losses of around £10,000 after having told his tenants to stop using his let property as a commercial venture on Airbnb, only to discover that the same activities resumed after a brief pause.

Not only had the tenants breached their tenancy agreement – since the landlord had given no permission for the sub-letting arrangements – the property was also in breach of various local authority licensing requirements and material damage had been caused.

Landlord fined for not licencing HMO

In a separate story appearing in Letting Agent Today on the 28th of October, it is clear that substantial penalties await those landlords who are in breach of local authority licensing regulations.

For failing to obtain the necessary licence to run a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) from South Holland Council in East Anglia, a landlord was fined £750 by Boston Magistrate’s Court and, together with other costs that were imposed, faced a total penalty of £1,205.

In pursuit of the prosecution, the local council insisted it would apply the law to ensure unlicensed and unsafe landlords were brought to justice.

Crisis looming in supply of rented homes

There is little doubt about the demand for private rented accommodation.

In the results of a survey published by the Residential Landlords’ Association recently, a quarter of all landlords had witnessed an increase in demand; 41% believed there has been no change; and, only 15% detected any fall in demand.

Despite that growing demand, landlords are continuing to sell up. 31% reported plans to sell at least one of their let properties during the coming year and only 13% said they planned to buy.

The widening gap between demand and supply of private rented accommodation heralds a looming crisis warned the RLA.

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